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Diecast #158: Team Fortress 2 vs. Overwatch, The Room, VA-11 Hall-A

By Shamus
on Monday Jul 11, 2016
Filed under:


This week I’d intended to talk about the Games Done Quick fundraiser / speedrunning marathon. But like a doofus, I forgot to put it on the agenda. Anyway, I had a great time last week watching people glitch their way through the Bethesda games. Highly recommended.

Direct download (MP3)
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Podcast RSS feed.

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster, Mumbles.

Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:23 Team Fortress 2 vs. Overwatch

Here is the “upcoming” (now released) video Chris kept alluding to during the discussion:

Link (YouTube)

39:14 The Room

This is talking about a puzzle game about opening doors and boxes, which sounds lame but actually looks really appealing. The game “The Room” has nothing to do with the developer “The Chinese Room”, although in one of our many nested tangents we manage to talk about exactly that…

49:00 The Chinese Room

We spend a lot of time talking about Dear Esther and the degree to which it did / didn’t work, and why. Here’s the analysis from Innuendo Studios that Chris mentioned.

1:05:03 VA-11 Hall-A

Link (YouTube)

We start off talking about the game, but then move onto the more important topic of “If each of us was turned into a videogame, what would it be?”

Comments (125)

  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

    TF2. Now I’m tempted to create a character named “Can’tHearUDon’tCare” and play on mute. And I’ve never played TF2 or anything similar to it so it would be perfectly infuriating.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh hai Rutskarn.Hows your sex life?

  3. SyrusRayne says:

    Today I learned that Rutskarn’s ping is.. Is worse than it would be if he was ON THE MOON.

  4. Ninety-Three says:

    I think Overwatch’s leveling system is terrible. They dedicated so many systems and so much UI space to something whose end result is incredibly underwhelming. Whenever I saw “First win of the day, +1500 XP”, I got excited for 0.4 seconds before remembering that leveling is worthless therefore XP is worthless therefore I wish it would just put me into the next match rather than making me stare at XP bars and medals. I’ve taken to quitting out of a match as soon as I see Victory/Defeat because it’s actually faster to matchmake into a new team than to through all of the postgame clutter. I don’t know if this means I’m earning zero XP, and the system is so bad that I don’t care if I am.

    First, XP is broken. At the end of each game, they hand out medals, first second and third place for kills, objective time, healing, etc. Bronze medals are worth 50 XP, silver 100, and gold 150. However, multiple medals are worthless, you only get the XP reward once: three bronze medals and two silver in one match is only worth 100 XP for one silver. Furthermore, if you’re the team’s only healer (which I usually am), you’re guaranteed gold because there’s no competition for “most healing”. Despite taking up a significant amount of time on the postgame screen, medals are also piddly, you’ll earn at most 150 XP, but a single kill is worth 100 XP, and there are a lot of kills per game.

    But the bigger problem is the rewards of the system. “Oh boy, I leveled up, now I’m level 10! That means I get… a loot box… containing a spray, a repeat of another spray I already have, a voice line I don’t want, and a skin for a character I don’t use. Hurray.” I cannot imagine a more anticlimactic reward system, more often than not you find out that your level up was worthless, and now you wish you weren’t level 10 because the only privilege of being higher level is that your next loot box comes slower than the previous one.

    I find the “ding!” noise it makes on levelup to be more rewarding than the rest of the system put together.

    • Falterfire says:

      I really agree with you – especially about the pointlessness of loot boxes – but I feel like highlighting something you got wrong that really just makes it clear how confusing things are.

      “Despite taking up a significant amount of time on the postgame screen, medals are also piddly, you'll earn at most 150 XP, but a single kill is worth 100 XP, and there are a lot of kills per game.”

      This isn’t accurate. XP is gained at a flat rate as you play. It has nothing to do with actions in game. The only modifiers to XP are those shown at the end of a game (stuff like the medals or the first win of the day).

      The +10 from being near a payload or the +100 from getting a solo kill? That’s actually ‘fire points’ which are a totally separate thing that just indicate roughly how effectively you’re Overwatching right now. Fire points degrade over time, and if you have more than 250 or so your character is ‘on fire’. Being on fire doesn’t actually DO anything, although your character will say a voice line (Zenyatta says “I am on fire, but an extinguisher is not required” for example).

      Being on fire is just meant to be a “these are the players on your team who are currently the most involved in what’s going on”. As a healer this may actually help you in games with randoms – Pressing tab pulls up the roster with an indicator of who is currently on fire, and any DPS heroes on fire are probably the ones you want to focus on keeping alive, because they’re the players actually doing damage for you.

      • Trix2000 says:

        …You can get one of the cards by spending a lot of the match on fire. That’s pretty much it, though I do like the mechanic since it’s a clear measure of “I’m contributing a lot!”

        The loot boxes are fine, I think. I actually find the ones without something useful are less common than the ones that have at least an epic, and you can commonly get coins (either from the box directly or from repeats) to buy any specific things you want. Also, the EXP per box stops increasing at 22k per level, so once you hit that point it becomes pretty steady (I can easily get a box or two per day without sinking too much time, since games are fairly quick and I only need ~6-10 per level depending on length).

        Medal exp is so minimal I almost ignore it anyways – medals for me are more about rating my own performance, so several golds means I did pretty well. :)

  5. IFS says:

    Mumbles if you want to do crazy stuff in Overwatch you should try getting some friends together in a custom game and turn off cooldowns. Junkrat can fly through use of a constant stream of explosions (other characters who shouldn’t be able to fly normally can as well like Genji), Pharrah can just bounce people around with her alt-fire infinitely, McCree just rolls across the ground forever, it’s hilarious. Unfortunately you do need to put your own group together for this, and you are limited to up to six man teams but it’s still a blast.

    • Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

      I finally have a reason to play this game.

      • Nimas says:

        2 really cool things I’ve seen.

        First, on Volskaya at the first point (which is a courtyard with a small bunker on one side) there was a Junkrat on top of the bunker, 2 Mercys on either side of the middle of the point and 2 Genjis on different teams on either side. The mercies then heal/damage buff each other to create a ‘net’, Junkrat then fires one of his grenades onto one of the Genjis who uses his reflect to bounce the grenade over the ‘net’ where the other side had to do the same and they play badminton.

        The second was in a custom game where it was a 6v6 Mcree with 100 health each and headshots only. I think the highest accuracy was around 3%.

        • Trix2000 says:

          3%? That sounds pretty low, even for headshots… McCree’s pistol is deadly accurate.

          But then I guess people would KNOW that and be much less likely to put themselves in a situation to actually be hit when a single headshot will kill you. Probably a lot of wild fire as well. :)

  6. Fizban says:

    For all that Mumbles, and probably the greater part of TF2 players in general, prefer dropping into servers and doing whatever they want, there are people that would like to actually play the game. With a full team that doesn’t ditch out the second something goes wrong, as they almost always do. And the casual matchmaking did exactly that, perfectly, for the one game that I had before they removed the penalties and completely killed it. I did not have much hope you’d discuss this and indeed it’s funny how Chris said that getting rid of the penalties was a good idea and then immediately followed it with how the entire team left immediately (2 fort is garbage though, and all ctf). The idea of putting in matchmaking, which didn’t even touch community servers, shouldn’t be controversial. Immediately gutting said matchmaking by removing the penalties that define it, on the other hand, that I would have liked to hear something about.

    The mistake was that they took away the pub rando servers at the same time, which caused all the people who just want to jump servers every 30 seconds to whine their asses off, and valve responded by doing the exact wrong thing by removing the matchmaking abandonment penalties rather than just putting pub randos back on the menu. Well and labeling a matched mode with abandonment penalties “casual” was moronic. The competitive mode restrictions that wreck class balance, as you discussed, make it all the more obvious that a full team mode with the same functionality is necessary.

    I don’t have the numbers for what percentage mashed that quickplay button for pub rando, but the phrase “favorite server” keeps coming up when those people aren’t ever playing on some specific server. I personally hate community servers and prefer a neutral valve option whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean I lose out on recognizing people over the course of an evening. Stories about wacky funtimes on community servers are nice, but it’s not how people have been doing it for ages. You can do wackiness on random valve servers just as easily, and indeed that’s the whole problem: you can never not play that way, it’s exceedingly rare to actually reach a server state where both teams are full of people there for a fight rather than a goof. No matter what you do you have no control over how much of your team is actually there to fight. That’s why the game has always needed a matchmaking mode, which they made, and then immediately killed, and I’ve been raging about it for days.

    Overwatch? Everything I hear makes it sound less appealing to me. The only reason I’m actually considering it is because valve just personally slapped me in the face by making the game mode I always wanted, and then taking it away in a hearbeat to serve the very people from whom that game mode was supposed to allow escape. I’d been getting back into TF2 the last month, had a great time hanging out with people, rode the server waves up and down, and them this update and I’m excited, actually excited. It’s the update that would make TF2 relevant again, maybe I’ll actually buy some stuff if I’m going to be playing it so much. But no, valve shows their colors immediately. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like Overwatch, it’s not the game I want to play-but at least they haven’t spit in my face.

    • Coming_Second says:

      Yeah, I came here to post something like this and you’ve nailed it better than I would have. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the concept of 12v12 matchmaking – TF2’s been crying out for something like this for some time now. The problem stems entirely from idiotically replacing freeplay servers with it wholesale. I think Valve’s reasoning was that community servers would pick up the slack, since a lot of people complained that Valve servers really hurt them when they were introduced. In an ideal world a bunch of vanilla community servers would pop up overnight to give people just looking for some quick fun on the map they want, but that’s obviously not what happened.

      If Valve returned half of their servers back to freeplay everything would be more or less fine and TF2 would be an all-round better experience, offering pretty much any player what they want. Instead, like you say, they’ve completely screwed the pooch by choosing to gut 12v12 and keep it as the only option for “casual” players, thereby pleasing no-one. It’s a real shame because it’s difficult for me to get a proper game and try out the new Pass Time mode and various balancing tweaks they’ve implemented – a considerable amount of effort put into making everything more difficult for everyone (except people who want to try 6v6 in a relatively casual manner I guess).

      It also came across like Mumbles did the classic TF2 veteran thing of coming back to it years later, playing a single round, having a mediocre time and declaring UGH GOD RUINED FOREVER SO MUCH BETTER IN MY DAY as a result. It’s a natural consequence of a multiplayer game having 10 years of active change, but it’s still a pretty wearisome attitude to run into. You stopped playing it, of course you don’t feel a sense of community and familiarity towards it anymore.

      • Philadelphus says:

        If Valve returned half of their servers back to freeplay everything would be more or less fine and TF2 would be an all-round better experience, offering pretty much any player what they want. Instead, like you say, they've completely screwed the pooch by choosing to gut 12v12 and keep it as the only option for “casual” players, thereby pleasing no-one.

        This. So much this. I’ve been playing TF2 off and on since it went free to play (including several hours a week for the last few weeks), and very much enjoyed the utility of the old way of finding a Valve server to play on casually. I’m not against the matchmaking stuff, and was even interested in trying the “casual” matchmaking, but I’d though it would be in addition to the old Valve public servers, not instead of. With the old way I could get into a gamemode I wanted, on a map I felt like playing, in under 10 seconds sometimes. Now, I I’m lucky if I can get into a game in under a minute (with no choice of map yet), and the last two times I tried I got into games that had, literally, 10 seconds and maybe 30 seconds of time left on the clock before the other team automatically won (because “let’s make it time attack instead of using the actual victory conditions for the gamemode” [Payload] makes so much sense). I accomplished nothing of any value whatsoever, and got a bunch of my time wasted waiting for the opportunity to do nothing. Just…how did Valve think this was a good idea?

        • Groboclown says:

          The time attack thing is a competitive TF2 approach to see who wins a defense game. It looks like Valve finally made this mode fully supported in game (rather than have it be enforced by moderators or custom server scripting), but it totally changes the feel of the game for the casual crowd.

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    So here’s another complaint about Overwatch, a feature so basic that it astounds me it’s absent. You can’t choose what map or game mode you want to play. Are you in the mood to defend the point? Too bad, the matchmaking gods have decreed that today you will push the payload. Do you really hate that one map? The only way to avoid it is to quit out of the match, queue for a new game, and hope you don’t get served it again.

    I can only assume they did this to speed up matchmaking times: If half your population only wants payload, and the other half only wants objectives, then it takes twice as long to fill a game as if you force everyone into the same queue.

    • Falterfire says:

      You CAN, but only in a custom game. Custom games have all sorts of fun rules you can set as well – You can mess with cooldowns, which characters can be played, how much health people have, how fast ultimates charge, and all sorts of other things. Unfortunately the game does stone nothing to help you find enough people to fill one of those custom games.

      Personally the feature I want most in Overwatch is a clan/guild system. I want to be able to join a group and then quickly see who is online in that group. It’s not quite custom servers, but it would have the same idea of meeting people who play and getting to jam games with the same (online) friends without having to do organizing outside of the game.

      Right now the only things I’ve seen are Discord servers, which are generally like “This server is all the people on /r/Overwatch” which is a way larger group than I’d like.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Final Overwatch complaint for this post.

      You know how everyone points out how much work Valve put into making the classes distinguishable, the whole “recognisable silhouette” thing, and then they ruined it with towers of hats and weird alt weapons and so on? Overwatch is doing that from day 1. I died to a Soldier 76 because his weird skin had me mistake him for McCree and I didn’t flee when I heard 76’s ultimate cue. “Oh, I see a bright white character over there in the distance, it must be their Mer-” haha nope Mercy’s behind you, you’re seeing Reaper in a skin that inverts his colour scheme. I’ve seen skins on the end of game team roster where I stared at them until the roster closed and I still couldn’t figure out what character it was supposed to be.

    • Ringwraith says:

      It’s common console gaming matchmaking queue mentality, although those often have a vote for one of the next few maps coming up, but they can’t do that here as there’s not enough maps.
      Matchmaking queues are evil, basically. There’s no way they don’t have enough people to fill preferential queues.
      Heck, Counter-Strike lets you which specific maps you want to show up for competitive, with estimated wait times, and you’re going to be stuck on that one map for about an hour.

      • Mephane says:

        Overwatch player here myself, I love how the matchmaking does not let you choose maps. Yeah, you read that right. Even though I do have strong preferences for game modes (payload > all), my experience in games where you can choose maps or maps are voted for at the end of a match is that like 99% of the time the same few maps are played over and over again; whatever yields the fastest reward or lends itself the most to cookie cutter tactics is played all the time, all day long. Sooner or later all other maps or game modes are rarely played at all, and if your favourite happens to be among those, that may very well truly ruin the game for you.

  8. Kelerak says:

    Oh, lovely. TF2 has turned into the Tour of Duty section of MVM. That’s freaking fantastic.

  9. Hitch says:

    “I have a sombrero, so I think I know what I’m doing.”

  10. Jsor says:

    Wait wait wait, VA11 HALL-A is good!? I assumed from the Steam description that it was just one of the thousands of shovelware anime softcore porn VNs that seem to show up on Steam every week.

    • mwchase says:

      Same or similar. I looked at the website url (waifubartending.com) and the itch.io page’s invitation to “Rate this waifu abuse”, and thought to myself “I don’t usually have to ask myself ‘So, exactly how 4chan is this game?’, and that seems like a point against.”

      • Jsor says:

        Huh, I went to the game’s website (the waifubartending.com one) and it says in the FAQ:

        Can I romance people?
        No, the waifu thing is just an epic prank to make people buy this game.

        So it is, in fact, a normal VN-ish game and not a creepy dating/pickup sim where you play a bartender.

  11. Mailbox says:

    What is your favorite color of Macree?

  12. Groboclown says:

    TF2 talk!

    TC mode: I had a saying with Hydro: when you play Hydro, only Hydro wins.

  13. mwchase says:

    I once played on the last point in Hydro, and assumed I’d somehow ended up on an entirely different map.

  14. Merlin says:

    I’m right there with you guys on like 99% of the TF2 conversation, but it’s really tiring to hear the same small-c conservatism directed at it that Smash suffered from. (And also got a shot at during the ep.) And it’s made more frustrating by how one-sided it seems like it’s always been. Even for all the unsavory connotation behind the term “casual gamer,” the term I grew up hearing for the opposite camp was – and Shamus please nuke this from orbit if I’m crossing the line of good taste to even directly reference it – “competifags.” At least in my experience, the competitive scene for each game has generally been either ambivalent towards casual play or supportive of it because of how it feeds the community. But for whatever reason, the cult of “no one is allowed to give a crap or play the game differently from me” lives on to fight for your right – nay, duty – to get randomly crit rocketed in the face.

    Random dicking around and 12v12 chaos are both lovely, and that miserable nerd that Mumbles had to endure is a miserable nerd and I’m sorry she had to deal with him. But 6v6 TF2 is also a lot of fun and a great game, even if, from a design perspective, half the classes being ultra-niche is a bummer. And like… if you’re ideologically opposed to competitive play (as distinct from thinking it’s fundamentally a bad game), why wax nostalgic about which particular updates represent Peak TF2 or fiddle with the Smash Bros item list because screw fire flowers or whatever? It’s a weirdly provincial appeal to authenticity. If the only “real” way to play is to not care, why not embrace all the not-caring that Valve has done and bask in 31 flavors of Jarate or whatever they’ve added to the game instead of doing the same cherrypicking you’re decrying?

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I want to echo this sentiment. I’ve played in prize-supported item-using tournaments and I never heard a single complaint, but non-competitive players cannot stop shitting on Final Destination No Items.

      There’s this weird trend where competitive players have a reputation for gatekeeping, but I’ve heard “tryhard” used as an insult far more than “casual”. It’s frustrating to hear the crew fret over the connotations of naming a mode “casual”, then throw around their own slurs for “the other side, the ones who are Playing Wrong”.

      • Falterfire says:

        The gatekeeping exists, but it’s usually at the lower levels. It’s not uncommon for weaker players in team games to feel they are stronger than the system ranks them and the only reason they don’t have a higher rank is because they keep getting paired with terrible players.

        There absolutely is a group of people in competitive in most games that expect every single one of their teammates to be an expert in every aspect of how the game works and also be technically proficient on the level of the best players in the world despite their own performance being positively mediocre. The funny thing is that usually those uber-serious players actually get rarer as you get to higher ranks.

        • Ysen says:

          Yeah, the people who are the most obnoxious about that sort of thing may not actually be part of the “competitive scene” (though such attitudes do exist within the comp scene to some extent).

          It’s something I saw a lot when I was playing Dota. In the newbie bracket I ran into a lot of people who liked to yell that people were casual scrubs the second anyone deviated from what the yeller thought was the perfect build, or they lost a fight, or anything else vaguely negative happened.As I rose up the ranks, there tended to less of those people – likely because that attitude doesn’t help you win games or improve your play.

          It’s also worth keeping in mind that there’s a strong case of observation bias with this sort of thing. If you always mess about and don’t play seriously, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be yelled at for being too competitive. Likewise, if you always take the game very seriously and play to win, you’re less likely to be derided as a filthy casual.

    • Christopher says:

      That’s been my experience with Smash too, sometimes. I’ve been lucky enough to never encounter a dickish “serious only” smash player. The people who play it “seriously” are still up for doing 8-player, all items on-matches at someone’s housewarming party. But there’s a brand of proudly casual, “it’s meant to be played this way” type of person who will hear one mention of wavedash and get very sarcastic.

      I feel like it’s largely vanished as Melee has remained popular, though. The people who still care about Smash think it’s really fun to watch those EVO finals.

      I mostly wanted to air my grievances about a thing I recognized, so I’m sorry for getting all up in Campster’s face about a single line.

      • Merlin says:

        Out of curiosity: did Smash 4 take off, competitively? I still pop on Melee streams every now and again, but I got the impression that Brawl basically flamed out thanks to any variety of factors. (Tripping, Metaknight, tripping, floatiness discouraging the very system of combos that made the game fun and interesting, tripping, have I mentioned tripping yet, etc.) I can imagine that further entrenching the community with Melee, but I haven’t really paid a lot of attention.

        • Christopher says:

          It’s probably fine? I don’t keep too up to date on Smash 4 because I don’t want to feel tempted to buy a Wii U. But I believe that both last year and this, both Melee and Smash 4 were/are at EVO, with a healthy amount of participants in both camps. My friends in the fighting game community said it’s worse than Melee but better than Brawl(which was also my experience when I played it), so I could see it having a much better shelf life as a competitive game than Brawl had.

          • Lachlan the Mad says:

            I think that Smash 4 at least has the potential to be a way better competitive game than Brawl. Brawl was deliberately designed to be alienating to competitive players (fucking tripping) because the developers didn’t like the way competitive players treated their game. Smash 4 has actually been updated to balance characters better, meaning that the tiers can be smoothed out. I had a quick look on the Smash Wiki and some of the fine-tuning that the updates have added is absurdly small (tiny hitbox tweaks, adjusting damage by 2% etc.). The game still has tiers, but nobody’s anywhere near as broken as Brawl’s Meta Knight was. I think that there are still playstyles that are favoured — the top-tiered characters in SSB4 all seem to be relatively fast and light — but tanky characters aren’t completely worthless like they were in competitive Brawl (Wario, Ike, DK and Bowser all tier much higher than they did in the older games).

  15. Echo Tango says:

    Re: try-hards

    Ugh. This is pretty much why I quit League of Legends. You click the button labelled “unranked”, and then you’re in a match where everyone’s worried about winning instead of having fun. Like, if I wanted to play to win, isn’t that exactly what ranked mode is for? It’s a pity that TF2 is falling into the same trap. :S

    • Falterfire says:

      On the other hand, you did also press the button to play a game of League/Overwatch. So sure, your goal is to have fun, but you should also be actively attempting to progress the goals required to win the game.

      In a team game, if you are deliberately avoiding winning, you’re detracting from the experience of the other five members of your team, who would likely be having more fun if the sixth member of the team was also attempting to play the game.

      • IFS says:

        So much this, I am fully on board with doing goofy shit in Overwatch if you announce your intentions beforehand and people are willing to go along with it, but if you’re just trying to goof around and not play the game when everyone else is trying to play the game you’re detracting from their experience as much as they are from yours. Text and voice chat are in the game for a reason, use them.

        That said I can’t speak for League and it’s community (I’m not even aware what would constitute goofy stuff in that game) so it could easily be that members of that community aren’t particularly interested in playing the game non-competitively, or that the game’s design just doesn’t encourage that kind of stuff. Hearthstone has the latter problem to an extent, there are a lot of silly decks you can try out in the game but there isn’t really a good place to play them, casual mode has the same decks as ladder quite often and the more aggressive strategies often don’t give you time to do your silly combo and with how the game works I’m not sure it would be possible to design a space specifically for those silly/bad decks.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          and with how the game works I'm not sure it would be possible to design a space specifically for those silly/bad decks.

          Magic: The Gathering Online has a decent solution to that problem, which is impressive because that client is generally terrible. Its setup is a little structurally different from Hearthstone, but I think Hearthstone could easily adopt the relevant bit nonetheless.

          Without getting into irrelevant details, MTGO has a clear divide of competitive vs casual play. The trick is that Magic further breaks down its casual mode into several different queues that a player chooses from: Just Starting Out, For Fun, and Tournament Practice. There's no enforcement on who plays in what room, so every now and then you get some jerk taking a top-tier Constructed deck into the newbie room, but overall it does a surprisingly good job of fixing the "Casual Mode is just 'Testing for Ranked' Mode" problem.

          • Falterfire says:

            I’m not convinced it’s a great solution, but that’s more due to the width of options for Magic decks. If you’re playing any format larger than Standard, there are just too many levels of power to clearly divide casual and competitive, and if you play enough games in Just for Fun you quickly realize this.

            You see everything from “This is literally a preconstructed deck I bought from the store for $12” to “This is a weird remix of known powerful cards that happens to not use them to their full potential” and there’s a bunch of levels in between there of clear power difference. Occasionally I’ll play a game that feels close, but a lot of the time it feels like I’m either 80% to win or 80% to lose.

            For Magic (Or Hearthstone I suppose) casual to work properly, you really need organized groups. In paper Magic you just know what level to play at because that’s what your friends play at. Online, where you play against other random players maybe only once, you don’t really have that.

            • Ninety-Three says:

              It is indeed not great, and I’d be willing to hear the argument that it’s not even decent as I claimed (for instance, niche formats like Commander get squeezed into one room in order to queue reasonably fast, completely undoing the point of the system), but it’s still miles better than Hearthstone’s approach. If Hearthstone doesn’t want to implement anything else, they should at least do this much.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Sorry, I should have phrased that better. I meant that I don’t want to play to win at the expense of fun. i.e. I want to be able to play the game to win or to lose*, and not be a try-hard, and also not have my own fun at the expense of other people playing the game. I’m not sure if there’s a term for this. In high school when we played street hockey, we called them “pickup” games, or “scrum” games, or some other name I cannot recall – just fun games for people who’s primary goal is to have fun playing the game, and not for people who’s primary goal is to win the game.

        * I suppose this is my primary argument here – “try-hards” are people who don’t seem to understand that both winning and losing (and tying) a game are valid outcomes for playing a game.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      MOBAs are not fundamentally designed for “having fun” (ie, wasting everybody else’s time by breaking the match). When one team gets too much ahead, or when members of one team aren’t participating, then you wind up not being able to do anything at all other than run out and die over and over again and wait for lengthy respawn timers. You might be able to goof off and not ruin the whole match in TF2, but in LoL feeding the wrong character means that he’ll soon be powerful enough to absolutely destroy everyone he comes up against.

      That’s not fun. Especially when you’re stuck in a 45 minute game with it. There exists a vast gulf between wanting to play competitively enough to be in ranked and not even trying to win. Just because people aren’t in ranked doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to play the game, and MOBAs are a competitive game by their basic nature. If you’re looking for just screwing around make a custom game with people who are on the same page.

      This “OMG WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO HAVE FUN!” is like if you went up to a bunch of people sitting at a table, drinking some beers and having a good time, and then bellyflopped onto their table while screaming obscenities, then being indignant that they weren’t happy because “OMG YOU’RE OUT DRINKING IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!”. They were having fun, and your brand of ‘fun’ ruined that for them. Just because people aren’t having your brand of fun doesn’t mean that they aren’t having fun, and just because something is good fun for you doesn’t mean that it is for other people.

      • Echo Tango says:

        I think you missed my reply where I further explained what I meant by “having fun”. (And are therefore arguing against an argument I wasn’t trying to make.) The fact that I’m trying to have fun does not mean that I am also trying to actively sabotage the game, or play against the rules, or something else like that. I just want to play the game, with the given rules, while trying to enjoy it, and if we win that’s OK, and if we lose that’s OK too.

        To use your analogy, I’m one of the guys having a beer and having fun, not the guy belly-flopping, and not the teetotaler angry that everyone else is drinking.

  16. Cybron says:

    “Like playing smash bros without items”
    A thriving community that has persisted for 15 years, well past the point where the hardware ideal for playing the game has stopped being relevant? And here I thought competitive TF2 was dead.

    I know what you meant but competitive-style Melee is both really fun and very alive. Even in casual play, I’d rather give items a pass. I’m not even particularly good at it, I just enjoy it more.

  17. Groboclown says:

    I played The Room games on my device, and I loved them. The first one was the best (except for 2 puzzles that used entirely new mechanics only for themselves).

    The Room 3 unfortunately started going down the road of having puzzles be linked to each other in separate locations, rather than being entirely self-contained. It had some interesting ideas, but there were a few puzzles where you had to move between rooms to solve.

  18. Christopher says:

    In regards to Campster's video, I get the impression that it's a very PC experience to have a community within a game, just because it's easier to communicate. I've played consoles and handhelds my whole life, but I don't think I've ever experiences a community kind of setting in my games. Forums and chat rooms around those games is another story, but I doubt I would miss anything if I played Overwatch on console. The cosmetics options even fit right in with Street Fighter V, and that game has a casual multiplayer mode called Casual.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I would have though it’d be easier to communicate on a console, where the headsets are more standardized and require less shopping to purchase. (i.e. XBox) The real trick, is that PC games tend to have (by necessity) pretty good tools for muting/blocking trolls. :)

  19. Mokap says:

    Damnit, as soon as the words “Professor Layton” came out Rut’s mouth, I was going to furiously reccommend Puzzle Agent, but I was too late.

    • mwchase says:

      Something about Puzzle Agent managed to rub me all kinds of the wrong way, and I liked Layton. It was something like, some of the main-branch puzzles, I don’t think they got tested enough. I managed to chance across solutions that seemed valid to me, but that the game rejected.

      Like “You have to place a tile here to redirect the thing, you can’t just let it pass through, because that would involve the thing passing through here without hitting a tile, and that can’t possibly be right.”

  20. Jsor says:

    Man, I picked up The Room on Ruts’ recommendation and I’m completely stuck on the last-ish puzzle.

    I’m at this part with a blue gem and a button in the center that rotates the maze. I can get it to the slot that lines up with the hole, but it gets stuck on one of those little pegs or something. I’ve tried brute forcing the puzzle and taking every possible path, and even looking up a walkthrough. I’m doing the same thing the walkthroughs are doing except the gem gets stuck. I am vexxed.

  21. Philadelphus says:

    I’m with Chris regarding TF2’s customization system. I’ve never been into online competitive play, so I only tried TF2 out when it went free to play, and thus never saw it before customization items were added, so I have no nostalgic attachment to some more ‘pure’ era. I like my Medic loadout because it’s my Medic loadout; even if there are other Medics on my team, (statistically) none of them are going to have the same loadout I do, which, as Chris says, gives a sense of identity. (Maybe people will realize that I’m the Medic who’s helping the whole team push and will heal everyone to the best of my ability rather than pocketing one particular person unlike the other Medic on the team, that sort of thing. [That’s not a specific example, just generic.])

    Items also kinda give you an idea of how long people have been in the game; the demoman with an Unusual hat, three customization items, and no vanilla weapons is probably a better player than the one with a Ghastly Gibus and all vanilla weapons. Whenever the item servers go down I get annoyed because everyone looks the same; I no longer have my unique identity, and I can no longer get a handle on which particular enemy players to especially watch out for.

    I’ve also heard the whole thing about silhouettes for each class, and frankly, it’s never bothered me. I’ve never mistaken one class for another just because they happened to be wearing any particular hat or item. I mean, maybe it’s confusing for other people, and I’m certainly sorry for them if that’s the case, but each class’s identity is made up of so much more than just a silhouette (animation, movement speed, size, weapon they’re holding, whether they’re flying through the air, etc.) that identifying them has never been a problem for me.

    • Echo Tango says:

      “identifying them has never been a problem for me”
      Ditto. I could always identify people, even if they had wacky hats and stuff. Now, I totally think that those non-matching hats and stuff ruined the aesthetic of the game, but functionally, the game was still playable. :)

      • Philadelphus says:

        And that’s a perfectly valid argument to make against hats, in my opinion. Although like I said I only joined after hats were a thing so to me the cosmetic-less game is visually a lot more boring and bland. But I makes no claims to a good aesthetic sense. :)

    • Fizban says:

      Agreed, the “silhouette” is more than just the exact outline, hats and cosmetics don’t really hurt it as far as I’m concerned. The only time I get confused is when a class that wears mostly black is standing in a shadow so you can’t tell their team color fast enough (which I’m sure is intentional). Meanwhile, I look at Overwatch footage and I can’t tell what’s going on at all, everything is lasers and cyborgy bits that all look the same.

      But the most important part is the one you already mentioned: being able to pick out players on not only your team, but also the enemy team. One of the most frequent things I’ll call out in a tense game is when a high priority/threat player on the other team goes down, or returns to the battlefield, and being able to identify them on first sight means you can use appropriate tactics. You can recognize the guy who keeps killing you and run for backup instead of just dying, you can recognize the guy who can’t touch you and target someone else first. Actual tactical decisions.

      And knowing it’s not just that you personally suck, but that this one particular player is simply that much better than you, can drain a lot of the frustration out and make it easier to take the situation as a challenge to grow from rather than just a ragequit.

      • Trix2000 says:

        Overwatch actually makes it pretty easy to distinguish between classes/characters (profiles, poses, and sizes are pretty distinct, even with skins) and enemies/allies (shading/coloring that makes it pretty clear that guy is not your friend).

        There’s only one skin that’s ever thrown this off for me (Reaper’s preorder skin which removes his hood), but he still has a fairly distinct pose (ie: holding his shotguns akimbo in front of his face AT ALL TIMES) so it usually doesn’t cause a problem.

  22. Tever says:

    On Dear Esther: A friend told me about it, and she made it seem like it would be a kind of surreal horror experience. So I start it up, and I’m thinking, yeah, this is a great atmosphere. And I’m afraid to walk into a cabin near the starting point because it was dark inside, and I kept expecting something to walk up behind me. But eventually that feeling wore off, and he seemed to be telling his story to me out of order, so I kept walking back and forth looking for the trigger points that I had missed. And I finally just got fed up with it and shut it off. And I’ve since learned what it was actually supposed to be, but I just have such a bad taste in my mouth from that first experience that talking about the game makes me grind my teeth.

  23. SlothfulCobra says:

    I feel like Valve probably could easily afford to do the monkeying around with TF2 they did, since they’ve got all those videogame programmers on staff, they’ve got to give them something to do if they’re not going to be making new videogames.

    Point and click style adventure games seemed like they were making a comeback, but then Telltale, the biggest company behind the comeback, went off and invented a new sort of choose your own adventure drama, which seems to be way more lucrative than anything else they’ve done, so the future on that is hazy.

    And lastly, I don’t think any videogame title will top Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist. If nothing else, all the words in that title will gang up and beat any other title that challenges them.

  24. Micamo says:

    If I were turned into a video game I’d be CrazyBus

  25. Hermocrates says:

    It’s technically a “room escape” game, but this should scratch that Myst itch: neutralxe.net/esc/elements.html. I really enjoyed it, and aside from two puzzles for which I got hints from my friend that I probably could have gotten if I’d spent enough time on it, I managed to complete this in one night with only my brain, a few sheets of paper and a pen.

    Also, if you thought the puzzles in Myst were a bit dumb or contrived, Riven: the Sequel to Myst was a lot better. I’d pay to have my memories of its puzzles and mysteries erased so I could play it anew again.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      The world needs a proper Myst remake, featuring:

      1. All 6 games in one package (you could drop Uru if you really wanted)
      2. The games unlock as you progress (e.g. finish one age of Myst and unlock Riven, finish two ages of Myst or up to a certain point in Riven to unlock Exile etc.)
      3. The books downloadable as ebooks (possibly tied to the unlocking system)
      4. Difficulty settings which redesign puzzles (three would be okay, with “normal” being the old puzzles as they were released)
      5. A “randomisation on/off” setting for puzzles so returning players can’t cheese through puzzles which don’t change between settings (e.g. the right time for the clock tower in Myst 1 isn’t always 2:40)

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Also, if you thought the puzzles in Myst were a bit dumb or contrived, Riven: the Sequel to Myst was a lot better.

      I disagree. That goddamn animal-noise puzzle.

      That puzzle perfectly describes my problem with the shift in design from Riven to Myst, not just in contrivance. Myst’s puzzles were actually fairly contained, if all of the elements of the puzzle weren’t in one room/building, they were often connected with obvious pipes or rails. Riven will give you a puzzle about matching animal noises to pictures, and completing it isn’t about thinking really hard or understanding systems, it’s about having walked across the entire island and found all the animals. If you come to the puzzle and haven’t found all the animals, you’re stuck in the frustrating state of knowing the last clue could be literally anywhere in the entire gameworld, and you have to retrace every room in hopes of finding it.

      TLDR: Riven was a lot more exploration-based than Myst, it benefitted the world but stole focus from puzzle mechanics.

    • Kelerak says:

      This is coming from someone who has never played any of those games, but isn’t that the niche that The Witness tries to go for?

      • Ninety-Three says:

        What niche, uncontrived? Because The Witness’s puzzles are as artificial and contrived as possible. They’re a series of line puzzles attached to electronic puzzles that have been arbitrarily scattered through ancient ruins on an abandoned island. There are areas that only work because the sun is a fixed point in the sky shining at exactly the right angle to create shadow puzzles. The Witness is at most two notches above Tetris in how videogamey it is.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Early pitches for The Witness had a wonderful core idea; they were going to take Myst, but instead of having each puzzle as a standalone mechanism with a different mechanical interaction, every puzzle was going to be expressed through a single medium (line mazes), building up a library of mechanics through the panel puzzles via slow teaching, like Portal. In the end, it probably did not do those things very well at all. I’m much more attracted to the game as the original pitch stated it rather than as it turned out.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          every puzzle was going to be expressed through a single medium (line mazes), building up a library of mechanics through the panel puzzles via slow teaching, like Portal.

          I think it did those things, my problem was that it simply wasn’t very interesting. The “aha!” moments where you figure out a mechanic are few and far between. The puzzles are almost set up to deflate the aha moment, you learn about mechanics incrementally in such a way that you’ll often think “So it seems like it’s X, but I can’t tell from that puzzle alone.” *Do another puzzle* “Yep, it’s X alright.”

          When you’re not having an “aha” moment, the gameplay is comparable to solving Sudoku puzzles of various difficulties. It’s… fine, but like crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles were always something that felt like a time-filler rather than something to seek out. There’s a rote mechanical aspect to them, applying known rules and systematically exploring the possibility space rather than making any engaging leaps.

          The problem with comparing it to Portal is that all Portal’s puzzles emerged naturally from a small set of intuitive mechanics. The Witness is a game about perspectives, about learning without being explicitly told, yet the world you’re learning about is arbitrary and meaningless. That a portal should work the way it does in Portal makes sense when shown, and can even be intuitive, making you feel clever for figuring it out. That the star shapes in the line puzzles mean what they do is completely arbitrary, and simply produces a feeeling of “Oh, that’s what the deisgner was thinking, I guess I’ll memorize that”.

  26. Kelerak says:

    I may just have to adopt Shamus’s mentality of multiplayer games and never play them again if the competitive angle is going to be pushed so heavily.

    On that note, is becoming more like Shamus a natural part of growing up?

    • Echo Tango says:

      Maybe? I guess as you get older, you naturally get less aggressive. At least from what I’ve seen from people I know. That would seem to fit with a desire not to be playing a very competitive game. :)

      • Fizban says:

        I’m almost positive that reduced aggression has to be a standard result of aging, without so much as a googling. More or less depending on the individual of course.

        • Kelerak says:

          I don’t think it’s reduced aggression so much as it is just not caring about that stuff anymore. I still play and get angry at games that do fuel that sort of aggressive or rage-inducing mentality, such as the Souls games, but I believe that’s separate from the competitive multiplayer stuff.

          I guess I just don’t want a lingering sense of letdown and sadness that happens after a lot of competitive matches I play.

          (I’m really milking this topic dry for some reason)

        • Syal says:

          Hormone production slows down, and people get more used to it as they age.

          Of course, other factors may apply.

  27. evilmrhenry says:

    Turns out I had The Room in my Steam library already, (I assume from a sale or bundle) so I went ahead and played it, then put the sequel on my wishlist for the next sale.

    Yeah, it’s good. (Short, though. 103 minutes playtime, and I beat the entire game.) Thoughts:
    Restricting the puzzles to one room/puzzle box at a time means I never ran into the problem where I have to wander all over the map trying to find where the next area is. (For instance, I got stuck on Myst for hours back in the day because there was a dark-colored panel in a dark-colored hallway that opened to an important area.) There was a Flash game (I forget the name) that had something similar, where once you beat a room, you would never return there. That offers the same benefit that it’s much more difficult to get stuck because you simply missed an interactive spot if the game restricts the search space.

    (On the minus side, it does rely a bit heavily on hiding objects. eg, having an inset panel that has a slightly different appearance, and can be slid out of the way.)

    The use of 3D is really useful for creating spacial awareness. I wish more adventure games would do the Real Myst thing and build their environments in 3D instead of basically being a bunch of over-compressed jpgs.

    Hint system looks nice. Didn’t need to use it, but I was glad to have something in place in case I got stuck.

    It seems a little heavy on “I found a key. I use it on the obvious lock, and get another key. I use it on another obvious lock…”. On the other hand, the puzzles that aren’t “use key on lock” or “find where we hid the important item” are quite interesting.

  28. ehlijen says:

    Is LAN gaming still a thing or is it officially dead?
    Does every new multiplayer game now have to phone home for the official servers?

    The last time I heard anything on the matter was when SC2 became battlenet only, and I must admit I haven’t paid attention since. I guess that means it’s not big loss if it’s gone.

    • Echo Tango says:

      There’s definitely indie games that have direct IP* as an option. (e.g. OpenRA is a complete fan-made engine that can run the 2D Red Alert / Tiberian Sun / Dune 2000 games.) I guess it’s sort of a niche market – people who want to play on servers that are not necessarily “official”, and who know how to connect to other computers in various ways, and who actually need local play? Like, it’s more than likely that if you can play LAN, you can play WAN games. The only use-cases are for when the official servers shut down, or if you want to play in a lag-free game and internet games typically have high latency? I would suppose, that most game dev studios would rather spend the time/money making a matchmaking system that can set up games with people who are internet-close to each other, or on tightening up the latency in general on their net code. They also don’t have much incentive to support play that can continue after they’ve shut down their official (read: money-making) servers.

      * This technically will support LAN and WAN games, as long as you know how to do port-forwarding / router messing-with. :)

      • ehlijen says:

        Those aren’t the only use cases. I have fond memories of cramming a half dozen computers into our living room and just playing all night with my friends without needing to worry about that many players piping out through the same line actually causing the lag. We didn’t need official servers or matchmaking. It was just us, directly hooked into the same switch.

        If that’s gone, then I’m sad. However little anyone still cares, it’s another step in the ‘we can take away the game you paid for’ direction. It was never about needing that, but about wanting it.

        I guess splitscreen consoles took that niche over?

  29. Steve C says:

    Campster is reading a script about TF2. He is a “try hard.”

    Rutskarn has remarkable self-awareness of how he is a terrible person. That should be commended. And condemned.

  30. gadget593 says:

    There are still plenty of people on KritzKast, they’re just not on every episode.

  31. Artur CalDazar says:

    When I regularly played TF2 it was on 360, so my strong memories of it are of a thing that hasn’t existed for a long time, but when I went to play it with a buddy a couple months ago it was still solid when matched against my nostalgia. These changes sound like they wouldn’t sit well, but I do miss the time for screwing around that tf2 has. Just making pictures with bullet decals as me and an engie guard each other.
    It sounds like there is no way to get back into it anymore.

    Hey mention of Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and I am definitely going to be using the phrase “waiting for the prestige” so thanks Campster.
    I remember reading that post mortem when it first came out and finding it perplexing. It missed the mark on what people enjoyed and their complaints. I don’t think I have ever read something that had hindsight and yet called it wrong like that.

  32. Galad says:

    TF2 player numbers go between 35k and 70k. Even newly released triple A games don’t stay above 35k players for long. I might know nothing like Jon Snow, but explain to me again please, about this supposed TF2 death?

    • JakeyKakey says:

      Well, it is one of the most high-profile free games out there so it’s a matter of where you draw the line calling it ‘dead’.

      In terms of pre-F2P veterans, I’d be surprised if more than 1% (and that’s probably being generous by whole magnitudes, 0.1% or 0.01% more like) remained as current players so for someone who’s fondest memories of the game were 2007-2011, the game they remembered and loved would definitely feel dead by comparison.

    • Trix2000 says:

      Compared to past performance that is significantly lower than it used to be, even if it still compares well to more recent stuff.

      Keep in mind that TF2 was VERY popular overall, much moreso than a lot of other games. That it’s now closer to their level is a good sign of its decline in recent years.

  33. Ninety-Three says:

    I looked up the Machine For Pigs post mortem, and Jesus, The Chinese Room are really damn harsh about throwing Frictional under the bus.

    The first deliverable FG requested was a near-complete version of the game’s Cellar level… Meeting this first milestone prevented TCR from grey-boxing the full game at this critical early stage… Whether the decision to request a completed level rather than a complete grey-boxed version of the game as the first milestone stems from FG’s lack of prior experience acting in a production role is difficult to say.

    That is one of the most dickishly passive-aggressive things I’ve ever heard. They then spend four hundred words blaming the game’s failures on the lack of greyboxing, which has just been blamed on Frictional.

    Almost the entire post mortem is spent talking about their failures in terms of Frictional’s demands as a publisher, it’s like they can’t bear to admit they messed up without saying “But it was kind of their fault.” The closest they come to taking responsibility is here:

    The issues with the game’s difficulty were compounded by the game’s design too clearly telegraphing transitions between “enemy” areas and “non-enemy” areas. Analyzing the game in light of the player responses online, this is clearly one aspect of the game in which TCR failed.

    Which sounds great, until they feel the need to shift the blame again:

    The capabilities of the HPL2 engine and the existing AI system also contributed to the telegraphing of different gameplay sections… Once again, early prototyping of all of the game’s systems in a range of grey-boxed areas would have highlighted these limitations, and the game design would have been able to incorporate those limitations from the outset rather than reacting to them later on.

    Unrelated to bussing Frictional, I also found this gem.

    the calibration on the monitor used during the color grading process was corrupted and thus the version initially sent to FG was graphically compromised — the blue “fog” that was noted by a number of players in the initial days following release.

    The monitor. Singular.

    • Geebs says:

      Honestly, I think Dear Esther is pretty passive-aggressively dickish too. The player can’t run, can’t jump, can’t mantle even. It’s easy to choose a wrong path to nothing, and then spend ages trudging back from nothing. The story is told through Freaking Audiologs and the player is given nothing to do but sit there and listen to the developer monologuing in the most gracelessly melodramatic fashion.

      If the player jumps off a cliff or tries to drown themselves (mostly out of boredom), the game says “come back” and they get resurrected. That this even happens in the final part of the game is deeply ironic.

    • Josh says:

      As a guy with some digital art experience, that monitor calibration explanation is infuriating. Especially since it was so blatantly obvious that something was wrong to me when I first started playing the game that I stopped playing and spent three hours trying to alter the graphics settings to resolve the awful and distracting color grading. I dropped the game shortly afterwards. Their miscalibrated monitor literally derailed my playthrough.

      But yeah, if anyone else is interested (I should have made a point to get this in the show notes) you can find that postmortem here.

      It is, in effect, the primary reason for my dislike of the Chinese Room. Before reading it, I could give them the benefit of the doubt. But after 7 pages of passive-aggressive blame-shifting nonsense about a game whose premise was flawed from the beginning, I feel pretty confident in the comments I’ve made about them in the past.

      • mwchase says:

        Breaking out of active gameplay into a separate, static inventory screen not only breaks game flow, it more critically damages the building of tension, suspense and anxiety that is so vital in horror.

        Quick, someone tell Shamus that Silent Hill 2 was bad at horror because it had an inventory screen.

  34. James Porter says:

    Man, all this TF2 talk got me really nostalgic. I just rewatched one of my favorite things from my time with the game, the Art of Team Fortress 2 video series.


    These are still as charming and interesting as I remember them being. Personally as a visual artist, I would love to see more critiques focus on visuals and the work designers put into making things look right.
    The way she references Norman Rockwell and Leyendecker was perhaps the first real time I looked at an artists work too, like really looked at it.

    Here are links the the other videos if people are interested: Part 2, Part 3

  35. James says:

    My only problem with overwatch is that its not great at building little communities like tf2 and I have no friends who play it.

    • Destrustor says:

      Yeah, I get that.
      I have a strong dislike for any and all PvP in general, so any time I hear about Overwatch being so fun and stuff and it makes me kinda want to try it, I’m reminded that the only way I’d even be able to come remotely close to enjoying it would be in absolutely ideal conditions.
      But the ideal condition is apparently while playing with a huge group of actual friends, all coordinated through voice chat, and I know that’s never going to happen.
      So I just sigh wistfully and think to myself “Boy, what an awesome-looking game I’ll never be able to have fun with”

  36. A & W? Y’know, as the guy who lives in the town where that company was born, I’m always unsure about just how far of a reach it has as a known brand and I’m reasonably sure the east-coasters in the cast at least didn’t make question mark sounds when it was referenced.

  37. Mephane says:

    Btw, not sure if this was posted here yet – it’s hilarious. Overwatch Honest Game Trailer:


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