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Diecast #167: Mystic Messenger, Star Citizen, PS4 Pro

By Shamus
on Monday Sep 12, 2016
Filed under:


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

0:01:17 – Mystic Messenger

In the next couple of weeks Mumbles is having a birthday. And also moving to another state. And also changing jobs. And her sleep schedule. Which I’m pretty sure means she’s retiring and letting Nightwing run things for now on.

0:14:14 – Rutskarn is making games using Twine

During this segment my moderator alarm went off when Mumbles started talking about how the Bible was transcribed over the centuries. “Oh no! This is going to start a flamewar!”, I thought. See, this is basically the Emacs vs. Vim of the Protestant world: An incredibly esoteric, pedantic, yet fiercely argued point among a particular subculture. If you’re not a Christian or if you never went in for the more scholarly inter-faith debates then you probably have no idea how deep this rabbit hole goes.

But of course it was a perfectly safe thing for her to say in the context of a videogame podcast and I didn’t need to freak out about it. I was just having flashbacks to the flamewars of my younger days. Still, just in case there are some Biblical scholars in the audience: Please resist the urge to argue about it. And if you non-Christian types could do me a favor and not throw some back-handed snark my way, I’d really appreciate it. Believe me, I’m well aware what you think of the whole thing.

0:30:52 – Star Citizen

Here is the video in question.

Link (YouTube)

Even allowing for the usual smoke-and-mirrors employed in these sorts of demos, it looks like the hard technology problems are solved.

0:45:32 – Sony sees the PC as a viable threat.

Here is the important quote, from Andrew House, head of Sony Interactive Entertainment:

[the data] suggested that there's a dip mid-console lifecycle where the players who want the very best graphical experience will start to migrate to PC, because that's obviously where it's to be had. We wanted to keep those people within our eco-system by giving them the very best and very highest [performance quality]. So the net result of those thoughts was PlayStation 4 Pro – and, by and large, a graphical approach to game improvement.

(Full article.)

0:59:28 – No Mods for PS4

Here is the press release from Bethesda, which is behind an age-gate for some idiotic reason.

Comments (104)

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Waaaaiiiit….Who are you female-host-that-compliments-Rutskarn,and what did you do with the real Mumbles?

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    In the old times,a new monk comes to a monastery and is assigned to make new copies of old religious texts.After some months of meticulously writing old text on the new parchment,a thought comes to him,and he decides to share it with the head monk:
    – Ive noticed that all the old texts I am copying stuff from isnt that old.Its a copy someone made before me.So if they made a mistake while doying the copying,I wont notice and I will carry it to my text,and so the mistake will carry over into the future.
    – Hmmm,that is an interesting observation you have.Ill take the new texts,and Ill go to the oldest archives to check with the originals.
    And so the old monks descends deep into the bowels of the monastery,meticulously checking the old scriptures,coming back up only to eat and sleep.But after a couple of weeks,he stops coming out at all.A couple of days later,the other monks get worried,and they decide to go down there to see what has happened.Once theyve descended into the old archives,first they heard weeping,and when they finally saw the head monk,he was curled in a corner,howling in sadness,and occasionally,through his sobs,they were able to recognize a few words:
    – We were wroooong!We were wroooong!The word was CELEBRATEEEE!!!!

  3. Christopher says:

    SWEET, I googled Mystic Messenger and found a cute boy I like.

    Zen looks like Soma Cruz, so that’s pretty good. But he smokes, eeugh.

  4. Da Mage says:

    Oh look, someone handed Sony a gun and they shot themselves in the foot again while Microsoft laughed at them.

    In the same week Sony said they were concerned about people jumping to PC, they go and block a (previously) PC specific feature that they promised earlier. This seems like sheer lunacy on their part, not only that, but with mods on the Xbox, there is finally a significant feature difference between the consoles.

    AND on top of that they want people to ‘upgrade’ to their new one next year….if I were a PS4 owner that would give me a good reason to upgrade to PC or the new Xbox rather than the new PS.

    • Christopher says:

      Xbox are doing the upgrading thing too, with Scorpio. I’m pissed they both went that route, but mostly I’m pissed because I bought a PS4 two weeks before the NEO rumors started leaking. Hope the games stay similar as long as possible, because I’m in no hurry to upgrade.

      • Echo Tango says:

        If enough customers stick with their PS4s, and skip the PS4 Pro, Sony will want to keep supporting the older model. They could force everyone to upgrade, but if they do that, I imagine that will backfire by angering a lot of their customers.

    • Yurika Grant says:

      Please don’t fall into the trap of blaming Sony for wanting goddamn ‘quality control’ on mods. This is entirely Bethesda’s fault for promising things they had no idea whether Sony would even agree to, and for wanting NO CURATION of mods. MS might be happy with this, but Sony clearly aren’t.

      Curation costs money because Bethesda would have to pay someone (or pay Sony) to have every mod tested before release, and Bethesda wants a quick and easy avenue of cash with no effort involved. It’s no different to their demands back with that whole Steam paid mods debacle. Remember how they pushed for no curation there as well? Yeah.

      Sony have dropped the ball recently, fair enough, but to place the blame wholly on them given Bethesda’s recent behaviour is misguided.

      • Jeff R says:

        Don’t believe for a second that curation has anything to do with this. It’s 99% about the audio and texture codecs

      • Raygereio says:

        Please don't fall into the trap of blaming Sony for wanting goddamn “˜quality control' on mods.

        Stop right there. The whole “Sony wanted QA on mods”-thing is nothing more then a silly rumor. I’ve dug around and the only thing that came close to being a “source” was someone on Neogaf posting a screenshot of a chatlog. Which is a step below “So my uncle who works at Bethesda told me…”.

        Other then it being completely unsubstantiated, it doesn’t even make any logical sense.
        It’s impossible to do for starters. Not only would Bethesda have to test each mod individually, but also all the possible variations installed mods. It’s an absurd idea.
        Secondly, it’s not Bethesda’s (or Sony’s for that matter) responsibility to preform QA on mods. Sure, there’s the language of “We’re offering mods”. But they’re not Bethesda’s product.
        And most importantly of all, there’s no way something like that could even be an issue between Sony and Bethesda. All they would have to do is put up a disclaimer saying “Bethesda and Sony are not responsible for Fallout 4 and/or the Playstation 4 bursting into flames when using mods. Have fun.” and they’d be in the clear. Heck, that exact disclaimer has been in Bethesda’s toolset EULAs for ages.

        Now this is all guesswork from my part, but back in June Bethesda said that the three bigest problems with PS4-mods were the Sony-imposed limit of 900mb for mods (compared to Xbox One’s 2GB) and mods not being able to add sounds and only textures not optmized for the PS4 (which would cause performance issues) because the PS4 apparently uses various proprietary file formats that I guess Sony doesn’t want to have Bethesda release.
        It’s more plausible that some Sony exec (who likely didn’t get what modding is or how it could benefit them) demanded all kinds of limitations on mods and wouldn’t budge. And then Bethesda eventually went “Screw it, if we released it like this people are just going to bitch endlessly at us for it not being as good as on the Xbox. Better to just cut it completely.”

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Quality control is good,no question about it.Im happy that console manufacturers implement quality control for their games.

        HOWEVER,outdated quality control policies are often worse than no control at all.Consoles have advanced several generations since those policies were first put in place.And having them apply to mods is silly.Especially when so many other stuff slip through(asscreed being just ass on play station,for example).

    • Humanoid says:

      Time perhaps for the return of the “Overdrive” CPU? :D

  5. Matt Downie says:

    One ‘hard technology problem’ that probably hasn’t been solved yet for Star Citizen: having all this stuff working reliably no matter how many players there are in a given area. They showed it works OK when there are two people in the universe. What happens when there’s a million?

    (I’m assuming this isn’t working yet on the principle: “If it’s in the demo, it might be in the game; if it’s not in the demo, it’s almost certainly not in the game.”)

    • Gabriel Mobius says:

      Coming from a jaded backer: they are extremely good at smoke and mirrors. A lot of the ‘vertical slice’ style demos they show off as hype fodder are usually very carefully curated and effectively rendered in a self-contained model without the biggest, ugliest problem they have: the netcode. They have been struggling with the mess that is CryEngine’s netcode since the beginning and based on what I’ve seen even in the current Alpha, it’s still a mess. The worst part is that they’re so deep in the rabbit hole, and so saddled with engineering debt, that while any sane developer would have ditched the engine by now and made the move to something more reasonable like UE4, they’re stuck. They’ve got too much sunk into it to move by this point.

      • Rosseloh says:

        Coming from a backer who is completely not jaded, follows the game’s production, and is extremely eager (and has been a backer since 2012):

        The netcode is in the pipeline. Supposedly the first fixed iteration is in said 3.0 patch, shown in the video. And seriously, I think a lot of this is way less smoke-and-mirrors than a lot of people think. Half the stuff they did in that video is stuff you can already do – and they’ve told us that sometime around the end of the year (being Star Citizen, it may be a month or two later, but I don’t care), we’ll be able to do the rest.

        Was there some technical finagling involved to make the demo possible? I’m sure. But considering they made over 30 builds of said demo during Gamescom week as the demo-players found bugs, I don’t think any of it was really “smoke and mirrors”. At the very least, the script was only rudimentary, as there are plenty of anecdotes of journalists watching the demo asking the players to do things “off-script”, and they did them.

        Here’s the other thing. Lots of us are expecting these guys to take their time. The biggest benefit of this style of funding is that there is no publisher pressure. If it takes another 3 years to see the MMO portion of the game working well….so be it. Not having a deadline is easily the best part of this game’s development.

        I dunno. I’m not a game developer. I DO, however, take my time to learn how things work (from programming to development pipelines) and from what I’ve seen of SC so far, I’m only getting more excited over time.

  6. Munkki says:

    OK, I have to admit I was waiting for the transcription bit because it’s something that I personally find fascinating and have done a bit of study on. Mumbles raises a very good and true point, but there’s a little more to the story I’d say is interesting to look at, and I think a nice way to bring the discussion away from religion is to start by pointing out that the same process was applied to all texts, not just religious ones. (Guessing at least some of the diecasters already know all of what I’m going to say next, but hey)

    The reason that this is an interesting phenomenon and one that can lead to debate is that – before the printing press – transcription by hand was the only way to produce texts of any kind, and a lot of the people that reproduced these texts did so professionally as an attachment to various libraries and scriptoria. Often times, these people ended up being something akin to a modern academic – they were in the business of digesting, preserving and passing on knowledge and understanding, and could achieve quite a high status in society by doing their job well. And so you’ve got this collection of clever (or at the least very well-read) people whose job is to produce bespoke on-commission copies of texts for a variety of individual and organisation-type clients.

    Now, as you might expect, the fact that every book had to be effectively hand-written made them quite expensive and valuable items, and there weren’t a lot of people who could afford to assemble large collections of texts – which in turn led to the usage of high-quality, durable (and expensive) materials for their construction, something which led to their recycling and the inadvertent preservation of texts that would otherwise be lost to time.
    So often when someone commissioned a book, they’d just be after the one, and in those days an actual book was very much a luxury possession that you wanted to be as good and comprehensive as possible, and to remain so as it was handed down to your children and grandchildren.

    The upshot of all this, basically, is that not only did scribes sometimes add personal annotations for their own amusement (these were usually removed before the book was handed over, although not always), they also added references to other texts and explanations of context (assumed knowledge, traditions, local wildlife and geography and a bunch of other things besides) wherever they deemed it might make the final text more valuable and complete (of course, which annotations and explanations made the cut depended on which scribes were doing the annotating). And the existence of these annotations and commentaries is one of the reasons that debates about any sources from the end of the papyrus-and-clay era of preserved sources to the beginning of the printed word are so interesting and can get so heated.

    Because basically yeah – imagine centuries and centuries of academic commentary being variously added to and deleted from a book. There’s huge scope for a variety of opinions, cultures, religious leanings – basically everything that colours a person’s reading of a text, seeping into the writing itself over centuries. Personally I find it fantastic and a very enriching thing to try and tease out (especially given the age of some of the sources we now have access to; thank you, mesopotamians, for writing on something so non-biodegradable) but yes. I completely understand why you’d want to avoid discussing this subject as it pertains to religion but I thought – in case anyone listening along didn’t know about this already – I’d say something about the process itself, because it really is a surprisingly important factor in our understanding of the people that went before us. Also something that has become very far from obvious with the rise of the printing press – much like the fact that (and this is a throwaway comment with less context than it really needs, but still) people generally weren’t super-literate before then because, as it turns out, there wasn’t actually that much around for them to read.

    As always, read with the disclaimer that I am very much just an enthusiast on this subject and am pretty far from being in possession of the full story myself. Hope somebody finds it interesting!

    • Retsam says:

      I’ll follow your lead and only talk about it in a general sense and not a religious sense:

      I think the biggest misconception people have in this area is that they think of it like a game of telephone (Wikipedia informs me that non-Americans are more likely to know it as “Chinese whispers”… weird) where a single scribe can introduce a change and all future copies will include that change. If that were true, then transcription would indeed be a very fragile system.

      But, in reality, you’d have a many different scribes, independent of one another, all copying the same original document. It’s not a chain of individual links, but a tree; and that’s a lot more resistant to errors because there’s redundancy. If I have three scribes copy the same document, and then burn the original; I can figure out what the original said, with high precision, by just comparing the three documents. Unless two scribes just happened to make the same mistake, any mistakes made by one scribe can be fixed by looking at the other two documents.

      Really, tracing the ancestry of documents isn’t fundamentally different than tracing ancestry of people or species: there might be a lot of individual mutations and there may be regional variants, (and it’s certainly not easy), but there’s a science to it, and with enough data points, it’s definitely possible to extrapolate backwards.

      But, yeah, it’s an interesting topic; both the culture around scribing and reproduction of manuscripts and the sort of changes it produced, as well as the process of trying to determine the originals.

      • Viktor says:

        The problem isn’t errors, it’s intentional shifts. The current ruler doesn’t like certain ideas, so a scribe who wants to keep his head eliminates those from any book he copies. A couple generations of that can be very effective in suppressing something.

        And that’s before we introduce translations into the mix, and all the issues that context clues and cultural references were meant to convey but get lost. There’s just not a good way to store complex ideas that will last 500 years, let alone millennia.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But what if all three scribes make three different copies and there is no original,how will you know which scribe(if any)made the correct copy?

        And like you said,with enough data its possible.But plenty of said data is completely lost the further we go back.Its not uncommon to have only a single (usually partial) copy of some work,with all the preceding and succeeding ones being destroyed.

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    The most interesting thing about that Star Citizen video is what the crowd (of Star Citizen backers) applauded for. The demo descends to a planet, the ship starts kicking up atmospheric disturbance and people applaud for that. The disturbance turns into a fiery re-entry and people go wild.

    • Matt Downie says:

      They also get really excited every time a door opens – I think this is because Star Citizen doors had a history of refusing to open for no good reason in earlier demos.

  8. LCF says:

    ” if you non-Christian types could do me a favor and not throw some back-handed snark my way, I'd really appreciate it.”
    By all mean, and as always.

    Now, I would like to direct anyone who loves History to Extra History. They have two very interesting segments on early Christianity:
    -Byzantine Empire: Justinian and Theodora – I: From Swineherd to Emperor
    -Early Christian Schisms – I: Before Imperium
    I hope they make more on the topic.

    • matthewhoffman says:

      As a Christian it’s always neat to hear more about the early history of the Church. The squabbles that led to all the different groups and theologies are really neat and definitely do help me appreciate my own history more. But it’s the kind of thing that my religious education teachers understandably didn’t think bored 10 year olds would appreciate so I never really heard about it.

      • IFS says:

        I mean if you really wanted bored ten year olds to get into the history of Christianity you could start with telling them how full of insults Martin Luther’s writings are. As a Lutheran reading them for a class in college was quite entertaining, and for those who don’t want to dig through them someone out there made a Martin Luther insult generator (that includes citations even).

        Really though there is a lot of fascinating history and colorful figures in the protestant reformation and other parts of christian history, its a shame it doesn’t get talked about in much detail (at least in US schools).

    • Humanoid says:

      I really like the point in history where Lollard Pisa conquered Europe.

      • Matt Downie says:

        Surely it was Lollard Scandinavia who did that?

        Or was that just in my game of Crusader Kings 2?

      • LCF says:

        Nay, it was the Latin Empire led by Livia, surrounded by Scotland, Ireland, the United-States and Fascist England, which cleansed the world from the fascist menace by plutonian fire, then proactively protected itself from similar bombings by Scotland and rased it likewise. Then the world crashed to desktop, because radiation overflow, I guess?
        Call to Power 2 sure is bugged.

  9. CrushU says:

    Hey, is something up with the RSS for the podcast? The past two episodes haven’t been picked up by my podcast software. Instead it just gives me links to the page. (I use AntennaPod.) Did anything change recently?

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Am I the only one who thinks this podcast was a bit stiff?

  11. Ranneko says:

    I’m hoping that the next season of spoiler warning will be mystic messenger

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A tangent,since you talk about VR:

    Do you guys think that tiltable chairs could lessen VR sickness?Because (most of) us modern humans have learned how to be comfortable in a moving vehicle,despite what our eyes are telling us.Ive seen quite a few people reading on a bus,which is sadly a nightmare for me.So if you had a chair that would tilt back when you go forward,and tilt in other directions to simulate inertia,would it lessen the discomfort you feel when trying to use VR for games with rapid movement?

    • Shamus says:

      1) I also can’t read in a vehicle.
      2) I have been wondering this same question with regards to tilting chairs.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I would assume that tilting chairs aren’t particularly helpful. At this point, a ton of money has been poured into VR, so someone must have thought to actually test that idea out. If it worked, I imagine we’d have heard about it by now,

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        You know what,someone did attempt it:

        The $500 roto vr chair

        But heres the thing:Most of the things advertised for that chair are vehicles stuff(even though the chair has “walking pedals”),it mentions rotating you,but not tilting you to simulate inertia,and Ive heard of no one trying it out,let alone comparing the experience of regular vr and roto vr.

        Ive also read about a few prototypes that are in the works,but still nothing concrete.

        • Raygereio says:

          There have been several studies into virtual reality sickness and there doesn’t seem to be a single cause for it. For example for some people a fluctuating framerate, or the framerate being too slow in general, can cause sickness. For others (generally people who also suffer from motion sickness) it’s tied specifically to rotational movement.
          For the latter that rotating chair could perhaps be of some help, though you’d probably have to find some way of limiting the speed at which you can rotate the ingame “body” to match the chair’s maximum turn speed.

          i doubt a chair that only tilts in a certain direction woult be of any use. Safe for simulating your ingame character leaning around a corner or something.
          Also inertia is an object’s resistance to changes in its state of motion. Why do you think a tilting chair would simulate that? Did you meant that it would simulate movement?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Because if you start moving from rest in a video game,you only see your character moving forward,but you dont feel anything.If you were tilted in the opposite direction however,you would also feel some slight resistance to this sudden motion.

            And Im fully aware that this would not remove vr sickness,but it may at least lessen it for some.

            • Raygereio says:

              If you were tilted in the opposite direction however,you would also feel some slight resistance to this sudden motion.

              No, you wouldn’t?
              You’d still be standing still. Tilting the chair backwards doesn’t simulate the sensation of the body moving forwards. What you describe could actually make motion sickness related symptoms worse as what little directional force the tilting motion would apply to the body would be in the wrong direction.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Tilting the chair backwards doesn't simulate the sensation of the body moving forwards.

                But it does simulate the sensation of you being in a car that suddenly lurches forward.And plenty of people have grown accustomed to that.

                • Raygereio says:

                  But it does simulate the sensation of you being in a car that suddenly lurches forward.

                  No, it doesn’t. Compare the two yourself. Go sit in a buddy’s car and have them floor it. You’ll feel the chair pressing into your back, in the same direction as the car is moving. This is inertia doing its thing as your body is resisting the change in it’s motion.
                  Now go sit in a chair and have that buddy tilt backwards. You’ll feel the chair move underneath and you’ll fall slightly backwards.
                  The two are quite different sensations.

                  • Chris Robertson says:

                    There is at least one company (SimXperience) whose business disagrees with your assessment. You can see a video of their equipment acting just as Daemian Lucifer describes.

                    • Chris Robertson says:

                      In fact, the same guy has a video where he talks about motion sickness in VR in games that don’t support the moving seat (here) and then later (here) he talks about running the Oculus Rift with his motion seat (spoiler, he finds the moving seat increases immersion).

    • It woulds probably work for some, for he majority I do not think it would make any difference.
      It would certainly enhance the experience a lot, you would also need left/right tilt as well.

      The main issue with VR right now is that not all of them (or the games for them) support the full 6 DOF (degrees of freedom).

      Looking up/down/left/right they all support. And the 3-4 major state of the art ones now “should” support move left and move right and move up and move down and forward ad backward.

      But I’m not sure how many of them support tilting your head left/right, if they do not support this then it would feel like your neck was stiff or your neck muscles broken. And when you neck moves like that but the visual does not follow then that is an issue.

      One issue with a chair that you lie in that tilts is that you need to program/orient the VR to match this in a way and translate that to the player character “sitting” or “standing”.

      I think most games like GTA V if all is rendered in 3D (no sprite GUI/HUDs glued to your eyeball) and no headbob and with full 6DOF VR then certainly I would have no issues.
      Driving vehicles would feel natural, and while running/walk would feel odd the headbob off and 6DOF VR that should be fine too.

      I say headbob off, bu I really mean 1st person effects disabled. Which includes headbob, lens dirt, lens flare, depth of field.

      Someone once suggested to only use depth of field with eyetracking, but I think that is wrong too as the eye has a natural focus area anyway and kind of blurs anything outside.
      At the very least such stuff must be toggleable in the options.

      A good use of eyetracking in VR would be to let hud elemens in the corners of the view/display fade in (become more opaque) when the player’s eyes look at that area.
      Personally I’d want to turn that off. In fact even today I prefer the entire screen free from any HUD with the possible exception of a tiny and discreet dot or cross in the center so you can target things properly.

      Any further HUD stuff should be context sensitive and auto-fade after a few seconds.
      Witcher 3 allowed you to do this. And there are mods for Fallout 4 that make the same possible there.

      Star Citizen did it nicely in that the HUD of the map seemed to be projected inside the ship itself, rather than in the face of the player.

      Shamus called the space FPS combat glidey. It’s possible that is partly intentional for VR.
      In VR you would tilt your head as well. In that video I’m sure they just used mouse and keyboard (and thus no sideways head tilt).

      • Echo Tango says:

        But I'm not sure how many of them support tilting your head left/right

        I played with a Vive a month ago with some friends, and it definitely does tilting. Was pretty fun!

        The one problem, was that the boundary-beacons at the corners of the room were out of whack. I think what happened was that the thumb screws are made of plastic, so there was a bit of slippage on the angle of the beacons. We were too lazy to get on top of a chair, because the only real problem was that near the walls, you had to move slowly; The warning graphic that showed you about to bump into the wall was off by about 4 inches. :)

  13. Star Citizen looks awesome (if only future Star Wars space games would look like this).
    Sadly Star Citizern is not single player offline, neither is Elite Dangerous.

    I want a modern “Frontier: Elite” mixed with “Mass Effect” basically. At one stage I thought EGOSOFT’s “X Rebirth” was it but alas no.

  14. Did anyone else notice how Star Citizen handled “head bob” ? The camera does not bob but the bottom of the helmet do. This is a very VR friendly way of handling this. (I’ll assume you can hide the helmet in the options somewhere though).

    • Yurika Grant says:

      Head bob needs to go the hell away. It’s not realistic in the first instance, it causes massive nausea for a lot of people, and idiot devs NEVER give an option to turn that crap off. Really tired of it now.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Yeah, if you’re trying to simulate the motion of a camera strapped to your helmet, or held in somebody’s hand, then bob makes sense. Human brains, however, are very good at filtering out the bob of their heads/bodies, so they get the sensation of a steady motion in the visual field. :)

    • Echo Tango says:

      I don’t think that would be a VR-friendly way of doing it. If you were in a VR headset, you’d have movement from when you move around, so unless they synced up the helmet-movement, you’d still get sick. Or maybe you’d just feel like you were piloting a mech, and not walking around as a dude?

  15. SpaceSjut says:

    I do not know if this is a problem on your end or on mine, but:
    I use Podcast Addict on my phone to manage my podcasts. Up until Diecast #165, the feed gave me the opportunity to download the media file. Since #166, the feed seems to link to the first embedded video in the post.
    Has anybody else this problem with any feed reader and/or knows a workaround besides manually downloading the mp3?

  16. Shamus, if you want some more material to rant about regarding Mass Effect, go read the novel series by Alastair Reynolds called “Revelation Space.”

    If you think the ME series ripped off other (and better) properties, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Not only that, it manages to do the whole “sapient machines are coming to destroy everyone” really, really well, which is the bit that Bioware (may have) skipped (if they cribbed, in case their lawyers are reading).

    • MichaelGC says:

      Alastair Reynolds is awesome! He worked for the European Space Agency for over a decade, so whilst there is harder sci-fi out there, his stuff has that tincture of plausibility that you get when someone understands the physics, distances & timescales that would be involved with whatever craziness they are constructing.

      Although, I am a little biased in that he’s from the same small town in Wales as my father! That said, in my view his novels of the past few years have been a little less satisfying (since 2012 or so, when according to interviews he did change his approach to writing), but only in relative measure compared to his brilliant prior work, of which there is a boatload (much of which is set in the same universe as Revelation Space). For me, fit to be at least mentioned in the same breath as Iain M. Banks, and I personally can’t give much higher SF praise than that.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So why wanst Campster saying something during the whole cute boys thing?Or does he like just cute men?

    • That reminds me: During this season of Spoiler Warning, Chris “corrected” himself when he referred to the Vault Boy icon, saying he meant “Vault Men” or something. I didn’t get why that was something he felt needed correcting, as they are Vault Boys.

  18. 2017 is gonna be insane for multi-platform developers:
    Xbox 360, Xbox One (Nonslim & Slim), Xbox Scorpio,
    and Playstation 3, Playstation 4 (Nonslim & Slim), Playstation 4 Pro,
    and Windows 7 & 8.1 & 10, Mac OSX (multiple OS versions?), Linux (which distros?)

    No wonder making games using HTML5 tech seems more and more attractive.

    • Raygereio says:

      Are games still being developed for the previous console generation?

      • MichaelGC says:

        Depends what is meant by ‘developed for’. New games are certainly still being released on the PS3 and 360, which I think is what Roger is referring to.

        • Raygereio says:

          Depends what is meant by “˜developed for'.

          The process of creating a videogame?

          That games are currently still being released makes sense as videogame development – especially AAA ones – can take multiple years. So when they started the XBox 360 & PS4 were still relevant.
          But is anyone still starting development now with the intent on releasing it on the previous console generation? Unless it’s some shovelware or small project, the earliest that game would see the light of day is 2018.

          Mind you, Microsoft announced earlier this year that they stopped production of the Xbox 360 which was surprising to me because I assumed they already stopped shortly after the Xbox One launched.

          • MichaelGC says:

            No need to be obtuse – your own explanation in the following paragraphs demonstrates that it was reasonable to give a careful and limited reply.

            There certainly are still last-gen games scheduled to come out well into 2017, but they seem to be largely sports games/roster updates which will have been in the pipeline for ages, and which only get a minimal amount of tweaking anyway.

            So I suspect you’re right and it’ll just be this sort of thing plus the odd small project here and there, and I guess those latter might well actually not come out on the newer stuff. (Unless & until one happens to hit it big and someone smells money, of course!)

      • Um! HTML5 and ASM.js has very little to do with each other. I think you meant to compare javascript and ASM.js
        You can’t replace HTML5 with ASM.js

        (for the rest of you who have no idea what ASM.js is)
        ASM.js is basically a subset of ECMAscript (aka javascript) only that ASM.js is highly optimized (I forget if Firefox, Chrome and Edge all fully support ASM.js now).
        You need to crosscompile javascript to ASM.js
        The neat thing though is that scripts that are ASM.js are also fully valid javascript so they will work on browsers/platforms that do not have ASM.js optimized code.

  19. Ed Blair says:


    What specifically did you take issue with in Stephenson’s writings? I’m completely fascinated.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I kind of wish I hadn’t said anything, because this is a reasonable and honest question and I’m a little afraid of answering it. So disclosing that this is solely my opinion, begging civility, and arguing that there’s no point fighting about a single reader’s gut reaction:

      Solely as far as I’m concerned, whenever the book approaches women, sex, and romance with the same rational autodidactic analysis applied to cryptography and breakfast cereals the result is alienating and unpleasant. I know that the all-male, mostly-technical viewpoint characters are a big contributor to this. You could argue that the awkwardness is totally deliberate. I don’t really care. Cryptonomicon makes me feel like its women are specimens first, male character motivation second, characters distant third.

      As a male geek, a lot of my early life was spent with other male geeks who didn’t know much about the opposite sex, but were happy to “rationally” speculate about them. Getting out in the world, making a few dozen female friends, and having honest conversations with them has made many of these speculations retroactively embarrassing. That’s kind of how Cryptonomicon makes me feel sometimes.

      Also in my opinion, the female viewpoint characters in The Diamond Age and Reamde feel pretty vibrant and genuine. Maybe they rub someone else the wrong way, but I didn’t get the same feeling I got when I read Cryptonomicon. Also, I believe I misspoke on the podcast–I’ve actually read Cryptonomicon THREE TIMES. So clearly, two dozen annoying among a friggin’ thousand wasn’t enough to keep me away.

      • Sleepy the Bear says:

        I can relate to this. You could make similar complaints about the Baroque Cycle. The Baroque Cycle is a bloated, glorious mess that serves as an 17th Century analogue to Cryptonomicon exploring science and economics. The sex also felt weird there. Eliza is one of the main characters, and principle driver of the action, but she often ends up having to use sex for power. It often feels detached and disjointed, and seemingly has no effect on her. Often times it feels like the sex was written more for titillation, than something that naturally emerges from character and story. This could be driven by how flat most of his characters feel, since I think he is more interested in technology than people.

        Over time he seems to have jettisoned the weird sex, and learned to write a compelling ending. Unfortunately, the interesting tangents, and flights of fancy seem to have been lost. The only book of his to avoid those all of those pitfalls was Anathem, which had the annoyance of using lots of made up words as replacements for common English words, (e.g. Mister-> Fraa. Ma’am -> Suur.)

  20. Info on the Sony Fallout 4 mod issue http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-06-20-bethesda-runs-into-issues-with-fallout-4-ps4-mods

    First off, PC textures are used, which means memory and performance issues may occur. Bethesda said it was working with Sony on “optimal texture exporting support” in a future update.

    Secondly, sound files are currently not supported because the PS4 sound format is a proprietary format. Again, Bethesda is working with Sony, this time on sound file processing support in a future update.

    And thirdly – and perhaps most concerning – the PS4 mod storage limit is around 900MB, compared with 2GB on Xbox One. Bethesda called on users not to upload mods larger than 900MB, and said it was working with Sony to increase this limit.

    End result was (what Chris said) that Sony did not want to budge on mod size to match the Xbox One size. And they did not budge on allowing other audio formats (like Vorbis, Opus/MP3/Wav/Flac).

    • Mephane says:

      the PS4 sound format is a proprietary format

      Is this yet another annoying DRM scheme or is there a legitimate technical reason this?

      • Humanoid says:

        BetaMax, DAT, Minidisc, MemoryStick, SACD. Sony’s history of proprietary tech is a long and inglorious one.

        I suppose Blu-ray is a notable exception, and the Trinitron CRT sustained them for a long time until the patent expired.

        • Jim Sterling mentions this one of his latest videos. That the audio format thing is part of Sony policy. Some policies which date back to the walkman era.

          I was rather surprised myself with the audio format thing.
          If I was developing a game for the PS4 and was told I could not use a open royalty free audio format I’d probably say “screw it” and not release for the PS4.
          But PS4 unit numbers are pretty high and if you chase that money dragon then you will be tempted to give in.

          This format stuff is just silly as I assume the PS4 support (or will support) WebRTC and Opus is one of the core codecs/formats there.

          I have no idea how policy changes are done at Sony but I’m imagining something as silly as the Ents from Lord of The Rings.

  21. SoranMBane says:

    Mystic Messenger is increasingly looking like a game I really need to play. Especially now knowing it’s made by the people who made Dandelion (which, I haven’t played Dandelion myself, but I’ve seen Dodger’s let’s play of it and it was delightful). Though I am going to have to have a talk with my boyfriend beforehand about why I’m going to be getting all these strange calls from hot Korean boys…

  22. Sunshine says:

    Once again, Rachel draws the short…straw for editing her Dad’s friends talking about dongs.

    Mumbles talking about marginalia reminds me of odd pictures in medieval manuscripts. Apes! Naked people! A surprising amount of battles against rabbits and giant snails! Women harvesting dongs from the dong trees! Oh, back to that again.

  23. Andy_Panthro says:

    The early bit about Mystic Messenger where Mumbles talked about spending $30(?) on the game, and the talk about Star Citizen being potentially being “freemium” and people spending hundreds of bucks on ships, made me wonder why we still use the term “Microtransactions”.

    I always thought, many years ago, that the whole point of microtransactions was that they should be very small payments, so that you would encourage a large percentage of players to spend small amounts regularly ($0.05 to $0.30 range).

    Instead, we seem to have created a marketplace in which (on all platforms), such transactions regularly exceed multiple dollars. The smallest payment on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is $0.99 for a praxis kit, the smallest payment in Pokemon Go for pokecoins is $0.99, the DOTA2 minimum seems to be $0.79 (hard to find some prices without installing the games).

    Those minimums might not seem much, but in some cases the prices can skyrocket… even for purely cosmetic items.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I think the term is still pretty applicable, since if the cost is a couple bucks, then that’s comparable to a cup of coffee or a cheeseburger. Over the course of a month or two, spending a couple extra cheeseburgers on a game you enjoy playing isn’t so bad.

      Personally, I think the prices in most games are about 2X-5X what I think they’re actually worth, so I don’t generally spend anything on microtransactions. I did spend about $100 on TF2 items and hats over the course of two years, but I got 1200 hours out of that game, so I think it’s a pretty good cost ratio. :)

      • Mephane says:

        Yeah, I consider a few bucks still “micro”, it probably ends for me at double digits. That said, I rarely use the term micro-transactions any more anyway, and just call it “the cash shop items”.

        As for Star Citizen, those cash shop items (e.g. the ships) are so expensive that most of them cost way more than a full AAA game, some people call them half-jestingly “macro-transactions”.
        And I predict that this scheme will backfire on them eventually, one way or another. The most obvious conflict potential will be how the ingame effort to get a ship is balanced vs the cash shop price of that ship. Make the ingame effort too high, and people would (imo rightfully) claim the game becomes pay-to-win, make the ingame effort reasonable and people would (also rightfully) claim the ships are massively over-priced. I don’t believe in a sweet spot where the majority of players would say “oh the grind for this ship is appropriate and its 500$ price tag is fine, too” – one side will be utterly pissed. Of course this may vary from ship to ship, but in general I see a recipe for disaster here.

    • Humanoid says:

      If the price is stated in dollars instead of cents I’d have trouble calling it a microtransaction personally, and I’d begin to expect proper DLC features like a miniseries of missions, a new properly characterised NPC, a new civilization to play – stuff like that.

  24. John says:

    And now, with apologies for any inadvertent double-posting . . .

    Maybe it’s just the fact that I haven’t seen a good, old-fashioned religious flame war recently, but I was much more alarmed by the mention of Star Citizen than I was by the mention of the Bible. Because every single Star Citizen post on Rock, Paper Shotgun inevitably involves a deluge comments along the lines of

    This game is never going to be released. The alphas are terrible and the demos are staged. If the game ever does get released, it will suck. Chris Roberts is awful. The backers are deluded.

    followed by responses of the form

    I would willingly wait a million years for this game. The alphas are wonderful so the game must inevitably be even better. Chris Roberts is wonderful. Anyone even a little skeptical or critical is mean, evil, or Derek Smart (which implies not only mean and evil but also jealous).

    Seriously. Every single post.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Star citizen is never going to be released.The alphas are terrible and the demos are staged.If the game ever does get released,it will suck.Chris Roberts is awful.The backers are deluded.

  26. baseless_research says:

    I was really hoping when mumbles mentioned bibles that she was going to talk about bible misprints with such gems as

    Printers Bible“, from 1612: In some copies Psalm 119:161 reads “Printers have persecuted me without a cause” rather than “Princes have persecuted me…”

    The Blasphemous Comma: Several editions: Luke 23:32 reads “And there were also two other malefactors [crucified with Jesus].” It should have read “And there were also two others, malefactors,.”

    “Sinner’s Bible”, from 1631: Barker and Lucas: Omits an important “not” from Exodus 20:14, making the seventh commandment read “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

  27. Trevel says:

    This is the second week where my podcast player thinks that the podcast is actually the first YouTube video. Probably that’s a mistake?

  28. MichaelGC says:

    Might be relevant to someone’s interests:

    Huge hidden Star Citizen city found in game files

  29. Trainzack says:

    Regarding the whole “seamless transition from spaceship to planet” concept, one game that I’ve seen handle this quite well is Rodina. You can fly to a planet (all four are procedurally generated) or asteroid, pick any point on it, and crash into it and die because you forgot to shift down a gear. All without loading screens or clouds.

    It’s also got a pretty good story, although it’s told in the form of written documents and communications. Still though, worth checking out.

  30. Izicata says:

    Re: Ruskarn’s comment about “How did it take this long for someone to make Husbando Atsume”, well, it didn’t take this long. There’s a whole genre of this stuff, it’s called otome, it’s been around for two decades and it’s really popular in Japan, Korea, etc. We just don’t get this kind of stuff in the west because the western games industry is run by puritans and has an obsession with targeting the broadest audience possible.

  31. Brandon says:

    Something missing from the Playstation 4 Pro discussion is that some developers, those who do extensive work on the PC, are already accustomed to doing work on a target platform that has varied capabilities using a single set of development tools. I am hopeful the Playstation 4 Pro and Project Scorpio work the same way. Since the newer hardware is still based upon and completely compatible with the older hardware, developers are likely to be using the same dev tools and environments. Engines will still be cross-compatible. And unlike the PC where you provide a dozen or more sliders to adjust each graphics setting, in this new variable-speed console future the developers will only have two targets, high and low. While it certainly is more work than developing just for the Xbox One or the PS4, it isn’t likely to be nearly as much work as targeting Windows PC as a platform. So I’m hopeful that this hardware split won’t add too much extra work for developers. And quite frankly, smaller or indie developers, the type who generally don’t manage to take advantage of all the horsepower available, will be best served by aiming for the lower target, anyway. Only the AAA developers are likely to be impacted, and they will be able to more easily absorb the costs.

  32. Thomas says:

    Just wanted to be pedantic and point out that Steam don’t and never have given away sales numbers. Steam Spy is independent and uses a technique invented by ArsTechnica to statistically estimate game sales by scraping hundreds of thousands of users public profiles every day.

    I’m pretty sure if Steam had their way Steam Spy wouldn’t exist either (although they haven’t blocked Steam Spy’s scrapers from accessing the public profiles).

  33. WWWebb says:

    One of my favorite moments from any Diecast was Mumbles at 12:54:
    “Oh! Oohh… Oh my goodness. That’s uhhhh…wow, I feel like we got somewhere today”

    I was disappointed when that didn’t reappear post-credits.

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