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Diecast #174: MrBtongue, Skyrim Remastered, Civ 6

By Shamus
on Monday Oct 31, 2016
Filed under:


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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster, MrBtongue. Episode edited by Issac.

Fun fact: Bob and I both release videos once every 2d6 months, but last week we randomly released videos within one day of each other.

Anyway. Happy Halloween, NERDS.

Show notes:
0:01:00 Introducing Mr Btongue.

Yay! It’s been too long since the last time we had a guest. Do check out Bob’s YouTube channel. Just pick something. You pretty much can’t go wrong. Although if pressed, I suppose the Elder Scrolls video is a good place to start. No wait. Choice and Consequence would be a better place to start. Or maybe the one where he gave a shout-out to me? I don’t know. Good luck.

Link (YouTube)

0:20:01 The creative direction of BioWare

We couldn’t very well NOT talk about this. So we talked about it. Or we tried to. We may have gotten distracted. Here is the video where Bob talks about Andromeda. And here is the one about how the company culture MUST change under EA.

0:27:30 If not BioWare, then who?

This one is also for you folks in the comments. Where can we go for a classic-BioWare style fix these days? (Ignoring the fact that we all probably have different ideas on what “Classic BioWare” means.)

0:42:05 Skyrim Remastered

Okay, they took the original HD Pack textures and just literally scaled them up. So a 1024×1024 texture becomes 2048×2048. But that’s like enlarging a photograph. Making something bigger doesn’t ADD detail. Modern graphics cards already smooth rough pixel edges, so NOTHING is gained by doing this. They literally made the textures take up 4x as much memory for NO visual improvement.

They did add “god rays”, which is the effect where sun shafts will shine through tree branches, which is kind of cool if you happen to be in just the right spot and looking in the right direction at the right time of day in the right weather to see it.

They added new “water shaders” so now the rivers look like flowing streams of baby oil instead of water. But then to keep the download size down, they super-compressed the audio, which means the audio is lower quality than in the original.

What you end up with is a game that has worse audio, looks basically exactly the same, and costs $40. Oh, Bethesda.

0:55:41 Civilization 6

And here is the “Suddenly, a wild apocalypse appears!” ending that Chris was talking about:

Link (YouTube)

1:09:34 Battlefield 1

1:12:52 Titanfall 2

This is actually sounding like something I want. We’ll see if I manage to find time for it before the end of the year.

Comments (129)

  1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    The talk about the time savings of putting pants on two legs at a time reminds me of Mayostard and Mustardayonaise


  2. Grudgeal says:

    Well this looks to be an interesting podcast to listen to while I’m NOT definitively goofing off at work, nosir, especially since it’s the middle of the night and everything everywhere on the globe right now.

  3. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    As far as names go, I don’t think it matters. Whether you’re named “Rutskarn” or “Laser Squirrel” that just quickly because the thing that calls to mind you in my head. It quickly stops generating any of the feelings I’d associate with a Laser Squirrel and just makes me think of a young indie writer with a penchant for puns.

    The real proof of that for me is Totalbiscuit and SuperBunnyHop who sound like they should be having tea in a meadow on a pavillion outside of their fancy victorian house carved out of a tree with fancy british narration in a children’s cartoon.

    And yet I think of a snarky british guy and a somehow even snarkier sounding American journalist.

    (Like seriously, Weidman sounds sarcastic even when I know he’s being sincere. I wonder if this is a problem with him in real life. Like —
    George: “Hi I’m George. Pleased to meet you.”
    Jane: “Oh really? F–K OFF!!”)

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What?!How do you know?!Who told you?!!

    I mean,thats definitely not a thing I do at work,why would you ever think that?

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whats in a nickname?
    That which we call Buttskarn
    By any other name would smell just as foul.

  6. Grudgeal says:

    On the topic of ‘new’ RPG developers I like the turn Lariat did with Divinity: Original Sin. It’s not perfect and I still think Obsidian and Inixile’s games are more to my taste, but D: OS was a pretty good scratching of my itch.

    I *did* hate that the ‘duality’ system meant I couldn’t pick up any other companions because my second protagonist’s personality didn’t like any of the ones available to me.

    • IFS says:

      The only issue I remember having with the duality system was not being able to decide which character won an argument when making a choice. I liked positioning them as opposing personalities but it was annoying to have to save scum to get the choice made that I wanted.

      • Grudgeal says:

        The conversation system itself encouraged save scumming, which was generally not a good thing. Not only did you have to gamble on the best approach, but the ensuing rock-paper-scissors game only compounded it. The combat system and character development got rather fun after a while, as did the completely silly universe, but the dialogue was generally horrid and some of the quest triggers got really obtuse.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        Their personality system was absolutely toxic if you cared about character stats, because each personality trait came with a stat bonus (and not a small one either) so the game essentially forced your hand on a lot of the choices. There’s a trait that gives +20% accuracy on backstabs, which is not just crucial for rogues, it’s almost game-breakingly strong. The Independent trait is strictly better than its inverse Obedient, so you should always pick Independent options. Is this your crafting character? Well then they better be Pragmatic for the +1 crafting bonus.

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        The best was when I was trying to answer some basic questions, which if I got wrong dumped me into an unwinnable fight, and my idiot partner kept insisting on the wrong answers, even though they were things she should have known were wrong.

        Divinity’s real problem, though was how impossibly obtuse and easily broken the path for forward progress was. Not as in “this puzzle is to hard”, but as in “I’m not sure where the puzzle I’m supposed to be solving even is, or what mechanical interactions are valid for this”. It’s great that they’re stepping away from leading the player by the nose, but they need to be smarter about signalling what the game expects from you.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          Strangely, I never had that problem with D:OS, and I was the jerk who clicked through most of the dialog without reading it. I just ran all over the map hoovering up XP and loot, and I always managed to hit the trigger that advanced the gamestate before I ran out of map. Maybe the game’s problem is that it was designed with a bit of that Ubisoft open-world explore-em-up in mind, and the quest design gets really obtuse if you sit down with the goal of advancing any specific quest.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The real problem for each and every one of you is that you have been playing the game wrong.The reason your two people could not agree on anything is because you have been playing both of them.Instead,you are supposed to play just one,and have a friend play the other.This way you wouldve compoundedavoided all of those problems.

  7. Galad says:

    Holy cow, you had like three weeks ago the discussion of “Who would be our dream host to invite to the show” and MrBTongue is already here. Impressive, definitely :)

  8. The Rocketeer says:

    On Rutskarn’s tightfisted lifestyle, I’ll say what I’ve been saying for years and years:

    I support giving Rutskarn money, but only by taking it to him in person, and holding it above his head so he has to jump for it.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,the problem with new civilizations isnt that they are trying to please people like you.The problem is primarily in the one unit per tile system and in lack of information.Because reducing the emphasis on war is a good thing,increasing the planning required for the empire is a good thing,there are many good things here.But sadly,there are those two pretty big problems.

    The one unit per tile is a cool idea,but it simply does not work(I hoped it would get better here,but it did not).Not only has it made the ai dumb,but it also increased micromanagement in late game(which is the opposite of why it was introduced),and it also reintroduces the stupidest exploits that were eradicated in IV.For example,one way to cripple someone you are at peace with is to just spam a bunch of missionaries,and then send them to stand around their town,preventing any of their units from going in or out(including their workers).Or,if you dont want them to settle in a good spot,just surround their settler.In IV,this was not a problem,because you could walk into any tile not occupied by someone you were at war with,so you could pass through any unit,you could even settle directly underneath them(kicking them out if they didnt have open borders with you).Which is sad and frustrating.

    But what is more frustrating(to me at least)is the odd lack of information,especially in civilopedia.Though some of this will probably be patched,some of it most likely wont.For example,while choosing a nation,some of them will have detailed descriptions for their unique units and abilities,while others will have just a small description blurb.This will most likely be patched.

    What probably wont be patched is the curious necessity to manually go into civilopedia and search for a description of a unit or an improvement,or whatever,because right clicking jumps into there only some of the time.For example,while building a thing,you can right click it to see what it would do,but when its built you cannot do that any more.Or the lack of links between related concepts,that again exists some times,but not the other times.Though,compared to V,here there are at least SOME links,where in V there were practically NO links at all.

    And this is baffling,because civilopedia worked great in IV,and unlike actual mechanics of the game,this is not something they had to build from scratch.Yet it seems like thats exactly what they did.

  10. Joe says:

    Yeah, the new Skyrim. I realised after about an hour that on my computer it didn’t look pretty enough to justify the performance hit. And if I wanted to keep playing, I’d have to reinstall all my mods. That just seemed like too much work, so I quit and so far haven’t played again. Not like it cost me anything in the first place.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Your mods probably wouldn’t have worked with the new version anyway.

      • Eh, they’ve got a fair selection up and running on the Nexus already. I miss Convenient Horses, though.

        It’s not so much that the mod doesn’t work as it is they can’t have the nice convenient mod MENU screens without SKSE, which isn’t coming out for the Special Edition until TBD. So the mods feel a bit “dumbed down”. Apparently there have been a lot of problems with object meshes, too, so backpacks/cloaks are still In Progress on a lot of mods. My new favorite start is “I own property in one of the holds”, although I wish they didn’t start you out with the property already “developed”. Earning enough money to furnish/finish the house would be a cool “starter” quest of sorts. There are supposed to be resources to help modders add custom starts, so I’m kind of hoping to see some more of these in the coming weeks.

        But I’ve found some real gems like the Ordinator and the one that makes it so you don’t have to go through a loading screen to go inside towns. They’ve got Alternate Start up and running, too. I highly recommend Realistic Lighting, although it was a giant pain in the ass to get it to work because it’s not set up to work win NMM right now so you have to do this screwy thing where:

        1. You copy the mod files manually into your mod folder.
        2. You start Skyrim and go to the Mods folder so you can activate the mods and get them in your load order.
        3. You exit the game and further revise your load order in NMM to use the mod core and optional files that you actually want.

        For Realistic Lighting to work you have to load the mods in EXACTLY the right order. Otherwise it just makes everything look really weird.

        Also, I personally think the water looks pretty good for the most part, and they got rid of that godawful bug in Whiterun where the waterslide park would get screwed up and have super-wonkus textures on it and blast my performance all to hell.

        A lot of the quests are still super-dumb, though.

        • Granted, my idea of what “pretty good” water looks like is colored by my experience of trying to get some beautiful water mods to work and finding out that it does something HORRIBLE like make the water INVISIBLE in half of Hjalmarch (why am I swimming in midair?!?!) or leave GLARING boxes of unreconstructed textures anywhere there’s a ship.

          I’ll take the rivers of baby oil over that ANY day–even if 99% of the water in the game looks AMAZING. If I come out of Riften and see huge square patches of screwed up water textures I’m trashing your mod and not looking back.

        • Not worth playing until SkyUI is available, mostly because as we’ve said before, the vanilla Skyrim UI can die in a napalm fire. >:(

  11. shiroax says:

    Campster, Returns is pretty meh, Dragonfall and Hong Kong are much better, although HK overdoes some of the good stuff until you’re sick of it.

    I too liked the setting but the overall mehness of the game got me to drop the franchise for a while.

    • IFS says:

      I’d like to second Returns being meh but DF and HK being great, although I disagree that HK ‘overdoes the good stuff’. IIRC Returns was basically them showing off the campaign creation tools and Dragonfall was their first real attempt at making an RPG with regards to writing. HK is easily my favorite of the three though, mostly because it has such good and diverse mission design. Also it has one of the most entertaining examples of beating the final boss in dialogue in recent memory for me.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I love cyberpunk in general, but didn’t care for any of the Shadowrun games at all. They seem to be reasonably well-received, but I was never on the right wavelength to understand what other people got out of them, could you explain what parts of HK are “the good stuff”?

      • Grudgeal says:

        Speaking for myself, I was a big fan Shadowrun: Hong Kong’s world-building and character gallery. It got to the level that I would often load up on a sub-optimal (or seemingly sub-optimal) team just to see what would happen if I brought Gaichû to a fancy party or Rachter to the decker’s convention. Basically I liked being able to make a Shadowrun character like I did when I played it in tabletop and applying that character to the campaign Harebrained had created for me. The attention to detail and a coherent gameworld was what made the Shadowrun Returns games stick to me, the gameplay is okayish but nothing more and the main stories often got a little high-stakes for my taste.

        I mean, it’s great that you get to save the world in an RPG, but you get a bit tired of it when every single game eventually becomes “save the world!”. At least Shadowrun Returns put a little perspective on it with some of the post-final boss denouements, which I appreciated.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          Basically I liked being able to make a Shadowrun character like I did when I played it in tabletop and applying that character to the campaign Harebrained had created for me.

          Man, my biggest complaint about HK was how bad it was at capturing the spirit of tabletop Shadowrun. It’s a CRPG so there’s no freedom to deviate from the script, even when the script has you doing really stupid things (like not murdering the group of others runners that has a huge incentive to stab you in the back at any moment). The dialogue had a bad case of “Here’s three options, all of which are the same”, and it was extremely rare that your character skills mattered (if lockpicking were a skill in Shadowrun, you would be able to pick the lock, or non-lockpickers would walk twenty feet to the right and find the key). I never felt like I had the opportunity to mess up, and if I did mess up (which would happened often in an unavoidable scripted manner), I knew that instead of corporate security coming down on me like a ton of bricks, I would get a trivial combat encounter with about four dudes after which I’d be under no particular pressure to bail out.

          • tmtvl says:

            Have you tried out the “The Caldecott Caper” module for SR:HK? It’s not perfect by any stretch of the word, but it gives you just about enough rope to hand yourself with and the creator really, really knows his stuff (check out his dev commentary, it’s great).

      • shiroax says:

        The good stuff for me was the atmosphere, non-combat options and playing a sort of guardian for the NPC community.

        HK overdid that by putting what felt like an hour of running around town checking in on everybody per half hour of mission, and so much to do in order to complete missions nonviolently that I was looking for people to cross me just to shoot somebody once in a while.

    • John says:

      Shadowrun Returns is, um . . . I’d call it inoffensive. I don’t think it does anything particularly wrong, but neither does it do a lot of the things that people seem to like in RPGs these days. Arguably the worst thing about it is that it is extremely linear. I have played through the campaign several times and only ever discovered one optional mission. Otherwise, it’s a nice little noir-ish detective story, but with cyborgs, elves, and just possibly some eldritch horrors. I liked it well enough, especially considering that I only paid about $4 for it.

      Shadowrun Dragonfall, on the other hand, is very good. It’s quite non-linear, at least until the end game. It’s also longer, more ambitious, and much better at world building. You get a much better feel for what it means to be a Shadowrunner from Dragonfall than you do from Returns. It also adds Bioware-ish touches like persistent party members and optional side-missions related to their back-stories. Whenever I feel like Shadowrun these days I always go for Dragonfall over Returns. (I do not, alas, own Hong Kong yet. I’ll probably grab it at Christmas.)

      One of the things that I like best about CRPGs is experimenting with different character builds and concepts. It’s an itch I used to scratch by playing the Hordes of the Underdark expansion for Neverwinter Nights again and again. “Let’s see, this time I’ll make a Paladin archer with the Zen Archery feat, take some levels in Monk in order to substitute the WIS bonus to AC for plate armor, add the Divine Might feat to overcome damage reduction and resistance, and I’ll rationalize the whole thing by calling her a . . . Holy Archer Priestess. Yeah, that’ll work.” These days it’s Shadowrun. “Okay, I’ll need three ranks in Rifles so that I can use a full-automatic attack, but that’s a 2 AP action. If I also get ranks in Conjuring so that I can use Haste, then I’ll get more AP per round. But Conjuring requires ranks in Charisma . . . which is cool since that gives me more Etiquettes and conversation options.”

      • IFS says:

        If you’re really into fun character builds I’d say HK definitely improved on Returns and DF in that department, adding a specific skill branch for cyberware (which ties into the newly introduced cyberweapons) as well as some other fun toys like adept specific weapons. Ranking up the cyberware branch can give spare essence so you can get cyberware on a mage with less downside (or just more cyberware period) and there are some fun implants to get like the cyberarm that automatically throws back enemy grenades, or the arm that makes reloading cost no AP.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          If you’re into gimmick builds, sure, but as a min-maxer, HK was the worst of the bunch. It continues the series tradition of having “pure guns” be far and away the best build, despite that being the plainest, least-interesting thing to do with that combat system. The only interesting questions about the optimal build in DF were “Shotguns or rifles?” and “Pure ranged combat, or splash Shaman just to get Haste?”, HK answered both of those questions by giving you a ludicrously overpowered sniper rifle and nerfing haste (RIP +2AP/turn). The best build puts 5 points into cyberware in order to equip all the really nice Alphaware (it’s not like you have anything else to spend your money on), 5 points into strength to wield the lategame minigun, and all the rest of its points into Dex-Ranged-Rifles. The balance is even more messed up than the previous games, making your customizable main character almost as powerful as the rest of your party put together.

          • John says:

            I do feel that the easiest way to get through Dragonfall is with Rifles, but I think that there are also rewards–in the form of fun–to playing with other archetypes. Decking is hugely convenient, in that it often saves you the trouble of having to run all over the map looking for passwords or card keys, and the player has the potential to be much better at it than the default NPC decker. Spellcasting gives you a lot of options so that you don’t just end up hunkering down behind cover and blasting away with full-auto. Rigging gives you flanking options if you don’t mind a little extra micro-management.

            Then there’s Summoning. I have hitherto mostly avoid Summoning as I have regarded spirits mostly as less reliable versions of drones, but I may have to try a Summoner soon. I’m playing an Adept at the moment and in my current mission a summoned Fire spirit just hit my entire party with a Heatwave attack that dropped their accuracy 15%. My first thought was not “Oh no!” but “I want to do that to my enemies!”

          • IFS says:

            Well the Shadowrun games are also all pretty easy so you are by no means required to minmax. I did a high charisma heavily cybered street sam who just used razorclaws to fight and I was fine, even breezed through most combats. The bonus epilogue campaign is a bit tougher but even there the game was never very challenging on normal difficulty.

          • …That’s actually about the build I’m going with in Returns right now; heavy Rifles, some Decking so I don’t really need to have one along and can instead get another SS, and a bit of Charisma to get more etiquettes. :P

      • shiroax says:

        Yeah, inoffensive is about right. Nothing I could point to and say it stinks, and everything just short of making me want to play the next game in the series. Just… meh.

    • Peter H Coffin says:

      The fun thing is that the people that LOVE Shadowrun are the people that started with paper 2nd edition or later. 1st edition had such a tedious, involved combat system that a typical firefight took most of an hour.

      • krellen says:

        1st edition was a mess; 5th edition is actually really good, though. It’s almost like Shadowrun is DnD in parallel. I’m one of the rare few people that love Shadowrun despite having been introduced to it first in 1st edition (but I love the lore and setting more than the system anyway).

        I was a big fan of Shadowrun 4th edition, which shifted character creation to a point-buy system that worked really well (and is not really comparable to the “Karma” build systems in other editions, because it was additive instead of exponential in cost). And 5th edition did away with the point-buy creation, which is literally the only thing about it I don’t prefer to 4th.

        5th edition introduced a lot of great things that really make things run better – dice pool limits to better define what characters are and aren’t good at; free contact pools so every runner has some contacts (this is bringing back something from earlier editions); a streamlining of initiative that makes far more character builds viable and doesn’t force everyone into a race to get the most “initiative passes”; and most importantly – a revamping of the Wireless Matrix that fixes most of the problems with it from earlier iterations.

        The new Matrix system brings hackers into the same initiative pool with everyone else, so hacking isn’t just one player doing their thing while everyone else sits around (or vice versa). It also introduces Hosts, which solve a lot of security hole issues the old Wireless Matrix had that made it somewhat unbelievable. The changes to cyberdecks makes Deckers more in line with street samurai in what they need to advance and excel, while making changes to Technomancers that makes them far more like Mages, so there are less differences in playstyle between character archetypes.

        Unfortunately, it has done little to fix the layout problems the books have always had; each different system (regular combat, Matrix stuff, Magic stuff) is in its own sections, encouraging players and even GMs to only master the fields personally relevant to them and making it hard to find where certain rules are located – and it sometimes hides vital rules in a table, with no mention of it in the text at all. But as this is a problem a lot of roleplaying systems have, I can’t really hold it against Catalyst too much.

        I’ve been heavily invested in an online Shadowrun campaign that streams on Twitch – the channel that streams it was co-founded by Jordan Weisman, the man that created Shadowrun. (I’ve mentioned it here before and will not spam about it unless asked.) The players are all semi-professional improvisational actors (most with other day jobs), and seeing other people play the game really helps get a feel for how it works.

        Of course, you have to like watching people play RPGs to really want to watch it.

      • MadHiro says:

        I definitely loved Shadowrun starting in First Edition, despite not being able to stand most of the mechanics.

        I just used the setting from Shadowrun, and grafted it onto GURPS. Nice and straight forward, and it got some use out of my GURPS Cyberpunk sourcebook (which is easily the most hilarious bit of intersection between RPG culture and the real world ever).

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Bioware was never good with their main stories.They were 50/50 with that.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rutskarn having to hold his mic does fit with his old timey radio announcer voice.

  14. MichaelGC says:

    This one is also for you folks in the comments.

    And who is the rest of it for, then? I’ll just play the other sections with my fingers jammed into my ears, shall I? Fine! *jams fingers into ears*

  15. RandomPerson says:

    This isn’t really related to the podcast in any way, but seeing that Shandification video reminded me of another video which the people here may find interesting:


    I don’t necessarily agree with all of the claims made in there (most egregiously, Falcom is far from an “indie studio”), but I think it highlights one of the more unique aspects of one of my favorite game series. I imagine that, considering that in-depth articles exploring the details of games’ narratives is one of the main draws of this site, many of the readers here will enjoy the Trails series just as much as I did.

    • Yurika Grant says:

      Falcom has been around longer than most anyone in the business (30+ years), but they’re small enough to technically be considered indie by the standards of AAA. They’re in a nice sweet spot of being small enough to do what they please, but large/established enough to retain the quality.

    • tmtvl says:

      That video references MrBtongue, did you do that just because he’s a guest on the show?

    • Syal says:

      Steam has been recommending Trails in the Sky to me for a while, maybe I’ll actually check it out now.

      The video mentions NPCs working things out on their own; I’m wondering if games would benefit from having questlines where the optimal outcome is turning them down and making the questgiver do it on their own. Like, someone wants to pay you to complete their qualification challenge for them, but if you do it poisons their whole experience while if you turn it down they do it themselves and realize their potential and stuff. You don’t get paid but everyone else benefits. Or dies; sometimes they’ll die.

      Maybe games are already doing that, I’m years behind in these things.

      • Philadelphus says:

        Wow, that sounds exactly like what Kreia talks about in KotOR II: how by running around being a paragon of virtue and helping everyone you come across you’re ultimately weakening them by preventing them from facing their difficulties and growing and overcoming them. Of course the game mechanics don’t actually support that””you can’t actually let someone else solve their own problem and have them get stronger””but it was a thought-provoking idea when I first played it.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          The Kreia scene had the core of an interesting idea, undercut by the fact that she’s admonishing you for giving money to a starving beggar. She comes perilously close to outright quoting Ayn Rand. It’s not bad characterization, because she’s a sociopathic jerk who seems conceited enough to construct a philosophical argument in favour of sociopathy, but that falls apart when the player isn’t allowed to call her out on her sociopathy. The author doesn’t realize she’s a conceited jerk, he thinks she’s right.

          • John says:

            The infuriating thing about Kreia is that she will also criticise you for not giving money to a starving beggar. Wait, no. The infuriating thing about Kreia is that she will criticise you no matter what you do in that scene even if you deliberately left her back on the ship in order to avoid that sort of thing.

            • Felblood says:

              And you can’t call her out on any of this, for no readily apparent reason.

              The ending kind-of explains what’s going on there, but by then you’re already pissed off, and the ending could fill a few books with it’s own problems.

          • Raygereio says:

            The author doesn't realize she's a conceited jerk, he thinks she's right.

            Somewhere Chris Avellone is laughing and he has no idea why.

            It’s true that Kreia was often used by the author as a mouthpiece for his frustrations with the Force & Jedi teachings in the Star Wars setting.
            But at no point is Kreia’s personal philosophy portrayed as “correct”. In that scene you mentioned, the player is given dialogue options that allow you to express your disagreement.

            • Ninety-Three says:

              You can tell Kreia that you’re a big ol’ goodie two-shoes who still likes charity, but she engages you in a philosophical debate and you’re given no opportunity to point out “You’re a conceited jerk smugly trying to justify your sociopathy with philosophy, could you please stop being a teenager?”

              The game lets you disagree with her, but in a game full of character interactions and choices, it refuses to acknowledge that Kreia is a smug jerk with a chip on her shoulder and Atlas Shrugged on her shelf. When a CRPG doesn’t allow you to express an obvious opinion/solution, it’s saying the opinion is so wrong that it literally doesn’t exist.

              I’ll try to dig it up later, but Avellone did an interview where he said that Kreia is right.

              • Raygereio says:

                The game allows you to reject Kreia’s teachings. That the dialogue options supporting that are apparently not vehement enough for you, does not mean that they’re not there.

                Avellone did an interview where he said that Kreia is right.

                Well, I’ve never seen such an interview. I’d be very interested in seeing it.

                • Ninety-Three says:

                  My problem is that Kreia is clearly a flawed character (see above re: smug self-justifying sociopath) and the player is not allowed to point out that relevant fact, which makes it seem like the author didn’t notice they were writing a character with those flaws.

                  Avellone has done seemingly thousands of interviews so I’m having trouble finding the one I’m thinking of, but I did find him saying this:

                  I think my favorite unexpected turn is just the fact that Kreia isn’t necessarily good or evil.

                  It’s not saying she’s right, but it seems like a pretty clear case of the author being on the character’s side when he characterizes her plan to murder every force-sensitive in the galaxy as “not evil”.

                  Edit: Well that was odd, my comment got flagged for moderation. I wonder why.

                • Matt Downie says:

                  Quotes I was able to find:
                  “She was questioning everything about the Star Wars universe that I thought should be questioned.”

                  “Kreia is my mouthpiece for everything I hate about the Force, and then I let her rant.”

                  I suspect he never went as far as actually saying she was right.

          • Philadelphus says:

            That’s not the scene I was thinking about””it’s one of the talks on the Ebon Hawk where she Socratically asks why you seem to have grown so much stronger over the course of the game by running around doing people’s quests for them.

            The lack of a verbal refutation of Kreia never really bothered me, given the, er, physical refutation of her at the end. You’ve been going around doing things (either helping other people or being evil) and have grown powerful as a result, powerful enough to defeat her. Crucially, she seems to have wanted this all along; she’s happy that you’ve surpassed her, and recognizes at the end that perhaps her justifications are just that, the “excuses of an old woman who has grown on rely on the thing she hates.”

            She’s bitter because she was once both a great Jedi and a great Sith and fell from power with both, and is now jaded and cynical, but in the Exile she sees someone daring great things again, and while she may chide you for what she sees as useless excesses in either direction, she ultimately wants you to surpass her and become greater. I see her trying to talk you out of helping (or hurting) people more as a bit of calculated reverse psychology than anything else, because obviously the player isn’t going to go “Oh, OK then, I guess I’ll just not take any quests that aren’t directly related to the main storyline.”

            It is, in a way, a subtle meta-critique of the mechanics of KotOR II and the RPG genre itself as a whole. Annnd, this got a bit longer than I was expecting, so I’ll just wrap up now.

        • Syal says:

          It’s definitely been discussed before (and Obsidian’s discussed a bunch of other tropes like companion loyalty), and a lot of games will have a gag quest or something where everything turns out badly because you meddled, but I don’t know if there are any games where tactically refusing (or failing) quests is a core part of solving quests.

  16. Ninety-Three says:

    So Bioware has been incredibly tightlipped about Andromeda and we don’t have enough to discern what direction it’s going in*, but…

    Everything we’ve heard so far is at least consistent with the idea that Andromeda will be another DA3-style singleplayer MMO, an Ubisoft collectathon. It’s also consistent with their modern design philosophy to have their games share structural elements like this. I would describe myself as 30% pessimistic about Andromeda, because that’s about the chance they’re going in this DA3 direction, and the other 70% is a complete unknown. Although frankly, given their recent history, a complete unknown from Bioware is also a pretty bad bet.

    *Man, that game is coming out in March and we still haven’t seen any in-engine footage except for that PS4 tech demo. That’s a bad sign, right? It can’t be a good sign.

    • Raygereio says:

      Man, that game is coming out in March and we still haven't seen any in-engine footage except for that PS4 tech demo. That's a bad sign, right? It can't be a good sign.

      Yeah. Often this means that whoever is in charge has no confidence in the game. Granted, it could be a marketing strategy of wanting to keep people in suspense.
      But when you combine the lack of footage & news in general, with several top developers having left Bioware in a relatively short time (most notably the lead writer) and the delay from Q4 2016 to late Q1 2017 and it’s a “Holy shit, don’t preorder this game”-level of bad sign.

  17. Yurika Grant says:

    Holy crap, MrBTongue on the podcast? :o Not only a new video, but now he’s here? Did… did we all die and go to heaven? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

  18. James Porter says:

    Its great you were able to get MrBtounge to come on, I hope he wasn’t too intimidated, you kinda just dropped him into your group dynamics.

    Also, I learned something special about naked Morrowind assassination. So you can get people to attack you first by taunting them, so it wouldn’t be illegal to kill them. But some people wouldn’t want to talk to you, usually assassination targets, would just dismiss you outright.

    BUT! If you are naked, they will give you the disgusted dialog that lets you taunt them.

    So you can get naked and taunt people to death so the guards don’t arrest you. Morrowind is the best.

  19. James Porter says:

    Also, I get that the Skyrim Remastered launch was a bit of a mess, but I guess I got it for free so it doesn’t bother me as much? It will probably be weird though, since I still have my old Skyrim game set up with all the mods I want already picked out.

    It seems like the PC version wasn’t the focus this time around, but to really push for mods on consoles. Combined with the implication that we may get a port of Skyrim to the new Nintendo Switch, and Bethesda is actually doing a lot of exciting and cool things.

    Also it seems really unfair to say Skyrim doesn’t have any Art Direction. Morrowind is still my favorite, but you can tell a lot of effort went into the look and feel of Skyrim. I agree with Rutskarn that the faces seemed to have an intentional roughness to them, and I appreciate how different elves in Skyrim look from any other fantasy Elves.

  20. Yurika Grant says:

    I was going to edit my previous comment but it’s apparently been longer than 30 minutes, so… yeah.

    Anyway, on the isometric RPG front, try Underrail if you want a kind of Fallout-y experience. It also has some nice-looking DLC expansion goodness incoming :)

  21. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Pillars of Eternity was the most classic Bioware-y game that’s been released in a long time. Hopefully Obsidian keeps it up.

  22. MrBtongue says:

    Hey, I want to thank everyone on Diecast for having me on!

    I knew it though – I turned my mic sensitivity too high, and half of my audio is ***BREATHES HEAVILY***

  23. Shamus & MrBtongue have put out more videos? AND they’re both here on Spoiler Warning? Christmas has come early this year! Plus, Campster, Rutskarn & Josh here? Which gods did I please? Though I do miss Mumbles being here though. This is what happens when I don’t offer sacrifices to the Crow god. Great Diecast though.

  24. Ardyvee says:

    Re: Civilization VI

    There are definitely some issues regarding what the player can do and AI’s decision making. Never mind that I found them incapable of being allies since there are just too many reasons for them to hate you (different forms of government being the one I dislike the most).

    I played a merchant republic in single player, and at one point an AI declared war on me. My response was merely to buy a bunch of military units, essentially doubling my army and crushing them since I was ahead technologically wise, which they don’t seem to care much about. And, yes, money is extremely broken at the difficulty I played, which granted wasn’t that high (prince). A civilization capable of producing hundreds of gold per turn, doesn’t really care about turns when it comes to building stuff except districts, wonders, nuclear weapons and science victory projects (except I could just buy the great scientists that advance those projects with either gold or never-used faith). New cities only take time to grow because there seems to be no such thing as migration between cities, but never mind, I can just add a trade-route with the highest food per turn to alleviate that.

    I also found trade routes to be… underwhelming. They are interesting in that you could technically focus on obtaining more of one thing than the other, but traders take too long to build (imo – or you can just buy them) for what they give you, unless (you guessed it) you look for the most gold-profitable route. By the end game, they turn into busy-work I’d rather automate because whatever extra movement speed I might get just isn’t worth it, and I really just want all that gold.

    The multiplayer game wasn’t as bad, but it instead suffered by me taking an entire continent by myself through wars (both defensive and offensive) and thus essentially winning with no chance for anybody else to get close (was about to finish the space project AND about to convert every civilization to my religion, while also leading in culture, with more great writers than I had slots for).

    Then again, perhaps these issues are not as prevalent against higher difficulty AI. I just fear their obvious inclination towards war (but also hating you for deciding you’re going to take cities in a surprise defensive war) will turn it into an odd management of trying to get the AI to not attack you too much before you build enough economic might to not care. We’ll see, once I get around that.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Internal trade routes are probably the strongest way to increase production in the early game; external trade routes are almost overpowered in the gold game; how can you be underwhelmed by them? If you were really swimming gold like that, most of it must’ve been coming off trade. I do agree more automation would be good, though – once you’re up to 15 TRs it gets tedious figuring out which one to send where.

      And diplomacy is viable. I won’t say it’s great – far from it – but it’s possible to get alliances going and keep them up – you just have to be quite careful about their agendas, and have a bit of luck – sometimes the combination of their agendas is impossible to stick to. You have to be quite pro-active though – the passive game WILL lead to war(s). The AI behaves quite differently – not necessarily better, mind – than the one from Civ V.

    • Cybron says:

      Hammers are more powerful than gold IMO. Districts and wonders are the hardest thing to build and cannot be bought. Both are strong.

      Internal trade routes are useful. The usual way I use them is as follows: settle a new city, build the trader at my highest production city (1-3 turns usually), move it to the new city, start trading with whatever gives highest production.

    • CrushU says:

      I’ve definitely had problems with War… Any War at all marks you a Warmonger and then everyone declares war on you… and then you get war weariness making all your cities rebel… Urgh.

      Trading, though… Man, Trade Routes are super good. Latest game I’ve decided to go whole ham on trading, because Rome… and jeez. Even starting in Tundra in a city that’s having trouble breaking 5 Pop… still makin tons of junk.

  25. MichaelGC says:

    So, what do the Fs stand for in ‘FFJosh’?

  26. Darren says:

    Bearing in mind that I got the free PC upgrade, I think the remastered Skyrim does look better. The lighting is improved, draw distance is better, and there’s more foliage around. It’s subtle, but nice.

    As I understand it, the biggest difference is that it now has a 64-bit framework, so it has the capacity for greater mods than ever before and should generally run better.

    • Echo Tango says:

      Not sure what the extra 32 bits would add; Most everyday computations don’t really need more than 32 bits of either floats, ints, or addresses. Am I missing something obvious here?

  27. MichaelGC says:

    Bobby the T’s mention of scarequotes reminded me of the time he put his scarequotes each into their own little adorable set of scarequotes! :D

    I thought that was awesome! And, er, I’m afraid I must confess I’ve sought in vain for an appropriate forum in which to typographically plagiarise the manoeuvre ever since…

  28. Benjamin Hilton says:

    *listening to Diecast at work.*

    “Yes I know about you goofing off at work on my site.”

    *Glance around as if I expect to see him watching me*

  29. tzeneth says:

    Hey Shamus, you mentioned your Mass Effect Retrospective and I felt like reading it again but there’s no easy way to find it by just pressing a button or going to the title page of shamusyoung.com It might be a good idea to make it easier to find so others may read it, the same with the Final Fantasy X examination. Possibly put them into some category that links them together but allows you to find the specific ones, like the spoiler warning page or the web comics page.

    (Edit: Also, can someone give me a link to the first page of it? Or at least the month so I can look for it? I’m not even sure exactly when it was started to get to the first page)

  30. Decius says:

    I just lost CiVI for the first time.

    Because apparently it’s trivial to engage in enough religious war to prevent someone from making religious units for some reason? And then you just have to send unopposable units in until you win.

  31. Hang on Shamus. You’re saying that the audio is compressed at a lower bitrate than before?
    Isn’t that the wrong direction? Shouldn’t they have gone higher bitrate or lossless FLAC instead? (using the original uncompressed WAV’s)

    Also, is the textures just scaled up from 1K to 2K? Shouldn’t they instead be scaled down from 4K or 8K original down to 2K? (I’m assuming the originals the artist made are lossless 4K/6K/8K or similar).

    Could you post a few links or (if “original research”) make a stand alone article about it? (In my view it’s significant enough to get some focus, and I def want to read more about this texture non-upgrade and audio downgrade.

  32. Steve C says:

    Have you thought about giving yourself copyright strikes? Like where you make a one-off Spoiler Warning and then Josh says he owns it. And Rutskarn says he owns it. Three way dispute and it has the benefit of it being true. Test the system. (This is probably a terrible idea, but w/e.)

    • galacticplumber says:

      The Jimquisition has already done extensive testing of this by getting videos claimed by multiple different sources automatically. Unless you fight the claim there’s no chance of an actual strike and adds cannot occur. Thus no revenue. However if you weren’t doing that anyways it’s a fun system to keep your stuff add free while firmly flipping off every single anti-fair use troll as well as youtube itself. I trust you will use this information responsibly to break these chains of love.

  33. Matthias Haan says:

    Haven’t listened to the episode yet, so apologies if this comes up, but regarding this:

    But that's like enlarging a photograph. Making something bigger doesn't ADD detail.

    This isn’t completely true any more. The technique is still a bit finicky, though, and I doubt that Bethesda used it.

    • Echo Tango says:

      That’s also technically not adding detail from the image…just subbing in detail from the training images, which you have to hope are close in subject / objects, to actually be adding useful data. ^^;

  34. Christopher says:

    Aw, I love Bob and Shamus’ flirting in the first half of this episode, just complimenting each other’s videos. It’s fun to hear you on the show, Bob! You’re a good fit, and I also love your videos. Hope you come on the show again!I could always do with some more moaning about Bioware.

    • Tizzy says:

      On the other hand, learning that Rutskarn spends the whole show with a Yeti in his hand has put some rather disturbing images in my mind, and I dont think the Diecast will ever be the same for me.

  35. @1:11:35 “I spawned, and then I died. And that was awesome.” – Chris on life.

    That just made me laugh, and that needs to be a bumper sticker or sig line or something. Nice one Chris, that made my day. *thumbs up*

  36. Christopher says:

    “The barbarians are way too aggressive” is a very funny statement to me for some reason. How out of character for savage, lawless warriors to have a short fuse and be looking for trouble.

  37. Benjamin Hilton says:

    I really liked that merchants put on better stuff that you sold to them. it made the world feel more realistic. Inevitably the town that I set up shop in would be full of these richly dressed merchants. It made me feel like my presence and actions were affecting the town I lived in.

  38. Echo Tango says:

    Re: Non-branching role-playing.

    I think stuff like Campster described in Titanfall is still very cool, even if it doesn’t change the story. I mean, it’s still loads better to have some well-characterized non-choices, than to have poorly characterized “choices” that just end up railroading you back into the story anyways.

    For examples… Poorly-characterized, branches that gets railroaded anyways – Fallout 3 and 4? Well-characterized, but with zero branching – Titanfall’s story-mode, and Dinner Date. Well-characterized stuff that also branches a medium amount – that’s Telltale’s Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, and Borderlands. I can’t think of a good game that also branches a lot, but that’s probably just because I’ve got a horrible memory, and spend my gaming budget on a wide variety of games. :)

  39. sheer_falacy says:

    It’s cool to hear you guys talk about Spiderweb Software. I’ve played almost all of their games and have enjoyed them. They’re certainly not graphically impressive, but they’re fun to play and huge and have generally good stories. Also several of them have art by Phil Foglio and that’s always fun.

    • Dt3r says:

      Same, I was really glad to see Jeff Vogle get a mention. I remember when his games were fairly expensive (for an indie RPG at the time). I really hope that selling at a lower pricepoint on Steam worked out for him!

  40. Neko says:

    Yay \o/ looking forward to listening to this one when I go out tomorrow. The timing of MrBTongue’s new video coming out just after the “fantasy guest” episode was too perfect!

  41. Phantos says:

    The man.

    The myth.

    The legend.

  42. Dt3r says:

    Yes, another Paradox fan on the show! For me, hearing Josh and Btongue talk about Paradox games would be just as much fun as hearing Shamus and Btounge talk about Bioware.

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