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  1. Three Moves Ahead Episode 480: 1999

    This is connected to what they've said about devs worrying about what they could do, not what they should do. They've talked about complexity here, but it's also about size of the map in Heroes game or amount of lore in your typical modern game. IIRC Morrowind had 12 Mb of text on release. It's the same amount of text as in the King James Bible. 1995 RPG Chrono Trigger - praised for its story and characters - is 4 Mb including graphics and music (those ROMs might have some sort of compression but you get the idea). Ultima 7, a humongous RPG, is 20 Mb. In that case voice acting may work as a positive constraint. Pillars of Eternity 1 & 2 are good recent examples. Many people didn't like PoE1 cause it had tons of exposition, visiting a new location means reading walls of text. PoE2 has most of its dialogue voice acted and it's noticeably much better paced.
  2. Three Moves Ahead Episode 480: 1999

    The file download has "mp" type instead of "mp3".
  3. Here's Michael Valentine referred to as Dr. Disrespect. I remember at one point Rob was very dismissive about Age of Wonders 3, saying that Endless Legend was the only good 4X (apart from Civ series probably) and saying AoW3 is not close. And it's objectively wrong! AoW3 is one of the best 4X games ever, and I'd argue the only one (before AoWPF at least) that realized the player dream of tactical combat inside of an empire-building game. Even Total War series is not as good with balancing it (maybe 3K is close). AoW3 was perfectly playable in auto-resolve multiplayer mode but opened up a whole new layer with tactical combat. Another thing that podcast made me think about is how many of the later 4X games dismiss progress. In Civilization, Beyond Earth, Galactic Civilizations, fantasy Stardock 4X Fallen Enchantress, even Stellaris - and you observe grand changes. You're not just a bigger empire with bigger ships but is not recognizable. In Beyond Earth or Stellaris you all transform to robots and maybe live in ringworlds, in Fallen Enchantress the very fabric of earth bends under your command and your troops are now wearing magical full plate. But in Endless series or Age of Wonders it's just numerical increments, you don't change the world. Even if Legend/Space tech description talks about some grand change - you play recognizably the same guys as you had on turn 1. Cultural or biological identity of all of those people is far more important than any technological advancement. It's not Star Trek but rather Star Wars or Dune space medieval stasis. Not sure if this says anything about the state of our current culture or its just a trend that today players value difference in starting factions more than potential variety of development.
  4. It was fun to listen to. Surprised how you guys talk about common anime tropes as if it's something specific to Japanese games you've experienced. Those one-note characters turning out to have huge backstories is what happens in every anime ever. You mentioned Valkyria Chronicles 4 again, specifically an episode where one of your soldiers behaves like a drunken brat and doesn't get shot. I haven't played this game so I may be missing a lot of context, but what I've liked about VC1 was its approach to its character flaws. It's still a heroic war story but it goes beyond usual "this is not as black and white as it seems" tropes like "our politicians are greedy" or "or allies are into that realpolitik thing". Some of the main characters are vocal racists, as well as soldiers you can hire. Not to the point of evil enemy empire racist so they don't approve ethnic cleansing, but it's still there and directly affects gameplay: you either ignore those characters or stop using your story minority characters. You and your main character have to deal with it, it's an army you got. It's not the focus of the story but it makes them much more believable. It's certainly a much more honest approach than, say, your typical American WW2 movie (or any historical movie, really) which is either specifically about segregation in arms or completely ignores probably views of most of its heroes. Anyway, Fire Emblem. I've played 2 games on Game Boy Advance and I'm a little puzzled by your praises. Cause most of what you're talking about was there already. Perhaps the story was simpler. They both had your typical stories about throne usurpation by evil vizier or foreign empire. IIRC both had ancient evil influencing the villain who was a decent person once, and in both games, a lot of good people fought on the enemy side because of allegiance and past glory and alike. The first game was linear with some minor variations depending on what you do in tactical missions. You could hire a lot of characters if you visit the right places during tactical battles, or move the right person close to a named enemy so you can talk and sway them to your side. The second one had a grand story branch early in a game. You still played the same side but you chose to go with one of the siblings, a prince or a princess. You get different characters and a different story. This game also had optional grinding and character bonds. Some characters can become friends if they fight together and you get a unique dialogue and bonuses for them. Those were good games and I'm a little surprised you get very few games like that on PC. Chess with a lot of characters. We have Jagged Alliance and some of it clones like Silent Storm, but apart from that?.. Plenty of XCOMs or Darkest Dungeon or Battle Brothers, but all of those feature random characters, hard to relate to those. Most tactical games with a big character roster are short roguelikes like Invisible Inc or Into the Breach or Renowned Explorers. There are also tactical RPGs, of course, but those usually reward you with sticking to a limited number of characters and don't have a lot of them. Even when a similar game comes from consoles it's Disgaea which mostly relies on generated characters and has, ahem, questionable gameplay. Strange! Sorry for the wall of text. This episode was evocative.
  5. Three Moves Ahead 476: Pericles

    The problem with those kinds of shows is they're significantly less international than the rest. Here in Eastern Europe, I can't get those more niche boardgames. Even if I order them internationally I'll have to convince my friends to play in English and few are comfortable with that, those games are complex enough even when there's no language barrier. Not saying those shows are bad. Just make one envious.
  6. So last time Rob really meant "next week"! Always nice to hear Dr. Bruce Geryk greeting even if I usually don't know anything about those boardgames. Tom Chick was also mentioned, sad he's not appearing here anymore.
  7. I think the best historical games stray from simulating history itself but instead focus on circumstances of it all. Someone on the podcast said a similar thing, but not quite. Games like Colonization, Vietnam'65 or Afghanistan'11 - and even Civilization in a way. They don't put nations and armies where they were, they allow you to play your own colonizations or vietnams that follow historical rules but happen on another Earth. Another thing is the level of abstraction. Technically everything that happened in history can happen in Civilization (maybe except the appearance of new civs mid-game) because it operates on a higher level. Weird coups, conquests, rebellions and inheritance systems only work through special events in EU4 and especially CK2. In Civ you can assume all of this happens in the background. Your bonuses when you play as Russia reflect special inheritance system, feudal fragmentation and cultural nuances, but when you play as Russian count in CK2 it's obvious that you don't get real inheritance system or unique government types.
  8. It's probably cause Michael the Wizard is on vacation and someone else does audio editing. They didn't think about adding all of this technical stuff probably.
  9. Everybody noticed! Gather your strength and then force them to talk about AI Wars 2 or some Japanese weird strategy RPG.
  10. You made this game sound interesting even if you didn't like it in the end. As I understand it's not even Pirates! style minigame game cause there's no single central hub game for it all. A visual novel can't be a central mechanic, can't it? I'm also tired of games that portray some complex issue and then think they're looking smart by not really saying about it. Everyone talks about how Ubisoft does it with their games not being political, and the example I remember the most is Deus Ex Human Revolution with its ghetto for enhanced people in Prague, a hero being harassed for his implants, separate train wagons for people like him etc - and with a game proudly saying that it doesn't want to take a stance.
  11. Great discussion. I liked that discussion of what a game like that could be and which socio-political issues it could tackle. Especially with you all acknowledging that lack of those doesn't make the game itself worse, devs do the game they want to do. I've only played Anno 1404 but I remember its story being similarly simplistic and cartoonish. There was an evil cardinal who says you should go for a crusade. But then it turns out Pope didn't really sanction it, and Vizir you meet is a really nice guy, so you beat your companion, overly zealous lady knight, till she understands the power of friendship and it's all kumbaya.
  12. Episode 470: Total War: Three Kingdoms

    This is a first TW game I got shortly after release and I'm surprised how well it holds up. It gets a much better balance between battles and campaigns I feel. On normal it feels like the game really wants me to win tactical battles but it's important to note that AI actually learns new tricks on higher difficulty levels. Like archers stop wasting ammo on your generals or anti-ranged units. I found WH ok, I somewhat liked Attila but had no desire to play it beyond a single campaign. But here it feels like the campaign is dynamic and goal-oriented, I'm not just conquering stuff for the sake of getting bigger income numbers to make further conquering easier. AI feels proactive, personalities feel well realized. Even filling the map with a passive Ham Empire works well: it's not an independent actor but a pie and you want your piece. It's a little hard to distinguish all those Lu and Liu and Leu guys and gals, and it makes me hopeful for a similar game in a more familiar or better-explained setting. Cause it looks like CA got hang of diplomacy not just because the setting helps, nothing stopped them from making well-realized personalities in Warhammer but they never felt important.
  13. Total War presentation of the settings turned out to be great. I am now watching Red Cliff and preparing for 2010 TV show.
  14. Good episode. I'm waiting for UI improvements mostly and thus not playing the game. But I consider it a good game, probably on par with EU4. Sad to see a lot of negativity about it among the public.
  15. I think the problem with CoH2 reception in Russia was not that the Soviets were bad, but that they were the only bad people in the series. Even Enemy at the Gates spent time explaining that Nazis are bad and in the end, you were cheering for a farm boy Zaitcev shooting an aristocrat Nazi. And Saving Private Ryan had a scene where American soldier shot Czech conscripts trying to surrender. CoH1 and 2 portray every faction as sympathetic common people turned into heroes and murderers by the war. It's all neutral and evades any moral judgment. But then you play as Soviets and turns out that all the bad sadistic guys are there. If the same campaign showed Germans as equally bad people wouldn't care. Fallout and Red Alert were very popular in China even though they ridicule Communists, but they also do the same with everybody else so no one cares. Can't wait to hear further Imperator Rome discussion! It must be at least as long as Total War Rome 2 episode which is always a good listen.