chanman

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About chanman

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  1. I definitely got the impression that Battletech was built on a base of massive technical debt - when I first got it, I didn't have an SSD and accidentally installed it on my 5400rpm media drive. Missions could take 15-20 minutes to load. Putting my developer hat on, between the long load times for the tactical game and the massive game install for fairly middling graphics, I wonder if the Harebrained schemes isn't compressing their textures - long load times bottlenecked by storage media speed sounds a lot like an I/O limit consistent with reading massive amounts of data from disc. The other thing is the long transition time to the mech bay/store/hiring hall/available contracts - for the first two, I've heard rumours that the game engine doesn't have that sort of data (weapons specs, etc.) readily accessible (for example via an internal database or by caching that data in memory), so that data has to be parsed from disc every time. One jarring thing for me about Battletech was the lack of a minimap - it makes sense in that the same handful of maps tend to be reused with the elements and orientation switched up a bit, but it's a huge missing feature.
  2. Finally got around to listening to this episode, and something that occurred to me with Rowan's complaint about how King of Dragon Pass works makes some assumptions that may not be true: You can generally break down game mechanics/game logic along two axis: probabilistic or deterministic, and be transparent or obfuscated. King of Dragon Pass has extremely obfuscated game logic - but Rowan's complaint assumes that the decisions are deterministic (if X amount of land is taken from the pig neighbours, then the Minotaurs retaliate) - but the nature of the obfuscation means that it could just as well be probabilistic - that each time land is taken, dice are rolled on whether the Minotaurs show up to express their displeasure. From my perspective, the frustration would be if the game doesn't have a way to communicate that risk to the player - if none of the player's council is able to warn that the other village might have allies, or the that further abuse increases the likelihood of consequences. Another game that has obfuscated/probabilistic events is FTL - the rewards for a choice are randomly (ie probabilistically) determined, and there are underlying chances for a player choice to turn out well or poorly (the infamous giant spiders can result in lost crew or a reward), but the odds and even the possible outcomes aren't known to the player. Battletech events are very similar and the game event JSON files even spell out the percentage chance of each outcome. As Rowan noted in the podcast - this is the most realistic combination (and arguably one of the things that make real life so frustrating) A probabilistic/transparent game might provide the actual odds or some other information on both the possible outcomes and the likelihood of each depending on player choices. I think obfuscated/deterministic games are less common now, but Crying Suns events fall into this category - the outcome is always the same for a given choice in any specific event. Arguably, old adventure games (text or otherwise) fall squarely in this category. Transparent/deterministic games play out more like board games - Into The Breach is a prime example. There are probabilistic elements - how enemies prioritize their attacks, where they span and which enemies spawn in each wave, but the rest of the gameplay is both transparent and deterministic. Regarding Len's thoughts on simulating a lot of distinct actors, one option is to do it like a tabletop game - crunch the numbers / decision trees of ahead of time and use it to generate result tables that can either be looked up or rolled against with the RNG. You could then save manual processing of the decision tree for anomalous situations where the game state / inputs don't match any of the pre-calculated scenarios...
  3. I think the word I would use to describe games where each playthrough is self-contained and not onerously long as 'sessionable' the same way lower-alcohol beers tend to be described.
  4. Didn't Red Orchestra have a similar commander mechanic, or am I mixing up games?
  5. Three Moves Ahead 535: Deck Builders

    Regarding Len's cooking question: If you aren't vegetarian, skip the butter and use some bacon grease instead
  6. Three Moves Ahead 533: Old World

    Old World definitely sounds interesting, but I continue to dislike Epic Game Store exclusivity - I simply prefer to have fewer services running in the background of my PC (I leave both GOG Galaxy and EGS) off by default and that typically creates a bit of a discoverability/update problem for me (in that the clients get started so infrequently) Anyone know if they have future plans to show up on Steam? I noticed it's self-published unlike Offworld Trading Company which was published by Stardock
  7. My props to Len for getting useful audio out of Sin's track, but what's the root cause of the garbled audio? It almost sounds like a poorly situated laptop's built-in mic. At work, the usual solution for people who have issues with audio is to call in separately using a phone even while screen sharing from their PC. Edit: Also, Rowan's track seems to suddenly come out louder than the other panelists from time to time.
  8. Rob and Brian Reynolds actually discusses that point about how and why Alpha Centauri ended up with its strong narrative hook in Episode 134, which is one of my favourite 3MA episodes of all time (and incidentally now coming up on 10 years old). https://www.idlethumbs.net/3ma/episodes/the-alpha-centauri-show
  9. Just being pedantic, but the copper bottoms are an anti-fouling measure, and it's more precisely, copper sheathing, so it could absolutely be retrofitted to a ship. I imagine it would require drydocking for obvious reasons, of course.
  10. Three Moves Ahead 522: Suzerain

    I think the most hilarious event chain is probably the President of the US analogue relentlessly macking on your character's wife from the moment he steps off his plane. It's too bad the visit comes so late in the game, because Walker seems like he would have hit it off at Petr's "Gentlemen's Club"... and I suspect a not-insubstantial amount of dirty laundry and blowback...
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Three Moves Ahead 522: Suzerain

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

    From the podcast, Panzer Blitz sounds like the board game equivalent of a Panzer General
  15. 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.