Last Of Us EP1: At The Movies

 By Shamus Sep 17, 2014 112 comments

Link (YouTube)

I’m always saying that games shouldn’t be so concerned about trying to be movies. A good game should tell its story in the flow of gameplay, and anytime the player can put down the controller and continue to proceed should be looked at as a possible failure of the game to do its jobThe are exceptions. TECHNICALLY you can put the controller down when Sam Fisher is hiding from The Bad Guys, but that's not the same thing.. And no, throwing gotcha quicktime events over a cutscene doesn’t solve this problem, it makes it worse. Now I’m playing a really terrible videogame that’s distracting me from the [marginally] more interesting movie. Gameplay ought to have some degree of human decision-making in it, and “Press X to Not Die” isn’t that. I mean, when you’re watching a movie you’re choosing NOT to pause it, but that doesn’t make it a game.


If you are going to use a game as a delivery vehicle for a movie, then this is how you need to do it: You need to make a proper movie. I am irritated to the point of intolerance with games that interrupt our playtime for movies that are bad, poorly-paced, cliche-ridden, ham-fisted, utterly predictable, filled with glaring plot holes, tonally confused, boringly shot, and completely tediousThe Resident Evil series comes to mind. And Fallout 3. And Assassin's Creed 2. And Dead Island. And Thief 2014. And Watch_Dogs. And Far Cry 3. And Mass Effect 3. And... now that I think of it, this list might be too long for a footnote.. The reflexive defense is, “It’s just a game, you’re not supposed to worry about the story!” Which is kind of my point: If the story doesn’t matter, then why are you wasting my time with it? Why did you waste money making this crappy thing that you didn’t want to make and I don’t want to watch?

Spoiler: I don’t think The Last of Us is that great of a movie. It’s leagues ahead of most videogame stories. It’s got solid cinematography, great environments, expressive models, and a decent story to tell. But if this was in the theaters it wouldn’t be a blockbuster or anything. It would be something like World War Z (the movie) or Daybreakers: Competently executed and entertaining, but otherwise unremarkable disposable entertainment.

Like Chris said: Last of Us is the best possible version of a fundamentally flawed design.

Also, BioWare: Watch this to understand everything you did wrong with your “some kid died” moveSpoiler: Everything. You did everything wrong..

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Destiny Stream

 By Shamus Sep 16, 2014 61 comments

Since Twitch has decided that having deep archives is bad, (Spoiler: They are wrong.) we’re uploading our stream to YouTube. So now it is preserved forever:

Link (YouTube)

We played Destiny for the first couple of hours, then played Counter Spy for the last hour.

Josh said we’ll be doing this from now on, but I dunno. This was a hassle. It wasn’t a lot of work, but it was excruciatingly time consuming. Recording, editingI don't mean proper editing, like removing boring parts. Heck no. We left all that crap in. Have fun sitting through the parts where we have nothing to say. No, I'm talking about basic stuff like balancing and syncing audio., encoding, and uploading three hours of video is a huge undertaking. I think Josh’s computer was working on it for over twelve hours.

202020161 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

Experienced Points: Just How Good Is The Oculus Rift?

 By Shamus Sep 16, 2014 81 comments

My column this week is a collection of observations and explanations, aimed at people who are still wondering what the fuss is about.

Here are a few more observations that are a little more technical:

Continue reading »

202020201There are now 81 comments. Almost a hundred!

A Fight With My Computer

 By Shamus Sep 15, 2014 88 comments

I take Saturday off from writing and other creative work so I can play games and spend time with family. So Sunday is an important day for me. I need to write my Escapist columnI could write it sooner, but I've been burned too many times with news stories that changed over the weekend., edit the Diecast for Monday, and (ideally) also write a post for Sunday. So naturally Sunday is when Everything Always Goes Wrong.

I just needed to write. To write, I wanted my music. But my speakers weren’t working. Like, Windows audio mixer claimed they were. You could see the little bars jumping up and down as the audio played. The drivers were working. There didn’t seem to be any software problems. So, unplugged cable, right? I mean, I’d just untangled my computer from the Oculus Rift Octopus (Ocupus?) so I could have my second monitor back. Obviously I must have jostled a cable loose somewhere.


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202020208Great Scott! 88 comments! If only this post was a DeLorean.


 By Shamus Sep 14, 2014 88 comments

Rutskarn is doing a Patreon. Here is his pitch:

Link (YouTube)

You know those lists where people tell you little factoids like, “George Clooney played a bit part on a sitcom before he hit it big.” I imagine someday people will say something like, “Adam DeCamp was on a Let’s Play with some other people before he became a famous writer.” I’m not just saying this because he’s my friend. I’ve been hanging out with this kid since he was actually a kid, and his ability to extemporaneously spout genuinely humorous fiction is like nothing I’ve seen in my 43 years. He really does have talent.

Joking about his age aside, he’s out of college and trying to make his way in the world. And this is what he’s decided to do. I have no idea how well it will work, but I’m honestly cheering for him. This Patreon business is new to everyone. It might be that there’s only so much Patreon money to go around, and as more street buskers crowd the sidewalks we’ll all end up splitting the same pool of donations into ever-smaller shares. But maybe this is a newer, better way of doing things and artists can find an audience and earn a living without publishers, editors, brokers, and executives getting a cut. Maybe in the long run we’ll all get more entertainment for less money. I really have no idea.

Anyway, that’s his pitch. Wish him luck, and if you want to read the Bastards thing then consider giving him some of your Earth Money.

Good luck, Rutskarn! Remember me when you get to the middle.

202020208Great Scott! 88 comments! If only this post was a DeLorean.

Destiny Hangout Sept 13: It’s OVER!

 By Shamus Sep 13, 2014 30 comments

EDIT: Thanks for watching. That was fun. We played Destiny for a couple of hours, and then an hour of Counter Spy. I don’t know what will become of the recording. Twitch has decided to stop keeping their archives, so I don’t know how long this one will last. Watch it while you can, I guess.

Original Message:

Josh and Chris will be playing Destiny on their pagan consoles and I’ll be watching via Twitch with the rest of the peanut gallery. The event is this Saturday (September 13) at 11PM UTC. This page ought to convert the time into your local temporal region. The stream will be here when the event goes live.

201030 comments. (A twenty-sided die has 30 edges.)

Marlow Briggs EP15: Marlow Briggs and the Closing Credits of DEATH!

 By Shamus Sep 12, 2014 59 comments

Link (YouTube)

So that was a videogame. That we played. For some hours.

Sad to see it end on a down note. It was a laugh at the start, but the end was a slog and it stopped being funny the moment it ran out of stupidThe awesome kind of stupid. ideas.

So that was Marlow Briggs. Our original plan was to play the game every once in a while, but I’m glad we just pushed through and finished the dang thing. I wouldn’t want to try and get through that final sequence once Josh had set the game aside for two months and forgotten how everything worked. (That’s what happens to me when I put a game aside for that long.) Playing in one-hour increments with a week gap between them seemed like a big enough handicap already.

Thanks for watching. We’ll be starting The Last of Us soon.

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Oculus Rift DK2

 By Shamus Sep 12, 2014 44 comments

So this came today:


I mostly knew what to expect. Michael Goodfellow wrote pretty extensively about his experience with the device. I count myself very lucky that I’m not nearsighted like himI only need to wear my glasses when I'm going to be driving or otherwise leaving the house. so I don’t need to worry about cramming a set of glasses inside the headset. This process is complex enough as it is.

It works like this:

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Marlow Briggs EP14: Marlow Briggs and the Montage of Sadmaking

 By Shamus Sep 11, 2014 132 comments

Link (YouTube)

Josh brings up a good point about magic: All spells seem to take 60% of your mana, so you can’t use them more than once without a refill. I haven’t played the game so I don’t know what I’m missing, but from a design standpoint I have to wonder why we bother with mana at all. Like, if we can use one spell and then we need a power-up (which totally refills the bar) then why have a bar? The bar could be replaced with a simple “charge” concept: You either have one or you don’t.

Spoiler: No need to shout advice at him in the comments. We’re done with the game now, and I don’t imagine Josh is going to be in any particular hurry to play it again.

So now that we’re just about done with this circus sideshow, I guess I might as well do some actual game analysis:

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A Hundred!2012There are 132 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

Top Ten Influential Books

 By Shamus Sep 11, 2014 171 comments

Jarenth tagged me with this meme on Facebook where you’re supposed to make a list of 10 books that “stuck with you”. I spent the better part of an hour hammering the list together when I realized that it would make for a half-decent blog post. And to be honest, I think Jarenth, my wife, and mother are the only people on Facebook who will careAnd they all read the blog, so....

I don’t read a lot of books. Not fiction, anyways. But I’ve read a few and some of them stuck with me.

Note that I’m disqualifying the Bible because I don’t think that’s the sort of thing that this list is about. That’s like if I asked you for your list of favorite cars and you listed the ambulance that took you to the hospital that one time and saved your life. Okay, but that feels… weird. I’m also disqualifying reference books, even though there are some that really stuck with me in a practical sense.

My list:

Continue reading »

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Marlow Briggs EP13: Marlow Briggs and the Most Impractical Bridge Ever

 By Shamus Sep 10, 2014 55 comments

Link (YouTube)

Migraine today. It really hurts to watch this. It also hurts to not watch it. Whatever. I can’t fulfull my usualy commentary duties because i can barely look at the screen. Just watch the episode and pretend I said something witty or interesting about it . Or write your own. I trust you.

Good luck.

20201555 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

Experienced Points: What Made Gone Home Such a Powerful Game?

 By Shamus Sep 9, 2014 161 comments

My column this week attempts to offer a gentle counter-argument to the people sneering at Gone Home and calling it a “walking simulator”. I suspect this will go the way of all debates about this game, but you never know. Maybe the stars will line up and one person will see the game from a different angle.

I have no idea where this optimism came from. I hope it’ll pass soon.

This game had one of those situations where a single mistake threw the rest of the game into sharp relief. At one point I was reading a note ostensibly written in 1994 or 1995, and one teenager referred to someone’s dadIt might have been a teacher. The details elude me now. as a “tool”. I was instantly yanked out of the story. In my experience, “tool” didn’t come to mean “useless person” until almost a decade later. At that point I realized I read dozens and dozens of notes that had nailed mid-90′s lingo and I’d just taken it all for granted. Looking back, I realized how hard it was to get little details like that right.

Which makes it all the more disappointing that a vast majority of the audience won’t even notice the details because they grew up in the wrong place and time.

EDIT: So apparently the word “tool” was indeed in use for years before I ran into it. (I guess I’d have known about it sooner if I’d ever watched Beevis & Butt-head.) Interesting.

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