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Everything posted by ilitarist

  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.
  16. Episode 467: Hard Times or Easy Living

    When I think about cheese and difficulty issues I don't see about having a real victory or something. I think about being robbed of gameplay. It's fine when RTS campaign or RPG takes an approach of a solvable game: if you cheese specific encounters or monster types you still have a game to play, you did something clever that lets you skip some problems but not much was lost. But it becomes an issue when there's reliable "cheese" in the game. When I know that Slicken spell works on practically everyone or that any civilization can be easily bribed into attacking others and thus will never attack you I become bored. I can ignore those cheese tactics, yes, but it feels dumb to not use simple solutions that work. Games promise me that learning the mechanics will give me a grand battle I crave. But then it turns out that in most 4X games AI will just allow you to have your low effort victory as long as you don't do anything stupid. If you want to use those late game units than do it, I guess, but it won't be effective or useful. Things like that make the experience boring and cheap whether you care about the glory of beating a game.
  17. It's fan art for Final Fantasy 6. They discuss this scene (timestamp).
  18. Haven't played the expansion and have no desire to (from what I've heard AI still doesn't care about winning the game so it's all about surviving the early game and then clicking end turn while looking for ways and reasons to entertain yourself) but this Rock Band business sounds great thematically to me. Civ has this weird dichotomy between past and present. Past is Saturday Morning Cartoon with knights, samurai, turtle ships, whatever. But when we get to the modern era it's relatively sober and boring. You get tank and then better tank, WW1 era infantry, WW2 era infantry, modern era infantry. There are features and objects that developers include not for variety or complexity sake but because it's fresh in recent memory and interests people. But those Rock Bands make it all better cause they sound exactly like something people in 2500 would include in Civilization game to represent the 20th century. It's Saturday Morning Cartoon about recent history, and it's how it should be. I think Civ suffers from expanding modern era too much so that most people who play vs AI on big maps spend half of their playtime in recognizably modern times. I say throw out all types of infantry and tanks and planes, leave Rock Bands.
  19. Episode 326: State of the RTS

    RTS games are also about the development of your assets, map control, cooperation, and tactics. And that's what Lords Management players get. Many players play RTS without much multitasking, just moving around a single army, and many do not like to concern themselves with expanding. Those things in RTS are inherently and intentionally broken as you're usually hampered by UI that prevents you from doing it effectively. In other words, you can sort of have a perfect play in turn-based strategy or real-time with pause something, but in RTS it's unavoidable to have compromises. You will always have situations where UI and your focus do not allow to play perfectly even if you have a total understanding of the situation and what should be done. Lords Managements expand on things that feel right in RTS and cuts the things that are inherently imperfect.
  20. I knew who Cao Cao was but that was about it. It certainly looked like the guys were... passionate about this.
  21. Episode 460: Looking Ahead to 2019

    Surprised that Rob's problem with Phoenix Point is aesthetics. I didn't like it too but for me, it feels like something close to XCOM2. I didn't like XCOM2 for variety of things including aesthetics (the other thing is mad difficulty curve that gives me mixed signals whether it wants me to play Iron Man - on one hand, the story is presented as something you experience once, on the other it's full of noob traps that kill if you don't know it's coming). XCOM1 felt like a world of next morning meeting an alien threat. Your soldiers started as boring mooks and transformed into godlike galactic destroyers. The stage was visible Earth-like. I suspect that Mongolian cafeteria doesn't really look the same way as Texas one but it's fine. Meanwhile, XCOM2 throws us into a world of distant future with no resemblance to our own world. Even regions are called something boring and generic. Your soldiers start as cyber-ninja and drone hackers and go weirder from here, there's nothing "normal" in this world that will show you how far from normal are you getting by the end. Valkyria Chronicles bears more semblance to WW2 than XCOM2 to fantasy story of our brave boys beating aliens. As for ending state for that kind of games, there's a solution that was implemented by a certain Sid Meier once and it would work well for XCOM thematically. Sid Meier's Pirates! allowed your captain to settle. Your retirement is described as you'd become a beggar or a governor depending on your score. Same is possible with XCOM-like: if you're supposed to lose a couple of games then you can give player progression. Early in the game aliens or another kind of enemy give you "a good deal" and it becomes better each time you progress or worse when you fail. And so you get a summary about the fate of XCOM personnel and humanity in general, maybe if you've shown you're cool then humanity is assimilated or subjugated in a very benign way so that it takes centuries before humans are all gone etc. Just like @derbius I'm probably looking forward to AoW Planetfall the most. 3MA in general has committed a sin of not loving AoW3 which was an excellent game. Rob even went on record saying it's not "a great 4X". And it is.
  22. Episode 457: A Look Back at 2018

    Thank you for that track, oh kind wizard. I don't feel that the guys praised Into the Breach that much. Someone even said that it's a strategy game that is most enjoyed by people who don't play strategy games that much. You can compare it to Tower Defense games all of which are reactive by definition. The game being reactive means that you can have fun and feel clever from game #1. Rowan mentioned lack of RTS games as in base-building Warcraft/C&C style games and those are the opposite: you only have a real game when you know everything there is to know about the game. Most people would call this more strategic but it doesn't mean that Into the Breach lacks those planning and strategizing elements on higher levels of play.
  23. Episode 457: A Look Back at 2018

    That was very nice. Glad we had this meaty double episode. I also need to know transitionary and outro music name. I've heard it before and never knew what it is. Funny how Pike and Shot sneaked into the list. Funny how Slay the Spire sort of did and sort of didn't.
  24. Funny how CK2, initially being a relatively simple GSG with interesting sandbox character mechanics, finds its roots on the way. Because when you look back it's not clear how was it even playable. Before Way of Life and Monks and Mystics, you had a very limited influence on your character waiting for events to fire to give you opportunities. Before recent patches portraits were very bland and bad at representing character features (and even now I think portrait packs are most important DLCs because it's the attack of the clones otherwise). They gradually made this mess of features organized. Now it looks as if the game was intended to play Pagans first and Feudal/Republics later: most independent rulers at the earliest start date are Pagans and they have an actual use for Prestige and Piety while Feudal Lords have more complex mechanics and use Prestige and Piety more like passive bonus dealer. Then Chinese expansion added an ability to spend part of your useless heap of Prestige on poorly justified wars. Then they've added Sway and Antagonize so that you can spend resources on making friends or beating rivals. It's still a beautiful mess. Unlike EU4 that had its fundamentals set up from the very beginning, CK2 doesn't have a UI that even remotely understands the game. It still pretends you're playing a wargame so that actual important stuff only takes 1/3 of the screen, the rest is the map. EU4 from the get-go knew that Rivals and Alliances are extremely important and this is reflected in UI. Meanwhile, CK2 doesn't even have a dedicated map mode to see relationships, alliances, friendships. EU4 shows you whether your proposal will pass even before you click a button; in CK2 you have much more possible diplomatic actions and you have to click every button to see whether they agree in a separate window. The more they add to CK2 the more it feels like they form an actual game from the sandbox and the way they iterate makes me resentful about their DLC policy again. It's nice to have a sprint goal for the iteration, so to say, but it feels like the game is overloaded with features that were added just because they were thematic; meanwhile, some expansions try to tackle on themes that are too big and thus themes like Muslims feel underdeveloped. They still are rarely able to make those DLCs truly isolated; they still do a better job than EU4 but you have features like mechanically beneficial Casus Belli (allow you to pay a lot of prestige and diplomatic standing to conquer the land instead of being forced to help pretenders or use RNG-based claim fabrication) added in an expansion about China. Holy Fury looks like a lost opportunity, this is the expansion that upgrades every part of the game with a minor focus on both Pagans and Crusades. It's an old-school expansion and I imagine that game would be both much better and much more approachable if we had those for several years instead of an endless barrage of small inconsequential thematic features we got in Sunset Invasion or Reaper's Due or Charlemagne or whatever. Or even sequels. Some people say that PDX are not like EA that would release a game each year but if we had that then we'd probably have much more consistent game, maybe with proper 3D portraits and other immersive features that would make the whole experience even better. But we'd probably didn't get features like Forts, Chronicles, Custom Empires and other fluff.
  25. Weighty nostalgic episode is always welcome. Especially when it's a secret Rise of Nations episode. I think Rise of Nations commercial problem was Empire Earth. People who wanted Age of Empires 2 gimmicks bought that cool looking 3d thing. And then they probably realized it looks better on paper than in reality. RoN looked like a poor man's Empire Earth. It's not fully 3d, it's smaller in scope. I bet people at the time thought it's a less ambitious AoE2 clone. And Rise of Legends was too weird. Still RoN is great. I come back to it all the time. Recently it's all about duels against AI for me and they're beautiful. 4 players FFA on tougher is manageable for me but 1v1 on tougher is always some sort of interesting lesson. Great work with that Vikings music, oh sound wizard! Edit: Rowan said that Shadowmagic had come out between Age of Wonders 1 & 2. In reality, it's an expansion on 2. It isn't that big and it's main thing is the third layer of the map. In AoW and Heroes you typically have underground layer, Shadowmagic added Shadow parallel dimension or something layer. For many years fans considered it a definitive AoW experience, some still think so even after excellent AoW3.