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

Diecast #112: Wii U, Marvel Movieverse, Mailbag

By Shamus
on Monday Jul 13, 2015
Filed under:


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

Hosts: Shamus, Campster, Mumbles, Josh.

Show notes:
2:00 Rutskarn is not dead, but probably wishes he was.

As of this post, Rutskarn is still the only man in southern California who is simultaneously not connected to the internet and not a member of a cult. Clearly the solution here is for him to start one.

As far as I can tell, he sneaks into his neighbor’s basement once a week and leeches off their wi-fi. During his last excursion, he managed to send this:

I was able to run a one-man Spoiler Warning of my very own at a recent sci-fi cowboy-themed LARP. Attached picture related.

“Almost mute. Almost unkillable. Completely mad.”


I have no idea what any of that means, but I hope you find the information useful.

4:00 The Shamus family got a Wii U

15:00 The strange story of Marvel movie properties.

Related article: Wolverine had to die for the sake of Marvel comics.

26:00 MAILTIME! Weapon degradation.

Dear Dieter Cast,

When I’m out adventuring in the open world, my swords and armour keep degrading at an alarming rate. Is there a good reason behind this or is it like Dandelion and just to waste my time? Can you see a use for this in other situations and settings?

Yours gruffly,
Geralt of Rivia

And then we spend all the time talking about inventory limits.

35:00 Shamus announces: Mass Effect: The Really Long Essay Series.

And that’s why Bastila is naked. Wait, what was the question again?

43:00 Letting the player have kids in a game.

Dear Diecast

I was just mulling over a thought experiment and I wanted your take –

If you were a designer on a game like Fallout or Skyrim, and a requirement was “Player must be able to aquire a house and adopt a child, that will stay in or near home” – how would you handle this?

What sort of maintenance would the player need to do to maintain the child?

Would you make it possible for the child to be attacked or abducted off-screen?

Would you make some mechanism for the player to change the odds of this? What form would it take?

In the greater narrative, what would you do with the child?


50:00 Shamus is angry at NASA.

Here is the article image that I’m whining about.

If I can argue with myself here for a second:

The problem with “artist renderings” of celestial bodies is that it’s not black-and-white, but a slippery slope. When we see super-sexy shots of galaxies that are comprised of big puffy colorful clouds, those have to be colorized. The original pictures are often comprised of infra-red data, or some other non-visible wavelength. So you have to “re-color” them if you want them to be visible. And so you have some freedom to make aesthetic decisions: “What colors should I use to represent this data?” And from there you can combine two different images – perhaps one is IR data and another is x-rays, and you color each spectrum and then combine them to make these gorgeous composites with lots of color. And you can do some kind of HDR effect to get a huge range of intensity values that will fit in a standard image. Every change makes the data more beautiful and easier to visualize, but also makes it a little less “real” in terms of “what space actually looks like”.

There’s a gradient of fidelity with “here is the raw telescope output, good luck making sense of it” on one end, and “we think the planet has a lot of ice so we hired an artist to draw Hoth” on the other.

So basically the podcast rant was just me being mad that I was waiting for my Pluto porn and NASA kept faking me out with concept album covers.

55:00 Is the FPS dead?

E3 is over and I have to ask, is the first person shooter dead? Did Spec Ops:The Line do the job and there’s just nothing left to say?

Most of the titles getting press these days seem to be third-person open world games. When should we expect a backlash against those? Why isn’t Arkham Knight “just another dumb T’POW…same old mechanics (plus the obligatory gimmick) just shinier”?


And then we immediately go off on a tangent about Arkham Knight. I don’t know why you people bother sending us questions. We’re terrible at this.

Comments (202)

  1. Bropocalypse says:

    Shame, these questions are ones I’d like to actually see answered.

  2. Phill says:

    Maybe all future mailbag submissions should avoid actual questions, or indeed sentences, and simply be an arbitrary collection of words which will prompt free association from the diecasters until they gradually converge on a gaming related topic. Which, more than 50% of the time will involve Mass Effect or Fallout. Or will occasionally diverge on to wrestling instead.

    To get everyone started:

    Homomorphism collector paschal invertebrate attic unverifiably.

  3. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Haven’t watched the Diecast yet but you guys mentioned the kidnapping of Oracle last time and are talking about Arkham Knight again this week and now that I’ve finished the game, given the premise, you couldn’t possibly not kidnap Oracle. I’ll bet they were four or five steps along the cause and effect chain before someone stopped and realized “Oh crap, we have to kidnap Oracle.”

    We had the Arkham Knight who is . . . someone who knows Batman, I’ll avoid spoiling the actual identity for the few of you left who might not know, but lets just say he knows Batman quite well. Then we had the Batmobile which was a feature they wanted to introduce in this game.

    They decided they wanted to give us a lot of Batmobile, probably because we’ve never had access to it before, so they had to come up with things to do in it, which led to tanks. But if Batman is going to be blowing up tanks, they have to be unmanned. These decisions are questionable yes, and we can all think of other ways they could have gone but I’m alleging that they started here.

    Then we have Barbara Gordon who was introduced into this series as The Oracle because when Arkham Asylum came out, that’s who she’d been in the comics for at least 15 years. So we have her here as this paraplegic hacker which she was for the previous two game and we don’t have a New 52 reboot to retcon her spinal injury into something fixable.

    So the titular nemesis of Batman for this game knows who Batman and Oracle are, knows she’s a great hacker and Batman’s chief source of intel and knows that his own plans rely on a huge automated drone force. He had to kidnap the Oracle. It would have been a huge gaping plot hole if he hadn’t.

    And Barbara proves it later when she gets free and helps Batman repel an otherwise overwhelming drone assault. Though a smaller plothole, why isn’t she able to help you with any other drone assaults after that one? They didn’t account for you leaving any of the militia stuff till after that point in the story.

    The objections regarding Catwoman stand though. I would gladly have seen her free herself especially if it meant not having to deal with the Riddler’s stupid racing challenges.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Might as well mention it here, the spoiler tags don’t work for some reason on an Android Chrome browser. I get the usual orange background color but with yellow text, making spoilers readable.

      I have a Galaxy Note 4 with Lollipop and Chrome version 43. I’ve noticed this problem for quite a while and just keep forgetting to mention it.

    • Darren says:

      I’m not 100% sure how to mark spoilers, so SPOILERS FOLLOW:

      What really bugged me was her “death.” You could use Detective Mode to verify that she was, indeed, dead. Now, you could chalk that up to the fear toxin, but to my knowledge none of the Arkham games ever suggest that Detective Mode is anything but 100% accurate at all times. In Arkham Asylum, Detective Mode was disabled during the Scarecrow sequences, and in Knight Detective Mode does not give the Joker a skeleton. Rocksteady cheated, and that’s disappointing.

      • Neil D says:

        Yeah, I didn’t care for that either. They kind of did the same thing in Arkham Asylum when it appeared that Jim Gordon had died, but in that case it was more of an isolated thing. If you were paying attention you knew you had just been dosed, other strange things were happening to make you doubt your senses, and then it was quickly over.

        But if the entire game is an exercise in “everything you’re seeing may or may not be real” then the game just has license to outright lie to you any time it wants and it’s much less interesting or fair to the player. It had me wondering throughout the final act if they weren’t just going to have you wake up on the floor of Ace Chemicals and everything after that being a hallucination.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          While the detective mode thing didn’t bother me (there’s no reason he couldn’t be hallucinating that too), your larger complaint does. There were times where it started to feel like I couldn’t be sure if anything was actually happening.

          That said, the specific things that turned out to be hallucinations were fairly obvious. Joker walking by and not actually hearing the gun shot had me immediately suspicious about Barbara’s ‘death’. She’s too smart and too strong willed to go down that way anyway. And the ‘death’ wasn’t treated with the dramatic weight that Rocksteady would give to it if it was real.

          • Darren says:

            See, I think that the lack of weight was just Rocksteady failing at the gravitas the game needed. If you’re going to deceive the audience–which isn’t an inherently bad thing–you shouldn’t try to undercut a scene because you know it’s BS. I did not notice anything odd about Joker, but I will keep my eyes peeled on my next playthrough.

          • Ed says:

            Note that in that scene Joker actually moves the gun, something he should obviously not be able to do. Also, its the same location Poison Ivy is at the game’s start. I think, but am not sure, that the glass breaks during the oracle “death” scene match up with a mark Ivy made in that glass cell earlier with a militia guys face.

          • Neil D says:

            For a while it was offset in my head by the fact that Batman revealed her secret to Jim Gordon. That, to me, made it obvious that she wasn’t coming back and therefore was probably really dead.

            But then later, when he refused to bring it up with Tim, I felt them hedging again – they didn’t need to play out that scene because it was going to be unnecessary, and he wasn’t going to have to deal with the fallout of not telling him.

            Of course, I never considered that the real reason was that Batman was actually going to lose, so none of it was going to matter anymore.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              Actually I was wrong, the gunshot was kind of quiet but audible. Also Joker didn’t hand her the gun, he slid it a bit closer to her on the table.

              • Neil D says:

                I couldn’t recall either of those, but was going to check them out on my next replay – whenever I can bring myself to face the tank stuff again. This was the first Arkham game I didn’t immediately restart upon finishing the first time.

        • Falterfire says:

          It’s been a while since I played Asylum, but the corpse of ‘Gordon’ is still a corpse, it just doesn’t belong to the person you think it does. I don’t remember if it gives you a name when you mouse over it in detective mode, but if it doesn’t then it hasn’t lied – That is indeed a corpse of a dead male adult human, just not the one you think it is.

          • Neil D says:

            Yeah, could be – I wasn’t really focusing on the Detective Mode aspect, even though that was Darren’s main point. I kind of just turned it into “they flat-out lied about an on-screen character death”.

            There were actually a few times where Detective Mode wasn’t 100% reliable – I don’t think Robin or Nightwing had skeletons, for instance (though maybe their suits are shielded).

            • Darren says:

              See, I thought that removing the Joker’s skeleton was the wrong decision. If Joker always read as being “alive” even though he most certainly wasn’t, then the game could’ve gotten away with the Oracle cheat pretty easily.

              I actually think an even better way to do it would be to have created hallucinatory enemies who only appear in Detective Mode. Sneak up behind some skeleton for a takedown and BAM it’s Joker and Batman just punched the floor or wall and alerted the real enemies. It would’ve been a better disincentive to total reliance on Detective Mode than the jammers and detectors the game introduced.

      • ulrichomega says:

        You can just wrap your spoiler in strike tags. So if you wanted to spoil that Snape kills Trinity you would do:

        <strike>To start with and
        </strike> to end the spoiler with.

        The writers thought Kai Leng was a good idea

        EDIT: Actually getting this comment to display the < and > was… interesting.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Side Note: My heart goes out to the Riddler in this one even though I hate him. He’s so pathetic and so desperate to prove once and for all that he’s smart with these ridiculous puzzles.

      I just want Mumbles to hug him after I’m done punching him.

    • Muspel says:

      So… for me, the problem isn’t that Oracle got kidnapped.

      The problem is that literally every female character in the series is, at some point, either a sex object or someone that needs to be rescued by Batman (with the arguably exception of Harley, depending on how you feel about her outfits).

      And this is something that also happens in so, so many other games. It’s not that it’s invalid or bad to have female characters that are sexual or to have to rescue a female character, it’s that 90% of the time, that’s all that female characters seem to be there for.

      It’s like… imagine if you had a movie with a black guy who fits a couple of stereotypes. If he’s the only black character in the movie, it’s gonna come across as really racist, because he’s the only representative of that particular ethnic group in that movie. But if you have three or four black characters who don’t match those stereotypes, it ceases to be a problem.

      You see this in some games, as well. Borderlands, for instance, generally does a good job of representation. Moxxi is a hypersexualized character, but she’s far from the only woman in the series and not all of the women share the same traits– thus making it very clear that those traits are her own, rather than representative of her entire gender.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I have always found Harley an exception. When she goes sexy it creeps me out. I think they play nicely on that tension between her being attractive and her being a complete psycho who’s been with the Joker and is almost as crazy as he is (plus the clown makeup).

        And Barbara doesn’t stay kidnapped for long. At the end she proves why they needed to take her out. And Batman himself is strapped to a table and exposed. Robin is thrown in a cell. Poison Ivy saved Gotham. I think they balanced things as well as they could given what was already long established about these characters. I suppose they could have pulled in the Huntress or Batwoman in place of Nightwing but I’m convinced that Having both Nightwing and Tim Drake in the game was part of a desperate attempt to get people guessing that one of them might be the Arkham Knight since everything about him screamed “Angry Rogue Robin.”

      • Csirke says:

        Yeaaah, but. Is there any major character in the game that isn’t captured and rescued at some point? Maybe Cash. But Gordon, Robin and Nightwing all get captured and rescued by Batman. Even Batman gets captured and is rescued by Red Hood. So I don’t think getting captured is a problematic thing with the ladies here, it’s just a thing that happens to everyone.

  4. Darren says:

    The WiiU has a really high hit-to-miss ratio, possibly because of its relative failure rather than in spite of it. I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on the weird little console that could (but didn’t).

    • Supahewok says:

      I remember reading a while ago that Nintendo had started development on the Wii U before tablets really took off big. Nintendo thought that tablets were where a big chunk of the market was going (and they weren’t wrong there), and they believed they could do interesting things with tablets for there games (again, not wrong, as from what I’ve heard every first party Nintendo game has made effective use of it).

      Another goal in their development of the Wii U was to keep the price for it down. This is from the Wikipedia article of the head of Nintendo’s research division, Genyo Takeda: “He [Takeda] has famously compared the console industry to the automobile industry. Noticing that not all cars are built to compete at the highest level of racing, he points out that there are lucrative markets for the most fuel-efficient, family-friendly vehicles as well. Takeda meant for the Wii to parallel this model, and has mentioned in an interview that one of his major technical goals on the Wii was (being conscious of rising electricity bills and cost-cutting) to scale back the power necessary to operate the console while maintaining the same high performance. He has compared the Wii to a hybrid vehicle for its mass appeal and conservation attributes.” Which is not bad logic. The artistic style of Nintendo’s games don’t require the horsepower of the other consoles, therefore its more economical to not have that horsepower and focus on the middle market. That strategy worked like gangbusters during the Wii’s tenure, and its no surprise that they would want to continue on that path for the Wii U. However, the tablet drove up the price of the console, so they cut back on horsepower development even more to keep the overall price down.

      There is a clear line of logic throughout all of this, and its not a bad one. However, there are 3 main calamities that brought the Wii U down:

      1) Apple beat them to the tablet market in 2010, two years before the Wii U’s release. This isn’t something that Nintendo could easily have anticipated. The decision to include a tablet and design for it must have been set in stone since about 2008 or 2009, or even earlier. They couldn’t go back on it when Apple beat them to setting off the tablet boom, and the Wii U’s eventual release in 2012 came at the tail end of the tablet explosion, when the novelty value had worn off. Expectations for tablet games had already been set, and they weren’t AAA quality in anybody’s mind but Nintendo’s, which really hurt their number of 3rd party offerings.

      2) As a result of #1, Nintendo didn’t have the wow factor with the tablet that the Wii’s motion controls had. And because of their decision to keep costs down, they didn’t have modern graphical fidelity as a back-up to reassure the general audience or 3rd party developers.

      3) Nintendo marketed the Wii U absolutely terribly and that’s on them. I remember seeing a bunch of Wii ads on the television back in the day. Don’t recall ever seeing one for the Wii U. Not to mention that the Wii U name confused the audience that had made the Wii such a success, their middle and low end market. (“Casuals” as some call them)

      And kind of a subpoint, a lot of initial Wii U titles were delayed soon after they were announced, and new games came at a trickle for the first two years of the console’s life span. I call this a subpoint because I believe that the delays were a result of Nintendo’s developers needing to adjust to the tablet control and that the increase in demands for graphical fidelity without a corresponding rise in graphical power available to them lead to more time needed to optimize for the system to get the games to fit.

      I can’t really blame Nintendo for anything besides Point 3. They saw a new opportunity to expand their market with the Wii, took it, and came out big. They again foresaw the same kind of opportunity with the Wii U, but were beaten to the punch by a company that, up to that point, had not been a direct competitor, and lost big. That is just how the market goes when you’re playing for big money, and it makes for a fascinating study if you’re willing to investigate it.

      • Thomas says:

        I view the Wii U as more just the result of the problem that Nintendo have been creating for themselves over the last 15+ years. By basically never having good third-party support on their consoles they’ve been training people who play games to never use a Nintendo device as their primary console. You have to go pre-gamecube to find a Nintendo console where you could play their games and be involved in most of the topics of conversation amongst gamers. Equally they’ve been training third-party publishers to give up on them.

        The only chance the Wii U had was if they found mass market appeal again and I just don’t think a tablet could ever have achieved that. The fun of the Wii was that it made you and your friends look silly, with the Wii U everyone looks silly except one person and thats not really fun.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          If they could have found a way to make it so that multiple gamepad tablets work with the device, I think they would have had better success. That would have opened up tons of possibilities.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I don’t know that Apple was quite their downfall. When Wii U hit the market, even the cheapest iPads were still almost 500 dollars. Meanwhile, Kindle Fire had entered the market with a 200 dollar tablet that could play games, video, books, and other apps. It had restrictions like WiFi only and being locked into Kindle services but it still offered more to a casual gamer than the Wii U does. And while they themselves didn’t beat the Wii U, they forced their competitors to try to make tablets in that same price range that weren’t cheap knockoffs (as they had been prior to the Fire).

        Lets face it, Apple would have stayed on the high end. That’s what they do. Its others like Amazon that undermined the Wii U.

        • Supahewok says:

          My point was more that Apple set off the tablet craze. They set the standard for what tablets were and what they could do, and more importantly for games, they set the standard for App stores and what quality of games would be available. Other companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, came in to fill other sections of the market while the market was hot, which is what happens when successful new tech products show up. They also followed Apple’s model for what tablets were marketed for and were meant to do, which was quite different from Nintendo’s vision. The entire market had reached saturation and slowed down by the time the Wii U came to the scene, stealing the wow factor of their controller.

          Let’s face it, the tablet controller would’ve looked pretty damn neat if tablets had not been a thing prior, and Nintendo being first to the market could have resulted in later tablets being more games focused to compete. Nintendo either miscalculated when tablets would arrive to market or they misjudged where their own place would be within it, but the initial idea was good.

  5. Da Mage says:

    So what you are saying Shamus, is that you are trying to do to Mass Effect, what Rutskarn did for Elder Scrolls (The Altered Scrolls).

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Fallout 4 is proud to present:

    Children degradation

    Are you a good parent?Will you be able to quick travel back to your house fast enough to feed your child before they irreparably degrade?Or are you going to be one of those “money saves everything” parents and just buy a fresh new child once the old one expires?You decide!

  7. Wide And Nerdy says:

    3D World rocks. Nintendo gets a bad rap. And frankly, they offer at least as much variety of play with their first party titles as the other two consoles combined. They beat the innovation AND the polish of probably any other studio and their games don’t ship with bugs.

    Plus, whats that XBox One? Backwards compatibility? Oh wait, Nintendo did that already with every Wii game you can buy on disc plus all the controllers plus a bunch of games from several generations of earlier consoles and if you buy an adapter, you can even play Gamecube games. You’re buying access to practically the entire history of Nintendo when you buy a Wii U.

    But it doesn’t have enough shootmans and it doesn’t have tons of highly detailed dirt and rubble and wounds. 0/10 – Get with the play Nintendo.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What are you talking about Mumbles?They totally made a deadpool that doesnt swear.He was even made into a mute.See,they totally CAN do it.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    On the subject of comicon,Mumbles what did you think about the new BvS trailer?Especially this scene where a black guy checks out wonder woman.

  10. wswordsmen says:

    Shamus you are wrong about how the launch of Marvel Studio worked. It wasn’t the money they made from the movies that did it, it was putting up the movie rights of 10 franchises they still held up collateral for a loan that gave them the money.

    Marvel had financial troubles which is why they had to license rights.

  11. Mephane says:

    Re Pluto: I say it is a planet. I am also consistent in this regard and say that Ceres and Eris, for example, are also planets. And Charon, because Pluto+Charon are a binary planet pair, not a planet and a moon.

    Isn’t it much cooler to be able to say “recently we have discovered even more planets” instead of “by the way we invented this classification which totally sounds like another type of planet, but for some reason must not be regarded as an actual planet; also we want you to not be able to bask in the coolness that is having a genuine binary planet pair in our solar system”

    • Mephane From The Ancient Times says:

      Isn’t it much cooler to be able to say “and we discovered 5 new stars that were previously invisible” instead of “yeah, these bright lights you can see at the right time of the year are actually not stars, despite how they glow in the night sky like all the other stars, but are rather these new things that we will call planets and moons. Also, we don’t want you to bask in the coolness of having 10 stars orbiting a bigger star”

    • Zeta Kai says:

      My argument for the reclassification of Pluto/Ceres/Sedna/Ixion/Et al is that I think it is unmanageable to say that out solar system has 700+ planets & counting. Those KBOs (Kuiber Belt Objects) are all dead ice-rocks, fundamentally different from the 8 classic planets, & it is an accident of history that we found Pluto 85 years before we found his hundreds (maybe thousands?) of siblings.

      It is much more elegant to thing of the solar system as 4 terrestrial planets, 4 gas giants, a bunch of KBOs, & then a trillion comets out in the Oort cloud. It’s simple, somewhat orderly, & can be taught to kids without too much fuss. Let Pluto have its due as the first of a new class of planetoids, rather than the weird runt of the litter just because we humans couldn’t see the rest of its kin.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Plus,there are so many planets we found outside our solar system that we dont need to cram more in.Current tech is amazing when it comes to discovering new planets all around the galaxy.

        Also,wasnt the moon considered a planet in the ancient times(and still is in astrology),before we discovered other satellites exist?

        • krellen says:

          I don’t think the moon was ever considered a planet because it did not resemble a travelling star. The moon was very obviously not like those other points of light they called “planet”.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Wikipedia to the rescue!

            Sun was a planet too.Neat.

            • Mike S. says:

              Right– classically “planet” just meant an astronomical object that (apparently) moved against the background of the fixed stars.[1] The ancients would have been really confused by a system that identified the Sun as the same sort of thing as the stars. And even more so by the idea that Earth could be a planet. (It isn’t even in the sky!)

              [1] I don’t think comets counted, because they thought of comets as atmospheric phenomena rather than astronomical. Wikipedia says Tycho was the one to figure out they had to be farther out in the 1500s.)

    • krellen says:

      Calling Pluto a planet degrades our collective understanding of the solar system and the universe and is a disservice to knowledge.

      Calling the inner four planets the same thing as the outer four also does this, but at least we have the distinction of “rocky planet” and “gas giant”.

      Calling unlike things the same name hurts comprehension.

      • Mephane says:

        I never said that there couldn’t be a distinction, but I want to see it within the same family of objects. E.g. Earth, Jupiter and Pluto – all three are planets, but of different subtypes, in the same way that a lion and a tiger can both be classified as cats without degrading our understanding of the individual species or cats in general.

        Plus, calling the new type “dwarf planet” while not intending it is a third subclass of “planet” (the other two being terrestrial and gas giant), is much more misleading than mere lumping everything together under one label and then not doing any subclassification ever could be.

        That said, I don’t hold a grudge over Pluto not being a planet any more. I hold a grudge over using the label “dwarf planet” for something that is not regarded as a planet. Such labels usually come from a fundamental lack of understanding at the time they are coined, like the strawberry that isn’t actually a berry, but has received the name when there was no real understanding of how all these different types of fruit work biologically.
        Except with Pluto this is supposedly not the case and, as you said, the new classification is intended to enhance or support our new understanding of this kind of object.

    • Matt Downie says:

      It would be cooler still to refer to Pluto as an All-Seeing Death God of Space.
      “Astronomers recently discovered three new Space Gods, two of which might be capable of granting life.”

  12. Zeta Kai says:

    New Nintendo IPs? I just want them to do something with all of the IPs that they already have. There are so many properties that I would love to see a new game for, but they just don’t make. How about a new Star Fox? How about a new Metroid? How about a new Donkey Kong? How about a new F-Zero?

    They make a new Mario game, a new Kart game, & a new Zelda game every 5 years or so, but they make a new game from their other franchises once a decade, at best.

    • MichaelGC says:

      They are actually doing a new Star Fox:


      Which is not to say you’re wrong, of course:

      the first original title in the series to be released in nine years.

    • Christopher says:

      They made a Donkey Kong game last year.

    • SpiritBearr says:

      Before Splatoon the last new successful IPs Nintendo had were Pikmin and Animal Crossing (Both 2001 in Japan) or the Wii Sports/Fit Mii stuff which was still 9 years ago.

      • Supahewok says:

        Chibi-Robo, 2005. Steel Diver, 2011. Relaunching Kid Icarus, a dead franchise, 2012. Nintendogs, 2005. Hotel Dusk, 2007. Xenoblade, 2010. Pushmo, 2011. Warioware, 2003. Golden Sun, 2001. Wii Sports and its sequels, 2006. Wii Fit, 2007. The Wonderful 101, 2013. Dillon’s Rolling Western, 2012.

        Seriously. Claiming that Nintendo doesn’t make new IP’s is an argument of ignorance. Just because only a few of those on that list made it big doesn’t invalidate the effort made for those that didn’t.

        And before somebody says that games that are only published by Nintendo, and not directly developed by them, don’t count: well, then you’re effectively saying that Donkey Kong Country (Rare), Metroid Prime (Retro Studios), Star Fox (the only Star Fox game developed solely by Nintendo was 64), and F-Zero (has a weird timeline, but only the first game was made by Nintendo alone) all don’t count as Nintendo games. Which is facile.

        • ccesarano says:

          Thanks for making a point I was coming to make. I would also note that if a game like Gears of War counts as Microsoft’s first party IP, then so does a game like Xenoblade.

          Does Wonderful 101 belong to Nintendo, though? They published it, but it might still be completely Platinum’s property.

          • Supahewok says:

            According to the fine print at the bottom of its webpage on the Nintendo site:

            “© 2013 Nintendo/PlatinumGames Inc. The Wonderful 101 and Wii U are trademarks of Nintendo. © 2013 Nintendo.”

            Looks like Nintendo owns it to me. Not that they’re likely to do anything more with it, I’m pretty sure it tanked something awful.

    • Supahewok says:

      To add to the new Star Fox and new Donkey Kong, Nintendo tried to get a new F-Zero off the ground for Wii U, but the outside studio they decided would be a good fit (Criterion Games, creators of Burnout) didn’t have time to spare for the project because they were busy porting a Need for Speed game everywhere.

      I’ve heard that Nintendo had gone sour over F-Zero and Metroid because they weren’t happy with the efforts of the outside studios that developed the last game or two in each series.

  13. Alex says:

    I’d be more interested in the Deadpool movie if it was a Cable & Deadpool movie. I loved that series.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamoose,you have to wait until christmas so you can say “And now,I start my one year mass effect retrospective of 52 articles.Enjoy your christmas gift!”

  15. Henson says:

    In case anyone’s interested, I wrote an article years ago about the design changes between Mass Effect 1 and 2 and how that affects the focus of the series. Check it out, if you’re so inclined.

    It’s weird, but even though Mass Effect has been discussed to death, I am very much looking forward to Shamus’ analysis. I guess he’s right, people usually talk about characters and story, not so much other design elements.

    • MichaelGC says:

      A good read! Have you since gone through ME3? It’d be interesting to see the same aspects examined as the series went from 2 to 3, as you mention at the end there. (Especially as – storywise at least – there was quite a disconnect between 2 & 3, with the lead writer’s departure and whatnot.)

      • Henson says:

        No, I’m afraid not. After ME2, my hopes weren’t too high, my excitement was pretty much nil, and after spoiling myself on several plot elements, I decided I didn’t much care. Many of the characters are likely well-written, but it’s too late for me not to see the strings suspending them. Maybe someday I will if EA drops the price low enough to induce me to actually install Origin.

        I didn’t put it in the original essay, but it’s interesting how the Mass Effect franchise parallels the Alien franchise: it starts with a well-regarded, thinky, atmospheric, speculative sci-fi story, but the franchise itself has become almost entirely associated with the elements of its sequel: action, quirkiness, and spectacle. (though I still very much like Aliens, whereas ME2…)

        Not to paint ME1 as a quiet game bereft of action, but the change of focus is pretty clear.

        • Merlin says:

          I think you’re underselling Aliens a bit in that comparison. It’s not specifically a rape-themed horror movie in the same way that the original is, but it’s still got strong horror vein to go along with the clear Vietnam parallel. (Fans latching on to the term “xenomorph” is doubly amusing since the clear intent of its use is to frame the commander as an out of touch officer that knows more about fancy words than actual combat.) A big chunk of the spectacle is likewise in service to butchering the hyper-macho action heroes, who are memorable in part because of efficient and often subtle character work. It’s still a very clever movie, despite the mood change.

          But then, I thought Mass Effect was about as dumb as Mass Effect 2 and played a whole lot worse, so we’re also coming at the other side of the comparison from very different perspectives.

          • Henson says:

            Let me see if I can put this in a better way. The comparison isn’t made to paint one approach as ‘dumb’ or ‘clever’ (though I certainly have such opinions on the Mass Effect franchise), but to highlight the change in focus from slow & thinky to fast & actiony, and how the focus of the sequel has dominated the public’s consciousness when considering the franchise. Until Isolation, the Alien stories were thought of primarily as about space marines; and when you say ‘Mass Effect’, most people associate it with the second game and its tone, not the first.

            To put it another way, I would agree that Aliens is a well thought-out movie, even as I characterize it as being less ‘thinky’ than the first. That may seem like a contradiction. Perhaps it is.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Actually dinosaurs did not cease to exist.You can still take pictures of real life dinosaurs even today.Here,a few:


  17. Andrew says:

    On the topic of Marvel movies: Fox, who owns X-Men and Fantastic Four movie rights is in a really bad relationship with Disney, on account of Disney and in particular Marvel Ent. CEO Ike Perlmutter being big jerks about the comics, and trying to force Fox to sell the movie rights back. Don’t expect the X-Men and Fantastic Four and Deadpool to be in any way involved with Marvel’s own movies for the next 10-20 years at least, or however long it takes for Perlmutter to die, because he’s really a vindictive **** when he doesn’t get what he wants.
    What happened is that the Marvel Comics writers and artists were not allowed to use these iconic characters (Fantastic Four) or create new X-Men characters so as not to give support to Fox’s movies, going as far as canceling FF’s long-running series. This is a stupid ideea because the comics are tiny compared to the movies, an average Marvel comic book 20-50k units/issue. And the people who buy comics with those characters will go to the movie anyway, no matter if they have a series ongoing or not.

    Sony who owns Spider-Man, only agreed to colaborate with Marvel on movies because they were failing with their new Spider-Man movies.
    Also I’m sad to see you hate on DC’s movies, I think MoS was better than anything Marvel did so far, and BvS looks to build on that. For me at least, I’m sick of Marvel’s quipfests, I was regretting my time and money halfway through Guardians.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Is his reaction really that bad considering what fox and sony were doing with those anyway?Throwing out shitty movies around(sony more than fox,admittedly)just so they wouldnt lose the licenses,yet unwilling to sell them back,even though they had no plan as to what to do with them?

    • Man of Steel? The Superman movie that’s shot like a grimdark Batman movie? The movie where Superman allows death and destruction on an unheard-of scale without, y’know, punching his opponent at least into the suburbs? Then breaks his neck out of nowhere?

      And Dawn of Justice looks like they yet again make Lex Luthor a pseudo-Joker rather than a corporate and technological genius. Not to mention that Batman, supposedly the greatest detective on the planet, can’t tell when he and Superman are being manipulated. And just for the heck of it, it’s a sequel to a movie that wasn’t built to be a universe-defining franchise, so why not shoehorn in a bunch of other superheroes the audience hasn’t ever seen on screen before or who have had failures of their own at the box office (that would be Green Lantern).

      It looks like a potential trainwreck made by some suits who saw the billions the Avengers made and figured “more superheroes means more money” and has as much forethought into what they’re doing as someone who decides to write a DC movie with fridge poetry magnets and a DVD set of the Superfriends.

      If it’s actually good, not just “this made some money at the box office” like Man of Steel, but actually a good movie and good adaptation of the characters involved, I will be completely surprised.

      • Falterfire says:

        I’m just frustrated it’s looking to be another Batman movie without the Bat-family. Seriously, the Robins and Batgirls are like 90% of the fun of Batman comics, but the movies always leave them out when they’re being SO SERIOUS.

        • The animated series really showed that Bruce/Batman needs someone in the film to pop his bubble of angsty seriousness every so often. A lot of times, that’s the villain, but Robin, Alfred, Batgirl, and later Terry McGinnis were all much-needed (and entertaining) thorns in Bruce’s grimdark side.

          The more I think about it, the more I wish they’d done with Batman what Marvel did to build the Avengers. Imagine if instead of the Nolan Batman films we’d gotten a Batman movie, one where Robin is introduced, another for Batgirl, a second Batman film that introduces more of his rogues gallery, etc. building up to some Gotham-wide threat from the best of his foes.

          Urggh. DC (appearing to) play catch-up and “me, too” with Marvel’s continuity is such a risk with characters that they haven’t really done well by for almost a decade now.

          • Thomas says:

            It’s still possible without the Nolan films we wouldn’t have got this new era of superhero films. By being just well shot and scripted films they helped the public understand the difference between the cruddy superhero films of the past and the new era. Spiderman, Batman and Iron Man combined powers to save the world from lackluster superhero films and usher in a new age!

      • Andrew says:

        I don’t want to call you a Marvel fanboy, but it’s hard not to, when you say that “It looks like a potential trainwreck made by some suits who saw the billions the Avengers made”, when it’s Marvel that’s being run with an iron hand by a “suit” as you put it (Kevin Feige is not a filmmaker he’s a businessman), and DC is giving actual directors like Zack Snyder and David Ayer much more freedom to do stuff their own way.
        Also, about “so why not shoehorn in a bunch of other superheroes the audience hasn't ever seen on screen before”, I gotta remind you that unlike Marvel who sold the rights to their A listers to Fox and Sony, and had to make movie with much less popular (at the time) heroes like Iron Man, DC has in Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman 3 of the most iconic heroes. 2 of them have had 6+ movies each. They don’t need origin story movies like the Avengers did.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I don't want to call you a Marvel fanboy, but it's hard not to, when you say that “It looks like a potential trainwreck made by some suits who saw the billions the Avengers made”

          Confused Matthew said practically the same thing(and also calls it the worst superhero movie ever),and he is most definitely not a marvel fanboy.

          They don't need origin story movies like the Avengers did.

          So why did they do it for both superman and batman?

          • Andrew says:

            Who’s Confused Matthew?
            They did it for Batman because Batman & Robin, the last movie, was a disaster/joke. Remember the bat-nipples?
            And they did it for Superman because Superman Returns was bad, AND it was in continuity with the Christopher Reeve movies which has also become jokes. Remember Superman’s rebuild-the-Great-Wall-vision, and the fact that Returns turned Clark into a dead-beat dad?

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Who's Confused Matthew?

              This guy.

              They did it for Batman because Batman & Robin, the last movie, was a disaster/joke. Remember the bat-nipples?
              And they did it for Superman because Superman Returns was bad, AND it was in continuity with the Christopher Reeve movies which has also become jokes. Remember Superman's rebuild-the-Great-Wall-vision, and the fact that Returns turned Clark into a dead-beat dad?

              Wait,so there was need to make those origins?Or was there no need like you said before?

    • Robyrt says:

      Apparently the “Marvel writers aren’t allowed to create new X-Men” was an exaggeration. New X-characters are still being introduced all the time, but anyone that has their own franchise (like Ms. Marvel) is now an Inhuman instead of a mutant, so Fox doesn’t get the rights.

      Ironically, this has opened Marvel Studios up to diversity complaints, because most of the female or minority heroes in Marvel are X-Men, or difficult to take seriously (Wasp, She-Hulk). This is also why Marvel is making a big effort to promote Captain Marvel as a serious, top-flight Avenger. If they want a flying superheroine, it’s not like they can ask Storm, Rogue, Shadowcat, Phoenix, Psylocke, or Marvel Girl.

  18. 4th Dimension says:

    Ehh, I don’t blame NASA for Artist renderings, they deal with clueless public and people in the know, and the former category is kind of more important to impress since they are the majority from whom their funding comes. And that image in that article is clearly labeled as an Artist’s impression.

    • AileTheAlien says:

      Actually, I’d argue that it’s not clearly labelled. The caption isn’t directly in the image, and even on the NASA web page it actually takes a full page of scrolling before you get to the part where it says it’s an artist’s rendition. If we’re talking about a “clueless public”, then I think we can also safely say a lot of them won’t bother scrolling through that much text, and even if they do, there’s a good chance they’ll skim over the article, missing that critical line of text. Plus, if the image is re-hosted, or linked to directly (which is highly probable), there won’t be any caption whatsoever.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        The caption is not where is shoud be, that much is true, but the point it the NASA needs these artist renderings to go with the walls of text to mantain the interest and pique the curiosity of the potential readers. Quite frankly if they drew Santa Claus racing over that ice in his sleigh with raindeers I wouldn’t mind it if it got more people to read some arctucles and get them intersted in space exploration.
        Also that image isn’t watermarked so who cares if someone links that image somewhere, it’s not imediatelly clear that this is an official NASA image.

    • Groboclown says:

      This was my biggest disappointment as a kid when I would read through the Sagan Cosmos book. I’d look in awe at these images of the other worlds and galaxies, then one day I noticed that these were “artist renderings” of the bodies.

  19. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Regarding the Marvel franchises, I think Marvel Studios could afford to fold Spiderman and the Fantastic Four into their Cinematic Universe (the FF in particular would be a great bridge between the Avengers stuff and the cosmic Guardians of the Galaxy/Thor/Thanos stuff.)

    But if you bring in the X Men, I think it starts to get too cluttered for a shared movie universe. Besides which, First Class and Days of Future Past were both really good. They’re experimenting with the genre kind of the way Marvel is. I say let them do their thing.

    Also, no surprise that Mumbles likes the evil business move ;)

    • I’d argue that having no mutants has forced some pretty nice creativity in the Marvel U. Making superheroes this new flavor of Inhumans (people whose genetic code was messed with by the Kree to be super-weapons and can have it triggered with Kree tech) makes a little more sense in the suspension-of-disbelief department than “random mutation lets me turn into living metal or control weather.”

      Not that the X-Men can’t have good stories, but I like the direction it’s forced Marvel to go in.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Also humans have a better reason for fearing and disstrusting Inhumans. For one they were created all as superweapons. Even Sky’s mother with her regeneration, which is ussually a passive power, has to [spoiler]drain another person’s life to regenerate[/spoiler]. They all are basically nuclear bombs walking around once they gain their powers. Also they seem to NEED a profesional trainer to be able to accept and control their powers and not be controled by them. On top of it all the reason that now there will be an explosion of Inhumans is due to an Inhuman failed attack on humanity using terrigen chrystals. All in all it makes more sense for the goverment to want these Inhumans undr observation rather than muties which were present in world for decades and centuries.
        Oh also common xenophobia can act also since Inhumans aren’t mutated humans, they are human allien crossbreeds, and once they become Inhuman they truly become alien.

    • ? says:

      I never liked X-Men crossovers with rest of Marvel characters. On the one hand you have a world that glorifies people with superpowers like Fantastic Four, Captain America and Spider-man (no matter how much Daily Bugle tries he is a folk hero), contrasted with a world where people with superpowers are feared and ostracized, government programs to hunt them down and put in concentration camps. And all those anti-mutant bigots poof out of existence the moment non mutant hero walks into the panel. Luke Cage never has to explain to people that his powers are not inborn, Stark Industries doesn’t get a contract for Sentinel manufacture. It just clashes with everything.

      • Robyrt says:

        My favorite response to this phenomenon is in an early guest appearance of the Fantastic Four in an issue of X-Men. Johnny Storm notes that Wolverine gets all the ladies, because he’s so edgy, and he’s like, “Can we be hated and feared too?”

      • I’ve made this argument for years.

        Hating mutants and mutants only in the Marvel Universe is like hating people who constantly carry loaded grenade launchers, but only the ones from Iowa.

        I’d put the damage the Hulk has caused over the years up against mutants any day of the week, and even still, the entire superhero population should probably be looked upon with equal amounts of hatred/dread/admiration. Making it only about mutants as a metaphor for mistreated minorities kind of falls flat when said minority can drop their glasses and blast a hole in the aircraft we’re both riding on. Never mind his bald traveling companion who can read my mind, or when he gets home, can use a machine to read everyone’s mind.

        I also find it odd that the government funded the Sentinel program, yet nobody thought “Hey, what if we programmed these things to go after, say… the people in that country over there we don’t like?”

        Nobody ever thinks this stuff through, darnit! :)

        • Mike S. says:

          I always took that as intentional (if heavy-handed): mutants are the stand-in for the irrationality of real-world prejudices, where if a member of the target group does something it goes to show that they’re all like that (and if they don’t, they’re the exception that proves the rule). If a nonmember does they’re just an individual bad apple. (He’s an idiot, she’s a typical woman driver. Our atrocity was an aberration, theirs is a characteristic expression of Latverian cruelty.)

          So the Hulk is a menace (requiring a specific response like the Hulkbusters), while Magneto proves that mutants are all dangerous (requiring a general response like the Sentinels).

          It’s not realistic, and for that reason it’s generally a mistake when they examine it too closely. But it arguably fits the sort of dramatic rules that govern superhero universes.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          One minor quible, while I don’t read the commic books I think I understand the public’s fear of mutants. They have the problem with mutants because mutants are random unlike normal superheroes/villans who are known quantities and have clear point at which they started their supering and have known abilities.

          With mutants on the other hand you never know who will turn out to be a mutant, what power he will have and how ethical will he be about using it. Sure the boy next door can now run slightly quicker and that is fine but the gril one house over has suddenly acquired fire powers and has torched half the neighbourhood. Or has mental powers and is manipulating everybody. Or has supersenses and is listening to every secret. And so on.

          But I do agree, if that was your point, that registering and having people who are trained to combat supers is completly normal and not Evil 101 as commic books present these ideas.

          • Mike S. says:

            Though it’s hard to really say that it’s more random to get powers in adolescence from a mutant gene than from, say, a spider bite or cosmic ray exposure. If anyone knows the cause, it’s because the hero told them. (And in the case of well known menaces like Spider-Man or the Hulk, why would anyone believe them?)

            Hm. Have any mutants ever made up chemical accidents or magical curses or some such so that they could pass as “normal” supers?

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          They finally got into that in the Civil War series which pursued registering all supers but fanboys hated it from the beginning (as the series progressed, their began to be legitimate reasons to hate it but fanboys were against registration from day one because “its been done” except it had only been done with mutants.)

  20. Zeta Kai says:

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has been anxiously awaiting the Pluto flyby. I’ve been waiting for decent pics to replace all out artist rendering all my life, & the day is almost here. If I die tomorrow, I’m gonna be so annoyed. ;P

  21. Twisted_Ellipses says:

    I know Shamus jokes about questions not being properly answered, but I was pretty happy with the response to mine…I mean ‘Geralt’s’. Though granted that might be because I got Josh to do a voice and Campster to just give up!

    • MichaelGC says:

      The way weapon degradation in W3 affects stuff you find & collect (and not just stuff you wear/use) did lead to some interesting decisions. Or, one, anyway: I recall trying to decide whether to pay a hefty sum to fix a heavily-damaged but awesome sword, or continue saving for the pristine even-more awesome one.

      This lasted all of two or three hours, of course, after which point I had enough crowns to buy ALL the swords, and had cornered the market in Journeyman Repair Kits.

      • Trix2000 says:

        At some point I had to stop buying/making repair kits because I wasn’t using them enough, and it turns out they weigh a loooooot in quantity.

        And once you have 10k+ crowns in your purse and a massive sack of materials, saving money on repairs just doesn’t seem so important anymore.

      • Humanoid says:

        After the first few hours I stopped really thinking about weapon degradation as I noticed that even a completely broken sword had something like a 10% damage penalty or so. That’s nothing. So then I looked up the effects of weapon degradation and saw the following:

        100% to 76% durability = full damage
        75% to 51% durability = 2.5% / 5% / 7.5% / 10% per difficulty level
        50% and below = double above values

        Nothing special happens if you continue to use a weapon at 0 durability. Given that I was playing on normal, it really is a meaningless system, I stopped caring about it altogether and just used weapons no matter how banged up they were until I got a better one, no further thought required.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I was reminded of Josh’s Geralt impression last night, when Geralt did a pretty good Josh impression! There’s a bit when you have to go sorta undercover to a masked ball. Five feet inside the door Geralt of course gets into a punchup with a drunken noble, and after viciously beating him to a bloody pulp in full view of the entire crowd, is admonished by his companion:

      Companion: We’re supposed to be keeping a low profile!

      Geralt: What, nothing happened.

  22. The Schwarz says:

    I think the issue people have with Nintendo is that even if each Mario/Zelda/Whatever game has some new mechanics and gimmicks, at least superficially they mostly feel like the same game. You’re still Mario rescuing the Princess from Bowser, and you’ve got the exact same blocks and question marks and mushrooms and goombas and haven’t we been through all this 20 times already?

    Sure, sometimes it’s in 3D, and sometimes everything suddenly has raccoon tails, but I totally get why lots of people look at this and say “oh great, another fucking Generic Mario Game”.

    And Nintendo isn’t the only one who’s getting this. Ubisoft has it even worse with their Yet Another Ubisoft Open World Game ™, and everyone was quick to dismiss Advanced Warfare as “Call of Duty with Double Jump”. So yeah, I think it’s part justified and part The Way People Are.

    • Darren says:

      While critics can be harsh towards Ubisoft, players have generously rewarded them for driving their games into the ground. There are nearly as many main Assassin’s Creed titles available as there are main Mario titles, but Mario has existed for nearly three times as long as Assassin’s Creed. Yet Nintendo is chided for relying on rehashes while Ubisoft rakes in money year after year.

      • The Schwarz says:

        My theory for that is that Nintendo fans are just as loyal and generous as Ubisoft fans, but Ubi has a much larger player base because unlike Nintendo they don’t refuse to play with others. Nintendo’s approach for this is basically “we really want you to play our games but we also don’t want you to play anything else ever”.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      Here’s the big difference: Ubisoft isn’t trying to single-handedly prop up a console.

      A lot of people aren’t interested in Ubisoft’s games, just like a lot of people aren’t interested in Nintendo’s games. But Nintendo is in the position of trying to sell people a piece of hardware that can basically only be used to play their first party-games.

      If Nintendo wants to sell a console all by themselves without third party support, then they’d need to branch out in the kind of games that they make. They just aren’t covering enough bases on their own to keep their platform viable.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Isn’t that basically how it should be, though? Nintendo generally aims to have one game per franchise per console, the idea being you get a new generation of kids and adults who buy for them know what a Mario, Zelda or Metroid is or can ask parents of kids from the last generation. This gets a bit muddled with subtitles like Metroid Prime(made in the West for an older audience), Kid Icarus: Uprising or Hyrule Warriors, but the general idea is that the franchise is the same ride but shinier each time, hence it having the same name. If you’ve had enough, that’s fine.

      Also, one example of Nintendo making a big change to an existing franchise is Other M, so their caution has some merit.

  23. Andy_Panthro says:

    After yesterdays post, I feel like I should download this in ogg format (rather than just listening to the embed)…

  24. I think what Shamus meant by “Marvel got their own studio” was “Marvel got bought by Disney.”

  25. I can understand Mumbles’ confusion over “is this movie a Marvel” one.

    All movies with Marvel characters will have that “Marvel” logo at the beginning, no matter what studio makes it. It’s a “Marvel” movie. However, only Marvel and Disney make the “Phase 1,” “Phase 2,” etc. movies, the ones most people like and that have a linked continuity.

    Also, what probably angered most fans about Deadpool from the Wolverine movie was the “Deadpool” they made for Wolverine to fight at the end. Some idiot thought this was what a Deadpool looked like, a “merc with no mouth.” After a lot of nerd rage, they filmed a little coda for the end of the film where we see Ryan Reynolds nudge the “Deadpool” corpse with his boot and say something like “Who the heck are you supposed to be?”

    It still makes no sense, and whoever came up with that idea should be severely punished.

  26. Mikey says:

    On the topic of games where you can have kids: Fire Emblem (Short version: Nintendo’s SRPG series that’s been running since 1990 but they didn’t trust dumb foreigners to buy until around 2005. The first two Western-released games are available on the Wii U’s eShop, coincidentally) has toyed with the idea. In some of the games, you can marry your units off and their children inherit skills and stats from their parents.

    The children are never present as children though, either time travel or a time skip makes it so that you control the second generation when they’re the same agegroup as the first, but still.

    As a slight tangent but not really, I’ve had a game idea kicking around in my head where you play as a wise old master training a young apprentice and, when the master is inevitably murdered, you pick up as the apprentice, who has their stats set in stone from the first half of the game where you trained them rather than leveling up as you play as them.

    • Merlin says:

      True, but as is a matter of course for RPG heroes, that age group is still typically pretty young. Genealogy of Holy War’s first gen is in their early 20s or so, and the second gen is predominantly 16-17 years old. Even if the games without babymaking, Leif is 15 for Thracia 776, Roy is 15 in Binding Blade, and Ike appears to be around 15-18 in Path of Radiance. So… kids? Kind of?

      Although now that I think of it, FE8 had the three extra-young trainee units – Ross, Ewan, and Amelia – who started super weak but had extra room for growth and customization. That was kinda neat.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Fire Emblem is heavily influenced by the kind of anime where the main protagonists are in their late teens/very early 20’s, unless they are a designated wise mentor figure, in which case they’re more like 30. The ones where you can have kids just conflate this issue further.

  27. Ed says:

    Hey Diecast Gang,

    First off, Marvel was at SDCC, but simply not in the “movie” capacity. They showed upcoming stuff from the next netflix series, Jessica Jones, and the upcoming Agents of Shield season 3 and Agent Carter Season 2. Why weren’t the movies there? I think its two things: 1: That Disney, now the overlords at Marvel, will save that stuff for D23, disney’s own convention thingy in September, I think?

    and 2: That timing wise there isn’t anything to show. Ant-man is out this week, and Captain America: Civil War doesn’t have a trailer done. (Filming is going on now in Atlanta, i believe).

    Regarding how the Marvel contracts work regarding the movies: Marvel has licensed out at this point: The X-Men and Fantastic Four at Fox, and Spider-Man at Sony. As long as the other companies are making a movie featuring that superhero or team, they will still have the rights. What this means is that as long as the Fox X-men movies make money (they do), Fox has no reason to give back the X-men rights. Deadpool is included in the X-men rights.

  28. Ed says:

    Regarding canceling old marvel comics series to spite other movie franchises, I think it is fair to say this is happening in the comics. But, its weird. For example, the Fantastic Four comic isn’t currently ongoing, and once the relaunch hits in October, there will be no F4 comic. But, The Thing is joining the Guardians of the Galaxy, and The human torch is in the Inhumans comic. And both Reed Richards and Doctor Doom are important in the current event, Secret Wars. Yes, Wolverine is dead, but at the relaunch X-23 is taking up the “mantle” as the new Wolverine, and an Alt-version of Wolverine (Old Man Logan, mentioned in the linked article) both are getting their own comics in the main continuity. Believe it or not, I love almost all these changes that seem to be motivated by movie rights. Marvel’s writers have found fantastic stories to tell within these shifting frameworks, and I love it. Especially the Superior Spider-man series Mumbles mentions everyone hating.

    • Robyrt says:

      Yeah, I’m pretty impressed by the way the Marvel editorial staff is using Secret Wars to rescue a lot of moribund comic books. What’s the best way to make a female Wolverine? No problem, we already have one, she just needs a more respectable costume!

    • Daimbert says:

      I subscribe to some of the comics, and so lost my Wolverine book (and Deadpool, I think), and so might be interested in the X-23 book (I was interested in the character, but not in the books she was in).

      While Marvel is pretty good at letting you shuffle subscriptions around, they’re also irritating me because I’ve been doing this for only a couple of years now and I don’t think that I still have any of the titles I started with, and most of that was because they kept changing and dropping them on me. It’s really annoying, especially since you have to decide if you’re going to keep a title — ie if it’s good enough — but since you need a lead time on that you have to pretty much decide in two or three issues if it’s worth keeping.

  29. Ed says:

    On Nintendo and New IPs: I hate this argument. Nintendo does make new IPs, its just that no one cares, or hears about them. The goalposts are constantly moving. New ips? How about wii sports, Dillon’s rolling western, Sakura Samurai, Harmo knight, Pushmo, Tomodachi life, or The Wonderful 101, or Rusty’s Real-Deal baseball, or Steel Diver or Xenoblade, or Pandora’s Tower or The Last Story? The complaint is actually, “I don’t want those, I want something that appeals to me!” Which is fine, I guess. But both the “All nintendo games are the same” and “Nintendo makes no new IPs” are simply wrong. It’s fine if people don’t like Nintendo’s style. I would prefer that was the statement.

    • Christopher says:

      Games for the 3dsware store and RPGs that took years to get to the US aren’t the most famous games, I don’t think that’s something to get upset about. It’s more annoying that people say “every *Nintendo Property* game is the same”. Some appear in more than one series, like Shamus mentioned. It might be a bummer to see “Oh God, eight Mario Karts”, but those are all one per console/handheld. And for as many people who want a new IP, how many people have played all of Nintendo’s franchises? There’s tons, several I still haven’t played.

      It’s a valid complaint with something like Mario Party, which was licensed out. I’d accept it as a complaint about Pokemon, too, although those systems only get deeper for every iteration they go, because there’s always more than one game at a time that uses the same “base”.

      I wonder what Shamus is gonna have to say about Wii U games on the blog. He can’t make several essays dissecting the plot of Super Mario 3D World. I suppose he COULD, but what would be the point? In Nintendo’s properties, what everyone eats is gameplay focus. Also mushrooms. And red potions. I’m happy though. I was a Nintendo kid, not a PC kid. Would be nice if this leads to some more stuff I’m familiar with and like on this site.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        You could spend a lot of time on the gameplay though. Matthewmatosis on YouTube did a whole series dissecting the design of the various 3D Mario titles (the ones on console) including a 30 odd minute examination of Mario 3D World.

        He makes a point at one point that you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that Mario 3D World was the most consistently inventive game ever made, but its more a case that they managed to incorporate elements of pretty much every preceding core Mario title, and even a level that was inspired by Mario Kart (plus, as he points out, the POW Block is from the original Mario Bros, that preceded the first Super Mario Bros.) But since I hadn’t played any Mario since the Mario 64, it had exactly that effect on me.

        • Ed says:

          As a lifelong Nintendo fan, I would love it if Shamus started to do some nintendo content, but I totally understand why he hasn’t. Their gameplay first attitude makes does not jive with this blogs focus on story and internal game logic (and other stuff). Not to say there are not, I’m sure a comparison of Metroid Prime and Half-life 2, which are roughly contemporaries might be of interest to Shamus, and something like Earthbound has alot to say. And many Zelda games do have very interesting sub-textual things going on.

  30. GloatingSwine says:

    I think the only time weapon durability ever feels like it makes a difference to the game is when it’s very fast. In Dark Souls 2 for instance, weapons are basically made of wet tissue and break really easily, especially early on when you’re weak and need lots of hits to beat enemies.

    So early on you get into the habit of using multiple weapons, generally ones which are slightly different so you can handle different situations. Combined with the upgrade system which means it’s better to prefer to strengthen one rather than both it means that you will have a weapon you keep for “serious business” enemies and then one you have for cleaning up the trash.

    Added to that, weapon durability is reset as soon as you rest at a bonfire, you don’t have to fiddle with anything to make it happen, it just happens.

    System Shock 2 also had very fast weapon degradation, and that led to the same behaviour, you carefully guarded the maintainance state of the good weapons so that you had them available when a Rumbler showed up and made do with your less fancy toys the rest of the time.

    Most of the time though, weapon durability just doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t make the player make choices and doesn’t open up any avenues for anticipatory play, it just means that you have to arse around in a menu every now and again.

    Especially in Bethesda games, where arsing about in awful menus is apparently one of the design goals I guess? (hopefully Fallout 4 follows the example of Skyrim and weapon durability is a thing of the past).

  31. Phrozenflame500 says:

    Glad to hear you jumped on the Wii U train. I bought it specifically for Bayonetta 2 which was my GOTY last year, and it also paid off with other great games like Smash and Wonderful 101 and Mario Kart and 3D World. I’ll probably pick up Splatoon as well because I’ve heard good things about it.

    Be interested in hearing your further thoughts when you get more of a chance to play around with it.

  32. Mike S. says:

    Marvel Comics’ canceling comic books to pressure movie studios really seems like the tail trying to wag the dog. (Even though Marvel Studios is by far the biggest dog in the field.) Typical comics circulations are in the tens of thousands. An unsuccessful superhero movie sells orders of magnitude more tickets.

    Sure, they’re sort of cutting off the supply of new IP. But something like the FF or X-Men have literally decades worth of existing stories. (And let’s face it, generally their most iconic stories and characters come from before most of their target audience was born.) It’s going to be really hard to starve them out just by denying them this year’s big crossover, or making Ms. Marvel an Inhuman instead of a mutant so that Fox can’t use her.

    If anything, I’d expect the movies to be more useful as a way to get a few more readers of the comics– if the comics were doing the same sort of thing instead of being deliberately different. But “we’re canceling Fantastic Four, now no one will read it and be convinced to see your movie!” seems like… unlikely reasoning.

    • Ed says:

      FWIW, my understanding is, statistically, the movies do not push comic sales at all. Despite myself being a reader who exists in part because of the marvel movies.

      • Mike S. says:

        I’ve heard that as well. Which is interesting, because it suggests that the core film audience demographic doesn’t really think of them as comic book heroes anymore. (Whereas when I was a kid, the Super Friends TV show led me to the Super Friends tie-in comic led me to the Justice League.)

    • Evilmrhenry says:

      I wonder if it has something to do with creation of new characters. If you create Super-Cool man, but he’s part of a group that had its rights sold, you can’t make a movie about him. Same thing if you make a ground-breaking story, and want to convert it to film. I can see the use in focusing creative talent into more potentially profitable books.

  33. Weapon Degradation

    Annoying, I dislike it. Usually stuff break way too soon.
    Things going blunt is not the same as breaking and I have less issues with that.

    I did write up a suggestion for MMOs once though on item degradation.
    In MMOs new stuff is added regularly, what happens to the old?

    A nice way to handle that is to have that tun into special junk that one can sell, descriptions could be “Rusty sword” or similar.

    Especially nice for those tat log in after may months and find all their stuff outdated.

    But in single player. I forget which other (single player) games (other than Witcher 3) that has weapons that degrade.

    This also ties into the pace of the world in a way, the day/night cycle in games are usually too quick, when shadows looks like they are “jumping” it’s too fast. (Skyrim tend to do that right?)

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I suppose degradation could “work” for a game if there’s meaningful player choice associated with it, such as:
      * Learn to maintain/repair/upgrade your stuff: You’ll be less good at something else but you’ll have better gear than others.
      * Use each weapon only when you need to. That supercool sword of flaming awesomeness should be reserved for the most difficult opponents, and the rest just get the morning star (which is already blunt so it doesn’t degrade as much) — but this only works if you have a way of telling when to use the shiny maintenance-heavy equipment and when not to — without it being too obvious because figuring it out must be part of the game, otherwise it’s boring again.
      * maybe if there’s a steady supply of different new weapons, slow degrading can be turned into a motivation for the player to try different gear and thus different playing styles?
      * One mechanic that may actually be relatively realistic: Your sword blunts a little with every fight, which reduces damage. You can sharpen it again but that eats away at the substance, so you need to decide how often to sharpen it because eventually it will break. Or you could make the player decide how agressively to use it: More hits and more damage against higher chance of breaking it, or having to spend meaningful resources for maintenance.

      … That’s actually a few more ideas than I had when I started to write this. They all have in common, though, that they’re less than trivial to implement meaningfully and to balance well. Especially the type of trade-off where you get a benefit now and pay some time in the future (doing A helps you now, but your weapon will need repairs in a few fights down the line) is very hard to put into terms that make for good game mechanics.

    • Merlin says:

      Weapon degradation is a core element of the Fire Emblem series, and while it can be frustrating to get used to as a player, it frequently pays big dividends in terms of design. There are a few things that differentiate it from the busywork status it’s reduced to most RPGs though.

      1.) Clear degradation rules. If a weapon starts with 50 durability, that means you can use it 50 times. This yields clarity about how often you can/should use items and allows you to plan around them breaking.

      2.) Fewer tiers of items. There are only 3 tiers of each item type (Iron -> Steel -> Silver) and a sprinkling of specialty versions (high crit, bonus vs. armored units, bonus vs. mounted units, etc). Again, this is a huge clarity benefit, because it really highlights each item’s value and purpose.

      3.) Benefits to using weaker items. Typically, stronger items weigh more, which can affect your unit’s speed value if they aren’t up to the task of wielding them. This can put you in a position where you’d either get 2 attacks with a weaker weapon (netting more damage overall but suffering a counterattack between them) or 1 attack with a stronger one (and potentially killing the enemy before they can counter).

      4.) Limited access. Repairing items is traditionally not an element in the series. Weapons break and disappear forever, forcing you to actually plan your inventory management, especially since units can only hold a few items. Shopping is also typically locked down, especially since your income tends to be pretty fixed. In the older games, shopping took place during battles rather than between them, so you had to balance winning the fight with buying & selling. And even in the newer ones that let you shop between battles, there are typically additional restrictions, like items that are only briefly available or the ability to forge a exactly 1 custom item between each fight.

      5.) Progress! In some of the games, the ultimate badass endgame sword for your protagonist has nice stats and infinite durability. By “breaking the rules” of the degradation system, the game further highlights what a badass the weapon and protagonist are. Ludonarrative consonance!

      The end result is that it’s an actual strategic system to work with, rather than just a time sink for when you’re in town.

      • Aldowyn says:

        note: They’re actually dumping the weapons uses system in Fates. And Awakening was much more lax on all of those points in general. (Chrom and Lucina have unbreakable weapons, shops are available between every mission and eventually include every weapon, etc. etc.)

        • Merlin says:

          Whaaaa? The last ones I’m directly familiar with are FE9 & 10, which had the shop-every-level bit but also the forge system, which was a nice compromise between ease of use and money management optimization. FE has always been good about tinkering in little ways from entry to entry, but I’m sad to see that system get chucked entirely.

          • Mikey says:

            Fates won’t actually be the first game to forgo weapon degradation. Gaiden (The second one, Japan-only) didn’t have it, and while your weapons could break in Genealogy of the Holy War (The fourth one, still Japan-only), they were never lost forever and could be repaired back to full at any Castle either owned by or friendly to the player.

            Personally, I’m not sad to see it go. An observant player will never find one of their units without a good-condition weapon (“This guy’s almost out of sword. Better bench him until my next chance to hit up an armory!”), which means weapon degradation is really just a Gold-sink chore, except for when rare/legendary weapons are concerned, when it encourages the hoarder mentality of “It would be useful here, but I’d better not use it, I might actually need it later…”

  34. Children in games. Didn’t Fable barely touch upon that? (Was it Fable 1, Fable 2, or 3 that you could have a wife and child?) but it was shallow.

    Mass Effect, Dragon Age (most BioWare games actually) do the relationship part pretty well, but at a certaint point it ends (because of the end of the game basically).

    I think a Fallout game could pull it off. (Fallout 4 expansion/DLC maybe?) Kinda like Hearthfire thing for Skyrim.

    Finding a mate, building/finding a home, having a kid or two, making sure they are all secure, food, weapons/protection.
    It would also have to be a benefit to do this.(farming food? money? water? resources? resource gathering?)

    And the kids would have to grow up eventually. And a easy way to deal with that is change ages in stages from babybump to born baby, to a young kid, to a teenager.
    And when changing from teenager to adult they pack up and head out into the unknown to craft their own story (ie. they leave the players game world).
    During the teenage to adult stage they could also maybe hunt with dad/mom.

    Now if the player id female there would need to be a period where the player has to deal with being pregnant, at a certain point the player can no longer run around go hunting. The pregnancy period would have to be extremely shortened (in-game time could be advanced the correct amount though).

    I doubt this will be in Fallout 4 (due to the story), and most likely not a expansion/DLC either. So Elder Scrolls VI or Fallout 5 are most likely the next game this cold occur in.

    If it wasn’t for Geralt being sterile then CD Projekt RED could have done something cool in regards to that. Now if there is ever a Witcher 4 with Ciri (or a new male character) then they could do something like that and weave that into the main plot.

  35. FPS is not dead. Theres the new Doom.
    And the next Elder Scrolls will be 1st or 3rd person; so will GTA 6.

    Though one could argue that a game that has both 1st and 3rd is not a “true FPS” (aka 1st person only).

    But a lot of RPGs also let you create a character and outside of cutscenes you do not see the character, so 3rd person let you see your character. (and wiggling female behinds seem to be popular among the male population so…)

    Also systems/engines are capable of rendering everything now so 3rd party isn’t a major slowdown.

    Personally though I like the choice of 1st/3rd person.
    When exploring or using ranged/targeting weapons I like 1st person, but during melee combat i like 3rd person better.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Question from an old-time PC gamer (and one who didn’t really play FPS games released after about 2003):

      While I actually did play the first Doom (and even Jedi Knight!) with a joystick at some point, the “real” FPS games can really only work with a mouse or similar for aiming.
      So … how do FPS games work on consoles? At least I could not imagine console and PC players playing Counterstrike against one another and the PC people not winning.
      I remember Valve announced a controller a while ago which was supposed to allow people do be as quick and accurate as with a mouse, but I’ve not heard from it since and I suspect it did not work out. So, did FPS games change to accommodate this, and how?

      • MichaelGC says:

        Aye – controllers still can’t really compete with mice. Console FPSes often use auto-aim to compensate for inaccuracy, but that’s more of a sticking-plaster. (I personally find accuracy itself isn’t really the main problem, but simply the slow turning-speed. Plus, often things like turning-whilst-running are super tricky with a controller, depending on the button layout.)

        Oh, and the Valve controller – snappily called “The Steam Controller” – is still on the way:


        I doubt it’ll be a magic bullet, though – perhaps good for playing e.g. Civilization on your tellybox, but for 1337 no-scopery & suchlike I suspect it’s still not really going to be competitive with meeses.

        • *nods*

          Yeah the console auto aim. IT tries to guestimate whee you intended to shoot so you might end up hitting when you know you shouldn’t have or end up missing when you know you should have hit.

          The turning speed I agree on. I prefer high sense when using mice and similar devices (ergonomic or vertical mice, trackballs, etc)
          So a small movement with my fingers let me turn around 180 degrees with little effort.

          This is why some games have a look behind or turn around feature/button, to try and approach that quick snap a mouse/ball based input can allow.

          A gamepad or joystick has to pass from the left, through the center and to the right side. A mouse/ball based device let you change direction in less than a single pixel/point.

          Compare to real life this would be when you turn around you turn with your whole body, twist your feet, your legs, hips, torso, shoulders, neck. You twist “into” the direction you are turning.
          Versus a gamepad approach where in real life you would need keep your body in line and not twist and only take incremental shuffles with your feet and turn that way.

          Not the best analogy, but then again mice/balls/other devices are in a different domain than gamepads/joysticks.

          Valves controller is a odd hybrid of these.

  36. Joakim says:

    Since Shamus didn’t link the video Mumbles spoke of in the very beginning, i.e. the one with Super Mario 3D world as a four panel comic, and since I think that channel deserves more views, I’ll put a link to the video in question:


  37. Nidokoenig says:

    The point Shamus brings up about wanting limits on inventory for programming reasons reminds me of Morrowind. I usually set up in Nads Tharen’s flat in Vivec because it’s useful to have a quest related, permanent corpse around to stuff endless piles of loot into because selling it is just too time consuming and leaving it behind is heresy. One game I put so much shit in there that pressing Take All accidentally would crash the game, literally page after page of enchanted weapons, armour, gems and other shit. So, yeah, you need some sanity checks on how much a person and/or container can hold or grab at once because some players will fail them.

  38. Borislav says:

    Is weapon degradation faster on higher difficulties? Because I have to repair my stuff all the time, basically after about 2-3 quests my swords are in the red zone (lowers the damage) and I have to go to the smith. It’s not as annoying as it sounds, I have to sell my loot, so two birds with one stone and all that.
    I think the mechanic is there precisely to put an emphasis on the preparation aspect. And at this point, this looks like a staple of the RPG genre, so it is somewhat expected to be in the game. It also adds to the realism to the game, but I don’t care that much about that.
    Encumbrance, on the other hand, is much more frustrating to me in TW3. After picking up a ton of alchemy/crafting supplies, I have almost no room left for important stuff. I can only pick up a few swords, before I become overburdened. Come to think of it, than would be somewhat realistic, but I’d prefer it were not the case. But to give the devs some props, I think they made a very tiny design descision in this aspect of the game – to raise the limit you can carry, you need bigger saddlebags for your horse. Which justifies how Geralt can carry so many hearts, claws and other body parts. It still is a bit silly – you could run around with 200 hearts stuffed in your bags, but I’m willing to hand wave it.
    In any case, encumbrance and storage chests will be addressed in the next patch 1.0.7 and I can’t wait :)

  39. IFS says:

    Glad to hear your family has a WiiU now Shamus, its a great console as far as I’m concerned and certainly has the most interesting selection of AAA titles on it right now in my opinion. If you’re looking for games on it I’d recommend the following:

    Bayonetta 2/Wonderful 101: Listed together because they are very similar games, both are fast paced stylish action games with very silly plots and ridiculous characters, easily some of my favorite games on the system. If you enjoyed Arkham’s combat because it pushed you to do better so you’d look cooler then these games will scratch that itch and then some with their absurdly deep combat systems.

    Splatoon: you’ve discussed it on the show so I won’t go into too much detail, but its a great game.

    Wind Waker HD: If you never got the chance to play the original I’d highly recommend this, its one of my favorite Zelda games and is just full of charm.

    Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker: a fun and lighthearted puzzle game, most of the puzzles are fairly simple (at least early on) but between the late game puzzles and the hidden collectibles in levels things can get devious fast.

    Smash Bros: A really well known franchise so I won’t go into too much detail, but its a great party game.

    This is hardly an exhaustive list, just a few of my favorites. At any rate hope you enjoy your new console!

    • bit says:

      I don’t know if Smash is really Shamus’ thing, tbh. But, one thing I definitely have to throw in the ring is Pikmin 3- Adorable story and setting, absolutely gorgeous visuals (one of the only games that does interesting and stylized photo-realism) and a really fun core mechanics set. And the local 2-player modes are worth playing with the family too. It’s my favorite game on the system, and I recommend it generally over everything else.

      • Xedo says:

        I’d also recommend Affordable Space Adventures. It’s a puzzle game where you control a spaceship using the gamepad, which simulates the various diagnostic tools and engine components of your ship. It has a tone that reminds me of the first Portal, but lacks a character like Glados to make it truly fantastic, unfortunately.

  40. Thomas says:

    The Antman film exists because Edgar Alan Wright had been trying for years and years to get that film made and eventually Marvel greenlit it and then Edgar Alan Wright left because Marvel didn’t want him to make the film he wanted to make.

    • Neil D says:

      I think Marvel greenlighting Ant-Man had very little to do with the fact that one had already been in development for years, and very much to do with the fact that their Avengers cinematic universe is exploding and it was a property they owned.

      Even if Edgar Wright hadn’t previously been working on one, I’m pretty sure we’d still be seeing an Ant-Man movie right about now.

      (Note: I haven’t listened to the podcast, so there may be context I’m missing here.)

  41. hborrgg says:

    First person dude-bro shooters will never die as long as they live on in our hearts!

  42. Destrustor says:

    Rutskarn’s cosplay up there is missing the most important part of Cuftbert; the godly sideburns. (and an incinerator, but I can accept that as running contrary to the setting)
    Such a shame.

  43. Wolf says:

    The moment you all made the “Haha I didn’t listen to Josh because I was surfing Reddit or whatever.” really cheesed me off. I could hear from the conversation lull that it was the truth, it immediately made me think “So why should I listen to these guys if they don’t care themselves?”.
    It was especially jarring because Josh offered some of the first deeper analysis in the episode, so brushing him off by way off browser distraction signaled an alarming trend to me.

  44. Trucos gta 5 says:

     Este videogame menos aun constituye tan maravillosa, sin embargo es divertido

Leave a Reply

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


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

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

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

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

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

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