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Diecast #27: D&D, Analogue, Elder Scrolls Online

By Shamus
on Tuesday Aug 27, 2013
Filed under:


As all of you demanded, here’s a rambly show that’s mostly about what we’re doing. Well, some of you wanted this. I distinctly remember one or two of you saying you wouldn’t mind a directionless show. Occasionally. So here it is!

I hope you like it because these are way easier to produce we’re eager to please!

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

Hosts: Rutskarn, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.

Show notes:

1:00 What’s everyone doing this week?

Shamus is writing code, writing about writing code, and in this show he’s talking about writing about writing code.

Rutskarn is playing AD&D. Here is Fate Core, which we discussed.

17:30 Josh is playing… Fireball Whiskey? Somehow? It’s the incinerator of whiskies!

He’s also playing Hate Plus, sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story. I’m giving this bit its own segment here in the notes because it runs long and it has spoilers for the first game.

27:30 Chris is playing a lot of stuff. To wit:

Disney Infinity, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Saints Row IV.

50:00 Elder Scrolls Online will have subscription fees.

Story here. We also discuss Wildstar.

Comments (84)

  1. I’ve been wanting to write/draw a story with a chaotic evil bard as the main villain, and not just a schemer, but in the same position a demi-lich might have. They’d keep their minions in line via the power of vile songs from the elder darkness or something.

  2. Ilseroth says:

    Ahoy, considering the final subject of the diecast; I actually preferred the monthly fee system from the original series of MMOs. While I am not keen on giving people my money, it is a whole lot better then most of the MMOs out there nowadays that I constantly find myself running into walls whee they say “Okay, now pay X amount to proceed.”

    I mean, Guild Wars 2 is the preferred business model, obviously. You buy the game, you play it, and you can play it whenever you want… or until NCSoft decided to shut it down.

    That being said, I agree wholeheartedly that the only kind of games that can survive being a Subscription based game are going to have to really stand out and be amazing, not just “pretty okay.”

    As per Elder Scrolls Online… I really don’t know, they have shown a bit better gameplay recently (1st person where you click to swing and all that jazz) but I didn’t see any shield usage so it may just be “spam attack til dead”… granted that was what dual wielding was in skyrim too but I digress. Unfortunately, ESO will only succeed with a sub model is they haven’t focused on making a “Theme Park” MMO and instead focused on making new interesting ideas on how to make a living world…

    Which is where Wildstar comes in. This game seems… Interesting. Of the games primary character classes, only one of them is designed for combat… Think about that, I know there are tradeskills in other games, but it isn’t supposed to be a diversion to break up the grinding, it is supposed to be why you play. Not to mention the “Adventurer” class, or that you can build things wherever you want really… A lot more interesting and with some new ideas and some remixes of old ones, curious to see if it will work out.

    Oh and by the by, for shame… You mention and laugh at all these subscribe games in the modern gaming era and you don’t talk about the one that just launched. FFXIV… This is a game that already launched once, failed, closed up shop without giving refunds, and just re-released itself with a monthly fee still. While some might argue the game is better, I personally thing it still feels like a failed pastiche of all the popular elements of MMOs when they started development.

    I mean you just look at some of the developer videos and they were touting the fact that they have a Dungeon Finder (Or Duty Finder, to be different) mechanic in the game, saying things like “Oh won’t that make finding a group too easy” with the reply of “You see some people have limited time to play games, with jobs and other things.” Granted, I am paraphrasing a subtitled video, so make of that what you may, but it feels like they haven’t bothered to look at the competition over the last 5-6 years.

    • Zukhramm says:

      I had no idea we were supposed to hate subscriptions now. When did this happen? Why? And why wasn’t I told?

      • Ilseroth says:

        Well, the issue here is competition. As it stands now there are a lot of reasonably okay MMOs that are free to play, some of them with reasonable terms of payment (only cosmetic such as GW2 or just limited and not overbearing).

        It is less “Hating Subscriptions” and more not seeing the point of them/ Subscriptions worked previously because most MMOs did it, when some quality MMOs switched it became a competition between the two. So far, Free to play has won out because of peoples frugality which is ironic because usually you will spend more then the 15$ you would spend monthly if you are playing a free to play game a lot.

        So it isn’t that subscription games are “hated” but rather that the competition saying “Come play this game for free” compared to “Come buy this game then pay a fee to play it” is a no brainer to someone who doesn’t understand the free to play business model.

        To be fair, WoW was a primary cause of the free to play movement. Up until WoW every MMO worked out it’s niche quite nicely. But then WoW came and suddenly it was hard to get a reasonable population in your MMO. An MMO game without players is generally not considered overly thrilling so how do you bring people in or back?

        • Zukhramm says:

          Maybe my standards are too high, but I can’t find any okay MMO, subscription of free. But I’d gladly subscribe instead of having loads of micro-transactions.

          I’m also entirely sure you can get a good enough population in a smaller than WoW MMORPG, even with a subscription. Part of the solution is probably to not spend a 100 milion dollars making the game.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        This phenomenon peaked about a year ago. Hence, all the “SW:TOR is going to be a sub based game? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” etc.

    • Warrax says:

      The gameplay footage from quakecon pretty much sold me on this game. It does not look anything like WoW gameplay-wise;it appears to me that they adhered to the elder scrolls style of gameplay as closely as they they possibly could while only making changes to accommodate the fact that there is no pause/inventory screen. The UI is very spartan, with the skyrim-like compass and no minimap (also no floating punctuation over NPCs).

      It’s designed for first person play and does have the locked to mouse-look/click button 1/2 for attacks thing, which is very good. It also has books; the ones they showed were probably even a little longer and more detailed than what we’ve come to expect from other elder scrolls games. They also made a big deal out of rewarding people for exploration.

      It does not have WYSIWYG looting. To be honest that’s always been a bit silly anyway; constant massive encumbrance has definitely always been a part of elder scrolls gameplay, but it’s never been a good part.

      $15 a month is steep, but I was *glad* when they announced that it wouldn’t be a F2P. I’ve dabbled in a lot of F2P games, and the need to monetize every little thing has a horribly detrimental effect on immersion and playability. It makes for a better game when the unholy alchemy of turning money to content happens off screen rather than shamelessly right there in the open.

      I would also point out that SW:TOR failed primarily because it is a terrible game, and not really a good indicator of whether or not people are still willing to pay subscription fees. I would have paid for it if it was good, but it isn’t, so I’m not even playing for free.

      Please don’t take this as antagonistic on my part, but it sort of sounded like you guys were really criticizing the game without actually knowing very much about what’s currently going on with it development-wise. Here’s the link to the quakecon presentation; I don’t know if it will change your mind, but it addresses almost all of what you were complaining about:


      Slightly unrelated note: I liked the format (or lack thereof) for the podcast, still quite entertaining even without the structure.

      • Ilseroth says:

        Hm, I can say… they need to work on the animations a bit, (by the by you are wrong, originally the game was designed not to have first person gameplay, it was only through player outrage that they went back and added it, starting to look okay though) but I think the one major thing it seems to lack combat wise is any sense of momentum.

        Yeah I know it is an mmo, but seriously, if I am hit by a guy with a claymore have my character reel a little, some kind of indication of damage that gives some feeling like “Oh man I should avoid that” besides your health bar going down.

        For instance, in skyrim, you get hit from behind your camera kicks forward a bit. It isn’t drastic but it tells you to watch your back.

        I am not overly keen on the hotbar, but considering how many “Favourites” I had bound to different keys in Skyrim, it isnt that different, just shown on the UI… hopefully I can just turn it off and you know, use my brain to remember which is which.

        As with regards to the looting… I am sorry you can say what you want about inventory management. Part of the joy of exploring an Elder Scrolls game is going “OoooO what is in here.” I am not saying that we as the player need to be able to pick up everything not nailed down. We as the player in an elder scrolls game should at least have plenty of loot containers to rifle through.

        Though in this lays a massive problem, one that effects anyone who has watched anyone play a bethesda rpg, including the spiler warning episodes… watching someone mess with their inventory. Remember this is a MMO…Your team may be annoyed if you are looking in every little chest… But still, not having containers to loot would feel wrong.

        Also… pickpocketing better be in the game, and not just hostile NPCs. I should be able to go into town and rob everyne blind. These aren’t crazy requests. I am not asking for every doodad in the environment to be collectable, just when sneaking, activate person, chance to steal something, yay.”

      • Zukhramm says:

        There’s more to gameplay than combat mechanics.

    • bloodsquirrel says:

      As I’ve said before:

      What made old subscription-based games profitable wasn’t that there were more people around willing to pay for subscriptions. It was that they didn’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make them, so they were profitable with 200k subscribers.

      It’s not like Eve Online has a ton more subscribers that TOR did, it was that Eve Online is developed on a ‘niche game’ budget, not a “Let’s take it for granted that we can match the numbers from the most successful entry in the genre of all time” budget.

  3. Zukhramm says:

    I totally expected Chris to be the one to bring up Hate Plus, not Josh.

    Anyway, Chris:

    Enable bulkheads. Enable life support. Disable bulkheads.

    • Volfram says:

      I think after my second run-through on Hate Plus I thought about Analogue showing up on Twenty-Sided. So happy to see it here. It’s good!

      I will probably have more to say on the topic after listening to the podcast.

    • Volfram says:

      *after listening to podcast*

      Um… yeah, this part in the game is NOT as hard as Chris is making it out to be. I’m pretty sure attempting to turn on Life Support is met with a message to the effect of “Bulkheads currently disabled. Cannot enable Life Support with Bulkheads disabled.”

      My non-programer roommate was able to figure it out. Faster than I had, I’d wager.

      I feel kind of bad about saying this, because Chris is a very intelligent individual, but…yeah, that part of the game’s not very hard.

  4. Muspel says:

    Clearly, Sam from Tomb Raider is the daughter of Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell. That’s the reason why everyone is so desperate to protect her and get her back– they don’t want Sam Fisher to come after them for letting something bad happen to her.

  5. Glimmereyes says:

    Best part of the cake comment in Hate Plus is the achievement associated with it.

    Cooking by the Book
    Take an actual honest-to-god IRL photograph of the cake you’re sharing with *Hyun-ae, and e-mail it to the developer! cake@hateplus.com

    • Volfram says:

      My roommate still owes *Hyun-ae a cake. He said he would do it Monday. He did not do it on Monday.

      (And Josh didn’t quite explain, but she will rant at you for a good while about not just answering “yes” to finish the game, and actually getting up and leaving the machine, making note that you are playing a video game and not actually a Space Investigator, and going to make a cake. Are you going to lie to *Hyun-ae? REALLY? YOU MONSTER!)

  6. Thearpox says:

    Regarding other systems, how about Roll to Dodge? Not necessarily recommending it, but interesting in just how simple it is. Here’s the basic rules:

    You roll a six-sided die for every action.

    [1]: Epic Fail. Your efforts only worsened your situation.
    [2]: Fail. Your skills or luck were insufficient.
    [3]: Some Success, Some Failure: Fixed something, broke something.
    [4]: Partial Success: Your efforts were sufficient to partially achieve your goal.
    [5]: Epic Success: Your skills and luck have combined to ensure your success.
    [6]: Overshot: Your efforts were more than required for the goal’s completion, and your luck is such that unfortunate side-effects are inevitable.

    Obviously, you can have additions and modifiers to this based on the setting you have. Stats that are picked to help with the modifiers. It can get relatively complicated sometimes, but the bare rules are also used in some games. It is a system popular on Bay12, a Dwarf Fortress forum.

    Once again, not necessarily recommending it, just finding it interesting.

    • Thomas says:

      Is overshot actually guaranteeing negative side effects? Because if so, given the 1 in 2 chance of things going wrong, and only a 1 in 6 chance of really achieving your goal, it’s not surprising that it’s popular amongst people who play Dwarf Fortress :P

      • Thearpox says:

        Negative side effects? Yes. Negative to you? Not necessarily.

        Also, the luck really changes if you’ve got a bonus. If you’re an expert in something, you usually have a +1 in it. And that’s not even to speak of the dynamic bonuses (+1 or -1 if a 6) that to their credit are encountered very rarely. And 4 is not too bad of a result.

    • Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      I’d recommend Risus. It’s free, based on the West End D6 system, and inteneded for pickup games.

  7. 1. Now I’m going to have to check out Fate Core.

    2. Now I’m going to have to check out Analogue: A Hate Story.

    3. Saints Row IV: Yeah, that game very is much DLC ported to “full game” mode, and it irks me. You’ll have a good time, sure, but I didn’t like the simulation as opposed to getting a “real world”, I was disappointed just how tacked on the president aspect was–and that they didn’t really do anything with it–and I was hoping we were going to get Washington DC as out city, not Steelport again.
    I loved the jokes, I loved the references (Jane Austen was a surprising hoot!), I really liked the continuity aspect they did between all the games, but I was so disappointed that this game was essentially SR3 2.0. And as fun as the super powers are, I wish you could turn off super sprint and stuff whenever you wanted so you could run and jump normally.

    4. Shamus, you freaked me out when you started laughing. I first thought, “Haha, uh oh, Chris broke Josh–wait, wait, that’s SHAMUS? Oh gosh, what happened? I’m freaking out.” xD

    5. Yeah, informal podcasts are fun. I really like these, but I’ll listen to whatever.

  8. Akri says:

    Rutskarn, the reason The Last Airbender was so incredibly, amazingly, horrifyingly awful is because Cthulhu made it. He wanted us to suffer, and now we have.

  9. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

    Analog: A Hate Story reminds me of a game I used to play -ages ago -on the Apple IIGS. And I can’t remember any of it, except that it was text based, and the whole game was recreating a computer database after a disaster to figure out what happened.

    I sucked at it.

    But it was that or nothing.

    These days, I have an entire shelf of games. I’ll pass. But to each their own.

  10. The Rocketeer says:

    Hearing Shamus break out laughing like that brought me considerable joy, even if it took a moment to sink in that yes, that really is Shamus laughing like that.

  11. Paul Spooner says:

    Normally I listen to the podcast while I work, but today I’m listening on the speakers while my wife plays Minecraft (and I keep the baby happy). She listened to the first two minutes, and remarked profoundly “These people are really silly.”

    Judgement has been rendered. Can’t say that I disagree really. Good work people.

  12. Humanoid says:

    Chris’ initial description of SR4 made me think of it as Superman 65.

  13. Blake says:

    While this is free and I am entitled to nothing regarding it, if you are looking for opinions on your content I will say that I truly don’t care what other people are playing (I don’t watch your let’s plays either, simply because that type of content doesn’t interest me) and always skip that part of the podcast.

    So, do what you want and have fun doing it, but there’s my 2 cents.

    • Volfram says:

      I just want to represent the opposing side and say that “what we’re playing now” is often one of my most favorite parts of the podcast, as the group often talks about games I have not heard of or have not played, and their antics are kind of like a second-hand Spoiler Warning episode minus the slow parts.

      Also they tend to go off on tangents which I find VERY informative.(Seriously, if you always skip them, you might just be missing out on some really good stuff.)

  14. Klay F. says:

    Hmm, Fireball Whiskey. That…sounds good actually. I wish I didn’t live in a town with like the worst alcohol selection ever. As such my whiskey experience is pretty terrible, along with me not being able to hold my liquor very well. Still, I want to try that out.

  15. AdmiralCheez says:

    When I introduced my girlfriend to tabletop games, her first character was, no kidding, a neutral good, elf druid with a wolf companion. I tried to talk her into a ranger or something easier to learn before jumping straight into a mid-level game, but it was futile. Fortunately, despite having no idea what to do, and basically just studying the player’s handbook when it wasn’t her turn, she enjoyed the game.

    • Akri says:

      I must admit that the very first time I dabbled in D&D, I made a neutral good druid with a wolf companion (human though, not elf). If it’s any defense I did name the wolf “Meatshield”.

      • AdmiralCheez says:

        She named her wolf “Tiberius,” after Kirk’s middle name. Admittedly, I wasn’t much better on the first character thing. My very first D&D character was an elf ranger, modeled after Legolas. He didn’t last too long though, as the campaign fell apart after one session.

        • Volfram says:

          My very first tabletop character was a Principled Good paladin. We were playing Palladium.(and he was kind of boring.)

          My very first DnD character was a chaotic good half-elf rogue.(and he was kind of boring.)

          My 2nd DnD character was a Chaotic Neutral elf druid with a wolf animal companion.(after her bird died during the first session.)

          My LATEST DnD character is a chaotic neutral human druid with a Medium-sized viper animal companion. Who wears a giant fursuit shaped like a badger with all the black parts colored Ice-blue.

          Also, I hate Dungeons and Dragons(in particular and D20 in general), and think that people should try other systems whenever they have a chance.

  16. silver Harloe says:

    A Tale in the Desert didn’t have levels originally. You could learn any skill you could pay the tuition for, and every technology the world had paid for, immediately upon becoming a citizen, if you so desired. It was still ultra-grindy because the technology costs got totally ridiculous, while the population didn’t grow as much as desired to spread the costs out. Promised technology to automate away early-game tasks didn’t always appear, or sometimes appeared in ways that were more work than just doing the original task in the first place. The early game starts semi-realistic but after a few months, it veers so strongly into magic-tech that you can really only get involved if you been involved so you can see how things came from previous things — nothing about the tech tree makes any intuitive sense or has any analogy to reality after a certain point. So the grind never stops and eventually gets ridiculous.

    In the third or fourth iteration, he added levels. I’ve never met anyone in the game who liked the levels – you still have to pay the same tuition for skills, you just can’t buy certain ones until you do enough unrelated junk. The levels are tied to doing simplified versions of the tests – but are in no way balanced at all, and some of the “simplified versions for the level” are as complex as doing the test itself. And they’re totally confusing to explain, because there’s this tab saying “you need to do this for text X” but it’s really just the simplified version of test X, and so one has to explain to new players over and over that that’s not how you pass the test, just how you get the level for it. And you get a level for doing the simplified version, but NOT a level for passing, and depending on circumstances, it can actually be easier to pass than to do the “simplified version” and I really have done a poor job of showing how chaotic and weird the level system is.

  17. krellen says:

    I don’t think the lesson to be learned is “MMOs are expensive and hard to make”. The lesson to be learned is “MMOs are not like World of Warcraft”. There has never been another game like World of Warcraft. I would lay money on there never being another game like World of Warcraft.

    World of Warcraft is a bad model to follow, because it wasn’t a model. Blizzard wasn’t looking to make a millions-upon-millions-of-players game – why would they? No MMO had been that big before, and no MMO has been that big since. The closest competitor is Runescape, a free-to-play, kid-friendly browser-based game, and at its biggest it was a tenth the size of WoW.

    Designing an MMO with the thought that millions of people will play – and pay – for it is always going to be a losing proposition, because only one game has ever reached that mark, and it was a fluke.

    I maintain that City of Heroes is a far better model of how an actual MMO works. It maintained a subscription long past the point other games had abandoned them, and only started to see a slip after it went free-to-play — though even then, according to all reports we can get from financial statements and the game’s staff, it remained profitable to the day it was shut down. City of Heroes never aimed to please millions, but rather aimed to really please the tens/hundreds of thousands it had.

    Eve Online is basically the same model, now that I think of it. MMOs have never been huge things, and our entertainment industries (it’s not just games that do it) would be a hell of a lot healthier if they’d stop chasing anomalies and actually aim for the statistical trend.

    Actually, I might even extend that out to businesses as a whole. Always chasing the World of Warcrafts and letting the nice stolid City of Heroes(es) languish and die in their wake.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      That’s very true. People don’t think of Final Fantasy XI as a pillar of the MMO landscape, but it’s made more money for Square-Enix over its lifespan than any other game they’ve ever released, because they’ve got their little niche carved out and they maintain it ably with the unceasing trolling that their fanbase has come to accept as support.

    • Daimbert says:

      CoH also actually had one of the best F2P models, too, because what you got in the store were costume add-ons and power sets and the like … the things you really loved and wanted but that, essentially, had no real mechanical impact on the game. I was happy to subscribe when it went F2P (I rejoined around that time) and loved knowing that the credits I picked up for being a subscriber would help me create better characters later.

      Meanwhile, in TOR, I still subscribe even though the parts I enjoy are all free, but for the most part I only use my Cartel Coins to get items that give me a bonus to XP, and the occasional interesting item. And from what I hear, people who are F2P are much more limited than those who aren’t, including even in running and movement speed.

  18. Steve C says:

    Holy crap! Your Good Robot blog posts so far only cover the first 2 days? That is very impressive.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I thought exactly that. I imagine by now it’s a persistent-world MMO three times the size of Asheron’s Call…

      On the subject of writing about it (the ‘problem’ The Joker mentioned at the start): I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to cover everything in the blog posts. If you were to just code when you feel like, and write it up when you feel like, then the less interesting (to the writer) aspects will be the ones that fade from the memory over time, and the one should naturally catch up with the other. And anyway, having too much to write about is a nicer problem than not having anything to write about!

  19. Erik says:

    As a big elder scrolls fan, I really don’t understand why they would make this an mmo. I don’t want OTHER PEOPLE in ny elder scrolls experience.

    The thing that sold me on world of Warcraft back in the day was that I’d be able to explore the world up close I’d grown to know from the RTS games, but in the elder scrolls I can already do that in … any elder scrolls game..

    • Menegil says:

      Pretty much. That, coupled with the complete and utter disrespect and disregard for the Lore that made the series one of the main landmarks of western RPGs pretty much marks this game as a failure from the outset.

      The Imperial Library, from what I saw, sighed its collective sorrow for it. Can’t say I blame them.

      • Erik says:

        That’s one of the things that concerns me as well.

        WoW, among other things, has completely raped the lore of the world, and pretty much killed any prospect we had of getting another single player game in the series. I really hope the Elder scrolls MMO doesnt do that for this series.

        • bloodsquirrel says:

          In fairness, WoW only took to its logical conclusion what started with Warcraft III.

          Every iteration of Warcraft has come with a heavy side of retcons in order to make the story about what they’ve decided it should be about now. From Warcraft to Warcraft II wasn’t that bad, but Warcraft III retconned the orcs’ entire backstory and wedged the entire Burning Legion mythos into the setting, along with a dozen new races.

    • Daimbert says:

      I’ve always called the Elder Scrolls games “single-player MMORPGs”, so I guess they decided to just roll with it [grin].

  20. Primogenitor says:

    Chris, I only realized the whole “pidgin isn’t a typo” thing when you mentioned it. So you are not alone in not noticing that. (I don’t think it helps that their mascot is a pigeon)

  21. Nick says:

    RE starting roleplaying system:
    New World of Darkness (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Hunter etc) by White Wolf is really easy to understand mechanically – you add a stat and skill together, roll that many D10s. 8+ is a success, 10 is a success and roll an extra dice. The more successes you get, the better you do. I actually have some issues with the system, but it’s really simple and has a lot of thematic depth.

    I also really like the Silhouette system, which is rolling a number of D6 equal to your skill and selecting the highest, if you have more than one 6 then they add one to the result (so if you rolled 1, 2, 5 then you get a 5. 6, 6, and 1 would be 7)
    Then you just need to make up some stats and roll then most appropriate one in a given situation. You can make a character that has two skills at 2, 3 at 1 and one at 3 in a few minutes.

    • Volfram says:

      WoD is a REALLY good RP system. I almost got a chance to play GURPS in the most recent campaign we started(at the GM’s suggestion) but that was immediately vetoed by everyone else in the game, who wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons.

      D20 DnD, by the way, is IMO the WORST mainstream Tabletop RPG system IN THE WORLD, and is only popular because it’s popular and because Wizards have the financial clout and visibility to keep it popular. It’s rigid, slow, and doesn’t handle deviations from the “human-ish characters between level 5 and 15 with stats between 12 and 18” very well.

      My FAVORITE system that I have played so far is Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3rd edition, by now-defunct Guardians of Order. I think the copyright is currently owned by White Wolf, but they aren’t doing anything with it. I’m currently working on a home-brew modification.

      I will check out Fate Core.

      • AncientSpark says:

        Meh, I disagree pretty hard, for various reasons.

        Basically, what I find is that WoD and BESM match D&D 3.5 in character creation complexity. Talking about WoD specifically, WoD and D&D have similar problems, in that they’re both designed for specific kinds of adventures (WoD being more horror-ish types of games, D&D for high fantasy). But what I find is that it’s not worth suffering through the complexity in WoD because there’s not any interesting payoff for the number-crunching. In D&D, at least there’s cool stylistic choices you can make and many many different kinds of characters, but with WoD, I’ve yet to see a character where I stand up and go “How did he learn to do that and what’s the story behind that?” If the mechanics don’t support particularly interesting combinations, then you might as well play a rules-light system and use those freedoms to fill in the interesting details. For example, if I ever did run a WoD style system, I’d just throw it together in Fate Core.

        As for BESM, I basically find it inferior to Mutants and Masterminds in just about every fashion. I’m all for crazy anime-style shenanigans, but, in my mind, BESM feels like a game that doesn’t recognize that total point-buy is broken, whereas M&M feels like a game that knows it’s broken and makes a compromise between crazy fun and DM sanity. I can imagine that BESM is fun if absolutely everyone in the group is very smart about self-moderation, though, so, if M&M didn’t exist and just feel superior to BESM, I could still find myself supporting BESM.

        • Volfram says:

          I’ve never seen a truly *interesting* character in DnD that was interesting because of the mechanics. I have seen somewhat interesting characters in DnD where the players managed to make them interesting because they specialized in a different system.(2 BESM 2E players and 2 WoD players produced among the most interesting parties I have ever seen in a heavily modified D20 game) Most of the time, the party is just a bunch of people who hit or blast things until they die and squabble over alignment.

          If BESM has a glaring fault(among many perhaps not so glaring), it is indeed that it’s EXTREMELY easy to break the system with careful min/maxing, much like Pete’s R2D2 in Darths and Droids. This emphasizes the GM’s right to say “no you don’t, that’s dumb.” And yeah, it means that the players have to prioritize interesting character concept over OMGZ OVERPOWERED. It’s one of the things I want to try and curb in my custom set. Apparently I need to look to Mutants and Masterminds to get some ideas.

  22. StashAugustine says:

    I have to say, with the complaint that Saint’s Row III lost the crazy of being the lone lunatic in a sane world, they actually did a pretty good job of bringing that back. They make the villain a very pompous, cultured, arrogant character, and the Saints are the force of chaos wrecking his little world.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive said this in the forum,but Ill say it here as well:
    Saints row IV is prototype done right(without all the cool gameplay,and without the super serious story that clashes completely with it).And I like it because of that.

    Also,”Take it fake stealport” always puts a smile on my face,and I dont know why.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Damn you guys!Now I have to postpone my plans for starting a nuclear war!

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    When Chris said he played a lot of games,and has much rage,was anyone expecting him to go on a rant about the shooter xcom?Come on Chris,you have simcity and the new splinter cell,so why not add this one to the list.

  26. Cybron says:

    Josh, regarding the imported routes from Analogue: Does it do anything if you took no AI in the first game? I took the ‘shut them both down and get the hell out’ route. I’m curious if it even lets you load a file from that route.

    Anyways, I 100% support Rutskarn’s opinions re: savage worlds and fate.

    My experience with savage worlds is quite limited, because the one session I had with it was the worst one I’ve played in a long time.

    FATE, on the other hand, is a great system which is conceptually brilliant. It’s not my favorite to play, but it’s VERY good. It’s also very flexible so there’s several systems that use the core FATE engine (such as Diaspora, which is a scifi flavored variant) and apply FATE’s narrativist mechanics in interesting ways (Diaspora has all the players roll up a galaxy together).

  27. SlothfulCobra says:

    I played a FATE game once, and I really didn’t like how the combat worked, there was no real maneuvering or strategy, just throwing a bunch of dice at your enemy’s dice and hoping that you get a better number than your enemy’s number. It definitely doesn’t work with the standard DnD model of steering the players from one battle to the next.

    Personally, I’ve had a lot of fun with the GURPS system, it’s pretty simple and combat is fast and clean so it won’t bog you down much.

  28. Paul Spooner says:

    Taking notes at the time is important for anything you plan on documenting in the future. Even just single words to serve as memory anchors, something to help you recall the thing you wanted to talk about.

    I make the kind of mistake Chris made about “Pidgin” all the time. People use words so strangely, and in so many different ways, that it’s nearly impossible to “get” it all at once. It happens watching movies often as well, where I’ll hear a phrase and it just won’t make sense, sometimes until years later. It doesn’t help that language morphs over time either.

    I feel like everyone was just waiting for “the cake is a lie” joke. I guess no one had to make it. Implicit inside jokes? Incredible.

  29. Tizzy says:

    Dating myself here, but if I had to recommend a system to introduce people to tabletop roleplaying, I would probably go for the Chaosium-type system with skills based on percentile. Because anyone should be able to relate to “you have x% chance of success”, and decide their actions accordingly. Not having a good sense of what you’re good or bad at, and how likely you are to succeed, must be very frustrating for someone who is discovering rpgs.

  30. Alright, Imma do this. I prolly shouldn’t, but I’m gonna.

    The Last Airbender.

    First, clarification. The concept Shyamalan was attempting was to have the different nations represented by different races. The Fire Nation was Arabian/Indian, the Earth Kingdom Chinese/African, the Southern Watertribe Inuit and the Northern Caucasian and the air nomads would be a mix of all them. Since Sokka/Katara’s grandma is from the northern tribe, so them being white in-universe makes sense. Aang’s played by a white kid, but Shyamalan chose him because he thought he looked pan-racial. On paper – to me at least – it’s all perfectly legit and I wholly endorse it.

    But the execution of this concept – along with literally every other goddamn aspect of this movie – is such a colossal and utter failure that I don’t blame you Ruts for thinking it’s all bullshit, cause yeah, that’s exactly what it ends up being. The in-movie universe is so poorly presented to the audience, that it’s never made clear how this world functions as noted above and in fact is so inept, it does the exact opposite of its intentions. The northern tribe is relatively incidental to the overall story in the tv show with the Earth Kingdom being the most common culture being explored with the fire nation being shown as culturally complex though misguided. In the movie, the earth kingdom gets almost no screen time and is presented as incidental, primitive and weak so screw Chinese and black people, while the north is this great white hope that ends up defeating the invading arabian hordes. I suppose the only good thing to be said is that the Fire Nation is shown as technologically advanced and culturally sophisticated and I can’t remember the last time I saw a Hollywood production that didn’t present the Middle East as ‘tursts’.

    • Volfram says:

      I didn’t see it because everyone in the trailers acted like they were carved out of wood.

      Sokka looked like he was carved out of wood. SOKKA looked like he was CARVED OUT OF WOOD.

      I really hope there isn’t a second movie on the way. I don’t want to know what would become of Toph.

  31. Dave B. says:

    As someone who’s fairly new to tabletop RPGs, I’ll share my favorite systems (which are also the favorites of my equally new gaming group).

    Fiasco, and The One Ring.

    Both appealed to us as games that allowed fun roleplaying without getting bogged down in complex rules. I would recommend them to new players, but it should be noted that both systems emphasize role-playing over roll-playing, so you might find them unsuitable for your group.

  32. Sciencegar says:

    I feel I should speak up in defense of Savage Worlds, but I can hardly say it doesn’t have some issues. I find it to be a very good system for a specific style of game, where combat is fast and effective, and based around big hits and amazing turns of fortune as dice explode, and where the little stuff can be pushed aside in favor of swift resolution. It’s no rules-light, generic system like Fate Core though, its specifically meant to mimic pulp and its comfort zone with different settings isn’t as great as it would like to pretend.

    I’ve run two very successful campaigns of 1920s Monster Hunting with Savage Worlds, and the system worked extremely well except where there were problems of scale. But for my current game, a mashup of different mecha series, I’m using Fate Core because Savage Worlds vehicle rules are designed around car chases and specialised weapons, and would need an overhaul to reflect mecha more appropriately. I find Fate Core easier to apply, even though I like Savage Worlds for its specific niche.

    The primary problems with Savage Worlds are its swingy combat which can see minor mooks get amazing criticals and lay out a PC unexpectedly, and the odd dice scale where having higher skill makes it easier to succeed but slightly harder to get a critical success. Fate’s dice mechanics are much more predictable and controllable, but are almost too much so, and the system is very much about manipulating the situation to maximise which skills are applicable and how many of your stunts give you boosts. So a comparison between them comes down to how much you prefer predictability over amazing swings of fortune, which is more a personal preference thing.

    Also, both use slightly different ‘earn tokens through play to improve your chances of success’, which I find to be something of a minefield for GMs. Different GMs will interpret the guidelines on handing out fate points/Bennies differently, which can alter the play dynamic of these games a lot. I think this can greatly affect peoples experiences with either game, by getting a GM who’s too stingy or too loose with these tokens and upsetting the games balance.

    • drlemaster says:

      Seconding this. Savage Worlds is great for versatility and fast, fun combat. It works well for the open-world, sandbox campaigns I like to run. On the downside, the rules are futsy enough I would not recommend it for beginners, and the math is wonky enough I would not recommend it for anyone who cares if the math in their game makes any sense.

      Definitely going to check out Fate Core.

      • Sciencegar says:

        Its definitely a system that responds well to openness, both in story direction and in-game improv by PCs. Its the kind of system where the GM is better off saying ‘Yes’ to most crazy stuff, which is why it worked so well for me. It also means that the earlier campaign modules for it are kinda ill-fitting, with more linear storytelling, and you need to take each adventure suggestion with a critical eye because you could easily be going off the rails in all sorts of ways.

    • Cuthalion says:

      My experience with Savage Worlds was kind of mixed. I liked the way you got bigger dice for better skills and stats, rather than adding modifiers. I did not like Shaken. Maybe we were playing it wrong, as the GM never handed out extra bennies that I can recall. But still.

      Screw Shaken.

      Also, melee was useless.

      • Sciencegar says:

        Mixing melee and ranged in the same game can be a little imbalanced, melee can do a lot of damage but the fact that your defense against ranged attacks can only be raised slightly means they are going to be on top.

        I tended to hand out 1-2 bennies to each of my players each session, and I’m led to believe this is slightly below what you’re supposed to give out. Something like a benny each hour of play to each player is about ideal, but again, this is going to be subjective because bennies are supposed to be a reward for good roleplaying and problem-solving, and its very subjective. Some GMs will just have different standards on what they deem good enough to deserve the ‘reward’, while some will think ‘they’re not rewards, they’re vital resources’ and hand them out for almost anything.

        The Shaken status is one of the more contraversial elements of the ruleset, it seems. What its meant to do is make for a simple ‘weakened’ state that can be applied to anyone without the bookkeeping of hit points, but since you can’t make actions while shaken, it feels really frustrating when applied to a PC, because of the pressures of Doing Things on your turn. This is multiplied when GMs are stingy with bennies, because those are supposed to be the big out that PCs have over enemies to handle being shaken. I’m not certain what I can say about it, other than that it can’t really be taken out of the system or tweaked heavily without upsetting the combat system immensely. But I understand it can be very frustrating and makes the system harder to buy into.

  33. Mike says:

    Can we expect an Errant Signal episode on Splinter Cell or Saints Row then?

  34. Neko says:

    And now, in the show notes, you’re writing about talking about writing about writing code.

  35. harborpirate says:

    I was prepared to hate on this episode for its lack of structure, but actually it ended up being pretty good. I still prefer the structured ones, but it does seem that the overall quality of the ‘cast is improving over time.

  36. AncientSpark says:

    Quick correction: The secret route in Hate Plus that requires a save of the “cheating” route in Analogue does not actually require this save. All you have to do is go through Hate Plus with the two actual routes and then, when you go to create a new file, you can do the cheating route. That said, outside of my situation where I no longer had my Analogue save file, I have no idea why you would ever need to do this.

  37. Artur CalDazar says:

    I’ve taken to calling the new Fisher doppelganger Fisher, because Ironside’s performance is where almost all of the character came from, and we’ve already lost the sliver that wasn’t from him.

    I love Analogue: A Hate Story. I think I found out about it via Pink Putty on twitter, and after finishing it I went and played everything Christene Love has ever made.

    I know its way too late for this advice Shamus but you could just write up each day when it happens, and just keep them ready to go later? Although, that might not mesh with how you work.

  38. anaphysik says:

    “that is literally half of his [Glitch’s] character sheet right there”

    And the other half is blood.

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