Transcript and Summary of Podcast 6
Throughout the podcast, Charlie and Max talk about several things going on in their lives, the community, and providing some insight on a few features they are hoping to implement into Natural Selection 2 . Charlie and Max also take some time to talk about the new release of The Orange Box, noting Portal in particular.
In the beginning of the podcast, Charlie and Max share their experience of a concert by Bang Camaro that they attended earlier that week, and talk about Maxâ€™s connection with the band. They express interest in working with Bang Camaro on a track for Natural Selection 2.
In the second portion of the podcast, Charlie and Max talk about several questions that have come up in the forums concerning system requirements and the embracing of LUA in Natural Selection 2. They discuss whether or not LUA allows players to cheat easier, and if LUA modding would create a gap in the community by allowing too many servers to have different game play. In the end, they state that they would end up controlling the custom servers by embracing them, and adding in elements to the user interface to allow players to search for the type of game play that they prefer.
In the last section of the podcast, Charlie and Max get into the release of The Orange Box, spending most of their time discussing Portal and developer commentary, as well as revealing ideas on what they are hoping to implement in the Natural Selection community.
Charlie: Hello this is Charlie
Max: And Max
Charlie: And Max, welcome to the sixth podcast.
Max: Itâ€™s October 12th, 2007.
Charlie: And weâ€™re playing a little Band Camaro for ya. The reason why is because Max and I went to an awesome Bang Camaro concert this week.
Max: Yup on Wednesday.
Charlie: Yeah, buddies of yours from Iron Lore.
Max: Yup, I used to work with Bryn, whoâ€™s one of three lead guitarists, and one of the 20 lead singers, Morgan.
Charlie: I love that! Their whole stage, they had like, half as many people onstage as there were in the audience.
Max: Yeah, that was a small show.
Charlie: It was, but thatâ€™s what makes it so fun.
Max: Yeah there was a video interview with them where they basically say that the line between the audience and the performers gets blurred.
Charlie: Thatâ€™s so great.
Max: Which is what makes it a great job.
Charlie: And thatâ€™s what makes a great video game. Itâ€™s almost like because theyâ€™re video game developers they understand this concept.
Max: Actually, I think some of the other guys work at Harmonix too.
Charlie: Yeah, theyâ€™re likeâ€¦ they get it. Itâ€™s like the players are part of it.
Max: Yeah. You guys might know them fromâ€¦ Bang Camaro had a song in Guitar Hero 2, Push Push Lady Lightning. One of the unlockables, and I understand they have a track in Rock Band.
Charlie: Very cool, like they launched their whole band just from that game right?
Max: I think that definitely helped a lot. That and they had a track in Titan Quest.
Charlie: Oh! Right right right.
Max: Although itâ€™s in the credits, and you have to kindâ€™ve unlock it. I guess we were too nervous about just sticking it in there, so you have to actually go into the options to turn it on.
Charlie: Well, Iâ€™m going to switch it over to something a little tamer now so we can do the actual podcast. So weâ€™re excited about Bang Camaro, but weâ€™ve got some other stuff to talk about.
Max: Andâ€¦ we may do a song for Natural Selection 2 with them.
Charlie: Oh, yeah.
Max: I certainly hope so.
Charlie: That would be awesome. I donâ€™t know where it would go...
Charlie: I mean, that rockâ€¦
Max: Iâ€™m not sure that would fit. Well, in the credits or something, or a trailer.
Charlie: Thatâ€™s true. A trailer could work. Thatâ€™s such a distinctive and like, cheesy sound.
Max: Outside of the sci-fiâ€¦
Charlie: Yeah, Iâ€™m not sure if it would work.
Max: I donâ€™t know just think of Final Countdown
Charlie: You always bring it back to Final Countdown.
Max: Itâ€™s like that space metal genre that I love.
Charlie: Space metal, like who?
Max: Like Queen kindâ€™ve could do space metal, like Flash Gordon.
Charlie: Actually GWAR, GWAR is kindâ€™ve space metalâ€¦ ride rocketsâ€¦ anyways, enough talking about metal. Anyways, so what are we talking about in the podcast.
Max: Well thereâ€™s a couple issues Iâ€™ve noticed that have come up a couple times in the forums that would probably be worth talking about in the podcast. One is the minimum system requirements for Natural Selection 2. Which actually I guess is a little hard to talk about, since I donâ€™t really know what the minimum system requirements are going to be.
Charlie: You can probably guess.
Max: Well, it seems like the thing people are always concerned about is the system requirements as if they are going to be too high. And Iâ€™m pretty confident that the system requirements wonâ€™t be too high for Natural Selection 2, because our computers arenâ€™t very good.
Charlie: Yeah, exactly. Itâ€™s so sad.
Max: Itâ€™s actually something thatâ€™s been annoying me lately, is a couple games have come out, thereâ€™s not usually a lot of games I want to play, but in the last year, basically the two games I did want to play I couldnâ€™t play because they didnâ€™t run well enough on my computer.
Charlie: Which games?
Max: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. ran not that great, I donâ€™t know if theyâ€™ve patched that or what but yeah, it didnâ€™t run very well on my computer.
Charlie: And Bioshock,
Max: And Bioshockâ€¦
Charlie: Yeah, that ran like crap on my computer.
Max: I have a Radeon x1600 and you have the same thing.
Charlie: And thatâ€™s what I have actually. Iâ€™m sure everyone out there has a better card than that.
Max: Pretty much everyone has better computers than we do, so rest assured itâ€™ll probably run pretty well.
Charlie: And even the test stuff is working, like unoptimized and stuff. Like even on my machine itâ€™s 60 FPS.
Max: Yeah, in terms of graphics, I donâ€™t think weâ€™re going to need to do anything that would push higher than what Half Life 2 does,
Max: and CPU, thereâ€™s probably a higher load. Well, I donâ€™t know actually.
Charlie: Than the scripting and stuff?
Max: Well, the scripting, andâ€¦ like in Natural Selection 1, the CPU load was higher than say, Counter Strike or something.
Charlie: True, that was the entity limit though. Thereâ€™s a bottle neck in how Half Life handled the entities,
Charlie: Which I think they fixed.
Max: Thatâ€™s just partly the server side, but in general thereâ€™s just more going on.
Charlie: Ok, yeah.
Max: But compared to something like Half Life 2 singleplayer, thereâ€™s a lot going on sometimes.
Charlie: Thatâ€™s true.
Max: So I donâ€™t think thereâ€™ll be anymore of an impact than that. Like a big fight with a lot of AI. I think itâ€™ll be fine.
Charlie: So if your machine can run Half Life 2 you think it can probably run NS2?
Max: Yeah, I think thatâ€™ll definitely be the case.
Charlie: Thatâ€™s what we want.
The later version, I think Episode 2 pushes the system requirements a little higher. It didnâ€™t seem to run quite as well on my computer as I remember previous episodes running. The previous episode I guess.
Charlie: Yeah, the one episode.
Max: I donâ€™t think theyâ€™ll have too much to worry about there.
Charlie: Thatâ€™s always been our target, to get as many people playing as possible. I will decree it early, I will really push to get it running on everyoneâ€™s machine.
Max: In my opinion, Iâ€™d rather have a game that runs smoothly than almost anything else.
Charlie:I think for multiplayer stuff most people would agree.
Charlie: So â€œdonâ€™t worry, itâ€™ll run on your machine,â€ is the short answer to that.
Max: At some point, when weâ€™re close to being done weâ€™ll announce some system requirements, Iâ€™m sure.
Charlie: For now just assume, I guess Half Life 2, what Episode 2?
Charlie: Requirements, whatever those are? I havenâ€™t checked.
Max: Yeah, I think those are slightly higher than Half Life, but theyâ€™re still pretty low. Compared to likeâ€¦
Charlie: Like the rest of the games
Charlie: Yeah, thatâ€™s true. Itâ€™s out of control.
Max: The other issue that has shown up on the forums on a number of different threads, well itâ€™s two issues I guess, is related to LUA. One part is that itâ€™ll allow people to cheat using LUA scripting. The other one is that there will be too many modifications for Natural Selection 2 and itâ€™ll be hard to get the actual,
Charlie: â€Vanillaâ€ game.
Max: Yeah, the real NS experience. So what Iâ€™d say in response to the hacking part
Charlie: Actually I was going to ask you about this. I had some questions about this for you. Cause you know when people modify their models to be huge bounds, like big spikes coming out of their models, so when people come around corners like the skulk head sticks out way before he comes around the corner, how do we fix that?
Max: Well the way you fix that is by
Charlie: Check sum
Max: Check sum-ing everything. Yeah. Well this is the thing, adding LUA doesnâ€™t introduce any additional opportunities for people to cheat.
Charlie: Basically itâ€™s the exact same thing.
Max: Presumably it does make it easier to cheat. Weâ€™re really not talking about players cheating. Weâ€™re talking about server operators cheating. Cause players cheating, thatâ€™s the same thing, like altering the models to give them an advantage or whatever.
Max: In Half Life, you canâ€™t do that because it does a consistency check,
Charlie: You have to enable it..
Max: But itâ€™ll check to make sure that all of the assets on your computer, and the source code is included in the assets, is consistent with what the server is expecting.
Max: So players canâ€™t cheat. People who run the server can cheat, but thereâ€™s no way to stop that. Itâ€™s the same thing with like, metamod for NS, or for Half Life. A server operator can go and modify the game experience. Either to change the way the game works, or to give themselves some sort of advantage or whatever.
Max: The problem is that itâ€™s an on trust environment. Itâ€™s running on their machine, and basically thereâ€™s no way to stop people from altering things however they want. So that is a possibility.
Charlie: But thatâ€™s the current state of NS.
Max: Yeah, itâ€™s not any different. To be honest, I think that is pretty unlikely thatâ€™s going to be any significant problem. Itâ€™s not just NS itâ€™s every game. In any game thatâ€™s possible.
Charlie: Any game where you have the community running the servers?
Max: And thatâ€™s why you see things like Battlefield 2 when they do ranking, they have to have full control over those servers and you have to rent them from them.
Charlie: And it costs a bazillion dollars.
Max: Yeah, so I think itâ€™s not really an issue, pretty much. Server operators hacking, and I think what typically what happens is people finds good servers that they like and get communities around them.
Charlie: Yeah, if they mod it and it has weird game play, people might not hang out there. Unless itâ€™s like, Big Game Hunters, which everyone seems to love even though itâ€™s whack.
Max: Well, if itâ€™s a mod, thatâ€™s one thing. Itâ€™s like you know that itâ€™s different. But if itâ€™s like â€œif name = Flayraâ€ you know.
Charlie: Dev hacks.
Charlie: I always wanted those. I shouldâ€™ve put those in.
Max: Actually, I guess this is a tangent, but I heard something funny. I think it was on Major Nelsonâ€™s podcast. He was talking about, well you know like in NS we have the icons to show that youâ€™re a developer.
Max: In Halo, what they do is like, the developerâ€™s heads are on fire. Like theyâ€™ve got a big flame effect on their heads.
Charlie: Nice. Fun.
Max: But! Thereâ€™s an invisibility power up, which makes you invisible, but the flame effect is still there.
Max: So you can be running around if youâ€™re a developer, like, thinking youâ€™re invisible, but thereâ€™s actually, like, this huge flame where you head should be.
Charlie: Though if youâ€™re a developer you probably would know that, I assume. Cause how many developers are there, like 50?
Max: Um, I donâ€™t know. Well you think theyâ€™d fix that then.
Charlie: Well maybe itâ€™s just sortâ€™ve a balancing thing.
Max: Since theyâ€™re so good,
Charlie: â€We get flames, but they draw and the rest of us are invisible, so weâ€™re flaming heads.â€
Max: Yeah well, I donâ€™t know.
Charlie: You think itâ€™s a bug?
Max: Well, it sounds like an oversight.
Charlie: Yeah, weâ€™ll fix that for NS2. So weâ€™re totally invisible all the time.
Max: Yeah, but anyway. So the other issue, which I guess we just kindâ€™ve started talking about, was there being too many different versions of Natural Selection 2 out there. If itâ€™s really easy to just load up LUA files,
Max: And start modifying things,
Charlie: And the community will split.
Max: Yeah, cause every server is running something different.
Max: So, I think the answer to that one is, the good thing about actually using LUA and really making it,
Max: Yeah, essentially, yes. Supporting it and institutionalizing it, it that we can do more to control it.
Max: Well maybe not control it may not be the right word for it.
Charlie: But just like bound it, and cordon it off.
Max: Right. So with Natural Selection 2, er, Natural Selection 1 or any Half Life based games, or potentially any game, the server could go and change the game play. Like, for example, for Natural Selection 1, the stuff Voogru did was totally without your participation.
Max: And as a result, thereâ€™s no way for the game to actually tell you, â€œOh, well this server is doing something different,â€ the game doesnâ€™t even,
Charlie: It had no concept of that.
Max: It doesnâ€™t even know that thatâ€™s going on.
Max: So by actually making it part of the game, we can then modify the UI, you know when youâ€™re looking for servers, and stuff like that,
Charlie: Like default, options, properties,
Max: Something says â€œthis server is running this mod,â€ and actually by fully embracing it,
Charlie: Have like tooltips that tell you â€œoh, what is this mod,â€ and even give you game descriptions before you join.
Max: So we think it potentially makes that situation better.
Charlie: And one copy, I might add, I donâ€™t know if you saw my response to this, but weâ€™ll have, like, the default where you join the server will always be vanilla, all the vanilla NS2 servers, and then thereâ€™ll be a custom tab which will show you the servers that are running custom games.
Charlie: So itâ€™ll be that simple. Most people by default will just play NS2, and later once you get up to speed, you can do the crazy, whatever, lerk lift and that stuff.
Max: Yup, and I think for me, itâ€™s actually pretty frustrating about the current state of the way a lot of FPSâ€™ work, where you join a game and, and like, itâ€™s downloading Homer Simpson .wav files for ten minutes.
Charlie: And plus itâ€™s like, theyâ€™re all named slightly differently. Itâ€™s ignoring the half a gig of Homer Simpson sounds you already have.
Max: Yeah, they havenâ€™t supported that stuff well enough so that the user experience is actually what the player wants.
Max: So hopefully by really making modding an integral part we can address that.
Max: So we donâ€™t think either of those are really issues. Adding LUA doesnâ€™t really change anything in terms of what people can do, it just makes it a little easier, and by fully supporting those things we can control them.
Max: To some degree, as much as you can control anything on the internet.
Charlie: You know, just tell you what youâ€™re getting into basically.
Charlie: Good, ok. So those are those questions.
Max: And if people have things they want to hear us talk about in the podcast, questions.
Charlie: Oh yeah. Put them in the forums or email us or whatever.
Max: Yeah, you can email me. I know you get a lot of emails.
Charlie: Ok, sure, I donâ€™t care.
Max: You can forward them to me or whatever.
Charlie: Ok yeah, Iâ€™ll forward your emails.
Max: You can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie: Now youâ€™re gonna get spammed, by the way.
Max: Thereâ€™s advanced spam, uhâ€¦
Charlie: Yeah, spam protection.
Max: They listen to podcasts.
Charlie: Soon, coming from Google.
Max: Yeah, thatâ€™s actually max_nospam.
Charlie: dot arrow
Charlie: Nice. So, also this week, Iâ€™m sure you guy have all been as excited as we are about Portal, and what? TF2 and all that good stuff. Well, I guess TF2 came out before.
Charlie: But Portal, Iâ€™m really excited about portal.
Max: I think Portal was probably, I think people were a little surprised, or I was.
Charlie: Or how good it was?
Charlie: I thought it was going to be good, but I didnâ€™t expect it to be that good.
Max: I thought itâ€™d be interesting, and, like, fun for about ten minutes.
Charlie: I think itâ€™s a lot of fun.
Max: Actually I started playing, you know, I beat it right when it came out.
Charlie: Yeah, I beat it too. Oh, no, you beat me. Yeah, you beat me before.
Max: I started going back and playing, and listening to the commentary. Which basically means you have to play the game again.
Charlie: Oh ok, nice.
Max: To get to all the commentary nodes, but itâ€™s interesting. Valve, they definitely do, it seems they do an insane amount of play testing. Thatâ€™s pretty much what most of the commentary is about. Just, like, oh, people were having this problem here or.
Max: Things like that. Really crafting all the puzzles so that people wouldnâ€™t get stuck, or they would learn the appropriate lessons from the different puzzles, you know different techniques.
Charlie: Right. Gosh, what I loved about that game,
Max: But Iâ€™m still enjoying it, playing through it the second time.
Charlie: You are? I havenâ€™t done the developer commentary thing. I think itâ€™s a great trend. I love watching developer commentary, or, you know, director commentary for DVDâ€™s. I love how Valve is doing that.
Max: Yeah, I like it a lot. I wish they made it a little easier to do, well, example Portal. I guess I donâ€™t mind playing through again. Itâ€™s actually kindâ€™ve fun now that, you know, youâ€™ve learned all the tricks and stuff.
Max: To try and do it faster or better.
Max: But, itâ€™s a little tedious, like, especially with a longer game.
Max: Like Half Life 2, you know, going through the whole thing again.
Max: So, itâ€™d be nice if there was, I mean I guess you could use cheat codes or whatever. But, if they just made that a little more streamlined.
Charlie: Right, or condensed down.
Max: Yeah, like you just hit a button and it jumps you the to next commentary node or something.
Charlie: Sure, right, right.
Max: But I do enjoy it. I donâ€™t know if it makes sense for a multiplayer game. You could try it.
Charlie: Well we were talking about doing the, the whole wiki thing where people,
Max: Right, thatâ€™ll be a little different.
Max: Having the ability for people to go and add their own information about different parts of maps.
Charlie: Sort of annotate. Yeah, you say like, â€œthis area is like a current trendy spot for sieging from,â€ or â€œthis is a great skulk hiding spot if theyâ€™re trying to take double node,â€ and people will just, like, walk over to that part of the, like, that area of the map in game, probably when theyâ€™re walking around the server by themselves. They read up on something, or they annotate, and it gets added to a, kindâ€™ve a group wiki, like a group consciousness kindâ€™ve strategy guide.
Max: Yeah, it seems like an interesting idea.
Charlie: I think itâ€™d be fun. It seems like itâ€™d be real easy too. Hook it up to a wiki.
Max: It always seems like itâ€™d be easy.
Charlie: Yeah I know, yeah exactly. Come on Max, letâ€™s go do it. But back to Portalâ€¦ what was it, I had something I really wanted to say about Portal but I,
Max: I think you wanted to talk about cake. You seemed really itching to talk about cake before, but you wanted to save it for the podcast.
Charlie: I think Iâ€™m itching about cake because everyone else is excited about it.
Max: Well, what I did like, Portal definitely has a different feel I think, than like, Episode, well Half Life 2 and Episode 1 and 2. Itâ€™s a little less serious, which is fun.
Charlie: Right, but it gets kindâ€™ve serious.
Max: But thereâ€™s still, thereâ€™s like, a lot of humor in it.
Charlie: Right. Well, you kindâ€™ve think itâ€™s, you think itâ€™s like a, kindâ€™ve like the office of the future.
Charlie: You know, like kindâ€™ve making fun of corporate culture, and then it gets kindâ€™ve System Shockey by the end.
Charlie: Oh! I know what I was gonna say that I really like about it. Maybe Iâ€™m just being stupid and I havenâ€™t thought about it enough, but it seems pretty ambiguous as to what actually happened.
Charlie: And like, why, I donâ€™t want to spoil anything but, like, why things are the way they are, and, you know, what the cake is about. Thereâ€™s like, itâ€™s nebulous enough and abstract enough that I think thatâ€™s what makes it exciting to think about. Thatâ€™s what makes it enticing, cause you just kindâ€™ve want to think about it and say like, â€œwhat was the real story?â€ You know, if they just laid it out for youâ€¦
Max: I think thereâ€™s a fine line though. I think thatâ€™s good, to keep things open and,
Charlie: But it has to be open to interpretation. You donâ€™t want it to be like, just one story where itâ€™s just like, very specific.
Max: But look at, like, Half Life 1. I think we can safely talk about anything that happens in Half Life 1.
Charlie: Yeah, Itâ€™s been like 6 years, or whatever. 8 years.
Max: I mean, the end is obviouslyâ€¦ well everything about the story is pretty open and ambiguous.
Charlie: But what happened at the end of Half Life, I donâ€™t even remember.
Max: At the end you are in the train car and youâ€™re like, in some weird environment and the G Man is there.
Charlie: Oh, right. The G Man shows up and you can walk through a few doors.
Max: And you make the choice.
Max: Which is an interesting way to end the game. Itâ€™s like, 2, everything about the story is very nebulous. They donâ€™t really give you enough to start,
Charlie: They donâ€™t give you enough background information to really make the world rich enough. Portal, through the dialogueâ€¦ and way to go, whoever wrote that dialogue. Between the dialogue, and just like, they had kindâ€™ve like the movie â€œThe Game,â€ thatâ€™s like my favorite scene. Where you like,
Max: I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve scene that.
Charlie: Well, thereâ€™s a scene where you kindâ€™ve go behind the scenes in the movie, kindâ€™ve. And you realize that what you all thought was real, was not real.
Charlie: Itâ€™s a whole new take on it. And when that happens in Portal, it just kindâ€™ve make your jaw just drop open.
Max: Oh definitely. But I think I did feel like thereâ€™s a whole lot more to the story there that I wouldâ€™ve liked them to have told me. And actually they said that in the developer commentary.
Charlie: Oh they did? They wanted to do more.
Max: Well, they didnâ€™t say they wanted to do more. They said they developed much more story than you actually see in the game. Everyone always says that though.
Charlie: What is the motivation of the AI?
Charlie: Cake, yeah. I donâ€™t know. I think itâ€™s kindâ€™ve like, gamer culture and, like, System Shock,
Max: The cake.
Charlie: Yeah itâ€™s totally gamer culture. Which would probably be Chetâ€™s part of it if that old memory, I guess, which works at Valve now.
Charlie: I think you were saying, worked on the dialogue.
Max: Thatâ€™s what I read, yeah. He wrote the dialogue.
Charlie: So thatâ€™s probably where that comes from. But anyways, there was something else I really want to say about Portal. Oh oh! I know what I was going to say. [Who]Them, from our forums, our very own forums. Heâ€™s all growed up. While he was going to school at DigiPen, he was playing NS, and I saw him at the Independent Games Festival a while ago showing off Narbacular Drop, and then that got turned into Portal, and now heâ€™s a star. So, way to go [Who]Them! Good job, it was awesome.
Max: Thereâ€™s lots of success stories, I guess you might call them that,
Charlie: Everyone else! Even us.
Max: Yeah, from the NS community.
Charlie: Good job, it was cool. A lot of fun.
Max: Very fun.
Charlie: And hopefully we didnâ€™t spoil anything.
Max: Yeah, if not, donâ€™t listen.
Charlie: Yeah thereâ€™s a couple more minutes, we could spoil more stuff.
Max: And at the end of Episode 2â€¦
Charlie: When Barney is a girl, um. Yes, ok. I think that officially means weâ€™re out of stuff to talk about.
Charlie: If weâ€™re talking about Barneyâ€™sâ€¦
Max: We are, weâ€™re coming up on 23 minutes. The end of our music so, and, we are listening to Portal music in the background.
Charlie: Thatâ€™s right, which we ripped out of,
Max: Out of the game.
Charlie: Out of Portal. Is that legal? I hope not. Ok, weâ€™re done. We have nothing else to talk about this week. Next week, hopefully, weâ€™ll have some more game stuff. Maybe?
Charlie: Hopefully. Weâ€™ve got our heads down, working on that. Working on NS2.
Charlie: And until then, have fun playing all those great games that just got released.
Charlie: See ya later.
Relevant Links:Bang CamaroRock BandIron LoreThe Orange BoxValveNatural SelectionNatural Selection 2