Marlow Briggs EP7: Marlow Briggs and the Great Balls of Fire

By Shamus
on Aug 14, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

So it looks like the jump button is also the skip cutscene button, which means our bunny-hopping driver is skipping half the cutscenes. I like to think that the bits we skipped are these detailed explanations that would perfectly explain everything we’re seeing.

Also, I love the idea of calling an astrophysicist and asking him random science questions about archaeology, botany, zoology, and anthropology.

Every time I think this game is out of ideas and we’re going to run out of stuff to be incredulous about, it manages to top itself. Like Chris said in a previous episode, this game certainly has a lot of ideas. They’re mostly crazy nonsense, but there are SO MANY of them!

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From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The belly massager 9000.

  2. Phantos says:

    I like how, with the addition of the music and credits at the end of the video, this has just sort of become the next season of SW.

  3. Ledel says:

    How am I supposed to maintain my suspension of disbelief if the cut-scenes are skipped?

  4. lucky7 says:

    The Mayans (as far as I can tell) were masters of slash and burn agriculture,wherein they cut down the jungle and burn it for landspace. Could be wrong though.

  5. lucky7 says:

    Marlow Briggs is not a very good kisser, apparently.

  6. PossiblyInsane says:

    The Pit and the Pendulum. Classic-ish literature references right after The Big Balls.

    This is an amazing game.

  7. Lachlan the Mad says:

    JOSH. JOSH. JOSH.

    USE THE D-PAD, JOSH.

    USE THE D-PAD.

    Edit: HOLY FUCK HE SUCCESSFULLY USED THE D-PAD.

  8. Wide And Nerdy says:

    You see how tall those statues are? Marlow is definitely 6 inches tall.

    EDIT: Drat. They did the joke during the episode. Now instead of doing a pedantic call back, I’m just being pedantic.

    • Aitch says:

      That same sensation of being six inches tall is precisely why I gave up on World of Warcraft only a couple hours in.

      I could give them a pass on taking such a cheap maneuver to make their lame little maps and dungeons seem much more sprawling and grandiose. Where I got annoyed was how it also made all movement and travel agonizingly slow, taking many multiple times as long as it should have had your character just been a normal size relative to the world.

      Between hearing my friend’s praise for the game and trying it out, I was left wondering if we’d even played the same game.

  9. Will Riker says:

    Hey, the Japanese had the kusari-gama, which was a scythe at the end of a chain.

    • Ivan says:

      Good point but from what I know it was used nothing like this. I think it was mostly used for dueling considering that the main tactic was to tangle your opponent up in the chain and use the scythe as a finisher when you got the opportunity. In other words, the scythe never left your hand.

      Also it had a weight at the other end of the chain which was supposedly used to throw at your opponents head hoping to knock them out. I can’t imagine that was often effective though so the weight probably was just an aid for throwing the chain to tangle your opponent.

      • Ygor says:

        Yeah, kama part is never thrown, apart from doing balance and reflex exercises, since you can’t very well control if the sharp part of sickle will hit something, or it will simply bounce off.

        The weight on the other hand, can very easily break bones and crack skulls, and there are recorded techniques that utilize only striking with it.

      • Grudgeal says:

        The kusari-gama, like most of the stereotypical ‘ninja tools’ and ‘exotic weapons’ of Japan, was pretty much the same thing as a scythe was in Europe: An improvised weapon made from farming equipment wielded by someone who couldn’t get their hands on a proper weapon. The kusari-gama’s “normal purpose” was to be used to cut rice plants with the kama and then thresh with the weight to remove the rice from the plant.

        When used in battle you’d throw the weight as a distraction, hopefully entangling someone with it, and then stab them with the kama, hopefully killing or incapacitating them and allowing you to nick their sword, spear, or actual weapon. Japan has always been very strict on regulating access to arms, especially to peasantry, so when your local lord finally pushed you to incite revolt you fought with whatever sharp you could find. The Sengoku Era, or at least the final stages, were unusual in that the local warlords were forced to arm their peasantry in order to gain enough soldiers, and one of the first things the Tokugawa shogunate did was to institute sweeping ‘sword hunts’ to remove weapons from the hands of anyone who might destabilise their new social order.

        The reason why it’s been used as a ‘ninja’ weapon in pop culture is because part of the ninja mythology involved them being Robin Hood-like figures, peasants with special training striking back against the nobles, so they’d use peasant weapons.

        • Ygor says:

          Except that Kusarigama is made solely as a weapon. The chain weight is too small for anything else but striking and trapping someone and they had nunchaku that are designed for rice threshing. The kama was used as rice sickle, but there’s no point in having a chain on it- that serves no practical purpose, if you’re not fighting with it against someone who wields a blade.

  10. Lachlan the Mad says:

    “Aide fughaven dubble fooble deh?”

    – Josh, 12:55

  11. Duhad says:

    OK I knew his voice sounded familiar! Marlow Briggs is voiced by Arif S. Kinchen who voiced Pierce Washington in the Saints Row games!

  12. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    I think this game brings out in me the same feelings as early Michael Bay. Pre-Transformers.

  13. Ivellius says:

    I suspect the infinite flaming balls are actually just a finite number continuously recycled. Had Josh just followed them as they rolled down those different passages, he’d have seen the complex system of Mayan conveyor belts bringing them back to the top.

  14. mhoff12358 says:

    The “Amazingly, Kim is exactly where I landed” line got to me, and I got this game on steam.
    Its currently on sale for $1.24, aka pocket change, in case anyone else is interested.

  15. Chamomile says:

    This is the episode when the game itself joined the commentary.

  16. Thearpox says:

    Just for the record, there is some historical evidence of Ancient Egyptians reaching South America. It happened way before the Mayans, (I think,) but still. Thor Heyerdahl (his Ra and Ra II voyages specifically) for my evidence.

    • Joakim Karlen says:

      It’s funny. Thor Heyerdahl, although his work captures the layman’s imagination, never got much traction with the scientific community. Especially his theories surrounding the origin of the Polynesian people. (He claimed, partly from the Kon-Tiki voyage, that they could have come from South America, and not from Asia.)

      Also, a slight correction. Firstly, Ancient Egypt was around for about three thousand years (Wikipedia cites the Old Kingdom starting in 2686, and then it goes all the way to Marc Antony and Cleopatra in the first century BC), and the Mayans did exist BC, but their highest state of development was during the Classic Age in 250 AD.

      Ra I took in water hundreds of miles before it reached the Caribbean. Ra II succeeded in its voyage, however. (Ra II was made from totora, a South American grass used for building boats in Peru and on Lake Titicaca, and not papyrus.)

      • Thearpox says:

        Ra I taking water had nothing to do with its building material. The engineers removed the string from the stern to the middle of the boat (due to perceived uselessness,) which caused the boat to relax its shape over time.

        By the way, I found his theories about Polynesian people to be a more well supported than his Egyptian theory, to the point of actual competition with other theories. I don’t know about the scientific community or modern DNA testing through.

    • Janus says:

      Heyerdahls work, amazing as it may be, is hardly evidence. That’s also the main reason why it didn’t have too big an influence on many academics.
      He didn’t try to find evidence that his theorized migrations had taken place (like egyptians in central america) – he instead set out to prove that they could have been possible.
      Wich is fine and certainly has had some very exciting results.
      But demonstrating that something could have been possible, under the right circumstances, without any worthwhile evidence to back it up, is not enough.

      • Thearpox says:

        If you throw a bottle long enough at a wall, it will go through the wall. Three thousand years is a bloody long time.

        You seem to dismiss him because he does not engage in the standard of proof that is academically accepted. There are real world reasons for why some theories cannot have that sort of evidence. I find it arrogant to disregard them entirely because of that.

        The ancient world has a habit of being more interconnected than we assume it to be, as decayable matter disintegrates.

        Maybe evidence was the wrong world? Good possibility. Probability. A valid opinion considering the absence of proof to the contrary.

        • Grudgeal says:

          True, but what would motivate someone to keep throwing bottles at said wall, to continue on the metaphor? The odds that Egyptians would both make it across the Atlantic in the first place, then survive Meso-America and its diseases and culture shock for long enough to build a new ship and equip it for the journey back, and subsequently return to Egypt to inform others of their miraculous journey, fails Occam’s Razor.

          There is also the disease angle to consider. Smallpox was well known to the Egyptians, and within less than a century of Columbus touching base in the Caribbean it’s believed it, and other European diseases like Measles, had propagated and caused mass epidemics in North- and Central America: The most extreme hypotheses suggest as much as 90% of the populations died out in certain places, which is why the Europeans were able to settle North America at all, and why the Conquistadors were so successful. If the Egyptians had truly spread to Meso-America through Ra-like journeys, it’s likely the native population would already be well inoculated by the disease.

          • Thearpox says:

            Huh, I didn’t think about the disease. That’s a good point.

            But now that I think about it, what about Vikings who regularly made yearly and bi-early journeys to Canada to chop wood? And that’s after they failed a settlement. Come to think of it, I was never actually sure why the Vikings didn’t cause an epidemic.

            But I am not confident that the disease inoculation would keep over thousands of years. These things mutate, sometimes they don’t spread, and could potentially stop being a threat during the times when the civilizations collapse and the human density falls. So there’s that. Do we even have any historical examples we can use to study how lingering disease inoculation is with no direct contact?

            As for the Occam’s Razor, I really think that’s a matter of opinion. You say nearly impossible, I am going to arbitrarily assign it the odds of 45%, for any given journey from the moment of the boat’s departure.

            • Janus says:

              The Scandinavian sailors probably didn’t cause epidemics,
              because they only had a small & isolated settlement, and only in a very sparsely populated region in the far northwest. And how much direct contact with the indigenous population they had is somewhat debatable.
              The later Spanish bridgeheads in the Americas were in some of the largest population centers in the world at that time. Very densely populated & in very direct contact with the Spanish. And the Europeans at that time spread pretty fast to as many corners of the Americas as they could reach.
              Also: The climate in the far northwest is far less favourable to epidemics than in Central or northern South America.

              It may well be that the Scandinavians caused a wave of diseases, but thanks to the sparse population in that area it probably wouldn’t have spread very far.

              • Grudgeal says:

                The direct contact is, according to the sagas themselves, not very ‘debatable’: Several are recorded and they’re almost always hostile and end with one side killing the other. The reasons the Norse didn’t settle Newfoundland for very long is because they realized it was inevitable they’d live in a state of constant siege by the natives.

                Smallpox required direct inhalation of aerosols or skin contact to infect someone: If the Norse only interacted with the natives in raid scenarios where either side ended up dead this leaves less opportunity for infection. By contrast, the Spanish conquest of Santo Domingo seems to have caused plenty of, ahem, ‘contact’ with the natives if you catch my drift.

                On a side note, research suggests a certain deletion allele in the immune system that block smallpox infection (it’s relevant today because it also grants resistance to AIDS) has relatively higher presence in modern-day Scandinavia than elsewhere on the globe. It suggests the region had increased selection pressure on that allele due to smallpox epidemics. It’s possible the settlers of Vinland were, on average, less smallpox-infected than the rest of Europe, especially given they had had three-four generations worth of isolation and inbreeding on Iceland and Greenland first.

                • Janus says:

                  That’s kind of what I meant by “debatable direct contact” – we know they murdered each other.
                  But any long term trading? “ahem ‘contact’ ” ? Anything that would have a higher risk of spreading disease? Not so much. But I guess, I could have said that better…

                  And by the way we’re not just talking smallpox, anyway. It was the most devastating, but other contenders include: Malaria, eurasian influenza-variations, yellow fever – among many others.

    • Josh says:

      So I’m by no means an expert on this, but “we can build a boat that could potentially make the journey from Egypt to South America” doesn’t really qualify as “historical evidence” in my mind. The Sassanid Persians had the technology to build primitive batteries. It does not follow that they had electric lights.

      Again, I’m not an expert, and I haven’t really read up on any of the arguments suggesting the Egyptians could have had cultural contact with Meso- or South American cultures, but the most cited example I’ve heard as evidence pointing toward such a conclusion is, “Hey, the Mesoamericans built pyramids just like the Egyptians! That’s incredible, how could they have come up with such a similar design without any contact?”

      Unfortunately the answer is “really easily.” Lots of ancient people built pyramids. At the same time as the Great Pyramid at Giza was being constructed, the Sumerians on the other side of the fertile crescent were building their similarly shaped ziggurat temples. Cultures throughout the world and history buried their dead in large, pyramid shaped structures or mounds. The reason for the pervasiveness of the pyramid shape is simple: It’s the perfect shape for building tall without requiring the complex architectural knowledge to build towers that don’t immediately fall over. We just think of Egypt when we think of pyramids because they happened to build some rather impressive examples that have survived to the modern day.

      When thinking about the possibility of Egyptian influence in South America, one also has to consider the question, “Why?” Why would the Egyptians, who don’t even border the Atlantic and never in their 3000+ year history expanded their sphere of influence anywhere close to it, send an expedition across the Mediterranean, through the Straight of Gibraltar, and into the heart of the Atlantic without any indication that they’d ever find anything beyond? If they were looking for new land to colonize or exploit, why not stop at Malta, or Sicily, or Sardinia, or Spain? Why go all the way beyond all of them?

      If the suggestion was, “the Phoenicians had contact with South America,” well I still wouldn’t believe it, but it would be more plausible. They colonized most of the Mediterranean at one time or another. At least they might feel compelled to search even further. But Egypt? It’s just too far-fetched; it requires far too many unlikely situations to have occurred to sit well with me unless there were some extraordinary evidence behind it.

      • Thearpox says:

        Well, the argument goes somewhat beyond pyramids. I believe there were around 80-100 items that he found extraordinarily similar between the two cultures, pyramids being just one of them. (Granted, a bunch of them had to do with burial.)

        There was also the mystery case of what else the mysterious boat was for: Firstly, it’s image did not correspond well to any theories of what its ritual purpose might have been. And secondly, why the hell would Ancient Egyptians have a model of a vessel capable of crossing the ocean if they did not venture anywhere? I want to point out that Ra II (Because Ra I was faulty, but that’s beside the point,) was a model distinct from the river boats they used.

        I believe there were also a couple Meso-American myths suggesting at a similar thing, but I am hazy on the last one, so I’d have to stroll through the book to remember.

        As for the Mesopotamian pyramids, I may not be an expert on that time period, but allow me to be skeptical that the two cultures living next door took no inspiration from each other. I don’t care how ethnocentric your culture is. If you live next door to each other for thousands of years, you’re going to have wonky cases come and visit.

        Ultimately, the thing is of course not a proof that Egyptians or anyone else did it, but I was convinced of its possibility. And lastly,

        “When thinking about the possibility of Egyptian influence in South America, one also has to consider the question, “Why?” Why would the Egyptians, who don’t even border the Atlantic and never in their 3000+ year history expanded their sphere of influence anywhere close to it, send an expedition across the Mediterranean, through the Straight of Gibraltar, and into the heart of the Atlantic without any indication that they’d ever find anything beyond?”

        Finding the edge of the world is too romantic for you?
        I wouldn’t think it would be anything like a colonization, considering that they wouldn’t know that there was any land beyond before reaching the actual bloody land. But a very ethnocentric culture might be more open to the idea of going to hell and back that it would be to going next door. You have a lot less cultural baggage forbidding it.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Guys,you are both wrong.The real answer is,of course,space aliens.They were stationed in the atlantis,and had contact with both the egiptians and south america.I mean think about it,why else would the pyramids point to the sky like that,and how else could these ancient civilizations mimic the stars so precisely.

          • Josh says:

            Man, fuck the History Channel.

            • Janus says:

              Yes, and they worked together with the Nazis from the dark side of the moon & the lizard men of Agartha to put snake-parasites in ancient egyptians. It’s all a conspiracy to give Richard Dean Anderson a career beyond MacGiver.

            • Akri says:

              This is purely anecdotal, but I was told that a reenacting group once tried to donate several thousands dollars’ worth of historically-accurate, museum-quality armor to the History Channel, and they were turned down because it was too realistic.

        • Josh says:

          Again I stress that none of what you put forth is positive evidence that this actually did ever occur, only that it “is possible.” I find myself going back to my initial example: The Sassanid Persians, 2000 years ago, had electric batteries. This is remarkable in itself, but it does not mean that they also had electronic devices, or even used the batteries to store electrical energy for the purpose of converting it into work. Indeed it seems much more likely they had some sort of ceremonial purpose, or were even no more than a curiosity.

          We believe this, not because we think the Sassanids were “too primitive” to conceive of such things, or because the idea of Persia lit up with electricity clashes with our “superior Western sensibilities,” but because there is no evidence that they ever actually used the batteries in this way. If the batteries were used to power electrical devices, we would expect to find something resembling that with the batteries. Such a technology, were it viable, would have revolutionized Persia in this period; we would expect to find other sources writing about this, marveling at these hypothetical electrical devices and the power that makes them possible. We have found none of this, and no further examples of these batteries have been discovered.

          You see, it is not impossible that the Sassanids harnessed electricity thousands of years before we did. But it is implausible. And highly so.

          The fact that someone in the 20th century found models and depictions of an Egyptian boat that appeared to be designed to be seafaring, built one using papyrus (which sunk, by the way; the second ship was built using reeds from Bolivia), and sailed it from Morocco (take note that the Atlantic coast of Morocco is some 2500 miles from the Nile itself) and in the end managed to succeed (after, as mentioned, sinking once) at landing on a Caribbean island, does not mean it actually happened.

          I mean, just think about the logistics of this for a second: This is an 8000 mile trip, one way. As hard as it was for Heyerdahl to complete that journey himself, it would have been that much harder for the Egyptians, who did not have the benefit of his and his crew’s modern understanding of ocean navigation, did not have the benefit of knowing exactly where they were going, did not have the benefit of modern supplies and rations, and certainly did not have the benefit of being able to go back and try again if they happened to sink halfway across the Atlantic on their first.

          It is even less plausible that a trade route could have ever formed. One would expect such a route to be necessary for a cultural exchange of the extent you’re describing to have taken place. For there to be widespread use of Egyptian methodology and technology in Native American burials would not likely have been accomplished with a dozen man crew on a single ship that managed to make a journey. And it seems doubtful that such a ship would still be seaworthy enough after months (if not years) at sea to make the return voyage successfully.

          Again, it’s not impossible. But it’s extremely improbable. When considering these things, one must ask oneself, “Is this the best explanation for this?” Is it really more plausible that the Egyptians made transoceanic trips and gave the natives of South and Mesoamerica these methods and technologies? Or is it more plausible that they happened to develop similar methods and technologies to the Egyptians on their own?

          This is my problem with all of this. Sure, it can be fun to fantasize about how these incredible feats could have happened. How the ancient world could have been much more connected than we ever thought possible. But the evidence just isn’t there. And I think it says something about how we view these cultures, that we look at their feats and triumphs of engineering, social development, and technology, and say, “These look like they must have come from somewhere else. These look Egyptian, so they must have come from Egypt.” Why do we put some civilizations on a pedestal, and when we find that other civilizations accomplished similar feats, we try to find ways to say they were simply copies? Even when such an idea of direct influence is implausible, as it is here? Everything need not come from Egypt.

          I don’t mean this at all as a slight or insult against you, mind. I do hope you haven’t taken any of it that way. It’s just, this sort of thing really bugs me.

          • Grudgeal says:

            Why do we put some civilizations on a pedestal, and when we find that other civilizations accomplished similar feats, we try to find ways to say they were simply copies? Even when such an idea of direct influence is implausible, as it is here? Everything need not come from Egypt.

            Well obviously those people were our* cultural ancestors so that automatically makes them better than anyone else’s.

            * = i.e. the people who wrote our history books.

            • Janus says:

              It also has many to do with a nice little Theory called “Diffusionism” from the early 20th century. It states in its more radical variation (monocentric diffusionism) that there had to be one single source for every aspect of Civilization because it’s impossible that different people might find similar solutions independent from each other.
              The so called “British School of Diffusionism” took ancient Egypt as that source, while german “Pan-Babylonism”…

              … what? Nobody really cares that much?
              Eh, yeah, I’ll stop now.
              Sorry.

              • Grudgeal says:

                Well, given that *biologically* we’ve all got common origins it’s easy to see how some “just so” explanations on the origins of civilization might lapse into the same trap.

                Of course, doing so would ignore a lot of archaeological, genetic, geologic and anthropological evidence of time-scales of the spread of humanity, or somehow suggest that the core tenets of ancient Sumerian/Egyptian civilization came across due to some kind of genetic memory that we somehow only obtained *after* leaving the sub-Saharas and took millennia to express.

                Aliens seem somehow more likely…

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Thats easy to disprove simply by looking the more recent research and finding out how many people find the same stuff independently from each other.Heck,even amongst some nobel winers there are cases of a few people independently finding out the same thing.And these are pretty advanced researches that need a lot of background,not a simple thing like the shape of a pyramid or a spear.

                • Tizzy says:

                  Well, as far as contemporary research goes, there has never been as much communication between researchers, so it is expected that some ideas are simoly “in the air”, even major groundbreakin ones.

                  But what about similar examples in the past, without the benefit of all that communication? How about this guy for instance: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seki_Takakazu

                  Japanese contemporary of Leibniz and Newton who is living at a period of highest isolationism, he invents algebra and calculus at the *same time* as this is happening in Europe. He even has to invent his own notations and concepts from scratch, given the groundbreaking nature of his work.

                  Great minds think alike. No spooky long-distance communications, no aliens needed.

          • Benjamin Hilton says:

            Oh man, Josh going off about history is just as much fun as Chris going off on game theory.

          • Thearpox says:

            The difference between the batteries and the trans-Atlantic journey, is that as you said, the batteries would have revolutionized Persia at the period. Reaching a distant land by boat would have probably been received with a resounding “meh”. I’m not going to deny that I like the theory at least in part because it is romantic, but just because the knowledge of these journeys would be important to us if proven, doesn’t mean Egyptians would maintain interest in it, whatever the initial reasoning.

            “(which sunk, by the way; the second ship was built using reeds from Bolivia)”

            I’ve pointed this out already, but the first ship sunk (It didn’t sink! It reached the continent afloat. Just because the crew evacuated, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t survive in it.) because of an engineering flaw by the people making the experiment. The second ship being built of different material was laziness and nothing else.

            “As hard as it was for Heyerdahl to complete that journey himself,”

            The thing is, IT WASN’T. I’ve read his book, and they had absolutely no problems with the exception of the above-mentioned engineering flaw. They had communication with modern technologies and rescue crews, sure, but it didn’t amount to anything. If anything, the modern ships had more trouble keeping afloat than Ra did. I’ll concede about modern rations, but the thing about navigation, was that it was nearly irrelevant considering it could without problems go some extra 2000 miles if they were blown off course. (That’s true for the initial trips of course. If you’re going to have trade, you need to know where you’re going.)

            Also this from Viktor for some random evidence: “They’ve actually just recently found America-exclusive herbs buried with mummies. So presumably the Egyptians did at least some cross-ocean trading.”

            “It is even less plausible that a trade route could have ever formed. One would expect such a route to be necessary for a cultural exchange of the extent you’re describing to have taken place. For there to be widespread use of Egyptian methodology and technology in Native American burials would not likely have been accomplished with a dozen man crew on a single ship that managed to make a journey. And it seems doubtful that such a ship would still be seaworthy enough after months (if not years) at sea to make the return voyage successfully.”

            Well, as we all know, it was never about the trade routes. The whole purpose of the entire Egyptian Civilization was to lug a Pharaoh statue to the ancient Mayans, so they could install it in their temple, so Marlow Briggs would have a better view. Because obviously.

            But on a serious note, I am actually doubtful that regular trade could be possible. However, I don’t really know if we can evaluate the supposed influence a single boat with a dozen people, or a dozen boats over several decades, could have. It depends on the people making the trip. I never said the American rituals must have been a copy of the Egyptian ones, but some influence? Possibly on both sides?

            I see where you’re coming from with the supposed placing of our cultural heritage on the pedestal, and I’m not even going to deny that that may even be an attraction of the theory for many. But really, the validity of the theory from my perspective all depends on how interconnected you believe the ancient world to be.

            And really, if communication really was prevalent in the ancient world. If there were goods coming from China to south of Africa and back even during tens of thousands of years from now, I don’t see it that implausible. The way I see it, when you put enough people in an experiment, 3000 years totaling a lot of people, you are eventually going to find someone willing and capable of crossing the ocean. Whether that would lead to trade or colonization I don’t know, albeit the times that it does happen without any consequence are the ones we don’t know about, so there’s that.

            And you say there is not enough evidence, but really, how much evidence do you want? DNA evidence? There can be none. Sure, the evidence that is present is soft and not hard, but how do you even objectively measure what is enough and not enough. You say it was implausible, and I say it was only implausible subjectively. For example, take what Viktor (quoted above) said. Is that evidence? I think it is.

            Is that enough on its own to construct a theory from scratch? Probably not. But why? How else would you explain those herbs? I don’t bloody know. But we place some subjective markers to suit our likes so that history can correspond to what we like. Maybe you’ve actually got a degree so you can tell me better, but I really don’t know whether the thing with the herbs would range from irrefutable evidence to a likely coincidence.

          • Michael says:

            I could have sworn the running theory for those batteries was that they were used for electroplating.

            • Tizzy says:

              That would already be pretty awesome.

              • DIN aDN says:

                IIRC the Chinese were doing that at one point a pretty long time ago, so not impossible. Especially since electroplating in a society that’s not got massive mechanical, electric and electronic industries going on comes up as pretty much a nifty way for rich people to rustproof the good knives.

                Also, just as an aside – how much background in history do you have, Mr. Viel? [Apologies if I’ve misspelled that] Seems like you’ve done at least as much reading as some of the 1st and 2nd years in the degree I started and sometimes wish I had kept going with – like now, for instance, when you start up with the reasonable and interesting discussion of historic and prehistoric movements of people and ideas.

                • Josh says:

                  You got the name right. Everyone wants to put the ‘e’ in front of the ‘i’ when they hear how it’s pronounced, but apparently it’s German, and German spellings are always more fun.

                  Academically? I have no history background whatsoever. I only spent a few years in a community college before I decided it really wasn’t for me and quit. And this was before I’d really discovered my interest in history so I don’t think I even took a single history-related class while I was there. Even if I had, I don’t think I would ever be able to justify going into massive debt for a history degree, despite how much I adore the field now. Not unless I wanted to become a proper historian, I suppose. (The woes of not living in Scandinavia and so on.)

                  That said, you’re correct in that I do read a lot about it. I’ve got a copy of Herodotus’ Histories lying on my bed right now that I’ve been slowly working through. Particularly my interests tend to lie in “ancient” civilizations, which I use here to mean, more or less, “pre-Roman.” But I’m most interested in Bronze Age civilizations; Egypt, Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Elam, early China, etc. There’s a certain… compelling mystique to these civilizations. We know so comparatively little about them and yet they contributed so much to the world as it is now. The wheel, writing, astronomy, history, epic literature; these were all first truly developed by bronze age civilizations.

                  Hell, here’s an easy example: You know why there’s 360 degrees in a circle, and 60 minutes in an hour? They’re both based on Babylonian math. And the Babylonians, as well as Akkadians and Sumerians that preceded them, all used base-60 mathematics. This might seem incredibly unintuitive at first, to have such a big number as your base, but 60 has twelve factors. You can cut it in half, in thirds, in quarters, in fifths, in sixths, and so on. It made it really easy to calculate things without resorting to fractions. It almost makes you wonder at our own mathematics. Ten is pretty awkward if you have to cut it into thirds or fourths.

                  You see, this sort of thing fascinates me endlessly, and if you asked any random person on the street where the 60 minute hour came from, they’d almost certainly have no idea. And they might even say, upon reflection, “60 is a silly number, let’s just get rid of it, replace it with 100 or something.”

                  The fact that something like this has such an impact on our daily lives, something that was devised three thousand years ago, and yet so many people take it for granted? That’s compelling to me. I want to know more about the people who came up with stuff like that.

                  So yeah, I read a lot about stuff like this. Mind you I don’t really do any rigorous academic-style research; as I was stressing before, I’m by no means an expert of any kind. But I do a lot of somewhat more general reading on these sorts of topics.

                  • Cuthalion says:

                    Neat. I’ve started to get a little burned out on medieval stuff myself and have been finding bronze age Middle-Eastern aesthetics more interesting, so I can relate to some of what you’re saying. It also helps that a lot of my religion’s early history takes place in that context as well, so I have another reason to find it interesting.

      • Viktor says:

        They’ve actually just recently found America-exclusive herbs buried with mummies. So presumably the Egyptians did at least some cross-ocean trading.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Are you referring to the cocaine and tobacco?Those were not recent,and the works done about those yielded positive results about 50% of the time.Which would be fine if they were done on freshly dug up mummies,not the ones that were dug up years ago and moved all around the world.

          There is a possibility,but like Josh said,its not a likely one.

      • Janus says:

        Regarding the pyramids-thing.
        They are actually not really similar, beyond the superficial appearance of being, well, pyramids.
        Mesoamerican and egyptian pyramids were built using very different techniques, for very different purposes.
        Mesoamerican pyramids were at the heart of the cities – temples/places of worship and sacrifice. With some few exceptions they were not used as tombs & had no interior structures.
        Egytian pyramids are made up of massive stone blocks, in reinforcing layers – mesoamerican pyramids were built via the “tablero-talud”-system, a very different method.
        Yes, both had pyramids (so did many other peoble – see josh above). But how they built them & the respective purposes are very different.
        There are other similarities, of course. But one can reasonably explain many via convergent developements – analogue problems/issues in similar contexts lead to analogue solutions.

        And “finding the edge of the world” may be an interesting thought, though the primordial ocean was considered to be endless in egyptian cosmology (iirc). But even if they set out, and did not care about the people “next door” – such an undertaking would still require outposts, surveys, etc. You don’t start with building a boat to cross the atlantic, there’s a certain necessity for infrastructure, naval technologies & knowledge of navigation, that doesn’t grow overnight. And there is not much evidence for any of that in ancient egypt.
        And even if… why didn’t they go east? They at least knew that there were people & empires to the east.

        Obviously one can’t completely disprove it, so a possibility always remains.
        Maybe the ancient Chinese were there too? Which is actually another theory that has been put forward for similar reasons with similar criticism.

        • djshire says:

          I just want to point out that you guys are having a debate on historical accuracy and the probability of other civilizations contacting each other….which spawned from watching someone play a really dumb game

          • Grudgeal says:

            Academics is a lot like that.

            • Janus says:

              Can get worse… way worse; so bad it’s beautiful.
              A: The sky is very blue today…
              B: Aehm, actually… *starts on two-hour long impromtu lecture on cognitive Anthropology & linguistic relativity regarding the discourse on colour perception following Berlin & Kay’s original study & rather recent re-studies*
              I’ve seen it happen.

              Also: It’s just another reason why Marlow Briggs is awesome

              • Thearpox says:

                I’d take that any day over silence. My greatest problem is that I can’t have a conversation without a topic to talk about, so I am always thankful for some linguistic relativity.

              • Tizzy says:

                Also, a good idea not to mention that the sky is blue in the presence of Physicists. Proving why the sky is blue can take a long time, but convincing another Physicist that the proof is correct can take even longer.

                • Asimech says:

                  Well, the sky is a combination of blue & violet light (during the times when it’s considered to be blue) so there’s a snag there as well.

                  Of course one might argue that since the average human eye can’t differentiate between blue+violet and blue+white light it would be accurate to call it blue because it’s how it’s perceived etc. But I don’t see that flying in the hypothetical group of physicists you described.

                  • Damn you for reminding me about my optics professor, who upon one of us remarking how blue the sky looked, decided we should work out exactly what wavelengths we perceived as blue. I had nightmares about that guy (possibly because we never understood a thing he said and spent the entire class in a really frustrating state of confusion). Nice guy, spoke clearly, could not teach to save his life.

          • MichaelGC says:

            I know! Great, isn’t it! Well, I’m impressed, anyway… :D

          • Grudgeal says:

            And now it’s making me nostalgic for the Shogun LP.

        • Thearpox says:

          There’s a reason why I’ve been trying to avoid straight-up talking about pyramids, because you get into the technical arguments about their construction, and can go endlessly back and forth without much progress. I’d just like to stress again that the reasoning extends beyond the pyramids.

          And it’s fair that crossing the ocean doesn’t start with building a boat. I believe he even proposed that the Egyptians may even have hired the Phoenicians to for the task. I find that a bit hilarious. A fair point, but maybe not enough to dismiss the entire thing.

          “And even if… why didn’t they go east? They at least knew that there were people & empires to the east.”

          I believe there was a certain amount of trade along the rough outline of the silk road during that time. At least that’s what we were taught in an introductory Anthropology class. But since the journey was by land, it’s kind of different to crossing the Atlantic Ocean, so maybe that’s a different discussion.

          “Maybe the ancient Chinese were there too?”

          Wait, why wouldn’t they be? I just don’t know much about them.

          • Janus says:

            I find the technical arguments regarding pyramids quite straightforward… But ok, ymmv.
            I just added the Chinese example to illustrate, that theories like “egyptians in Mesoamerica” spark from many different sources for similar reasons. Often aspects of ancient Civilizations are similar because, again: analogue problems may lead to analogue solutions.
            All of these theories tend to cherry-pick & point out the similarities but don’t look too closely at the differences.

      • Daimbert says:

        So I’m by no means an expert on this, but “we can build a boat that could potentially make the journey from Egypt to South America” doesn’t really qualify as “historical evidence” in my mind. The Sassanid Persians had the technology to build primitive batteries. It does not follow that they had electric lights.

        I think it has to count as “historical evidence” in the sense of it being evidence that might have an impact on what we think occurred historically. The reason is that that is one very strong piece of evidence against a claim that something didn’t happen because it COULDN’T have happened. If the claim is that the Sassanid Persians couldn’t have had electric lights because they didn’t have the technology level to make batteries, or because they DIDN’T have batteries, showing that they could and did refutes that point, quite clearly.

        Now, it’s not conclusive evidence, because as you say just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you did. We have to evaluate it in light of other evidence and the lack of other evidence. As you say later, in both cases it can be complained that we’re missing important evidence that we should have. An argument from the other side might be that if certain things are the obvious result or next step, then without evidence to the contrary it is reasonable to suggest that they took it. For example, unless they used those batteries to power things, what did they use them for? If we know, that answers that question, but if we don’t it is a puzzle for the “no electric lights” side.

        Sorry for the reply, but I tend to get annoyed at the “this isn’t evidence!” sort of reply to something that doesn’t, in and of itself, prove anything but is important to the argument or at least says important things about it.

        • Akri says:

          “An argument from the other side might be that if certain things are the obvious result or next step, then without evidence to the contrary it is reasonable to suggest that they took it.”

          The problem with this is that what we consider the “obvious result or next step” is influenced strongly by our knowledge/biases. We see a device that could function as a battery, and it seems obvious to start asking “what did they power with it?” But to them it may have just been a vessel for holding a scroll, or some kind of decoration, or an item used for a ritual.

          “For example, unless they used those batteries to power things, what did they use them for? If we know, that answers that question, but if we don’t it is a puzzle for the “no electric lights” side.”

          If we don’t know then it’s a puzzle for everyone involved in the debate, because the answer is unknown.

          • Daimbert says:

            The problem with this is that what we consider the “obvious result or next step” is influenced strongly by our knowledge/biases. We see a device that could function as a battery, and it seems obvious to start asking “what did they power with it?” But to them it may have just been a vessel for holding a scroll, or some kind of decoration, or an item used for a ritual.

            Sure, but unless you have evidence to the contrary it’s more reasonable to think that it was used to do something that required electrical power than it is that it was just a vessel for a scroll, because of the fact that its special properties are such that it indeed does that. We don’t have to rely on certainties here, just what makes more sense.

            For example, Josh’s analysis of the problems with the Egyptians crossing the Atlantic is a perfectly reasonable analysis and argument against their doing so. It’s not proof, though, but it might be enough to make it seem unreasonable that they did it in the absence of stronger evidence for their have done it.

            If we don’t know then it’s a puzzle for everyone involved in the debate, because the answer is unknown.

            But arguments and evidence are never in a vacuum. If a problem for the “electric lights” theory is “No power”, they can point to the batteries that show that they could have had power. It wouldn’t be a good response to say “Well, they used that for something else” because it begs the question “Okay, then for what?”. If the opposition can’t answer that, then it really looks like them dismissing a potential explanation because they don’t like that explanation, not because they have good reason to.

            Unless they have stronger arguments that they didn’t have electric lights and so HAD to use it for another reason. This sort of back and forth of arguments is one of the things I really like about philosophy and other similar fields …

            • Akri says:

              “Sure, but unless you have evidence to the contrary it’s more reasonable to think that it was used to do something that required electrical power than it is that it was just a vessel for a scroll, because of the fact that its special properties are such that it indeed does that.”

              How is it more reasonable to think they were using it to power electrical objects we have no evidence of than to think that the item’s ability to act as a battery was unknown to them? There were no wires attached to it, we’ve found no devices it could have powered, we have no records of them using the device to power anything…but because we can’t definitively say “it was used for this instead” we should assume they were using it as a battery?

              “If a problem for the “electric lights” theory is “No power”, they can point to the batteries that show that they could have had power. It wouldn’t be a good response to say “Well, they used that for something else” because it begs the question “Okay, then for what?”. If the opposition can’t answer that, then it really looks like them dismissing a potential explanation because they don’t like that explanation, not because they have good reason to.”

              There is a very good reason to dismiss the “electric lights” theory: there is zero evidence that they had electric lights. The two competing views (“the battery was used to power lights” vs “they didn’t use it as a battery”) are not equal: the first requires assuming the existence of things for which we have absolutely no evidence, and without any explanation for why we don’t have said evidence. However my “it was for scrolls” only requires assuming that the device was used for something that we know existed at the time (scrolls), and which we know can degrade (offering an explanation for why a scroll was not found in the vessel).

              “Unless they have stronger arguments that they didn’t have electric lights and so HAD to use it for another reason.”

              Well, we’ve not found any electric lights from that region and time period, nor have we found records of electric lights. In the absence of supporting evidence the best you can say is “it’s not completely impossible”. Which I don’t think anyone has denied. But “it’s not impossible” is a pretty far cry from “it’s plausible”, and even farther from “it’s true”.

  17. Corran says:

    Not sure if this is the best place to post it but Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an interesting article about Galak-Z a top-down space shooters with procedurally generated levels. Made me think of a certain robot game…

  18. GEBIV says:

    Welcome to the further adventures of Marlow Briggs and the Bug Stomp of Zoom!

  19. Mephane says:

    So it looks like the jump button is also the skip cutscene button, which means our bunny-hopping driver is skipping half the cutscenes.

    This reminds me of the space bar in Mass Effect which both skipped a line of dialog… and selected a dialog option. I don’t think in any other game have I ever accidentically picked dialog options as often as in Mass Effect. -_-

    • Zerotime says:

      Or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for the 360, where X was both “attack” and “immediately skip cutscene”. I finished up every boss fight in the first half of the game by skipping an enormous chunk of post-battle exposition.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      I have a bad tendency to have subtitles on and read them real quick, and if the voice-acting isn’t THAT interesting, I just skip to the next bit of dialogue.

      In Mass Effect? “Wait, Shepard what are you– WHY DID YOU PUNCH THAT LADY IN THE FACE!? WHAT THE HELL, SHEPARD.”

  20. Blake says:

    I wonder what purpose the log sorting facility had for either the Mayans or the crew of the Indefenestrable.

  21. Grudgeal says:

    To mangle someone else’s great words (I’m sure you can figure out who).

    DM: Suddenly, a great rumbling shakes the caverns. Two channels open, and massive, flaming balls are released!
    PC 2: Oh crap.
    DM: They tumble down from above, forming a great avalanche of death. The horrid sight is-
    PC 1: Flaming balls? Like, giant massive *stone* balls on fire?
    DM: Yeah.
    PC 1: But that makes no sense!
    DM: It’s just a trap! Dungeons have them all the time.
    PC 1: I’m not calling the device into question. I’m questioning the payload. An infinite stream of flaming stone balls? How does that work, exactly? Do these people have a matter constructor we’re not aware of?
    PC 3: I’ll bet this was an extravagant culture. Imagine their architects… “Welp, this looks like the perfect place to build that big bin full of flammable boulders to be dropped on adventurers.”
    DM: The flaming balls continue to pour in, rolling towards you and threatening to crush your nitpicking, over-analyzing characters.
    PC 1: No problem, I’ll just roll my saving throw vs. ridiculous contrivances.

  22. Disc says:

    If Mr. Torgue ever wrote a video game, this would probably be the exact result.

  23. KremlinLaptop says:

    Okay as a whip-cracking and making hobbyist the presence of the whip as a weapon in a game, any game, just annoys the balls off of me! Are whips cool? Hell yes, you break the sound-barrier with a simple extension of your own body! Are whips viable as any sort of weapons? …No!

    First of all tying anything to the end of a whip just absolutely destroys the purpose of the whip (the length tapers to the end so the comparatively small slow movement of your hand turns into something that’s breaking the sound-barrier at the end) but this doesn’t really work if you strap some shit to the end to weight it down. Once something gets strapped to the end of a whip? You no longer have a whip, you have a flail built by a dumbass.

    Even if you plaited something comparatively light in towards the end of the whip or attached to the thong like razor blades? It might work (though I just imagine them messing with the way the light end goes through the air resulting in some regular unpredictableness) and more hilariously I imagine it turning very quickly into a self-shortening whip.

    As cool as whips are … they aren’t weapons, sure they hurt like hell and ones made from the right materials can cut you up fiercely but even those are superficial lacerations, their main purpose has always been crowd control. Honestly, 95% of the attempts to incorporate whips like this just end up being painfully bad (the remaining 5% are mostly just Indiana Jones, honestly).

    …This finally got me. An ore-mining refinery tank the size of nine Emma Maersk’s duct taped together rolling through South-American rainforests with 10,000 helicopters buzzing around? That’s fine, but a whip-weapon? Now that is just too ridiculous to let go.

  24. slipshod says:

    Josh, the credits song is perfect. Kudos.

  25. I love how Josh says “we’re now in Star Wars” when the giant metal stomper things on the assembly line thing. (Jedi Academy game I think?)

    The really hilarious part for me though is the second after that when Josh is re-creating the trash compactors scene from Star Wars IV by bracing a rod/stick between the two crushing walls.
    As if they game was nodding to Josh and saying “Yep! Your right!”.

    Also, “skip” button should never ever be the same as any other button,and if that can’t be avoided then a small prompt should appear asking “Skip?” where you must use a different button to confirm you really want to skip.

    I’ve cursed at games that had skip dialog and skip cutscene using the same button, I wasn’t thrilled with that to put it mildly.

  26. bloodsquirrel says:

    Delivering to Elementary schools?

    Amateurs. Here in New Orleans we have drive-through Daiquiri shops.

  27. Starker says:

    “It can’t possibly have an infinite number of one ton spheres of burning rock.”

    Yeah, it’s not like they’re helicopters or something.

  28. John the Savage says:

    Say what you want about the intelligence of this game, but at least it knows the difference between “casualties” and “fatalities”, as shown at 17:08.

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