This Week I Played (April 2021)

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 13, 2021

Filed under: TWIP 194 comments

Factorio. I played Factorio. A reasonable person could say that perhaps I played too much Factorio. I don’t know. I’m not a reasonable person and I don’t have time to argue about it because I’m too busy trying to scale up my power plant and solve the traffic jams my trains keep creating.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “This Week I Played (April 2021)”



Diecast #340: YouTube Killed the Video Star

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 12, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 86 comments

Here is another podcast for you to enjoy while cowering indoors and waiting for the current mess to blow over. Or I suppose you could enjoy it while jogging. Or at work. Or during class. Or at a funeral. Whatever. Do what you like. I’m not the boss of you.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes: Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Diecast #340: YouTube Killed the Video Star”



Being Okay in the Age of COVID

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 6, 2021

Filed under: Column 84 comments

I’ve been taking walks lately, trying to make sure I get enough exercise to keep my hypertension at bay. I hate walking for its own sake, but I’ve found I can stimulate the “getting things done” part of my brain if I can turn the walk into an errand. There’s a store about a fifteen minute walk from here, so every day I look around the house, find some random household item we’re low on, and then hike to the store and buy it. 

Technically the errand is pointless. If we’re low on obscure and rarely-used item, then I don’t really need to hike to the store to buy more. I could simply add it to the shopping list and we’d get it with the weekly groceries. Walking to the store for a single item is a silly ritual, but it really does help motivate me. My overall goal is “keep my heart in shape so I don’t die”. That’s a very long-term goal where progress is measured over the course of months or even years. It’s a bit demoralizing to get home from a walk all tired and out of breath, flop down in my chair, and realize I just made 0.001% progress towards my goal. Being able to come home and say, “Hey, we were out of cumin but I took care of it,” is far more rewarding. I wonder what the cashier thinks of the odd man that comes in every morning to do his grocery shopping one item at a time. 

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Being Okay in the Age of COVID”



Diecast #339: Six Days in Procgen

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 5, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 58 comments

It’s Monday, which means you get another hour of my droning voice and stumbling digressions. And also Paul, when he’s not giving me the silent treatment. This week we’re talking about Starcraft 2 tournaments in the age of COVID, Neverout, and Six Days in Fallujah.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes: Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Diecast #339: Six Days in Procgen”



Mess Effect

By Shamus Posted Thursday Apr 1, 2021

Filed under: Notices 69 comments

Yes, it is April first. I normally change the background or color scheme of the site, but I didn’t think of it in time this year. Still, I wouldn’t want to send you out on the internet today without your usual April 1st warning: Careful what you read. It’s probably even more untrue than usual.

So… it feels like we’re short on content these days, doesn’t it? I’m still finishing up my book. My wife has started a new job. We’ve been busy shopping for a replacement car and getting rid of the husk of the old. These various things have eaten into the hours I normally spend doing MY ACTUAL JOB. Where does the time go?

Also, maybe I’ve squeezed in a few minutes of Factorio here and there. You know. In those occasional moments when I should be sleeping, exercising, or working. That kind of thing. I found a few mods that really tickle my fancy, so I’ve spent a few hours having that thoroughly tickled.

The book now has a cover. Check it out:
Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Mess Effect”



Diecast #338: Midnight Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 29, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 65 comments

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Diecast #338: Midnight Mailbag”




By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 25, 2021

Filed under: Game Reviews 128 comments

I gave Satisfactory my #3 spot in 2019. There were things I loved about the game, and there were things I didn’t. At the time, it was easy to dismiss the things I didn’t like as simple growing pains. The game was in early access and it’s natural to assume that a good game is going to keep getting better as it grows. The things you love will become more polished, the stuff that bugs you will get fixed, and so by the end you’ll have the best version of the game.

But as Satisfactory has grown, I find myself becoming more annoyed and less interested in it. The stuff that bugged me has become more bothersome, and the stuff I liked seems to have gotten lost in the noise. I come back to the game after every major update, and these revival sessions get shorter every time. 

What I Like

There's no Lorax around to speak for these trees. So screw this planet.
There's no Lorax around to speak for these trees. So screw this planet.

To get where I’m coming from: I loved Factorio. According to Steam, I’ve clocked almost 2,000 hours in that game. Now, the defensive fan-boy response here is:

“Satisfactory is not Factorio! If you want to play Factorio, then go play Factorio and don’t criticize this perfect jewel of a game!”

In order to discuss a game we need to start somewhere. I’m not saying that Satisfactory needs to copy Factorio, I’m just explaining what initially drew me to the game. 

I love solving emergent logistical problems. Every game ends up being its own puzzle, and no matter how well I do there’s always that nagging suspicion that I could do it all even better next time. It’s this constant process of visualization, experimentation, and implementation as I work on various optimization problems. I’m always looking to make it a little more efficient, get it working just a little faster, or pack the whole thing into an even smaller space.

The idea of having this style of puzzle-solving in a first-person world sounds almost too good to be true. The world of Satisfactory looks amazing, and watching the sunrise over the vast industrial complex I’ve carved into the face of this otherwise virgin planet fills me with a deep sense of accomplishment. Maybe I’m committing some sort of ecological crime, but damn if this isn’t one fine-looking, well-maintained ecological crime.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Un-Satisfactory”