Diecast #100: Alignment, Batman v. Superman, Star Wars, Mortal Kombat

Diecast   By Shamus   Apr 23, 2015   162 comments

Here are the show notes for part two of of this ordeal / episode.

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Will Fight for Food: Super Actual Sellout: Game of the Hour

Links   By Shamus   Apr 23, 2015   37 comments

You know that moment in Mass Effect / Skyrim / Fallout / Deus Ex / The Witcher / Dragon Age / Assassins Creed / Grand Theft Auto where you’re doing a sidequest for that man / woman / kid / alien / robot and you suddenly realize, “This person is an asshole. I don’t want to do this quest for them. Actually, what I’d really like to do is bash their face in, but the game doesn’t offer me that choice!” That moment? Yeah. We’ve all been there.

May I suggest you try this game:


Link (YouTube)

Will Fight For Food: Super Actual Sellout: Game of the Hour, is from Pyrodactyl games, the folks who are working on my videogame. Don’t think of this post as a conflict of interest, think of it as a brazen and unapologetic plug for people with whom I am in cahoots.

In case the trailer doesn’t make it completely clear, the story and dialog are by Rutskarn. In the game you play as Jared Casey Dent, a wrestler in a down-and-out bloodstained middle American town. He lost his own tournament in disgrace and vanished into the night. Now he’s back, and he’s going to set his life straight by sidequesting for random strangers.

The game launched all official-like yesterday, so now the team is 100% committed to working on Good Robot and getting paid for Will Fight For Food. But probably not in that order. People who are against videogame violence are encouraged to get WFF and then refuse to play it in protest. People who love videogame violence are encouraged to buy the game and then play through it using only dialog, as a sort of remedial corrective therapy for their violent tendencies. You psychos.

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Diecast #100: Elder Scrolls Online, Bloodborne, Life is Strange

Diecast   By Shamus   Apr 22, 2015   89 comments

For our one hundredth episode, we’ve recorded an extra-long Diecast. Here we have three solid hours of whining, arguing, cross-talk, confusion, stupidity, and also the occasional mention of videogames.

For the purpose of the comments, I’m breaking the show notes into three posts. Below are the show notes for the first hour. You’re free to discuss any part of the show you like, but my hope is that we can discuss hour #1 today, and then cover the next two hours on Thursday and Friday.

Direct link to this episode.

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

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris, Rutskarn, Mumbles.

Show notes: Continue reading »


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What The Heck is a Fractal and How Does It Apply to Games?

Escapist   By Shamus   Apr 21, 2015   103 comments

This week I’m changing things up. Instead of complaining about pontificating on the state of AAA games, I’m doing a faux-educational bit on fractals and programming. This will be pretty remedial if you already know about fractals, but some people don’t and I’m hoping they’ll find it interesting.

Let’s talk about the Mandelbrot set:

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The Creativity Cycle, Part 2

Personal   By Shamus   Apr 19, 2015   95 comments

Last week I talked about my rollercoaster-style creativity cycle. Some people said I sounded pretty abnormal. Others said my behavior sounded pretty familiar. It was an interesting discussion on what makes some people tick. (And sometimes why they stop ticking.) But there’s a bit of family history that I left out of that discussion on purpose.

My grandparents on my mother’s side were Virginia and John. I’ve posted a picture of them before:

Taken in 1949. On the left is Polly, the youngest. I got to see this past Christmas. She is the only one left. Alas.

Virginia is the short woman on the right, in the white shirt. John is to the left. Both of them were stable people with no mental peculiarities as far as anyone knows. They were teens in the great depression and had their kids during or just after world War II.

They had three children: Bruce, Sharon, and Larry. All three of these kids had some sort of mental, uh… irregularities? All of them exhibited signs of what is generally called bipolar disorder and all of them had discernible psychotic episodes. Nothing tragic, thankfully. They all had basically healthy families and held down jobs, but all of them experienced periods where either their reasoning or emotions were completely out of touch with reality. (From delusions in some, to paranoia in others.) These episodes were rare: I think my mom had perhaps four in her entire life. Larry had two that I know of. Bruce lived far from the rest of the family and spent a lot of his years alone, so nobody is really sure about him. (And he’s gone now, so we can’t ask him.)

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Hitman Absolution EP15: Fists of Judgement

Spoiler Warning   By Shamus   Apr 17, 2015   95 comments


Link (YouTube)

What should our Hitman game be about? Hitman against a billionaire industrialist? Hitman rescues a young girl who is also a science experiment? Hitman enters into a plot with Diana to betray the agency in order to restore it? Hitman is outsmarted by an intelligence agent pulling strings behind the scenes? Hitman plays cat & mouse with a detective? Why choose? Let’s just throw all those ideas into a blender and call it a story!

Birdie is amazing at gathering intelligence. Even when he’s stuck in a parking lot in South Dakota he apparently knows what the agency is doing, what the Hitman is doing, what Dexter is doing, and what a random cop in Chicago is doing. And also he can somehow get untraceable handwritten notes to all of them. Too bad he doesn’t seem to have a goal. Like, how does telling Cosmo about Blackwater Park advance his goals? If he’s an information broker, then why is he giving all his information away for free?

Also, for those of you following the “list of stuff the developers don’t understand” in the comments: I think the list will get a lot longer after this one.


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Honey Lemon and Aunt Cass

Personal   By Shamus   Apr 17, 2015   25 comments

My wife and second daughter Esther are headed to Tekko today. As a sort of last-minute thing, they decided to cosplay as Honey Lemon and aunt Cass from Big Hero 6. They have a habit of only cosplaying as stuff that won’t be a pain in the ass to wear.

Heather is holding a fake donut, a reference to the aunt Cass joke about stress-eating.

I have decided to cosplay as Sir Not Appearing In This Film by staying home. I love how the costumes turned out, so I thought I’d share.

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Hitman Absolution EP14: Please Love me!

Spoiler Warning   By Shamus   Apr 16, 2015   94 comments


Link (YouTube)

So on the outside we have a heavy-duty mining / industrial area. Then we go down a couple of elevators to reach an office-style research center with no offices or places for people to work. Then there’s a testing arena where they test landmines by blowing up pigs in an enclosed chamber. Then we have to descend a massive silo where people are doing biotech research. (How far underground are we by now?) Then we go down yet another elevator to the chamber where Victoria was being held. Then we go up a ladder to a wrestleman show.

Does this audience go through the research silo to get to the show? No? How did they get Victoria out of this lab without going past us? Did they drag her out through the arena? Isn’t this mine / office / lab in the middle of the desert? Is it next to a public place? How did the Patriot’s RV get into the area where he’s training?

The problem here is that it makes no damn sense to chain these environments together like this. In a world designed by a non-lunatic, each zone would be an isolated mission. However, then there would be no reason to visit the mine or the wrestleman show, since the only reason we visit those places is to get in and out of the lab.

A detail I didn’t notice until now: The Patriot RV is parked outside the hotel, meaning 47 must have crossed BACK through the arena to steal it?

Still, Mumbles is right. This part feels a little funny and self-aware. If they could have grasped that tone and ran with it they might have wound up with something that was fun and funny. It would probably still be offensive to long-time Hitman fans, but at least it would be able to stand on its own merits.


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Hitman Absolution EP13: Craperture Science

Spoiler Warning   By Shamus   Apr 15, 2015   106 comments


Link (YouTube)

We’ve been doing this for five years, and covered over sixteen videogames. In all that time, the same pattern holds true: We get more and more negative as a particular game drags on. If we start out loving a game, we’ll come to recognize its flaws. If we start out ambivilent about a game, we’ll grow to resent it. And if we start out disliking a game, we’ll loathe it by the end.

But Hitman: Absolution seems to break with that tradition. We started out really negative, but now I guess we’re more amused than outraged. The game really is awful, but it’s awful in such interesting and varied ways that after a while I run out of anger and just want to stop and watch the train wreck unfold.

The bit with jumping out of the birthday cake was a fun idea. But it was patronizingly easy to pull off, requiring no more planning than choking a single woman in an empty room. And since it’s not part of the core game, there’s no reason to do it. And it’s stuck in a silly postage-stamp level that serves no other purpose and is part of a sprawling installation that makes no damn sense.

I’d love a postmortem on this game. What on earth were they thinking?


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Experienced Points: 5 Things To Do If You Use Cutscenes in Your Video Game

Escapist   By Shamus   Apr 14, 2015   132 comments

My column this week is a list of ways in which games are failing in their attempts to be movies. Last week sort of descended into an argument over whether games should be trying to tell a fixed narrative at all, so this time I thought I sidestep that by coming at it from a different angle: If you’re going to make a game-movie, then you at least need to get the movie parts right.

Some people have mistaken my story-nitpicking for a position that story is paramount. That’s not really the case. I just strongly believe that whatever story we do get should be serviceable. This is actually kind of challenging for a lot of reasons. You just can’t get away with things in a ten hour game the way you can in an hour and a half. Movies are usually consumed in a single sitting. But if a story-driven game can be consumed in a single session it’s considered a huge failure, or at least a bad valueAssuming we’re talking about full-price AAA games, here.. Games are consumed over the course of days, with long breaks between sessions. That gives the audience a lot of time to think about, replay, and discuss the plot. Details that might be glossed over in a movie will become major sticking points in a game.

Worse, we’re a little more picky about character actions when we’re the ones driving. If Commander Shepard works with Cerberus in a movie, I might argue that it’s out of character or dumb, but it’s not nearly as infuriating as being forced to push the buttons to work with Cerberus even though I can see it’s clearly a stupid idea. It’s the difference between seeing someone else fall for a prank, and being the unwilling victim of an obvious prank that I saw coming a mile away.

But game developers seem to be going out of their way to give us the worst of both worlds. They insist on ramming movie-like structures down our throats, but then they slap the story together all half-assed like it doesn’t matter.

Further note: I think it’s time for another mailbag column, so if you have a question for the column then askshamus@gmail.com.

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Diecast #99: Deus Ex, ESA, Lawful Goodness

Diecast   By Shamus   Apr 13, 2015   313 comments

For the last three weeks I’ve said, “We have a lot of mailbag questions, we really should answer these.” And then Josh takes up all the mailbag time talking about Bloodborne and Destiny. At least, this is how I’ve chosen to remember things. But next week we’re going to try to answer as many as we can, so now is a good time to send in your questions. The email is in the header image.

Direct link to this episode.

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

Hosts: Shamus, Chris, Mumbles, Josh.

Show notes:

Continue reading »


A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!13313 comments? What, did somebody start a flame war or something?




The Creativity Cycle

Personal   By Shamus   Apr 12, 2015   75 comments

A few days ago I said this on Twitter:

When I’m feeling very creative, I generally exhibit a well-defined set of behaviors:

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