chanman

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Everything posted by chanman

  1. Hearing the discussion of livestock, are poultry and waterfowl on the roadmap for future additions?
  2. The 1998 Warhammer Chaos Gate is a game I remember fondly (and not just for its banging soundtrack) It was an X-Com-ish squad-level turn-based tactics game, but I think it felt quite different for a number of reasons. As mentioned in the podcast for Daemonhunters, the Space Marines (Ultramarines for the original Chaos Gate) are far more resilient, especially at the beginning when the player's forces dramatically outnumber the Chaos Space Marines and the bulk of the enemies are cultists. Unlike X-Com where even enemy shots can still often instant-kill soldiers in advanced armour Chaos Gate had the annoying mechanic of searching maps for equipment caches, and this had to be done to acquire rarer weapons and their ammunition Chaos Gate suffered from having way too many player units on the battlefield. Player forces deploy in squads of 5, plus up to a number of standalone specialists in later missions Combined with the previous point, the squad and special weapons limitations (1x Terminator squad, 1x Assault squad with jump packs, 1x Devastator squad, 7x Tactical squads) mean that as soon as possible, the tactical squads are never deployed (they can only equip 1x special weapon vs. the 2x heavy weapons of the Devastator squad) The ability for special equipment and player special units to buff other units. The right combination of buffs and equipment could turn a single assault marine or Terminator into a wrecking ball capable of tearing apart greater demons. As usual, this leaves 80% or more of the player's units on the side lines providing suppressive fire The overall premise (Depleted Space Marine company returning from a campaign diverted to investigate Chaos happenings) is quite similar to Daemonhunters. The briefings are spartan (straight text) and there aren't many cutscenes in general Anyway, I look forward to trying Daemonhunters
  3. Sorry, I changed your quote to use numbers to discuss each one separately because it's simpler to read than using interleaved quotes There's a whole spectrum on this point - I don't think you can discount designers often simply not realizing or purposefully ignoring the unfortunate implications of aspects of their design. Listening to some of the interviews with game designers and the Designer Notes podcast, it's apparent that sometimes, mechanics are often added purely for gameplay reasons to improve pacing, provide challenge, etc. and a setting-appropriate justification draped on later (or never at all). I assume that's doubly true for systems-based games like 4x or grand strategy titles. On the one hand, some games are strongly authored, even if not actively editorializing. Alpha Centauri, for example is indelibly imprinted by Brian Reynolds (or late 90's Brian Reynolds, at any rate). On the other hand, you have extremely sterile PR-massaged design-by-committee games or ones where the ideas never quite gel. I think I would put Beyond Earth squarely in this category - I seem to recall interviews with the co-design leads giving the impression that they loved Alpha Centauri but never quite managed to analyze and dissect what made the game click with them, leading to Beyond Earth's surface-level varnish over the Civ V bones. On the gripping hand, you also just have cases where designers either don't recognize some of the oddities of their own specific experiences/background that they bring to the table. The standout example to me is the Armed Police (https://democracygame.fandom.com/wiki/Armed_Police) policy tree in Democracy 3 which is jarring mostly because of how unusual the UK police situation is (https://www.statista.com/chart/10601/where-are-the-worlds-unarmed-police-officers/). Games that end up being meme engines often seem to develop their entire weird fanon among devoted (obsessed) fans, and that intensity of attachment leads to its own mythos and interpretation of lore that take on a life of their own, like the myth about Gandhi being nuke-happy in Civ 1 because of an integer rollover that continue to propagate despite being debunked by the actual developers who wrote the game and had/have access to source code (specifically called out by Sid Meier himself in his memoir) I'm not even sure which civ game is being discussed here, since not all civ games even give you the choice of government types. Civ 5 used the Civics system to determine national values, but I don't recall a government choice, although the expansions greatly altered the game systems. Fundamentalism in Civ 2 was infamously the best way to wage war due to modifiers and bonuses to units. It's an exceedingly gross generalization without even mentioning which Civilization game is being discussed (a series that's had a different lead designer for almost every incarnation and that stretches for three decades...) That's an interesting self-set challenge to be honest. Like playing with a single city in a Civ game. Personally, there are some games I've opted out of buying (or have purchased to support the developers, but never played) because I'm not interested in interacting with the subject matter. (Spec Ops: The Line, and This War of Mine) are also on my list of games that I purposely set aside. I've read enough first-person accounts of/from various war zones to know it's not material I have any interest in engaging with in an interactive format I think they've confused the Punishment Sphere base facility (eliminates drones and talents at the base, with fluff text that mentions nerve staplers) with the effect of the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm (makes a faction immune to probe teams in vanilla/1.0 and only vulnerable to probe teams with a special ability in the expansion) and the video of Self-Aware Colony (the video of the vandalism being erased and the vandals tasered/killed, but whose gameplay effects are much more prosaic - reduced energy consumption and provides the equivalent of a free police unit - if police units are allowed by the player's values selection) secret projects https://alphacentauri.fandom.com/wiki/Punishment_sphere https://alphacentauri.fandom.com/wiki/The_Hunter-Seeker_Algorithm https://alphacentauri.fandom.com/wiki/The_Self-Aware_Colony I think intentions are a big one. Designer notes were part of Alpha Centauri's manual, and explicitly stating intent is helpful. Intent might not be properly expressed, and can be interpreted differently by the player given different cultural contexts/experiences. "A period of anarchy" has different implications depending on if your point of reference is the 1999 WTO riots or The Cultural Revolution. Culture also shifts rapidly. Without the context of the attitudes of the place and time the designer's intent comes from, their intent can seem anachronistic or regressive simply because attitudes have changed so much in the intervening years. (An issue with all art mediums, to be sure) Unfortunate side effect of increased gamification of some mechanics, I suspect and seems quite likely one of those things that improves/increases player engagement by juicing that drive to optimize and min/max I'm not sure if more editing would be as useful as preparation/planning on talking points so that each member can get their arguments a bit more organized and examples ready, Off-the-cuff/improv conversation sometimes gets overly glib and quickly slides into hearsay/the vagaries of human memory because well, that's what happens in conversation (just like the Alpha Centauri anecdote) I think it could have used a lot more discussion about the process of making a video game (and the way that can differ radically depending on a studio or developer's size and internal dynamics). Sometimes good pitches fall flat when it gets to the gameplay stage and the team is left to try and salvage a playable game from the assets/code they've already created. Other times, it might get all the way to beta before a playtester backlash forces a rethink. I imagine that can be a real issue with cultural attitudes when a game crosses borders/demographics (CD Projekt Red anyone? Or if a Japanese studio tried to make any game set in Japan's militaristic period and the historical baggage that will bring in neighbouring markets...) Games are (or at least can be) a form of communication and thus a useful mechanism for bettering ourselves and other human beings. It's hardly a binary choice and a useful way to analyze or train decision making processes or practice analysis. The video part is ancillary.
  4. Three Moves Ahead 551: HighFleet

    One thing I really appreciate about HighFleet is the way it illustrates how much of a constraint logistics is and how capabilities are always weighing you down with costs. Almost everything costs money that you don't have. Flying consumes fuel (later, even resting consumes fuel), so you're always looking for locations where you can fill up and making sure ships are topping off their tanks. Every volley of fire costs expensive ammunition (something that I remember being an issue in the early game in Jagged Alliance 2 too). Missiles are not only expensive to fire, but their exposed locations means that not firing them also endangers the ship carrying them and are at risk of being destroyed by enemy fire. Reloading missiles requires precious time and money, even when you have reloads with you. That said, HighFleet does throw the player a few bones: Removing items is free and instantaneous Fuel is available in unlimited quantity in every settlement Cargo space isn't tracked Standard ammo is free Lowering the difficulty curve on some other aspects to force the player to consider these ones instead (rate at which a city produces fuel, for instance) would really turn up the dial on the immersiveness and frustration
  5. 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.
  6. 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...
  7. 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.
  8. Didn't Red Orchestra have a similar commander mechanic, or am I mixing up games?
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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...
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Three Moves Ahead 522: Suzerain

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

    From the podcast, Panzer Blitz sounds like the board game equivalent of a Panzer General
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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?
  24. 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
  25. 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)