PAXCast 2012, Part 2

By Shamus
on Apr 19, 2012
Filed under:
Video Games

So here we wrap up our trip to PAX East. Check out the podcast below, in which we reveal our most favoritist game of PAX East 2012 ever!

PAX is a bit tough for me. I hate travel. To put it in perspective: I hate travel more than I hate going to the dentist. If you gave me a choice of going to the dentist to have some work done, or going on a five-day trip to a convention, I would pick the dentist. When I’m traveling I feel stressed, tired, and out of sorts. My routine is broken and I become neurotic. I’m also terrified of making some public gaffe. (Seriously. It’s like a phobia. Is there a name for being semi-famous and being afraid you’ll say something absurd that will make you look like a fool?)

However… as much as I hate travel, this is the only way I can connect with people in this way. There’s no place else that I could go to meet you folks, or developers, or my friends at the Escapist. So, I go. I put up with the travel, then I crawl home and freak out for a few days. (I slept 12 hours a day for the first four days after we got back.)

What I’m saying is, it’s murder to attend this thing, but worth it.

I think I’ll have one more PAX Post at some point to tie up all the loose ends, and then we’ll be done with PAX for this year. Next week: Spoiler Warning spoils Alan Wake!

Before I go, here’s another picture of Josh and I. He looks a little grouchy here, but it was the last day and we were both tired.

pax2012_josh5.jpg
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  1. Rockbird says:

    I knew it! Josh IS Teddy Roosevelt!

  2. Kdansky says:

    >Seriously. It’s like a phobia. Is there a name for being semi-famous and being afraid you’ll say something absurd that will make you look like a fool?

    It’s usually called sociophobia, or just social anxiety. It’s nothing unusual, but I guess being somewhat famous only makes it worse. Everyone’s afraid of making a fool of themselves, and very few people like speaking to crowds. It’s quite normal, really. The people who are not nervous at all are the exception.

    • Lanthanide says:

      Reading Shamus’ autoblography, he has a lot of hallmarks of asperger syndrome. Aversion to travel and disrupting his normal routine is another indicator of this.

      • Sydney says:

        This is a polite thing to say in public how?

        • Sumanai says:

          I don’t see how it’s an insult. Asperger’s syndrome hardly makes anyone a worse person. Comparing to it due to specific characteristics doesn’t seem insulting either.

          Strange, and maybe a social faux pax, but not really an insult.

          But this is one those things where my ability to cope with social norms falls short of the required amount, so I don’t really know if it is or isn’t, just that it doesn’t appear to be to me.

        • LunaticFringe says:

          It’s not like he’s calling him sociopathic or anything, just that he might be slightly autistic. From reading the Autoblography recently I came to a similar conclusion, as much as I hate to group people into categories. Obviously I’m not an expert in the field but his difficulties (fear/apathy) in social interaction early on is one of the tell-tale signs. Of course it could just be a social anxiety issue and nothing more, but I won’t really say that it’s impolite to suggest it.

          This coming from a guy who’s mother constantly tried to enforce the notion that I had Asperger syndrome or was mildly autistic as a child and I completely ignored her.

          • evileeyore says:

            “It’s not like he’s calling him sociopathic or anything, just that he might be slightly autistic.”

            And what would be wrong with being a sociopath?

            — resident sociopath evileeyore

            • LunaticFringe says:

              Nothing at all, but in the average social environment it’s considered to indicate that there’s something ‘wrong with you’. I was responding more to what is considered culturally ‘polite’ (regardless of how stupid it is) and not by any judgemental psychological standard. Using any of those terms and considering them an insult, as Maldeus points out, is the worst thing you could do.

        • Maldeus says:

          The impolite thing is to treat asperger’s/autism as though it’s an insult or a dirty secret.

      • Sagretti says:

        Or, you know, just some social anxiety. Self-diagnosing aspergers (or I guess diagnosing others now) is one of those geek culture things that mystifies me.

        • Simon Buchan says:

          I find it hard to put a line between being shy and the “bottom” of Asperger’s, but I’m not a psychologist (which also might be why I can’t spell it). Regardless, I don’t think it’s necessarily impolite as much as just being overeager in putting what can be pretty normal behavior into a bucket*. “Sounds like you have arachnophobia” isn’t considered impolite, is it?

          * not that “normal” can’t be bucketed, either

          • Sagretti says:

            The thing is, fear of spiders is the translation of arachnaphobia. If someone is especially afraid of spiders, that’s the term you use for that fear. What Shamus described could be signs of aspergers, or social anxiety, or I’m sure other things. Unless you’re qualified and test for it, you can’t diagnose someone based on these few personality traits. The problem with aspergers is that you have so many people diagnosing themselves with it at the moment, people who actually have the disorder find it hard to convince others that it’s legitimate.

            • Simon Buchan says:

              I was merely questioning the “impoliteness” of it. It’s definitely a bad habit you can see everywhere*, but the way @Lanthanide put it actually isn’t bad – he’s referring to a fair bit of information we’ve been given, and he’s avoided actually *diagnosing* Shamus with “has a lot of the hallmarks of”.

              * Heck, my sister thinks I might be Asperger’s – though I’m pretty sure that’s just because I can be a total jerk to her >:)

              • Sagretti says:

                Fair enough, I think it’s just bad form to ever go “Hey, you might have *insert psychological disorder here*” on someone’s blog. Guess it’s just something that would be more polite to put in an email, ya know.

                • Mephane says:

                  Considering that Shamus spent two paragraphs illustrating the issue very richly, I would consider it safe to comment on it in the form of “that sounds to me like condition xyz”.

              • Sumanai says:

                Well, you can tell her that even if you have Asperger’s, that’s not what makes you a jerk.

                But seriously, while Asperger’s is associated with being a dick towards other people, it actually manifests in stuff like acting indifferent despite caring and inability to react to other’s feelings due to being unable to… crap.

                Unable to show that you care? Not knowing how you’re supposed to react to it in a considerate way and being hampered by bad experiences from the past due to acting on instinct and it screwing things up, quite possibly very badly?

                There’s a word that I’m looking for, but I have no idea what it is.

                Anyway, it’s a result of having difficulty learning certain unsaid social rules naturally when growing up. Which means that people with Asperger’s need to put effort at a later age into learning them consciously. Which in turns results in them behaving mostly normally, and people dismissing Asperger’s as bogus.

                • Vipermagi says:

                  “[..]being unable to crap.”
                  When I try to explain how it ‘works’ for me (psychiatrist concluded on me as PDD-NOS with many, but not enough, hallmarks of Asperger’s), I often simply state “unable to express myself naturally”. It’s not exactly accurate, but it kinda works. I see other people respond to situations nearly instantly, as if they don’t even have to think about it (I think they don’t?). Over the years I managed to essentially ‘teach’ myself how to respond to common situations, but when I heard my dad walk downstairs, crying because he hasn’t slept much at all for a while… I just didn’t respond. Almost afraid I’d do something wrong, but also feeling like an arse for not doing anything either. My sister also heard him, and tried to comfort him. Those responses come naturally to her, despite it being the first time my dad’s done something like that. It’s frustrating to be so damn clueless.

                  What you describe in that last paragraph is absolutely spot-on. Do you mind me asking how you became so familiar with autism?

                  • Sumanai says:

                    I’ve been seeing psychologists several times, two suggested Asperger’s, so later I went through a neuropsychological test. Don’t know what it’s actually called. I just know it shares similarities with what Terry Pratchett went through in the documentary about his Alzheimer’s. The person doing the test said at the end that I scored very high on one of them (90+, if I remember correctly) which meant high probability of some form of autism.

                    So I’ve read about it a lot. I had already read some, because I like reading about stuff on occasions and I’m a bit interested in psychology, but didn’t pay it much heed back then.

                    I’ve heard the “unable to express yourself naturally” description before. I think I’ve heard it said in Finnish.

              • lasslisa says:

                I think it’s important to accept certain traits as part of the normal range. There are people who are more focused on ideas than on socializing, or who find small talk boring, or who are generally introverted and/or anxious about social interaction – and these traits are not inherently disordered.

                Especially with something like social anxiety – it’s normal to be anxious in a new social situation. Pretty much everyone is nervous when they meet new people, or when they have to go on stage or do public speaking – and being famous or even semi-famous is surely a way of making every place you go be like a stage.

                Asperger’s is a weird diagnosis, not only because of the way it’s been seized upon by parts of the geek community. A lot of adults who were diagnosed or would have been diagnosed as kids are perfectly fine and successful adults with friends and families and ordinary social abilities. So why do we still say they “have” the disorder?

                • Sumanai says:

                  Because it still affects them, just not negatively or so negatively that it matters. A psychologist told me once that medicine can have averse effects on autistic (or Asperger) people, so being diagnosed with it can be important even if there’s no need for action.

                  There’s also that if the person starts showing signs of some other mental disorder, perhaps something caused by a disease or similarly brought on at an older age, it can be important to know what is beneath it so the new one can be diagnosed and treated correctly.

                • cadrys says:

                  By naming something, it stops being “why can’t I handle people/crowds/change/different I’m a freak who shouldn’t leave the house” and becomes “Oh, I’m reacting to X, therefore I cope by doing Y.” (Tourette’s can be in the same category there, for example)

          • drlemaster says:

            If you find it hard to find the line between Asperger’s and merely socially awkward, that’s because there is no line. For that matter, there is no clear line between Asperger’s and full autism on the other end, either. It’s all one big continuum, so any labels we put on it are purely arbitrary.

            • Sumanai says:

              If you’re a kid, or there’s enough information from your childhood that can’t be influenced by the passage of time, it’s possible to determine with relatively high accuracy if you are.

              Alas, once you’re adult it gets tricky. Especially if you’re nervous when talking to new people, who are psychiatrists, and overtly worried that you’re not telling everything that could help.

              • lasslisa says:

                If you can’t tell the difference between an “adult with Asperger’s” and a neurotypical adult, then what is the point of saying the adult “has Asperger’s”?

                To me, it’s like saying a college student is a “bad reader” because he didn’t learn until he was 8, even though now he’s just as fast and fluent as the kids who learned when they were 4.

                • Sumanai says:

                  Because in adults in can still affect their lives, it’s just that it can get muddled with any number of other neurological deviations. Such as schizophrenia, which you might understand is a little bit more serious, but has superficially the same symptoms. And there’s the fact that Asperger’s, like autism in general, can become problematic at a later age simply because of a change in environment.

                  A “bad reader” when it’s actually caused my some sort of reading disorder instead of just happening to learn it at a later age can still be an issue later, for instance when running into new words, even if the context makes their meaning clear.

                  The problem is people who stamp on the titles too easily, and people who refuse to acknowledge a problem exists in the first place.

                  • lasslisa says:

                    Right – the people who stamp on titles too easily are who I’m addressing, by saying “if you can’t tell any difference”. If there are effects, if it is something that impacts your life, absolutely try to understand it and seek treatment.

                    But it reminds me of people casually using “bipolar” to refer to mood swings, or conflating temporary depression or grief with clinical depression. They aren’t the same thing, and trying to blur the boundaries ends up with both the results you mention.

                    I’m curious what you mean by schizophrenia having “superficially the same symptoms” as Asperger’s.

                    • Sumanai says:

                      In both cases a person can come off as unsympathetic, distanced and distracted. The reasons behind the behaviour are different. I’ve had difficulty understanding schizophrenia, so I’m not the best source for this, but I’ll try.

                      Unsympathetic:
                      With AS there’s difficulty expressing their sympathy.
                      With schizophrenia they’re emotionally distanced from other people, so they have difficulty understanding their feelings.

                      Distanced:
                      With AS they often have a lifetime of accidentally hurting other people by inconsiderate words, so they try to avoid doing that by shutting up.
                      With schizophrenia they can genuinely feel the other people are not worth it. In milder forms they might feel like they can’t connect with the other people in the room at all.

                      Distracted: With AS, as a subtype of autism, they can be bothered by fan whirring, someone coughing in the next room and so on. Stuff that most people don’t even notice because their brains filter them right out.
                      With schizophrenia they might be hearing things that aren’t there. If it’s in a milder form their senses are extra sensitive so some noises can bother them more than other people. There are other things, but I can’t really remember them.

                      If I’m making schizophrenic sound worse people than they are, then I’m sorry. I really have difficulty grasping exactly how it affects people and the image I got was that it’s pretty bad and seriously need medication.

                  • krellen says:

                    I’m dyslexic. Most people that interact with me, online or not, can never tell, because I’m aware of my dyslexia and take steps to correct it.

                    However, if you ever see my put a b where a d should be (or vice-versa), that’s why (I have great difficulty telling them apart, especially in the middle of words). Fortunately, modern spell-checker generally catches me.

              • Alex the Too Old says:

                The therapists and psychiatrists in my metro area seem to take a perverse pride in declaring their inability to constructively deal with autism-related disorders in adults, and it seems like most of the online resources and books about adult autism take an equally perverse, LiveJournal-ish pride in emphasizing the pathological aspects of being on the spectrum and the hopelessness of it all (I’m looking at YOU, Autism Speaks and Wrong Planet…). It’s almost better to just let people go on thinking you’re just too lazy and/or narcissistic to develop your social skills, especially given the heavy involvement that current and future employers have with your medical history.

                • Sumanai says:

                  I’ve heard of Wrong Planet years ago. The first mention of it I heard was a compliment, but left me feeling with serious doubt. The later mentions were not that positive. I personally associate it with the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus book (assuming that’s the correct one) in that it’s stupid and following it makes things worse.

                  I’ve also heard of therapists, psychiatrists or psychologists that act like it’s a great thing that they don’t know how to handle autism. They usually end up making people’s lives miserable by “helping” them.

                  • Sumanai says:

                    I seem to remember something about it painting autistic people as “unable to fit into society” in a way that is really depressing if you are, or someone close to you is, autistic and you don’t have other, better, sources.

                    Those who don’t know: it can seem like that on the surface, but it’s possible to overcome the problems with work and perseverance. Because it can appear harder on the surface than it really is, such books are problematic.

                    The previous paragraph might’ve been an excuse to write “perseverance” and the word might not be accurate within the context.

        • Jeff says:

          The reason for a large amount of self-diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome is because the image of AS isn’t merely a lack of social skills, but without any loss in linguistic and cognitive development. In other words, they don’t behave well but they’re smart with an eye for detail (which are qualities valued in geek culture).

          In other words, most people who self-diagnose themselves with AS (especially in response to somebody calling them out for inappropriate behavior) are simultaneously excusing and praising themselves. In the context of an internet forum, they’re saying “Sure I may sound like an idiot, but I’m not!”

          I had a player in a D&D campaign claim (self-diagnosed) AS, justified himself by his behavior and obvious (to himself) intelligence. Except none of the group considered him smart, he appeared to not have any obsessive routines, and certainly had no eye for details.

          • Sumanai says:

            From what I can tell, if someone is a self-diagnosed AS and uses it to justify his behaviour, he definitely doesn’t have Asperger’s. One of the symptoms, that is hard to diagnose, is heightened feeling of sympathy. It’s not easy to dismiss your own behaviour when you’re feeling terrible about something you said that ended up hurting someone else.

            • Newbie says:

              But I thought Aspergers meant you were unable to empathise. So where does sympathy come in? (I’m currently waiting on a psychological evaluation on aspergers myself but I’ve always thought I had empathy for people which is why I am unsure among other minor questions)

              • Bubble181 says:

                No, if you can’t feel empathy, you’re somewhere in the sociopath/psychopath area. Not all psychopaths are homicidal maniacs, don’t worry ;-)
                Aspergers means you *can* and, often *do* feel emotional connection. Problems for people with Asperger’s Syndrome are more the reading of other people’s expressions and body language, as well as having a feel for what you can and can’t say in what situation. When you’re told that someone’s father just died, the *right* reaction is probably “I’m sorry for your loss”. Some people know this because, you know, obvious. Other people only know this because they’ve been told it’s what you’re supposed to say. A third group will make a joke about it, focus on a completely irrelevant other topic (“oh no! Now who will drive you to soccer practice?”) or simply not respond. The latter two groups may be classified into at least a dozen different syndromes, or just be a bit slow, or just be a jerk, or whatnot.

                To come back to Shamus: the “breaking of habit” side of this may look more “autistic/Asperger”, while the way he words it, to me, comes off more like some types of agoraphobia. I don’t think he has either, though – I’ll stick to “anxiety”. Even though that’s not a “diagnosis” [I am utterly unqualified to diagnose someone, be it physical or mental!] any psychologist would accept. It’s far too general, as practically any type of fear or psychosis, as well as stress and all the likes, can be “anxiety”.

                Just like many other “mild” forms of autism, Asperger-sufferers tend to be more easily “taken in” by fantasy worlds (SF books, computer games, tv shows – it depends on the person of course). Also, slightly (or more serious, but if it gets too bad people tend to go more for “autism”, even if one’s just a type of the other…The distinction may be more semantic than scientific in many cases) obsessive behaviour and, like practically all autists, a preference for hobbies with strong repetitive or structured/organised elements. Fixed rules, logical and certain outcome of certain input, etc. Aspergers DOES fit board- and computer gamers quite closely, obviously.

          • Bubble181 says:

            Yeah, “Asperger’s” in some cultures seems to be taken as a “get out of jail free card” when it comes to jerk-ass behaviour.
            the Halo Fanboiz [not singling out, just using as example] using vulgar language, being hateful and antisocial like to claim Aspergers as an excuse, but it doesn’t lfy with anyone who KNOWS anything about Asperger’s or autism in general.

            On the other hand, a lot of people who think they’re “just a bit introverted” could be reclassified as various magnitudes of autism specrtrum… Which I strongly disagree with.

            Our whole society is geared very much towards extrovert people, and trying to force introverts to behave more extroverted. A lot of problems could be avoided by allowing introverts to be introverted – which does NOT necessarily mean just staying locked up inside in a dull routine.

            • Sumanai says:

              It should be noted that Asperger’s often means being highly sociable by nature and needs, but acting against it because of bad past experiences. So if someone is acting introverted, but just has AS, they’ll be more happy if they start socialising more. I don’t think anything prevents anyone being both AS and introverted however, in which case I imagine forcing them to act extroverted will do more harm than good.

              • Sumanai says:

                I meant more harm than usual. I would imagine any form of autism making it really bad if you were forced, or forcing yourself, to be more outgoing that you actually are.

      • ccesarano says:

        I’m no expert, but I’ve met Shamus and I’ve met people with Aspergers.

        I don’t think Shamus has Aspergers.

        • Sumanai says:

          I’ve been reading about Asperger’s, and I agree. But I’m not certain if the symptoms are that obvious.

          Note that I’m not comfortable actually taking part in a discussion on whether or not Shamus has Asperger syndrome, just that I have friends who feel a bit too confident in their abilities to recognise mental disorders, even minor ones that are subtle, and I felt the urge to note that it might not be that visible. Especially since they could be diagnosed only because in their case the symptoms were stronger.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I had a friend in 10th grade who had Asperger’s. He explained it a bit to me, though I don’t remember all of it. It seems to be basically just having trouble operating in a social environment due to how your brain works.

            I know he had some issues earlier in school, but he moved and seems to be doing well there, so I like to think I helped him sort outlying some of his issues.

            In any case… it would be really hard to tell if an adult has Asperger’s from an account like this.

            • Sumanai says:

              If you were a friend, you likely did help. Asperger’s means having difficulty with social interaction, but also having a need for it. Due to the first it’s difficult to make friends, and due to the latter that’s a problem.

              When a “normal” person grows up, they pick up on all sorts of small things. Micro expressions, body language, social norms. They learn how to behave in certain situation without being taught, and in fact a lot of the stuff is not, or was not, written down. With Asperger’s you miss a lot of that. So when you’re talking with someone it can be difficult to realise what the other person is feeling.

              The strange thing is that a lot people with AS are perfectly fine at recognising moods and subtext when they’re not taking part in the interaction. But when they’re taking part that disappears and they can get their foot in their mouth in record time.

        • Having known him for 20 years I agree that he does not have Aspergers. I was a special ed teacher who worked specifically with Autistic kids prior to us having our own children. Shamus is quirky and doesn’t like travel or crowds, definitely gets anxious, but not aspergers. In fact, he is way better at judging appropriate behavior than I often am (I get a lot of frowns from him for saying things that he considers rude.:D)

          A lot of his differences could be attributed to the drugs he was on as a kid plus a lot of stuff from his childhood and the rest is just plain who he is and may I say he is awesome. An awful lot of it is just seeing the world from a different angle– which we both do and is a side affect of being LD plus personalities that are on the uncommon side of the spectrum.

          We have discussed this stuff before and honestly it is a non-issue (he would chime in but is asleep.:))

          • The Right Trousers says:

            Shamus, the way your wife talks about you reminds me of my wife. If I am inferring things correctly, you are a lucky, lucky man.

            I think you already know that, though.

          • Lanthanide says:

            Thanks Heather, when I brought this up on the autoblography posts I got a reply from Shamus himself, and I was hoping you’d chime in but never did.

            Your opinion is good enough for me – you’re probably the person in the world who knows Shamus the best out of anyone, and your experience with autistic children lends a lot of weight to your opinion.

      • Jonathan says:

        I’m pretty sure it’s been discussed somewhere in the comments on a previous thread. I have some strong Aspy tendencies too… I never learned social rules but “just watching” or doing… I have to have them explained to me.

    • Hitch says:

      There’s Charlie Sheen Syndrome where you’re very famous and revel in saying absurd things in public that make you look like a fool, but that’s a little different.

    • The Right Trousers says:

      Seconded, though I think it’s more likely generalized anxiety from what I know. (I’ve read every post on this blog, some of them more than once. I read “How I Learned” twice as well.) My wife and daughter have this; the jury is out on whether either case is strong enough to be called “clinical”.

      I’ll go one further and claim that, in your case, anxiety is not only responsible for the tremendous drain you feel when interacting with strangers and dealing with new things and changes to routine, but it also motivates you to *create order* in things. It is very common for people with anxiety to do that. (Sometimes it looks a bit like OCD.) In your case, you put it to very good use, in coding, writing, explaining, and general creativity.

      (Some, like my aunt, don’t handle it so well. Her version of “create order to reduce stress” was “control every aspect of my children’s lives”. Cases like this are one reason we give names to psychological things. If she had known it wasn’t normal, she could have found a more constructive outlet.)

      • Sumanai says:

        I think that couple of my aunts have something similar. I know that when I visited one of them I was very, very worried that I’ll spill something on her couch since she seemed so concerned about being tidy. Also it was a light coloured textile couch instead of fake leather like at home. I really don’t like making a mess. Another one was always a bit on the edge every time we visited her and seemed a bit obsessed about routines.

      • And sometimes, as in this case, it is just plain extreme introvertedness– Shamus needs a lot of alone/in his head time even in dealing with immediate family. He does get some anxiety but it is BECAUSE he knows he needs a ton of alone time and will not be getting it.

        • The Right Trousers says:

          That’s tough. My wife deals with that. She has to schedule shopping days in advance and then mentally prepare for them. She dreads having to go to a place like Wal-Mart. There are so many PEOPLE!

          I’m an extrovert, so I understand the problem by analogy. Suppose I’m going to be alone for a week straight…. I’ve done that before, and it nearly turned me into a fruitcake. It wasn’t just nice to see my family again, but an honest-to-goodness relief.

          • Sumanai says:

            I once spent a month at home only leaving to go buy food once or twice. I live alone, no pets. No phone calls. Not repeating that.

            I can spend a lot of time alone, but that was way too much.

    • SyrusRayne says:

      Social Anxiety Disorder’s fairly common, these days. I’ve got a case myself (working through it with help, etc. etc.) The best thing I could recommend to Shamus, or anyone with Social Anxiety (as an actual diagnosed disorder, or just plain ‘hate public speaking,’ or what have you) is to keep working at it. It gets easier to do this sort of thing, the more you do it. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but don’t avoid it. Avoiding it is quite literally the worst thing you can do. In much the same way as avoiding going to the dentist, actually. (There’s a reason for this, but I don’t want this to turn into a million page ramble.)

      Not sure who the hell this is aimed at. Anyone who’s reading? I dunno.

    • BenD says:

      I don’t mean this to defy the possibility of something on the autism spectrum, or some other socio-psychological thing… but Shamus has let on in other posts that traveling tends to expose him to allergens, and he is deathly allergic to most of them. XD

    • Kdansky says:

      I want to reiterate that I don’t think that’s a horrible thing. I mean, guess why I know about it, I’ve got my own head full of stupid phobias. Note that a phobia is always irrational. I know perfectly well that spiders can’t hurt me, but that doesn’t stop me from being afraid. You have to do something about your psychological issues when they impact your quality of life.

      Not able to go to the petting zoo because you are afraid of goats? Really irrelevant.
      Not able to go to PAX because you’ve got Agoraphobia (Fear of crowds)? Time to hit the shrink!

      Having a great time while doing something that hits all your anxiety triggers is a great way of therapy.

      • SyrusRayne says:

        That depends. Do you really want to go to the petting zoo? Maybe you should deal with the phobia, then. If you’re terrified of goats and don’t really give a damn about petting zoos, then it’s no big deal.

        Granted, it’s a long road to doing so. A psychologist/shrink/therapist would know how to help you do it, without overwhelming you. You’ve just gotta be willing to work at it. It’s all down to what you want to get from it.

  3. Mephane says:

    As much as I appreciate the effort going into the podcast, I would prefer written version. Somehow I just find easier to follow stuff while reading than while listening. I am particularly disappointed that now your favourite PAX game is not even named in the post. I know you want to create suspension, but for someone like me who skips most video and audio content on blogs that means I’ll have to wait until you (hopefully) talk about it in a later post.

    On the other hand, the photograph more than makes up for it, heh.

    • Sumanai says:

      Dammit. Now I have an urge to make a transcript. I doubt I’ll get around to it, which makes the feeling worse.

    • Me too. I only listen to his podcasts and videos when he is doing them. I am all visual and trying to listen to something with no obvious way to see where the conversation is going drives me nuts.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Exactly the same.

      Listening to a podcast for 20 minutes or even watching a video for 20 minutes is just annoying, because you feel so passive.
      When reading, you can have some music or something on the background (or not, as you want). You can stop and read on. You can do all kinds of things.
      When listening to a podcast, you’re…Just sitting there, listening to a podcast. I guess you could watch pictures of wild animals or long vista’s as “background”, but I don’t work that way :-P

      • Simon Buchan says:

        I try to read or program, which I can do sometimes. Some games are good for podcasts too (Bit.Trip Runner and Binding of Issac are favorites). Otherwise, I just listen to them over lunch or when I’m on the way to or from work.

        • Mephane says:

          As a matter of fact, I have a hard time trying to concentrate on a pure audio podcast (with video stuff it tends to be better) by just sitting there listening. I have to do something else, which usually means I end up driving in crazy circles in a town in my current MMO of choice, or doing some mindless shooting or flying in some space game.

          I remember once a long and unrelated conversation over ventrilo while doing some really hard missions in Freelancer, stuff I would struggle and could easily fail at a single misstep, and come out unscathed, wondering aftwerwards how I did that but having no idea whatsover, because I entirely concentrated on the conversation and the rest happened as automatic background action.

          When listening or talking to someone over phone/ventilo/skype/teamspeak, I cannot sit still. Either I have to move physically, which means I walk up and down the apartment all the time (I have no idea how I would cope with a wired phone…), or virtually.

          Also, I can think about stuff much better when moving around, too. I originally thought that this is the reason why people talk about taking a walk to think, but for me it is more extreme. I have a hard time thinking about complicated stuff without walking (in this case mostly physically), but on the other hand the very act of walking automatically sends me into a thoughtful state, as if the two processes were hardwired with each other.

          That’s also why I find walks with someone else (even strangers that just happen to be in the rough vicinity and going the same direction and speed) absolutely awkward. There are a few exceptions, when the walk is not too long and there is a clear, pre-defined goal like getting groceries (yes, I do that on foot), but otherwise walking means thinking means time for myself means WHY ARE YOU STILL AROUND GET YOURSELF YOUR OWN PLANET. *g*

      • Mistwraithe says:

        Agreed along with quite a few others it seems.

        Video and audio (eg pod casts) are way too slow for me to have any interest in watching/listening to them. Reading is much faster. Video/Audio also involve putting head phones on and tuning others out whereas reading does not.

        I’ve watched 20 or so Zero Punctuation because Yatzee really is very funny but even then I gave up after that. I’ve watched half of a Spoiler Warning, thought it was mildly interesting but the entertainment factor was way outweighted by the time investment required.

        So yeah, I would rather Shamus redirected all the time he puts into Spoiler Warning and podcasts towards more productive enterprises, namely writing clever and amusing articles for me to read. However I have heard that there are other strange beings who quite like the video and audio stuff such grudgingly I tolerate it… ;-)

    • Kdansky says:

      I like podcasts when I travel a lot, because that involves a ton of sitting around and waiting. I am not travelling much lately…

  4. George says:

    Josh sounds so different with a decent microphone.

    It’s also kind of odd to say Chris and Shamus are IMHO more handsome than Josh and Rutskarn (why does he say rootskarn?), based on what little we’ve seen of Josh.

    Also, posting this at 9:14PM where it’s giving me the time I have to get up in the morning for US time >.<

  5. psivamp says:

    What if Josh really is Theodore Roosevelt? (Time travel or quantum mumbo-jumbo, who cares how?)

    That would basically mean that the Rough Riders were a real-life Western equivalent of Reginald Cuftbert and co. And maybe the whole, “Speak softly and carry a big stick” debacle was really a misquotation of something more in character like, “Speak softly, you big dick. Give me my morning bottle of whiskey.”

  6. X2Eliah says:

    Josh’s grumpiness seems to have drained all colour from the immediate vicinity of his head. Who would have guessed, eh?

  7. Sagretti says:

    The true saga of the new X-Coms is one of those stories I hope we get to hear once the games are out and people are more free to talk. I don’t know if there’s ever been such a reversal from completely ignoring a product’s history and fan base to embracing them and developing directly for them. I know the shooter is supposedly still coming out, but as Shamus mentioned, nobody is talking about that game anymore. I’m almost hoping they just re-name it and acknowledge it pretty much had nothing to do with X-Com in the first place, except that both games had invading aliens.

    • Simon Buchan says:

      The strategy game was apparently being developed since before the shooter, though. Blame PR for the “reversal”, not the developers.

      I would love to see that prototype version* they made with all the old systems – it’s probably not very good as a game, but it would be super interesting to contrast it with the original and the new one.

      * About a 1/6 through: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/02/01/xcom-enemy-unknown-preview/ Really, the whole series is pretty great.

      • Sagretti says:

        Yeah, I’ve heard that story, too, but I’m curious how true some of it is. Heck, even if it is true they were developing it that long ago, I’d love to hear the story of the legendarily bad marketing team. I mean, they let nearly 2 years of ill will build up among the gaming community before they thought it prudent to announce the game everyone was begging for. I guess it generated a lot of positive reaction for the new strategy game, but there’s a good chance the shooter is never going to get a fair reaction no matter how it turns out as a game.

        • Hitch says:

          It sounds like to me from what Shamus and Josh were saying that the developers of this strategy game are being very careful to not talk about anything that’s not ready. Yes, they’ll drop hint that they’re planning to include features that fans are looking for and expect, but they aren’t making any promises or hyping anything they aren’t sure of. Almost like they don’t want to fall into the trap of over-promoting their game like some other developers have recently.

          If that’s the case, they probably refused to allow any promotion of what they were working on until they were at a stage they were pretty sure they would be able to release and had a clear look at what they were making.

          • Raygereio says:

            Funny thing is: this method still builds up hype as the fans will go “Oh! I wonder if it’s going to be in. You know what? They’re being so coy about it; I bet it is.”

            But it really is a far better PR method then outright lying about your game. *glances sideways at BioWare*

            • Sumanai says:

              Yes. If people think “oh, they’re being coy, so it’s going in” they’re far more ready to accept that it didn’t end up in there. There might be grumblings, and at least a couple yelling bloody murder like usual, but nothing serious.

      • Sumanai says:

        I don’t think it would’ve been fair to blame the developers anyway, especially since they’re two different teams and the feeling I got from the shooter creators was that the X-Com title was heaved on them by someone else.

        That still doesn’t explain the stupidity of that one 2k person saying stuff like “you can’t make a turn-based game today”. If that originated from marketing, they need to hire some new people.

    • ccesarano says:

      The strategy may actually be similar to Capcom’s way of thinking with the Resident Evil franchise. They are making 6 more action-oriented and put Operation Raccoon City, an action-oriented multiplayer shooter, on consoles to try and grab the Call of Duty market, and then stuck the more “horror” (ha) themed game on the 3DS for a niche market.

      And so far, it seems critics agree the 3DS niche game was better than Operation Raccoon City, though commercially ORC is still doing pretty well.

    • decius says:

      Well shit. I though that the XCOM at PAX was the shooter, and figured that it wasn’t worth the line to get into the closed booth.

      I want my time machine so I can go back and remedy that mistake. Remind me to send it back to myself ten minutes from now.

  8. Packie says:

    It seems we have reached a new level of trolling here.

    Also, can’t wait for next week’s spoiler warning!

  9. lurkey says:

    You kind of look alike.

  10. Irridium says:

    “In the Modern World, but all the myths and conspiracies are true.”

    So… Deus Ex mixed with mythology? Sounds neat. Though the only game I remember that did the whole “myths are real thing” is Legendary, and that game was… less than good, to put it kindly.

    And good to hear about the Civ V expansion making diplomacy more interesting. Since in the base game all it really is is an IM service other civs use to denounce you.

  11. ccesarano says:

    Being able to meet and speak with you and Josh was a pleasure, so thank you for suffering the trip so that jerks like me could see you and buy your book directly.

    I do hope that you guys might be able to put a Spoiler Warning panel together one of these years. Or perhaps we could, as a collective, figure out how to convince The Escapist to hold their own party on a Friday or Saturday night. Panels are great, but I’ve learned that I much more enjoy being able to actually meet and converse with people, even if it is just other fans (such as what happened with the Extra Credits meet-up where James Portnow was constantly surrounded and I didn’t even get so much as a chance to shake his hand. But hey, I had a pretty bad ass conversation anyway).

    • Hitch says:

      I was going to suggest this morning when I read this comment that The Escapist should have their own show in Raleigh-Durham…

      http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/misc/9567-The-Escapist-Expo

      Too late to look clever, now. :-(

      Edited to add: Shamus is featured on LRR’s Loading Time today. Okay, “glimpsed” is probably more accurate.

      • ccesarano says:

        I just saw that and was super, SUPER excited. In conversations with some folks, I’ve heard a lot of people wish Philly could have a gaming expo (because GameX and VGXPO worked so well) or some other cities, but to me, Raleigh was always the logical spot. Aside from Boston, it has the largest industry presence on the East Coast and makes a lot of sense.

        So yeah, suuuuper stoked.

        Now the question is: can Shamus handle more than one of these a year?

  12. Shamus, Josh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBSUgKbKaWs
    The Secret World, half hour developer presentation of the char creation, and some game play, some NPC interaction (talking NPCs but nowhere close to SWTOR obviously), leveling system (or rather how the absence of a leveling system works) and boss fight showing. It’s probably a very nice half hour “demo” of what The Secret World is about.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      Wait, did that Asian woman just cause the character to have a vision by going down on her? I mean, it’s implied…how does that even work? It’s ‘Intimate Healing’ all over again.

  13. SougoXIII says:

    Oh Shamus, a straight up photoshop this time? After all the pai- I mean trolling you put us through I was expecting something more creative this time!

    On that note, is it just me or Shamus look incredibly pale in this photo? I’m a bit concern…

  14. Patrick the Evil Podiatrist says:

    Happen all the time, but it still makes me laugh when I come to the site and am confused by some out-of-place banner ad. Then you read the post and see why. Today’s ad for Dental insurance is a good example….

    Also….the Flyers suck.

    • Mephane says:

      Yeah, I find that highly irritating. I have no trouble with yet another free-to-play-pay-to-win-we-got-b**bs banner ad (recently often some BSG browser game), but when it starts presenting ads for mundane, real world stuff like insurance it is freaking the hell out of me.

      It’s even worse when the ads come in German. There is something very uncanny about ads in your own language and from your own country when you’re on a foreign site, using English as your native internet language (my google defaults to international, i.e. English). As if someone is sneaking behind you and says “Ah ha! Gotcha, there you are! Now go out of your basement and buy non-geek-stuff!”

  15. Later in the series, it will be revealed that the Assassins founded the Ku Klux Klan.

  16. Jon Ericson says:

    It sounds like the X-COM folks are following some of the design decisions made by Julian Gollop in Rebelstar: Tactical Command for the GBA. If you haven’t played it, Rebelstar wraps the tactical battles with a sort of JRPG story and greatly simplifies the mechanics. Squads are limited depending on the mission and there are fewer actions. Since it works on a handheld console, the limitations were necessary, but they also streamline the gameplay.

    The maps aren’t procedurally generated, but each map presents a well-defined tactical scenario. One of my complaints with the original X-COM is the endless landing/crash site missions with the same UFO layouts. Once I figured out the strategy (secure the perimeter, set up snipers/machine guns in good sight-lines, and send in the SWAT team to clear room-by-room), I got bored with that part of the game. Hunting down aliens outsider of the ship was fun, but the UFO designs were too big, too static, and too few.

    • harborpirate says:

      Yeah, that is an interesting note: the original designer of X-COM made some of the same design decisions when creating his new [non-X-COM] strategy game that the team at Firaxis is making with their X-COM reboot now.

      I think it is fair to conclude that interface design has moved considerably in the intervening years.

  17. Hush says:

    I swear that I’ve seen Josh somewhere before.

    Eh, maybe it’s just deja vu.

  18. Sumanai says:

    So, about the tactical X-com move-action system. Can you shoot and then move? Because they keep talking about full-move, full-action and move-action, but I haven’t heard anyway say action-move. And that’s one of the things I kept missing in games like Advance Wars that was possible with the Time Unit system. Assuming I’m not thinking of another game, as I’m too lazy to hunt down the cart and test it.

    • Sumanai says:

      Since I jumped the gun there a bit, I have to put a new comment saying that when I was little I loved the flattop haircut. Especially with the Personnel Armour. It was great. If Firaxis puts in a setting to make one of the armours look like that in the new one and one the hairstyles the flattop haircut, I think I’m going to be happy about the game even if it somehow manages to suck otherwise.

      If parts of the haircut bounces when the character walks, I might spend hours just making one of the dudes walk around, zoomed in, and giggle.

      About the six unit maximum, I think that’s a bit strange. I would’ve thought eight would’ve been good, but that’s not really something I’m worried about.

  19. Mailbox says:

    Awesome. I love travel. Being anywhere but here is always exciting and invigorating for me.

    Since it has become such a fantastic joke to keep Josh’s appearance a secret, I thought it would be hilarious to let you guys know that in the new LRR Loading Time video about PAX EAST 2012 there is a pan shot of the room at the Escapist Panel. You can see Josh in the front row, BUT Heather is very conveniently standing up in the way just enough to obscure his face. LOL.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Meh,not really that interested in civ5.I love the series,but the move to one unit per hex broke the game for me.I thought it was gonna be neat,but it ended up sucking.I still play 4 though,and enjoy it very much,and I still love firaxis,which is why the instant I heard they were doing x-com I got pumped.

    Also,that action thing you guys are describing,maybe you should look into the king bounty remakes:The legend,armoured princess and (soon) warriors of the north.Its a great fantasy tbs,with pretty nice camera,and great rpg elements.

    • Sumanai says:

      I talked about the Civ5 one-unit-per-hex-thing, and I came to two possible ways of solving it:

      Allow two or three army units on the same hex.

      Or turn the grid into a full fledged tactical grid by making the hexes smaller. Cities for instance would then take seven hexes in a circle. Possibly more, would have to do play testing to know for certain.

      • Sumanai says:

        I talked about it with a friend. I did not talk with myself.
        He didn’t fully agree. Meaning I think he disagreed and made a face that implied he thought I was an idiot and should be kept out of game development.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I often thought about that myself,and I think it wouldve been good.Even before hexes and one unit per hex.

        My biggest problem with one unit per hex is the cheap old tactic of blocking someone settling with your unit.And boxing someone scouting in a corner.

        • Sumanai says:

          Naturally it should be possible to move through a unit or stack if you’re not at war. If the grid is small enough, which means that units need to have more movement points, then it’s harder to box them in.

          That said, considering Raygereio’s comment below, I don’t know if one-unit-per-hex really fits in a game that’s supposed to have a focus on the large scale.

      • Raygereio says:

        +1 on Civ 5’s combat. I like the rest of the game, but moving an actual army around quickly became incredibly tedious for me.

        A posibillity I’d like to see is Age of Wonders / Total War type combat: move stacks of armies around on the world map, then when entering combat enter a battlefield zone.

        • Sumanai says:

          I don’t know if adding a combat screen wouldn’t shift the focus a bit. It might be best to just allow limited stacking and doing the fights roughly the way they are. Maybe so that the engine decides which unit attacks and when, but only if the developers have time to write a code that makes sensible decisions.

  21. Deadpool says:

    http://skullsoftheshogun.com/

    Another game that has been there for TWO years (three even?) and still have no release date.

    Shame cuz I really, REALLY want it…

  22. DGM says:

    You know, I used to wonder why no one else took a picture of Josh’s face during a public appearance and published it. Learning that a floating image of Roosevelt’s head follows him around everywhere explains a lot.

    Of course, it raises even more questions than it answers. But I guess you can’t have everything.

  23. Stacy says:

    Semi-famous eh…

  24. Eärlindor says:

    I agree about AC3. I think the trees are underwhelming. And the uniform too, that’s pretty whacky. Though it does look like it could be one of the American or French uniforms, in which case the worst offender is that daggum hood (get rid of it, just… just no). Even so, a uniform like that is still screaming to the British, “I’m right here; shoot me!”

  25. IFS says:

    While Colonial America won’t be as pretty as Italy, just look at the technological innovations you can make use of!

    assassins-creed-iii-ben-franklins-upgrade-shop

  26. uberfail says:

    To be fair a white uniform would make you blend in amongst all the musket smoke.

  27. Grag says:

    Yeah, I totally heard about the new civ5 mode, where Oda Nobunaga drinks his body weight in sake and opium while lugging around three matchlock rifles that he doesn’t actually know how to use.

    Can’t wait to see it.

  28. Deadyawn says:

    I am so glad you guys liked the X-COM boothe. That has gone a long way to assuage my doubts about it. To be frank I’m pretty excited especially since the release date is this year. It’s such a massive relief considering the whole shooter thing that happened a few years back. Good to know that you guys got a positive impression from it.

  29. BenD says:

    Since Shamus is standing slightly askew with arms crossed staring right at the camera barely smiling, AND since it contains his facial hair and glasses, this should be cropped into his new avatar picture for the website.

  30. LexIcon says:

    Unrelated to anything ever, but I approve of your goatee Shamus. As a bearded man I may be biased, but I think it looks good on you.

  31. Shamus, any video from the PAX panel you where on?

    I’ve only found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8QxjWOEO08 so far!

  32. WILL says:

    Shamus, you look like Gary Oldman. http://images.wikia.com/harrypotter/images/e/e6/Gary-oldman.jpg

    Josh looks like Roosevelt.

  33. harborpirate says:

    Fantastic podcast.

    I think using rookies as scouts in the original game, while mostly effective, was not the best strategy. Using the robo-tanks for that purpose worked much better since they were 100% expendable and could not be mind controlled. They didn’t level up anyway, so losing one meant nothing.

    Rookies were good for one purpose though: they could be sent in on capture missions by disarming them completely except for a stun rod. (I actually had never thought of that strategy myself, but ran across it recently somewhere online, in a strategy guide or play-through account or something)

    I’ve watched and read all the material I can get my in regards to this new version, and Jake Solomon and team really seem to be aware of what made the original game great.

    There had better be mind control and blaster launchers…

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