About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier

Diecast #33: Crusader King Modding, Haunted Houses, and Elder Scrolls

By Shamus
on Tuesday Oct 8, 2013
Filed under:


We open today’s show with a secret topic that I will not reveal. The only hint I’ll give you is that it’s about a certain perpetually broken and tragically mismanaged game that has appeared on the show many times in the past, was published by EA, and features the simulation of a city based on a game concept by Will Wright. See if you can unravel that riddle, Batman.

If you can’t figure it out in the space of five minutes, the answer is: Shame on you.

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

Hosts: Rutskarn, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.

Show notes:

8:00 Actual start of show

9:30 Shamus talks about Good Robot and also about Pac-Man Super Mega Championship Classic Ultimate Remix DX Turbo III HD Gold Edition Plus or whatever the damn thing is called. Also a bit of Reus, which is very interesting.

17:00 Josh is messing with Crusader Kings II mods.

26:00 Chris has been in vacation land. We also talk about the Escapist Expo.

41:30 Rutskarn talks Elder Scrolls

If you want to see only the best parts of Morrowind, then you want to read Rutskarn’s play-through.

53:30 Josh talks about the Steam Machine and system specs.

Comments (77)

  1. DrMcCoy says:

    Weird, I never even heard about a game called “Shame on you”.

  2. Winfield says:

    I played it once, but it was in Vegas and I swore to myself that I’d never say how it worked out.

  3. BenD says:

    Oh my sides hurt. The theme music. THE THEME MUSIC

  4. bucaneer says:

    I propose that Rutskarn and Shamus should be invited/forced to participate in the CK2 succession game. All in favor say aye.

  5. ChristopherT says:

    Hello, just got back from having a colonoscopy done, and my first thought, after being able to actually think again, and after food, was to check to see if this was up, thank you.

  6. Tse says:

    Some of these Steam Boxes sound really expensive…
    16 GB of system RAM and 3 GB of GPU RAM? GTX660 as the CHEAPEST of the test GPUs? The least powerful setup is in the upper-middle class of gaming PCs. Maybe Valve counts on waiting the competition out and manufacturing the Steambox after the next generation comes and devalues the components.

    • Irridium says:

      They’ll probably sell it at a loss, like all consoles. Hell I could see them taking a big hit on it if it means more people buying the thing, since it would mean more new people buying games off Steam. Plus, going by past events, there will be a big sale when the box launches. And sales are always a big money-maker for all involved.

      Short-term, it’ll probably lose money. But this is Valve, they focus on the long-term. And long-term, this has the potential to be very profitable.

      • Klay F. says:

        Even assuming Valve don’t cut deals with manufacturers to reduce costs, its worth it to remember these boxes likely won’t be going on sale for several years. Thats several years in which the technology will only get cheaper.

        • rofltehcat says:

          I couldn’t listen to the cast yet but as I understand it, those machines are designed to be very powerful. The “weak” ones of those powerhouses might be closer to “average” next year.

          However, I think people are really interpreting too much into the power of those prototypes. I´m sure there will be solutions from low end streaming devices (still requires a Windows PC) to high end boxes that will be powerful enough to heat the whole house.

          • Klay F. says:

            While you may very well be right, I think people are making a much bigger deal out of the cost of the hardware than is relevant. We are talking about a box which in the end will have access to the almighty Steam sale. I think anyone in the market for one of these machines will see the mountains of $5 games, and suddenly the relatively high cost of the machine itself won’t seem as important, not to mention that most brand new games for it will be $50 instead of their $60 console equivalent. I’m not saying the high cost of the machine won’t be a big barrier, but I think there is a chance that the low software prices might attract more people than the high hardware price drives away. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic though. :/

            • rofltehcat says:

              I agree that this may be a factor but people tend to focus on the big numbers and not do enough calculation in their head.
              There are enough people who argue that a 300 € console is much better value than a 600 € PC but ignore the lower cost of PC games.
              Both sides can right depending on gaming habits: If you aren’t playing as much (purchasing fewer games) and/or want the newest releases (no time for PC prices to sink), then the price advantage of PC games may not play a huge role for them. On the other hand if they play only few games, a device capable of also doing other stuff might be more interesting.

              My gaming habits probably wouldn’t be (as) affordable on a console. I get nearly all games drastically reduced.

      • Tse says:

        Selling them at a loss wouldn’t be a good idea, though. A lot of people would buy the Steambox just for the hardware and never use it for its intended purpose. You know, like how people were buying PS3s for server farms before Sony removed the OtherOS option.

    • Mephane says:

      Well I suppose by the time when the Steambox is actually sold for the first time, those stats may well have become rather typical. Valve might be planning ahead, testing the very hardware that they expect us to have when the machine is eventually released.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I guess they also don’t want their first batch of testers/advertisers to be vociferously complaining about low framerates & crappy textures.

      • Primogenitor says:

        The specs are more about the feedback Valve wants than the actual machines – remember Valve won’t be selling hardware itself.

        In this case, I think it is about optimizing SteamOS. Right now, it is okay but not great and throwing bigger numbers at it will help. Then the testers can give feedback about the user experience and not performance problems. By the time the machines are commercially available, Valve (and Nvidia, and others) will have tweaked the Linux drivers to iron out the performance wrinkles the testers are solving with brute force.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Looks like a middle-of-the-road gaming rig for the 2014 holidays. The steps below those are already “not 1337” for most games.

  7. Cybron says:

    Say what you will about Dragon’s Lair, but at least it’s not Sewer Shark. Probably the worst game I’ve ever played.

  8. bucaneer says:

    Also, I think Josh got the th/y pronunciation thing backwards. The letter “y” used to stand in for the letter þ (thorn), pronounced like “th”, when using typesets that did not include þ. So “ye olde” something or other is actually supposed to be pronounced simply “the old”. As for the pronouns thou/you, that’s a distinction between singular and plural(/formal) that is similar across all Indoeuropean languages (compare to German du/euch, French tu/vous, Latin tu/vos, Lithuanian* tu/jÅ«s) but disappeared from common English for whatever reason (perhaps because of the confusing use of “y”…)

    * I get to plug my language because it’s the closest living relative to Proto-Indoeuropean, deal with it.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      If only we knew someone who studies literature to tell us of ye olde texts and how yeth were supposed to sound like.

    • WillRiker says:

      Yeah, Josh is wrong here. “th” has never been pronounced like y” at any point in English; Thou/Thee and You/Ye are completely different sets of words. Originally Thou was 2nd person singular, while You was strictly 2nd person plural, but over time You began to be used as a more “polite” version of the 2nd person singular, while thou was relegated to more “familiar” use or when addressing social inferiors. This is a similar process to other European languages (e.g. “usted” vs. “tu” in Spanish)
      Eventually, use of thou died out entirely and now we use you exclusively for 2nd person singular.

    • swenson says:

      And they did use thee and thou as pronouns, pronounced like that–they were the singular form of “you”, with you/ye being plural, and turned into the familiar form, and then fell out of use (although they are still in limited use in certain dialects of English). So, for example, in the King James Bible, thee/thou indicate singular while you/ye indicate plural, and “thou” is used for God to indicate that you can have a personal relationship with God.

      Or something roughly like that. Random historical linguistic knowledge, yay!

  9. Kamica says:

    Reus is the Dutch word for Giant.
    Uuhm, now… let me just figure out how you pronounce the eu… I dont think there is actually any English word that uses that sound…
    You guys know Jeau du Boulles right?(Or however it is spelled), well, the Dutch vowel eu, is pronounced like the eau in jeau.
    I hope that helps =P.

  10. Paul Spooner says:

    Okay, time for a true scary story. Related to Slender Man.

    So my parents live on a pretty long lot. There’s a little house way at the back of the property. A few years ago my parents poured a concrete driveway, and wanted a nice gate to close it off.

    I like making things, so I welded up a custom gate. Instead of driving a post into the ground I made a concrete sculpture of a man holding on to the hinges. I’m not much of an artist, so the sculpture came out fairly rough. Still it was super sturdy, and the gate was a success.

    But we all forgot something. The sculptured gate post was set off to the side of the driveway which is lined with lemon trees, so you can’t really see it until you’re just about to pass through the gate. Also, their next-door neighbors porch is just about square with the sculpture, and they have their porch light on all the time.

    All of this worked together as follows. You’re walking up this long tree-lined driveway. It’s night, and there are no street lights. Ahead of you the lights of the house beckon warmly. You’re just about to pass through a wide dark gate when a light shines through a gap in the trees to your left. A figure leaps out in your peripheral vision, black against the light, just beside you, hands reaching. You startle and turn.

    The man has no face. Perhaps he once did, but it has been pummeled into a pasty collapsed misshapen mockery of human features. He makes no sound, and holds very still. Neither of you dare to move.

  11. Nimas says:

    Heh, as soon as I heard the story I’ve been waiting for you guys to cover it :D

  12. Dev Null says:

    I loved Reus. Though I can’t say I much cared for the “that upgrade is not unlocked until you get this achievement” mechanic. Fortunately, the achievements are pretty easy to save-skim; get a good start and lots of upgrades, save the game with 20 minutes to go, and decide which achievements to bag. Then re-load and go a different direction to bag a few more.

    Still a dumb mechanic though.

  13. guy says:

    CK2 empires fall apart into flaming ruins often enough as it is. I can’t go more than a single generation without half the empire rising in a coordinated revolt. And anyone who says that historically empires did not conquer massive territories in a single person’s lifetime is simply wrong.

  14. Jamas Enright says:

    Just gonna straight up ask: any sign of new Spoiler Warning any time soon? (Which, I freely acknowledge, is an entirely generous use of your time for no return other than praise and no money.)

  15. Yanni says:

    Redguard was actually pretty good. It was where Morrowind lore first began to crop up.

    Literally the only advantage of the TES Anthology is that the Arena/Daggerfall copies come with their own preset emulators so you don’t need to juggle Dosbox. But if you’re a PC gamer chances are good you know how to do that already so its not much of a selling point.

  16. Hitchmeister says:

    I’m surprised the super goo from SimCity of Tomorrow or whatever it’s called confused any of you. Obviously they’re tying together their franchises and the goo is actually Omni-gel from Mass Effect 1.

  17. Mr Compassionate says:

    Wow this was a very quiet cast! I mean its not like I judge a podcast based on the intensity of its volume but usually things are a bit more lively? I did like Ruts’s rendition of the Elder Scrolls Night Elf description though.
    Its probably a lack of Mumbles, she just supercharges everything with energy.

  18. A. Hieronymus Bosch says:

    Regarding Josh’s Halloween Horror Nights concern comment: Universal Employees have to volunteer and sign a release form (as of two-three years ago) to participate, and qualify for double-overtime and hazard pay.

    The person who told me this basically treated it like an early Christmas.

    • Neil W says:

      Some years ago a clown in a French themepark tried to put his hand in my Dad’s jacket pocket (as part of some sort of comedy magic trick) and very nearly got punched. It was difficult to see under the makeup but he seemed more wary and ready to dodge than surprised. The clown, not my Dad.

  19. ET says:

    Holy fishsticks, Josh!
    You can fry eggs with 800 watts!
    Have I been laptop gaming for too many years, or did we have > 500 W power supplies in towers back in the late 90s?
    Here I am, annoyed that laptops use chintzy hardware for internally switching voltages up/down from 120V to every other voltage, and end up using more than 100W!

    • Bryan says:

      I might have a kilowatt power supply…

      It’s a holdover from when the 6800GTX was a current nvidia chip, PCI-express was new, and the cards containing that particular chip required two or three separate 12V power connectors (with 3-4 +12V wires, and 3-4 ground connectors, each). You needed (…or, I thought it’d be a good idea…) a kilowatt power supply to supply enough current to those video cards.

      Now, of course, I’m on a much (*much*!) more powerful GPU that requires *far* less current. (Only 4x 12V lines total on one cable from the power supply, and running at ~300 MHz most of the time, only getting up to 1.2GHz (GPU) and 3GHz (memory) when under actual load.) The UPS claims I’m only pulling 15.6% of its 1250VA load typing this, or ~200VA, or way the heck less than a kilowatt. (How much less depends on how much of the load is resistance versus reactance, which I haven’t measured.)

  20. ColinL says:

    I so prefer CK2+ to vanilla CK2. I can’t even play vanilla because I’ve been spoiled by the mod.

    I like the increased emphasis on interpersonal relationships and scheming rather than continuous warring (and it’s still possible to regularly conquer, and to form a strong and large empire, as long as you do it strategically). The mechanics don’t prevent expansion, though I they they manage to make it feel less arbitrary. And every time I try to go back to vanilla I notice a bunch of little things missing from the mod which break my immersion. For instance, CK2+ has aging mechanics so that you no longer have virile eighty year old monarchs leading troops on the battlefield and fathering children.

    When I build an empire in vanilla I feel acutely aware of the fact that I’m pushing buttons and manipulating abstract game mechanics. When I build an empire in CK2+ I feel a unique sense of accomplishment, much less abstract and much more personal.

    I’ve found this to be true of most Paradox games vs. their best modded versions. Vicky 2 versus Vicky 2 with the Pop demand mod is the difference between playing a chaotic and unpredictable setting, and playing a setting which feels plausible and reminiscent of the actual 19th century, while still being dynamic and open to player influence.

    When I play the vanilla game the setting feels to a large extent merely aesthetic, as though the game could take place in a fantasy setting and not have felt odd. The best modded versions of their games, on the other hand, put me into the mindset of someone actually taking place in the politics of whichever era and place the game is set it.

    Though I must admit, I’m staying away from Paradox games, whether modded or unmodded at the moment. I’ve found they have the power to take up a little more of my life than I’m comfortable with, in very short periods of time.

  21. Karthik says:

    The thing about the Steambox prototypes and hardware that I don’t get is what the beta testers are going to play on it. It will ship with Steam OS, and there is no game right on Linux right now (or launching in the next few months) that requires a Titan or a GTX 780.

    Short of installing Windows, or playing previous gen games like TF2/Left 4 Dead, or running benchmarks (that Valve can do themselves), what’s a tester to do with the powerful hardware in a Steam Machine prototype?

  22. Wes1180 says:

    One thing I find funny is that people still tell Josh to edit a bit out every now and then, and of course he keeps not cutting it out. (Unless of course he edits some stuff out to play mind games with the other cast members, so they can never be sure)

  23. Eleion says:

    I’ve only played Crusader Kings for a few hours (okay, more like a 6 hour binge in one afternoon…), but I had a great time being the pimp king of Eurasia! Started as the Duke of Crete and tried as hard as I could to inherit the Byzantine empire. Years passed and the map hardly changed, but I had arranged so many marriages! It was great!

  24. Jarenth says:

    You heard it here first, folks: Good Robot’s secret innermost weakness is my torso.

  25. Dave B. says:

    Campster, I’m not really an autograph-seeking kind of person, but if I had known you were at the Expo, I would have wanted to say “hi.”

    As for the Expo, I kind of agree. I enjoyed it partly because it is small (I don’t like crowds.) Still, I felt a bit of “Ok I’m here, now what do I do?” I attended a bunch of panels, looked at the displays, tried out some board games, gawked at the cosplayers, and saw Miracle of Sound perform live. That was great, but unfortunately there was not much else to do. I might go somewhere else next year.

  26. Andy_Panthro says:

    Not to derail the Arena hate, but you can actually look up and down in Arena. I think it was the page up/page down keys. It may not have footsteps, but the monsters usually had a sound effect which would alert you to their presence.

    It was kind-of like a Rogue-like in some ways (a lot of randomized content), which I liked. But it hasn’t aged well.

    Ultima Underworld was far, far better and was released earlier.

    • Oh, that’s right. Man, the times when games used PgUp and PgDn are what I consider to be a dark age of carpal tunnel syndrome.

      Also, Arena had a level up noise that reminded me of those commercials for Imperial Butter where a crown would appear on the head of anyone who ate it accompanied by a fanfare.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Using pgup/pgdown also caused massive graphical distortions, due to the limitations of the game engine.

        If anyone’s interested in the older Elder Scrolls games (well, Daggerfall), it would be worth taking a look at the XL Engine project here: http://xlengine.com/

        It’s an amazing little project which will hopefully make Daggerfall a bit more accessible (as well as other games, in time).

  27. Steve C says:

    In regards to employees at haunted houses getting hurt:

    I was 7 or 8 and went into a haunted house at a carnival. I thought I could handle it as I’d been in others before but I freaked out. I thought something was in there. My dad went in with me and a couple of rooms in I hear this thud and groan. My dad thought there was something there and kicked it hard wearing steel toed boots. It was a guy. His job was to lurk scare people.

    So ya. They get hurt. I didn’t feel bad for him either.

  28. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Regarding the reading VS video watching thing, how exactly do you gauge that? actual youtube views VS visits to a page with a written post? Are we talking individual IP visits (what about dynamic IPs) or just different pageviews? Because I know I often come back to a post a few times over the 2-3 days after it was posted for the comments, especially if I left the comment and want to see if there’s any follow-up.

    • Shamus says:

      I’m going by Google Analytics, which lists page views but also unique visitors per day. I compare that to the YouTube views, which is usually ~1.5k.

      I’m pretty sure this doesn’t include people who read the site via RSS, so the ratio of readers-to-viewers is probably slanted towards readers even more than I originally guessed.

  29. Greg says:

    “Th” was never pronounced as a “y” sound. There used to be a letter that represented the sound we now represent as “th”. Early printing presses didn’t have this letter, so they replaced it with a “y”. So “the” was spelled “ye” but still pronounced as “the”, as in “Ye Olde Shoppe”. This is even more confusing because there was a word spelled and pronounced as “ye” used for second person plural, like “ya’ll” is used today.

    • HiEv says:

      The letter you’re referring to is called the “thorn“, which originally looked like “Þ” or “þ” or something similar to those but coming to a sharp point on the right instead of being curved (I can’t find a character that represents that version, but you can imagine it looks just like a rose thorn (which isn’t actually a thorn, technically that’s a prickle)). The thorn was used for the “th” sound.

      And it wasn’t that “Early printing presses didn’t have this letter”. After all, if that were the case they could have just made some. What actually happened is that over time the shape of the thorn changed until it was indistinguishable from the letter “Y”.

      That said, you’re right that Josh got it backwards. “Th” wasn’t pronounced like “Y”, but actually a letter that ended up looking like a “Y” was pronounced like “Th”.

  30. Adrian says:

    Hello DieCast!

    When will the next podcast be up?
    Also, do you guys do any other (independently) video/audio content besides the podcast and Spoiler Warning Show? (this is especially for Josh) And if yes, where can I find it?

  31. Athena says:

    Hi there, its good piece of writing on the topic of media print, we all be
    aware of media is a wonderful source of data.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>