Diecast #54: Witcher, HOT MEN, Wildstar

By Shamus
on Apr 22, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast

Thanks so much to special guest George Weidman of SuperBunnyHop for joining in. He’s also going to be part of Spoiler Warning this week. If you’re going to check out his channel (which you should totally do) I highly recommend his video on Quiet Time in games, and if you’re obsessed with VR like I am then you’ll want to see his fairly thorough VR report from GDC.


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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Chris, Mumbles, George Weidman (SuperBunnyHop), and Shamus.

Show notes:

1:00 Chris is playing Trials Fusion.

7:00 Chris is also playing Infamous: Second Son.

12:00 Talking about morality systems, and George brings up the Witcher.

19:30 Let’s Talk about HOT MEN.

We’re actually talking about this Gamasutra Article: WRITING HOT MEN FOR GAMES? Yes, please by Jane Jensen, designer and creative force behind the Gabriel Knight series.

What follows is nearly fifteen minutes where four straight men and a straight woman try to figure out which dudes are hot. Spoiler: The Straight Men aren’t very good at this.

32:00 Who is Dennis Hopper?

We often feign outrage for comedic effect, but I was actually stunned silent when the guys described DENNIS HOPPER as “the guy who played King Koopa”. Someday someone fifteen years younger than you will describe Liam Neeson as “the guy from Nut Job” and you will know my pain.

38:00 Mumbles is reading comics.

As Mumbles explained, digital comics are a thing. At Marvel Unlimited you can pay $10 a month and read all the comics. New ones, old ones, everything. I’m seriously thinking about getting this for a month. Anyone use this service? I’d love to hear more about it.

46:00 Rutskarn shows up, and then Shamus and Mumbles talk about Wildstar.

Thanks again to George for joining in.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!2020208268. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. Humanoid says:

    The bit about four straight men and one straight woman had me wondering, until that last show note popped up. :P

  2. The Marvel Unlimited offer seems like a great deal (especially for people dipping in who don’t care that they can’t get to very latest releases and #JoinTheConversation) but I was put off by the app (at least on Android, it’s a terrible job and looks to be a wrapper around a website so the web-access is probably going to be very similar) and the quality of the scans in the free selection (as there’s a rotating pool of free access and you can also see the first page of a lot of the content as the preview for buying singles) stayed my hand/wallet. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by good apps (DeNA’s* MangaBox is a good example of how to do it) and good scans (again, DeNA are generally doing good work with quality control and 2000AD have so far been good from what I’ve purchased there, DRM free). The app situation may be of less concern, depending on how you consume digital serialised comics; I’m a big convert to a 7″ 1920×1200 tablet as the ideal thing to read on so having a decent app or mobile friendly website that is easy to navigate and quickly scales to full-screen for each page is key (if you want to offer something to pay for that is one step above reading a free serialised webcomic).

    I still feel a bit weird about paying for a zip file full of images, but this hasn’t stopped me embracing it. I fully accept this is me being weird as I don’t have the issue with other forms of digital content.

    * Yes, that DeNA.

    • ET says:

      What problems did the free comics have in their scans? I spent about ten minutes installing the app on my Nexus 4 and browsing three of the “free this week/month” comics, and they all looked pretty decent in terms of scanning to me. Admittedly, my phone is tiny, so I might not be able to see the flaws. Were there some comics in particular you could point to?

      Now, as for the app itself…it’s laggy like crazy. A paid program shouldn’t be hanging consistently for 2-5 seconds, when I do simple things. For example, when I hit the back button, to go to a page I was just looking at. I wonder if it’s just not caching anything. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but I would think that no matter how sexy and cool your graphics are, you don’t sacrifice more than a second of the customer’s time, to your program loading simple things. Like, the full comic, sure, it has to download that, but a thumbnail and a hundred characters of description? That should be pretty much instantaneous. :|

      Note for Shamus:
      You got the link to Marvel, but missed/forgot/etc the link to comiXology. Kind of a trap too, since it sounds like Mumbles is saying “comiCology” in the show, and that URL is being cyber-squatted, and might make you think the real website is broken or something. :)

    • Mike S. says:

      Maybe it’s because I’m in my 40s, with all that implies for my eyesight, but 7″ strikes me as too small to be ideal. (Not that I haven’t used my phone with the Marvel Unlimited app when I was desperate enough. :-) ) My iPad strikes me as just a bit smaller than would be ideal, though it’s absolutely usable.

      That may be because I prefer the traditional full-page view. Panel-by-panel navigation demands a smaller screen, but I find it slow and distracting.

      MU is exactly the kind of deal I want if they’re going to stay committed to DRM, though. I haven’t bought much through Comixology because I really, really hate “buying” something that will go away if the owner goes out of business or decides to phase out the product. I have 30-year-old books and comics that I reread– who wants to make a bet that any of these platforms will survive that sort of timescale? A Netflix-style all-you-can-eat plan is much more palatable– if I’m going to rent access, that’s about the price I want to be paying.

    • ET: The current free stuff isn’t terrible (not sure if I’m remembering the scans being worse than they were or was grumpy at the app by the time I was viewing the actual content and so less forgiving) but if you zoom in on anything (eg Ult Spidey #28, first panelled page) so you’re looking at a panel then there is more jpeg compression (traditional very visible jpeg noise and some chroma corruption) than there is clean space on display. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not giving you a good impression of clean lines and this is detailed work we’re being shown here without the resolution or the compression settings to do it justice.

      Yes, when we’re zoomed out to the full page (even with all the pixels on this tablet – the advance of technology is rather amazing at times, I remember my Palm Vx and that 160×160 back/white LCD) then you can’t see it but with this level of detailed work I like to give it a pinch and take in the detail, the detail their compression ruins. And while we’re talking about page view, why is there a grey border round 3 sides of the page by default? Is this “the page is scanned lower than 1920×1200 so this is the 1:1 default zoom”? Comic pages seem to be just about perfect aspect for an Android 16:10 screen (with the UI borders top and tail) and the rescaler using the GPU is pretty good. As you say, there is plenty more to dislike about the app (press back, think the app may have crashed; oh wait, it’s just thinking about it) but the page view is probably the little thing that would get to me the most.

      Mike S: Yep, it’s completely horses for courses when it comes to tablets. I’m a full page viewer too but I want something to make use of my augmented* 20:12 vision that’s light enough and thin enough for a pinky-thumb grasp (with my large hands) so that means 7″ widescreen with as many pixels as they’ll give me (without breaking the bank). Plenty of reasons why that’s a very specific set of requirements so it’s not a universal ideal. While I’m really happy that the market developed to give really good cheap, powerful small tablets; I suspect most people are probably going to be better server with something like a 10″. It’s great that there’s support for some diversity there so there are good options at several different requirement points.

      Agreed on DRM being something that will push me towards (all you can eat) rental offers. If I can’t buy it then I’m far less happy to pretend I’m buying it when I’m really not. 2000AD have been selling their stuff DRM free for years and last year Image Comics moved in the same direction. I’m not sure if the industry is moving that way (or if Amazon getting into the game will make that move more rapid or less) but I’ll certainly look to those guys first when looking to find something interesting to buy and read.

      * By the power of “four-eyes” 8)

    • This thread is just about still new enough to be worth doing a follow-up post. In the week since this conversation (specifically on 25 April), Marvel updated their Android app with a complete rewrite (according to the update log “crafted for Android”) which means the main app doesn’t stall for a decent fraction of a second between pages and clicking on a comic to view it now shows a progress bar when it downloads (maybe only the first few pages, my internet is fast enough and these images are small enough to not be able to out-page the caching if it isn’t a full download before view) and then gives you the pages in a proper fullscreen view without borders and with a responsive resize/pinch/double-tap.

      It now feels competitive with other comic reader apps on the platform. I will certainly start to actually use it and at least sample from the free selection each month. When I’ve got more free time I will probably grab a subscription and give it a deep dive and find if there’s enough ongoing content there to make it worth continuing a subscription for the new stuff (once I exhaust reading any archive content that grabs me).

      Well played Marvel. The jpeg compression is still horrible on the few pages I sampled (so they haven’t changed the underlying database of source images it grabs from) but at least it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly fighting against an app from 5 years ago on an underpowered device to see the content.

      • Mike S. says:

        That’s good to hear– thanks for the heads up.

        (Though everything on my Android phone these days feels like I’m fighting against an app from 5 years ago on an underpowered device, even though it’s less than two years old. :-) )

  3. silver Harloe says:

    Paul McCartney: the guy from “Wings”

    • Hitch says:

      In a now dated reference, “Yeah, he used to be in some band with Julian Lenon’s dad.” (I think Julian is forgotten.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Michael Caine – That guy from cars 2.

      • aldowyn says:

        Michael Caine was in Cars 2? … Wait, I haven’t seen Cars 2. Good job me!

        • Ciennas says:

          Oh no, you should totally watch it… because it has a higher body count than any other Disney film I’ve ever seen.

          Most disney flicks are content with hurling the bad guy off a cliff.

          Cars 2 was about hurling people into car compactors and setting them on fire. And those were ‘good guy’ characters.

          It really bugs me, the hypocrisy of it- we’re supposed to accept that there world is ours, but the people are vehicle shaped.

          Which makes watching them get lit on fire or hurled into car compactors absolutely horrifying.

          But we’re supposed to not notice, because it’s just a cartoon car.

          (They did it again with Planes, incidentally. They have one of the characters flash back to World War II. It is apparently a running theme of the series.)

          And Micheal Caine was James Bond. It would have been solid on its own, but the tonal disconnect between the founding movie and this one is huge.

        • Mike S. says:

          Michael Caine is of the school of actors (more common in Britain) for whom acting is primarily a craft. If a plumber is asked to install a sink, the question of whether the house is structurally sound, or beautiful, or architecturally original doesn’t come up, and it would be weird if it did. If the sink functions and the pipes don’t leak, he’s done his job.

          He’s made it pretty clear that he’ll be in any movie for which the check clears, and he’ll give it the full benefit of his skills. If the movie itself is terrible, it’s never his fault, and it’s not his problem.

      • Humanoid says:

        Also On Deadly Ground and Jaws: The Revenge.

    • Dave B. says:

      Hugo Weaving – the voice of a sheepdog in Babe

  4. X2Eliah says:

    Man, I want guild wars 3. ;-;

  5. Thearpox says:

    I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to the whole podcast yet, but the thing on the Witcher and not being able to play long games got me wondering…

    Shamus, Mumbles, how much time did you spend on Skyrim? I mean, really.
    I believe it’s in the hundreds of hours?

    Because I’ve been watching the show, and I do not understand why I would want to play that world of shallow combat, little roleplaying, and … meh. If I want an extremely deep and complex world I can play Dwarf Fortress. If I want to be immersed, I can play The Witcher. And if it comes to mechanics and emergent gameplay, there’s stuff like AI War or something from Paradox.

    And despite the learning curves on all of these, when you total up the hours you spend in Skyrim, it really, really does pale in comparison. So… why play Skyrim? It is just the trap of being easy to get into and bad time management, do the graphix actually matter, or is it something else?

    PS: Looking at the numerous games in your Steam library and wanting to experience them is a bad attitude. The book world faced this problem in the 16th century, when there were suddenly too many books for everyone to read. But I think we got over it, and today people don’t feel slighted because they haven’t read some classic. So, I suggest to stop looking at the whole video gaming world as your domain, and instead ask yourself where your interests truly lie. [Sorry if this is a bit preachy.]

    • Abnaxis says:

      Lore, maybe?

      Also, there’s the fact that you can mod Skyrim into the game you want it to be. So you can put depth where you want it, and ignore the shallowness that doesn’t bug you.

      I doubt there would be nearly so many collective hours of Skyrim among the cast without Frostfall.

      • Thearpox says:

        As far as I know, the lore is cringeworthy. So that is interesting when someone is playing The Elder Scrolls for the lore.

        As for the mods, okay. I’m not sure how shallow the game stops being even with them on. Even if you have to eat and care about your body, you still have the underlying mess with murder being the only interaction.

        But maybe the cast doesn’t see it that way, so I’d still like to hear from them.

        • Ciennas says:

          How is the lore cringeworthy?

          • Faren says:

            The main stories and major questlines are usually pretty bad, and the lore only really gets interesting when you go pretty deep into it, so maybe that’s why he thinks it’s bad. Not sure though. I personally like the series, but that might be partially because Oblivion was one of the first RPGs I ever played.

            • Thearpox says:

              It is hugely inconsistent, it has too many plot-holes, it is juvenile, it is too expansive both in scope and time for it’s own good, and it is irrelevant to the quests or anything you are doing because you can’t make predictions or conclusions on what’s going to happen based on lore because once again it contradicts itself too much.

              But Rutscarn’s statement that they rewrite it every game, and his frequent musings that everything is technically possible within The Elder Scrolls canon are enough by themselves.

              • aldowyn says:

                My opinion of the lore is that it’s interesting but even the devs themselves don’t think it really matters, hence the constant retconning and such. Morrowind was definitely my favorite use of it though.

            • straymute says:

              I think you’re mixing plot up with lore. The lore is the backstory of the various races and locations rather than whatever is happening immediately in any given game.

              • Thearpox says:

                Considering the events of each game are canon…

                • Ciennas says:

                  Bur… you are mixing lore with game stories. They’re related, but not quite the same.

                  I agree that there’s something off with Elder Scrolls lore, but I’ve not seen juvenile.

                  Though the dragon break thing was totally a patch on a leaking plot. With ten different and mutually exclusive endings from the previous entry though, could you blame them?

                  So give examples. I’m curious what you found as what.

    • Mormegil says:

      I can understand it – I started The Witcher 3 times before I finished it. Each time I’d get halfway through, life would happen, I’d come back to it in a month and wonder who all these people are and how do these mechanics work. And so I’d start from scratch again. Skyrim you can just dive into and it doesn’t matter who those people are – they were caricatures when I first met them, there isn’t enough there to forget.

      Do I think the Witcher games are better than Skyrim? Oh, yes. But their comparative depth can make them hard to play casually. Also, the Witcher games offer a very different narrative experience. You can be Geralt the neutral or Geralt the terrorist sympathiser but you will always be Geralt following the main quest line. Shamus has said he barely even nodded at the main quest line in Skyrim after his first playthrough – that’s not the sort of freedom that most rpg games offer.

      • RTBones says:

        I think you got at least part of it – plenty of games are better than Skyrim. Skyrim (with the possible exception of F:NV) is nearly alone in that you can pretty much *do* anything you want. You don’t need to do any of the quests – you can just explore, steal things, build a house (after some quests are done and with the proper DLC), just randomly wander around. EDIT: Also, as already mentioned, the game is highly moddable, so you can make it your own.

        I have heard it said succinctly (and at points, variously), “You never really *finish* Skyrim, you’re just done with it.” (If I could remember my source for the quote, I would attribute – so to whoever out there in the ether first said it – I am acknowledging you.)

      • Corpital says:

        Just comparing the beginning of Witcher 1 and 2, I *vastly* prefer 1. IIRC in W1 you get your little tutorial, steel sword for humans, silver for monsters, there are fast/strong/groups-fighting styles. You’ll figure out what style to use in which situation and you will probably get killed by the very first thing you meet.

        W2 let you choose between three “tutorial” missions, so I chose the one with the siege tower attack on the castle first and immediately got killed by a dozen guys with no idea what even happened. Or the first boss monster smashing me over and over again. It feels faster than W1, but the first act is frustrating in it’s own way.

        • TSi says:

          That’s weird, isn’t the tutorial supposed to be that part where you walk up a path, equip boots, grab a few herbs and heal someone before entering some sort of arena where your taught about combat, traps and signs ? You might have skipped it but anyway, the game really is hard … X )

          • Henson says:

            That part was added about four months after release, due to massive complaints about an impossibly confusing introduction section. Before, the tutorial consisted of all those pop-up screens in the prologue section, and boy did they suck. Thankfully, the added tutorial fixed that.

            • Corpital says:

              Ah, thanks for clearing that up. I played on release, so that real tutorial was indeed missing. With that out of the way, I might even give the game another go soon.

        • aldowyn says:

          I went through those in chronological order and it wasn’t nearly that bad (although I was playing the enhanced edition and so also had the tutorial). If you pick the dragon attack, do you not do the earlier parts at all? maybe not, if I’m remembering how that conversation went…

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      For me at least Skyrim is like Minecraft; I can pick it up and play it for half an hour or an hour without needing to get hugely invested in it. I can drop it for a month and then come back and I don’t have to strain my brain to remember wtf I was up to in the game. A game with a strong narrative? I can’t just play a game like that for half an hour and leave it for a week; I disconnect from the story too much to just leave it and pick it up cold turkey.

      So when it says I’ve played Skyrim for a ludicrous number of hours? Those are hours spread out over weeks and months. When it says I played Spec Ops: The Line for … five hours! That’s all!? Five hours! I didn’t leave my friggin’ seat for those five hours and I could right now type up a synopsis of the plot of Spec Ops: The Line.

      What I’m trying to say here is that the investment of time for a game like Skyrim and a game like Spec Ops are two very different things. Skyrim is something I can play on my other screen sort of half-heartedly while watching a weeks backlog of Spoiler Warning. It’s familiar, it’s fun, it’s something I can change to suit my tastes with mods. Spec Ops? I’d have to focus on that.

      • Zeta Kai says:

        A salient argument for quality over quantity if I’ve ever heard one.

        Skyrim is a fizzy, light, shallow experience, like a crappy lite beer; the next day, you might not even remember that you experienced it. SpecOps: The Line is a harsh, memorable journey, like a hard liquor; you’ll remember that you experienced it for some time, even if those memories might not be all that positive.

        • Thearpox says:

          Fair enough. I guess I just don’t play RPGs casually to appreciate that. Have other games for that. (Touhou / Tower of Guns / stuff like that).

          Not sure I appreciate it when the cast talks about playing games like Skyrim as an inevitability, since from your argument they are encouraging the consumption of crappy beer in favor of the memorable stuff, (Well, they ARE a middle-brow show after all. Not high brow enough, he he he.) but I suppose I’ll just continue to live with it.

          • Thearpox says:

            Actually, now that I think about it, there is a problem with that. Shamus does actually BINGE on Skyrim, playing it for about a week straight before giving it up again. So I am not sure how it is a game you play for a couple hours a month if you binge on it.

            Not having to fire your brain, as somebody else said below could do with that, albeit when it comes to firing brains I am not sure I just want to assume that Shamus is playing it for that reason. Would be nice to get some verification from him on that.

            • C0Mmander says:

              If you compare a week to how long it might take you to finish an RPG it still remains a fairly short period of time. And, although I never played it, personally I’d compare Skyrim to salt and pepper. Put it on everything and chances are it’s going to taste good. But if you do that with other spices you might end up ruining your plate.

        • StashAugustine says:

          Spec Ops and liquor both make you nauseous, confused, and needing a shower?

    • syal says:

      I don’t remember when it was, but Shamus has stated he likes to explore in games, and if there’s one thing Skyrim does really well, it’s allowing exploration. You can pick a direction and walk in it, and you’ll find something new. There are better fighting games, better strategy games, better story-based games, but there aren’t many better wanderlust games.

      • Thearpox says:

        Okay, fair enough. I suppose exploration and cheapness of commitment.

        He does however also say that Skyrim is pretty boring when it comes to dungeons, albeit I don’t remember if that included other things.

        Especially with Bethesda’s level of environmental storytelling, I am not sure how much I value that exploration. But maybe I can kinda get the idea.

        • syal says:

          I would count finding the dungeon as the prize in that case. Even if it’s not very interesting to actually go through, it’s still a nod from the developers that yes, you’re playing correctly and are supposed to be out here.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Its simple, Witcher is a slow starter. You got to put in time and hope that when the whammy comes it will hook you.

      Skyrim on the other hand, you turn on the game and you’re a prisoner (of course) then there’s a dragon attack and in the chaos you learn that dragons have not been seen, and you’re exposed to the Civil War plot and then you’re escaping. Its a bit long on subsequent playthroughs but on that first playthrough, it gets a lot of people into the game. You make it to town and you want to stay with the plot, you get hooked up with gear again and set out for whiterun. Then there’s the giant with the companions and boom you’re at the city gates. Soon after you get your quest from the Jarl and learn you’re Dragonborn.

      Its plot hook after plot hook after plot hook. Granted, most people list exploration is part of the appeal of the series and the game lets you off the leash pretty quickly if thats what you want to do, but they give you enough up front to give you some sense of investment if you’re not eager to just go poking around the world for poking around sake. They engaged people who want to explore and people who want something to happen right up front (maybe it didn’t engage you but clearly it did with a lot of people).

      If you want to tell a deep rich story, thats fine but its still your obligation as a game designer/writer to engage the audience. They say your job as a novelist is to get people to turn the page. Your job as a game designer would then be to get people to keep playing so that they’ll put in the time to invest in this thing you’ve created.

      • Thearpox says:

        Now see, that’s different from the argument people before you put in. Having plot hook after plot hook is different than playing it for a couple hours and then not touching it for a month.

        And maybe we’re talking about different things, because I am not sure how that ties in to Shamus playing it after a couple hundred hours. Because I am talking specifically about the cast, not about your average Skyrim player.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          At the risk of speaking for Shamus, I think its that, at a superficial level, you can do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it (of the things that can be done in the game).

          Its kind of “What are you in the mood for tonight? Do you want to follow a storyline? Do you want to clear out a dungeon full of druagr? Do want to build your house now? Adopt? Mine? Clear a couple of quests out of your misc backlog?”

          And it hardly ever matters what your character was doing when you fire up the game, you can abandon that and do what you feel like doing right now. There are very few places where you’ll be away from the world map for longer than about 10 to 20 minutes and nothing in the game is time tracked.

          Its a game that doesn’t demand much of you. Its a place where you can kind of just be and fiddle around and I think when you get to be my age or his age (he’s a few years older than me) there are a lot of nights when you come home mentally spent and you just want to fiddle around and look at pretty things and maybe kill some quick and easy monsters. There are a lot of nights where you’re too tired to knuckle down on a hard game but there’s hardly ever going to be a night where you’re too tired for Skyrim.

          On top of that, there is the modding. Pretty much every fan I think will tell you the game is infuriatingly close to being THE game. If it they’d just fix those glitches, or rebalanced this one thing, or made the combat just a little more complex, or added survival, or whatever. It is SO close to being THE game that you can see that perfect game in your head and you go digging around the mod community because there’s almost a hundred thousand mods for this game now, and you try to finish building the perfect frikkin game yourself. And then you play it, again.

          I suspect he’d agree with a lot of that.

          Also, a couple of hours into playing Skyrim, most of that stuff I mentioned in the first post has happened to you. I only played Witcher 1 for a couple of hours but it barely felt like anything was happening. I remember this castle gets attacked then it gets attacked again? And you have to go fetch something? And you’re completely on the rails. You have to do exactly the thing you’re supposed to be doing. At no point during my time playing was I turned free. And in my case, there just wasn’t enough evidence of the fantastic early on. I dunno. My memory of it is vague. But I bought it and Witcher 2 and I’m going to play both at some point and I will figure out what should have happened earlier in the game to solve the engagement problem.

          • Thearpox says:

            Okay, I suppose I can understand that. Pretty much reinforces my elitist attitude of “being too cool” for Skyrim, but that’s my problem.

            But if we’re talking about specifically the Witcher’s problem of engagement, I would be a phenomenally bad person to speak about it, since the Saga was already on the pedestal of the best fantasy books ever written when I found the game. And I was consciously looking for adaptations in order to experience more Witcher.

            But I think it is just a problem of attitude. You should not demand excitement, or something spectacular, or stuff like that. You just go along with it without a hurry, like a long walk, enjoying the surrounding banter and vegetation. Some of the older movies I watched were a lot more drawn out, with some pointless boring scenes in which two drunken guys are trying to carry a bag, taking up minutes of screen space. And at that moment you just forget about time, forget about suspense, and relax. (This does smell of Final Fantasy attitude, but then the problem with Final Fantasy is that it’s not the first game, so it already has a working formula, which it breaks for no reason.)

    • Alex says:

      “Because I’ve been watching the show, and I do not understand why I would want to play that world of shallow combat, little roleplaying, and … meh.”

      Skyrim is a game that gives me room to do what I want. It might not support it very well, but it does support playing a character with relatively normal ideas about killing people for fun and profit, who builds herself a cottage up in the mountains where she lives with her Housecarl and hunts deer.

      “If I want to be immersed, I can play The Witcher.”

      I don’t want to be immersed in the Witcher. I’ve tried playing both, and disliked both – it’s just such an unpleasant place.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Because there is a difference between playing in a sandbox for hours and playing a role in a game.For the first,you dont have to engage your brain,you can just fire it up,play a bit,then leave it alone for however long you want,come back and jump right back in.And skyrim is perfect for that because of all the mods.You dont care about the story,the lore,your character,anything.You just dick around.So those 100 hours can be distributed over months,with long delays between them.

      With witcher,you have to pay attention,remember stuff,actively participate.So if you pause for a longer period at any time,it will be progressively difficult to get back into it.So that 40 hours you need to sink in about one go.Especially if you are an old guy with failing memory like Shamus.

      Add to that the abrasiveness of the main character,the wonkiness of the combat,and the idiotic fetch quests in 1,and it really is hard to grind through witcher.

      • Thearpox says:

        It would be nice if people used the replies pyramid functionality, because right now I have six separate responses to my post, which do repeat many of the same things.

        I did already reply to someone who suggested that Skyrim is easier because you don’t have to pay attention and have less commitment. But I am going to restate my question of how that lighter commitment actually works out when Shamus decides to binge on it.

    • Phantos says:

      I don’t think anyone really wanted to play Skyrim. I think we all played it out of a morbid obligation.

      I liken it to Mr. Plinkett’s “autopsy” metaphor for Revenge of the Sith.

    • Ysen says:

      Oh gods, the Witcher. I couldn’t get into it either.

      My experience of the first few hours of the Witcher went roughly like this:

      1. I have amnesia. Original.

      2. Boring tutorial section with boring, shallow combat and characters I don’t like or care about. Protagonist appears to be kind of a jerk. And not even an interesting jerk.

      3. It is a cutscene and there is talking! Clearly it is time to establish who these characters from the tutorial are and why I should care about them.

      4. I attempt to be polite to someone and accidentally have sex with them instead. The game then presents me with what appears to be one of those pornographic postcards from the days before the internet, which apparently I’m collecting or something?

      5. More boring combat.

      6. Wander around a dreary, monotonous landscape for reasons which don’t make a lot of sense to me. There is more tedious combat. Despite the convenient amnesia, I can’t seem to make the protagonist’s personality anything other than “sleazy jerk”.

      7. Complete dull NPC escort quest. Decline offer of sex with peasant as reward. Game appears baffled by this decision, as the quest awkwardly ends with no further dialogue or any other reward.

      8. Walk across dreary landscape to other peasant village. Combat continues to be tedious.

      9. Receive offer of sex with nameless peasant in exchange for pointless fetch quest.

      10. Stop playing.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        “Sleazy jerk.” Yes, that’s part of the problem with me too. I just remembered when I tried again last night after these discussions. It wasn’t just that the plot was failing to hook me right away, I realized I also don’t like Geralt. And if I don’t like the guy I’m going to be playing as, it makes it that much harder to want to play the game itself.

        Give me an interesting character, a engaging plot hook, fun game play, a beautiful setting. Give me something. And the Witcher, if it delivers on any of that delivers much later in the game.

        If I told you that Twilight is as bad as everyone says but then it finally gets good around the 400th page, would you stick it out through page after page of insipid introspective rambling monologue?

  6. Wulfgar says:

    I can understated people that are trying a game and stop playing it. But strait refusing to buy a game and judging it at the same time… is mental.

    • silver Harloe says:

      Opinions are weird. You can have them about things you know nothing objective about. Because we are adapted as pattern matching machines – we can find a picture of a bunny in the clouds, or find a reason to dislike something from previews and reviews alone. It’s easy to dismiss opinions based “only” on previews and reviews and walkthroughs and lets-play videos, but nevertheless, those people *have* those opinions. Sure, their opinions might change if they also played the game themselves, but changing your opinion does not mean you had no opinion before.

      If you believe in free speech, then people should be allowed to express their opinions, even if those opinions are “only” based on research and not actually purchasing a game.

      Let us consider the literal truth of your statement, “straight refusal to buy a game and judge it at the same time is mental” – image you have been told by the news that the Ford Pinto has a tendency to explode when impacted from behind. If you believe the research, you refuse to buy a Pinto, and you deem it a dangerous, unworthy car. But now you are mental! Because you have a formed a judgement about something you didn’t buy.

      The human brain is adapted to make snap judgements. It is *always* judging things. Because the person who weighs their options when faced with a possible tiger is often tiger food, but the person who eagerly jumps to the assumption of tiger may waste their time running away from nothing occasionally, but also eludes tigers more often. Everyone has a judgement about everything they’ve even heard vaguely of. If we haven’t heard enough, we often accept that our judgement is provisional, and allow new facts to alter our judgement later, but we still *have* the early judgement. It’s not mental – it’s a sign of a healthy functioning human brain.

      In any case, buying a game (or not buying it) is just about the only meaningful feedback we can give to the publisher. The developers may read reviews, but the publisher often cares only about money. If they make money, they assume the product was ‘good’. If they don’t, they assume it was ‘bad’. The publishers also fund game development, so they will naturally look to their past experience, find the products that did well, and try to contract developers to do more of that. So if you see a bunch of previews for a game and think it looks like crap, you read a bunch of reviews telling you its crap, you watch a lets-play of the game and it looks like a crappy experience, and you read a detailed analysis of the game mechanics and they sound like crap… but you don’t get to express your judgement that the game is crap? You *have* to buy it first? You *have* to *tell the publisher* that the game is GOOD in order to tell your friends your think it is NOT GOOD? I’m now confused.

    • Zeta Kai says:

      Mental? Really?

      Listen, we don’t all have infinite budgets to spend on the consumption of media. Some of us have bills to pay, & some of us have lives to live, & so we have to choose which books/DVDs/CDs/games to buy, & we can’t play every demo & watch every trailer in the world. They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover, & that may be true, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t do that anyway.

      Time is limited, just like money, so while some people might be willing to give a game a chance, others are not, & that’s okay. There’s nothing “mental” about a game making a bad first impression. It’s not that player’s fault for have better things to do than give every game a fair shake; as stated in the ‘cast, there’s effectively infinite games out there, so every game have to compete for my non-infinite time/money.

    • ET says:

      The problem is, that whatever money you spend on a game, could have gone to something else. So the $60 + $50/month you spend on The Elder Scrolls Online, could pretty much pay for a big AAA game every month. Now, going by the beta, previews, screenshots, you can fairly estimate, what kind of gameplay TESO is going to deliver. Then think if that gameplay is the same as buying, for example, Tomb Raider this month, then Batman: Arkham Asylum next month, then…and so on. I’d argue that the crew’s evaluation of the cost of TESO is fairly good. i.e. That it needs to get cheaper before its worth playing.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Its 15$ a month but your point about Opportunity Cost is otherwise very well made. We have quite a few commenters knocking it out of the park this go round. :)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      No,its really not.If a bunch of people that like 90% of the same stuff as I tell me “this is epic/crap” there is 9 in 10 chance that I will share their opinion.Why is it mental to not waste my money on such a small chance?Id have more luck winning some of the plays in roulette than having a different opinion that them.

      Thats how I decide if anything new is worth my money,I read/watch/listen to a bunch of critics whose tastes Ive come to know.The more of them I listen to,the better informed I get,and the safer it is for me to decide if Ill like it or not.

      • Thomas says:

        ^This. Otherwise everyone would always see every Transformer film. There are limits but saying ‘I’m not going to watch The Happening because it’s crud’ seems fair

  7. Theminimanx says:

    Chris, now that you have said it, it will be on the internet forever.

    Muhaha…

    More seriously, on the topic of hot dudes (that is a weird sentence by the way)
    While it isn’t the only way to write hot dudes, (and to imply that it is shows a horrible ego), I do recognise many of these things as tropes often seen in writing. For instance, the whole “vulnerable guy who has to be redeemed” is the basis of the entire Draco in Leather Pants trope. And don’t even get me started on the way fangirls will try to find sexual tension between any (and I do mean any) male characters.

    • Hal says:

      I haven’t listened to the podcast, but looking at Jane Jensen’s article only confirms my thoughts on the matter. Western culture is fairly homogeneous on what constitutes an “attractive” female, at least physically, and this doesn’t seem to have changed too much over the last half a century or so.

      “Attractive” men? For any given woman, I suspect you have a better chance of figuring out their type by dartboard than anything else.

      • Thearpox says:

        I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to know how the culture has changed with regards to beauty over the years. I know that fat was considered beautiful, but beyond that…

        Especially when it comes to language, there are so many words in existence to describe an attractive creature. For some reason today “cute” has become a very popular word to use, but you have words like “elegant,” “dependent,” “graceful,” “imposing,” and so on. At some point I AM going to find an anthropologist specializing in the topic, but for now, I don’t suppose anyone has any books or research to suggest?

        • Hal says:

          You could Google it, but it’s an incredibly deep sinkhole of time.

          However, to give one example, facial hair seems to enjoy cycles of preference: Attractive in some eras, rejected in others. Some research seems to indicate that it’s entirely contextual; facial hair (or the lack thereof) can be considered more attractive when it’s not the common fashion.

          • Thearpox says:

            Surprising myself, I actually do remember looking at some graphs on facial hair from nineteenth century to today. Maybe it was even posted by Campster, whom I have regretted following on twitter.

            That said, the real question here is not knowing what to google. I don’t really have any obvious keywords that would give me results that I actually want. And I would probably want something more complicated and not as cyclical as facial hair.

            • Hal says:

              I think you’ll find a lot more information about perceptions of female beauty than male attractiveness, but phrases like “beauty over time” will reveal some interesting results.

      • I suspect this has at least something to do with basic signs of female fertility. (Oh, and I know the female figure considered most attractive/desirable in the 1920s (very boyish, to the point well-endowed women would bind their breasts down) was very different from what “we” want now, though what “we” want varies depending on who’s doing the wanting. Many fashion designers may want the clothes-hanger model, but most men I know do not). Probably the best place to look would be in the history of fashion.

        My guess (and this is only a guess) is that a couple of the reasons it’s harder to clearly define “hot men” are a) women are programmed to look for both sperm donaters and good providers/fathers and the two don’t always overlap, and b) the female sex drive is more cerebral than the male so personal taste comes more into it.

      • Daimbert says:

        I disagree. It isn’t hard to outline what women will find generally attractive, and not any harder than it is for men. Finding the ones that most women will find really, really hot is another matter … but then that’s hard to do for men as well.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          I miss this writer as she wrote some great articles for Cracked (Christina H)
          http://www.cracked.com/article_18866_5-reasons-women-are-as-shallow-as-men-according-to-science.html

          And her source for the point I’m about to borrow from her:
          http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/wfu-ra062609.php

          The reason men can’t peg down what women find attractive is not because its some thing more ephemeral or “cerebral” with women. Its because they don’t agree with each other as much as men do. They still want a hot guy but what each woman considers physically attractive differs more from other women than is the case with guys. They think this might be an evolutionary mechanism so that women aren’t all competing over the same men. Now women all do somewhat agree on the body type of the guy, but not anything else.

          The article also highlights other superficial things women respond to (and yes, the perception of power and money are among them). Women are no less shallow than men and I’m tired of pop culture stating otherwise.

          • Daimbert says:

            I find this suspicious, mostly because Hollywood and TV haven’t had too much trouble finding credible romantic leads, meaning that it’s not THAT hard to figure out what women find in general attractive to at least get to the point where you have a basic idea of “hot”. I’d have to read the entire study to say for certain, but it wouldn’t be terribly unreasonable to think that there might be more cases where some minority of women will find a man not attractive at all that most women find attractive and some find incredibly hot, while on the men’s side if some or most men will find a woman incredibly there’ll be a much smaller number who wouldn’t at least say (put crudely) “I’d hit that”. Which might have to do with having to approach versus being approached: for men, having to approach means having to say “Good enough” or else you never approach and get beaten out of the race, while for women they have to evaluate it against the guy they might meet tomorrow and decline in favour of, say, someone that she has her eye on already who MIGHT approach tomorrow. But even in the point from the article, the same comments can be made for male preferences: some like muscular women, some like waifs, some like nerds, some like traditional and so on. This gets even worse for specific body parts, and some must have large breasts, some must have a nice butt, and for some men neither of those are important at all. It’s just that, for the most part, except at huge extremes, men will generally say that she’s attractive, but not their preferred type. Those extremes might not be as extreme for most women.

    • Someone mail the mp3 to his wife. I think she’d like it for her new ringtone.

    • Shamus says:

      Gah. I’m really regretting doing the out-of-context edits. Chris, I hope this isn’t a problem for you. And if it is, I’m really sorry. It was intended to be an extension of the ribbing we gave you on the show, and I should have anticipated how it would play differently out of that context.

  8. Adrian says:

    About the MMO wow clones you guys were talking about. A dude on youtube called tasteful understated nerd rage or Mr Btongue made a video talking about this called TUN: Un-Ruining the MMO.

    I think you guys will find it very interesting about how the MMOs can save themselves from failure

    Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvK8fua6O64

    • TSi says:

      Yes, i also recommend his videos and add that realismtalk fits this diecast, as well as a few others (diecasts and videos). I might as well add that it has nothing to do with the witcher but the topic (morality and mature stuff). ; )

  9. Doctor Satan says:

    The Last federation by Arcen Games. Link to a video by TotalBiscuit.

    Some more information:- You are a Hydra with one ship and you need to unite a solar system with a lot of planets of life. You don’t have an army of your own so you have to form alliances with these planet’s aliens.

  10. Zeta Kai says:

    In defense of Campster’s multiple soundbite-worthy utterances here, I completely understand the intent behind those sentiments.

    I am a straight male, but I’ve also been married for nearly ten years, so it is no big deal for me to talk about the relative attractiveness of men or their features. Because it doesn’t matter; nothing that I say about the subject is going to affect my marriage, & if my relationship with my wife is unaffected in this regard, then whatever, sure, let’s talk about hawt guys. At the end of the day, I still love my wife, she still loves me, & none of those hawt guys matter, anymore than talking about hawt girls does.

    So, I identify with Campster & his confidence in regards to talking about hawt guys. He’s been married for a while now, he has nothing to prove, & he’s old enough not to be bothered if someone out there in the cosmos thinks that he’s some “gayfag” for even mentioning other men in a sexualized sense. I think that it’s a sign of maturity & wisdom to take that position, & I hope that he doesn’t get a complex just because his fellow DieCasters gave him some gentle ribbing over his choice of words.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Anyone who claims they can’t see if someone is attractive or not because of their sexuality just isn’t being honest with themselves. Of course a straight guy can find another man beautiful, hot, and whatever. Sexually attractive, perhaps not, but even so you can judge them on that metric.

      • Shamus says:

        I don’t think you need to accuse people of dishonesty here. It’s actually a tough thing to do.

        Sure, I can tell if one guy is generally healthy, clear-skinned, has straight teeth, etc. But beyond those it’s difficult (for me) to know what women will like. In the context of fiction, there’s a much greater density of generally healthy fit people, so we need to get more specific than just “is this guy in good shape and does he have a square jaw?”. If you’d asked me who was the sexiest man in (say) the Avengers, I probably would have said Thor, because he’s ripped, right? Or maybe Cap? But who was the breakout sexy man? Loki. Judging by the sheer density of Tumblr and blog shares, it wasn’t even close. The number of Loki fans eclipsed the fans of all the other dudes combined.

        And that’s just it: Loki would have been my last pick. I would have guessed the guy playing Galaga on the bridge before I guessed Loki.

        So yeah: Broad rankings are obvious and easy but not useful. Detailed ones are difficult, bordering on impossible.

        Disclaimer: Yes, I realize this is completely unscientific. I’m just explaining a thing I’ve observed again and again in my life.

        • MalkyTop says:

          So first of all, this tumblr post might be helpful to this discussion.

          It’s interesting how you pointed to Thor and Cap as men you thought of as being sexy for their muscles, as in the conversation of the sexualization of women in media in general, it’s always about their bodies. You’re trying to grasp what makes men sexy to women and you’re basically basing it off of the current standard of sexy women in media, but rather than boobs and butts, you go for muscles, as that’s the ideal physical masculine image. While I’m not in the Avengers fandom, I can tell you that plenty of women find Thor and Cap sexy, but it’s not for muscles. Both Thor and Cap are fish outta water, and that’s cute. Both of them are gentlemanly. Loads of fans get a huge kick from imagining situations where both of them are confused by modern society, or maybe even interact with society in a way that seems incongruous but is ultimately adorable. I suppose you can question whether all these people think that Thor and Cap are sexy, because I’m not entirely sure what the definition is that we’re working with here. The female definition and the male definition just seems different. You guys seem to keep talking about the body, even when talking about other men, and us gals seem to keep talking about something broader, with body being maybe part of it. And in society, there’s kind of this “one ideal body.” But there’s not necessarily “one ideal person.” We like all sorts of personality traits and stuff. Like, someone above joked about how women have all these types and you can never figure them out, but I dunno, it’s not that incomprehensible. We like funny people. We like caring people. Respectful people. Those general, positive traits. And then there are ‘bonus traits,’ stuff that aren’t really necessarily and can vary, like ‘knows how to cook,’ ‘knits,’ or…whatever. On the one hand, it can be really personalized, but on the other, there are these overarching patterns that you could follow and understand pretty quickly.

          I also feel like there needs to be a distinction made between who we find sexy and what characters we find sexy. I’m speaking as an aromantic asexual. I find nobody particularly sexy. But I get obsessed with characters. Things can be different in the context of fiction, I think? Like, even the whole ‘Draco in Leather Pants’ thing, I can’t really imagine that playing out in anything beyond fiction, the whole ‘bad-boy sad-backstory needs-redemption’ thing sounds like too much emotional drama for any relationship. But maybe I’m wrong.

          Age is a factor too. I mean, back when I was ten, I was totally in love with Raimundo from Xiaolin Showdown. He’s thin, cool, rebellious, has sweet eyebrows, also betrayed his friends for the dark side once. But then I grew up and got tired of the “bad boy” phase and so when I got into the show again like ten years later, I fell head over heels for Clay who is decidedly not thin. Kinda hefty, actually, but he’s cute and sweet and responsible and also rather smart. He’s into figure-skating too. I’m also a big fan of Donald Duck now, probably more the comics version than the cartoon version; in the comics, Don is sarcastic, sometimes witty, and he really cares a lot for his nephews even when, due to his constant bad luck, money is often tight for him. He’s very sympathetic. Though in the cartoons, he’s also pretty sympathetic, maybe a bit of a jerk, but certainly more relatable than no-personality Mickey. Plus, he punched a shark once.

          So basically, tastes change, and I think that’s especially true if your standards are based on personality rather than just bodies. And other women can correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like the “bad boys” appeal more to younger women than older.

          What’s weird to me is — do you guys really only define sexiness by physical attributes? I mean, you’ve got to have other traits you like, right? Or do you define the actual person and personality traits you like under something other than ‘sexy?’

          • Shamus says:

            “do you guys really only define sexiness by physical attributes? ”

            When I judge guys based on looks, it’s because the OTHER details are opaque to me. Sure, I get that there is more to it than looks. But the line between “sweet and vulnerable” and “weak and needy” is not clear to me. Same goes for:

            “bad boy” vs. “complete asshole”

            “dorky but cute” vs. “creepy and irritating”.

            “Honest and good-natured” vs. “BORING”

            I think this difference is the source of about 90% of the tragicomedy between men and women. A guy thinks he’s being smooth, but comes off as a sleaze. He thinks he’s being Tony Stark, and comes off like Gaston. He doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong and she thinks it’s OBVIOUS.

            Which is why we fall back to looks. I can’t tell if Loki is a cute bad boy or a disgusting slime-ball, but I can tell he’s not as fit as Thor.

            My two cents.

            • MalkyTop says:

              Well, I can get that. There’s all these different socialization going on for boys and girls, so what might be “weak and needy” to you might be “sweet and vulnerable” to a woman, since I believe boys are often taught that the ideal is to be the opposite of weak and needy and thus perceiving that trait in other characters, it triggers annoyance. Shinji Ikari comes to mind, as from what I can tell, plenty of males harp on him for being whiny, while my sister latches onto how he has to deal with tons of shit and a shitty father and so she sympathizes with him. One side wants Shinji to power through and TAKE CONTROL and BE A MAN, the other side feels sorry for him and considers his emotional reactions justified and all that junk. I think.

              But again, there needs to be that distinction between sexiness in real life and sexiness in fiction. The thing with fiction is, we can get all that backstory and we get it all through a certain framing that the director/writer/whatever intends us to see it through. With real people, we don’t get that. If you act like Loki around a woman, she isn’t gonna get that you have daddy issues and also she would likely call the police if you tore someone’s eye out in front of her. And for the record, I’m totally with you on Loki, ripping out people’s eyes is really not attractive, I’m more a Coulson and Bruce Banner person. But I can see how people can be attracted: sad backstory, conflicting emotions, which all results in a need to prove himself. His world kinda crumbled, learning he wasn’t who he thought he was, blah blah blah, you could probably find tons of analysis on this. So the tragicomedy doesn’t just stem from obscure lines, but probably also from different socializations and taking behaviors that work in fiction out of context and into real life. Or something?

              But really, and I’m sorry for writing so much before getting here, what I was trying to ask you was your judgment on the sexiness of women, not just guys Do you rate sexiness based on just physical attributes, or do other factors contribute, like personality? Or do those other factors not have to do with ‘sexiness’ in your mind and are instead kind of in a separate ‘attractiveness’ category from that? Like, trying to figure out the ‘sexiness’ of guys, you kinda feel something lost in translation, but there aren’t any ‘obscure lines’ when judging women for you, are there? It can’t just be teh boobez…

              • Daimbert says:

                I think a lot of people don’t realize it, but it’s actually hard to separate physical attributes from things like personality, because for the most part we don’t ever get to see people just as a set of physical attributes. Style of dress, carriage, voice, inflection and all sorts of things carry an overall impression not just of what a person looks like, but what they are like as well. Especially since what people wear can fit into stereotypes of what people who wear those things are like, sometimes accurately and sometimes less so. Take, for example, glasses, which tend to indicate bookishness and intelligence. If someone finds themselves preferring people who wear glasses, it’s likely because of that stereotype … but then is that a physical attribute or a personality attribute? And note that there’s a class of attractiveness (Meganekko) that’s based on, in fact, preferring glasses on women (at least). Now add in personal style, from romantic to severe to conservative to sexy to … well, you get the idea … and it’s hard to say that if you’re looking at someone — in my case, a woman — if you’re just looking at physical attributes or something that seems to indicate what their personality is like.

                In general, it’s easy to find someone that everyone of the appropriate orientation will find attractive, but that person will never appeal to everyone or to the same degree to everyone. I submit that it’s style and what that seems to hint about their personality that explains that difference.

                • Thearpox says:

                  To add to Daimbert, I find fully-clothed well-dressed women to be sexier than their counterparts, but that is because I can have faith in them to not be complete morons.

                  Also, regarding the difference between fiction and reality, it is the difference between looking at the world from inside and outside. If a real-world Loki approaches you, you’re not going to have nearly as much information about that freak as you would if you’ve been following him since the start of the plot. You know, for example, that he is probably not interested in outright physical rape. (Sorry for resorting to that, don’t know Loki enough to give something more sophisticated.)

                  (EDIT: So yeah, pretty much what Deadpool said. So much for not reading the comments below.)

                  But as for what I actually find sexy in women, and I am probably an odd egg in that respect, but I tend to separate sexiness and other things. I do find T&A to be the prime source of sexiness, but then the said sexiness would not be a reason why I would want to spend a time with someone. Loki, for example, is not someone I really find sexy. But he IS hilarious, and that is much more important. If I want to have sexual gratification I can find a prostitute, (that even applies to video games,) but being an interesting person is more important.

                • Shamus says:

                  This is a really good point.

                  In my own personal experience, I’ve got some negative association with stuff like piercings and tattoos. In a relationship I value stability, faithfulness, and circumspection. I’ve come to associate piercings and tattoos with the opposite of that. So, I tend to not be attracted to that sort of thing. When I look at a woman and am put off by her tats, am I just concerned with “looks”, or am I really making personality-based judgement based on some heuristics I’ve unconsciously developed over the years? I don’t know. (This is further muddled by the fact that I’ve been out of the dating scene for two decades and don’t meet women socially, and don’t give the matter much thought.)

          • Deadpool says:

            Here’s the thing: I can’t speak for ALL men, but I speak for myself and the few men with whom I have spoken about this but to me? Those are TWO separate things.

            I can find a woman physically attractive and dislike her personality. I can be attracted to a woman’s personality and find her appearance wanting.

            When you ask me “who is the hottest girl you work with?” I will not list the one I am most likely to date, or even someone I LIKE. I will tell you the most physically appealing woman I work with.

            When you ask me “Who is the hottest guy?” I will attempt to judge it in the same merit. While Loki may be far more popular than Thor, is Tom Hiddlestone truly a more attractive man to Chris Hemsworth?

            This is a real question. I too would assume the latter, and I am not certain I am wrong…

            • Daimbert says:

              I’m the same way, but I think there’s a distinction between sexy and appealing. The sexiest person, in my view, would be the one you most want to have sex with. The most appealing, though, is the one that best combines sexual attraction and personality.

              • Deadpool says:

                The weird thing is, whenever a list of “Hot Men” is made, that distinction is NEVER used.

                And I’m not talking about different people having different tastes (I mean, Mumbles won’t play Witcher because she can’t relate to Gerald, while my friend won’t stop recommending it partially because she thinks Gerald is sexy as hell) I fail to believe anyone finds Garrus to be ACTUALLY “hot.”

                I accept being attracted to him because of the kind of person he is, I don’t believe anyone finds him physically appealing.

                It’s a distinction made for fictional women all the time, but rarely for men…

                • Daimbert says:

                  When people are just talking about hot, I don’t think the distinction gets brought up, which leads to a lot of the disagreements, as some classify it just on sexiness and some base it on appeal. I think most discussions of hotness for male fictional characters don’t make it past that point, while for female fictonal characters they do. Think of, say, Maxim Hot 100 lists, which might mention appeal in some of th entries, but that’s not really what most people talk about in that list.

                  This might be a side effect of men, at least publically, just talking more about attractive women than women do about men. Everyone ends up agreeing that the women are all attractive, but the conversation doesn’t end there.

            • Shamus says:

              Thanks to MalkyTop for the interesting questions and everyone else for the polite answers. This is really interesting stuff and I love talking about it in a cool-headed way like this.

              You guys are awesome.

              • aldowyn says:

                I was going to make a similar comment and turns out the man himself already has!

                This was a fascinating thread, and another example of why you should, in fact, read the comments here on twentysided.

          • Grampy_Bone says:

            In response to that Tumblr post, I think there is an interesting point to be made. Whenever someone attacks videogames for being sexist due to female character objectification, sooner or later someone else jumps in and points out that male characters are also objectified for female players to enjoy. This always angers people like the tumblr poster, who thinks all male characters are designed to reinforce Patriarchy gender roles through covert social engineering, or whatever.

            Then Jane Jensen steps in and says she specifically makes protagonists who are hunky dreamboats for women to salivate over. I think that’s awesome. If a man had written Jane’s article, the entire internet would have come down on him. It would be deemed *abominably* sexist.

          • Blake says:

            “What’s weird to me is — do you guys really only define sexiness by physical attributes? I mean, you’ve got to have other traits you like, right? Or do you define the actual person and personality traits you like under something other than ‘sexy?’”

            Personally if someone asks me who is hottest, I’ll be judging based on looks, sexiest adds demeanor, and can’t really think of a word for “Who is the person you’d most like to date”.

            What this means is the sexiest person probably isn’t the person I’d most want to sleep with.

            As for personal preferences, body-wise it’s 95% face, the rest of their body shape isn’t an issue (height, width, bigger or smaller parts, all can be fun).
            Personality-wise I’d say there are definite archetypes you could point out that can draw me in for different reasons, which I’m sure there is the male version of too.
            With the confident girl that you just wanna do what she wants to do.
            The damaged girl you want to look after.
            The mystery girl you want to know more about.
            The super smart girl who doesn’t realise people are attracted to her.
            The reserved girl who you know would be amazing if she just opened up.
            And so on.

            Another thing of note:
            Almost every girl I know is as bad at guessing attractive girls as we seem to be at guessing attractive guys. They keep picking the skinny one with boobs (which aren’t terribly interesting as there’s like 1000 of those on tv every day), instead of the girl with the cute smile.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Im my humble experience, it becomes really a matter of practice. People not interested in (for example) women as partners spend very little time thinking about what makes any particular woman an attractive partner. They may have a whole host of other criteria by which to assess a woman, but “partner suitability” isn’t part of it. So when asked about it? “I dunno…”

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        I can tell you that while I find certain men generally more attractive than others, I can very rarely pick out the OMG SO SEXY guys that women gush over. I’d have never picked Robert Pattinson in his Edward Cullen makeup as being attractive at all (He looks like a constipated weirdo). Taylor Lautner looks like an alpaca.

        There’s a huge difference between people’s normal aesthetic sensibilities and what drives sexual attraction. Just because I can identify a horse as being a beautiful animal doesn’t mean that I can pick out what is going to get a mare all hot and bothered.

        (And now I’m very worried about where responses to this post are going to go)

        • ET says:

          I’m pretty much also horrible at guessing what counts as “attractive” to anybody. More often than not, my guesses at who’s the “hot guys” when I was at the bar with my female friend, were just wrong. Not only wrong, but they just reflected my valuations of attractiveness. (Physical fitness, symmetry, avoidance of stereotypes and socially prescribed norms.) Even when I was trying really hard, I still only got, like, 1/10 correct. All the “hot” guys just looked and acted like jerks, from my perspective. And the guys I thought were good-looking? “Creepy” “Angry” “Boring” :S

          • Corpital says:

            Glad to see I’m not the only one sitting in his favourite pub with a friend/waitress, discussing the attractiveness of random passersby. Not very good at it either, but apparently intrigue can surpass sheer attractivity surprisingly often.

            Sure, there is half a dozen hot guys casually sitting around, but they often get ignored in favour of a rather uncomely guy in a dress shirt sitting there with a plush cat, furiously writing stuff and generally ignoring other people.

        • Corpital says:

          Don’t care about this Taylor guy, but I love alpacas. The neighbors of a friend have two and they are awfully cute.

      • Deadpool says:

        I seriously cannot. I can assume the body type that is accepted as superior easily enough, but most people judge attractiveness through the face. And while I know that, say, Brad Pitt is more attractive than Keanu Reeves, I cannot for the life of me understand WHY…

        This isn’t “I am too macho to find a man attractive” so much as I straight up don’t get the WHY.

        • Thearpox says:

          I DO wander if people’s attractiveness rating gets a significant boost when they become a movie star. I do honestly wonder if you show Brad Pitt or whomever else from Hollywood to a woman who doesn’t recognize them, if you will get the same reaction.

          This does tie in to the hilarious phenomenon of women (girls?) finding dictators attractive. Because they’re old, shriveled, and have not a iota of attractiveness left in them.

      • Steve C says:

        I absolutely cannot gauge attractiveness in men – sexual or nonsexual. I’m completely hopeless. I have below average abilities in rating a woman’s attractiveness but at least it exists. With men I’m constantly wrong.

        Shamus said

        : Loki would have been my last pick. I would have guessed the guy playing Galaga on the bridge before I guessed Loki.

        Ya me too! I thought Hiddleston was cast as Loki because he was an unattractive sleaze. Heartthrob never crossed my mind. I thought Daniel Craig was cast as Bond because he looked damaged and broken. I only found out that he was hot when a pop culture reference was made in an episode of Newsnight. Both are good castings for the role but “attractive” never entered into my brain.

        And now MalkyTop says Coulson is attractive? I just shake my head. I believe you but I might as well be blind for all the good my eyes do me.

    • Mike S. says:

      On which subject, I can vouch for the fact that Mass Effect 1 Kaidan was entirely successful as a hot guy. He more or less singlehandedly brought my wife back into computer gaming after she fell for him watching over my shoulder. (And boy, when I had to tell her about losing him on Virmire, I had more than a little trepidation.) She went on to play Mass Effect herself, followed by KOTOR for Carth.

      Since then, she’s moved on to other digital signficant others in Dragon Age and SWTOR. And between his yelling at her in ME2 and the ME3 redesign that fell squarely in the uncanny valley for her, Kaidan is very much yesterday’s news.

      But even so, he’s pretty much the only Mass Effect love interest that ever really worked for her: Garrus is an awesome bud, and Thane is obviously (and explicitly, in the designers’ comments) tailor-made to hit certain women’s preferences. (Quite successfully, in the case of one old friend from college.) But they’re just not her type.

      • aldowyn says:

        I never got Garrus as a romance because he works SO DAMN WELL as Shepard’s second and best friend. Thane just didn’t have enough setup, IMO, although if he had, his ending in ME3 would have been a lot better.

        In general I’d be wary of taking anything that seemed agreed upon on Spoiler Warning or here in the comments regarding Mass Effect as true outside our little bubble. After all, ME2 was a lot more popular than ME1.

  11. Henson says:

    I think a Witcher 2 Spoiler Warning would have some real potential. It would be an excuse for the hosts to actually experience the game, since they seem to have so much trouble playing for more than 20 minutes. It would have some really interesting things to talk about, even if the hosts hate the game. It would be just a little different.

    But it would never work. Spoiler Warning works best when most of the hosts have played the game before – preferably just recently – with one or two people coming at it fresh. This allows some sort of analysis and discussion without religiously paying attention to what’s happening on screen, and the one or two blind players can interject with an honest, unfiltered reaction every so often. With Witcher 2, it’s pretty much only Josh who’s played it before. The season would be a long slog of silence, off-topic conversations, and Khan puns.

  12. Xapi says:

    Dennis Hopper is and will always be the bad guy from Speed, wich is from about the same time (1994) as the much more obscure Super Mario Bros movie (1993). So I really don’t see how anyone of any age would relate the dude to that particular wreck train, unless it’s someone who has made a concious desition to not consume any entertainment that does not revolve around video games.

    • Exasperation says:

      Funny, having seen both of those movies when they were fairly new and not since, I actually could not remember that Dennis Hopper was also in Speed. I guess it’s because SMB was goofy, fun, and different enough to stick in my mind, whereas Speed was typical action movie fare that just faded into all the other similar movies I’ve seen as soon as I finished watching it. Not that I regret having seen Speed, but given the choice of rewatching one or the other I would pick SMB in a heartbeat.

      • Xapi says:

        Whenever I think of Dennis Hopper I think of the “shoot the hostage” scene.

        Cool as F.

        • Exasperation says:

          I actually thought that scene was utterly predictable. I saw the opening scene and said to myself “well, at some point in this movie the partner is going to be taken hostage and then shot”. Still, I suppose it was the most memorable scene in the movie.

    • Ciennas says:

      You know, I think that movie would have been well received if it hadn’t made reference to the Mario Brothers.

      It was a cool sci-fi action flick, and Mario didn’t really have much plot beyond ‘save the princess’.

      Couldn’t we just enjoy the film for what it was?

      • Blake says:

        I loved the movie as a kid, with the exception that goombas should’ve been more oompah loompah and less giant with tiny head.

        Never understood peoples hate towards it.

    • syal says:

      Dennis Hopper is and always will be the bad guy from Waterworld.

      • And sadly, he’ll always be the first actor I recall saying “I played [X movie role] because I wanted to be in something my grandkids could watch.”

        I don’t know what his character was apart from being the villain, but I remember the title: “Meet the Deedles.” The trailers made me feel so sorry for Mr. Hopper.

  13. Josh says:

    Very simply, Marvel Unlimited is one of the best purchases I have ever made for myself. I am on my second year as a subscriber and I love it. I love comics and Marvel in particular, but I could not justify the expense to follow the series that I wanted to. This service solved that for me.

    While there are still some gaps in the collection, they add more content every week on Monday. The content on the service is around 6 months behind the publishing schedule (for instance, this week’s update features Superior Spider-Man #20 originally published Oct. 30th of last year). I get to follow all of Marvel’s output for a very low fee. That’s a bargain to me. Plus, you have access to an entire library of Marvel classics perfect for binge reading. If you enjoy Marvel comics, this is worth the expense.

    As for technical issues, I use the iOS app on an ipad 2 and it’s wonderful. I believe the app has been updated for retina displays and higher resolutions, but I don’t have any direct experience with it. I also read issues on my laptop at times. The experience is better on a tablet, but the issues are still a blast to read.

    There are some parts of the service that could stand improvement. You will occasionally find a series with a random issue missing (though they have been diligently filling those holes during my time as a subscriber). It would also be nice if they included reading order in the books. For instance, if you finish part one of a crossover, there isn’t a link to part two that is in another series. Instead you have to search that other series and find the issue to read it. It’s a convenience thing, but it would be great and Comixology actually does it with their catalog.

    I’ll gladly answer any questions about it that anyone has. To summarize, fantastic service for a great value. Definitely try it out.

    • Shamus says:

      As someone who doesn’t even own a mobile device (Except for my 2008 flip phone, which doesn’t even count here.) I’m curious how it works reading on the PC. Do you need some special app, and is it any good?

      • ET says:

        Looks like it just loads in your internet browser, at least when you’re viewing the free sample. It froze the first time I tried, but after that, works. Scan quality looks OK too. Zoom is limited to “completely zoomed in” and “completely zoomed out”. So, not the best. :S

      • Josh says:

        There isn’t a special app on the PC. You just go to Marvel’s website. The website has two reader options, html5 and flash. At least, they did. I joined when they introduced their html5 reader because I could use it on my ipad (this was before they made an app). I assume the flash reader is still an option. The flash reader had more bells and whistles (like zoom and panel by panel reading). I personally found that I preferred to see the whole page at once while reading. I also remember their zoom and panel by panel functions to be clunky. The panel by panel especially was disappointing to me.

        Anyway, when I read on my laptop, the pages can feel squished. The reader allows you to view fullscreen, but my laptop monitor is small (14 in. I think). Generally for older comics that have a more dense layout (more panels and words), they are difficult to read on a small monitor without leaning in. I am assuming that you have a monitor bigger than my laptop. If your monitor is vertically as tall (or close to) a sheet of paper, you should be fine. With newer comics, even with the “squishing” they are perfectly readable.

        The html5 reader is simple and clean. It pulls up the issue. You can choose whether to display 1 or 2 pages at a time (double page spreads show together no matter what option you choose). You can view the issue in full screen and the interface fades when you aren’t using it leaving the art on full view.

        There should be some free examples on their website so that you can see how it looks on your setup.

        One last note that struck me as I was writing this. I can’t remember how old your children are, but there are a lot of options available on the service for younger kids through adults. I took care of a 2nd grader after school last year, and we would do her assigned reading time going through Marvel’s Oz adaptations.

        • Josh says:

          Ok, sorry to reply again, but I just checked the website without being logged in. The free issues force you to use their flash viewer. Don’t judge the service off that. The html5 viewer is much cleaner and easier to use.

          Still the flash viewer should give you an idea if you are comfortable with the size of the pages on your monitor. Though the html5 viewer will show them slightly larger (it loads the image to use the entire vertical real estate with the interface being transparently laid over it. The interface fades away when not in use). The html5 viewer also lets you navigate using the arrow keys which apparently the flash viewer doesn’t.

        • Mike S. says:

          I’d been using the iPad app to read, which works but is a little slow. The Win8 app is terrible, so after trying it a couple times on my MS Surface Pro I’d given up. Until now, when it occurred to me to try using the HTML5 reader in a browser.

          Wow. It works really well, and (presumably due to the faster hardware), much less laggy than the iPad app. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

          Shamus, I’d say that if your monitor is big enough to comfortably read the comics, you should be fine with HTML5 view. (Though for me, digital comics are one of the things that justifies having a tablet.)

          I’ll also give a shoutout to Image Comics, which distinguishes itself by not DRMing its comics and selling them as PDFs and CBR/CBZ files. (Which means I don’t mind paying new-issue prices for them if they’re good enough.) Saga is probably the title they’re making the biggest splash with right now, and it’s certainly worth checking out. Age of Bronze, a divinity-free retelling of the Trojan War, is also very good, though I’m not sure they’ve digitized the back issues yet.

  14. SyrusRayne says:

    27:50, :( to Mumbles. “Jacob is the worst.”

    My name is Jacob. :(

  15. Aldowyn says:

    I’d point out that ME3 fixed (or at least attempted to fix) the ‘you have to be super evil or super good’ to be persuasive, but I’d probably get shouted off the site.

    Oops.

    Anyways, I much prefer Dragon Age’s morality and choices to the binary systems of things like Mass Effect and KotOR. (Inquisition’s coming out October 7th :D)

    • Corpital says:

      Didn’t like the morality very much even in ME3, but the interrupts? Damn, some of them were so satisfying, especially renegade interrupts.

      Getting shouted off the site? How about this: I liked the DA1 Deep Roads. Well, more the idea of them than the actual endless fighting, but still liked them. Would even have liked to be a bit more of them, just like I’ll gladly enter any and all ancient tombs if there’s the chance to fight a few draugr. Errr what did I want to say? Oh yes, any high hopes for Inquisition?

      • StashAugustine says:

        I understand they dragged on too long, but so did absolutely everything in that game. I actually liked the aesthetic and the plot beats in it were pretty cool. (It’s actually the mage tower that almost made me quit.)

        • Adam says:

          Really? I loved the Mages Tower, including the Fade. Didn’t mind the Deep Roads one bit, either. I just dumped all of my non-essential gear into the chest you get in Warden’s Peak so I’d be able to loot to my heart’s content, and soldiered straight through.

          • IFS says:

            I also enjoyed the Deep Roads and the Fade in the mages tower, but then the lore in both areas really interested me and I loved the build up to the Broodmother boss in the Deep Roads. The fade does wear on you more on repeat plays in my opinion as you’re on your own for most of it so you don’t get much variation (other than the fairly interesting dreams your allies are trapped in). Deep roads at least you can bring a different party on each playthrough, see what everyone has to say about it, and try new strategies in combat. Deep Roads also contained some sidequests in parts of it to give more to do.

          • StashAugustine says:

            My problem with the mage tower is that I went to the arl first, fought through the entire village/castle, and then got sent to the mage tower for the best ending, which was almost all combat except the huge Fade part. I left Lothering and spent basically all the time doing nothing but (for me) frustrating combat. After I wrapped all that up I started talking to the people in my camp and it got a lot better (Wynne!).

          • Zombie says:

            I hated the mage tower the first time I did it. After doing it though, I understood what I was doing after that when I replayed it, it was actually kinda fun. Like, I wouldn’t want it to be the whole game, but it broke up all the regular combat to put in a fun little twist on combat and added some character development for your party for all your trouble.

            However, the deep roads can go fuck themselves and jump off a bridge. I mean, the combats good in DA:O, but its not THAT good.However thought the deep roads would be fun needs to find a new definition of fun.

      • Dovius says:

        I too liked the Deep Roads. They dragged in a few places, but it was really cool to see just how far the Dwarves had fallen and how much damage the Darkspawn have done even beyond the things visible to the rest of Thedas. Not to mention the parts leading up to the Broodmother (Frickin’ Hespith) and things like the Topsider’s Honor.

        Now the Fade… The Fade part deserves a special place in gaming hell. It’s the only part of any game that ever drove me to downloading a mod specifically to skip it entirely.

        • Mike S. says:

          I actually liked the Fade. (Much, much more than the unending Deep Roads.) But I only played DA:O once. I can imagine that it wouldn’t wear well on a second playthrough or beyond.

          • Humanoid says:

            I disliked both, but my dislike of the Fade isn’t so much with the sequence itself, but because it was a dungeon within a dungeon, creating an overlong megadungeon in effect: a beast with similar effect to the Deep Roads. Had the Fade sequence been a separate part of the game not linked to clearing out the tower, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

            That said, my experience of Dragon Age was essentially a downward spiral of slowly but steadily increasing irritation beginning from the denouement of each origin story (only played three of them, but still), with each subsequent section reinforcing the general negative trend.

            I get burned out quickly with ‘fighty’ sections of gameplay without breaks in gameplay where I can get in a bit of respite from that routine. My time with the game ended very shortly after the Deep Roads, when I just ran out of desire to do any more main quest hotspots. Likewise with DXHR, I was well and truly burnt out after having to do Tai Yong Medical then the Picus HQ back-to-back without any city-based hub and associated sidequests in between. Essentially, the cut of the planned Montreal hub killed the game for me by turning it into an oppressive chore.

    • Tapkoh says:

      Maybe in another game or three they’d have remembered what paragon and renegade were supposed to be (hint: it wasn’t good/evil). The fact they added that reputation system to partially cover one fault isn’t much comfort when they got so much else wrong.

      As for unpopular: I very much liked the Deep Roads in Origins, even the lengthy fighting. I have a thing for dwarfs though.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its small good things like that that really sting about me2 and 3 sucking so much overall.

  16. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I haven’t heard this podcast yet but at the moment Super Mario Bros is the only movie I can recall Dennis Hopper being in either (actually, wasn’t he in Water World?) But the Rifftrax was just released.

    Also, still not having heard the podcast yet, I’m going to tentatively say “Yay” to George Weidman being on the show because his show is good. We’ll see how he works out as a podcast guest.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Which category would you put garrus in?”

    The dark knight,obviously.

  18. Dues says:

    I’m surprised that more MMOs don’t use Realm of the Mad God rules. If you are close to another player, when that player kills a monster, you gain the same XP. So players just naturally party with each other.

    You do compete for drops, so you either find players you trust, or everyone starts fighting over the valuable something or other as soon as the boss drops it.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Add in the requirement to participate in the fight AT ALL, and you’ve got GW2’s loot mechanic.

      • aldowyn says:

        that was absolutely one of the things did GW2 did right, and one of the few I missed when I started playing SWTOR, which doesn’t have instanced interactable objects, for some ridiculous reason.

        • Zukhramm says:

          I’d like to find some middle ground. GW2 feels too anonymous for me, just running up, fighting and then splitting up without ever saying a word. On the other hand, having to form a party to perform complicated and well coordinated battles is too formal and complicated.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Realm of the Mad Gods is a 2D sprite based game.

      Because it’s 2D sprites and not 3D world based, and with a fixed angle camera, it’s very easy to determine if players are near each other.

      And sure, 3D’s not *that* much more difficult…per player, but then it stacks up. Adding that to all the other latency issues the game will have due to more animations, and it’s probably not an easy way to solve the problem.

      Secondly, the formal grouping mechanic in say, SWTOR, allows you to do a few things:

      – Designate who gets what equipment type loot, so that unless players are running the same class, they tend to gravitate away from that.

      – Organize on a raid-level ops with a significant level of people for really complex strategies, confirming on readiness to engage an enemy/dungeon, and designate secondary leaders so that you don’t need one person to handle all the meeting up for, say, a World Boss in SWTOR.

      – Guilds vs Guilds as pvp, if not for organizing events.

      ROTMG probably has a good portion of advantages – just in the little I’ve played of the game, I just never encountered them.

      • Thomas says:

        I don’t think the level design in TOR would cause any problem if you wanted to treat it as a 2d space for the purpose of this mechanic. They don’t have many spaces with other spaces directly under the first one and with the Realm of the Mad God mechanic you can afford to be pretty loose. People like getting XP, if we find the one border case where standing near the base of the mountain gives you XP from people fighting on top of it, I don’t think anyone would complain.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,you should definitely read dc,not marvel,because while marvel writes for kids and teens,its dc that is writing for 45-year olds.

    • MadHiro says:

      [citation needed]

      The last series I read from either of the Big Two and enjoyed was Punisher MAX out of Marvel, which most definitely isn’t for kids or teens.

    • krellen says:

      What I’ve seen of the new 52 doesn’t seem to be for grown-ups. It’s all pretty juvenile.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Which is why the quote is so much funnier.

      • It’s not just juvenile. It didn’t seem (at least to me) to fix any of the “problems” with the DCU that a lot of editors/writers said it would. Apart from Superman not having his underwear on the outside of his pants anymore, I suppose.

        And “Justice League Dark” was a huge mistake (John Constantine with a team?), as was folding the Wildstorm books into the main universe (especially Apollo’s uniform. Nobody, straight or gay, would wear that when out superheroing).

        • Mike S. says:

          The idea that Superman’s trunks needed solving is sort of emblematic of the problem. Superhero costumes aren’t supposed to and can’t make real-world sense: there is no plausible reason that powers and abilities beyond mortal men or the decision to become a freelance vigilante should map to wearing a circus costume. It’s a genre convention. (And if you start stripping away genre conventions, you won’t have a superhero story left when you’re done.)

          Superman’s costume, in particular, is an iconic look. There’s nothing wrong with tweaking it a bit, but you’re never going to make “guy in a skintight blue suit with a red cape and an S on his chest” look like anything but a) a Superman costume, or b) something that’s almost but not quite a Superman costume.

          Adding armor piping and getting rid of the trunks just starts people thinking about the costume, instead of just seeing Superman.

          (Eventually, maybe, people get used to it, and it’s just Superman again. But it takes a long time to change perceptions of the iconic look of a character three-quarters of a century old. And if you succeed, what have you gained?)

          • As someone who draws comics, I think I know most of the reasons behind his new outfit:

            1. As a kind of bio-organic Kryptonian suit, it self-repairs, allowing them to shred Superman’s outfit/cape (as they’ve done before) to show how much he’s being beaten up without having to then hand-wave how he repairs it later (or how that’s even possible, since early on it was indestructible, I think).
            2. It looks more modern/whatever, so lets have that same armored-cloth look transfer to practically everyone in the DCU for no apparent reason.
            3. It probably somehow makes their copyright on the character (who should be public domain) even more eternal.

            But getting back to the costume itself, he brings up a rule I have for superheroes and how ridiculous their costumes look. This includes costumes that are mega-impractical for purposes of being sexy, armored, spiked, physics-defying, or a hindrance to any kind of combat effectiveness:

            The more godly your superpowers are, the derpier your costume can be and still be somehow cool.

            On the extreme end we’ve got Doc Manhattan. He’s pretty much a god unto himself and he can walk around nekkid. He’s still badass because he can wave a hand and make just about anything happen. Wonder Woman has gotten away with a one-piece bathing suit in spite of her mythological origins because she can flatten just about anyone who might snicker about it. Power Girl is borderline, because she’s basically Supergirl, but her costume has become a joke in-universe, so other than for fanservice, I don’t see why it hasn’t been (successfully) changed to something else. Not to mention it should make her costume inflate like a balloon when she flies at high speed.

            Then we’ve got people like Hawkeye. Not the one from the movies or Marvel Ultimates, I’m talking the purple-and-blue outfit with the pointed mask and tunic that hung down to his knees. Most people with capes who can’t fly fall into this category, as does pretty much every hero (and villain) from Image Comics in the 90’s.

            The best outfits for “B-level” supers are simple or have some practical value beyond looking cool. And that’s not to say stuff can’t exist on a character for just the sake of being cool, but I’ve yet to hear a reason why Gambit wears what he does or where he even found his outfit, let alone that weird shirt he wears. Then there are the military pouches that get glued to outfits on characters who never pull even a stick of gum out of the things… why are there so many pouches?

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              “On the extreme end we’ve got Doc Manhattan.”

              Its actually one of the very few plausible “costumes”.In fact,plenty of superheros would be more practical if they fought naked,because not only would nothing impair them(like dumb looking capes),but plenty of their opponents would get an extra dose of confusion.Of course,this doesnt apply to mortals who use armor,like batman,but superman and wonder woman would lose nothing for wearing no clothes(well,maybe a bit of PR).

              • Very true, though we hit a confluence of factors with the very nature of comic books, which include outfits that allow a recognizable brand, wanting books (and any derivative media) to not be only sold to those 18 and over, and suspension of disbelief. That last one mostly applies to metahumans whose powers probably shouldn’t work though clothing without destroying it (energy blasts, fire, sticking to walls) without a hand-wave of something like “unstable molecules.”

                I think JMS’s “Rising Stars” had a guy who was basically an uber-version of the Human Torch, and he didn’t have an outfit (or hair) by virtue of his fire powers incinerating everything touching his skin every time he decided to “flame on.” That comic, though, was selling a larger story rather than trying to highlight one person.

                You’d think body armor like Batman’s would be more prevalent since even those who have really destructive powers often aren’t bulletproof, especially the ones who can fly.

        • Humanoid says:

          Rationally, underpants are the only article of clothing that a theoretical superman would need, mainly for comfort whilst flying. So the problem with his costume is basically everything but the underwear, which is critically important.

      • Mumbles says:

        new 52 is for 45 year old men with brains of children.

        • Zeta Kai says:

          That’s about the most succinct way to describe the New 52 that I have read thus far.

        • My biggest New 52 gripe was they had the chance to make Superman less of a narrative problem by virtue of his already extensive sub-power shenanigans, but they went ahead and added them in early on, anyway.

          I always figured the Flash was a little better at being super-fast than Superman, or had better, more skillful ways to be a speedster. The second Lois Lane is almost New 52 killed, Superman reads the entire Metropolis medical library in 10 minutes, uses his unsterilized (!) thumbnail to perform surgery on her rather than a scalpel (!!) and then seals her up, scar-free, using his heat vision.

          Aside from how utterly silly that is, it (1) destroys one of his few weaknesses, which is the mortality of those around him and his ability to cope with it, and (2) the super-speed learning thing, which had become the purview of the more recent Flash incarnations. The second one is really annoying, because if he can do the exact same crap the Flash can do, he has the Flash’s problems, too: Why can be he be surprised? Why isn’t he blurring constantly when there’s a problem to solve/fight? We shouldn’t even see him fly by, though we should be seeing the windows of nearby buildings exploding, not to mention what would happen to bystanders, yet that never happens. Why does he forget how to do something super-fast he did only three issues ago?

          If they were going to restart the DCU, you’d think they would’ve put at least some thought into not restarting the same roadblocks to storytelling and suspense that came before.

        • Kavonde says:

          They made Captain Marvel dark and gritty.

          They made Captain Marvel dark and gritty.

          Yeah, I’m with Mumbles. I haven’t touched DC since the New 52 launch, despite being a lifelong DC reader, and I’ve been spending my comics money on Marvel and IDW instead. Have not yet had cause to regret it.

          (Also, Mumbles, seriously: you need to read Hawkeye. I guarantee you will love it.)

  20. Tse says:

    I can give an example of a game rewarding neutrality: Galactic Civilizations 2. Being neutral means less wars against you, better diplomacy, more trade, faster alliances (thanks to those extra trade routes) and cheaper ships to buy (no production civs are actually quite effective once you get those banking planets going).

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You know what you should do with that ending?Call Chris’ wife and leave her that as a voice mail.

  22. Groboclown says:

    The subject of what Elder Scrolls Online should have been keeps coming up. Perhaps something like a community hub + instances in the vein of Guild Wars might have worked, but I tend to think it would have worked better in a different direction.

    My first experience with a fantasy MMO was a private shard of Ultima Online. It was a tight-nit community that worked together to create a lore and story line that worked within the Ultima background and outside it. To me, this is what the Elder Scrolls online should have been (or at least capable of).

    As for the monetization of it, it could have gone the route of hosting the shards for a fee. The people who rent the server also have control over who belongs and who doesn’t. Also, Bethesda could have controlled the server code by keeping it on their hardware, but still charged people for renting out the hardware. They could even have “official” servers that they support, but with no bells or whistles, to give newbies a “safe” place to start before finding a private server.

    It would eliminate their ability to host the trade-for-dollars of the gear, or pay-for-gear (which are super cheap on their side – pay us money for us to add an entry in a database). However, with this other model, there’s all kinds of services they could provide to the renters for added fees (setting up forums, providing email support, etc).

  23. Cybron says:

    I was going to speak up in defense of the MMO experience and how it creates social experiences with strangers that you wouldn’t get in any other game (specifically thinking of my FFXI days) but then Mumbles covered it pretty well. You just don’t get that sort of experience outside of MMOs. I can’t even say I’ve really had it in Dark Souls, because the interactions are just on an entirely different scale.

  24. Fabrimuch says:

    Speaking as a gay man, I think there are plenty of attractive male characters, like Bigby Wolf from TWAU or Naked Snake (Mumbles is wrong, Ocelot isn’t hot at all :P)

    However, I think characters that are only a beefcake and have no dimensions are boring, I much prefer a well-developed character, and if he also happens to have abs then all the better!!

    • Thomas says:

      I feel like a bad person whenever I make any kind of generalisation based on some kind of gender identity (and I’m going to say but here, yet it really doesn’t make it better) but…

      Don’t guys tend to look for different traits in guys than women do and actually the guy guy traits tend to be the sort of characters that straight guys like to (maybe because attraction isn’t really binary?). I think guys straight or gay like beards more and the slightly gruff tough Snake masculinity stuff. It’s like when guys imagine a sexed up Batman they imagine more abs and generally stronger etc but actually the sort of traits in a lot of hearthrobs for females are completely different

      • Fabrimuch says:

        It’s okay, that doesn’t make you a bad person at all! (Though gender identity is a different thing, it’s the gender you identify with: male or female; the gender you’re attracted to is sexual orientation)

        In my experience, it’s less about what men and women like in other men, and more about what each individual finds attractive in them. For example, I prefer men who are somewhat muscular, but not overly so (think the ones I mentioned in the previous post, or maybe Taylor Lautner), or guys who are “handsome” (Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time, for example). Meanwhile, my sister and mother prefer more macho dudes, like Thor or Vin Diesel (my mom’s crush), because they are, and I quote, “triangular”. I find that body type to be pretty meh :/

        It’s backwards from what you’d normally assume!

        So yeah.

        By the way, I prefer a handsome face to a ripped body, but again, that’s just me.

    • Veloxyll says:

      Ocelot is kinda a cutie, you’ve gotta admit.
      And he’s good with his hands ;)

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Why is it that when people talk about “hot dudes” they default to talking about personalities,yet when they talk about “hot chicks” they default to talking about bodies?Guys like personality too,despite all the stereotyping.Sure,many like ogling at curves,but so do many women.It doesnt mean thats what they are most stimulated by,especially when it comes to virtual characters.

  26. poiumty says:

    Oh. Shit. Reading that article, I can’t help but come back to the RockPaperShotgun review on it that slammed it for being super misogynistic. And now I see that it’s a woman who designed the characters and “our female beta testers loved it”?

    Game’s actual quality aside, this really just serves to confirm my suspicions that game journalists fall flat when attempting to criticize games for sexism from a female point of view, and it’s not that they’re protecting women’s interests by seeing things from their side, but rather they’re getting offended over perceived taboos that are just an extension of their own need for self-righteous indignation over made-up problems.

    I keep seeing people deride things like sexualization, and the main assumption du jour seems to be that women want female characters to be strong, independent and sexually unengaged. But then I look at articles like this and at the mugshot thread on the Scarlet Blade forums (an MMO where the only character option is “extremely slutty female”) where half the players are girls and I start to severely question that assumption. I wonder if the gaming industry will ever wake up one day and realize they have their heads so far up their asses they can’t see anything but the oppression of a group they don’t represent nor are they part of.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Misogyny is not just a trait of males,you know.Women can be just as bad when it comes to their sex.If a woman thinks that a woman in bikini armor and large breasts with nothing between the ears is how you should present strong female characters,she is being no less sexist than a man.

      • poiumty says:

        Alright, I’m gonna have to look up the definition of misogyny for this.

        Misogyny: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

        Going by that, I’m not sure if I agree with you. Said woman would certainly be shallow, but sexist? Against women? I don’t follow.

        Just like I wouldn’t call it misandry when a dude says Marcus Fenix is the best male character cuz he has the most pecs.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          See,the thing about prejudices deeply rooted in the culture,like sexism and racism,is that both the dominant and subjugated class are taught from young age that they should always find themselves in the dominant/subjugated position,because thats the way society works.You dont have to be stupid,or shallow,or uneducated in order to continue doing like you were raised,simply because you never seriously questioned your place in the society.

          For example,you have no idea how hard it is for me to have my female coworkers let me wash my glass behind me,or get a drink for them when it is easier for me to do so(instead of calling another female from the another room to do it,which is just ridiculous).Even those women that have more years,education and higher positions than me.I have to actively impose myself in order to be treated as equal,instead of a member of a dominant class.And I live in a tame part of the country when it comes to that.

          • poiumty says:

            Cultural prejudices exist, but I’d be hard-pressed to judge whether they should or shouldn’t. They are there, after all, for good reasons, not all of which have to do with sexism. Sexual dimorphism exists, and while a woman might be prejudiced against her gender in some ways, she might still think women are the superior gender overall, which would make her paradoxically sexist both ways.

            If a woman wants to wash your glass after you, I wouldn’t consider that a betrayal of their gender since it’s mostly harmless opinion and their own initiative. On the contrary, I’d consider it disrespectful to go against their wishes and customs purely because of the burden of your privilege.

            This all changes when it’s about forcing these prejudices onto other people, of course.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              No,cultural prejudices exist for A reason.There is no good reason for plenty of it.Sexual dimorphism doesnt excuse stuff like bikini armor,disparity in superhero outfits,arranged marriages,etc.

              “If a woman wants to wash your glass after you, I wouldn’t consider that a betrayal of their gender since it’s mostly harmless opinion and their own initiative.”

              Not when every one of them washes their own dishes.And while it is harmless on its own,its a clear example of the underlying culture.But like Ive said,its a tame form of sexism.Other parts of the country have far more serious examples.

              • poiumty says:

                I don’t have anything else to say about this – I just don’t think sexualization is inherently sexist. Making characters attractive can be done in many ways, and it’s different in men compared to women. Chainmail bikinis are fine from a sexism perspective even if they might not be from a realism or practicality perspective. Everyone likes to assume it’s objectification because righteous indignation is the easy way out, but if we remove the assumption as to the developers’ intent, what remains is a character confident in their sexuality.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “I just don’t think sexualization is inherently sexist.”

                  You are correct there,its not.But it becomes sexist when it becomes a major(or often,the only)trait of the character.Having a woman in a skimpy outfit is not the problem,having her in a skimpy outfit just as eye candy and nothing more is.

                  For example,someone up there mentioned doctor manhattan.Theres nothing wrong with him being naked,because of how he was portrayed,everything brought up about his powers,etc.But now,imagine if batman(and just him,no one else) was naked in a comic,and never having that addressed by anyone,while panel after panel we see him strutting around,bending over for no reason while talking to people,dry humping the air,his junk flapping around,while monologuing about something completely nonsexual.That would be demeaning for the character,and therefore sexist.

                  And thats how most female characters are being portrayed,and why bikini mail is a problem.Its not their fashion statement,its never addressed,it doesnt play into anything,its just there because its revealing.

                  • poiumty says:

                    I don’t think your Batman example’s very good, as male sexualization tends to not involve flapping junks and dry-humps. If he really acted like that he’d rather be seen as a parody. If you want to sexualize a male character for women, you’ll have to make him a bit more subtle (see: article, podcast).
                    I can only see a sexualized male character being sexist if he can’t do anything without a female in the room/is dumb and accompanied by a contrasting cast of smart female characters. And for a game to actually be sexist, it needs to apply this to *all* of the male characters, or at least give the impression that this prejudice exists.

                    “And thats how most female characters are being portrayed”

                    Eh… citation needed on that one. If you remove MMO characters (who have the exact same personalities and competences, male or female) or general choice-based RPG characters, I’m guessing you’ll find more Princess Peaches than Ivy Valentines.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      “I don’t think your Batman example’s very good, as male sexualization tends to not involve flapping junks and dry-humps. If he really acted like that he’d rather be seen as a parody. If you want to sexualize a male character for women, you’ll have to make him a bit more subtle (see: article, podcast).”

                      Thats was the whole point.We dont do that for male characters,but we do it for female characters.

                      “Eh… citation needed on that one. ”

                      Sure,an easy one is to search superheroines that adopt this spine bending pose:
                      http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/450/481/8e5.jpg

                      I wasnt talking just about games here.But ok,if you want video games,how about EDIs camel toe?

                      “who have the exact same personalities and competences, male or female”

                      There is a difference between a blank slate standing in front of you fully clothed,and a blank slate standing in front of you wearing just a couple of rags.

                      “I’m guessing you’ll find more Princess Peaches than Ivy Valentines”

                      You think that being a token kidnapee with crying super power and ass attack is better?

                      If you really want positive females,then at least point out half life 2,last of us or saints rows.But those are the exception,not the rule.

    • krellen says:

      One problem in the current climate of feminism (oh no I said that word) is that what some feminists label as “misogyny” is simultaneously labelled as “hella sexy” by many women. No one can agree on what is and is not attractive, what is and is not creepy. The line between “confident bad boy” and “creepy jerkass” is impossible to clearly define, because any three people will likely disagree on precisely where it lies.

      And that’s why conversations on this and many other topics generally become contentious and fraught with argument; we can’t even clearly define the terms involved, and without a common language, discussion is impossible.

      • Deadpool says:

        This is why I have a problem with labels. Feminism is that kind of amazing ideal that just about any reasonable person can get behind: Gender equality.

        Problem is, this is the internet age, where the most extremes voices are the only ones heard because they’re the only ones who are loud enough. That’s why we hear from the likes of Suey Park far more often than… God, I can even name a reasonable public personality. Reasonable people just don’t get famous enough.

      • poiumty says:

        I agree. I think what everybody wants is well-developed and interesting characters, regardless of how they’re otherwise portrayed. Which makes this insistence on labeling things all the more frustrating.

    • Shamus says:

      Wow. You’re saying Scarlet Blade has a significant number of female players? That’s really a surprise to me. Do you have a link to the mugshot thread?

      • I was hoping there was an easily-googleable demographics breakdown, but the only interesting item I could find was a 2013 tidbit on the Escapist saying they were going to add a male character.

        From the concept art, he (they?) look to be fully-armored anime warrior-dudes. Maybe you can make ’em look like Gundam Chippendales, but that doesn’t seem to be the image they’re promoting.

      • poiumty says:

        Here.

        I checked the first few pages and the last few pages. About 1:1 ratio of men to women (looking at whether they say they are female or not in the absence of a picture, which I admit might be subjected to noise).

  27. IFS says:

    So Mumbles I’m curious what you think of the Batman new 52 story ‘Court of Owls’. Its the first batman comic I’ve read and I’ll be talking about it in a class so I’m interested in how it measures up for a huge batman fan like yourself.

  28. hborrgg says:

    The whole “come up with an unsolvable riddle” challenge never makes much sense to me. What’s stopping them from just saying something like “what do you get when you cross a duck and a coconut?” and then never giving out the answer?

    • Thearpox says:

      Reminds me of Chronicles of Amber.

      “Is this glass half-full or half-empty?”
      “What is green and goes round and round and round?”

    • Neil W says:

      That he’s a crazy supervillain who controls the whole city and (one assumes) has previously shot the face off of the last guy to ask “what have I got in my pockets?” or similar.

      That’s how it works in comics: A giant lock appears in the park and Batman has to find the key or the kitten hospital will blow up. If he finds the key you don’t blow up the hospital because otherwise putting a giant lock in the park would be pointless. You might as well go to another city entirely and quietly run an insurance fraud and tax evasion.

      • Zeta Kai says:

        Yeah, Gotham City is a nexus for weird shit like that, & Batman is only the most prominent manifestation of that madness. Even in-universe, the city is seen as a place where crazies go to get their ya-yas out, & then they can go back home & quietly commit normal felonies. I actually feel bad for the thugs & other petty criminals in Gotham; they can’t get a nickle for their grandma without some psycho trying to push them toward a guy in spandex working out his daddy issues on somebody’s face. If I were a methhead or a carjacker, I’d move to Metropolis or Bludhaven before the big boys turned me into collateral damage.

    • Mumbles says:

      I think Riddler would smite anyone who tries to bullshit him, honestly. He like guesses a riddle just by knowing a dude’s record collection.

  29. Deadpool says:

    If you get Marvel Unlimited, you should read Annihilation. This is pretty much a must read… Best major even Marvel has written in years (arguably ever). While not flawless (Ronan’s 4 issue mini tie in was weak) the overall series is still just plain awesome fun.

    And while my bias here is obvious, Joe Kelly’s run on Deadpool is one of those diamonds in the rough… No one’s written the character with anywhere near this kind of heart before or since.

    • Nextwave: Agents of HATE.

      Read it. It’s hilarious fun. It should be a companion show to Agents of SHIELD, or an animated series on Adult Swim.

    • Muspel says:

      Personally, I was a big fan of Cable and Deadpool.

      • Deadpool says:

        It’s not that Cable & Deadpool is bad per se it just… It doesn’t have the heart that Kelly’s run did.

        Kelly’s Deadpool was an exercise in juxtaposition, using comedy and drama to make each feel stronger. Seeing Batman brood is the norm. Seeing Deadpool curl up on his roomate’s lap crying like a kid has that much more meaning when he spent the previous issue giving people wedgies…

        No writer has quite captured that balance before or after Kelly. They weren’t all BAD (I actually liked Priest and Simone quite a bit), they just lacked that certain something…

        • Muspel says:

          Cable and Deadpool had that as well, though. The whole SERIES was about juxtaposition– Deadpool needs someone to keep him serious, and Cable needs someone to keep him from being TOO serious. And the best moments of the series were when those two things clashed.

          Like after Cable (apparently) died while saving Deadpool’s life, you see Deadpool sitting in his apartment, without his mask, absolutely crushed.

          Deadpool: I wasn’t worth it.
          (panel of silence)
          Deadpool: …And I won’t let you down.

  30. She-Hulk. The comic I recommend to everybody is She-Hulk.

    A new series of it just started (which is good) but the early 90s series is absolutely fantastic. It’s absolutely ridiculous, insane and fourth wall breaking.

    Not to mention, as a lawyer myself, there’s something fantastic about a fun, superpowered lawyer. Who actually does show up in cases with superhero issues. For instance, the latest issue of the new one features an asylum application for Dr Doom’s son who doesn’t want to be the next Latverian Dictator.

    So… yeah…. If you’re on unlimited (and I assume that the 90s run of She Hulk is too) – get on that. It’s fantastic.

  31. Thomas says:

    George friggin’ Weidman!! This only continues to be awesome

    ————
    I think inFamous is trapped by it’s original concept. It’s not like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, it was never trying to give people moral choices. It was more lets make a game when someone can be an awesome comic book hero or a big comic book villain thing.

    So the question is, if they ditched the system, which side do they get rid of? If they choose to make the next game to be about playing a hero (or someone well-adjusted dealing with complex situations), all the people who played villains in the other games are going to feel burned.

    I don’t like the systems, but the best the franchise can do is try to restrict the damage (like removing the ending gates from 2 -_-). Otherwise they’d just have to ditch the IP

  32. Thomas says:

    All the talk about sexy guys made me realise how few of the supposedly ‘sexy’ women in games really feel sexy. I really don’t think anyone can be attracted to Ivy in Soul Calibre.

    I know I’m not the only person who considers the reboot Lara Croft to be sexier than the one they made to try and pander to guys. And Miranda was meant to be the sexy one in Mass Effect but most people would for Tali over her any time of the day. (Her sex scene is kind of hot though. I think there’s an attitude to hotness that game designers don’t know how to write yet).

    Lady in Devil May Cry 3 was hot. (She also had the right type of personality)
    http://i.imgur.com/yayfZax.jpg
    But when they tried to up the ante in DMC4 it fell flat
    http://img577.imageshack.us/img577/674/devilmaycry4dx920101227.jpg

    I think Bayonetta is maybe one of the big examples of someone going all in on sexy as a real character arcetype and pulling it off. The games industry is good(?thats probably not the right word) at a casual sexification of all the female characters but rubbish at actually making a sexy person

    • aldowyn says:

      From what I’ve seen Bayonetta is pretty divisive. Either people think she’s terrible pandering or one of the best examples of a sexualized female character done right, with very little in between. (that goes for men and women) never played it myself, so I don’t really have an opinion of my own.

      I never really liked Tali that much, tbh, certainly not in that way, but I’ve never actually liked the romances in bioware games that much in the first place (I usually don’t romance ANYONE in ME2). Oftentimes I’m more interested in how it affects the narrative and themes than in the relationship itself. For example, the scene in ME3 where Liara is making a time capsule or whatever feels entirely different if you’re romancing her.

      • Thomas says:

        I wasn’t putting Bayonette forward as a good thing (necessarily) to put in games, just unlike most pandering at least she succeeds at it.

        I skip the romances in ME1 because they’re all super boring people. Tali or Miranda seem interesting in ME2 but I’ve ended up with Thane and Jacob on my big playthroughs because that fitted the character better. I could see Ashley being fun narratively in ME3 because you’d have gone through more of an arc with her than most people. (Lack of arcs was something this article talked about)
        http://ontologicalgeek.com/from-jaheira-to-liara-a-brief-survey-of-bioware-romances/

        I can understand Garrus too which I think mainly comes down to Garrus basically being the most well-formed and positively presented character in the game. He even changes personality to suit the fashion of the player, his arcs always turn him more paragon/renegade depending on you.

        Jaheira in KotoR was interesting because that tied in well with her backstory. The Handmaiden, Visas Marr and Atton all followed interesting paths in KotoR 2.

        I like romances in games (although less formulaic please Bioware. It’s not a vending machine), if nothing else they definitely can throw previous character details into a new light. It’s a shame Pillars of Eternity won’t have them, but then I’d never considered before that you basically have to write almost two different companions for every romance because the player still wants interaction if they aren’t romancing someone

        • aldowyn says:

          I think if I had to pic a ‘canon’ romance that, I dunno, ‘fit’, it would probably actually be Liara. It just seems like she’s supposed to be the romance somehow.

          Also, I read an article recently on how Garrus is pretty much the best possible representation of the series, written by someone literally writing a book on the game. Here you go.

          • Thomas says:

            Liara felt like the canon romance because they basically make her have sex with you whether you want her too or not and she’s an option for both sexes of Shepard and her (forced) intimacy is actually a plot point for the games and she’s the only ME1 relationship which doesn’t have a 50% chance of ending in a death.

            I still don’t really buy that relationship at all though and I don’t think it comes off as particularly interesting. It feels like Shepard and say Tali or Garrus or even Thane contribute to each other a lot more than Liara/Shepard. Liara’s life and character change is weirdly divorced from Shepard’s in ME2 and even ME3, whereas with Kashley you can make a better argument that Shepard and Kashley’s live were being affected by their separation.

  33. Ilseroth says:

    I just wanted to say; I too was ready for either Wildstar or ESO to be good. I got into the beta for both

    For ESO I was hopeful. It seemed fairly typical mmoish, but it was interesting enough to make me want to try a bit more… I actually did buy it; after playing it for a few hours I got bored… To be fair though; I had Dark Souls 2 at that time, so I was still playing that.

    For Wildstar, I personally was not as huge into the artstyle. It is indeed very pretty but it just didn’t grab me as much as it clearly did Shamus. But yeah, I played the game for probably about 6 hours waiting for the ramp up. Waiting for it to get better. But no; it is Space WoW in terms of game play and I have had more then enough WoW (as has most people)

    I really hope that the impending wave of sandbox MMOs that are in development actually turn out to be quality games. I really wanted to like EVE online, but the gameplay in that is garbage, despite the sandbox aspect of the it being amazing.

    With regards to the conflict between the group; I think a “Massive” multiplayer role playing game would be amazing if the gameplay was designed for that exact thing, but since they can’t guarantee that there *will* be X players available, they tend to focus on what you can do solo, instead of with groups.

    • The problem with ESO and other games taken from single-player games is that you still can’t change the world in any meaningful way.

      I want to be able to blow up Megaton. If I slay Alduin, he should stay dead and everyone who comments on it should know I did it, not who most recently did it. As dumb as being the Archmage is (especially when I’m a melee build), if anyone is going to be the Archmage, I’d rather it be only me than me and a bunch of other people who are wearing the same Archmage Costume Piece as a reward.

      I’m not saying the MMO model of gaming is invalid, but it lacks even the small sense of permanence and effect on the game world a lot of single-player RPGs have.

  34. StashAugustine says:

    Ocelot is the best character in all of Metal Gear and I will not hear otherwise. :crossarms:

    e: he’s also totally gay

  35. Adalore says:

    I did a quick search on wildstar on the page and whatever.

    I played all Friday on the game, got to level 15. The telegraphs early in the game are disgustingly easy. And the tutorial areas where stuff is REALLY easy, there needs a way to skip into the post tutorial area where things matter a little bit more engaging, but even then it needs a heavy second helping of telegraphs.

    They need to lay the telegraphs WAY thicker, granted I was also playing a spell slinger and was killing things VERY quickly so I only got to see like one telegraph per fight if that.

    The weird thing though is that, with all the comparisons to guild wars 2, It’s…Published by the same company. So it’s extra baffling that it’s not using the same subscription method. Entry fee and then cash shop, which guildwars 2 has it’s own Cashshop currency for player gold player market thing.

  36. Phantos says:

    Malkytop did this topic a great service, by linking to that tumblr post about Roger from 101 Dalmations.

    Because when I first read it, that’s when it really clicked for me that: “Hey! Sexy doesn’t just mean what you wear or what you look like! And it’s not a universal consensus! It can be your personality, your actions, your passions.

    The things that make us human!”

    I mean, it seems so obvious now, but look at the gang here being baffled by Mumbles’ attraction to Ocelot. Chris’ suggestion for a “HOT GUY” was the predictably rugged, beefy Snake. Why? Because we have no idea what women want, and fall back on the assumption that women only want strong beefcakes.

    Because WE’RE not attracted to Ocelot, we assume others aren’t either.

    I’m not finger-wagging here, I just think this is fascinating that we reach these conclusions. Like Shamus mentioned, because he’s not attracted to guys, it’s harder for him to identify what would be attractive in a man. It’s like a color-blind person trying to describe a colour they can’t actually perceive or something.

    Which might explain why cheap “sex-appeal” in games feels like it’s done by people who don’t actually know what people want. Sexy is such a subjective, specific thing. And yet corporate executive drones think it’s a set of criteria everyone agrees on. A big red INSTANT MONEY button they can push in all humans that will equal success.

    • Humanoid says:

      I think the distinction is more of guys trying to create a probably arbitrary distinction between guys who are attractive to them personally and guys who they think would be attractive to women. The latter is like setting up a friend for a date, and is basically what game designers mostly try to do.

      I’m straight and have no issue with identifying who I think are HOT GUYS, but I can only guess at how much overlap there’d be with a given woman’s list. It’s probably not a useful ability if I’m trying to design a video game character to try to appeal to the female audience.

  37. The Schwarz says:

    I played through the entire prologue + first chapter of The Witcher and didn’t like it at all, for a bunch of reasons, but an important one was that I couldn’t empathize with Geralt. He’s pretty damn awful.

    I’m playing the second game now and I’m really liking it. Geralt is a LOT more sympathetic and reasonable, usually behaves like he has actual emotions and cares, and if he doesn’t, it’s probably because you chose it. They’ve also somewhat dialed down the overt machoism and sexism – yeah, the townspeople are all still sexist jerk, but it doesn’t feel like the *game* is a sexist jerk anymore. (Also I think the gameplay is much better and the story is way more interesting)

    So if you haven’t done this already, maybe you should give The Witcher 2 a chance. There’s really no need to play through the first one before.

    • Humanoid says:

      Had a pretty similar experience, though my reasons for discontinuing my Witcher 1 game are a bit more nebulous. Some parts are brilliant and should be used more though, the murder investigation in particular was very well done because there were multiple distinct investigative paths that could be pursued to get to the conclusion. There’s an apparent option to autopsy the body for example, but I found I didn’t need to do that.

      Can call the sequel my favourite game of 2011 without reservation – admittedly I turned the combat down to easy but I’m not generally one to care about combat or challenge in general in video games. Also Vernon I reckon qualifies as a HOT GUY, notwithstanding the fact he has you thrown in the dungeon and tortured.

  38. Paul Spooner says:

    I really like the discussion about how Wildstar would make a fantastic P&P RP setting. So many computer games would be better off as books or movies, it’s promising that this one would actually be a good game… albiet in a different medium. Progress!

  39. Smejki says:

    more BunnyHop, please. Great guest.

    ad Witcher 2 – I started it several times and stopped playing in Flotsom. It really gets interesting at the end of this Act which is like 6-8 hours down the road. I have to say this is so common in RPGs and I almost always hate the way too much prolonged introductory sections where nothing happens, I am powerless, story is yet about to get tangled and either I am released to vast areas I have to get to explore from zero or I am stuck in a restrictive tutorial area. There must bee solutions to this.

  40. SlothfulCobra says:

    I thought the term that Mumbles coined was “grape paladin.” My memory must be faulty.

    I think what most people want is not morality systems, but just a system where you can actively make choices to reflect the character you have. Most people won’t ever even see the “evil” paths of games. New Vegas’s faction system works better than most morality systems out there.

    • Humanoid says:

      Yeah, it was a misheard pronunciation of grey paladin, during the Shadow Broker DLC. Episode 29: More Fighting!, about 10 minutes in. Also used as the quip in the credits for that week.

      (And no, I don’t know this all off by heart, it’s just I’ve just semi-rewatched the ME2 season in full this month while playing other games)

  41. Otters34 says:

    So…lots to talk about here. Glad you folks had such a good time and so much to say, Diecast Crew, and thank you very much Mr. Weidman for dropping by. Not seen your stuff, but I’ll check it out since Mr. Young seemed to approve. Looking forward to the second special Spoiler Warning co-host after Jarenth!

    As someone whop hasn’t played hardly any I can’t speak for the quality of the third game, but I can comment on the bizarre gulf between the brothers’ relationship writing and the rest of the game writing. It’s entirely probable that whoever does the writing for the series was just not suited to writing that kind of sprawling dual-story, couldn’t make the incidental quest dialogue work right, had to keep reining in their more ambitious and energetic ideas because they proved punishingly hard to implement in-game, or was just literally tossing story onto an already-existing framework to justify the action and give context.

    But where they were given a looser hand was in the fraternal bond between Devlin and Reginald, and as they probably had a relationship like that themselves they could really understand how guys like them would behave and talk to each other, what they’d think about the other and believe was best.

    (Also, as a non-native American it’s not my place to say, but I’m kind of glad that they don’t have super-obvious ‘Indian’ names. I’m biased because I’m white myself, but it feels more believable and less corny)

    On the subject of hotties, I’m stunned that BioWare never dreamed Officer Garrus Vakarian would be seen(hee) as attractive, did they just never hear his voice? I’m not gay(I think), but if I could go on a date with Brandon X and just listen to his voice, I’d totally do it. That and there’s the upright and honorable but with a darker, dangerous(but only for the forces of evil, you’re fine) side thing.

    And I was fine with Kaidan because he was a level-headed, quiet and practical fellow without that obnoxious “I GOT A PERSONALITY. DAS QUIRKS” vibe I get from soooo many of the other love-interests BioWare foists on you. Besides, not every day you get to talk to a Canadian psychic space marine.

    It makes sense that personality is more important than looks when it comes to whether somebody is really attractive, some of the ‘beautiful’ people in games are repugnant because of how awful or shallow their natures come off. Karan S’Jet from Homeworld, for example, is hardly ever on-screen and is no stunner, but her intelligence, selflessness and courage is responsible for the people of Kharak finding their way home, and THAT is pretty awesome. Similarly, Kyle Katarn from Jedi Outcast is a grizzled, grumpy dude with graying hair and a very unfashionable beard, but his dry, world-wise wit, deep sense of honor and integrity, aura of earned maturity and wisdom and not being another God-facepalming kid, and you have somebody well worth a second glance.

    I’m shallow enough that Dante in DMC3 captured my heart by virtue of being snarky, irreverent, and looking good without a shirt though.

    On the subject of comic books, being a reader of them, I have to mention two things: one, by all permissible will people STOP REHASHING THE BLOODY ORIGIN STORY ALREADY?! Year Zero isn’t the first or worst example of this obnoxious trend, but the constant urge to go back and go over how X became a superhero is a seriously destructive habit.

    Two, no comic-shilling is complete without mentioning that wonder of wonders, that splendid work of art, love and craftmanship that is Astro City. Written by the lore master Kurt Busiek, and drawn by workhorse Brent Anderson, it is a marvelous examination of the super-hero world…from the inside, a sort of sideways look at a universe full of wonder and superheroic deeds. The first issue is an essay on workaholism, typified by the chronically-selfless Samaritan who never lets himself have more than necessary rest and respite from rescuing the innocent. Several issues show normal people and how they live in a world where people travel through time and battle horrors above their morning commute.

    It’s the antithesis of cynical, tells stories about characters instead of drafting characters onto a story, and perfectly evokes the feeling of a complex superhero universe with only one running title set in it.

    It’s amazing, and everyone should read it.

    • aldowyn says:

      Garrus’ VA is Brandon Keener, btw. I’m pretty okay with Kaidan too, but I don’t think I’ve ever romanced him, even as Femshep. I’d comment on the rest, but I haven’t played Infamous and have little to no experience with comics.

      • Otters34 says:

        Brandon Keener, right, right. I put the ‘X’ in there because I couldn’t recall what his name was and forgot to check. Sorry about that lapse of brainpower citizens!

        Start with Astro City! It’s really easy to get into, just get the first issue(‘In Dreams’) and a random one afterwards and you’ll know if it’s your thing.

        Or you could look up the series on Scans_Daily, if your ethics allow it.

  42. Kavonde says:

    I’m apparently the forum’s Official WildStar Fanboy, so I feel obliged to address a few of your complaints. Not that I’m in the “YOU MUST LOVE IT BECAUSE I DO” camp, but because it sounds like you and Mumbles were casting some unfair aspersions on it.

    I know we all hate the argument of “if you play it for X amount of time, it gets really good,” but man, it really does. I played in the beta this last weekend, too, and while I was generally enjoying the content and combat as an Engineer, once I hit level 15 and opened up the first Adventure, that was pretty much the end of my doing solo content. Dungeon-crawling in this game is tons of fun–at least, to clarify, as a tank who loves his job in most MMO’s anyway. Dodging definitely becomes an absolute imperative to survival for every class, but for a tank, you have the added complexity of trying to maneuver enemies so that your buddies can hit them without having to stand in lightning fields or get hit by psychic bolts or what have you.

    Of course, the group content still isn’t GW2. Which… I mean, from where I’m sitting, thank God. I hated GW2’s dungeon crawls. WildStar strikes a balance somewhere between WoW’s rinse-and-repeat dungeons where you can pretty much do ’em blindfolded after awhile and GW2’s insane, unfair, unfun die-to-trash-mobs-constantly-and-zerg-rush-the-boss-from-the-respawn-point drudges. It’s challenging and you have to stay awake, but as long as you’ve got a reasonably competent group, there’s not much that’s too nasty.

    Certainly, if you’re not enjoying the game at all, it would be ludicrous to tell you to keep at it until for 10+ hours so you can start getting to the good stuff… but Shamus, if you’re able to, I think you might find the group content to be an absolute blast.

    But I do seem to be in the minority in my adoration for the game, at least in this community, so it’s entirely possible that you’ll still think it’s awful. Hope not, but we’ll see.

    • Rosseloh says:

      Well, I’m with you at least. Hadn’t looked at the game at all until PAX East – checked it out at their booth, and went to the panel where they talked about their end-game. Now I’ve preordered and am waiting impatiently while playing ESO.

      I can’t even really figure out what I like about the game, I just have an overall sense of “this is the one I’m going to have fun with”, which I haven’t felt since I first played LotRO back in 2007. Hopefully my gut doesn’t let me down (and my gaming group sticks with it for a while, which is the problem we’ve run into for the last couple years).

  43. Steve C says:

    WildStar! Played the beta weekend. Didn’t like it. I really really wanted to like this game. The marketing got me pumped for it a year ago. Like the Diecast I also did not like like the gameplay. HOWEVER I both did and did not like the art depending on what you are talking about.

    I liked the overarching world aesthetic and the monsters. The characters were ok, not great. The narrator (?) had great energy and I loved that tone. That tone seemed to be missing from the npcs though. The npcs seemed flat. No quest VO probably hurt it a lot there. The zones, and the layout I hated. I couldn’t get past this element.

    I played Dominion and the baby-tutorial zone was ok. Boring gameplay-wise but ok. The next two zones were tan colored desert-scrubland. As a new player I cannot stand zones like that. I couldn’t take another zone like that in a row. When I played WoW I originally started playing Horde and couldn’t get past the Barrens and Durotar (both tan scrubland)and ended up rolling Alliance and played heavily for years as Alliance. I blame the terrible Horde starting zones for my choice.

    In my desperate attempts to leave ugly WildStar tan-scrubland #2 I discovered something… you can’t change zones. You must complete each zone in order presented and there’s no Option B. If I could make it to another zone then I’d be the wrong level and couldn’t do anything there. It’s effectively all gated content.

    This ticked me off but w/e I can solve it the same way I did in WoW. Solution was obvious- create a new character! The Blue Rebels tutorial zone was mirrored in layout with a different art style. The tutorial zone is so boring though and I didn’t like my character’s basic attack. I was having a hard time staying motivated going through it. I made character #3 to get a different starting area. This is ultimately what killed it for me.

    With character #3 I discovered the following- Your character looks different but is the same. There are no racial bonuses. There are no racial start zones. There are only 2 zone-paths; Blue Rebels or Red Empire. Alt-characters are going to be the most boring thing in the history of boring. You do the same quests, the same zones, the same npc responses, same same same.

    • Kavonde says:

      “There are only 2 zone-paths; Blue Rebels or Red Empire.”

      Going to be pedantic here, because I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean this lliterally, but there are two starting zones per faction. Two races are directed through the tutorial to go to one zone, and two to the other, though you can choose to go to whichever you want.

      Does seem like the zones merge after the first, though.

  44. Lilith Novale says:

    I couldn’t stand the Witcher for the same reason as Mumbles – it’s too masculine. And by masculine, I don’t mean misogynistic or sexist – there’s something about it that just oozes with male-ness.
    I don’t know if it’s the tone, or the way it’s written, but I just couldn’t deal with it.

  45. Abnaxis says:

    Trials looks a lot like the old SNES game Uniracers, from the trailers.

  46. Adrian says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that Mumbles should talk less and maybe let the other people talk more?

    After listening to this podcast for the forth time I’m starting to notice that Chris and Josh were trying to say things in the background but didn’t get a chance to because Mumbles kept talking over them. Also, the constant swearing made her funny in the beginning, but now it just makes her come of as bad mannered

    • Sleepy the Bear says:

      I have to disagree with you. I like it when Mumbles contributes. She brings a different perspective on the games and an occasional digression into marine biology.

      The crew has become better about not talking over each other. Previously, Mumbles used to be the one of the people most cut off, so I’m loving the fact the crew give her a bit more space. I think that consideration is also extending to asking for Chris’s thoughts when he has been cut off. I’m pretty sure everyone also gets the chance to bring up their thoughts eventually.

      • Adrian says:

        I don’t know, man. Usually Chris is the one that get’s cut off the most. In the mass effect 3 episodes he got cut off so often you could even forget he was there. I don’t remember that ever happening to Kelly.

        You maybe right about her contributions on the show (although that marine thing happened only once), but that constant swearing makes it really hard to listen to her. When she talks it’s like fuck shit shit fucking shitting fuck.. oh god, it’s such a sharp contrast to the rest of the crew.
        I don’t know why she does it though, she didn’t use to talk like that

  47. Step 1: Free download and run AVI to DVD Burner for Mac.

    Do you imagine that you can’t make someone love you.
    OR that China counts for over 34 percent of current torrent connections to The Pirate Bay.

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