chanman

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  1. Three Moves Ahead 522: Suzerain

    I just finished my first playthrough - I managed to revitalize the economy, keep the aggressive neighbours in their place, contained a polio outbreak... but drove my VP to suicide, failed to get my reforms through the assembly (by one vote! Is that scripted that any narrow margin becomes a single vote?), was unable to see off a party leadership challenge by 5 votes, and spent the rest of my life in prison after impeachment. The reactionary elements are tough to bring to heel.
  2. One thing mentioned in this podcast,-about how this was a game that could only have been made by a team where life behind the Iron Curtain is still a living memory (if not by the developers, than by their parents' generation) and still living in the aftermath, reminded me of Disco Elysium - in that case, the developers hailed not just a Soviet client state, but from an actual ex-Soviet republic (one of the Baltic states - Estonia, IIRC). It was interesting that a number of reviews of Disco Elysium had comments about its deep ambivalence about socialism and neo-liberalism but didn't seem to connect the ambivalence as a product of being written by people from an area that had spent most of the 20th century as a Soviet Socialist Republic and living through the ups and downs of crash post-Soviet economic development in a tiny state.
  3. Three Moves Ahead 522: Suzerain

    Unfortunately, I'm finding Sin's audio to be quite garbled
  4. Three Moves Ahead 518: PanzerBlitz

    From the podcast, Panzer Blitz sounds like the board game equivalent of a Panzer General
  5. I'm surprised Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri wasn't mentioned - specifically, while the units were generic and no paths to victory were locked off to any faction, the faction agendas (and the associated bonuses/penalties and social engineering choice limitations) made it difficult for some factions to go after certain victory types. Notably, the Civ V civics and World Congress that were added in the later DLC look like clear nods to Alpha Centauri's social engineering and Planetary Council/Planetary Governor mechanics. Regarding Rob's ambivalence towards live games - this is the exact same issue I've had with any kind of MMO (or sports-like activity like competitive gaming or motorsports or professional sports in general). It becomes hard to compare like-to-like for say... hockey player's numbers as the game itself changes over the years (and across different leagues). Mind you, that's not just a gaming issue - any kind of long-lived process (whether you're talking accounting regulations, legal codes, software products, manufacturing processes, etc.) just accumulate more cruft and weird hacks over the course of use and time. I know in software, we use the term technical debt, but it's more like the accumulation and gradual loss of institutional knowledge - for example, with World of Warcraft's re-release, how many designers and developers are still at Activision Blizzard from the initial launch and remember the considerations that went into design choices made with various patches and expansions? One reason why I enjoyed Into The Breach so much was that it didn't assume any prior knowledge - and the boring initial squad paved the way to understanding the mechanics that other more specialized squads exploited in their own ways.
  6. Three Moves Ahead 512: Per Aspera

    I had to check Urban Dictionary for 'Stan' because the only thing that was coming to mind for me were a bunch of republics in Central Asia
  7. Three Moves Ahead 511: Wingspan

    I just want to point out that Wingspan plays even better with a controller than it does a mouse, and that's a much more natural complement to couch/TV play.
  8. Speaking of motivations for whistleblowers, I imagine they have more than a couple things in common with individuals that choose to be suicide bombers or carry out suicide attacks or self-immolation (a suicide attack against reputation) - whatever their particular cause, they are firmly in the camp of fanatics or nihilists in that they neither care about nor for consequences. It's not a question of having a lot (or nothing) to lose - they are clearly driven past the point where that will motivate them to back down. So it's not surprising that the drivers come along powerful emotional vectors - spite, hate, resentment - speaking can be a powerful way of attacking those who have wronged them and also a spectacular act of self-destruction. I'm sure there are idealists who want their actions to drive systemic change, but I suspect at least some public (vs. private/anonymous like Deep Throat) whistleblowers set off on their course of action wanting to be witnessed in their act of defiance against the powers arrayed against them. And we should bear testament to that.
  9. Regarding Rob's story of his lecherous king... "Dirty old man seduces his useless/uninterested son's hot wife" is an extremely common plot in Japanese porn. On the topic of the weird eugenics optimization part of CK3, is it possible to accidentally on-purpose end up with offspring as messed up as the Habsburgs from all the excessive consanguinity?
  10. Three Moves Ahead 500: Origins

    On the other-other hand, the 3MA episodes have been much fewer and farther between for a while now. I blame Rob's responsibilities at Vice
  11. I don't know if it's saturated so much as it's become fragmented, especially since older games may now see additional development (Age of Empires II being the obvious example) on top of a straight re-master. Even games that weren't originally meant to be living products can evolve to be that way through the efforts of a sufficiently-obsessed modding community (see the JA2 mods that eventually culminated in things like the v1.13 patch, or the stand-alone Wildfire mod and older mods like Deidranna Lives)
  12. Yes, exactly. Ubisoft, for instance, has Far Cry, Tom Clancy (Rainbow Six/Ghost Recon/The Division), and Assassin's Creed as their cornerstones with a handful of smaller titles (Trials, etc.) In a given year, you might see releases from 2-3 of their main franchises. If they all flop, then Ubisoft's financial situation for that year is going to be in very poor shape. As for what happens to mid-sized developers, well... I think publishers do keep some mid-sized teams in-house to provide content - Microsoft has been on an acquisition spree of late. I think other ones may specialize in a particular niche - look at the specialist wargame products published by Slitherine or Matrix Games. I think what we'll see less of are independent mid-sized studios. They usually have enough payroll and support staff that they can't run as lean (or essentially go into hibernation) the way a solo developer or small team can (where they have little overhead costs, and can relegate game development to a hobby project if really necessary), but they don't have the ability to share resources or call in outside help the way a larger studio or or one that's part of a publisher can. One other example that comes to mind are 2D platformer Mario games. Any new one is competing with all-time classics like Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. I think we're also going to continue to see games that are living products/games as a service. It's the way the rest of the software industry has functioned for a long time, especially with enterprise software. Continued development or even just bugfixes/maintenance costs money. On the upside, a lot of games fall far short of their potential at release, but manage to really hit their stride after DLC or patches. The podcast calls out Crusader King 2 and Total Warhammer 1/2, but I'd argue this is also the case for Battletech. Even after the release of the Flashpoint DLC, the randomly generated missions were extremely cookie cutter, and the difficulty scaled directly with your mercenary group's rating - an endgame mercenary company was only ever going to be offered the hardest missions (grinding out 2:1 odds against the heaviest opposition) and the main challenge was the limited number of missions available in each location before needing to burn weeks of travel time to try your luck in a new system (which could also be barren of any opportunities). This could be customized yourself by changing the game's configuration files, but HBS finally patched those much-needed changes in to the main game around the time the Urban Warfare DLC was released.
  13. Good episode! I was a bit surprised at the lack of a shout-out to games like Armored Brigade or Twilight Struggle and the focus on a number of main franchises/areas (Paradox, Firaxis, Total War, Roguelikes). You and video games during the decade 2008 marked the first time I had a semi-modern gaming PC, and I upgraded to a GTX460 video card in 2010. Although I moved up to a new machine in 2015, I kept either the GTX460 or used onboard video until mid-2018, so my gaming was necessarily graphically un-intensive. This decade, I spent a lot of time playing indie games, and I maintained a games consumption pattern similar to the 90's, where I would play select games intensely, but skip over large segments of the zeitgeist, even if the game was in my library. I also spent lots of time playing older games that have held up. Some of my most-played: Battletech FTL Civ 5 (Mostly Brave New World, largely as Venice) Kerbal Space Program XCOM: Enemy Unknown X-Com UFO Defense Endless Sky Door Kickers Into the Breach Atlantic Fleet Flotilla Atom Zombie Smasher Gunpoint Heat Signature Twilight Struggle Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Sid Meier's Colonization Roller Coaster Tycoon Jagged Alliance 2 MissionForce Cyberstorm Majesty Sid Meier's Pirates Star Wars Rebellion Final Liberation: Warhammer Epic 40,000 Triple Town Total Annihilation Satellite Reign Dawn of War: Dark Crusade Dawn of War 2 / Chaos Rising Company of Heroes Close Combat - Gateway to Caen Ironcast Crypt of the NecroDancer Mini Metro Mutant Year Zero Frozen Synapse Chroma Squad Massive Chalice Qvadriga Bionic Dues Ace Patrol / Ace Patrol 2 Favourite solo strategy gaming moment of the decade Defeating the 'impossible' boss of the FTL preview build on OnLive for Kickstarter backers. Playing Iran-Iraq war as a Twilight Struggle headline card and finding out that the AI had played Iranian Hostage Crisis as its headline card Favourite multiplayer strategy gaming moment of the decade Nothing of note Favourite strategy game made in this decade Toss-up between FTL and Into The Breach. As a software developer, I'm in awe of not just their system design skills, but also their discipline in scope control and masterful UI/UX work on top of their marketing/business acumen. Biggest disappointment of the decade The trend for online retailers to pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap in general. Steam sales in particular. Your thoughts on the evolution of the strategy games during the decade The economics of game development continues to evolve. Games are pretty unique in terms of content that is produced, distributed, and consumed and I think it's an issue the industry is still grappling with. 1) The relationship between publishers and developers. In traditional game publisher model is similar to that of a book publisher - speculate on lots of prospects, with the expectation that most will fail, some will break even or succeed modestly, and the sheer weight of probability will mean that the one or two that become blockbusters will effectively subsidize the payments to the 99% that fade away. It's basically the insurance model in reverse. Many publishers though, seem to have moved towards backing a smaller number of very large projects with generally better odds of at least not failing terribly. That leaves the publishers and any internal studios vulnerable to a string of bad releases. On the other hand, indies that self-publish are almost like independent bands without a record label - a handful will succeed and profit enormously, and the majority will personify the starving artist stereotype without any profit-sharing mechanism. 2) As games in general mature as a medium, the back catalogues become increasingly important and adds to the market saturation. Consider that when Hitman 2 releases, it needs to compete with Hitman(2016) for my attention. Wargame: Red Dragon has to compete with Wargame: AirLand Battle. The long tail of a game that ages gracefully is actively diverting attention and potentially money from newer games that have yet to recoup their costs. Crying Suns is a perfectly fine game, but I would recommend FTL to someone before Crying Suns, even though it is 7-8 years older. In some ways, this is analogous to classic novels or films, but games often demand a larger time investment than either of those. 3) Rise in cross-platform games. I'm not sure how much of this is thanks to the ubiquity of Unity and Unreal or the fact that this generation's console hardware converged heavily with the PC, but between that and increasingly powerful mobile hardware, we're seeing games being published across PC, PS4, XBox, and increasingly, Switch, iOS, and Android devices as well. 4) Change in the shape of the market - What games are popular in Chin? Korea? Japan? India? South America? Some of them are still the same blockbusters from North American/European studios, but I expect plenty of differences in taste and creations from teams specializing in those markets. We've seen lots of specialist grognard games (the kind with the 90's WinForm UIs and purchased via mail-order cheque) start showing up on general digital distribution platforms. The floor for a game's success (single developer breaking even) hasn't changed in decades, but the peak - both the cost and rewards of the most successful games like a GTA V or Witcher 3, or a League of Legends are almost unfathomable. Much like the ballooning size of tech giants relative to traditional industrial/resource/financial/telecom companies compared to just a decade ago.
  14. I was going to say the same thing. Darkness also comes much faster near the equator too. You also wouldn't get the long sunset/twilight that you do up north. That said, on the subject of design choices, it would have been handy if there were designer notes to give a more detailed explanation for design intent and choices/if they were available for the panel to read. There was an RPS interview with the designer on some of the design choices, which were interesting.
  15. Three Moves Ahead Episode 480: 1999

    Episode 134! I think Reynolds was looking for inspiration for insults and didn't find much from Dune except for "Destroying you would be a service to humanity!" and he instead listened to the full and unabridged Les Miserables. That was also the point where Troy immediately declared his love for Brian