Until Dawn EP8: Clowning Around

By Shamus
on Nov 24, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

42 comments


Link (YouTube)

So Jess gets pulled out through the window. I can’t wait to find out the killer is a six and a half foot tall bodybuilder that can bash through this window and dead-lift an uncooperative and physically fit subject through the ragged opening without slicing his own arms to shreds. I guess he’s also psychic, since he knew she was going to stop just inside the door to make this move possible.

Yeah, yeah. People keep telling me “it’s all explained later”. Okay fine. The problem is that the story hasn’t given me any reason to believe that any of this is possible. I’ve basically stopped believing in the world at this point.

I think our format is working against me here. I’m watching all of the episodes twice: Once when we record and again when we post. But it’s a week between new episodes for me. This is a lot of scrutiny on a story that’s probably not designed for it, and it’s taking a long time to reach the justifications. Objections that might normally be after-the-fact bits of fridge logic end up nagging me during the experience.


2020242 comments. (Insert played-out "meaning of life, the universe and everything" joke here.)



Crash Dot Com Part 3: The Meeting

By Shamus
on Nov 24, 2016
Filed under:
Personal

117 comments

The year is 1999, and my company has just been hired by some sexy new dot-com venture.

The Meeting

Our conference room had large windows like this. But they faced reception, not outside. Sadface.

Our conference room had large windows like this. But they faced reception, not outside. Sadface.

I’m sitting in our conference room, fidgeting nervously. I’ve already forgotten everyone’s name and the complex relationship of businesses at work here. All I know is that the papers have been signed and fabulous sums of money have changed hands. These guys weren’t happy with being just clients, so there was some sort of exchange of stock that happenedI got some. At this point in our story I’ve got a bunch of stock options that, if I could actually use them, would make me a very rich man. Spoiler: I’m not going to get to use them before the crash.. I don’t understand the new power structure looming over my head at this point. We’re still the same company in the same office doing the same stuff, but now we’re publicly traded and some of the controlling power has been distributed to the new people in the room.

I’ve been ignoring the business drama for the past year. It bores me. As long as I get to push my polygons and cash my paycheck then I’m more than happy to trust my bosses to worry about all that bullshit for me.

In any case, at this point we are committed to a new project. This project is larger than anything we’ve taken on before. This meeting is where I’ll find out what we’ve just committed to and work out how we’re going to make it happen.

Hi, it’s me from 2016 jumping in to explain that I’ve left things vague and changed some of the details of this story to protect the innocent, the guilty, and (most of all) the litigious. Also note that it’s been almost two decades. This is the meeting as I can best render it, but it was long and I’ve forgotten many of the specifics.

Anyway, back to me-from-1999…

Continue reading »


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Until Dawn EP7: Get Probed

By Shamus
on Nov 23, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

60 comments


Link (YouTube)

It’s really bugging me that we haven’t yet settled on what genre our psycho killer belongs to. Is this a vengeful spirit? A particularly motivated and resourceful crazy person (or persons) like in Scream? A supernaturally strong (and possibly mortal-ish) killer like Jason? In some scenes we’ve got people wearing masks but in other scenes we’ve got supernatural stuff (like the girl that Rutskarn pointed out) and I have no idea where the story is going.

Note that I’m not asking you to tell me in the comments. I’m saying at this point in the story I’d like to know what sorts of disbelief I should start suspending.

In general I find ghosts, spooks, and monsters much more interesting for these kinds of stories. Enabling a mortal to pick off a large group like this usually forces the writer to cheat their ass off and make the baddie omniscient, insanely lucky, and hyper-capable. The longer the spree goes on the less I can believe in the story. Meanwhile, ghosts and monsters can do whatever the author says they can do. They don’t need to spend six consecutive hours crouching in a crawlspace while their rubber mask fills with sweat, waiting for the exact moment when the right person enters the room without turning on the light so they can be properly jump-scared.

EDIT: And yes I realize this is totally the wrong mindset for this genre. Sorry. I literally can’t help thinking about this stuff when examining a story. It’s completely involuntary, and probably explains why I enjoy Japanese horror but have such a hard time liking American stuff.


20202060 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



Master of Firin’ Sword CH2: Pole to Pole

By Rutskarn
on Nov 22, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

23 comments

I did say that heroes come from humble origins. Well, my humility will be the stuff of mythThose bandit left me with nothing but ten thaler, my clothes, my Erik, and my Fanny. And I know what you’re thinking. Rutger, wouldn’t a hero have murdered those poor bandits? Wasn’t it cowardly to spare their lives?

Prudence, my friend, is what separates captains from flotsam. If I had shot them all there would be a chance–however slim–that they would have shot back.

No–this was the correct choice to ensure I survive to be commemorated. This is how a legend begins: by surrendering to bandits. Then, running away.

You will tell no one.

After some happy hours trekking across the unmilled Polish countryside, I am delighted to find A Town. I believe it has a name. More directly relevant to my personal fortune, it has a Warlord.

Jan is a busy man, and cannot be expected to extort EVERYONE.
Jan is a busy man, and cannot be expected to extort EVERYONE.

Continue reading »


20323 comments. Highly cototient!



This Dumb Industry: What is Vulkan?

By Shamus
on Nov 22, 2016
Filed under:
Column

92 comments

People have been asking me about Vulkan. Maybe you’ve seen it in the gaming news: Vulkan is coming! Vulkan is the next big thing! Developers are excited about Vulkan! Being a naturally curious gamer, you want to know what this new thing is and what it means. So you look it up, and you find something to the effect of:

Vulkan is a graphics and compute API from Kronos Group that provides high-efficiency, cross-platform access to modern GPU.

It’s a definition that explains one thing you don’t know in terms of half a dozen other words you don’t know. All you know is that it has something to do with graphics, and figuring out what this is and why it’s happening is starting to look like more trouble than it’s worth.

Sorry about that. We programmers are really bad at explaining things. We over-use jargon and are generally bad at adjusting explanations for non-technical people. But you’re in luck. While all the other programmers are min-maxers who dumped their skill points into logic and mathematics or whatever, I actually snuck a few points into communication skills. So I think I can untangle this for you.

But we are going to need just a little bit of jargon. Going back to that original definition of Vulkan, there’s at least one mystery term we need to sort out. That’s this one:

Continue reading »


2020202012There are now 92 comments. Almost a hundred!



Diecast #177: Gaming News Hot Takes

By Shamus
on Nov 21, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

94 comments

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

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster, Jin. Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes: Continue reading »


2020202014There are now 94 comments. Almost a hundred!



Shamus Plays WoW#10: Murloc Madness

By Shamus
on Nov 20, 2016
Filed under:
WoW

13 comments

“So Marshal Dughan sent us to the other side of the forest to investigate this Murloc business,” I ask. I do this because sometimes I stop paying attention when master is doing something really, really stupid.

“Yes. He said the reports of Murlocs are ‘sketchy’.”

“Even though he could walk around back of the building where he’s standing and see Murlocs?”

“Yes. But remember, we’re talking about the other side of the forest, here. He won’t send troops until he can be sure.”

We reach the edge of the the forest and find Guard Thomas stationed at one end of a wooden bridge. Norman explains the deal.

“Yes,” Guard Thomas tells us, “Murlocs have settled around the streams of the forest.”

We`re FINALLY moving away from the farmlands around Goldshire. At this point a typical player is about level 10.

We`re FINALLY moving away from the farmlands around Goldshire. At this point a typical player is about level 10.

“Okay,” says Norman, “Just write that down and I can take it back to Marshal Dughan, and he can send you some troops.”

“Well, see…” Guard Thomas wavers.

Continue reading »


1313 comments. That's a baker's dozen.



Until Dawn EP6: Bath Time

By Shamus
on Nov 18, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

95 comments


Link (YouTube)

Here is the story about freezing pipes I promised in this episode.

Chris takes a moment to hate on the show Heroes. I agree. That show was terrible and frustrating. It had all of these interesting ideas, but they were buried under awful ideas, then undermined by inconsistent characters, before being ruined by directionless writing. The first season of the show had no idea what it wanted to be about or where any of the plot threads were going. It took me a long time to realize the writers had no plan. They would introduce an idea, toy with it, then wander off and do something else. I kept waiting for all those ideas to come together. I couldn’t believe the show was as random and scattershot as it seemed, which is why I hung around so long.

Despite the title, there weren’t any “Heroes” in the show. Nobody dedicated themselves to helping people. They just fought each other. Or rather, they spent 99% of an episode talking about fighting each other, and then there would be some embarrassing special effects as the fight began, and then we’d cut away and return once the fight was over, because if there was one thing this superhero show hated more than a coherent plot, it was excitement. You’ll see more action watching old Perry Mason reruns.

I think a big part of the problem is that I was really hungry for superhero stories. The Spider-Man series had just been run into the ground. Same goes for the X-Men movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was still a year or so away. If I’d realized we were on the threshold of a new age of brilliant cinematic superhero adaptations, I never would have bothered with this cheap, sad, dull, incoherent, idiotic band of no-name non-heroic mopes.

I guess the Japanese guy who could travel through time was pretty cool sometimes.


2020202015There are now 95 comments. Almost a hundred!



Until Dawn EP5: Corndogs?

By Shamus
on Nov 17, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

50 comments


Link (YouTube)

There’s a jumpscare right around the 14:30 mark here, and it doesn’t make any sense. It’s a jumpscare for the audience and not the characters, which is a problem I’d just been complaining about a few seconds earlier. Mike is looking through the binoculars and a face appears. For one thing, the face is very close. Since the characters are standing on top of a steep slope / small cliff, I have no idea how anyone could stand that particular distance in front of the binoculars without hovering above the ground. More importantly, Mike gives no reaction whatsoever. Either Mike is in on this murder (in the style of Scream) or the storyteller is engaging in flagrant shenanigans.

Josh suggested that maybe it was Jessica jumping in front of the binoculars for a second, but if you freeze the frame you get:

Continue reading »


20201050 comments. It's getting crowded in here.



Crash Dot Com Part 2: The Art Coder

By Shamus
on Nov 17, 2016
Filed under:
Personal

56 comments

It’s now 1999, and I have an odd job. Our product is a multi-user social environment. In four years, Second Life will show up and make a more successful version of this idea, but for right now we’re doing pretty good. Sometimes clients come along and ask us to build custom environments for them. A lot of these projects land on my desk.

I’m technically an “artist” in the sense that a lot of my job involves creating models and textures. But I’m more an engineer in terms of inclination and skill set. I don’t have a solid grip on aesthetics and I really envy my fellow artists who can nail a particular architectural style like “Gothic”, “modern”, “whimsical”, or whatever. I don’t have the flair for that sort of work. When I need to make something, I have a very literalist, brute-force approach to designing stuff. If someone sends me sketches or reference photos for what they want, I’m likely to just build exactly what I’m shown, while the real artists on the team are able to get the “vibe” the client is going for.

In any case, I see myself as a bridge between artists and engineers. I make tools to help automate some of the drudgery work of the art pipeline and sometimes I come up with solutions to time-consuming problems.

Continue reading »


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Until Dawn EP4: Guest Starring Wolverine

By Shamus
on Nov 16, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

84 comments


Link (YouTube)

So let’s talk about this wolverine. Apparently the wolverine went into the house and lived there without tearing up the furniture, knocking stuff over, or leaving droppings all over the place. Then it went to the bathroom where there is no food or water or anything else that might be of use to a small mammal without opposable thumbs. And then it somehow closed the door behind him. Then it went into the space under the sink, and also closed that door.

What I’m saying is that this wolverine is still smarter than every last one of these teenagers.


202020204There are now 84 comments. Almost a hundred!



Master of Firin’ Sword CH1: The Art of Powerdice

By Rutskarn
on Nov 16, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

77 comments

In Mount and Blade, you play an upwardly mobile and clinically indestructible side of medieval beefsteak. It’s a power trip of a game; through determination and self-actualization alone, you swizzle armies around you like cotton candy and personally slay the population of a modest kingdom. If you desire it, and play for long enough, it is an absolute guarantee that you can become the king of the world. Obviously, it was only a matter of time before someone adapted this franchise around celebrated works of Polish-language historical literature. Enter Mount and Blade: With Fire and Sword.

Very little has mechanically changed, but these changes have insidious effects on the greater experience. For example, there’s bullets. There’s rows of guys firing bullets. There’s rows of guys on horsebacks firing bullets at you. And the important thing, the crucial thing, is that you can’t duel the bullets.

Fans of the franchise who were used to exterminating entire castles of pseudovikings with nothing more than a caffeinated blocking reflex and a good fast battleaxe were quickly discovering just what 17th century Poland thinks of heroes. And many of them, it must be said, questioned the appeal of a mass combat game where you often die immediately and unavoidably. From a strategic viewpoint, it’s not unlike playing regular Mount and Blade during a thunderstorm.

Or so they think! Join me now as I relate to you my secret to success as an Eastern European warrior-poet: a terrible fear of being shot.

It`s not obvious, but all of these settings are at their most punishingly difficult extremes.
It's not obvious, but all of these settings are at their most punishingly difficult extremes.

Continue reading »


2020201777 comments. (Seventy-seven is the smallest positive integer requiring five syllables in English!)




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