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Diecast #148: XCom 2, Factorio, Good Robot Launch

By Shamus
on Monday Apr 11, 2016
Filed under:


Behold! A spectacle unseen on the internet: Three guys talking about videogames for an hour! Be stupefied as we unleash outlandish opinions such as “I really like a thing” and “This other thing isn’t at all to my liking”. Tell your friends!

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

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus.

Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
01:21: Dark Souls clothing line
This. THIS is the Dark Souls clothing line?

Try Jumping

Try Jumping

06:43: The Flame in the Flood

Link (YouTube)

To be fair, the game has a “Very Positive” rating on Steam. So it looks like Josh’s experience is atypical.

14:36: Frontier Internet Service Provider

It’s a sad tale.

17:20: XCom 2

31:34: Factorio

Link (YouTube)

42:15: Good Robot

Comments (103)

  1. Paul Spooner says:

    Factorio video does not exist? Bad link? Specifically, the ID hash seems one character too short.

  2. Yanni says:

    Another part of the massive backlash for the clothing line is that it occurred during the middle of Namco-Bandai’s massive bungling of the Dark Souls 3 release.

    Something I think Shamus would find quite interesting. (I can summarize it below but its really something you want to look up in its entirety.)

    It was released early in Japan as anyone who plays games has had to deal with at some point, and then streamers were given out free copies of the english pc version to play on stream to try and generate hype. A gesture that you can kind of understand from a marketing standpoint, except that everyone had been told the pc version wasn’t finished and the english translations weren’t done. The streamers weren’t allowed to stream past a certain boss, but then the Xbox One version leaked the english copy on accident through a loophole with the store and suddenly the entire english version was out. This is all three weeks before anyone else got to play the game. While review sites were still embargoed from posting reviews. By the time Namco-Bandai caught on and asked streamers to stop streaming (they ignored this request) people were doing speedruns of the game.

    As a result a lot of players were (unrealistically) hoping for an earlier release date. And others were hoping it was simply an announcement that pre-loading would begin soon. But nope. Clothing line.

    • Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

      I don’t understand, given how the first game worked, how there can be a third game in this series. Maybe a second. I know the first game didn’t necessarily end everything, but how many games can you spend in Everything is Dead and Demonic land?

      What kind of plot can you have? Whats left to discover in a world that was dead starting in the first game. Is there just that much more world to discover of the same stuff.

      Maybe eventually this will be like Final Fantasy where its a different Dead Hell World each time.

      • Agamo says:

        The end of the first game basically reset the clock (there’s a second ending, but I think that one is not considered canon).

        The second game doesn’t seem to have much connection to the events of the first; it takes place quite some time afterwards.

        The third game seems to be more directly related to the events and themes of the first one, but as I’ve been avoiding spoilers, I don’t really know much.

      • Faren says:

        In the series, history is cyclical. While they are all medieval fantasy with the same general tone and backstory, the games take place during different cycles. With each cycle, there is a new major kingdom that rises and falls, and the player shows up sometime after that fall. So the first game takes place in Lordran, then there were several other kingdoms, and then the second game takes place primarily in the kingdom of Drangleic, although the DLC has you pop over into a few other places. I’ve been avoiding reading about DS3, so I can’t say anything about that.

        Occasionally you get references to things from the previous games, but in the context of the story all the old stuff is mostly forgotten myths and legends, the story isn’t exactly a direct sequel.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          Wow. Sounds like Dark Final Fantasy was closer to the truth than I thought.

          At least its a good premise for producing new dead world that you all care about for reasons I’ll never understand because I can’t get past how dark it is.

          Wasteland 2 or Fallout New Vegas is as dark as I can handle.

      • Yanni says:

        Spoilers for DS3 below for fans.

        Basically the idea of the world is that everything was shrouded in darkness and in statis. Then somehow, fire was birthed into the world and introduced disparity. It brought life, light, heat, etc. Some beings used the flame to create an age of fire. The first Dark Souls takes place as that age is ending, fire is fading. And you can either snuff it out entirely or kindle it to prolong it just a bit longer.

        Dark Souls 2 then revealed that this concept was, as Faren mentioned, cyclical. That the fire would always fade and whenever the fire faded it would eventually rekindle. Civilisations rise during the periods of flame and fall during the periods of dark. Though certain beings thrive in the darkness.

        Dark Souls 3 revolves around the culmination of this cycle. The Lords of Cinder (those who prolonged the age of fire in past cycles) are being reborn and you are attempting to link the flame once more. Ultimately, however, you can usurp the flame and end the cycle once and for all. Hence it being the final souls game. That said 2 was kind of terribly done and handled by a different team and kind of stands out as not really making much sense in the overall series, so 3 only really gives it token nods while really acting like a sequel to Dark Souls 1.

        Hope that explains it.

        • TMC_Sherpa says:

          So… Mass Effect without the cover based shooting. Got it :)

          PS I’m shocked, shocked I say that the Check this if you aren’t a spammer hasn’t been changed to Check this if you are a good robot. On brand messaging man, it’s what all the kids crave.

  3. Narida says:

    Podcast downloads are particularly slow, ~10min for a 50 MB file, and I often want to download them on short notice. Any chance for an improvement?

  4. Xeorm says:

    On Factorio, I always did agree that optimally it would have something more to do for yourself or some tangible goal. For much of the early and midgame there is the ability to get more gear and whatnot for your character, and the power armor improvements you can get are amazing in comparison to what you initially start with.

    But then you hit lategame afterwards, and there’s zilch to do aside from make more stuff. There’s ostensibly the rocket launch you can do, but it doesn’t have the sort of context behind it that makes it worth it.

    I’d liken the game to the zen gardens that people have though. Something you can construct, make, and that has absolutely no purpose whatsoever, but it calms you. Which means for me, a factory making literally tons of pollution and weapons and rockets is my idea of utter tranquility.

  5. Falterfire says:

    Re:Not feeling like Dark Souls clothing:

    Would it feel more like Dark Souls clothing if every time you talked about any other clothing somebody would interrupt to tell you about how Dark Souls clothing is a better example of whatever it was you were talking about?

  6. Dragmire says:

    Shamus’ description of Factorio sounds quite a bit like how I feel about Civilization(I haven’t extensively played a Civ type game since Civ 3/Call to Power 2). Creating cities that won’t collapse without supervision and funding my ability to make more cities/soldiers is all the game is to me. It’s all about the mechanics for me since aesthetics were limited and appeasing the citizens was merely an act of making sure everything ran efficiently.

  7. Flailmorpho says:

    The Flame and the Flood is the most Oregon game I have ever seen

  8. James Porter says:

    So the Namco’s handling of the launch of Dark Souls 3 has been… interesting. That clothes line is weird, but combine that with the staggered release of the english version and the wonderful mess of Slashy Souls I really wonder what the guys at Namco are thinking.

    I remember a PR guy back when Dark Souls 1 came out talking about how they didnt really need to market Dark Souls that hard, since by the nature of the game, everyone will be spreading it word of mouth. I wonder what changed.

    • Robyrt says:

      Namco’s marketing team is making a perfectly reasonable conclusion for someone who has never played or seen the game, only read the reviews and seen the memes. While the original games were critical darlings that sold only OK, the more you hype up how Tough and Brutal and Bro-Tastic the game is, the more sales you can push to the Call of Duty demographic.

      Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that all the Dark Souls memes like “420 praise it” or “bro, do you even praise?” are funny because of how tonally inappropriate they are, not because they actually reflect how people view the game.

  9. Merlin says:

    Question to those who have tuned in: does the XCOM2 discussion involve talking about the aliens’ move-when-revealed mechanic? I’m curious to listen but fear my brain may explode if that topic crops up again.

  10. If you guys had put voiceovers of some kind in Good Robot I would have been reduced to frothing rage on more than one occasion as I got killed because a mob popped up behind me and pooped out a ton of bombs. I rely on hearing as much or more than vision. My vision is occupied with watching attacks that are near me, I need my ears to monitor the stuff that’s further away.

    I’m not a great twitch player–I don’t have superb motor control but my reflexes are PHENOMENAL. I’m almost always yelling at people to shut up in multiplayer games because they’re screwing with my ability to hear what’s going on.

    • Gm says:

      how would voices work for robots unless it´s to show that the robots are people silly stuff like that?

      with going through the tunnels cant you show some picture and text on it or is going through the tunnels too fast for that?

      • Well I think their concern is that anything but audio would interfere with the game. I think even audio would interfere with the game. If you’re reading in Good Robot, you’re not playing any more.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          I’ll second that even audio would interfere with the game. I got a lot of value out of the audio cues for shots impacting offscreen, or robots bumping against terrain to indicate that there’s robots around. I would mute any kind of dialogue the second it started covering up those cues.

          • Tizzy says:

            I would also have a very hard time paying attention to what was being said. Especially during gameplay, and especially as a non-native speaker.

            And then, once you have heard them a couple of times, any repeated lines become annoying really fast. So you would need a menu option to turn them off

  11. Andy_Panthro says:

    I enjoyed XCOM2 more than XCOM1 (haven’t played Enemy Within). I still find some parts of it annoying though, but that’s more down to having played through the original UFO, TFTD, Apocalypse and Xenonauts. I guess I just like that style more.

    Once I got used to the systems and mechanics (the board game style as Rutskarn mentioned), I could enjoy them more, but I really think XCOM2 thematically works a lot better than XCOM1. In the first game, having to choose one out of three missions felt wrong, since you were supposed to be a multinational organisation with plenty of resources. In XCOM2 it just makes more sense that you have to choose your battles carefully.

    • If you like the theme of XCOM2, try the X-Piratez mod for Open X-COM. It’s a similar deal to XCOM2 where you are after the earth was lost, only in this you are a band of mutant pirates and you go and capture prisoners or fight the other factions.

      I had been heming and hawing about playing through XCOM again but trying the Long War mod, but wow, X-Piratez is exactly what I wanted. No free enemy spam turns! Bullets that don’t disappear! Great fun.

      It totally changed up the dynamic over vanilla X-COM. Everyone has lots of garbage primative weapons, and since you are mutants you can take a few hits before going down. There isn’t really the rapid threat escalation to keep up with, so you can and should pick your battles. You can really only get a few scientists, but there is a tonne of cheapish things to research. You are explicitly supposed to have your workers making things to make money if they don’t have other things to do, and there are even special resources you can get your hands on just for that.

      If you liked the original X-COM, definitely give X-Piratez a look.

      • Matt Downie says:

        I’m playing X-Piratez. For some reason I’m finding it insanely addictive, despite the fiddly inventory management and battles that go on too long and insane difficulty spikes if you pick on the wrong enemy. There’s so much stuff in it, so many factions and technologies and different tactics.

        And yes, it features all-female mutant sky pirates. But somehow, it’s still more plausible than the regular X-Com. Did you ever think, “Hey, you know we’re being invaded by aliens here? How about giving me, say, 0.1% of the US military budget so I can maintain a squad of a thousand soldiers instead of twenty? And how about, instead of me having to budget for a couple of dozen scientists, you give me NASA? Do they really have something better to do with their time than analyse the alien space drive I found?”

        X-Com, mechanically, is mostly about shooting down ships, kidnapping their occupants, and hauling away their booty for profit. That fits a lot better with the theme of pirates than it does with a professional modern internationally-funded military unit.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          To be fair, the alien strategy was about as sensible as X-COM’s. Aliens decide they want to terrorize Sydney, so they send down a dozen sectoids, naked and armed only with plasma pistols. After the last two identical missions got stomped by X-COM forces.

          • Humanoid says:

            Clearly it works like Civilization, so one Sectoid on the screen actually represents a whole battalion of them. And likewise, one XCOM rookie is actually hundreds of similarly visually challenged soldiers shooting into the air in unison.

            • Matt Downie says:

              Tragedy struck X-COM last night, when a hundred soldiers fired a hundred rocket-propelled grenades at a hundred naked Sectoids. All of them missed their intended targets, instead hitting a hundred nearby assault troopers…

        • ehlijen says:

          The scale reason is gameplay mechanics and tone.

          They wanted you to have the tactical scale be such that you had firefights inside crashed UFOs. That means the single soldier tactical scale.

          They wanted the loss of each soldier to be felt, hence each soldier having a name and individual stats so that their loss mattered. Not enough to lose you the game, but enough to be felt more than ‘we lost 7% of our infantry on that mission, sir’.

          They wanted the have the strategic scale be such that a few UFOs could be a credible threat to the world; for one because of memory constraints at the time and for two to not overwhelm the player with recovery mission burnout. Hence the low number of interceptors.

          I believe they made the correct choice in every respect for the scale, even if the result is somewhat unrealistic (but no more so than Duke Nukem saving the world singlehandedly).

      • Ninety-Three says:

        X-Piratez sounds interesting, but I’m a bit confused by your description. There’s no rapidly rising threat level, but the designers intended you to mass produce laser cannons (or whatever the pirate equivalent is)? How do they avoid the problem where manufacturing turns into an exponential money-making machine (make laser cannons, sell to buy more engineers, make twice as many laser cannons, sell to buy another workshop and still more engineers, make three times as many laser cannons…)?

        • Matt Downie says:

          I’ve been playing it for longer than most AAA games, and I still haven’t found a way to manufacture lasers (or, more importantly, ammo for lasers). To manufacture most things, you need component parts that have to be looted from aliens.

          You can make money from factories – you start off with a still that allows you to manufacture booze and sell it for profit – but the margins are pretty small when you take into account wages and maintenance costs for factories and worker barracks. It’s really just a way to keep your workers occupied when there’s nothing more pressing to build.

          Also, while the threat level isn’t constantly escalating, that doesn’t mean there’s no threat.

  12. In my experience, the biggest reason why most indie games that could have a story or cinematics or some other feature don’t have them is that it takes a ton of work, time and polish to be good in one aspect of a game – be it story, mechanics, sound or something else. When you’re constrained by the amount of resources, you have to pick your battles.

    If you have the budget, you can afford to be good at everything (Witcher 3), but even then it is not guaranteed (Fallout 4).

    • There are a fair number of games out there that have story but next to no gameplay. I suppose you’d call these interactive novels or similar, though.

    • Tizzy says:

      I’ve long been on the record as saying that games can always do with more story, but lately I’ve been seriously reconsidering, and I was really glad to hear Rutskarn express similar feelings, because I have trouble seeing how to inject more story into Good Robot without fundamentally changing the game.

      I think I came to this realization by watching Let’s Plays, funnily enough. When you’re watching a video rather than playing the game, you are even more keenly aware of where the time goes. The way most games (especially AAA games) deliver stories feels very self-indulgent to me: like the devs have no qualms taking up the player’s time without delivering much worth, to echo Rutskarn’s concerns.

      It applies even when the story is above average, the most extreme case being Quantum Break, with a quality in the delivery that shows the TV roots of the writers, but also having cutscenes that are actual TV in 30 minute chunks.

      • Trix2000 says:

        I still think it’s good for games to have more story, and that done well it can almost ALWAYS be an improvement.

        But the key words there are “done well”, and even the most skilled developers and writers aren’t always going to be able to reach that depending on the resources and situation at hand. Making a great story and integrating it well into the game so that it feels right can be an incredibly involved undertaking, and sometimes I feel like the medium as a whole still has a lot to learn in order to reach that far. Writing for games is on a whole other level than regular writing, I think.

        I’ve seen enough amazing examples so far to be convinced that story in games can make for better (the best?) experiences. There’s no better way to get people invested than to provide some framework to attach or relate to, I think. But actually crafting it such that things don’t fall flat is so incredibly complicated that the great successes seem more lucky than anything.

        • Tizzy says:

          Good story is always appreciated, of course. But, as you point out, very hard to pull off, so I’ve reached the point where I’d rather go with a bare-bones one or none at all, rather than a bad one, or one that takes up more space than it really deserves.

          I can hold up Portal as an example of a minimalist story expertly told. But I was not impressed by Portal 2. Frankly, the first one had set the bar so high, I cannot imagine how anyone could have pulled off a follow-up that didn’t feel like a letdown.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          There are absolutely games that should not have a story. Tetris and Super Hexagon, Doom and Nuclear Throne, there are games where unlike in Mass Effect, if you’re engaging with a story, you have stopped playing the game, and the best-written story in the world cannot solve that problem.

          But actually crafting it such that things don't fall flat is so incredibly complicated that the great successes seem more lucky than anything.

          That comes off as pretty insulting to the writers who do well. It’s saying that the Sunless Sea writers weren’t actually better writers than the Gears of War writers (or if they were, their skill difference didn’t matter), they just got lucky. Attributing success to luck like that devalues skill and effort.

  13. Yummychickenblue says:

    Regarding Josh’s problem with the industry centric mods in Minecraft, there is actually a mod that let’s you add custom NPCs that are programmable with Javascript.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The problem with time units is that it doesnt automatically calculate them for you.But imagine firaxis thing of having the outline of how far you can go before you have to waste a shot,only that you can do it incrementally(move one square left,then three squares right).Much better that way.

    Not to mention that it allows you to attack more than just once(or twice in some rare situations)by sacrificing movement,which is way better when you are fighting an overwhelming force with crappy shooters.

    • Humanoid says:

      There are a few videos floating around of some early prototypes Firaxis came up with for the remake. One thing that I like about their design process is that they implemented a lot of the various mechanics from the old games and various other games of the genre, playtested them, and decided that way whether to keep or throw out the various elements. Regardless of the outcome (and I know you’re not a fan of the new one, but we’ve done that discussion to death), it’s an approach to game design I think more devs should take.

      Finding the videos can be a bit tricky because any way you word it turns out ambiguous, but here’s a decent one:


  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,you do know that its 2016?Human contact is not required in order to play board games.Its the future!

    • Mintskittle says:

      This could make for some good one offs between seasons of Spoiler Warning. Now I really wanna see the crew go a few rounds with Secret Hitler.

      • Alex says:

        I’ve been watching TotalBiscuit’s Secret Hitler videos on Youtube and I’d second that as a really good board game for streaming, as long as you’ve got enough people to make it interesting (7-10 seems to work best). The board game elements themselves are easy for viewers to follow, and it’s all about communication between the players as everyone tries to convince the liberals that they are liberals and the fascists try to subtly hint to Hitler that they are fascists without letting the liberals know, all while trying to advance one or both of their own team’s win conditions.

      • Fists says:

        Didn’t they do an episode of munchkin? Or was it a munchkin inspired videogame?

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Yes, that would be interesting. Although they would maybe need to bring the extended diecast crew to fill up the numbers, and with that it becomes a scheduling challenge.

        I wonder who would wind up getting shot the most. My mind is split between Josh and Ruts. Ruts because they should allready know he is good at this sort of skulldrugery, and Josh because Josh.

    • Galad says:

      There’s also the website roll20.net which looks like it should be a good platform to play tabletop games with strangers from the comfort of your home. I’m still too busy with my steam catalogue to give a try though.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,if you want minecraft with actual story and goal(and some awful puns),you should definitely try crashlands.Its great.

  17. Silfir says:

    I mean – if you didn’t have confidence that you would pull a good narrative off for Good Robot, it was definitely right to do without it.

    But to hear Shamus bring up Crypt of the Necrodancer as an example of a roguelite game narrative coming off as superfluous and not worth it was really jarring. I loved the living daylight out of its story cutscenes, especially the opening cinematic. Everything just oozed atmosphere, they were great rewards for a job done well, the characters came alive (after a fashion) so well that you could still identify with them while looking at the pixel art (I am beyond sick of indie game pixel art).

    If you genuinely thought of Crypt of the Necrodancer as an example of what not to do, I can’t help but feel you were severely off the mark. If you *had* the means to tell the tragi-comedic story of the Good Robot who was the Bad Robot all along (I think that was the gist of it?) in end-of-chapter cutscenes, I think it would have been a great addition to the final product – one you might even be underestimating.

    What I don’t think roguelites are compatible with are *involved* narratives. Because of permadeath, it’s inevitable players will be replaying vast parts, especially the opening chapters, over and over again. It’s rightly pointed out – you cannot keep interrupting gameplay, and you especially can’t do it re-telling the parts of the story the player already heard. So any narrative moments you include have to be short and sweet, and they have hit their notes perfectly.

    Only when the storytelling is interwoven with game mechanics as in the example of FTL and there is a big enough variety of events, it works; you’ll eventually recognize events that have happened before, but even then because of blue options another “try” at a certain event will often lead to a new discovery.

    What doesn’t work, on the other hand, is a narrative-focused game that decides at a certain point in development to incorporate roguelite mechanics as an afterthought. This is a weakness I think Sunless Sea succumbed to; much of the map wasn’t actually procedurally generated, dying and restarting meant a lot of repetition, so the best experience was probably to be had by turning off permadeath entirely and playing it as just an RPG.

    This is kind of the danger in the big “roguelike” boom; because it’s become a marketing term more than a genre definition, lots of developers try to work roguelite sensibilities into a game concept that plain isn’t well-suited for it.

    Good Robot is another example of an “___ roguelite” that didn’t start development or design as one, and unfortunately I feel it just didn’t quite stick the landing. Instead of a roguelite-compatible narrative – and there are great ones out there – we only get glimpses of what could have been. Worse still, though, the upgrade system – which the player engages with just about every five minutes, if they’re taking their sweet time – is just not fun. There’s not enough variety in the stuff you get. Worse still, there’s not enough information to make the right decisions with the limited resources you get, and experimentation is directly at odds with the concept of permadeath itself. It gets to the point where I’m far more excited to check if I can play with the pope hat again than to look at another red or blue vending machine to see which upgrades I cannot afford.

    • John says:

      I don’t completely agree with Shamus, but Crypt of the NecroDancer really does have story problems. First, the story is fairly inessential and almost entirely irrelevant to the gameplay. To my mind, the only time that the story ever really matters is when it is used to justify the big gameplay shift as Cadence fights the NecroDancer. Second, the last third of the story is inaccessible to all but the most skilled players, as Aria requires almost completely perfect play. I don’t much mind that myself–as I said, the story is inessential–but I know that there are at least a few TwentySiders who find it really irritating.

      All that said, the presence of a short cutscene after you defeat a major boss doesn’t bother me much. The way I play, I seldom see more than one cutscene in a fifteen minute period.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Yeah…Aria’s levels are basically un-winnable. :S

      • Silfir says:

        What dungeon crawler out there have you played that has its story elements closely interwoven with the gameplay? In some genres the story is always going to be a side show or an interlude. That doesn’t mean it can’t contribute to the overall experience.

        • John says:

          It’s not that the story is bad, it’s just that you could remove it and the game wouldn’t suffer much. Or you could replace it with a completely different story without affecting the gameplay in the slightest. The only way the story contributes to the game is by setting a mood that complements the gameplay. And, frankly, it’s the opening cutscene that does all the work there. It’s a bit jarring, for example, to go from one of Cadence’s mournful, melancholy flashbacks to the relatively fast-paced rock-music soundtrack of Level 3.

    • Syal says:

      The non-story characters in COTN didn’t have that cutscene, and I absolutely missed it. Even something like the Binding of Isaac’s ending cutscenes serve to make it feel like you’ve completed something.

    • silver Harloe says:

      Personally, I thought wandering dungeons and basically trying hard to be a D&D game was the main point of Rogue and Hack and Nethack and etc. I didn’t think permadeath was the key aspect, or even an important aspect of the game. Now the term “roguelike” has been taken over to mean the *wrong thing*. It’s very disappointing to me.

      I thought the permadeath aspect of Rogue(*) was just because “that’s what games are like” – you go to arcade, your quarter is good for only so long. Games kill you and you get a score and you start over. That’s just what they do. There was nothing making Rogue unique in that aspect at the time, so why it alone should be remembered for pretty much that feature alone is beyond me.

      (*) Mom couldn’t afford day care when I had days off school. Often I’d end up going to work with her and they’d stick me in a corner, stick an 8 or 10 inch (I forget which) floppy in the VAX 11/780 and let me play Rogue or Dungeon or Trek and I’d lose track of time. I don’t really remember the names of the games though, exactly, so it may not have been Rogue exactly that I played.

      • silver Harloe says:

        On second thought, I forgot about the ‘randomly generated challenges’ aspect which people also mean when they say ‘roguelike’. So I guess the term is more apt that I’m giving it credit for. Too me, though, it still seems like calling Gone Home a Doomlike.

  18. A Human Bean says:

    The house I rent a room in recently decided to switch from Comcast to Frontier to save money when the locked-in, “ha ha, we own you” portion of the comcast contract expired. After all, we were paying through the nose for speeds a fraction of what was advertised*, so, why not?


    Seriously. A contributing reason the Big Three get away with their local monopolies is that smaller franchises are pants-on-head useless when it comes to providing better service. Or any service. So now, during ‘peak hours’ (9am to 1am, and no, I don’t mean the other way around) we get down speeds that are approximately 5 times faster than 56k dial-up! I was so nostalgic for 140p video!

    *Yes, I know those are ‘maximums’.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    My main problem about xcom2 (aside from the silly waiting that can be modded out) is the setting.Why earth?Why the lost invasion?It adds nothing to the game to have it set on post invasion earth.Especially with how civilians are treated(no one cares about them,they dont care about anyone).Why wasnt the game set on the aliens world and humans were a guerrilla squad sent there to topple their government or something?That wouldve been far less contrived.

    • ehlijen says:

      My guess? To appeal to Syndicate fans as well.

      I agree that they didn’t make a lot of the premise, but I have no problems with it in principle. I wouldn’t have minded if it had been more like Apocalypse. With multiple factions, and the player needing to avoid offending too many. Mechanics where the player needs to take out aliens without alerting human police patrols could have been nice. Or if there’d been more civilians in each mission and thus an incentive not to use the too powerful in my opinion explosives, on the pain of losing national support…

      But as it is, the whole game felt thematically slapped together. I never got the feeling like I was fighting for public approval, as a game like this should have. I never felt like anyone in the world other than the XCOM friends club cared about the aliens. And snakeman Gaius Baltar was criminally underused given his introduction.

      I’m also not a fan of this strange (non-)plot with the ethereals and the ‘threat we aren’t ready for woooooooo’ that’s been carried over from Enemy Unkown (and I’m told also The Bureau declassified?). It doesn’t affect any given game enough to add to the experience, and it’s too vague and generic to make me want to play the next game (I wanted to play XCOM2 for many reasons, but not that one).
      And I’m still groaning at ‘Player! Are you a bad enough dude to take control of YOUR AVATAR to defeat the alien menace?’ (And I’m someone who likes puns!)

    • Humanoid says:

      I think it’s largely to do with level design. It’s easier to produce stylistically distinct architectures based on what we’re already familiar with, rather than having to produce analogues of each for a hypothetical alien world. What does an alien city look like? An alien military base? Alien suburbs? XCOM 2 already suffers from that to an extent due to its procedural generation, and I can only see the problem being worse when you transplant the system to entirely fictional architectural cues.

      So yeah, I think it’d be a massive risk, and probably not one worth the potential payoff. You only need to look as far as EU’s various alien levels such as the UFO maps, the alien base, the temple ship, etc, to draw a conclusion that they might not have the chops to create a sufficiently diverse alien world, and that attempting to do so may well end up reproducing the worst parts of the previous game instead.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        You can easily do the stargate thing and say “theyve seeded a bunch of planets with humans,brutes,this and that race,and humans are the ones they still havent harvested on earth and on this planet”.

        Or,you know,experiment with wild looking stuff anyway.Because the important stuff in xcom isnt how it looks,but how it plays.

  20. Ninety-Three says:

    I find it odd that you brought up Hotline Miami as a game that made its story work, because I quit that game over the story. I spent every single second of the story segments moaning “Just let me go back to killing stuff” and even clicking through the text at top speed, I was spending an utterly unforgivable amount of time on those pointless, incoherent story segments.

  21. Echo Tango says:

    Kinda funny how Josh’s comment about The Flame In The Flood was basically, “If you really want to play Don’t Starve on a boat, you could get this game.” Because that exists. It’s called, Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked. And it’s actually a pretty good DLC for the original game. :)

  22. Zach Hixson says:

    I don’t know where to leave this, so I’ll just leave it here, but I was watching this video and was surprised to see your game at 0:44 XD Video

  23. Ringwraith says:

    Rutskarn mentioned needing to know more things for Ironman in XCOM, 2 actually let you see what enemies you can shoot from a particular position you can move to. It’s very easy to miss as it’s tiny, but there’s a crosshair next to every enemy icon you can shoot when you hover over a possible move command.
    It’s a small step, but a very good one!

    I actually really like Invisible, Inc.’s approach to forced saves-and-loading, that normally, you get a number of “rewinds” (although you only get one on the hardest difficulty settings), which will reset the game to the beginning of the last turn, per mission.
    Though you can never save scum, you cannot turn that off. You can give yourself more rewinds at the start however, the difficulty is highly customisable.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The problem with that targeting thing is that you cant really know which enemy is represented by which icon unless you zoom way out.Which you have to do constantly,since the zoom level always annoyingly resets.

    • Merlin says:

      The rewind mechanic in II is a great way for the player to police themselves, since it’s often tough to rein yourself in to the middle ground between “Totally Ironman” and “Scumming like a madman”. But at the same time, it feels like a tacit admission that the core game can be a little… bullshitty, for lack of a better time. It’s kind of like Real-Time-With-Pause games; the pause is there because they’re kind of a mess to play in real time. For the brief time I spent with II, I found most of my rewinds happened in situations like me scoping out an room, confirming it was clear, moving into it, then having a patrolling guard stroll through a door on the other side of the room. Very rarely did I need it to take back something I felt like was legitimately a poor decision or risky play, which is what I really wanted the mechanic to be for.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        If that’s happening, you’re doing it wrong. When they introduced the mechanic, my first run with rewinds made it all the way to the final mission before using one, so they’re not some necessary crutch.

        For the specific problem you mention, you’re not supposed to just scope out a room then charge in and pray no guards walk through the other door. To enter a room safely you get someone to the door, peek, then end your turn and wait to see if any guards enter. Regular guard patrol routes are on a two turn cycle (one turn to walk to point B, one turn to walk back to point A, repeat), so you only need to wait one turn to confirm a room is clear.

    • Humanoid says:

      For a game totally not designed for modding, it’s amazing to me that both those things are now possible in XCOM:EU. Actually applying the mods can be a pain without Long War also installed (a side effect of Long War is that it’s far easier for other modders to access the game files), but they work with the vanilla game as well.

      Line of Sight preview: http://www.nexusmods.com/xcom/mods/666/?

      Omega 13 (pay to restart level): http://www.nexusmods.com/xcom/mods/534/?

  24. Stomponator says:

    The post-apocalyptic scenario and art style of The Flame in the Flood remind me very much of the Sweet Tooth comics, wich I highly recommend.

  25. Arctem says:

    Rutskarn got so close to it… Lords of Waterdeep’s genre is “worker placement”. It appears to be available on iOS, but not for PC.

    Also I vote heartily for Ticket to Ride being the next Spoiler Warning season. More seriously, a short-ish multiplayer game would actually be interesting to watch. There’s almost certainly a better choice, but I think of what it might be.

  26. ThaneofFife says:

    Hi Shamus,
    I’ve been having a technical problem with the Diecast for a few weeks now: Whenever I open the tab with the Diecast, it auto-plays with no visible player–meaning that I can’t fast-forward or pause.

    The regular player appears, as well, and works–meaning that I can have the Diecast playing twice at once in the same tab. If it helps, I’m using the current version of Firefox. Would definitely appreciate any advice you could give me! Thanks!

  27. Arctem says:

    The closest comparison I can think of for Factorio is SpaceChem. The gameplay is a lot of the same (find the best way to put things together, usually trying to save space or time) but it’s far larger and open world.

    Also it’s pretty great for multiplayer.

  28. Drlemaster says:

    Josh, if you want that boardgame experience, the one on Steam that I like best is Smallworld. It’s what I play with my boardgame friends when we can’t meet in real life. The AI is a bit flaky, but the interface really feels like playing the actual boardgame, and the hotseat play works well.

    And I second Rutskarn’s request for a PC version of Lords of Waterdeep.

  29. ehlijen says:

    As far as boardgames online go, there is VASSAL

    It’s an open interface program allowing the creation and loading of custom modules to play many a boardgame in (enhanced by running skype or another voice chat software in tandem). It’s not optimised (or amazingly polished) for any particular game (we sometimes play Battlestar Galactica and the many components and subscreens are a mess), but there are free modules for many games out there (as far as I can tell, most publisher have a ‘no rules included = fine with us’ attitude).

    We use modules for 40k, BSG, BFG, Puerto Rico and my friend even made one for Warmaster. It’s even got generic fantasy grid modules for dungeon crawling.

  30. Geoff says:

    Rutskarn mentioned Lords of Waterdeep which, while not on PC, is on iOS. I have it and its a great conversion of the board game. The AI doesn’t beat playing with friends, but its a decent substitute to playing by yourself (particularly since trading and such isn’t a part of the game, so players can just be reduced to decision engines based on optimal next steps.).

    You can also play with friends who also have the app. It has the same issues as any turn based, asynchronous, online game in that turns can take a long time, but you can run multiple games simultaneously and check in periodically as time allows to take your turns.

  31. Steve C says:

    Xenonauts. I wanted so much to like Xenonauts. It was boring. The beauty of the original XCOM wasn’t TU. It was the moving goal posts.

    In the original XCOM you would have all these problems in front of you. You’d only really see one at a time until it was solved. You would solve it, then move onto another problem. Like the first problem would be you’d want to win missions and not get your guys killed all the time. Then the next would be to get new weapons so when you shot at something it died when you want. Then it would be base upgrading. Etc etc. There would be this huge checklist of things you wanted to do that were just barely out of reach. And you could systematically solve each problem and reach the mini-goal you set for yourself. Eg. Money would be tight except you could create a series of manufacturing bases to effectively make money a non-issue. Then Elerium would be an issue. The hill that was climbed was always just a ledge on the larger mountain you couldn’t quite see the top of. When you finished with every goal you set yourself, then you were prepared to attack Mars and end the game.

    The problem with Xenonauts was that you couldn’t solve issues and move onto the next one. It was always simply kill aliens. You always had money issues. etc. It was designed that you couldn’t ever be finished with a single element. It got boring real quick.

  32. Pinkhair says:

    One thing that has always bothered me- the intro and outro music is SO MUCH louder than the rest of the podcast, that lowering the volume enough to have the music not blow my ears out makes the voice nearly inaudible(especially Shamus). This is a problem when I’m not sitting with the controls immediately to hand, or want to queue up two casts in a row to listen to while I go about my business on another tab, or across the room.

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