ilitarist

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Everything posted by ilitarist

  1. Three Moves Ahead Episode 495: Sports

    As a sociologist would say, a crisis doesn't change things, a crisis accelerates things. Interesting to see how "real" sport is eager to share with e-sports.
  2. Rowan speaks the truth. It's fine. It's not great. I too tried Stellaris after this update. People speak about boring endgame but they talk about it as if it's about events and exploration coming to an end. It's not just that. Before you hit midgame and see big alliances and wars you get all the traditions and all the technology. This choice between early traditions (or Civ5 cultural ideas or whatever they are called) is only there to affect early game. By the time you bump into other empires and run out of space to expand you finish them all. And offensive wars are limited by the same resource you use to expand peacefully, so if you conquer you don't expand peacefully, it's hard to combine the two. With technologies it's the same, it's worse than any other 4X: in midgame you only get "+5% to mineral production #6" tech and the like. That midgame comes after 20 hours of play but the game itself says it's midgame, you're supposed to play long after that to bump into an endgame crisis. The economy has something interesting going for it, but all the rest is still boring. Endless Space 2 is mentioned and I'm puzzled why isn't it regarded as a better 4X game. It has an elegant design, it's not bloated with boring nodes like Stellaris. When it has a unique star system you care about it because you don't have 200 other star systems. When you have a choice in planet development it's something interesting and important instead of building housing district #12. ES2 AI doesn't know how to play the game but neither does Stellaris AI. Then again I rant about how ES2 is a much better game yet I don't launch it from time to time to check out if it's good. I come back to Stellaris too. Paradox has me.
  3. Episode 491: Master of Magic

    Wasn't MoO just more popular than MoM thus spawning more successors? Also yeah, there are plenty of great successors. They've mentioned Age of Wonders but it seems like they aren't that found of the series. Both AoW and Heroes do what Troy talks about - through all the fantasy stuff into the mix. Heroes more so before 5, since 5 they are more similar to AoW in world building. Before Heroes 5 every fantasy creature is its own unit. If there's an elf it's a specific unit (elf archer). Since Heroes 5 they have an elf with swords, an elf who casts spells, an elf with a bow and so own, much more similar to AoW. Still, AoW3 has a lot of types of units. Plus there's great commander customization both with stats and appearance. I still agree with Rowan and Sid that they shouldn't have made a separate tactical battle but that brings me to the love for Total War Warhammer. For some reason all those reviewers like it more than AoW3. It's clear they've played AoW3 too. They saw it has real tactical battles while TWWH are pretty straightforward. They saw how you can play the grand campaign without waiting for end turns for hours. Still AoW3 is a footnote in discussions like this and TWWH is one of the most discussed games on 3MA.
  4. Fun episode and an interesting dive into the genre. Usually, when there's talk about microstrategy I think about something like Into the Breach and other turn-based games, but those seem to be different beasts. Also a great guest. His Baldur's Gate epic is worth a watch!
  5. I'm late to the party but let me add my two cents. I think movies put you in the right mood for the setting. Red Cliff happens 20 years into the campaign so a lot of characters are in much more established positions but you still see Cao Cao and Lu Bei gang. It's also seems to be one of the biggest inspirations for the game as almost all characters from the movie got unique assets and the final battle from the movie is a historical battle in the game. There's also a long Chinese tv show Three Kingdoms. It's available on youtube for some reason. It's ten years old but production levels are insane. You can watch just a few episodes and you'll know the main cast well enough. You can also watch a letsplay of one of the Dynasty Warriors games to learn why the setting is associated with anime battles and hard rock guitar solos.
  6. The industry is oversaturated now. And they have forgotten about many games that were released just this year, like At the Gates. They've barely talked about huge remasters that were very important in RTS genre (Rise of Nations, Age of Empires, Homeworld), or most strategy JRPGs like Disgaea (they've only mentioned Valkyrie Chronicles), or revived tactical RPG genre with Pillars of Eternity and Pathfinder Kingmaker and Divinity Original Sin. Did they mention Galactic Civilization 3 or Elemental or Sorcerer King? Or the rise of digital board games like Armello? What I mean to say it's fine. They can't cover everything.
  7. EU4 is probably my favourite strategy game but I can see people struggling with its bloatness. In general there's a tendency for strategy games to aim for infinite replayability with huge campaigns and bazillions of playable factions. This is partly why I think single player campaigns are dead, if you're making a campaign it should be 100 hours replayable systemic thing or something. Total War Warhammer felt fresh cause it limited itself in that regard but it was a temporary thing, now it's a humongous game. If I can make a recommendation: recent Field of Glory Empires is a much more laconic strategy game reminding me of relative simplicity of EU2. But you'd probably need a PC capable of handling EU4 or even better even though it's turn-based. Also about XCOM clones: Massive Chalice was my favorite one. Guys were right that XCOM1/2 is lying about Iron Man being the way to go. It doesn't make sense to have a ~50 battles campaign in Iron Man with so many chances to screw yourself. As Rob said it's not a grind like Battletech where you slowly lose, it's a chess play where one wrong move might mean checkmate. Lose powerful guy in a battle #10 and now those 20 later battles he could participate in are much harder and will probably add to the sacrifices. Massive Chalice evades the problem by making every character only fighting 3 or 4 battles and later retiring, passing their genes and training to later generations and so on. Losing a person can harm a bloodline or might even destroy one which makes a final battle harder but it won't trigger a domino fall, he'd only help in a couple more battles. Another approach is excellent Invisible Inc you've talked about - it is Iron Man and it is chess-like as in a single wrong move means death, but it includes a rewind mechanic that allows you to go back for a turn a couple of times per mission, and only the higher difficulty levels turn off this ability. Besides, it's just several hours long, like Into the Breach that has similar mechanic and length. And it's sad about XCOM being so schizophrenic about Iron Man cause it's obvious there are numerous mechanics designed to deal with stuff going wrong and player refusing to cowardly reload. But there are plenty of stuff that will quietly doom your campaign without telling you if you don't know it's there.
  8. So it's the seventh year of Fraser harassment campaign already? Does the time fly. On 4X vs grand strategy. I remember how in the middle of 2000's I was rather disappointed with strategy games. There were those twitchy RTS everywhere and everything tried to be multiplayer. I've worked in a Video game newspaper back then and I remember how we voted on games of the year 2004. With strategy games, everyone voted for Rome Total War. There was a madman among us, a DnD enthusiast who cried that we are all blind to the truth. That switch to 3D map does nothing for your Total War, he said. Crusader Kings is the real game. But dude - other told him - isn't that map painting game without actual combat just the same spreadsheet generator as those Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron of yours but with knights?.. No, he said, it's a new page of strategy gaming history. Previously I've tried EU2 and didn't really get it. But CK1 I got. And then Victoria 1. Then I embraced story generator games and got interested in history in general. The only problem with those games is they are actually bad games. Half of the mechanics were about some mysteriously triggered events you had no way of knowing of till you play enough. There were bugs and illogical interactions. And naturally, AI couldn't play it so once you got hang of it you had to actively seek challenge on your own, "winning" was trivial. Then I've tried Civilization 4 at some point. It already had an expansion or two, I think. At first I was disappointed with the portrayal of history: in my childhood memories Civ1 was a history simulator, but by that point, I was tainted by knowledge and the very concept of playing as, say, the united civilization of Germany, fighting 500 years war with Sumeria was ridiculous. It still kinda worked as a simulation but only if you look at it as a very high-level history and imagine a lot of things. But it wasn't important cause that game actually had gameplay and AI. It was a challenge and a fair one. Guides for CK1/Vic2 tell you of obviously superior options and possible triggered events; Civ4 guides talk about strategy, planning, reading the geopolitical map. Of course, it still had problems. There was always a promise of a late-game clash over victory, but usually, the game was decided early in the game and at the time you don't even realize that. So story generation part was flawed just like strategic part. For story generation, you could at least get some notorious mods, like fantasy Fall from Heaven. Then there was CK2 which for me wasn't as important as for many people, cause it was an improvement over CK1, not a revolution. The revolution came from people working on that game making it work properly eventually and keeping it fresh. But it's still not a great strategy game even if it's a good story generator (it will become a great story generator when it gives me character history that was present in EU:Rome and other ways to distinguish thousands of those characters; hope CK3 will be better), just like Victoria 2. In those games your schemes exist to be destroyed by some random events, you feel the greatest joy in those games when Mongol Khan inherits Byzantine Empire, or Great Britain turns fascist, just like in Fall from Heaven some ancient evil awakens. What changed things for me was a later version of EU3. I suddenly discovered that this game is both a great storyteller and an interesting strategy game. And then EU4 reinforced that. It allowed you to see a complex web of alliances; have diplomatic relations where you know which strings you can pool; complex economic systems. I've seen many people claim EU4 is not "deep" enough, its systems aren't intertwined enough. Maybe there is something to these cause this game suffered from the least successful Paradox DLC policy, I think, even if they're trying to fix it for the last year or so. I suspect those people value story generation much more than the strategic part of those games. And that is why it's unique: it beats most 4X on both playing fields. Endless Legend might have a set of interesting mechanics and stories, same for Age of Wonders, but you can't say that those games are better than what EU4 does. Now we have Imperator Rome that at least tried to do the same on release, now it seems to go for the uncontrollable chaos creating interesting situation approach too. So I'm worried that EU4 may be a blimp and in general, Paradox would produce games that are just for fun role-playing. Then maybe I'll have a place in my heart for overly padded Civilization games, but not now. Sorry for the wall of text, I had a powerful urge to share. Very happy with this episode.
  9. Thank you! Poor Russian localization of basically everything is probably a biggest reason I've learned English when I was a kid. And yes, English is a big problem in Russian speaking countries. Or maybe it's that Eastern Europe people aren't content to stay in the Russian part of the internet. I'm pretty sure that Blood localization was unnoficial product but there were many games like Gorky-17 that were released with a reinterpreted story. Or, say, that old Larry adult quest replaced copy protection with test on old Soviet movies to check if you're old enough. So I don't think it was done for the sake of censorship in games. Usually pirates just had their fun or localizers thought they can write a better story.
  10. I have not listened to the podcast yet but I can't wait to share the most important fact about this movie. I've watched it this year when it was mentioned in a 3MA podcast (probably Patreon Special but I'm not sure). My mother tongue is Russian and when I've looked for it I saw a release with a Soviet dub made back at the time of release when this movie was running in soviet cinemas. It sounded great, back then Soviets imported few movies and when they did they tried to localize them well. Then I did a little research and discovered that several scenes in the movie were heavily censored in an interesting way. There's a point when Philip, king of France, talks to Henry, king of England, about his son Richard, later known as Lionheart. Philip asks what would Henry think of "sodomy| and describes how Richard made some blatant suggestions on the matter. Richard is eavesdropping on the conversation and jumps out to deny the accusation. In the Soviet dub, there's none of it. Instead, Philip talks about Richard planning a murder of Henry, asking Philip if he wants to avenge his father, and there's a complex story about Richard planning on informing Philip on a specific date of Henry's hunt so that Philip could "accidentally" shoot him. It felt very natural, maybe Henry was a little too calm hearing that his son was planning his murder. The point is, the rivalry between Henry and Louis VII isn't really even mentioned in the movie. I imagine that some soviet movie people had decided they want to run this movie but there's a problem of some forbidden themes in it. And they've gathered some historians and writers to invent a whole subplot to replace homosexuality with patricide.
  11. Interesting discussion about brainless AI in the end. I think my most memorable strategy gaming moments where all about dumb enemies, hordes of them. Clever singleplayer missions like in StarCraft 2 campaign often feel like a puzzle where you spend half a minute on figuring it out and then 20 minutes on doing mechanical actions being bored. Games like XCOM try to keep you on the edge with every fight being against a cunning opponent, a single mistake can cost you everything. But plenty of tactical/strategic games have dumb AI in their core even if it's not appropriate thematically. Like Fire Emblem, for most of the time you have static enemies that attack you when you get close, and the trick is to overcome enemy numbers. Come to think of it, even early wargames gravitated towards scenarios like Germany attacking USSR - you're playing as a smaller better-equipped army against a passive numerous forces. So I'd be fine with Pandarens being dumb.
  12. Don't know about essentials, I think Eador does the opposite - throws a lot of stuff on top on HoMM or Civ or AoW system. Like every damn character has level ups and complex stats, and you can have a couple of dozens characters in an army, and there are several armies you lead, and then there are garrisons, and the combat is more complex than in HoMM (roughly on the same level of complexity as AoW). And the province management is on CK2/EU4 level of complexity, plus your capital has up to a hundred buildings, I think. This game is also unstable and buggy, but its biggest sin is pacing. You didn't finish it and neither did anyone else cause it has a very long campaign, and all of it consists from random free for all fights.
  13. 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.
  14. Three Moves Ahead Episode 480: 1999

    The file download has "mp" type instead of "mp3".
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Everybody noticed! Gather your strength and then force them to talk about AI Wars 2 or some Japanese weird strategy RPG.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Total War presentation of the settings turned out to be great. I am now watching Red Cliff and preparing for 2010 TV show.