Crash Dot Com Part 5: It’s in the Can

By Shamus
on Dec 8, 2016
Filed under:
Personal

18 comments

It’s early in the year 2000, and I am trying to build a virtual shopping mall because of the dot-com boom.

Like I said, our company isn’t the typical dot-com startup. Our company is small. There are less than a dozen of us. We’ve been around since the early 90’s, and while we’re not taking over the world we have been self-sufficient for several years.

This is one of the reasons I haven’t run away from this project screaming. The place where I work isn’t some soulless corporate meatgrinder. I don’t work for Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss. I’m not a cog in the machine. I’m a valued member of a small team of friends who have built something valuable together. This team-up with the virtual mall guys has thrown the company off-kilter, but right now this feels like something temporary. I’m not going to quit over one bad project. I’m thinking that someday this project will end and things can go back to the way they were.

Hi. Me-from-2016 again to remind you that the above is how I was thinking at the time. I’m not suggesting my company was perfect. Obviously SOMETHING had gone wrong that we went into business with this other outfit. They didn’t storm the building and point guns at us to make us join them for the virtual mall project. But I didn’t really understand the thinking that drove this decision, and at the time I wasn’t really curious. So let’s just leave it at that, rather than speculating about events I barely remember that involved information I wasn’t privy too in an area of business I didn’t understand.

Anyway, back to THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND

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1818 comments. (18 is the only non-zero number that equals twice the sum of its decimal digits.)



Master of Firin’ Sword CH4: Human Resourceless

By Rutskarn
on Dec 7, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

43 comments

After a day or two in Snechko I find my coffers, and palette of Polish obscenities, greatly expanded. From my interactions with the populace I’d allow that this village provides apprenticeships to all of Poland’s artisanal whiners. One strange Swede rides in and collects taxes at gunpoint on behalf of a warlord and they cry “coercion.”

I intend to give them some perspective on the subject.

But amassing riches isn’t all I care about. All the wealth in the world is worth nothing measured against the company of friends. This is why I’ve elected to buy some.

Behold; the friend merchant.
Behold; the friend merchant.

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20203Feeling chatty? There are 43 comments.



Object-Oriented Debate Part 1: Many Kinds of Coding

By Shamus
on Dec 6, 2016
Filed under:
Programming

151 comments

A while ago I came across this youtube video, which broadly denounces the programming paradigm known as “Object Oriented Programming”. (OOP)


Link (YouTube)

If you’re not a programmer, you might not get a lot out of it. Author Brian Will is deliberately talking to other coders and so the whole thing is fairly dense with jargon and theory. That’s fine. I’m going to translate bits of it for the purposes of our discussion here. In fact, this series is aimed at non-coders and casual coders who are curious what all the fuss is about and what people are talking about when they say “Object Oriented Programming”.

Depending on who you ask, this video is either obvious, slightly controversial, or deeply heretical. The author certainly seems to believe they are about to say something likely to induce backlash. And indeed, with just over one-third of the people giving the video a thumbs down it does seem to be an unpopular opinion. After watching the introduction I was prepared for the screed of an iconoclastic madman. But by the end I didn’t find anything particularly objectionable. In fact, his final guidelines basically describe the coding style I’ve developed over years of working in both new and old coding paradigms.

I might quibble over a few points, but I think Will is pushing back against a bit of orthodoxy that doesn’t get challenged nearly enough. This debate has popped up now and again over the years and it usually ends with a bunch of people talking past each other and arguing in circles. This is partly because it’s tough to challenge entrenched ideas, but mostly because programming is not one job, but dozens of different jobs.

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A Hundred!202011We've got 151 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.



Diecast #179: The Game Awards, Mass Effect Andromeda, VR

By Josh
on Dec 5, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

139 comments

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

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Campster, Mumbles. Edited by Josh.

Shamus is out this week to prep for the trip he’ll be taking next week. During which he’ll also be out. You know what that means? It’s time to throw a Shame-less party! (Please don’t kill me for writing that Shamus.)

Incidentally, we talk about this show as if it’s a lot longer than it actually is. Turns out without Shamus we’re bad at keeping track of time.

Show notes: Continue reading »


A Hundred!2019There are 139 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



A Trip!

By Shamus
on Dec 4, 2016
Filed under:
Notices

156 comments

As I said on the Diecast last week, I’m going on a trip. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks writing content to hopefully get us through until the end of the year. However, I totally forgot to queue up the next few episodes of World of WarcraftIt actually takes some time to re-post those on this site, because I have to wrangle with the links and formatting tags and give the images captions.. So we don’t get to catch up with Norman and Gabstab today.

So instead, let me tell you about the trip I’m taking later this week…

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A Hundred!202016We've got 156 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.



Until Dawn EP12: Dano Cliff

By Shamus
on Dec 2, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

121 comments


Link (YouTube)

At the halfway point of the episode, Matt and Emily get cornered by an all-male group of deer. Allow me to say this:

NO. I’m sorry, but extra-NO. This is ridiculous on so many levels. Deer do not travel in packs like wolves. But even if they did for some reason, they definitely wouldn’t form an all-male gang like this. And even if they did, they wouldn’t randomly approach human beings. And even if the deer were upset, they would either fight or bolt, because there is nothing to motivate these deer to approach these particular humans. And even if there was, this clearly can’t be part of the killer’s plan, which means this strangeness is just happening randomly in the middle of an ongoing but totally unrelated disaster. These scene couldn’t be more absurd if Matt and Emily were suddenly crushed by a giant Monty Python foot.

ANYWAY…

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A Hundred!201There are 121 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Until Dawn EP11: Asylum Sing-Along

By Shamus
on Dec 1, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

72 comments


Link (YouTube)

I know I’m ranting about how dumb Mike is, but if I was playing this would probably be my favorite part of the game. There’s some suspense and atmosphere, and most of the gameplay is exploration-based. I know I’m picking on the coat thing, but that’s not really a problem. Mike’s continued survival is easily within the bounds of movie physics.

Personally, I like this adventure-game stuff better than the bits where you have to decide which idiotic and counter-productive thing you want to make your current Dumb Teenager say. It’s not that the teens should be “smart”. They’re acting according to tropes and that’s all good. It’s just that I don’t find that stuff to be really interesting or fun from a gameplay perspective.

The one misstep here is that Mike has seemingly abandoned Jess. I know that she technically could have diedOr possibly “died”, I’m not sure where all of this horror stuff is going just yet, aside from the fact that I know not everything is as it seems. in the previous sequence if Mike had botched the chase. But as it stands, it seems like she might be alive. Mike is trying to be the Big Dang Hero, but leaving her to freeze to death at the bottom of the elevator shaft seems pretty un-heroic. I think this could have been fixed if they just contrived a clear reason why Mike couldn’t possibly follow her.


2020201272 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



Crash Dot Com Part 4: A Moral Quagmire

By Shamus
on Dec 1, 2016
Filed under:
Personal

92 comments

A few weeks ago while editing this entry I accidentally hit “publish” instead of the save button. So this post was live for a few minutes until I noticed and took it down again. During that time, three people read it and commented. I’m pointing this out so that their comments below make sense.

The meeting drags on. I’ve been the only person in the room answering questions for about half an hour now. I feel like I’m on a gameshow where every answer is wrong and the penalty for wrong answers is more questions.

Like the Real World, Only Worse!

Oops. These products are small and I clicked on the wrong one and I don`t know how to get it out of my cart. I clicked on it a few more times to get rid of it, and now I have 10 of them. Never mind. This is stressful. I`ll just visit Amazon.com.

Oops. These products are small and I clicked on the wrong one and I don`t know how to get it out of my cart. I clicked on it a few more times to get rid of it, and now I have 10 of them. Never mind. This is stressful. I`ll just visit Amazon.com.

John Business returns to his printed notes. “When a visitor clicks on an item on a shelf, can we have it fall into their shopping trolley?”

I somehow resist the urge to make a horrified face at the suggestion.

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2020202012There are now 92 comments. Almost a hundred!



Until Dawn EP10: The Treachery of Peter Stormare

By Shamus
on Nov 30, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

57 comments


Link (YouTube)

I was originally going to title this episode Ceci n’est pas une Peter Stormare based on the joke / reference Chris made. I changed it for two reasons:

  1. I’m wary that the too-smart-by-half Google curation bot would assume the episode was in French and would begin offering it to French-speaking viewers and not suggesting it to English speakers.

  2. I was wary of a wave of pedants informing me that “Ceci n’est pas une Peter Stormare” is grammatically incorrect.

The section where Mike is wandering around alone doing adventure game stuff while carrying a light source feels really Silent Hill-ish. I’m not saying it’s as good as Silent Hill or anything. Even Silent Hill isn’t as good as Silent Hill. The “Silent Hill experience” that fans love actually only existed for a moment in the history of the series, and it feels like an accident among the mediocrity. In fact, I’m pretty sure my entire relationship with the survival horror genre is a hopeless search for something that can hit that Silent Hill 2 note again.

For me, nothing else has really come close. Sure, there have been good games in the genre. Several of them might have done just as well on the scare-o-meter. But nothing else has quite nailed that same balance of immersion, existential dread, mystery, paranoia, and character revelation / development. It’s been 16 years, and since then AAA game designers have completely forgotten what made the game work in the first place. Either they assume that “stiff, frustrating combat is the point of the game”, or they attempt to “fix” the combat by “modernizing” it.

I think to make something like Silent Hill 2, you have to start with the writing, and allow that to inform your environment and monster designs, which will then shape your gameplay. But if you’re thinking you can take some standard gameplay and re-skin it with spooky monsters and scenery, then you’re never going to get there. Sure, you’ll make something spoopy and annoying whelps will dutifully scream at the surprise blood and the roaring monsters on their livestreams, but years later your game will be forgotten and fans will still be talking about Silent Hill 2 and waiting for the lightning to strike a second time.

I guess what I’m saying is that the AAA industry as it exists now is physically incapable of supporting the kind of auteur that could make another Silent Hill 2 happen.


20201757 comments. It's getting crowded in here.



Master of Firin’ Sword CH3: Knight Errands

By Rutskarn
on Nov 30, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

54 comments

After many trackless miles slouching over the neck of Erik, my horse, I’ve concluded that he is truly owed a grander share of the credit for my accomplishments. The success of the wanderer is measured in miles, and it is no exaggeration to say that everything I have in life – every blessing Poland has yielded to me –  I owe to his tireless and patient tread.

And what do I have in life? A musket, a suit, and ten coins.

Erik, consider yourself placed on notice. You are a disappointing horse and you are jeopardizing my career.

From now on, I will introduce you not as my `associate,` but merely my `colleague.` Starting with this looter I`m about to shoot.
From now on, I will introduce you not as my 'associate,' but merely my 'colleague.' Starting with this looter I'm about to shoot.

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20201454 comments. It's getting crowded in here.



This Dumb Industry: Why Doesn’t Titanfall 2 Work?

By Shamus
on Nov 29, 2016
Filed under:
Column

129 comments

Everyone just expects that this is how things will be: A big budget multiplayer-focused shooter has a single-player campaign that nobody cares about and nobody expects anything from. Reviewers play it, shrug, and then say “Sure, it’s not great, but this game is all about the multiplayer!”

Which is true enough. But it’s sort of baffling how reliably these stories come up empty. It’s clearly not for lack of budget. Millions of dollars are spent on these campaigns. The acting talent is there, because you’ve usually got big-name voice performers in the lead roles. The story isn’t undercut by glitches, harmed by lack of exposition (quite the contrary) or bogged down by an impenetrable plot. It’s usually aiming to be a bombastic action movie, and yet these games never seem to connect with the audience even on that basic level. They can’t even attain the brute-force emotional engagement of (say) Guardians of the Galaxy, District 9, or the Bourne Identity, even though none of those movies had particularly lofty goals.

So what’s going on here? Developers are trying so hard to imitate the language of cinema. Why do their stories keep striking out?

I think Titanfall 2 provides a pretty clear answer to this question. It seems to have all of the ingredients of a typical action blockbuster, and yet after five hours of lavish spectacle it comes up feeling empty and shallow. Let’s look at why…

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A Hundred!209There are 129 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Diecast #178: Ubisoft, Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon

By Shamus
on Nov 28, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

128 comments

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

Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Campster, Mumbles. Episode edited by Rachel.

Like I said on the show: I’m going to be travelling during the second week in December. I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to keep up with comments, or if I’ll be able to queue up enough content to get us through.

Also, things may be disrupted a bit this week because I’m moving my home office.

My daughter Rachel moved out in early 2016. We left her room empty for a while, just in case she boomerang’d. But it’s been over half a year and she’s living stable, so I think she’s out for good. So we moved my son Issac into her room, and I’m taking Issac’s old room. This is a pretty big step for me. For two years I’ve been running this site from my living room where I’m constantly distracted by the television, guests, stuff going on in the kitchen, people playing music, people chattering on the phone, and a dozen other living-room things. But now I’m going to have my own room with a door.

That’s all good for the long-term, but in the short term it means tearing apart this gigantic command center of equipment and re-assembling it in another room. I know that’s bound to disrupt things around here, so please be patient if I’m worse than usual at moderating comments and answering emails.

Show notes: Continue reading »


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




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