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Huffduffed (288)

  1. Diecast #219: Andromeda, Dark Souls, Spec Ops - Twenty Sided

    BlueBlazeSpear says:

    Monday Jul 23, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    My biggest problem with the characters of Mass Effect: Andromeda is that they’re completely unnecessary to the story. Remove any of them and replace them with some nameless peon and the game isn’t really affected all that much. Even Jaal could’ve been replaced by a nondescript Angaran. What’s weird is that the characters are supposed to be the face of this whole new world and they don’t even meet the minimum requirement of fleshing out the world. Compare what we learn of Andromeda’s world-state from these characters over the course of the entire game versus what we can learn about of ME1’s world state right at the beginning of the game in walking the deck from Joker to the comm room.

    Their jobs barely seem to even line up with the goals and tasks of the Andromeda Initiative. We take on Vetra because she’s a smuggler, but as far as I can tell, we never use her smuggling skills. PeeBee is all about the Remnant tech and all that comes of that is a secondary drone and a “core collection” quest that doesn’t lead anywhere. Drack… I guess we have the mutual goal of wanting to kick ass? The more I played, the more I got the feeling that the Milky Way was just purging its losers and it was proven true by having the Initiative immediately implode upon arrival. I liked that Alec Ryder seemed competent and he wasn’t always cracking wise like everyone else, but then spoiler he dies off screen and his child – for whom he died – doesn’t seem particularly broken up about it.

    There were tons of possibilities here too. Jaal could’ve been our window into this new and exotic life that we’re only just now discovering. But instead, his people are pretty much like us and their problems look a lot like ours and we have to believe that they’re hyper-emotional because they keep telling us they are without ever showing it. They suffer from what in fantasy writing is called “the elf problem.” Because in that case, if the elves are just humans with pointy ears, then why make them elves at all other than because they’re all sizzle and no bacon? And it’s a pretty big deal that there was a mutiny on the Nexus and a sizeable portion of the people were thrown off the station. We had characters that could’ve exemplified both sides of that conflict, but it feels like it’s barely touched upon, despite it being a defining moment. Often, I found myself wondering “Why are these characters even here?” and I never came up with a compelling answer.

    The Andromeda menu system was such a mess. It was impressive the number of clicks it took just to do the simplest of things. The “research and development” of weapons and armors was an unintuitive slog that I still don’t think I fully understand. And I never used the profile “favorites” because it was just cumbersome enough to not be useful. It was amazing how deeply buried even the most basic information always seemed to be.

    My first attempt at the game was me trying to be a tech-based sniper and I quickly learned how un-viable and not-fun it was and I quickly abandoned it. Maybe it becomes more viable as you unlock skills? I just know that in the few places that I used it, I virtually never had a good scoped shot and I did all of my firing from the hip and did most of my damage via powers. To me, that’s what can make the action in the game fun – finding the right powers that feel fun and satisfying and getting to a point where you can spam them pretty regularly.

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  2. Diecast #211: More Mods, Thief vs. Thief 2 - Twenty Sided

    Dear Diecast,

    I’m currently playing through Thief 2 for the first time (I’m 20) it might just turn out to be one of my favorite games I’ve ever played. This came as a major shock to me because I played Thief: Gold about a year ago and borderline hated it. I think this is mostly down to level design. Thief Gold’s levels are gigantic, labyrinthine, an filled nonsensical copy pasted rooms. Not to mention a few them also seem to have and odd fixation on zombie killing as well. Thief 2 scales down the levels a bit, makes the maps more detailed, and makes each area memorable which leads to less aimless wondering. Also some levels seem to funnel players to the correct area somehow even thought there are several paths, but I’m not a level designer so I don’t know. My point is that while [they] are identical in many ways, the level design feels drastically different and it seems like people don’t talk about it very much. Perhaps its because people really just aren’t talking about thief all that much. I mean, I haven’t even used a guide for Thief 2, while I basically had to use one for every level on the first. Anyways, do you have a preference between the 2 games and have you noticed this difference?


    There is this level in the first game where you have to pretend you are a Hammerite student and you have to solve this puzzle by finding and flipping a bunch of tiny switches very quickly and I just lost it. Like seriously, how did anyone figuire that out without the interenet??

    -No name given

    —Huffduffed by hudfun

  3. Diecast #207: Minecraft Scripting, Aer, Business Rant - Twenty Sided

    Uristqwerty says:

    Thursday Apr 26, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Because it’s a topic I care a lot about, I’m going to nitpick the Minecraft mod bits:

    Bukkit is a server plugin abstraction layer, designed so that you don’t even need to touch Minecraft code to make a plugin (in theory, the API can be ported to run on any other game engine, and plugins will adapt without issue). Mojang has seemed fairly supportive of the project, to the point of hiring the main developers, and at some point buying the project or something. That had a downside, however, because Bukkit is GPL, didn’t have a Contributor License Agreement, and one asshole who was a major contributor didn’t like that Mojang got involved. So they DMCA’d CraftBukkit, saying that as soon as the GPL’d bukkit API was combined with proprietary Minecraft code to actually implement the API, the resulting project broke the GPL terms. I guess they hoped to force Mojang into releasing Minecraft as open source, but in the end all it did was kill Bukkit after all of the support the project had received.

    Beyond hiring the Bukkit team, Mojang also hired the MCP team (MCP being the underlying toolset that makes mod creation practical) much more recently.

    Next, IDs. Vanilla switched to string IDs long ago, keeping numeric IDs for compatibility with old command blocks and mods for some versions. By now, the latest version has no concept of user-visible IDs left. After Vanilla added that feature, Forge backported string ID support so that mods could transition, and even preserve worlds (as much as a modded world can transition between versions without major losses). String IDs are in 1.7.10, which is the oldest version still regularly played.

    On C++ Minecraft: “Compiled” Java code is stored in unoptimized and very straightforward bytecode, which makes it possible for mods to easily patch new behaviours and interaction points into existing Minecraft code, and the JVM is expected to perform optimization at runtime. That can’t work in C++, because x86_64 assembly does not logically map back to the source code cleanly, templates have already been specialized into many slightly-altered duplicates, then independently optimized based on those parameters (so entire code branches may have been deleted as unreachable, so if a mod changes a branch condition it will need to manually re-insert the entire branch into every copy. It would be almost impossible for two mods to even touch the same part of the code without clobbering each other and making the game unplayable). In order to support such a wide variety of mod behaviour, they would need to manually insert impossible-to-optimize-away decision points all throughout the codebase, anywhere that a mod might want to interact with the code flow, at which point everything will be running much slower. The JVM is able to speculatively optimize code (no class currently extends that method, the third parameter here is always false), then when more code is loaded deoptimize those assumptions away. From that alone, I doubt C++ Minecraft will ever be able to support in-depth mods performantly. Unless it ends up like Factorio or the Elder Scrolls engine, where there is a very limited set of hard-coded behaviours, and most scripting is figuring out clever ways to patch things together to approximate the desired behaviour without the player noticing.

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  4. Diecast #206: Another Funeral for Half-Life - Twenty Sided

    Distec says:

    Monday Apr 16, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    In addition to the Combine Overwatch’s appearance (and Overwatch is the name I believe you two were grasping for!), what sells them for me is their radio chatter. Their associated audio always gives them a “presence” in any map they’re on. And like most things Half-Life, further digging rewards you with additional cool context. I first though the Overwatch just sounded cool the same way the HL1 grunts did. But when you dig into the sound files they’re employing vaguely medical terminology like “area sterilization”, “full biotic overruns”, or “necrotics”. When paired with the Overwatch Announcer’s broadcasts – a disembodied voice broadcasting commands to and coordinating the entire city’s transhuman military – they have the air of surgical/chemical instruments to be used on a patient; City 17 itself.

    Faceless gas-mask baddies should be beyond generic. Valve has a knack for a clean and distinct aesthetic that can make even a standard Alien Invasion/Dystopia story and its attendant tropes seem fresh. But like a lot of individual elements, the Combine soldiers are made even more compelling by their place in the world’s structure. I’d wager that a lot of this stuff probably works subconsciously on a first playthrough, even if you’re not fully paying attention to the Broadcast Lady or analyzing enemy barks.

    I really think enemy barks and radio chatter are sorely undervalued or done poorly in a lot of cases. Even when devs put a lot of work into them, they typically fall into the trope of having them be fearless assholes who won’t stop insulting the protagonist that slaughtered all of their friends and peers within the last 30 seconds. I know this is supposed to make me feel good or at least justify me caving their skulls in, but it gets to be ridiculous.

    HECU grunts, Combine Overwatch forces, and the Replica Forces from FEAR are excellent designs that are fun to fight, and it’s no accident they’re so similar: clean, efficient, professional, and only seem to display any “humanity” when they’re truly caught off guard or surprised.

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  5. Diecast #204: Left 4 Dead, Factorio Pricing, Minecraft and World Scale - Twenty Sided

    Your browser does not support the audio element.Direct download (MP3)Direct download (ogg Vorbis)Podcast RSS feed.

    Hosts: Paul, Shamus.

    Episode edited by Issac.

    Show notes:00:00 Left 4 Dead

    Here is the stream, in case you missed it.

    14:38 Factorio is $20, going up to $30 soon

    Here is the pricing announcement we discussed.

    20:35 Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress, and scale frustrations

    36:54 Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    I know the movie came out months ago, but I guess it’s polite to warn you that there will be massive spoilers here.

    Shamus Young is a programmer, an author, and nearly a composer. He works on this site full time. If you'd like to support him, you can do so via Patreon or PayPal.

    —Huffduffed by hudfun

  6. Diecast #201: Another Funeral for Mass Effect - Twenty Sided

    Echo Tango says:

    Monday Mar 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Since the original Mass Effect hasn’t had anything take its place, I’m going to play make-believe for a game in this unfilled niche. Since no AAA studios seem to want to tackle this, I’ll assume that this needs to be a smaller game, but large enough and shiny enough to be relatively satisfying. (Text adventures aren’t going to scratch the ME1 itch!) First, I’ll aim for a budget of a million bucks, and three years. That would work out to a maximum of 6 people’s salaries, assuming they’re living in Saskatoon (where I live) or Pennsylvania (I believe Shamus lives / lived here). This might not be “ideal” locations for game dev, but we’re going for budget. If the money’s being burned too quickly in year one, we’re firing the least senior person, and moving to the nearest relative’s farm, to live in the barn with the cows (we’ll buy a wi-fi repeater, so it reaches to our smelly office).

    Now for the actual game. Cartoony graphics like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Borderlands 1, XIII, or Windwaker. We’ll buy pre-made assets for most of the stuff in the game, and run it through a script to make everything the same low- or medium-level polygon count, and have the game apply toon-shading on the fly with graphics-card shaders. (This will also keep our system requirements relatively low.) The main characters, statues, and primary locations will have hand-made 3D models. Pre-made music will be our soundtrack – if Kevin Macleod is good enough for the Diecast credits music, it’s good enough for this game! The game world will be made like System Shock 1, or Minecraft, out of blocks. (This will help a lot with our budget.) All terrain, buildings, and doors will be destructible, like X-COM. Unlike X-COM, we’ll throw in some basic physics from an off-the-shelf physics engine, to have things tumble into a pile of debris, for any blocks that aren’t outright destroyed. After the animation / physics is done, they become blocks again, so that players can traverse them without the physics engine going bananas. This will allow brute-force solutions, like exploding doors, or tunneling into the secret base that you couldn’t sneak, bribe, or seduce your way into.

    Most of the story will be told with crappy text boxes, like Faster Than Light, Into The Breach, or System Shock. If budget permits, we’ll make a few in-engine cutscenes, with voice-over from the nearest starving voice-actor. Since we’re doing most everything in text, we can have lots of branches and dead-ends in our conversations, like the main areas of Fallout 1 & 2. We can also have lots of side-quests, like the Fallouts, and Mass Effect 1. Skill points will be kept small, like Darkest Dungeon, Into The Breach, or Mass Effect 1. To keep this matched up with the story, there will be some countdown on the main quest, like dwindling water supply at home, or some invading force. This let’s us keep everything balance-able, and lets us focus on interesting stories / simulation of the game world. Once the quest is done, or time limit reached, queue voice-over ala Fallout 1, minus the expensive Mr. Perlman. :)

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  7. Todd Howard

    Todd Howard of Bethesda Game Studios chats with Ted Price about the history, decisions, production challenges behind The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, the relationship between games and their own family lives, and the games they play vs the games they create. Howard joined Bethesda Softworks in 1994. He currently serves as the director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios. For news and info on the AIAS, follow us on Twitter @Official_AIAS, Facebook or visit us at Email us at

    —Huffduffed by hudfun

  8. BREAKING: Colin Trevorrow Leaves Star Wars Episode 9: Everything You Need To Know

    On September 5, 2017, we recorded an emergency episode of /Film Daily. Peter Sciretta is joined by Brad Oman and Germain Lussier from io9 to talk about the big news the dropped on Tuesday afternoon: Colin Trevorrow will no longer director Star Wars Episode 9. We tell you what happened, the various reports from behind the scenes that may explain the turn of events, how this may impact the production and release of the film, who might come on to write and or direct the movie, and the effect these controversies are having on Disney’s Star Wars legacy.

    You can subscribe to /Film Daily on iTunes[…]

    —Huffduffed by hudfun

  9. Diecast #197: BATTLEGROUNDS, Westerado, Call of Duty - Twenty Sided

    Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 1:04:12 | Size: 60.42M

    Direct download (MP3)Direct download (ogg Vorbis)Podcast RSS feed.

    Hosts: Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster and Baychel.

    01:35: Bay Eats Candy

    Bay tries famous candies for the first time. You can read the results on her blog.


    Why does this game rise above the rest of the indie titles jumping on the Day Z bandwagon?

    19:50: Westerado

    Link (YouTube)34:03: Roller Coaster Tycoon Touch

    About five months ago Planet Coaster kicked the crap out of RollerCoaster Tycoon. But how does the RCT mobile game play?

    I can’t find a link to the original Mr. Bones Wild Ride. If someone can find it, I’ll add it to the show notes.

    46:53: Flinthook

    Link (YouTube)51:55: Call of Duty: World War II

    We talk about the WWII craze of 15 years ago and what it means that Call of Duty is coming back to it.Enjoyed this post? Please share!share tweet share share 

    Shamus Young is a programmer, an author, and nearly a composer. He works on this site full time. If you'd like to support him, you can do so via Patreon or PayPal.

    —Huffduffed by hudfun

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