Phaedrus' Street Crew
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Everything posted by Codicier

  1. Episode 197: All By Myself

    Thats pretty cool, it a weird way dice that are physically simulated do feel more fair to me, the Witcher 2's seemed to do something pretty similar.Which reminds me physical dice aren't always fair anyway. (I imagine most people will have seen that but it still makes me smile that there may be a actual reason why I seem to roll so many ones ;D )
  2. Episode 196: Grunt's Eye View

    Having finally got a chance to put some time in with Planetside 2 I feels like I finally get where Rob was coming from in picking this topic. He keeps threatening to do a show on the Take Command series and in a strange way I feel this covers the same sort of ground. What Planetside 2 does really well for those of us thinking critically about strategy games is to highlight the way we take certain things for granted. In so many of the strategy games I play I am often gifted with perfect control of the units I command, they don't disobey, misunderstand, and it rare even for them to simply underpowered, and they don't spontaneous wander off on their own accord, or attack entirely different targets from those that I desire them to. All in all they are utterly different from the troops that any budding Planetside 2 commander has at his disposal. His Reputation, Charisma, and Powers of Persuasion and his knowledge of those he has to work with are all the tools that he has, and they are far more important than any grand strategic plan.
  3. Warhammer Total War...

    @Riadsala you have a point certainly now that i look at it, idk why it doesn't feel that way to me somehow though. It's probably our current position in that cycle that makes me feel that DoW was more high profile than CoH (though not as critically beloved). It feels DoW probably outsold CoH, but ofc video game sales numbers are so shrouded in mystery that i doubt its possible to actually find out whether that just my own bias or true. Btw am I correct in thinking that CoH shared its engine with DoW2? Also i seem to remember persistent rumors that Homeworld 3 was in pre-production. side note: didn't another studio make Homeworld: Cataclysm?
  4. Episode 197: All By Myself

    In almost any board game the inner workings will always be more exposed than in a video game. I find (for me at least) this often puts the process of mastering of a system front and centre in terms of what I get out of a good board game, and that a good part of the appeal of solitaire board games is that as Bruce puts it “it can't hide anything”. Often the best of these game feel like they offer me a chance to understand the forces that are operating against me far better than I could in a multi player game. Of course I'm often not doing much more than moving a few pieces and following some instructions but even then its a far more comprehensible and above all predictable than a human opponent. Which is one of the reasons I also like having solitaire versions of multi player games because it is a great way of learning them (especially if your going to have to explain that game to a impatient game group). Feeling I understand a system that do not quite fully understand it is often the sweet point me, in games of any type, and I think the way that the inner logic of the solitaire game's 'engine' is laid out combined with the randomness of card or dice based mechanics can sometimes hit that dead on. I think what Bruce labelled “decimalisation” can be big part of this, because being able to sense how strong something is is a big part of the way I understand any game world. Everyone knows how dice work, it something we understand at a very basic physical level when we have a dice in our hand. I also agree with Bruce that this is something the digital version of Elder Signs has a lot of issues with. It's choice to use abstracts symbols instead of numbers makes it a lot harder to understand instinctively when I can hold a dice in our hand and turn it round, feels its weight. Now while the information about the probabilities is in the game, it's not helpful that I have to dig several pages into the manual before I can find any it. Certainly I feel that that once I did know the results the three different dice were capable of producing the game did become a lot more readable for me. I think that may be something digital games may always struggle with, because I feel I will always feel that a dice I have seen myself rolled is far more fair, than a dice roll randomly generated by a computer even though it is nothing of the sort. However I think it's worth considering that in some ways this is quite appropriate for the sort of narrative a game set in the Cthulhu mythology would be trying create. It is certainly not a universe renowned for its fair and understandable logic. Anyone find themselves similarly more forgiving of randomness in physical products than in their digital equivalents? because i wonder if this can make or break some solitaire board games digital adaptations
  5. Warhammer Total War...

    Beware the cautionary tale of Relic when you assume that a studio's core self owned IP's wont get put to one side when a cash cow like Warhammer rolls into town. I think there are very few people on here who didn't love both Homeworld and Company of Heroes, but when you look how many games for those franchises have been released in the same period as Relic have pumped out one Dawn of War expansion after another(not that i'm complaining hugely, I really enjoyed all the DoW games) it's easy to imagine Warhammer Total War ending up selling more than the core Total War games. All in all this seems a perfect way for CA to make a lot more cash every time they iterate on a new Total War engine, instead of developing a engine for just one IP it now supports two (or four depending if you consider the different era Total Wars all separate IP's). I could be utterly wrong but I can easily see the"A" team moving from Rome 2 directly to the Warhammer game & the B team staying and working on the expansions and dlc for Rome. Also I really should bite the bullet and give the King Arthur games a go, as they are sitting on the shelf of my Steam account gathering dust currently.
  6. anime

    Planetes is one of my favourite hard sci fi films or series,(Its up there with Moon imo) it just does a brilliant job of making both its cast of characters and the world they live in plausible. Also I think I'm with you in feeling Space Brothers is indeed a poor man's version of it. Don't feel this season has any stand out shows, but if you go back to the beginning of this year Kids on the Slope was worth watching if for nothing more than just to see what Watanabe gets up to when he turns his hand to directing something less outlandish than bounty hunting space cowboys or hip hop samurai's.
  7. anime

    @Orv as Sno mentions above Durarara!! really is worth watching if you enjoyed Baccano! (at the very least it has the same errant love for exclamation marks in titles). Also which of the many GitS's are your recommending? I re-watched most of them recently and found myself pretty ambivalent about most of them, and actually strongly disliking GitS 2. In the end I think I only really feel positive about the original GitS, and there's a part of me that worries even that is just the afterglow of nostalgia. Yes it had a great opening sequence, some good set pieces and visual design, and a half decent cyberpunk overplot, but the dialogue at times is pretty damn terrible. If GitS hadn't been one of the 1st Anime I had seen i'm unsure i'd be half as fond of it as I am. Akira on the other hand............... damn, if anything it keeps getting better the more I watch it. Although I do know some people who feel strongly about the changes it made to condense a story down from a multi volume manga to a single film (while I just feel they did a near perfect job of cutting out everything that didn't really matter).
  8. Just to be a bit annoying but isn't capture the flag essentially a escort mission? I mean all the elements are there, a person you need to get from point A to B, external threats & so on One way of looking at this I'd suggest would be to consider what makes a good flag carryer in any game like that, which is imo is something like this: A good flag carrier (the escortee), knows where they going, keeps pace with the group of defenders, can defend themselves, will retreat when outnumbered, knows when to make a dash for safety and has some limited survivability. Now in some games you may want a flag carrier who just has such speed that it ignores most those rules. But certainly I think in general if I'm playing multi-player and I'm in a group where the flag carrier shows the above qualities, it's pretty much always a enjoyable game. I think the people who have brought up XCOM have raised a interesting example, because we have perfect control over the Escortee in that game (side stepping most of the problems). I think when you look at both of the examples the problem in the end lies with harsh failure states and consequences, rather than with anything with the basic mechanics they try and execute.
  9. VALVe money grab #134: Autumn Sale

    Weird thing is, just before the sale launched I was looking at Planetside 2 and thinking 'hmmm maybe i should give that a go", now instead I've got a wishlist of games which I'm stalking the daily deals for. I guess in some weird way my mind has a instinctual feeling that 75% off is a better deal than free (though of course it is not necessarily so). Think the fact that our games collections on steam are called Libraries fits really well with the way I feel about mine now, It's like a well stocked bookshelf that I can reach up to and pick something out depending on my mood.
  10. @Manresa Ahh gosh darn it someone beat me to mentioning Donald A Norman! I haven't read Emotional Design, and while I agree with you that the intrinsic value of beauty is often undervalued I think when it comes to the role components play in the board games the more prosaic Design of Everyday Things is perhaps closer to the heart of the issue. What Norman focus's on in that book is that bad design is when a person's conceptual model of how something works, doesn't match up with the way it actually does work. This feels to me exactly the sort of problem that the guys talked about back in episode 185 when 3MA discussed how we try to teach games. As Rob Daviau put it, board games are ”the only form of entertainment where you have to take it all in before you begin”. This moment of information overload is just the sort of thing that well designed board game piece's can help mitigate. I mean for example think about those oversized pieces the guys criticise in Fantasy Flight's Game of Thrones. If they representing a mechanic other players need to be aware of as they make their play decisions, then I think there's no problem with them being big. It would only be disproportionate if the information provided wasn't important. Yes it might be excessive, but even if you look at chess you can see that size is one of the easiest visual shorthand's available to a designer when they set out to show the value of a piece. Going back to 185 again and listening to Rob Daviau talk about the moment when “fun goes to die” my immediate gut feeling is this is exactly the sort of moment Norman talks about. I think players start to build a conceptual model of how components should work the moment they see them. However If a game then fails to help players build this model, or when a peice's behaviour begins to diverge from players expectations, then problems begin to surface as the player's conceptual understanding begins to collapse. @Sorbicol I think Games Workshop can't be blamed for focusing on creating a very readable game. I at times I think war gaming (and maybe even strategy games in general) can sometimes be a classic fit for a comment Normal makes at the end of his book, that “difficulty and challenge should not be confused with frustration and error”. WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) is properly the simplest but most important rule that appears that appears in any of GW's rulebooks, and a principle you can see in much of the best multi-player video game design as well. You only have to look at the way that Valve created such recognisable silhouettes for TF2 to see what a difference it can make. Being able to at a glance visually asses the different threats to you is invaluable in any game. At the moment I'm in the early stages of testing a board game design, and very much in the process of learning all the stuff Rob Daviau probably knows almost instinctively. Nevertheless even in my limited experience I have seen a noticeable improvement in my testers understanding and enjoyment of my game after I made a prototype with far higher production values than my original. To me pieces that communicate their purpose can be a invaluable tool, the problem only occurs when people give in to the temptation to start gilding the lily. Every bit of information a object gives to a player that doesn't does help them understand how that object fits into a system has the possibility of slowly but surely eroding the readability of the games field. I feel strongly that a well designed pieces can help teach players how to play the game, because they give them a conceptual framework before they have even read the rules. How you achieve maximum readability with the cheapest components however remains the $64,000 question.
  11. Actually i found out a quite intrestig (to me at least) bit of info about the way Games workshop design their games /armies. I've always had a pet theorythat games workshop designed armies to fit a particular play style, so this year at the UK gamesday (a sort of mini 1 day convention for GW) i went up to the designers & asked, "so whats the process behind a new army? do you try and design with a type of playstyle in mind? a role you want a army to play in the overall lore or what?" the answer back was basically that it's nothing so complicated as that. Their lead artists will sketch new ideas and then their writers/designers add rules to them. In other words they design the bits and then build the game around them. So you end up with a near totally imbalanced mess, but a gorgeous looking tabletop.
  12. General Video Game Deals Thread

    Does anyone have any experience with The Club or the Fear series and would care to make a recommendation or scream dire warnings? I seem to remember Fear's AI getting high praise (or at least high praise for the tricks they played), and I think a nice satisfying shooter might be just the tonic I need after XCOM's "Classic Ironman"tm constant stress. As for the Club I'm just kinda curious what sort of game Bizzare made, a score chase FPS could be interesting at this kinda of price.
  13. Episode 190: The XCom Review Show

    I've just started to play classic mode and I'm a bit frustrated/annoyed/confused at the way the overall meta map seems to be balanced. Now I love watching a system slowly falling apart into chaos as much as the next bloke, but on classic XCOM seems to start off already falling apart and give you little/no way of influencing it. I feel the meta game gets wrong exactly what the combat get right(especially on classic). When I mess up in combat I'm 100% sure its because I fucked up, but early on when country leaves XCOM it often feels arbitrary. Worse it doesn't feel like its a case of a cruel unfeeling world operating unaware of my existence, it feels staged. Its like the designers decided that I need to feel threatened, and so set a stage appropriately. For me the best examples of games that are truly panic inducing such as the Pandemic (boardgame) are those where you can see the very moment where the world starts to fall apart falls apart. This tipping point feels curiously absent from the game itself, and because of that XCOMs meta game feels almost predestined. Yes you can still make thing worse with a bad decision, but it feels like your actions role in XCO is about mitigating the effect of events, not anything to do with preventing their cause. In the end I've developed a attitude of just shrugging my shoulders and carrying on with a "guess that's just one of those things" attitude. Don't get me wrong, I want a brutal and unfair world for XCOM. However I feel a strange detachment from it, because it seems to operate without a visual sense of cause and effect. I'm probably phrasing all this wrong, need to think more about the proper words to describe the way I feel about it.
  14. Id agree Tropico is a pretty reasonable example. Looking further back I'd argue there was at least one huge selling selling game series that had in parts both elements of the satirical and of parody, and that's the "Theme" series of games (In particular Theme Hospital). but both the above are probable edge cases, for full no holds bar satire is pretty much 100% gold(blum). Unmanned is probably their most well known game, it's aim is to get across some of the mundanity of modern remote warfare. Its certainly not perfect but in terms of a game which is pretty much wholly satire it's harder to think of a better example.
  15. Crusader K+ngs II

    Just got back to CK2 after having a Football Manager relapse (due to reading a football book and it being in the steam sale) with a soundtrack of Kronos Quartet playing Philip Glass. Not that the CK music is bad at all but I think there's definitely something about Glass's stuff which lends it well to any situation where tension's are gently building. I really should get around to listening to a bit more classical music tbh, I quite enjoy it I just haven't ever made the effort to acquire any recordings of it, and it would be a great match for a lot of the game I play. Anyone got any recommendations?
  16. Books on Sport

    Just finished The Inverted Pyramid and it easily lived up to your high praise Irishjohn. The back and forth between those playing win and those trying to play beautiful football reminded me of some of the discussion around narrative in video games in the last few years. In particular those coaches who seemed to blur the lines of those two approaches struck me as people who probably would be fascinated with video games if they had been born a generation or two later, with Arrgio Sacchi in particular having a few choice quotes. I can't currently articulate exactly why I feel there's a connection fully, but I think that Sacchi's focus on mastery of a skill set allowing player to make quick improvisation decision within a system remind (without breaking that system) reminds me of some of the qualities I look for in video games. On a side note That may well be true but Brendan Rodgers certainly didn't seem to be discouraging them when he was at Swansea (take peak at what's on the desk).
  17. Orcs Must Die! 2

    I've played a bit of both single player and co-op. I'm not sure if it was just my connection but i found the co-op a bit laggy but still very fun. Does anyone know if they re-introduce the 'weavers' from OMD1(that allowed play style customisation) are re-introduced later in OMD2 ?(I'm still in the early stages), or has it been partially replaced by the trinkets slot in the spell book?
  18. Music of the games of video

    Chaos Engine: The mad almost 90's rave music of one of my favourite Amiga games
  19. Despite my worries about national embarrasment going into it, that was actually pretty damn good. It even pissed off a Conservative MP so it must be good. But despair not all those who like me wouldn't have been happy if there wasn't something to moan about, woke up this morning to find out NBC had cut what was easily the most moving moment from its broadcast. Which is remarkable because until then I thought for sure Mitt Romney was a shoe in for the Gold medal in pissing off Britain, this however leaves him trailing in the wake of their awesome douchbaggery. Honestly normally I'm a haggard and cynical son of a bitch with a heart of pure stone, but it turns out throw a beautiful rendition of a Abide by Me* at me and I started welling up. *It's a traditional hymn in the UK notable in particular for being sung by mining communities in memorial of dead comrades, and before the kick off's of the cup finals of our 2 big rugby and football tournaments to remember the dead.
  20. Crusader K+ngs II

    Wow 20K is pretty epic, reminds me of a Civ 4 stack of doom
  21. Crusader K+ngs II

    He probably just doesn't have much good to say to them, something along the lines of "Tell god to send me a son or I'm converting to Islam". Similarly The Duchess despite her inclination to have some knifed just for looking at her has 830 piety, I think her god must most definitely be the old school smiting kind. Also I'm wondering is there a way of seeing how much Tyranny you have accumulated in total for a character? because I'd sure like to know if The Duchess got away with her evil deeds and general usurping relatively unnoticed. Anyway central Europe sure does seem to be a bit crowded compared to the provincial peace and quite of rural Ireland (which was admittedly occasionally broken by a brief scream as The Duchess notched up another kill). It looks like a very different dynamic to deal with. I think when my Irish dynasty has run it's course I'd like to try one of the BIG empires like Russia, the Holy Romans or perhaps if I am feeling brave one of the Islamic countries. Most of my game so far has been about trying to create a kingdom so it would be interesting to be on the defensive a bit more. Btw what sort of scale are wars with big empires? atm just having 1000 troops in the field feels like a massive force to me, what sort of number do you start seeing when entire fully grown empires are duking it out. I could do with a little advice again I think, as things are looking tough for my Irish feudalists. My normal methods of diplomacy wont work with the fledgling Republic of Meath, and militarily they are stronger than me, even killing the Doge isn't going to help (note: not that this is going to stop me trying). So what to do? I'm thinking of hiring some mercs but the problem is that even if i do that Meath will just respond by hiring a few of their own, and I can't expand northwards unless I want the wrath of the whole of scotland on me. The way i see it i have 2 options: 1. Save up enough cash to hire even more mercs! the problem then is being able to maintain them, although if i use them as my frontline troops their casualties will hopefully soon reduced that. 2. Make a grab for South Wales. Meath controls north and mid Wales in addition to most of Ireland, I may not be strong enough to take him on head 1st. However taking south Wales would give me a 2nd front with which to push when the time is right and give my English relatives time to get back from their foreign wars.
  22. Crusader K+ngs II

    This is what happed to me. The 1st county I attacked was run by a lord mayor, & I ended up giving-it to my successor and was still too confused about succession laws to be able to sort it out.
  23. Did anyone here ever play Warzone 2100? Although it got quite a bit of play in my local gaming group I never fell in love with the game myself, partly because it often fell pray to just the sort of "MUST OPTIMISE AT ALL COSTS" mentality that got mentioned in the podcast. Overall my personal attitude is that I like customisation best when it gives scope for personal play styles to emerge, not when it just allows the creation of one super unit that you then pump out 10,000 copies of. At the start of the podcast Rob talks about unit customisation being a Toolbox from which you can select the right tool for the job. The problem is if you have a sonic screwdriver your not going to pick any of the other tools. I think any game which has units which are just plain 'better' without any appropriate cash or opportunity costs basically risks becomes boring very fast indeed. Cliffski mentions the Football Manager series, which is interesting because while the Gratuitous series focuses on customising units and FM focuses almost entirely on strategy. Your not customising to create the ultimate team (at least not initially, although it can get that way over time) your trying to figure out how to best the customise your strategy to make best use of the resources you have v's a constantly evolving set of opponents with different strengths an weakness. I'd be interested to know if where anyone here who has ever competitively played a CCG's (like magic that gathering) or tabletop wargames fall on this topic, and how much of the fun of those game do they think comes from the customisation? I've dabbled in both and its amazing how unbalanced the metagame has got at times. There have been times where one deck/list becomes near unbeatable, and I find in these cases the main limiting factor is the random card draws and dice rolls. To put it simply randomness helps give everyone a chance. However occasionally you get cards/units so strong, that they have had to be banned. It's probably why the duel's of the planeswalker series has seriously scaled back customisation, no newcomer to a system is going to enjoy playing a game where you have no conceivable chance of winning.
  24. Crusader K+ngs II

    I love how easily things can go wrong, & the strange emergent situations they create. As much as I love my black hearted duchess, the fact CK2 allowed me to accidentally create a medieval Irish republic that is now arguably as powerfull as either the English or Scottish crowns is amazing. The idea of playing as a monarchy desperately trying to re-establish feudal law before before a democracy grows to powerful to be stopped is never where I imagined I'd be when i started up the game.
  25. Uplay

    I wonder if Valve has enough clout now in the PC digital market that it could put it's foot down on things like this and GFWL.