Ruts vs. Battlespire CH26: The Running Manling

By Rutskarn
on Sep 14, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

59 comments

Across trackless dimensional matrices, through the eye of manifest malice, in the murderous playground of a bloodhungry god, across a hostile plain patrolled by unkillable horrors, through the waterfall, across the unbridged chasm, past an army of daedra, I enter the tower. A dozen eyes burning with blue rage turn to me–and I’ve already popped the boots out of the footlocker and whistled briskly out the tower exit.

I am The Most Disappointing Game.

`Did he just...? Shit. Can somebody help me down?
'Did he just...? Shit. Can somebody help me down?

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Rutskarn is a writer, author, wordsmith, text producer, article deviser, prose architect, and accredited language-talker. If you enjoy his contributions to this site you could always back his Patreon.
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This Dumb Industry: The Sky isn’t Worth Fighting For

By Shamus
on Sep 13, 2016
Filed under:
Column

133 comments

I know that dumping on No Man’s Sky was all the rage a few weeks ago, and the only thing worse than showing up for a pointless dogpile is showing up late for a pointless dogpile. So I want to make it clear that nothing I’m saying here should be taken as a personal attack and I don’t have anything against the developers. Hello Games made a game that was hotly anticipated by their fans and then ended up disappointing a lot of them after release. I can’t hate them for that. I did the same thing earlier this year.

In fact, I’m hoping they made enough on this game that they can give it another try. I really do think that they have something special here. Imagine if the first iteration of Minecraft had been really awkward, frustrating, had a terrible building interface, and was constantly limiting and undermining your creative abilities because the developer thought the game should be focused on combat. I wouldn’t want the idea of a cube world to die on the vine. I’d want it to get another chance to become the creative, engaging, meme-spawning classic that was embraced as a hobby by millions worldwide.

So I think there’s some value in picking apart the mechanics of No Man’s Sky and understanding why they don’t work. Lots of people (including me) have said that the space combat in this game sucks, but I think it might be more useful to dig into the details of why it sucks. Space combat isn’t just the victim of a couple of unfortunate design choices. It’s a chain of conflicting goals and bad decisions that comes up with new ways to annoy you as you play.

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Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
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Diecast #167: Mystic Messenger, Star Citizen, PS4 Pro

By Shamus
on Sep 12, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

104 comments

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

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

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Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
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Shamus Plays WoW #2: Toiling in the Kobold Mines

By Shamus
on Sep 11, 2016
Filed under:
WoW

9 comments

So I’ve been summoned by Norman the Warlock. I’m obliged to serve him until he releases me or dies. Having your own demon is a big responsibility. Most people use a demon for sensible things like slaying their enemies, hording riches, learning forbidden secrets of the universe, enslaving the weak, and impressing people they want to have sex with. That kind of thing. But Norman has decided to use his demon to help other people.

The goof!

Come on, that staff isn`t even PRETENDING to be stuck to my back with medieval Velcro.

Come on, that staff isn`t even PRETENDING to be stuck to my back with medieval Velcro.

We’re working for Marshal McBride, head of the local militia. We just killed eight Kobolds for him and then he asked us to kill eight Kobolds for him. No, I didn’t say those in the wrong order. He asked us to do it again after we did it the first time.

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Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
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Rutskarn’s GMinars CH7: The Gamesbow 5-7

By Rutskarn
on Sep 10, 2016
Filed under:
Tabletop Games

25 comments

The theme this week is Success and Failure. These three games have mechanics for determining whether a player succeeds or fails, but unlike a traditional RPG, the mechanic isn’t used to fairly or accurately simulate any kind of action. It’s designed instead to accomplish the unique goals of the game–to introduce competition, hard choices, or tension into the game.

Interestingly, all of these games restrict their resolution mechanics to the players. In each case, the GM doesn’t have to try to hurt or kill a character–the GM introduces something that will hurt or kill a character unless the character’s actions prevent it. This delineates roles pretty clearly between GM and player: the GM’s job is to come up with problems. The player’s job is to come up with solutions. The GM’s rules help them tell whatever story they want, and the player’s rules help them tell a story specific to their character.

5.) Great Ork Gods (Introduced 2004)

Great Ork Gods is a bloodsoaked horse race between orkish warriors. Players play orks who are good at some things and bad at others, and partially their success or failure is based on those skills. But there’s more to it than that; in this game, screwing your friends over is baked into every level of the mechanics.

At the beginning of the game each player picks an Ork God from a selection on the table. Each Hod has a very particular sphere of influence–stealth, technology, killing, not dying, etc. Now, this God is emphatically not the player’s character. The player doesn’t roleplay the god in any meaningful sense. They’re all playing an ork more accurately, they’re playing a rotating selection of orks as each is burned, bashed, and broken under the wheels of treachery. Because whenever an ork tries to do something–sneak, operate a catapult, not die, etc–it’s the player with the relevant Ork God who decides how hard it will be.

In most games, without some clever balancing mechanic, this would overwhelmingly tip things towards player success. But Great Ork Gods doesn’t risk that. It actually has to incentivize being lenient by awarding resources for doing so, because the game is structured–loose scorekeeping and all–as an outright contest between the orks involved. The game tends to have a pleasingly chaotic Mario Kart structure where characters are given easier difficulties to get ahead early on, harder difficulties once they approach the middle of the pack, and uniformly hard difficulties–plus extra bogeys in the form of something called Hate Points–once they’re the clear leader.

From a modern perspective, it’s interesting how GOG very nearly–but doesn’t quite–phase out the GM. As written, the GM’s job is to be the one jogging the players along. You throw in threats, you narrate goofy consequences, you award points–you’re the ringmaster, but you’re not really needed. You can clearly envision a version of this game where all of these responsibilities are spread out among the players. Now that games with no Game Masters are much more common, one wonders what GOG would be like if it were designed today.

6.) Apocalypse World (Introduced 2010)

Apocalypse World and its Powered by the Apocalypse derivations are something I’m particularly fascinated with. It’s a very rare bird, a story game explicitly built for campaign play–playing AW for only one session is fun, but it feels like a waste, something the designers clearly intended.

Games built for campaign play have traditionally sought greater mechanical depth–they know a lot of things can and will happen in a campaign, so they take the natural and traditional step, which is attempt to make rules that accurately and fairly govern as many of those things as possible. A DM with mastery of the Dungeons and Dragons 3E core rulebooks can authoritatively resolve busking, crafting magical items, wrestling four-legged creatures, shooting from horseback, and breaking through a stone door with a hammer, all without the slightest improvisation or ad hoc messiness–if players feel something is too difficult or too easy, the DM can calmly point to the rule that ensures it is so. Er…once they find it.

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Rutskarn is a writer, author, wordsmith, text producer, article deviser, prose architect, and accredited language-talker. If you enjoy his contributions to this site you could always back his Patreon.
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Fallout 4 EP39: Candy Inhaler

By Shamus
on Sep 9, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

109 comments


Link (YouTube)

A few comments on the glitches in this episode:

  • Where DID that wild mongrel come from? I’ve seen a lot of glitches in this game and I’ve done this quest many times, but I’ve never seen anything like that. Wild mongrels are not present in any part of this building. You could say it came from outside, but it clearly came from the dead-end nook holding the computer terminal.

  • At 2:00, There’s some sort of animation freak-out on nick, while at the same time it seems like the two companions are fighting over the dialog wheel.
  • At 7:45, Josh uses VATS to attack a synth. The attack seems to miss, but then we see it actually connected with a different synth that was on the ground. That’s a double fault. VATS hit the wrong foe, and it let us hit someone that wasn’t in view and wasn’t anywhere near the attack. More importantly, I’ve never seen anything like that before.
  • The various pathing problems show that this area can barely support a single companion, and having two is just inviting chaos.
  • What’s with Nick and Deacon not setting off mines and tripwires? Is that part of a recent patch? I know Deacon has trolled me in the past by blundering into security systems that I was immune to.
  • What’s with Deacon not changing outfits? He does this CONSTANTLY in my game.
  • What’s with the car that blows up without dealing any damage? Twice.

In conclusion, I think this game might be a little buggy.


Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
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Fallout 4 EP38: Slavery is Wrong?

By Shamus
on Sep 8, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

113 comments


Link (YouTube)

My favorite thing about Deacon is his magical costume change that happens when you look away from him. It’s a fun bit of nonsense and helps dispel the malaise of self-serious middle-school level drama that infects the rest of the story. So OF COURSE the game bugs out and doesn’t show the costume changes during our playthrough.

When I first played this game I saw it as the work of a single idiot, but based on what people have said in the comments, I’m coming around to the idea that this game was written by a dozen different people who had no communication or coordination between them, which is why the only time the game bothers to explain something is when it goes out of its way to contradict itself. The game keeps bringing up topics and then dropping them before anything interesting is said. It’s not that the writer is stupid, it’s that “the writer” is a group of people all going in different directions.

As someone who loves stories about machine intelligence, this is maddening. It’s like being hungry and going to a restaurant where you’re constantly smelling food. Everyone you meet promises that you’re about to be given food, and other people talk like you’ve already been given food. But there is NEVER any food and after a few hours you realize that nobody ever had any intention of feeding you.


Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
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Final Fantasy X Part 12: Bikanel Island

By Shamus
on Sep 8, 2016
Filed under:
FFX

94 comments

The Guado catch up with Yuna and her friends at Lake Macalania and give us another boss fight. It’s the same lake where we fought the Al Bhed tank earlier. How many earth-shaking boss fights can one frozen lake withstand?

(Spoiler: One.)

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Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
2020202014There are now 94 comments. Almost a hundred!



Fallout 4 EP37: Be My Valentine

By Shamus
on Sep 7, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

133 comments


Link (YouTube)

Today’s lack of accompanying text commentary is brought to you by the fine people at Josh Uploaded The Episode Late.

Please talk among yourselves. I’m sure you can find something to say about this part of the game.


Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
A Hundred!2013There are 133 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Ruts vs. Battlespire CH25: Things to Do Before You Die

By Rutskarn
on Sep 6, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

34 comments

For your next weekend getaway, consider the Chimera of Desolation.

From its charming villas, kept exclusive by a thoughtful plague infestation, to the cozy view distance maintained by a romantic fog, the Chimera of Desolation can be described with one word: exclusive. Get ready for star treatment, because no matter where you roam helpful attendants will be there to personally murder you.

There’s too much in the Chimera to experience in one lifetime–trust us, we’ve tried!–so you better start planning your vacation now. Let’s count down our Top Things to Do While You’re Briefly Surviving Level 5.

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Rutskarn is a writer, author, wordsmith, text producer, article deviser, prose architect, and accredited language-talker. If you enjoy his contributions to this site you could always back his Patreon.
201434 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



This Dumb Industry: 10 Things to do in No Man’s Sky

By Shamus
on Sep 6, 2016
Filed under:
Column

138 comments

“There’s nothing to DO in this game!”

People have been saying this a lot about No Man’s Sky. Aside from discussions about the numerical significance of the game’s 18 OMGillion planets, it’s probably the most common comment about the game. I don’t actually want to argue with these people. If you’ve played the game and don’t feel at all compelled to engage with any of the game’s systems, then the game has failed you. That sucks and I’m sorry you’re out sixty American dollars, but that’s not something I can help you with in the space of this column.

Having said that, it does seem like this idea of “There’s nothing to do!” is spreading to people who haven’t played the game. It’s being said often enough that I’m worried people will start to think it’s literally true, that this is nothing more than a game where you walk around and stare at scenery until you get bored. The sad thing is, I think if that were true the game might actually be more fun. The problem isn’t that there’s “nothing” to do, it’s that there are several sets of mechanics to engage with, and none of them really work on their own and their shortcomings often compound one other.

So in the interest of painting a more accurate picture of things for the uninitiated, here are 10 things you can do in No Man’s Sky:

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Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
A Hundred!2018There are 138 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Diecast #166: Turing Test, Obduction, Epistory

By Shamus
on Sep 5, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

116 comments

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

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

Show notes: Continue reading »


Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.
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