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@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I was pretty happy with my most-recent Logitech gamepad – I think an F310 – but I had another from the 1990s that was terrible, had a D-pad that rolled to diagonal movement far too easily.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Aside from broken controllers, which I don’t think can reasonably count, the Atari 2600 joystick.


One button, a lot of resistance to push on the stick.

After that, an elderly Logitech gamepad from the 1990s that had a D-pad that rolled diagonal way too easily. IIRC it had a screw-in mini-joystick that could attach to the center of the D-pad. Don’t remember the model. White case, attached directly to a joystick/MIDI port.

After that, I think the NES controller. I have no idea why people like those or actually buy recreations. Yes, nostalgia, but the ergonomics on it were terrible. Hard buttons, sharper corners on the D-pad than is the norm today, and a squared-off controller made the thing downright uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I was using it on Linux too!

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

For those who haven’t played the series, VATS is an alternate aiming mode where one can pause (or in later games in the 3d series, greatly slow) the game, select a certain number of targets depending upon available action points, and then have all those shots taken in rapid succession, with the game aiming.

I’d say that VATS is kind of a “path” than a purely alternate input method in those games; you need to make a VATS-oriented build, though it’s true that it makes it possible to play the game with minimal FPS elements. Like, in Fallout: New Vegas, VATS provides major benefits close-up. While VATS is active, there’s enormous damage reduction applied to your character, IIRC 90%, so for short periods of time, they have enormous damage output and little risk. They can also turn rapidly and target multiple enemies, probably better than a player manually-playing could. At close ranges, VATS is just superior.

But VATS suffers severe accuracy penalties at range. Whether-or-not a target is moving doesn’t affect VATS accuracy, but range does a lot, whereas with manual aiming, whether-or-not a target is moving makes a big difference and range doesn’t matter much. As a result, VATS isn’t great for sniping, which is also an aspect of the game. You can do it (especially, oddly-enough, with pistols, in Fallout 4, where the Concentrated Fire perk lets later shots in a flurry of pistol shots at range be very accurate.

In Fallout 76, VATS provides such dramatic damage benefits that I’d say that it’s impractical to play a non-VATS build – VATS is required to get damage up to a reasonable level later in the game.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I mean, twin stick gamepad or to lesser extent touchpad just isn’t going to be as good as a mouse for an FPS. A good mouse player will beat a good touchpad or gamepad player.

And the problem with the Deck is that it has a PC game library, and a lot of those are designed with a mouse in mind. Console FPSes usually adjust the game difficulty so that playing with twin sticks are practical. Enemies give you more time to slowly turn around without inflicting enormous amounts of damage. Auto-aim assist is common. Ranges are shorter. Stuff like that.

If this is a single-player game – which it sounds like you’re playing – you can reduce the difficulty to compensate for the input mechanism.

There’s an input mechanism that some people developed for twin-stick gyro controllers called Flick Stick, which someone else mentioned; Steam Input supports this. The mouse is still going to win, but it’s an improvement over traditional pure-stick input.

There’s also some input mechanism which I think was different from the “Flick Stick” approach – though maybe I’m wrong and misremembering, didn’t have an interest in exploring it – that IIRC someone put together using Steam Input. The way it worked, as I recall, was that one could tap the thumbstick in a direction and it’d immediately do a 90 degree turn. The idea was to provide for a rapid turn while keeping sensitivity low enough to still permit for accurate aiming. But I’m not able to find the thing with Kagi in a few searches, and it’s not impossible that I’m misremembering…this was only a single video that I’m thinking of.

I don’t think that there’s any trick to learning this, just playing games and picking it up over time. I mean, I was atrocious at using a keyboard+mouse when I first started doing it, and ditto with twin-stick FPSes.

You could also attach a keyboard and mouse, though I think that that kind of eliminates the point of the Deck, at least as long as one also has a PC to play on – it might make sense for someone who just uses a Deck and a phone.

is there an easy FPS game where I don’t have to move or shoot too fast

Play games that are designed for consoles or which have a gamepad mode, rather than a keyboard+mouse PC game. They’ll be tuned for controller limitations. Like, can you play Halo comfortably with the Deck? That was designed for a gamepad originally, and it’s available on Steam (though I’d note that it requires a Microsoft account, which you may-or-may-not be willing to do).


This also talks about some limitations of thumbstick aiming (if you’re using thumbsticks and not trackpads). It might be possible to tweak some of these, like sensitivity or dead zone, but I’d assume that for a given game, the developers have already chosen pretty reasonable defaults.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Your age 30 is fine. Age is always an excuse, but mostly not true.

It’s fine for single-player shooters, which are less demanding, but speaking as someone who has packed on some decades, your reaction time definitely becomes a noticeable factor over the years for competitive multiplayer games. I definitely can’t play competitive twitch shooters nearly as well as when I was 18, which is about when your reaction time is at its best.

That being said, there are shooters where twitch time is less-critical or roles or play-styles that focus less on it.

And I don’t see how someone couldn’t learn to play with a dual-stick or trackpad (or trackball, for that matter), which is what I think OP is talking about. I haven’t had any problems picking up new input methods…that just takes time. Took time to learn when I was 18, too.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

EU won’t commit to answering whether games are goods or services.

I think I’d have a category for both.

You can’t call an SNES cartridge a service, but similarly, you can’t call, oh, an online strip poker service a good.

I suspect that most good-games have at least some characteristics of a service (like patches) and most service-games have at least some characteristics of a good (like software that could be frozen in place).

I think that the actual problem is vendors unnecessarily converting good-games into service-games, as that gives them a route to get leverage relative to the consumer. Like, I can sell a game and then down the line start data-mining players or something. I think that whatever policy countries ultimately adopt should be aimed at discouraging that.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Linux PC. Almost entirely on a desktop, though I’ve got a few games (Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, Caves of Qud) that I’ll play on a laptop.

Very limited use of Android, if I’m away from a computer, for the mobility.

I’ve owned a few consoles, but the experience has consistently disappointed me.

  • Loading times are worse (well, maybe this has improved, but historically was a pain)
  • I can’t as trivially flip over to a wiki in a web browser. I smack a button, I’m on another workspace on my PC.
  • For some reason, a lot of “deep” games that one spends a lot of time learning, like strategy and milsims, don’t have much of a presence on consoles. I like a lot of entrants in those genres.
  • Games cost more than the PC. I mean, sure, the console vendor loses money on the hardware, has to make their money back on the games, but that especially makes consoles a bad buy if you’re going to get a lot of games.
  • The PC has more potential to be upgraded (though I’ll concede that consoles have generally improved here).
  • I’m not constrained by what the game developer wanted me to do; I can drop in with a memory editor and cheat in a game, can add mods to the game, have control over save state, etc.

The drawbacks of a PC are things that don’t really bother me:

  • You’ve got setup and configuration, which I’m gonna do anyway.
  • You’re more-likely to hit driver or hardware compatibility issues than on a console.

As for mobile…

I would be potentially willing to pay a lot more for mobile games than I do, but the entire commercial game infrastructure on Android is tied to getting a Google account, and I refuse to do that; I don’t want Google logging and data-mining what I do. So I almost-exclusively use open-source software on Android. And most good mobile games have made it to the PC.

Honestly, I was kind of unexpectedly disappointed with Android gaming (and this is even based on what I see in the Google Play Store).

Okay, the touchscreen isn’t a fantastic input medium for a lot of game genres, but I thought that stuff like multiple-choice choose-your-own-adventure games and gamebook-type games would see a huge renaissance, but some of the main games in that line have been…not that great; Choice of Games has a lot of titles, and some of the writing is good, but the gameplay mechanics are kinda disappointing.

Turn-based strategy games seemed like a good fit for the touchscreen, but as with the console, deep strategy games also haven’t been hugely in evidence. As best I can tell, there’s a strong focus on games that you can drop into for a few minutes while waiting in a line or something and then drop out of…which is fine, but really constrains the experience. I guess deckbuilders are okay, but the PC does fine there too.

A lot of Android games aren’t super-considerate of the battery. Some games that I like on the PC, like real time sim games (Oxygen Not Included or Dwarf Fortress) require constant load and just wouldn’t be a great match for a phone running on battery, even if they were present.

I’m not really into games that leverage location, which is one thing that a phone can do that other platforms can’t. I could maybe believe that there could be games that could leverage multi-touch support to do things that PCs can’t and really get a lot of good out of it, but I haven’t seen that.

The screen has major limitations in that few Android devices have a large screen (so they can’t expect to control a large portion of your visual arc) and on a touchscreen, your hands are going to be obscuring part of the screen, making things even more difficult for the developer.

Touchscreens have gotten better, but they just don’t have reliable, rapid response to input the way that the mouse-and-keyboard (which a PC is guaranteed to have) or a gamepad (which a console is guaranteed to have) have.

Android phones can take external peripherals, but it’s hard for a game to expect that they be present, especially since not everyone wants to haul a lot of hardware around with their phone. So you can get game controllers, earphones, a keyboard, or even an external projector, but it’s hard for a game to expect that you have them available.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I’m with you on wanting the big, upholstered chair, but also liking the desk.

I kind of wish that easy chairs at desks were more of a thing. As it is, a typical desk doesn’t really fit them: you have “office chairs” and “living room chairs”, and the two don’t meet much. Couple problems:

  • A big and top-heavy chair is gonna tip more easily, so you have to extend the base and casters.
  • A big chair isn’t gonna roll as easily, so you can’t push back from a desk.

For years, I’ve been thinking about switching to a table or workbench with a higher top or something.

I think that the answer probably has several elements.

  • Maybe the desk can just…go away. Desks are important for paperwork, were important for supporting heavy CRTs, but I rarely actually need one now.
  • Monitor goes on an table/desk/floor-mounted arm. I’ve been diong that, and I’m happy with it, but still have the “cubbyhole” desk from the CRT era. Maybe just swing the thing into place every time you sit down.
  • Keyboard and mouse need to be attached to the floor or chair, not the desk. This is a bit harder. There are keyboard and mouse trays, but if one reclines in a chair, they also tilt the tray, which I don’t want – the mouse surface has to remain horizontal. If you can live with a trackball or trackpad, that might be tolerable. It might be possible to have some kind of leveling attachment that fits over the arms, or have a free-standing keyboard/mouse tray that fits over the chair, pole on each side of it. Something like this. If reclining adjusts the required height of the keyboard/mouse and the mount is freestanding, then it has to be trivial to adjust the height.

Thoughts on Space Games, Part 1: Top-5 AAA Games

Hey everyone, I’m a big player of Space Games of all forms, and this mini-genre (or ‘theme’, if you prefer) really has a TON of range and depth, and is a very fertile ground for indie and unique projects. I was recently playing a game called Avorion, after owning it for years without ever really engaging with it, and...

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I like Starfield, but as you point out, unless “space game” means “space-themed”, it’s really not the same genre as some of the other games in here. It has space combat, but it’s little more than a minigame. It’s not trying to be a space combat-oriented game. It does have some zero-gravity first-person-shooting combat sequences, which is kinda nifty, but

Of course, the same apply to Stellaris – it’s a 4x game that’s space-themed.

I haven’t played Mass Effect, but my understanding is that something similar would apply.

For me, the genre has more to do with games being comparable than the theme.

So, if I were gonna compare top games, I think I’d maybe do space 4x games, space combat games (and maybe subdivide those into Newtonian and non-Newtonian physics), and first-person games set in the far future, maybe a few other divisions (e.g. I’d certainly call Kerbal Space Project a good “space-themed game”, though it’s not a combat game). I’ve enjoyed all those sorts of games, but I’d be hard put to compare a game in one genre to the other…it’s like asking “what’s better, a steak or a banana split?”.

Non-Newtonian space combat flight games

This refers to games where you’re flying something that works kind of like an aerodynamic fighter in an atmosphere, but in space. If you turn, your spacecraft moves like flying in a fluid, and your whole spacecraft’s velocity changes.

This was a really big genre in the late-90s and early-2000s, but it saw a major dropoff over time. It was also big in TV series an movies – stuff like Star Trek and Star Wars.

It’s not really a “hard space sim”, but it has a lot of conventions aimed at making it pretty and exciting. Some conventions in the genre:

  • Space looks a lot like the kind of false-color photos that NASA puts out (note that other genres are not immune to this either).
  • Often has “Star Wars lasers”, which are visible, slow, and make sounds going by.
  • Sound transmits through space, so you get explosions and such being audible.
  • Fighters play a major role, and combat typically takes place at extremely close ranges (relative to our best guesses at what real-life space combat would look like), in World-War-2-style dogfights. The job the human has is usually in significant part the same as a WW2 pilot would have in a dogfight, lining up the weapons, maybe managing “ship energy” or some other such system. There are likely missiles, but these are used at close range, and don’t have high-off-boresight targeting. There’s typically some kind of CIWS or flare-countering-infrared-homing-missile analog.
  • Forward-mounted weapons are common, though usually not exclusive.
  • There’s usually some form of “warp drive” to deal with the kind of distances in space in a meaningful amount of time.
  • The pilot is usually in an environment analogous to a 20th-century air-breathing jet fighter: there are glass windows looking out on space, and visual identification of targets plays a real role.
  • Carriers often show up.
  • There are often torpedoes or analogs – hard-hitting weapons that move more-slowly.
  • It’s often the case that there’s some form of energy shield which can readily-regenerate and blocks a certain amount of weapons fire.
  • Tractor beams often show up.
  • Usually issues like utilizing gravity wells or something don’t play a major role in the game.
  • It’s common to have some form of engine sound. Engines often look a lot like rocket engines – like, there’s visible combustion products coming out the back and a roaring sound; sometimes you’ll have ion thruster-looking things.
  • The “space trading” genre is probably a subgenre of this; I don’t know of any “space trading” games that don’t also have space combat as an element.

I think that the genre is in significant part a mix of American cultural elements from the WW2-to-maybe-post-Vietnam era. A lot of the stuff is analogous to carrier combat plus having futuristic-themed forms of weapons common in air-to-air combat in the 20th century.

Those are all conventions developed over time by Hollywood and comic books and video games to make games work and appealing. Some of them work pretty-differently from reality (or what our best guesses are as to likely future space combat). But they’re pretty fun (at least, in my opinion).

I miss this genre, myself – there are a relatively-few games that have come out recently, and personally, I think that it’s people missing games in the genre that drove Star Citizen’s funding. I think that one reason that it was such a big deal in the late-90s was the confluence of cultural elements and the fact that space can be relatively-cheap to render, compared to atmospheric combat flight sims; you don’t need a lot of texture memory to make things look good, and hardware was often kinda limited then.

Newtonian space combat flight sim

This is a bit more of a catch-all, but it generally eschews some or all of the above (particularly the “flying through space is like flying through fluid”) and focuses more on the “hard sim” side.

4x space game

This is a strategy genre; space isn’t really critical other than in that there are many isolated, habitable worlds to conquer.

Master of Orion and similar fall into this genre.

Space RTS

Not a lot of entrants here, but I think that Homeworld permitting for the use of a third dimension does meaningfully change the RTS genre.

Space sim

I’m not aware of a lot of games in this genre, but I can’t really fit Kerbal Space Project into another category, and it’s undeniably a space game.

Space-themed games

I’m kind of using this as a catch-all, but there are games in many genres that are set in the future and have space as a theme, but play pretty much analogously to games set in a present-day theme. Maybe there’s a bit of stuff that they pull in that wouldn’t happen in a present-day setting (e.g. Starfield’s zero-g FPS combat), but you could basically reskin most of the game and have it play the same way in a present- or past-setting.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

One thing that I think that they did right in Freelancer was to cheap out on the not-in-ship content.

X4 put a lot of work into building up an out-of-the-ship environment that lets you walk around space stations, and I just don’t feel that it added a lot of the environment. There are a lot of things that I’d rather have had done relative to X3.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

There’s also a few “fleet command” games. These aren’t really “combat flight sims” like the above, because the player isn’t experiencing a flight sim from the ship, but like the “space RTS” genre, the third dimension really alters the dynamics. Maybe they’re somewhat-analogous to a naval fleet combat sim.

The only example of this genre that I’ve played would be Nebulous: Fleet Command, but I understand that there are a few more out there.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I just want a good cockpit sim with HOTAS support that doesn’t make me want to scoop out my own eyeballs whenever I think about loading it up again.

Atmospheric flight combat sims, and I haven’t played either much, but maybe Il-2: Sturmovik: Great Battles or DCS? Those kind of fit the “slap a lot of money on the counter, and we give you a hard sim with a lot of levers” bill.

I fucking love flying ships in that game with my HOTAS

I have a HOTAS setup too, along with pedals. And I’m kinda with you on wishing that there were good space flight combat HOTAS games. But…I’m skeptical that it’s gonna happen.

You need to have enough people running around with a dedicated throttle and flightstick to get sales up enough to make it worthwhile to focus a game on it.

I feel like the decline in flightsticks may have been a factor in moving away from the combat flight genre (both space and air-breathing), that the late '90s/early 2000s may be permanently the heyday.

My guess is that there are a number of factors:

  • Gamepads got analog thumbsticks and analog triggers. They aren’t ideal for flight sims, but that’s enough analog inputs that most people who aren’t absolutely devoted to the genre are going to just live with a gamepad rather than buying a bunch of extra input hardware that can only be used with that game.


    During the 1990s, joysticks such as the CH Products Flightstick, Gravis Phoenix, Microsoft SideWinder, Logitech WingMan, and Thrustmaster FCS were in demand with PC gamers. They were considered a prerequisite for flight simulators such as F-16 Fighting Falcon and LHX Attack Chopper. Joysticks became especially popular with the mainstream success of space flight simulator games like X-Wing and Wing Commander, as well as the “Six degrees of freedom” 3D shooter Descent.[27][28][29][30][31] VirPil Controls’ MongoosT-50 joystick was designed to mimic the style of Russian aircraft (including the Sukhoi Su-35 and Sukhoi Su-57), unlike most flight joysticks.[32]

    However, since the beginning of the 21st century, these types of games have waned in popularity and are now considered a “dead” genre, and with that, gaming joysticks have been reduced to niche products.[27][28][29][30][31]

  • The XBox gamepad became very common as a convention on the PC, whereas up until that point, it was more-common to have all kinds of oddball inputs, and it was expected that a player would set up the controls on a per-game basis. I think that not having to do input configuration made gamepad-on-the-PC more approachable, but it also made it harder to sell people on games that require actual input. HOTASes are still in the “setup required” family (and it’s good that they have the flexibility, as you can’t have a one-size-fits-all HOTAS setup). Maybe you could have Internet-distributed profiles for different hardware, choose something reasonable out of box, kinda like how Steam Input works.

  • Ubiquitous Internet access has made multiplayer more common than it was around 2000. If a game supports competitive multiplayer, then having configurable input (and macros and such) may be undesirable, because you want a level playing field. Game developers may not want to permit for a variety of inputs if it doesn’t make for a level playing ground and they’re doing multiplayer. There’s some game that I recall (Star Citizen?) where I remember players being extremely unhappy about changes being made that favored mouse-and-keyboard players over flightstick players.

  • Newer combat aircraft are fly-by-wire. There’s no mechanism to let one “feel” resistance, and so not much reason for flight sim games to do so either. For a while, there were force-feedback joysticks (we typically use “force feedback” today to refer to rumble motors, but strictly-speaking, it should refer to joysticks that push back against you). That was never a huge chunk of the market, but it was a reason to get dedicated hardware.

  • I assume that modern aircraft don’t need trim adjustment; having trim controls is another thing that you can add inputs for on-controller.

  • For space combat games, manipulating the throttle doesn’t have the significance that it does with an air-based combat flight sim. Like, you aren’t constantly storing and releasing kinetic energy as you ascend and descend. You don’t have much to crash into. Stalling isn’t a problem. Exceeding aircraft speed maximums isn’t a problem. A lot of space combat flight sims aren’t “hard sims”, so you don’t need to worry about things like engine overheating the way you might in Il-2 Sturmovik: 1946 (though I suppose that one could introduce dynamics for that; Starfield has a “peak maneuverability” speed, so there’s an incentive to reduce speed to do a turn before speeding back up).

  • Many space combat sims aren’t simulating existing hardware; developers are only going to introduce mechanics if it significantly adds to the gameplay. In Il-2 Sturmovik: 1946, I have a ton of controls that are there because they reflect real-world mechanical systems. Armored cowlings over air intakesthat can be set to variable levels of openness. Prop pitch. Fuel mixture. The only real analog I can think of in space flight combat sims are maybe “system energy levels”.

  • HOTAS is really limited to PC gaming. It’s not incredibly friendly to other video game hardware. With a console, you need to have the input hardware mounted somewhere, something that a living room couch isn’t as amenable to as a desk. With a mobile phone, you want to have the hardware with you, and so size is at a premium; I think that few people are going to want to lug around a throttle and flightstick with their phone, even if the hardware can technically handle it.

  • Some games are doing VR (e.g. Elite Dangerous) and in VR, I think that if the world does go heavily down the VR route – which it has not yet – that it’ll be likely that there will just be virtual controls using VR controllers rather than dedicated HOTAS input devices. The concept of only seeing the ship kinda isn’t an ideal match for the physical controls. Yeah, you don’t get tactile feedback, but it gives you a lot of flexibility in ship control layout. Now, yes, there’s a VR+HOTAS crowd like you; going all the way with inputs and outputs. But I don’t know how many people are willing to put the money down for a top-of-the-light flight sim rig, and video games have fixed costs and variable revenue, so they benefit from scale, getting a lot of people pitching in money. You really don’t want to target just a small market if you can avoid it.

I think that the best bet for broader HOTAS support down the line is one of the two:

  • Go low-budget. Yeah, a lot of flight sims are AAA…but I’m not sold that they absolutely need to be. I’ve played some untextured polygon games that are pretty good (like Carrier Command 2). I understand that BattleBit Remastered is considered pretty highly too. That’s a big whopping chunk of assets that just don’t exist. And if you do that, you can target a much smaller audience and still make a reasonable return. Just focus on flight mechanics or something. Maybe down the line, if there’s enough uptake, sell some kind of DLC with fancy assets.
  • Push HOTAS support out to some kind of game-agnostic software package. Like, say there were enough people who really wanted to play HOTAS games. Have an open-source “HOTAS app” that provides most of the functionality: distributing input profiles, linking together collections of devices, setting indicator LEDs, etc. The game just links up with that app, and doesn’t attempt to handle every device out there. It exposes a bunch of input values that can be twiddled, and some outputs. There’s some precedent for that kind of software; Steam Input, or (not input-specific) VoIP apps with game integration, like Teamspeak. Buttplug.io basically fills that “third-party open-source middleware” role for outputs for adult video games and sex toys.

Either way – push HOTAS out to a separate cross-input-device, cross-game software package, or going lower-budget, reduces the need to be mass-market, which – in 2024 – HOTAS isn’t.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Whatever the merits or flaws of Star Citizen as an individual game, I do think that the sheer amount of cash dumped into the thing by backers does demonstrate that there’s legitimately demand out there for a game in the space flight combat genre.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

The Outer Worlds is in the same bucket as Starfield, but with fewer space-specific elements. Starfield has light space flight combat, though it’s not very sophisticated, more of a minigame. And Starfield has zero-G FPS bits. Oh, yeah, and you mention The Outer Worlds having fixed gravity – Starfield does have variable gravity. But if you removed that, you could make either Starfield or The Outer Worlds not set in space and it’d basically play the same way. Maybe you’d have to come up with some alternate explanation for alien animals and flora, like bioengineering or something, but lots of games have done that.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

They should probably be more wary of the likelier—and grimmer—alternative: becoming something closer to most of the other casinos in America, where no parent would ever dream of throwing their kid’s birthday party.

I haven’t been to a Dave & Busters in ages, but I’d guess that their existing business model may not be in great shape. What did they offer? A restaurant with an attached arcade aimed at adults.

Generally, arcades have not done terribly well. There used to be a lot of video arcades all over out there in the 1980s. Video game hardware has gotten a lot cheaper, and a lot of people just have it at home now.

Last I looked (which was not recent), the kid-oriented Chuck-E-Cheese and the adult-oriented Dave & Busters tried to compensate with hardware that had a high hardware cost and couldn’t readily economically be brought home, like light guns, enclosures that enhance immersion (e.g simulated motorcycle seats to ride on on motorcycle games). But for at least some of that, VR setups are probably a partial competitor, and they’re a lot more available.

Many of the setups are aimed at letting multiple people play games together, but wide availability of broadband and VoIP and good headsets has made it easier to play games remotely. That won’t replace all of the experience of playing against someone else in person, but it is a partial substitute.

They sell alcohol, but young adults – who l’d guess are most likely to frequent a D&B – in the US are drinking less than they did in the past.

They focus on people who stay at their premises, but there’s apparently been a big shift in consumer use of restaurants towards takeout:


According to the NRA, on-premises traffic hasn’t returned to its pre-pandemic highs. But drive-through and delivery orders have grown so much that together they now account for a higher share of customer traffic than on-premises dining, for the first time ever. Meanwhile, the only parts of the day with growing foot traffic are the morning and late night, when customers are likely to be on the go.

Like, they may not be able to keep doing what they had been doing.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I mean, there’s probably still some niche, but the niche can get pretty small.

Movie theaters kinda did this before the arcades did. Used to be that it wasn’t normal to be able to watch movies at home, but once that happened, the space for movie theaters got a lot smaller.


New forms of competition

One reason for the decline in ticket sales in the 2000s is that “home-entertainment options [are] improving all the time— whether streamed movies and television, video games, or mobile apps—and studios releasing fewer movies”, which means that “people are less likely to head to their local multiplex”. This decline is not something that is recent. It has been observed since the 1950s when television became widespread among working-class homes. As the years went on, home media became more popular, and the decline continued. This decline continues until this day. A Pew Media survey from 2006 found that the relationship between movies watched at home versus at the movie theater was in a five to one ratio and 75% of respondents said their preferred way of watching a movie was at home, versus 21% who said they preferred to go to a theater. In 2014, it was reported that the practice of releasing a film in theaters and via on-demand streaming on the same day (for selected films) and the rise in popularity of the Netflix streaming service has led to concerns in the movie theater industry. Another source of competition is television, which has “…stolen a lot of cinema’s best tricks – like good production values and top tier actors – and brought them into people’s living rooms”. Since the 2010s, one of the increasing sources of competition for movie theaters is the increasing ownership by people of home theater systems which can display high-resolution Blu-ray disks of movies on large, widescreen flat-screen TVs, with 5.1 surround sound and a powerful subwoofer for low-pitched sounds.

Drive-in movie theaters got hit even earlier:


Decline (1970s–1990s)

Several factors contributed to the decline of the drive-in movie industry. Beginning in the late 1960s, drive-in attendance began to decline as the result of improvements and changes to home entertainment, from color television and cable TV to VCRs and video rental in the early 1980s. Additionally, the 1970s energy crisis led to the widespread adoption of daylight saving time (which caused drive-in movies to start an hour later) and lower use of automobiles, making it increasingly difficult for drive-ins to remain profitable.

Mainly following the advent of cable television and video cassette recorder (VCR), then with the arrival of DVD and streaming systems, families were able to enjoy movies in the comfort of their homes. The new entertainment technology increased the options and the movie watching experience.

And, they apparently did a similar-to-D&B’s, more-adult-oriented shift to try to mitigate losses:

While exploitation films had been a drive-in staple since the 1950s, helped by relatively limited oversight compared to downtown theaters, by the 1970s, several venues switched from showing family-friendly fare to R-rated and X-rated films as a way to offset declining patronage and revenue, while other venues that still catered to families, began to show R-rated or pornographic movies in late-night time slots to bring in extra income.[citation needed] This allowed censored materials to be viewed by a wider audience, including those for whom viewing was still illegal in some states, and it was also reliant upon varying local ordinances controlling such material. It also required a relatively remote location away from the heavier populated areas of towns and cities.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I’d say that in my experience, retro games or games with a retro design philosophy tend to be more enjoyable and replayable.

I don’t like chiptune music, where music is designed to sound like it’s being played on an old console’s frequency synthesizer.

I think that there are some good arguments for low-resolution pixel art in terms of reducing asset cost while still having a playable game – the brain is good at filling details in. But I don’t think that that applies to music, that there are good cost trade-offs.

And while I don’t have a problem with low-resolution pixel art graphics, I do have to say that for some of the successful games that I’ve played with it, I’d really like to be able to buy an HD graphics pack. I’m kind of surprised by how infrequently it is that I’ve seen game devs do that. Cave Story did it. I’d like to see some games like Caves of Qud have HD DLC.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I mean, okay. But it’s not really the ESA’s responsibility to archive art and cultural works for posterity. They’re going to care about whether it’s going to affect their bottom line and if the answer is “yes”, then they probably aren’t going to support it. Why ask them?

There was a point in time in the US when a work was only protected by copyright if one deposited such a work with the Library of Congress. That might be excessive, but it could theoretically be done with video games. Maybe only ones that sell more than N copies.


Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The number of copies required varies from country to country. Typically, the national library is the primary repository of these copies. In some countries there is also a legal deposit requirement placed on the government, and it is required to send copies of documents to publicly accessible libraries.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

It’s still circular. The ESA doesn’t run the Library of Congress. They can argue that the LoC shouldn’t do that, but they don’t have decision-making authority in that.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I’m just curious why a new designation hasn’t sprouted up for one or the other to make things less confusing.

There is for one of them: you mentioned it.


A Soulslike (also spelled Souls-like) is a subgenre of action role-playing games known for high levels of difficulty and emphasis on environmental storytelling, typically in a dark fantasy setting. It had its origin in Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls series by FromSoftware, the themes and mechanics of which directly inspired several other games. Soulslike games developed by FromSoftware themselves have been specifically referred to as Soulsborne games, a portmanteau of Souls and Bloodborne.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Cars have cell radios now and transfer data about you using those.

I would imagine that as long as it can generate enough of a return for it to make financial sense, manufacturers of other devices might start doing so at some point.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

This particular idea probbaly has technical limitations.

A device can only monitor and analyze and modify what a user is viewing if it’s being used as a pass-through device in a daisy chain of devices.

As long as there is any device out there that can take multiple video signals from different inputs, let the user choose which they want to use, they can just not daisy-chain them, have them connected in parallel to different inputs. And even if one could try to get manufacturers colluding on creating a world where daisy-chaining is the only option, they have no incentive to do so on this point – in doing this, they’re trying to steal eyeball time from each other.

Now, that being said, I suppose that device manufacturers may not care, if 95% of users are going to just daisy-chain their devices. If it’s only a few privacy nuts out there who are constantly keeping on top of the latest shennanigans and figuring out how to avoid them, if the Roku manual says “daisy chain” and most users just follow the pictures there…shrugs

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Ads have funded a lot of content in the past. I don’t mean just in the Internet era, but in the TV era and the radio era and the newspaper era. We’re talking centuries.

Unless you’re gonna get people to pay for your content, which can create difficulties, attaching it to ads can be a way to pay for that content.

Now, all that being said, that isn’t to say that one needs to want to choose ads or needs to want to choose ads in all contexts or can want unlimited ads. I’d generally rather pay for something up front. Let’s say that it takes $10 to produce a piece of content. For ads to make sense, it has to make the average user ultimately spend at least $10 more on some advertised product than they otherwise would have, or it wouldn’t make sense for the advertiser to give the content creator $10. I’d just as soon spend $10 on the content directly instead and not watch the ads. Ultimately, the average user has to pay at least as much under an ad regime as if they just paid for the content up front, and doesn’t have to deal with the overhead of me staring at ads.

But for that to work, the content provider has to be able to actually get people to pay for whatever content they’re putting out. If it gets pirated, or people disproportionately weight the cost of that up-front payment, or people are worried about the security of their transaction, or what-have-you, then the content provider is gonna fall back to being paid in ads.

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@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, Dwarf Fortress. Highly-replayable, open-world and they keep being developed, so when you come back, there’s new stuff.

Skyrim, Fallout 4. Same idea, but the modders have added a lot of content.

Some of the city-builders, like Tropico 5. I play for a while, get tired, uninstall, but tend to come back, because the game is replayable.

Chase the Sun and Nova Drift are action games that I have spent some time away from and then come back and played. Nova Drift has seen regular development.

Pinball sims. I think that one can only play so much pinball, but I find myself thinking “I’d like to play a pinball game” down the line and reinstall.

I think that most of the games have some common characteristics:

  • Didn’t live-or-die based on their technology or graphics, because they’re invariably obsolete by the time I’ve come back.
  • Need to be highly-replayable. I’ve played games with story, like Fallout: New Vegas but I don’t really go back to play them for the story (though I’ll concede that specifically Fallout: New Vegas does have multiple paths to explore). They can’t be appealing because of a surprising or tense plot or a plot twist.
  • Often see continued development or modding, so there’s some reason to go back and see what’s there (though pinball would be a notable exception…you don’t go back for new content).
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Don’t Starve ticks pretty much all the boxes for a game that I should like…but I just don’t.

I like a number of action roguelikes, like The Binding of Isaac.

I like the open-world nature.

But the game just doesn’t do it for me. I dunno. I guess that a lot of the gameplay is clicking on things to gather them, which I am not that blown away by. I don’t feel like I change things up much based on what the world throws at me, which I think is an important aspect for a roguelite/roguelike to have. Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead does a better job of this, The Binding of Isaac a much better. I think that the low-sanity graphical artifacts might build mood, but are obnoxious.

The aesthetic just doesn’t really do it for me.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Shattered Pixel Dungeon is a roguelike, well suited to the touch interface and small screen. Offline. Constantly expanded. Free, open source, and on F-Droid.

Developer also appears to have a presence on the Threadiverse, think he came over when Reddit went to hell. Lemme find the community.

EDIT: !pixeldungeon


Unciv is a reimplementation of Civilization V for Android. Obviously, less-elaborate graphics, but same gameplay. Free, open-source, available on F-Droid.


Catacalysm: Dark Days Ahead is an open-world roguelike. The good news is that it is deep, has ridiculous amounts of functionality. Very free-form – you can build camps with NPCs, mutate your character, acquire bionic implants, construct buildings and vehicles, etc. Some extensive mods to do things like add fantasy content. The bad news is that it also has a very steep learning curve – think Dwarf Fortress, say. The UI was also designed for a PC, and while the Android port dev did a reasonable job of adapting it for a touchscreen, it’s still awkward compared to a keyboard – not like Shattered Pixel Dungeon. If you’re willing to carry a keyboard – you say that you’re okay with a controller, so I assume that you’re okay lugging some kind of gear bag – then it becomes a very good option. There are some folding keyboards aimed at phone use that can be pretty small, certainly smaller than a game controller, if you don’t want a more-traditional keyboard. CPU-intensive, though – in heavily-monster-infested areas, it can load down a PC, and it’s probably less-gentle on less-powerful Android devices. Offline. Free, open-source, but nobody has packaged it for F-Droid.

Download links for both the stable and experimental builds here:



Some helpful websites, by decreasing importance (that you might miss if you’re playing offline away from an Internet connection):



cddawiki.chezzo.com/cdda_wiki/index.php?title=Mai… (often outdated, but also one of the few places trying to aggregate a lot of information from forums and the like).

There’s an essentially-inactive community on the Threadiverse at !cataclysmdda

There is a whole genre of older text-based interactive fiction games that are free and offline for simple virtual machines; the major ones here are glulx, TADS, and Inform/z5. Android has such virtual machine ports; it looks like https://f-droid.org/packages/io.davidar.fabularium/ in F-Droid can run them. These involve a lot of typing, as they were designed for the PC, and IMHO are not well-suited to a virtual keyboard, but if you’re willing to take a physical keyboard, they can be pretty good. You’ll need to learn the (English-like) syntax that the game engines understand. I personally enjoyed https://ifdb.org/viewgame?id=z5xgyw0jbt9r3ah1 and https://ifdb.org/viewgame?id=op0uw1gn1tjqmjt7. Two sites that have large collections of free games made by volunteers for download:

Interactive Fiction Archive

Interactive Fiction Database

An intro to the genre:


These will be gentle on your battery.

I’ll be honest, though – when I first got an Android device, I was pretty disappointed with the game situation. This is greatly-exacerbated by the fact that I’m not willing to get a Google account and let Google more-readily monitor me, which rules out most commercial games…but I wasn’t blown away by even commercial game availability in the Google Play Store, and the open-source situation is kind of sparse compared to Linux, what I’m normally on. Linux is IMHO generally a preferable gaming platform, unless one specifically wants to do touch-based games (which can be important).

I was also kind of disappointed by the lack of choose-your-own-adventure/gamebook-style games on Android. These would avoid the typing in interactive fiction by just having a few choices to select from, which I thought would be a good fit for a touchscreen. There’s the large collection of text-based mostly-commercial games at Choice of Games – you can get their client on itch.io; Android has an itch.io package manager on F-Droid in the form of Mitch that can download it. Heh, though that’s downloading a package manager with a package manager to get a package manager. If I had to recommend a few, I’d try Tin Star, maybe Choice of Robots, and the Heroes trilogy; those are commercial, though they have a few free games, and IIRC their client keeps a few normally-commercial games for temporary free play.

While I like the Choice of Games writing, I find that a lot of the gameplay in the games fall flat, more-or-less trying to optimize for playing one character “type” or another; I feel like they’re written by novel authors and could benefit a lot from more game elements, and that new authors kind of copied the existing style.

There’s a once-commercial series of gamebooks, Lone Wolf, which I can’t really call a fantastic example of a gamebook and doesn’t have the most-amazing artwork, but which was a real 1980s/1990s series whose author said “go ahead and freely distribute them”, so various open-source and commercial projects have gone and done up clients to play the books, do stuff like the dice-rolling and hit-point tracking and so forth. I haven’t used Android clients, but they exist. One such project.


I still don’t have an open-source solitaire implementation that I’m blown away by, which seems like another surprising limitation. My guess is that you can probably find something non-open-source – though probably spyware – on the Google Play Store. PySolFC is on F-Droid. It…works, and it gets me my Eight Off fix (a particular solitaire game that I like but isn’t as widely-played as Klondike or Freecell) but it was really designed for desktop computer, and the Android adaptation could be better, IMHO. Small cards and such.

There’s a choose-your-own-adventure engine called Twine; games written in various languages – the most sophisticated such language is SugarCube – can be converted to Web-based games. That seems like it’d be ideal for Android, and the games are playable on Android, but authors don’t always create games that work well on the small screens of many Android devices. I don’t know of a single Twine-oriented game archive in the sense that the Interactive Fiction archive and the Interactive Fiction Database serve for interactive fiction games. However, many people who have made Twine games seem to distribute them in packaged form on itch.io. There doesn’t seem to be much of an open-source culture around these, unfortunately, so I don’t see people doing a lot by creating patches and such. I rarely play these on Android, mostly use the PC. Here’s a list of Twine games on itch.io packaged for Android:


There’s also a pretty extensive number of adult games for this platform, if that’s your cup of tea.

There are emulators for various old game systems for Android. I’ve used Retroarch on Linux, and it looks like they also have an Android build on F-Droid. I’ve never spent time using these on Android, because I just always would prefer to play on a desktop platform, but I’d imagine that if what you have is an Android device and using that is a constraint, they’re probably fine. That might be the more action-oriented sort of game you’re looking for, given that you’re talking about a controller. Not much by way of legitimately-free stuff there, though obviously piracy of old console games is widespread, and some people – such as myself – will sometimes just buy the game on another platform and conscience assuaged, go pirate it on the platform that we want to play it on. I think my favorite emulated games were probably the most-popular 2D ones on the Super Nintendo, stuff like Super Metroid or and Legend of Zelda 3. Oh, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the PS1. I imagine that a current Android device would have no trouble with any of those, if you’ve a controller.

Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup is a traditional roguelike that has a build for Android on F-Droid. This, again, is designed for a PC and is gonna be better-played with a keyboard. It’s not beautiful, nor as well-suited to the Android platform as the designed-for-the-platform Shattered Pixel Dungeon. But it has a game that is famous for being refined, with the developer constantly going back and cutting out cruft and grind/busywork, resulting in a very polished game from a gameplay sense. The author, Linley Henzel, has some famous quote about how any action that the player has to make in a game should be an interesting decision, and if it isn’t, it should be removed from the game.


tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

[continued from parent comment]

If you really want a timesink and have a keyboard and you don’t mind online play except insofar as you don’t want some commercial company trying to data-mine your activity, there are a bunch of MUDs out there; these are run by volunteers who wanted to create and run their own worlds, and they’re always looking for more players. These are text-based, usually-but-not-always fantasy games. It looks like there are Android clients. I can’t specifically recommend any of the clients, as I haven’t tried them. Many combat-oriented MUDs allow one to configure a character to essentially fight on its own, so if your concern is being constrained to needing to be glued to a screen in a multi-user world, it does provide some ability to get up and leave.



I’m going to place the big caveat there that I haven’t played these in ages, and I don’t know if the gameplay has advanced much over the years – they tend to be grindy. But they are free, and there’s a lot of stuff out there, if you’re looking to spend time exploring. MUD clients tend to have features to help alleviate latency, like having a local buffer for editing the current line one is typing, but I don’t know how annoying a cell link with poor reception might be. They don’t send all that much data, but it is a real-time world, not turn-based. And they aren’t gonna impose ads on you, or have software that runs on your system, or data-mine you, or try to figure out how to sell you anything; they’re games where the people who make them just like playing them enough to set them up for their own enjoyment.

Battle for Wesnoth is a good turn-based hex wargame with a number of campaigns…think, oh, the kinds of games in the “Tactics” genre, if you’re familiar with those. However…it was designed for the PC. It’s definitely playable on Android, but the UI clearly wasn’t designed for Android; it benefits from some kind of pointing device. If you’re willing to haul a pointing device of some sort with you, I’d recommend it without reservation. Free, open-source, available on F-Droid.


@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I can’t figure out why office chairs run so much more than easy chairs and are so much less-durable.

I got an easy chair quite some years back. I don’t think it even ran $300. At some point, I finally managed to muck up the recliner mechanism, but I’ve probably gone through five office chairs since I got that, some of which cost considerably more than that. The back wouldn’t stay up, or the the pneumatic cylinder would fail, or the mesh would weaken and the front of the chair would press up into legs. The office chairs generally didn’t have a headrest.

Honestly, given that I don’t actually work with paper at my desk, I’d kind of rather have an easy chair with some sort of mounting pole for the monitor and a keyboard/mouse tray.

Dissapointed in Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller

Here is the story: I decided to buy a good and expensive controller for my PC for the first time, after 3 decades of using stock dualshocks and cheap knock-off brands. Googled “best controller for PC”, found a lot about elite series 2 controllers. Got excited about it (primarily the back-grip buttons and adjustable stick...

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I decided to buy a good and expensive controller for my PC for the first time,

It‘s not exactly a widespread feature

Gyro has been present in Sony controllers since Dualshock 3.

Not many PC games natively support gyro, however, because most controllers that people have on the PC don’t support it.

Yeah, it’s an input that you can use to rig something up with Steam Input or some sort of macro software, but if you don’t have a large proportion of the userbase with hardware support, game developers aren’t going to put resources into native support, and without native support, most people won’t use it, and if most people aren’t going to use it, not a lot of incentive for game controller developers to support it.

Same thing for the haptic feedback and the force feedback triggers on the Playstation controllers. You can use them on the PC, theoretically, but just not much native support out there for them.

I kind of wish that there were some kind of standard, cross-platform, open-source software package that you could have games hook into on one end and controllers on the other, have a developer-provided profile, but let the package provide some kind of profile that does something reasonable for an arbitrary controller (or multiple controllers, think HOTAS) if the developer doesn’t, and let game controller developers and players publish control scheme settings for games/controllers. Steam Input is kind of the closest thing to this, but is proprietary and tied to one distribution platform (Steam), which sort of sucks.

The sex toy crowd has something like this going on with buttplug.io – which, ironically enough, can actually support linking games to game controllers with vibration, not just sex toys, but for some reason we haven’t managed to get there with normal, actual game controller input. I kind of wish that given that they have their shit together enough to actually get something like this out there, that they’d rename the project to something uncontroversial like GameIO, support hooking up games to arbitrary output devices and input devices, and then expose an input layer to games. Have the option to use the game’s provided profile by default, but also use a custom one.

Steam deck has it.

The Steam Deck is successful for what it is, and maybe one day it will have enough market share to be able to really drive game features, but as things stand, it’s something like a percent.



If you crunch the numbers and assume the Deck does indeed represent 40% of Linux users, which make up 1.97% of Steam users, then the Deck is used by 0.78% of all Steam users. That’s the exact market share number for the Deck APU in the GPU survey, which means at least these datapoints are internally consistent.

That’s maybe the largest single bloc of people using a single specific non-mouse/keyboard input device on Steam, but it’s still a very small portion of the overall PC user base.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Problem is that even on a premium product, cost is gonna be a factor. Well, and weight.

I can think of a bunch of features that could be supported in a controller. Problem is, not everyone is gonna want everything, and if they put it on the thing, everyone is gonna pay for it. On the XBox Elite Series 2:

Billy Mitchell has surrendered (perfectpacman.com)

Billy Mitchell didn’t win his defamation lawsuit against Twin Galaxies. Not only was Billy not in a position to get a financial settlement, Billy’s cheated Donkey Kong scores were not reinstated(as he’s claiming), and his claimed Pac-Man score from 1999 is also not on the main scoreboards. What had happened is that the...

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Fuck Billy Mitchell

I didn’t read the article and was very confused when I skimmed the comments. There’s a famous Billy Mitchell who was very important in developing American air doctrine around World War II.


Billy Mitchell

United States Army WWI general (1879–1936)

William Lendrum Mitchell (December 29, 1879 – February 19, 1936) was a United States Army officer who is regarded as the father of the United States Air Force.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

One downside of always-online DRM is that it kind of deanonymizes you. I mean, the game retailer knows that a given person is at a given IP address at a given time, and that information has value that could be used down the line to combine with other sources of data.

Avoiding that would require something like a VPN system that uses a different IP for different services.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

It’s not the game in particular – it could be any service that one makes use of over extended period of time. The issue is that one can correlate with other data.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

8bitdo Ultimate - 50€

Check carefully which variant you’re buying, if you’d like Hall Effect sticks.

There are several 8BitDo “Ultimate” controllers that do not have Hall Effect sticks; I found the branding to be pretty confusing.

This has Hall Effect sticks:


As does this:


This does not:


Nor does this:


tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I was aware of the Ultimate C existed and I did supposed it was some sort of “lite” version

Yeah, but just to be clear, it’s not just the Ultimate C that doesn’t have them. The fourth link above is to a non-Bluetooth Ultimate variant with no “C” in its name; that particular variant also doesn’t have Hall Effect sticks.

For me, it was annoying because — at least when I bought mine, haven’t checked recently — 8bitdo doesn’t make a Ultimate controller with an XBox button layout and Hall Effect sticks. You gotta settle for a Nintendo-layout controller. You can remap the buttons in software on your computer, and they apparently sell replacement button caps if you want to make the controller , but it’s not internally using the XBox layout, annoyingly-enough.

You sound like you’re specifically wanting a Nintendo layout, so you probably don’t need an XBox layout, but you might still want to be careful that whatever you order does in fact have the Hall Effect sticks.

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

There are some exceptions – I like playing Nightmare, who is male, in the Soul Calibur series, due to his moveset – but absent broader gameplay considerations coming up, I’ll default to a female choice. I’d rather look at the female character through the course of the game.


I play very few multiplayer games. The last time I was playing a 3D multiplayer game much was a long time ago, probably a Quake 2-based Team Fortress-style game, and then I played a male character, an engineer, because of his role.

I haven’t played MUDs for ages, but there I generally played a male character.

Sometimes games attach some sort of gameplay benefits on a gender-basis (e.g. male or female characters have slightly different stats or characteristics), and then I’ll sometimes choose the main character’s gender based on that, but that’s become less-common, maybe not politically-correct. Mount and Blade: Warband does that – it’s a medieval world and male and female characters have significantly-different roles there; there I’ll play a male character. The Fallout series had a long tradition of having the Black Widow/Lady Killer perk work differently based on a character’s gender; it’s generally advantageous to play a female character there.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I’m very happy that so many people sink real money into it, as I simply am unable to do so myself.

I get what you’re saying, but it does also create incentives to develop for whales.

Like, okay. Take Fallout 76. They – unlike with previous games in the series – do not have large, commercial DLC packages that come out. Rather, they have small, free, seasonal releases of content. Howard has committed Bethesda not to doing any commercial DLC for the game.

I was happy with that “large commercial DLC” model, and purchased them. But, okay, as it stands, I get a game that someone else is mostly paying for, right?

They sell a “premium” subscription for $12/mo, which provides some relatively-minor benefits.

And they sell various cosmetic items that people can place in their camp that one could hypothetically spend a pretty much unlimited amount on.

My problem is that financially, this constrains them to have basically no incentive to do anything other than develop new cosmetic items and sell to people who really want to buy them. And in the past, Bethesda has made some excellent large, commercial expansions for games in the series, like Far Harbor for Fallout 4.

This isn’t to argue in favor of or against the law in China, but to point out that the “someone else will pay for the game” model has some problems with it – if you aren’t paying anything, and someone else’s wallet is covering all the costs, it means that the game developer is entirely-incentivized to do development to appeal to whoever is paying for the thing, not you.

Valve needs to step up on Anti-Cheat

So yeah, I want to discuss or point out why I think Valve needs to fix Anti-Cheat issues. They have VAC but apparently its doing jackshit, be it Counter Strike 2 (any previous iterations) or something like Hunt: Showdown the prevalence of cheating players is non deniable. For me personally it has come to a point that I am not...

tal, (edited )
@tal@lemmy.today avatar

in a FOSS game anybody can modify the game client all they want, so all the bullshit is out of the way from the start. You can’t hide behind make-believe notions such as “they can’t modify the client” – which is one of the major lies and fallacies of commercial close-source games.

Sometimes, just for practical performance reasons, with realtime games, the client is gonna need access to data that would permit one to cheat. You can’t do some game genres very well while keeping things on the server.

Consoles solve this by not letting you modify your computer. I think that if someone is set on playing a competitive game, that’s probably the best route, as unenthusiastic as I am about closed systems. The console is just better-aimed at providing a level playing field. Same hardware, same performance, same input devices, can’t modify the environment.

'Course, with single player games, all that goes out the window. If I want to modify the game however I want, I should be able to do so, as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. I should be able to have macros or run an FPS in wireframe mode or whatever.

For PC competitive multiplayer, in theory, you could have some kind of trusted component for PCs (a “gaming card” or something) that has some memory and compute capability and stores the stuff that the host can’t see. The host could put information that the untrusted code running on the host can’t see on the card. It also lets anti-cheat code run on the card in a trusted environment with high-bandwidth and low-latency access to the host, so you can get, for example, mouse motion data at the host sampling rate for analysis. That’d be a partial solution.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

Installing freaking rootkits on people’s personal devices

If Valve is gonna do anything, I’d rather have them sandbox games from screwing with the environment, not the opposite. I’d like to be able to install random mods from Steam Workshop without worrying about whether some random modder might have malware attached to their mod that can compromise the whole system. I don’t care if a malicious mod dicks up the save games for a particular game, but I’d rather know that it cannot go beyond that.

That doesn’t solve the cheating problem, of course, but it’s a case where anti-cheating efforts and security concerns are kind of at odds.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar


If you want that, I kind of feel like the obligation should be placed on the OS (or maybe Steam or similar distribution platforms) to do sandboxing. Generally-speaking, in the computer security world, you’re better off just not letting software do something objectionable than trying to track down everyone who does it and have the judicial side handle things.

Mobile OSes and game console OSes already sandbox games that way.

PCs could have the ability to do that, but they don’t do that today.

I do think that they’re heading in that direction, though, at least relative to where they were, say, 30 years ago; at that point in time, permission tended to be really at a user level, and if you ran software on your computer, it pretty much had access to anything that the user did. Web browser are generally available and act as a sandbox for some lightweight sandbox. On Linux, Wayland’s a move towards handling isolation of apps at the desktop level – for a long time, desktop APIs really didn’t permit for isolation of one graphical program from another. Also on Linux, Flatpak and the like are aimed at distributing isolated graphical applications.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

However, I would like games to come with servers again so you can play games on your own terms

Please! Not just for anticheat reasons, but also for mods and keeping the game playable when the publishers decide it isn’t profitable.

The problem is that having an essential component of the game run on servers that only the publisher has access to is also a pretty effective way to do DRM, so they’ve got a pretty strong incentive not to do that. It’s a lot easier to ensure that someone paid for an account on publisher-run servers than that someone paid for a copy of the server and client binaries that they are in possession of.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

We went through this in RuneScape with auto miners. You just randomise locations and times slightly and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

Depends on whether people working on cheats can see the anti-cheat detection code. It’s hard to ensure that one data set is statistically-identical to another data set.

I remember at one point, reading about use of Benford’s law, that the IRS looked at leading digits on tax forms. On legit tax data, “1” is a more-common leading digit.

Recently, Russia had a vote in which there was vote fraud, where some statisticians highlighted it in a really clear way – you had visible lines in the data in voting districts at 5% increments, because voting districts had been required to have a certain level of votes for a given party, and had stuffed ballot boxes to that level.

If I can see the cheat-detection code, then, yeah, it’s not going to be hard to come up with some mechanism that defeats it. But if I can’t – and especially if that cheat-detection code delays or randomly doesn’t fire – it may be very hard for me to come up with data that passes its tests.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

someone delids the secure enclave on the gaming card, extracts the keys

Not a problem. You can potentially go for an attack on hardware, maybe recover a key, but you have a unique key tied to it. Now the attacker has a key for a single trusted computer. He can’t distribute it with an open-source FPGA design and have other users use that key, or it’ll be obvious to the server that many users have the key. They blacklist the key.

It’s because hardware is a pain to attack that consoles don’t have the cheating issues that PCs do.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

My above comment isn’t about preventing cheating, but preventing malware, like mods with a malicious payload.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I got my money’s worth out of Fallout 76, but I do have to say that, playing it on a 165 Hz monitor, you can really feel the load stuttering as you traverse the map.

Starfield does a much better job of not letting streaming loading affect the framerate than Bethesda’s past titles.

I suppose that there’s always the outside chance that they’ll re-release some prior game on the Starfield engine. They did do an updated release of Skyrim.

@tal@lemmy.today avatar

I don’t have a Deck, but I would assume so. It works on desktop Linux, and it’s not an especially new game.

It doesn’t have gamepad support. I dunno how the Deck does keyboard and mouse.



Apparently so. Haven’t done it myself, though.

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