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Diecast #166: Turing Test, Obduction, Epistory

By Shamus
on Monday Sep 5, 2016
Filed under:


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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster. Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes:
0:01:27: The Turing Test

Link (YouTube)

0:10:48: Obduction

Link (YouTube)

0:25:56: Epistory

True story: I don’t touch-type. Considering that every single aspect of my job – writing columns, writing code, writing fiction, and writing emails to apologize for not answering emails sooner because I was playing videogames – involves typing, this is an embarrassing shortcoming.

See, by the time I got around to taking a touch-typing course in high school I’d already been typing for about five years. I found overcoming five years of muscle memory to be basically insurmountable. Making things worse is that many of the keyboards back then had stupid layouts and odd sizes that made it difficult to cultivate generalized typing habits.

So I type with the first three fingers on each hand, mostly while looking down at the keyboard. It’s ghastly slow compared to touch-typing, but the overhead of fixing it is just too costly. At this point I’ve got three decades of deeply ingrained habits that would all need to be broken. At my age, that sort of mental re-training is just not in the cards.

If I was going to invest time into something ambitious like that, I’d want to spend it on learning new things (like learning to play the guitar) rather than re-learning my core skills so that I can type faster. Especially since I’m not sure how much of a productivity boost it would give me. Typing speed isn’t always my primary bottleneck. For example, while writing this paragraph I paused at least three times to work out the next sentence. Boosting my typing speed might mean I’d just sit in this idle state for longer.

Still, typing like this is a little embarrassing.

0:52:05: Rutskarn talks miniatures and the painting thereof.

0:59:06: MAILTIME: Spoiler Warning and Games from Japan

Dear Diecast

How come not a single one of the 24 spoiler warning games has been Japanese? I’m never gonna get a Deadly Premonition, Dragon’s Dogma or Metal Gear Rising Revengeance playthrough at this rate! Do I have to get Superbunnyhop on again to make this happen?

Love, Christopher

As always, the mailbox for questions is in the header image.

Comments (116)

  1. Andy_Panthro says:

    There’s some sort of weird skip for me around the 25 second mark? I think it’s missing a bit of the introductions (after Shamus) and the start of the Turing Test bit.

  2. Grimwear says:

    When it comes to typing I’m also super messed up and use maybe 2-3 fingers per hand. While I can safely thank gaming for giving me my current typing speed it also led to some odd habits. Most notably was during my high school days when I got into World of Warcraft I would type while running around (I didn’t have a fancy mouse so no auto run button for me) so I would have my middle finger stuck on the w key before I started talking and would have to type without moving it lest I stop moving for a single second. Goodness knows that would have been an outright tragedy.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I too, have learned to type badly-but-still-sort-of-functionally. I basically type with my trigger finger, middle finger, and thumb on my right hand, and my trigger and thumb on my left. I mostly know where all the keys are, so I effectively touch-type half the words I write before needing to quickly look down to re-orient. I’m fast enough to get the job done, and like Shamus, I spend a lot of time doing other things, like reading, scrolling, etc, so it’s not enough of a burden for me to re-learn my horrible habits. ^^;

      • Tizzy says:

        Same as Shamus: my bottleneck is never typing speed, always speed of thought.

        Joel Spolsky had a post once about how important touch typing was for programmers, which I could never grasp. Surely, only the most basic of code can be churned out at speed! (For the majority of coders at least)

        • Matt Downie says:

          In general, it’s always better not to be distracted by thinking about your typing, when you’re also trying to think about writing/coding. So instinctive typing is very valuable. Speed is of secondary importance, but when things are going well, your fingers may struggle to keep up with your inspiration.

    • I’m the other way around, I blame touch-typing for forcing me into esdf instead of wasd. I feel like I have no idea where my fingers are if the index finger isn’t on f. Does mean I do a lot of rebinding (and how I loathe games that can’t figure out I rebound things so they tell me “press w to go forward” or whatever), but it also means my touch typing skills have remained intact through many years of WoW and LotRO. Plus, since I rebind auto-run to a instead of capslock, no accidental yelling!

      Edit: My hands tend to wander on the keyboard so I glance down frequently, but I can do without that if needed. I have no idea how fast I can type, and given the current severe left hand/wrist sprain of PAIN, there’s no way I could take an accurate test. The wandering’s why I need to keep a finger on the F key, I don’t keep my fingers on the home row, rather do the sef thing (aka keeping first 3 on left, forward, and right respectively).

      • Echo Tango says:

        Metro 2033 is really bad if you rebind. Not only does it tell you the wrong keys, but sometimes, they’re actually the right keys, because certain actions (cutscenes?) don’t follow whatever you’ve rebound. It’s especially bad if you swap L/R mouse buttons*, like I do. :)

        * So I can wear out my mouse evenly! ^^;

        • The Rocketeer says:

          Or, you make the mistake I made twice, and play on one of the Ranger difficulties that don’t tutorialize inputs. Then you realize there are a half dozen controls not listed in the keybinds submenu.

      • Nick-B says:

        You think you had it bad? I used to remap all FPS controls to the arrows keys, with 0/Ins for step right and RCTRL for step left. END was reload, and ENTER was interact. One by one, games took away keys over on the right-side from being usable.

        ENTER? NEVER! That is only to be used (in this game) for chatting!
        HOME? NEVER! That is to be used exclusively to open up the Games for Windows Live interface!

        Eventually, my WOW addiction, what with it having way too many controls to remap, finally broke me off it back to using WASD. Now, I only fight with games that insist E is not use, F is instead!

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Arent there programs out there that allow you to bind any key to any other key?Kind of backwards to have to use third party software to rebind keys,but still better than to have to constantly rebind them.

    • WoW was my typing tutor. Whereas I much preferred Ventrilo for communication not everyone used it, even in raids, and needing to be able to competently and quickly relay instructions on the fly, while moving, and under considerable pressure taught me how to touch type in a very trial-by-fire manner.

      Then ~4+ years of not playing WoW or similar games and not regularly needing to use those skills more or less ruined them. Now I can still touch type but I fumble about much more than I used to.

      My style of typing has remained largely unchanged throughout. I most commonly use four of my eight fingers (thumbs are not fingers), index and middle, sparingly using my ring fingers, seldom use my pinkies, and use my thumbs exclusively for space. This might drive “proper” typists mad but when I’m in the zone I find I type plenty fast.

    • Cinebeast says:

      Another awkward typist over here. I can’t touch-type, and I use my left index finger exclusively, although my right middle takes care of stuff on the right side of the keyboard. As far as I know, no one actually taught me to type, so I picked this up on my own over time.

  3. Andy_Panthro says:

    I partially learned to touch-type when at school (some typing program, whatever the appropriate mid-80s one would be). The really big help for touch typing was Sierra adventure games (and other text-parser adventure games).

    The early Sierra ones didn’t pause while you were typing either, so sometimes you have to type quickly otherwise you’d die. Nothing gets you typing faster and more accurately! (and also lets you learn various american terms and spellings).

    • Rutskarn says:

      (Scene of a bedroom. Character stands, half-dressed, in center.)
      (Anvil labeled “GET FUCKED LIMEY” falls from the ceiling)

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Probably wouldn’t make the top 10 weirdest deaths!

        That does remind me though that Leisure Suit Larry would even ask you questions that an “adult” should know in order to be able to access the “adult” content (such as it was). If you got too many questions wrong, it would quit to DOS (at least on the first one I think). Most of the questions required knowledge about US politics, sports and other stuff that a young Brit like myself could only resort to guesswork.

        • Matt Downie says:

          I remember that quiz. It was multi-choice, so you could keep guessing until you passed.
          Much of it was questions about 1970s pop culture, I seem to recall, so a few years later, adult Americans wouldn’t have been able to do it either. A few years beyond that, anyone anywhere could solve it, thanks to the internet.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There is a reason why “so bad its good” movies are usually supposed to be serious,but failing,yet I cant think of a single “so bad its good” comedy.Because when you try to be funny and fail,you are AT BEST boring.At worst,you are Adam Sandler.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Only thing that springs to mind would be the odd terrible-and-thus-funny joke in The Office (British version), but these are isolated incidents amongst a much larger amount of non-joke good-baddery, likely wouldn’t work outside of that context, and anyway the show only lasts for 30 minutes, which is an entirely different kettle of fish from a full-length film.

    • Christopher says:

      The current comedy games I thought were funny most of the time was You Don’t Know Jack/Jackbox and Saints Row 3, and even then there are some serious duds in there, like the whole human trafficking section in SR3 and at least two of the Jackbox minigames. I would say which ones I thought failed, but I don’t wanna start comment wars about comedy of all things. The ones I hated, lots of other people liked.

      Old comedy games, on the other hand! Maybe you had to be there, but I did watch a let’s play of Leisure Suit Larry 2 this year. That game isn’t funny!

      • Echo Tango says:

        Agree on LSL – those games just made me feel…awkward and sad for playing them? Some of the jokes got a chuckle out of me, but most of them didn’t. I don’t even remember which one I played; I think I’ve only played 1.5 of them, plus listened to a let’s-play of the remake? (Yay GameGrumps! :)

      • Wide And Nerdy® says:

        The Deadpool game managed some good ones though it was partly just the sheer volume of jokes. There were a lot of groaners in the mix too. They were always going for loud and obvious and it only really worked when they pulled out all the stops.

        Saints Row IV was pretty funny for the first hour. After that, its only funny in spots.

    • ehlijen says:

      Battlefield Earth had distinctly deliberate comedic elements to it, and still thoroughly lands in the ‘so bad it’s funny’ category.

      Though it did want to be scifi first and comedy second, so I guess it doesn’t count as proper comedy.

    • Syal says:

      The funny part of “so bad it’s good” is saying “I can’t believe they thought people would take this in stride” to the weird things in it. But comedy is deliberately invoking that already, and you end up with “I can’t believe they thought this was worth breaking stride.” So to pull off “so bad it’s good” comedy, the unfunny jokes have to be based on assumptions that can be weird on their own. (“Have you ever wondered why grocery bags don’t have lids? I’ve lost so many eggs to lidless grocery bags. It couldn’t cost them more than a fresh donut, how cheap can you get am I right?”)

      The only “so bad it’s good” comedies I can think of are the newspaper comics on Comics Curmudgeon, or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and both of those are shaky.

  5. King Marth says:

    Amusingly, when I got around to taking a touch-typing course in high school, I had been typing on and off for around 10 years, though I only had 2-3 years of the intensive typing involved in using instant messaging programs as my primary mode of socialization. It was hard to switch, and forcing myself to touch-type when chatting with friends slowed me down to an excruciating pace. I didn’t keep to it very much, but having a half-hour of practice three times a week for a couple months due to class brought my ability to the point where it wasn’t quite so painful, and from there my reliance on typing just kept the refinement going.

    It was totally worth it. Speed is one thing, but being able to type without looking at the keyboard is powerful. It also gave me a fidgeting option where I “type” out whatever words come to mind without a keyboard, like drumming fingers but with a bit more structure.

  6. Henson says:

    It’s weird to hear that Rand Miller is back acting for his videogame, given how much he complained about playing Atrus in the past. I guess either he got used to performing, or he’s very willing to endure pain to save money on actor fees.

  7. i downloaded the OGG but feel obliged to point out i’m painting miniatures while listening to the podcast!
    an hour for 6 halflings!

  8. I type weirdly. I use anything from one finger to ten fingers when typing.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    As a long-time fan of Myst, I despised Obduction. My overall reaction was summed up by a moment of gameplay where I remarked “Boy, this place sure is pretty. I wish there was less of it so I wouldn’t have so much goddamn empty space to run across.” Obduction’s world is full of details and objects, but you could spend minutes walking through the town and not find a single interactable object. The game is not at all shy about making you pull a lever then spend literally minutes running across the entire gameworld in order to access something on the other side.

    Three hours in, I’ve solved two things that even remotely qualified as puzzles, and the rest of my experience has simply been “Hunt around the environment to find the next lever to pull or button to push that will advance the gamestate and let me push this other lever in this other area to reach this other button…” And it hasn’t been a steady stream of button-pushing either, the vast majority of the time has been spent walking around looking for buttons to push. I ended up sprinting through every area barely looking at all the detail, because the ratio of detail to buttons was so high that all I had time for was “Not a button, next object”.

    The cast were right on when they called it a walking simulator, the ratio of walking to puzzling is an order of magnitude higher than in the Myst series.

  10. Christopher says:

    Thanks for answering my mail! I figured the answer was something like that, but I wanted to know a little more about it. I guess the only appropriate response now is to pester Superbunnyhop on social media(but I won’t). It’s too bad, but I don’t wanna see Spoiler Warnings of games nobody wants to play either.

    You were right by the way, I counted wrong. There are only 22 full seasons of Spoiler Warning, including Half-Life 2.

  11. Ryan says:

    I’m a professional Software Engineer for what is approaching 2 decades now, and I also don’t do touch-typing. I don’t know why, but I just *can’t* seem to. That said, on the Qwerty layout I’m blindingly fast, to the point where my wife — who grew up using “home row” and mocks me for not doing so — types *notably* slower than I do. In fact, in those instances where I was part of a development team on DoD Contracts, I was usually the only “hunt-and-peck” one there, and despite that was often one of the fastest. And I seem to make typing errors at about the same rate as others around me, so it’s not holding me back in any way. So, if nothing else, know that you’re not alone even in the field, and that it is simply a quirk rather than a failure.

  12. tzeneth says:

    I would find Silent Hill 2 an interesting Spoiler Warning season since Shamus has so much to say about it and it would be interesting to see what Rutskarn’s reaction to the game would be, whether this be his first view of it or he had already played it before.

    Also, the show notes do not cover the mess in the middle and I’m fine with that because that was kind of schizophrenic with topics. Fun show. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.

  13. psivamp says:

    My father has been a computer programmer longer than I’ve been alive ( and I’m 32 ). He types with one or two fingers on each hand. I’d call it high-speed hunt-and-peck but he doesn’t really have to hunt for what he’s looking for.

    The schools in my area start typing classes around the third grade. We also screwed around with the Logo programming language to make little drawings. We may have been ahead of the times then, but that either is or probably should be the norm these days.

  14. Phantos says:

    The Turing Test trailer makes it look like Dudebro Portal.

    • MichaelGC says:

      But would many dudebros know of John Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thought experiment? Other than Josh.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I saw it less as dudebro, and more as Portal: eXtreme Edition! Like, the gun looks less like a weird science-divice, and more like an actual gun, and the music was a bit over the top for a friggin’ puzzle game. Or maybe that’s what counts as “dudebro”? :)

      • Phantos says:

        Yeah, it’s probably the music that’s trying way too hard. I think that’s what gave me the “GEARS OF WAR CHARLIE BETA ALPHA WHISKEY FOXTROT TANGO 360 NO-SCOPE!!!” vibe.

        With the sound off, it’s like: “Oh, an interesting sci-fi puzzle game. Won’t this be an experience!”

      • Felblood says:

        On dudebro puzzle games.

        A: Brah, you bringin’ yer X-bawks to the Senior Sneak keggar?!

        B: Oh, Natch, Brah!

        A: You got the new Madden and Halo yet?

        B: Oh yeah! Plus I picked up this game called Turing Test. It’s got these physics puzzle that are gonna blow yer f’kn mind brah!

        A: Legit!

    • silver Harloe says:

      It seems to follow the usual pattern of scifi AI: human consciousness is built on a substrate of neurons, but we do not *act like neurons* – we act like sapient beings. So the consciousness is somehow different than the hardware it operates on. Yet magically if the hardware is changed from neurons to computers, the conscious being acts like a jumped-up computer instead of a sapient being.
      This game, though, at least addresses that by saying Tom is intentionally hobbled because “evolutionary algorithms lead to morally suboptimal solutions,” but that seems to imply that human consciousness was not evolved.
      They bring up Searle’s thought experiment, but they don’t seriously present any objections to it – they present an excerpt from Dennett where he *says* there are objections, but they don’t present the *content* of the objections, and even the mention that problems exist is an optional piece of paper in an optional side-room.

      The writing has a couple issues like introducing the computer expert to AI 101 topics and her having no clue about them. They introduce one thing twice, and their wall panel descriptions of Jupiter and Europa are written for 5th graders to learn about Jupiter and Europa, despite being ostensibly written for people who trained for years to be on the Europa mission. But all that is, of course, the usual FPS trade-off to introduce topics to the audience that the characters should know already. That didn’t bug me nearly as much as their not getting very far past the usual scifi AI tropes and into something deeper.

      Also, I think there was some kind of weird plot fail halfway through – the puzzles are supposed to be a sort of ad hoc Turing test to keep Tom out, but the last couple puzzle areas are specifically designed to be solvable only with Tom’s help.

      • MichaelGC says:

        For me the problem with the thought experiment is that it begs the question.

        It assumes we can tell the difference between an intentional system and one without intentionality. That is, it assumes we can differentiate between really understanding something and acting in all particulars as if it is understood. I think there is less of an obvious distinction there than we might, ha, think.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          That’s a good point; it says something that no one’s found me out yet.

        • silver Harloe says:

          My strawman-version-of-Searle (I have no idea what the real Searle would say) would reply that of course we know that consciousness exists, we need only look into ourselves. If I pinch you, you feel it – you posses a feeling that you can only describe to me in words, but which you yourself *actually* feel. But if I pinch an android which doesn’t “really” know English, but which has a “Chinese room” for a brain, it will me it felt the pinch, but it doesn’t “actually” feel the pinch – that was just the correct response to the touch sensors going off.

          However, from my point of view, you and the android are indistinguishable. I pinch you both, and get the immediate “ow! hey! don’t pinch me!” response. I ask you why it bothers you and you both say “well, it hurts. Not like a major pain, but an annoying one.” You are describing your real feeling, the android just has the correct responses in a massive lookup table of recent touch and audio sensor activity. But the only real I assume you have a “real” feeling of being pinched is because I think you’re like me, and surely I remember that when I’ve been pinched, I felt it for real, right?

          My reply to this straw-Searle is that I’m not sure I “actually” feel things any more than the android. Maybe what I consider the “feeling” of a pinch is just the response when I interrogate a “Chinese room” in myself. My brain, like the android’s, is queued up to a position of “recently pinched” and when one part of me wonders what I’m feeling, I get a response in a kind of internal language that says “you’re kinda annoyed”. Certainly, I could believe that about *your* brain because I have no idea if you’re an android or not. Why am I soooo sure I can tell the difference in myself? (Short version: I’m not sure I believe in qualia – or, rather, I’m not sure I believe qualia indicate anything more “real” than any other communication)

          • Ninety-Three says:

            My reply to this straw-Searle is that I'm not sure I “actually” feel things any more than the android. Maybe what I consider the “feeling” of a pinch is just the response when I interrogate a “Chinese room” in myself. My brain, like the android's, is queued up to a position of “recently pinched” and when one part of me wonders what I'm feeling, I get a response in a kind of internal language that says “you're kinda annoyed”. Certainly, I could believe that about *your* brain because I have no idea if you're an android or not. Why am I soooo sure I can tell the difference in myself? (Short version: I'm not sure I believe in qualia ““ or, rather, I'm not sure I believe qualia indicate anything more “real” than any other communication)

            Counterpoint: It’s really easy to build a chatbot that uses a lookup dictionary and about five lines of code to give predetermined responses for a conversation. You have to admit that whatever goes on inside a human brain is fundamentally more consciousness-ish than what’s going on in the circuits of the chatbot. Well I guess you don’t have to, but I’m going to call you obtuse if you don’t.

            Every “brain” can’t meaningfully be a Chinese Room, because some are clearly more Chinese Roomy than others.

            • silver Harloe says:

              My bad, I should have added “*even if we grant* that Searle’s room could pass a Turing test…” to my text. You are correct that I don’t think the Chinese room could ever exist in reality (and, of course, I fully believe Searle doesn’t think so, either. It’s just for the thought experiment)

              • MichaelGC says:

                Yep! Love the reply to Strawsearle. The way I tend to put it is that of course I believe in qualia, but I don’t know whether that’s because they’re real, or because an intrinsic belief in them is part & parcel of the version of ConsciousnessOS I’m running.

                That they’re real seems so obvious that I feel immediate distrust. And their reality would seem not to explain a great deal. We all know what we’re talking about *flaps arms* but we can’t actually say much about them beyond that.

                Then, coming at things from an entirely different angle: human consciousnesses where the original intrinsic belief has gone awry tend to be ones where … much has gone awry, let’s say.

                In any event, not a settled question, and the settled prior question is what the thought experiment needs in order to properly work, I reckon. Anyway, thanks for your reply! – I was not expecting to see it put like that, and it made me happy. Or: this unit encountered that combination class of inputs designated ‘cheerfulness’ (type 3); same diff.

                • Syal says:

                  I think the difference is that a Chinese Room input/output device is purely reactionary. If you say nothing it does nothing. Living things don’t do that; if you give them no interaction, they go find something else to interact with. I think if we’re going to call something intelligent it has to proactively seek out inputs.

                  • MichaelGC says:

                    Yep – I think that’s a different (and quite possibly more interesting) point than the one the thought experiment is aimed at (Searle is trying to rule out the possibility of ‘strong AI’ and a particular computational theory of consciousness, er, if I remember rightly).

                    But on your ‘no interaction’ point you could ask – do they though? What counts as an input? I think you could certainly class the impulse to go & find something to interact with as an input. If you remove all inputs including ones which are coming from inside the system or from another part of the living thing itself, is the intelligence going to do anything, or is it just going to sit there? I think it’ll be the latter. Lazy.

                    • Syal says:

                      If you remove all internal inputs from a living thing, I think there’s a very good case that the thing is no longer intelligent. I’m imagining seeing someone sitting motionless in a chair for an hour, no fidgeting no mumbling nothing, and I think most people would assume they had brain damage.

                      I guess maybe it’s about outputs, then? People constantly output, and they find new inputs so they’ll have new outputs.

                    • MichaelGC says:

                      Aye right – and then someone’ll pipe up and say something along the lines of: “hold on a minute, that means the inputs themselves are in some sense constitutive of intelligence!” (If taking all the inputs away means we’re no longer dealing with an intelligence, then intelligences aren’t just influenced by inputs, but are in a way – in a critical way – partly composed of them.)

                      Which is not to make any particular point – it’s just interesting (at least to me!) the places these lines of thought can go. On what should really be the most familiar thing in the world, to each of us. Although I guess ‘familiar, therefore well-understood’ doesn’t follow at all

          • Matt Downie says:

            It doesn’t matter so much whether your qualia are ‘real’ as long as they seem real to you.
            Thoughts and feelings only exist in imagination-space anyway. If your thoughts and feelings are illusory (somehow), then there must be an intelligent being experiencing those illusions, and that being is you.

            • MichaelGC says:

              Yep! I’d mostly strongly agree. It does matter to Searle’s argument, though, which rests on both the reality of intentional systems and also our ability to tell which systems are intentional, and which aren’t. I think that’s question-begging: if we’re so sure we can tell the difference there’d be little need for the thought experiment in the first place.

              Makes no difference to my walking-around life, of course, but if Searle were correct it would have deep consequences for AI research, so it isn’t entirely ivory-tower stuff. Just in large part! :D

              • silver Harloe says:

                There are people who will never, ever, ever believe a computer has consciousness, no matter how much evidence is presented. They will claim to be scientific materialists, but still be unable to accept the possibility that a inorganic system can have consciousness. There are others who, of course, will dismiss the consciousness of computers because of something to do with souls, but they don’t bother me nearly as much as the Penroses and (maybe?) Searles of the world, who will try to form proofs that will persuade some number of people to overlook the consciousness of such beings.
                Of course, there are others who say that my opinion will be moot, because shortly after Strong AI, singularity and quite possibility extinction :)

        • Matt Downie says:

          The Turing Test in its original form was presented just as an interesting question, one worth pursuing. We can’t prove whether any given entity is intelligent or not, but we can set a test that would at least prove a machine was capable of acting intelligently (irrespective of what’s actually going on inside). Turing thought that such a machine would be intelligent; Searle disagreed.

          I’d argue that the Turing Test is too hard. Let’s say I asked an American to impersonate a Canadian well enough to fool a real Canadian who is specifically checking – that would be almost impossible. He’d probably get tripped up by some question about school experiences or television or music. And yet that’s just two intelligent people from relatively similar cultures. The cultural differences are so much bigger between a human and a computer that’s never experienced childhood or hunger or physical pain.

          I’d say that a computer would have to be far more ‘intelligent’ than a human to be able to pull off that kind of deceit. For a computer to pull off the Turing Test (against an expert tester, not against a gullible idiot who can be tricked by a good chatbot), it will have to have achieved some kind of skill in every possible area of human intelligence. That grade of AI would be able do any human job at a human or superhuman level. So by the time anything passes the Turing Test, we’ll probably already be living in a world run by AIs, reading novels written by AIs, and so on. By that time the question of whether the AIs are conscious would be trivial compared to the questions like what our purpose is in a world where we no longer need to work, and whether we’ve coded them correctly to serve our needs, or whether they’ll want to keep us as pets.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        What bugs me about the game(aside from someone named turing asking what is a turing test)is how the game depicts LOGIC puzzles as something that computers cant solve,but humans will.LOGIC puzzles.Something machines are specifically designed to do,and humans specifically are not.If this were something like antichamber,where you cant really rely on logic to get you through,it would make some sense.But here,its just jarring.

        • MichaelGC says:

          *bumps game right down to bottom of wishlist*

          • silver Harloe says:

            All that being said about the story being kinda broken, and the musings on AI being shallow… the puzzles were okay and kinda fun? Maybe even $20 fun? I dunno. I’d recommend the game wholly if it were on sale. There is *some* fun puzzle feel sometimes, though the puzzles have no replay value (unlike, say, Portal, where you constantly feel like you could be doing something in fewer steps or a little more cleverly).

            • MichaelGC says:

              Thanks! – I’ll definitely give it a shot, I think: sounds different enough to be interesting even if it turns out to be terrible. Which latter doesn’t sound likely on the basis of today’s convo. (And I get the sense that my wishlist is relatively minimal and manageable! – so being at it’s base isn’t a bad thing.)

        • silver Harloe says:

          They do try to address that in the game, Tom says he could not have done the first puzzle because it involved the “out of the box” thinking of throwing an object through the window – but very, very few of the puzzles actually required anything “out of the box” (and even his example was pretty weak). There’s a funnier interaction when Ava asks him for solutions “using his morally suboptimal routines” and he offers some suggestions I shouldn’t spoil, but I don’t think those were anything but humor. Considering much of his other dialog, he should have had no trouble with the puzzles in any way, shape, or form.

          And, as I previously mentioned, the later puzzles specifically require Ava and Tom to work together, and once you really work out the spoiler spoiler spoiler of the last third of the game, I think, aw, heck, I was trying to get away without being so blatant, but here I go. If you have any plans on playing the game (it only takes about 5-7 hours to beat), seriously do so before highlighting this. Seriously.

          When I said the last third of the game requires Ava and Tom to work together, I was trying to preserve the spoiler, but if you follow the POV, you see you’re playing Tom, and then you can probably infer that you’ve been playing Tom the whole game, so even the authors seem to acknowledge that the puzzles are NOT beyond Tom’s ability, and not much of a Turing test at all. There’s some serious ludonarrative dissonance in play, because Sarah’s whole alleged motive was to keep Tom out, but the end puzzles were designed to solvable only by Tom. But Sarah really wanted to keep Tom out, because one of the endings is you can totally mow Sarah and Ava down with a turret. So why did she make puzzles only Tom using Ava as a drone could solve? Obviously because the game makers wanted to make those puzzles (thus the dissonance – the puzzles are like that for gameplay reasons which are totally at odds with character motivation)

  15. Alexander The 1st says:

    Re: Silent Hill: Remake and Dead Rising…

    …wouldn’t they be getting developed by American-side companies?

    Though I suppose the main reason you tend towards Western games is because you also tend towards PC games for the show, and on top of the existing issue of overlapping games that you guys want to talk about, there is that to limit the list.

  16. Peter H. Coffin says:

    The only way to actually do a Persona game is to basically Yakkity Sax (or just plain cut out) through *ALLLLL* of the dungeon crawl that isn’t plot relevant. That’d probably get it down to actually 20 hours of show material, but it’d involve a LOT of playing on someone’s part and then calling everybody back to their desks when something important happens.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      If you seriously wanted to do Persona (or any JRPG really) I think the thing to do would be to play through segments of it solo, then edit out all the grindy bits, then call in the commentary crew to do voiceover as they watch the trimmed-down video. It’s a little awkward that the video can’t respond to the discussion, but “a little awkward” seems like the best you’re going to do.

    • Christopher says:

      Considering the anime would take only 9 hours to sit through, this is possibly the first time the likelihood of Spoiler Warning covering a cartoon show is higher than the probability of them playing the same in video game form.

      To be clear, the reason I used the examples are did besides me liking them is that none of them are any longer than a regular Bioware game at most, and all of them are on PC. Revengeance is like 6 hours long. If they were to play any JRPG, then Campster has the right idea with Chrono Trigger! That’s in the Bioware ballpark too, as far as length is concerned. Undertale might be an option, even if/because it’s not from Japan. It’s short and JRPG-like. Or perhaps Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga if emulators are an option.

      Edit: I say “option”, but clearly it seems pretty likely that they’re gonna stick to what they cover already.

  17. Jonathan says:

    So Turing Test is…Portal, 10 years later?

    The trailer made it look pretty without doing anything to make me want to play it.

  18. Christopher says:

    Epistory’s second arty story(what’s really happening) reminds of something I was thinking about with regards to Inside and Bound recently. What’s more annoying: A game that’s so open to interpretation that people write long forum posts detailing how it’s a metaphor for miscarriage or game development(Inside), or a game that spells out its metaphor in the game itself so it’s obvious(Bound, Pape & Yo)? Because I’m going with the former, although my problem is with a type of person rather than the game. Those forum posts are a pain.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I despise “Open to interpretation” because I cynically believe that it generally means “The creator didn’t have anything in particular in mind, so they outsourced the heavy lifting to the audience”. It often feels like a copout, like the author simply couldn’t be bothered to make their story about anything, so they made a Rorscach test.

      • Christopher says:

        To be fair, while Inside suffered from this, I never get the impression that it was the developers’ fault. They made a game in a concrete sci-fi setting with no words, but still with a coherent story and only a few mysterious elements and motivations. It’s much better than Limbo, which had a story that amounted to “It’s probably taking place in Limbo, right?” and also there’s a sister involved. But that didn’t stop anyone from looking at it and going “well obviously this boy is meant to symbolize semen”.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        On the other hand I get annoyed when some devs repeatedly hit me over the head with something like “the monster is your mom! because she drinks! get it? it’s your mom who is become a monster because she’s drunk! cause drinking makes you do bad things and for a child it’s like the parent becomes a monster! get it?!” over and over again.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      My one actual problem with Epistory is that it falls on one of those four and a half basic plots* that indie devs tend to rely on when they want to make a game that is either atmospheric or deep and… at this point they have just been done so much they’re almost as much of an excuse for a plot as “aliens invade”. I think around the time of the second dungeon I was doing (the forest) I became almost certain it would be one of these and from this point onwards I couldn’t help but get a bit knocked out of enjoying the game every time the narrative was “alluding” to things. And just as a disclaimer: the game was still fairly enjoyable mechanically and visually.

      *Without revealing which one Epistory is: the character is dead, the character is in a coma, the game is a metaphor for a failed relationship, the game is a metaphor for either parental or spousal abuse.

  19. ehlijen says:

    When I saw the bit about painting miniatures in the show notes I was hyped. I love painting miniatures, and I do so recreationally. But then the section was short and barely touched on the subject. I could say so much about painting, reaper (metal or bones), the games to go with and miniatures in general, but don’t worry. I won’t :p
    What kind of mini did Rutskarn paint? What colours? Shading, edge highlighting, washing or dry brushing? Pictures?

    And Chris is doing lego wrong* (though to be fair, the instructions are wrong* in today’s lego kits, so he can’t be blamed): You’re supposed to pour all the pieces into one big pile on the carpet on the floor. Searching for the right piece is half the fun, I say. And I’m a thirty something nerd with sausage fingers :p

    More seriously, it’s all about preference and muscle memory. Stop playing with Lego (or other tiny things) for years, and you’ll need to rebuild that before it comes easy again. Assuming you want to. No one has to.

    *YMMV, but I’m a Lego-and-Dark-carpet-childhood survivor

  20. scowdich says:

    Something’s up with this episode’s link – my player (Podcast Addict) wants to link to the Turing Test video, not download the episode like usual. Thought you should know.

  21. Humanoid says:

    Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders is Japanese-themed, close enough.

  22. Nessus says:

    Reaper’s “bones” plastic minis are definitely cast, not 3D printed. I have a couple, and they do have mold seams. Most of them are pretty direct remoldings of their metal figures (if they were scans, they’d have lots of little differences from having to clean up the scans, which they don’t).

    Also there aren’t currently any 3D printing methods or materials that match on all points. Anything high-res enough to be indistinguishable from a conventional casting would be too slow and/or too materially expensive for direct manufacturing lots of dirt-cheap items. There’s super-high-res methods, super fast methods, and super cheap methods, but none that are all three. And even the super-fast methods are not actually as fast as advertised (you’ll notice that in all the “oh wow” videos, they’re always printing airy filigree shapes instead of solid or solid-walled ones? Yeah, that’s for a reason), much less fast enough to use for mass production.

    But more to the point, Reaper has been pretty straightforward about it: they’re cast, using recycled vinyl as a material. Though I’d be interested in whether they’re using injection molding or if they’ve figured out how to cast that material in the same spin casting machines/molds used for the metal figures.

    There are a lot of mini companies now who are doing all their sculpting digitally, but they don’t use printing for manufacturing. They only print out a couple copies at high-res, then use those as masters to cast the production minis conventionally. Even there there’s huge quality variation: you get some companies who subcontract the printing to a service that can do proper beautiful high-res prints, and others who just get cheap FDM or SLS prints resulting in blobby non-details and visible print lines on the production minis. The days of dudes making crap minis in their garage are still very much here, it’s just the tech has changed a little.

    I don’t like Reaper’s bones material myself though. I love the price, of course, and I’m generally a fan of resin and plastic over metal, but the bones’ material specifically is way too rubbery IMO. Or at least it was on the ones I got. I’ve read conflicting testimonials from others, so at best the material is inconsistent between batches, making buying them a gamble.

    • TMC_Sherpa says:

      I went in on the first two kickstarters they did (having two more before the second one was delivered kinda put me off of them) and they are all pretty rubbery.
      I haven’t done anything with them yet but I suspect there will be a lot of drilling and haft replacement along with some armature work to get them to behave. I’ll have to see how well they handle being drilled before I can figure out if I’m going to be happy with them or if I should start crying.

      • ehlijen says:

        Supposedly you can fix many of the bent weapon issues by aligning them properly in hot water and then letting them cool in that that position (something about shape memory, a lot of the Clicky style game minis and WotCs prepainted DnD ones have the same trait even though their plastic is harder), but it’s not really worked for me. Possibly because I never got the water hot enough?

        I don’t like reaper bones for how hydrophobic the surface is (really messes with how matte or shiny the paintjob will turn out with some colours for me) and the fact that most of the human figurines don’t have noses (their plastic doesn’t cast to the same detail as the metal that the moulds had been intended for).

        They are the best value for money in town, though, always have been even back in the metal days.

        • TMC_Sherpa says:

          I just pulled out a few minis from the second kickstarter and I didn’t even notice the nose problem before…. Huh. I guess I’ll have to see how they handle green putty. Not that I wouldn’t have had to find out anyway, some of the figures that were originally multi-piece are preglued together and there are a few nasty gaps.

          Oh well, if a few have to die for science it’s not world ending.

          • Nessus says:

            The ones I have are actually pretty crisp. On par with their metal counterparts for the most part, except one which has short-shot hands with missing fingers. Not to say I’m surprised that this varies though.

            I expect green stuff putty (the Kneadatite epoxy putty, not that solvent based goo GW sells as “liquid green Stuff”) would work just fine with them. Probably better than other putties, since GS cures a bit rubbery itself, making it less likely to pop off if the figure flexes.

    • ? says:

      There's super-high-res methods, super fast methods, and super cheap methods, but none that are all three.

      Also they aren’t very durable, certainly nowhere near “throw at the wall and they are fine” Bones.

      Bones are injection moulded, I think they showed photos of their production line in one of first Kickstarter’s updates.

      • Nessus says:

        Some of the newer light-cure resins for STL machines are supposedly on par with high-quality casting resins. And some of the filament types for FDM machines are rock solid if you solvent-smooth them. And there are some other FDM materials that are basically different hardnesses of rubber-like.

        …Though of course the former is too expensive and too slow, and the latter is too slow and waaaaayyyyy too low-res.

        There are a bunch of really awesome printing technologies that pretty much only see the light of day at corporate trade shows. Really high-end R&D processes that are basically unobtainable unless you’re the IRL equivalent of Tony Stark. They technically exist, but they’re still a decade or so away from being used for anything remotely mainstream. Some really cool architectural experiments too. Like using robots with filament welder arms to print an entire metal bridge in-situ.

        Only current proper manufacturing use I’ve heard of is IIRC Boeing using direct metal printing to manufacture fuel injectors or somesuch for their jet engines. Very proprietary, and took them something like ten years to develop in-house, but in that specific case it allows them to increase the engines’ efficiency while decreasing weight enough to make it worthwhile.

        Fifty years from now we’re gonna have factories that change tooling instantly just by loading a new STL file (or whatever format we’ll be using by then), but we aren’t even close to that now. Combine that though with the computer-generative engineering stuff that Autodesk (and probably their competitors too now) are currently developing, and the future is probably going to look a lot different from what most modern “hard S-F” visual media assumes.

  23. Since I don’t think anyone’s mentioned it yet, Todd Howard’s been either the lead designer or game director on every game’s Bethesda’s developed since Redguard. He’s never been credited as a writer on anything (as far as Wikipedia says) along with being essentially the head of the entire studio.

    If you want to blame someone for the writing being terrible after Oblivion, blame Emil Pagliarulo, since he’s been the lead writer on everything since Fallout 3…which is sort of sad, since his first game credit was Thief 2. D:

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I will always challenge the “its an indie game” as a defense against criticism.The only thing that should impact the criticism is the price.So a free game can get some passes,a 20 moneys game a few passes less,and a 60 moneys one should get no passes,no matter how small or big the development team was.If its sold for money,its a fair target.

  25. The Mich says:

    They should have patched the space bar bug in last week’s patch. You folks might want to check if it works!

  26. Kelerak says:

    I’m going to continue this trend of games being named after computing terms.

    I will make a game that’s essentially a roguelike Gunpoint called “Random Access Memory”. Or maybe a game where you’re a space bus driver called “Universal Serial Bus”.

    …actually, that last one sounds pretty rad.

  27. TMC_Sherpa says:

    Shamus (and other olds *cough* like me) substitute Reaper with Ral Partha and you get the gist of their range.

  28. Space Master says:

    No! Please do talk about miniatures and painting more. It is very interesting.

    The Diecast is my go-to thing to listen to while painting. I was painting Reaper Bones miniatures while listening to this one.

  29. Pinkhair says:

    Obduction’s bad chromakey footage work is weird, especially when you compare it to Cyan’s own previous games. I’m surprised that they didn’t go with Myst V’s facial captured 3d characters, which were pretty amazing for the time(and pretty good even now, really, when compared to many modern games.) Especially since they have animated 3d alien characters, and 3d human models scanned from the same live actors who show up in the cinematic clips.

    Gamewise, I liked Obduction a lot in general other than occasionally badly handled controls, and the story problems I had would be a spoiler to explain but boil down to how the ending is handled. They went to great pains to have a character you can interact with face to face with(as a bad chromakey) instead of putting him on a one way screen, and then have a story that absolutely breaks because you can’t tell the guy the most obvious thing ever. It feels like the game was carefully designed to point at the self imposed limitations.

    On that topic, a major mechanic of the later game involves heavy loading times as you’re swapping back and forth between worlds, which could make even a simple puzzle take forever and threaten to crash the game just from the constant loading and unloading. It is as if the original CD release of Riven had puzzles that involved pushing a button, swapping CDs, waiting for it to load, then pushing another button, then swapping the CDs back. And repeating that six or seven times IF you manage to get the puzzle right the first time. you’d think they could do a bit more caching, especially since it is clear that the worlds themselves do a lot of dynamic loading as you walk around.

    I have a feeling that in a few more years hardware improvements will help a lot with the loading times, though I’ve heard from some folks that even running it on an SSD didn’t help as much as you’d think. The point is that the design of the game constantly showcases where things break down, rather than gracefully avoiding or working around it.

  30. Taellosse says:

    I don’t imagine there’s a whole lot you can easily do about it, but the main podcast RSS feed didn’t grab the actual podcast file once again, so it’s not showing up for download on devices.

    ETA: Wait, it looks like I’m just out of date or something. I guess the OLD RSS (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?feed=rss2&category_name=diecast-2) didn’t work correctly – I see it actually appears to no longer be the “main” one. The one you created for Google Play is now the main one, so I guess I should just update my subscription.

    I am gonna miss the old Diecast banner, though. Even though I had to manually add it to make it show up on my phone, I thought it was more fun than the plain text version you’re using now. Ah well.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Strange enough: neither of the two URLS works for me:
      The old one seems to know nothing about the audio content, and the new one lets me stream it but not download.

      Less relevant but still: the original URL shows me the complete show notes but the new one only has the bit before the (more…) link.

  31. Trevel says:

    I just imagine that you’re grinding in a JRPG for every diecast, in the background. There’s not much to say, so you ramble about other stuff.

    When you’re max level, you’ll just do one episode where you beat the boss in the short-circuit boss fight only meant for New Game +.

  32. Jeff R says:

    I guess both Tomb Raider as well as Deus Ex is technically Japanese, right?

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