Salt and Sanctuary EP3: Saltine Snacktuary

By Shamus
on May 27, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

28 comments


Link (YouTube)

That was the most laughs I’ve had on the show in a while. I’m glad we covered this game. And I think we pretty much cracked the secret of this thing. Remember, if you’re having trouble with a particular section: Be Careful!

Someone should put that advice on Gamefaqs.

Next week: Probably Fallout 4.

20828 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



Ruts vs. Battlespire CH10: Pouting Ahead

By Rutskarn
on May 27, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

19 comments

Perhaps I should recap the plot and gameplay before we squeak through to level two. You know; to allay any confusion.

I’m a Battlemage trainee. I know absolutely no magic, which means it’s time for my final exam–entering an extradimensional space called the Battlespire and performing entirely ambiguous trials. Or that was the plan, before the dremora senior prank ruined everything.

Turns out the Battlespire is being invaded by the daedra for some reason. In the process they’ve killed all of the staff and commandeered all the rooms full of academic lava, test-taking bottomless pits, and standarized assessment dragons. The perils of this repurposed Battlespire are real–one wrong step around a pit of magma and you’ll find yourself instantly detained without trial.

Wait, that lava never read me my Miranda rights. That means it was an invalid convection.
Wait, that lava never read me my Miranda rights. That means it was an invalid convection.

Continue reading »

19Just 19 comments.



Salt and Sanctuary EP2: Sultan Sanctuary

By Shamus
on May 26, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

65 comments


Link (YouTube)

Hopefully I cleared out all the inevitable Dark Souls conversation in our last post, so this time we can actually talk about the game we’re playing.

On the other hand, it’s so hard to talk about this game without bringing up Dark Souls, because the influence is so enthusiastic. The death mechanics. The armor mechanics. The bonfire mechanic. The glowing doorways. The archers. The mood. Shortcuts, traps, stamina, potions, dodge-rolling, shields, cryptic strangers, enormous bosses, the repetition, the fight to recover lost resources after death, getting knocked off ledges, and the atmosphere of decay and ancient buildings.

I don’t really fault the game for this. It’s quite thoughtful and intentional in it’s design. This doesn’t look like someone wanted to copy Dark Souls because it was popularIn contrast to most WoW clones, it looks like someone really loved Dark Souls and wanted to make their own riff on it. The difference here is the the former copies mechanics without understanding them, which the latter copies mechanics precisely because they understand them.

Is that a blurry line? Yeah. But I think often its clear enough you can tell which side a game is on.


202020565 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



Mass Effect Retrospective 49: Star Child

By Shamus
on May 26, 2016
Filed under:
Mass Effect

295 comments

Shepard rides an elevator up to the Crucible. I have no idea why a control panel has an elevator that lifts you up to the exterior of the Citadel. I don’t know how you survive there with no helmet. I suspect that the answer both questions is that the writer simply wanted you to be someplace fantastical when you meet…

The Star Child

Whelp, you made it here so I guess I have to let you win now. For some reason.

Whelp, you made it here so I guess I have to let you win now. For some reason.

So the personification of the Reapers is a ghost hologram of a ten year old boy. This is the best idea in this entire scene. Which is a shame, because it’s still a terrible idea.

Star Child introduces himself and explains that he controls the Reapers. He explains that his job is to command this fleet of machine gods to kill all spacefaring organics every 50,000 years. He does this because advanced organic species inevitably build robots, and those robots will inevitably wipe out the organics. So that’s why this kid has his robots kill everyone. To prevent this.

This is the explanation behind the Reapers. For real.

Continue reading »


A Hundred!A Hundred!2020202015There are more than 294 comments. But less than 296



Salt and Sanctuary EP1: Assaulting Sanctuary

By Shamus
on May 25, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

96 comments


Link (YouTube)

I spend some time in this episode making fun of “git gud” culture. Chris talks about it more in-depth in his most recent video on the game.

To be clear, I’m aware that not everyone who loves Dark Souls is an insufferable, condescending braggart. There are lots of articulate people who love the game and can have an enjoyable conversation about it with non-Dark Souls fans. But Dark Souls fans are the vegans of gaming, earning a bad reputation on account of their most zealous members. The Git Gud brigade make the game a chore to talk about. I find I often avoid mentioning the game as an example because I know it will turn into a massive thread-jack.

Me: This game is hard in the same way the Dark Souls is hard.

GG: ACTUALLY, Dark Souls isn’t hard…

(100 comments of people talking past each other because they all have different definitions of “hard”.)

I actually admire Dark Souls for having such an intentional approach to its mechanics, and the way the mechanics blend so well with the atmosphere of the game. But the game is not for me, and I know there will inevitably be a conversation attempting to get me to play the game. And that conversation will be difficult, punishing, and dreary.

Just like Dark Souls!


2020202016There are now 96 comments. Almost a hundred!



Captain America: Civil War

By Shamus
on May 24, 2016
Filed under:
Column

339 comments

Despite the big “Whose Side Are You On?” marketing campaign, the Captain America: Civil War didn’t really do much to sell us on the merits of either side. Choosing a side was about as nuanced as “Which Hero Is Your Favorite?” And that’s fine. These movies aren’t trying to be ponderous explorations on what it means to be a hero. They’re rollercoaster rides of one-liners, fanservice, and face-punching. They keep the story breezy, the action flashy, and they dial everyone’s personalty up to 11 until the different character archetypes bounce off of each other.

But the debate of what should be done with super-powered heroes in a world of super-powered villains is a good one. So let’s go over it. This will just cover act one spoilers for the movie and isn’t going to get into the twists of the story or how it all turns out. I don’t think I’m going to spoil anything that hasn’t been shown in the trailers.

Continue reading »


A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!2019339 comments. Sure. Just keeping adding more. It's not like my server has finite HD space.



Diecast# 152 Pt 2: Overwatch, Final Fantasy X, Stellaris

By Shamus
on May 23, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

119 comments

There’s no Diecast this week. Sorry. We just didn’t have time. But! What is this Diecast you see below? That’s part two of the Diecast from last week. So it’s like you get a Diecast this week, except it’s… older.


Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster, Mumbles.

Episode edited by Issac.
Show notes: Continue reading »


A Hundred!19119 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!



Lord of the Rings Online #13: The Ghost Busker

By Shamus
on May 22, 2016
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

17 comments

It is sunset and I find myself broke, poorly dressed, and in the town of Tuckborough.

When these guys build a footpath, they don`t mess around. I think that thing could support two-lane automobile traffic.

When these guys build a footpath, they don`t mess around. I think that thing could support two-lane automobile traffic.

Also, I find myself slightly drunk. This makes all of the previous things I just mentioned a lot more bearable.

Adelard Took is in need of help. The library in the Great Smials is apparently haunted!

This door makes no sense. The threshold is basically a waist-high wall - which everyone knows videogame characters can`t overcome - and the doorknob would literally require standing on tiptoe to reach.

This door makes no sense. The threshold is basically a waist-high wall - which everyone knows videogame characters can`t overcome - and the doorknob would literally require standing on tiptoe to reach.

I tell the old boy that I was in there just a couple of days ago (I leave out the bit about how I was swiping an old ale-brewing recipe) and I didn’t see any haunting going on. But Adelard is adamant. He’s sure that the ghost of the Old Took (roughly: a very famous Hobbit from a few generations ago) is haunting the library. He derives this theory from two observations:

1) Strange noises in the library
2) The bears just outside of town are becoming aggressive.

Guess which issue he wants me to investigate first?

No. Wrong. The second one. Sheesh. Haven’t you been paying attention?

Continue reading »


17Just 17 comments.



Rutskarn’s GMinars CH4: Foundations

By Rutskarn
on May 21, 2016
Filed under:
Tabletop Games

29 comments

Alright, you’ve borne with me through three posts of theory and explanation and art-of-GMing shenanigans. Let’s have an interlude of practicality. Let’s talk over the first three steps to getting your game set up:

First, Before Anything Else – Players

The most difficult part of running any game is getting good people to play with.

Continue reading »

20929 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



Mass Effect Retrospective 48: What Dreams May Dumb

By Shamus
on May 19, 2016
Filed under:
Mass Effect

236 comments

If there’s anything that drives home how Mass Effect 3 is playing flagrant bullshit for profundity, it would have to be…

Dream Sequences

Hang on, when have I even been in a forest?

Hang on, when have I even been in a forest?

At the end of each of the major chapters in the game there’s a long dream sequence. Shepard chases Some Kid That Died – a nameless character we have no connection to – through a forest that has no context or meaning except to be “spooky” in the most generic way possible. There’s no gameplay, no dialog, the plot doesn’t move forward, nothing is foreshadowed, and no information is conveyed.

While I think “playable dream sequence” is a terrible idea in the context of Mass Effect, this could have been greatly improved with some basic changes:

Continue reading »


A Hundred!A Hundred!2016236 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?



Ruts vs. Battlespire CH9: Ruts vs. Regular Spire

By Rutskarn
on May 18, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

39 comments

There’s really no way to sugar-coat this: I am having some troubles saving the multiverse. I’d been doing pretty well up until now. Turns out I’m a whiz at hacking daedra, I’m the champion at slowly navigating platforms over lava, and nobody reads and superstitiously obeys notices on buttons quite like I do. And while these have so far been the primary job requirements, it seems there’s still a few holes in my repertoire. Example: I’m currently stuck in a goddamn attic.

That shadow down there is a pit of lava. Apparently it`s just out of range of my light source.
That shadow down there is a pit of lava. Apparently it's just out of range of my light source.

Continue reading »

201939 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



This Dumb Industry: Tidus is an Okay Guy

By Shamus
on May 17, 2016
Filed under:
Column

315 comments

Everyone remembers their first experience with Final Fantasy. I don’t know how true it is, but anecdotally it seems like the first game you play is most likely to be your favorite. And for me, Final Fantasy X is that first game. It just came out on Steam last week, and after spending an unwise number of hours with it I was reminded of just how much I loved the game despite the batshit insane plot.

One of the big draws of the series is just how fresh it is to western sensibilities. Over here we have our established genre conventions, story tropes, and stock characters: Tolkienesque medieval fantasy with dragons and wizards. Space Opera. Cyberpunk. Cowboy westerns. Gothic vampire fantasy. Swords and sandals epic. If an author really wants to shake things up, maybe they’ll put a steam engine in their medieval fantasy, or add some space magic to their Trek riff. Or maybe they’ll put a werewolf in their gunslinger adventure. These are fun, but they still feel like a remix of existing ideas.

In contrast, Final Fantasy feels like the product of some radically different alien culture that can’t even tell the difference between our clothing and sporting goods. Sure, a few western tropes have been woven into the DNA of the series, but seeing bits of western culture in this game is like seeing a Coke machine in a back alley in Shanghai. It doesn’t make the place feel like home, it just makes the unfamiliar elements stand out more.

He sure is a pretty man.

He sure is a pretty man.

I want to talk about the controversial main character, but to do that I’m going to have to spoil large parts of the game. It turns fifteen this year, so I imagine by this point you’ve either played it, read the spoilers, or you don’t care. In any case, spoiling parts of the main story is actually less of a big deal than it might seem at first. Even once I reveal the big plot twists, you probably still won’t have a clear idea of where the story is going or how things will be resolved. After reading this, the game will have lots of mysteries and surprises left for you. These spoilers might even make the game a little more comprehensible for first-time players. I know I struggled to keep up during my first brush with the game.

Continue reading »

A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!15315 comments? What, did somebody start a flame war or something?




From the archives:






This blog is powered by Wordpress and uses the High Roller theme by Shamus Young.