Diecast #189: Let’s Plays, Skype, Steam Greenlight

By Shamus
on Feb 27, 2017
Filed under:
Diecast

49 comments

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

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster. Edited by Baychel.

Show notes: Continue reading »


20209Feeling chatty? There are 49 comments.



Messages From Spammers Pt 4

By Shamus
on Feb 26, 2017
Filed under:
Random

38 comments

Spam is an effort to communicate with people who don’t want to hear what you have to say. By this definition, every conversation I have with a stranger counts as spam.

Long before we had “get cheat v1agra online no procripshin” there was, “Man, how about this weather lately?”

Here is what the spammers had to say this week:

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201838 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



Game of Thrones Griping 5: Klingon Promotion

By Bob Case
on Feb 24, 2017
Filed under:
Television

138 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

I promised you two topics this week: Sansa Stark and Ramsay Snow. I’m going to have to punt on Sansa Stark. To coin a completely original expression, I’ve been hella sick recently. Not as sick as the baseball-bat-to-the-face-like Plutonian Death Flu the Young family got, but sick. I’m now better but I’ve fallen behind on a lot of things, including this one. So this week’s entry is going to be a bit shorter than originally planned. You may celebrate or grieve according to what you feel is appropriate.

The Assassination of Roose Bolton by the Coward Ramsay Snow

I’m gonna switch it up a bit here and say something nice about the show for a change: they got Roose Bolton right.

That wasn’t an easy task. Way back when Game of Thrones was just a twinkle in HBO’s eye, those of us in the online A Song of Ice and Fire book fandom would sometimes muse to ourselves about what actors would play what characters in a hypothetical dream adaptation. Some of it was prescient (lots of people saw Sean Bean as Ned Stark). Some of it was pie-in-the-sky stuff (Brad Pitt as Jaime Lannister! Vin Diesel as the Hound!). Some of it was predictable fan stuff (David Tennant as everyone!). But I remember that there was no consensus on who should play Roose Bolton. Suggestions ranged from Sir Anthony Hopkins to Cillian Murphy to Steve Buscemi and everything in between.

Privately, I didn’t think that Roose Bolton was unadaptable, but I was certain that if anyone ever did adapt the novels they’d get him wrong anyway. They’d make him either too mustauche-twirly, too obviously creepy, too young, too old, or some combination of the four. But they wouldn’t be able to evoke that understated, unsettling quality the character had in the books. But damn if they didn’t pull it off. The actor’s name is Michael McElhatton, and I’d never heard of him before, but a look at his IMDB pageimdb.com/name/nm0568385/ shows a guy who’s definitely paid his dues. I hope to see more of him after all this, because I suspect that Roose Bolton is a deceptively difficult part to play. You have to convey a menacing type of intelligence while also giving a low-profile performance. It’s a combination that Aidan Gillen’s Littlefinger never quite pulled off, for example.And I thought Gillen was excellent in The Wire.

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A Hundred!2018There are 138 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Arkham City Part 5: The Arkham Series

By Shamus
on Feb 23, 2017
Filed under:
Batman

128 comments

Arkham City is the second game in a four-game franchise where the third game was an awkward semi-canon prequel made by a different studio who didn’t quite get what made the series special. I suppose before we jump in and talk about Arkham City, we need to talk about how it fits into the franchise, and to do that we need to talk about the Joker. And to do that we’re going to need to do some large spoilers for the series as a whole.

Batman v. Joker: Dawn of “Just Us”

JUST KISS ALREADY!

JUST KISS ALREADY!

One of the problems with Batman is that he’s got one really notorious foe and then a whole bunch of guys all fighting over distant second. This is not a knock on those other foes, it’s just that Joker is one of the most recognizable foes in comics history. Like Batman himself, he’s pretty malleable. He can change in tone and outlook to suit the version of Batman he’s antagonizing. Scarecrow wants to scare people, Penguin wants to run his business, and Riddler wants to outsmart Batman, but Joker can be all things to all Batmans.

If this is a story about violent angry Batman, then we can pit him against sadistic mass-murderer Joker. If we’re dealing with stick-up-his-butt Batman, then Joker’s goal can simply be to cause chaos with a smile. If this is a more cartoony or campy Batman then Joker’s goal can be to pull off a basic for-profit caper. If we’re dealing with stoic emotionless Batman then Joker can be trying to get Batman to laugh at the inherent absurdity of their rivalry. If we’re dealing with Paladin Batman then Joker will work to get him to break him no-kill rule. And so on. You can mix & match these versions of our two leads to suit whatever story you’re trying to tell.

This isn’t to say that Scarecrow, Penguin, Riddler and the other second-string foes are one-note rogues. There have been a lot of versions of them over the years. But one of the reasons Joker stands out is that he’s much more explicitly the “anti-Batman”.

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A Hundred!20827 comments. Suck it, base ten!



Unfit for XCOMmand Finale: After the Black Site

By Rutskarn
on Feb 22, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play

53 comments

Unfit for XCOMmand: Afterword

by the Commander

It’s warm for an East Asian winter. Maybe that’s the aliens, maybe it’s global warming–maybe it’s just a nice day. I’ve got just a few minutes to sit on the exterior loading canopy with my legs dangling down over the stomach-churning foot-tingling drop to the beach. There’s gauzy clouds over the waves, but the sun beats through them and bathes the honking seabirds in orange-white fire. It’s a good view to drink my warm water to. It’d be even better for drinking anything else.

Our strike on the Black Site completed twenty minutes ago. Bradford will be briefing our remaining few soldiers on it right now. There’s of course the possibility of a redo, and if we have time, I’m sure it will be necessary to put together as complete a team as we can and take another run at it. That’s if we’re not forced into another operation that completely finishes us off. We’re not setting the tune these days, we’re just trying to remember the steps.

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20201353 comments. It's getting crowded in here.



Pseudoku: Steam Greenlight Trailer

By Shamus
on Feb 21, 2017
Filed under:
Programming

29 comments

Have you been following the development of this game? Well, I’ve managed to get the thing on Stream Greenlight. If you’d like to see Pseudoku on Steam, then please vote for it.


Link (YouTube)

I was going to have a longer post about it this week, but I’ve been goofing off recently and have fallen behind on my work. Composing this tune and editing this minute and a half trailer is all I managed to get done.


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



Fall From The Sky

By Shamus
on Feb 21, 2017
Filed under:
Personal

46 comments

Five years ago I quit working on a sci-fi novel. It had a few cool ideas and there were a lot of things I liked about it, but… I don’t know. I just couldn’t work on it.

So I uploaded the half-a-book to see what the internet thought of it. Paul Spooner took the book and finished it. He sent me the completed work. At the time I said to him via email:

This is amazing. You’ve gone in a radically different direction from anything I’d imagined. I haven’t read the whole thing, but I’ve been skimming my way through.

Before you sent this to me I wondered: If this story was released, would anyone be able to see the seams? Could they tell where I stopped and you started? Then I realized that I’d already released my half of the book, so anyone that read that would know.

But still, this has gotten me thinking about how we consume and invent stories. We often divide stuff into “authentic” (stuff written by the original author) and “inauthentic” (fan fiction). I wrote an entire fan fiction novel myself, and I’m aware of how strange this line can be. People who never played System Shock before were far more receptive to my book than people who were familiar with the source material. Their understanding of the original work changed their perception of my story. Would that work in reverse? If someone was told that the game was based on my book, would they dislike the game for its “inaccuracies”? (Setting aside the fact that the game is hard to find, looks terrible, had a horrible interface, and the gameplay hasn’t held up over time.)

My own version of the novel uses very few characters from the first half. Rin doesn’t really talk to the other crewmembers. The whole story takes place on this alien world and the only person we see again is David. My book ends shortly after returning to Earth. It’s entirely possible that your version, which is tied more to the first half of the book, would seem more plausible as the “true” ending.

I haven’t read enough to give you useful feedback on what you’ve done, and I keep getting caught on, “This never would have occurred to me!” I don’t have much in the way of feedback, except to say I don’t think you’re doing anything obviously wrong or bad. I realize that this isn’t really useful, but this is a strange experience for me and it’s hard to read objectively.

Annoyingly, reading his version kinda made me want to go back and work on my own. (Spoiler: I didn’t. Too much other stuff going on.)

Creativity is obnoxious sometimes. Imagine if, after decades of dicking around and not working on the prequels, George Lucas finally let someone else make the prequel movies. So then Spooner steps in and takes a shot at it. After years of work, Spooner brings the completed movies to LucasSTAR WARS Episode I: The Spooner Menace.. Lucas begins watching the Spooner cut. After halfway through the opening crawl, Lucas stands up, exits the theater, and announces he’s going to make the prequel movies after all.

What an asshole, right?

I didn’t want to end up doing that to Paul, so I haven’t actually read his completed version of the book. I’ve read some chapters, and it feels pretty strange to to mePaul left out Jar-Jar Binks? Jar-Jar was the key to everything..

But if you read the half-novel back in 2012 and were frustrated by the cliffhanger, maybe the Spooner cut of the story will give you some closure. Or maybe it will just kill some time on a Tuesday when I don’t have any content for you.


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Bollypox

By Shamus
on Feb 19, 2017
Filed under:
Personal

113 comments

A big part of what I do around here is make lemons into lemonade. If I have a programming problem, I write about programming. If I have a problem with a videogame, I write an article about the videogame. If I have a problem with Uplay, then it’s Tuesday.

So maybe it would be more accurate to say that I take lemons and make them into long complaints about lemons. Whatever. It seems to be working out well enough for us so far.

The point is that I’m not sure my usual technique can work here. I’m just finishing up my worst week in years and I’m way behind on my writing. I haven’t been on this site in days, even to read the comments. I don’t know if I’ll have any content for you this coming week and so I’m trying to do the lemons-to-lemonade thing to fill the gap. Also, having a really good bitch-and-moan can be kind of therapeutic.

On the other hand, I’m not sure if I have anything insightful to say about the mundane experience of getting sick. It happens. To all of us. It’s stupid and miserable and we’ve sort of come to accept it as part of being alive on this planet. It’s like if we just accepted that once every six to eighteen months, you have to take a totally random baseball bat to the face for no reason. Ken comes into work on Tuesday with the left side of his face swollen shut and everyone is like, “Dude! Looks like the baseball bat really got you this year.” And Ken just nods his head like, “Mffgh gh mxxxlt.”

The baseball bat this year was a vicious, hateful, pernicious son of a bitch. I really hate this thing, and it’s frustrating that there’s no way to get revenge on something with no sense of identity, memory, or intelligence. I’d love to go all Liam Neeson on this bastard for what it just did to my family.

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A Hundred!13113 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!



Game of Thrones Griping 4: The Gospel of Jon

By Bob Case
on Feb 17, 2017
Filed under:
Television

195 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

Season six is a mess. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. It starts with nonsense, ends with nonsense, and the middle part is crammed with whatever leftover nonsense they could scrounge up from the bottom of the pan.

One of reasons I’ve had trouble explaining my problems with Game of Thrones to people is that when they ask me “what don’t you like about the writing?” the nearest thing I can give to an accurate answer is “almost everything.” But that sounds churlish and isn’t particularly useful as criticism. I have to organize my griping somehow, and splitting the show up into smaller chunks and them dealing with them in mostly-chronological order is the best solution I’ve come up with. So it makes sense to begin the proceedings by recounting the story of the almost completely meaningless death and resurrection of Jon Snow.

The whole sequence can help illustrate why opinions on the show can differ so much. For those who still trust the writers, and who are still emotionally invested in the show, I suppose I can see how Jon Snow’s death and resurrection was a source of drama and excitement. But for those of us on the wrong side of story collapse, it almost seems like the writers are deliberately yanking our chains for their own amusement. I’m writing this whole thing at least in part as an attempt to form a sort of venn diagram between the two groups. Where is the overlap? Where are the parts of the story that bother all of us? Maybe I can at least describe what this whole mess looks like to me.

The Gospel of Jon

Those of you who watch the show already know that season five ended with Alliser Thorne, Olly, and a dozen of their stooges going all Julius Caesar on Jon Snow for supposedly betraying the Night’s Watch. The opening shot of “The Red Woman” (season six’s first episode) picks up where we left off. Thorne and his co-conspirators apparently just left the body lying in the castle courtyard. Maybe they expected the janitorial staff to take care of it.

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A Hundred!2020202015I bet you won't even read all 195 comments before leaving your own.



Arkham City Part 4: Dark Souls vs. The Dark Knight

By Shamus
on Feb 16, 2017
Filed under:
Batman

282 comments

Sometimes Dark Souls players will tell you they like the game because it’s “fair”. This has probably caused more misunderstandings and arguments than anything else about the game, because “fair” is a horribly loaded word with contradictory meanings in different contexts and for different players.

Relative Fairness

Technically this is Lady Justice, not Lady Fairness. Neither of which should be confused with My Fair Lady.

Technically this is Lady Justice, not Lady Fairness. Neither of which should be confused with My Fair Lady.

When someone says fair, which one of these ideas are they talking about?

  1. Everyone competes according to the exact same rules and starting conditions.
  2. Everyone is forced to compete in such a way that victory is equally likely for all participants.

Those aren’t just different definitions, they’re opposing definitions. And yet people will often talk about “fairness” in terms of gambling, sports, board games, and videogames without ever clarifying which concept of fairness they’re talking about. Is roulette “fair” because every space has equal chances of winning, the wheel is unbiased, and the rules are clear? Or is it “unfair” because the odds clearly favor the house? If I play golf against Tiger Woods, is the game “fair” before or after we institute a stroke handicap that allows for our vastly different skill levels?

In Dark Souls, there’s a bit where you can get hit with a boulder. Some dudes roll it down the stairs at you, and if you’re not ready for it then it will pulverize you. It’s a small moment near the start of the game but it’s sort of infamous as a moment of confusion, indignation, or dismay for new players that blunder into it unaware. Let’s compare this to some other games.

In Tomb Raider 2014, there’s a cutscene where Lara stupidly blunders into the villain’s lair, loudly announces herself, and then initiates a confrontation using the worst weapon. Naturally she ends up captured for her trouble. This moment sometimes strikes players as unfair, because they feel they could have avoided this setback if they’d been allowed to retain control of their character.

So the Dark Souls boulder is “fair” because the game doesn’t force you to get run over by it in a cutscene. It’s up to you, your memory, and your reflexes. Tomb Raider is “unfair” because no matter how good you get at the game, you still have to accept this setback of being captured by guys you could easily defeat outside of a cutscene.

On the other hand…

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Hangout: For Honor

By Shamus
on Feb 15, 2017
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

36 comments


Link (YouTube)

As Josh announces on the stream, the next season of Spoiler Warning will be the Dishonored 1 DLC. We’re doing this in preparation for the eventual Dishonored 2 season. We’ll cover another game between these two so 2017 doesn’t end up being non-stop Dishonored coverage.


201636 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



Ruts Plays: Reader Survey

By Rutskarn
on Feb 15, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play

123 comments

I took the night off for Valentine’s DayActually, I’ve worked on something for Patreon backers, but the point is I took it more off than usual., but since by its nature my little tango through XCOM could snag a rug and eat floorboard any second, I figure it’s prudent to start priming the next project. I’m not going to ask for game suggestions exactly–I think I’ve got a pretty tight list–but I do have a more abstract question I’d like you all to weigh in on.

You may have noticed that I’ve got two speeds:

  • LP where I’m writing from the perspective of the central characters and create a narrative one-to-one inspired by my playthrough, such as Half Time, and
  • LP where I’m writing from my own perspective, playing tour guide to a game that’s in some way fundamentally twisted, such as Battlespire.

I’ve had little success merging the two, and think at this point I’m most comfortable with one or the other. But I don’t know which you prefer.

Does one of my house styles work better for you? Do you like or dislike both? Chime in below and I’ll bear that in mind picking the next game.


A Hundred!203There are 123 comments here. I really hope you like reading.




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