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 »


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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 »


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This Dumb Industry: All These Dumb Games

By Shamus
on Nov 15, 2016
Filed under:
Column

244 comments

My column this week was going to be an extra-long explanation on why Twitter is cultural poison that’s turning everyone into insane hateful assholes. On one hand, I really do think that Twitter has some nasty emergent properties when combined with human natureOn top of the usual problems we see on other social media platforms like Facebook.And no, this isn’t just a re-hash of the C.G.P. Grey video on Anger Germs.. On the other hand, I’ve just gone through a solid week of watching people be shitty to each other and I’m basically out of emotional stamina at this point. I want to get as far from controversial topics as I can get.

So maybe I’ll put a pin in the Twitter rant for now.

Since I don’t have a column, let’s have a conversation…

I’m working on my end-of-year series (which will probably run in this space in late December) and I’m wondering what I’ve missed and what I’ll be able to play before the year wraps up.

Given the sheer volume of retro remakes, remakes, homages, indies, AAA titles, reboots, mobile stuff, and good old games for cheap, we’re positively swimming in games. The number of available titles keeps going up, but (assuming you didn’t just retire or lose your job) the supply of gaming hours hasn’t. With that in mind: What are you playing these days? New stuff? If you’re playing old stuff, are you exploring stuff you missed when it was new, or revisiting an old favorite? What’s really standing out for you this year? Have you played (or avoided) anything specifically because we talked about it here on the site?


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Diecast #176: Dishonored 2, Tyranny, N7 Day

By Shamus
on Nov 14, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

101 comments

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

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

Show notes: Continue reading »


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Shamus Plays WoW #9: No Murlock, No Wedlock

By Shamus
on Nov 13, 2016
Filed under:
WoW

18 comments

This job is getting a bit strange. We just wanted to help (ewww) a group of simple farmers with whatever dangers or trials they were facing. But instead, Maybell MacLure asked us to deliver a note to her boyfriend. Who sent us to see his grandmother.

Oh. THESE idiots again.

Oh. THESE idiots again.

“So this is the place?”, I ask suspiciously. “It looks… small.”

Ma Stonefield and one of her kin are out front. Pa Stonefield is no doubt off somewhere engaged in some sort of agricultural endeavor. Tommy is still standing by the river where we left him. And there is an old lady just inside. This is obviously Grandma Stonefield, who we’ve been looking for.

“I guess so?”, Norman says with a shrug. “I mean, it’s the only house around here.”

So let me get this straight,” I say slowly. “Tommy and Maybell can’t get together and make the beast with two butts because their families are feuding. So Tommy sent us here to talk to his grandmum?”

“I don’t know that Tommy is planning on doing… that. I mean, neither of them said anything about fooling around.”

“The note didn’t say anything about involving anyone’s grandma, either. Yet here we are.”

“Yes,” agrees Norman. “Here we are.”

Continue reading »


1818 comments. (18 is the only non-zero number that equals twice the sum of its decimal digits.)



Twenty Minutes with Half-Life: Opposing Force

By Josh
on Nov 11, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

98 comments


Link (YouTube)

We had some trouble with Windows/Graphics card updates messing with our PS4 recording process this week, so we decided to do something completely different! Half-Life! But the weird one! And Shamus isn’t even here! It’ll be great.

Continue reading »


2020202018There are now 98 comments. Almost a hundred!



Ruts vs. Battlespire: …and Your Questions

By Rutskarn
on Nov 10, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

48 comments

Roger Hågensen

How scared shitless were you that you’d run into a game breaking bug that either hosed your save game (and would you take the time to replay it all again?), or worse the game just hate your PC and refuse to go further (which you’d realize on your 2nd playthrough with new savegames). Did you have a backup plan? (like get saves from the net that where hopefully past that point? Or just throw up your hands and give up?

Up until the halfway mark, any serious showstopping glitch I ran into would have meant the end of the series. No hesitation. That’s an explicit decision I came to in the setup phase. That said, when I came to the elevator glitch on level one, I already had enough investment in the series to spend an hour or two goofing around trying to cheese my way down.

At the halfway mark, once I really started committing to the game, I started making save backups. If necessary, I was prepared to install the game on a roommate’s machine and play it there, or start over again from the beginning. After that, I was out of ideas.

Da Mage

Is it possible to point to one, just one, design flaw that caused the most grief in your playthrough, and explain why you think it was that way (aka broken), and how you would have designed it differently.

Obviously looking for game design problems, not technical ones.

Nope. I just don’t think they made a very fun game. The combat’s too industrial and the loot is too opaque to be rewarding, there’s not a lot of interesting leveling options, the puzzles never really connect, and the plot’s too amorphous and distant to provide a meaningful context. I’m not sure the bulk of this game can be redeemed; if you stripped all the bugs out and communicated the player’s goals better, I’d rate it a solid six or seven.

That said, this game does have a cult following. I’m not part of it, but I acknowledge it without rancor. I think it comes down to the idea that back when this game came out, there weren’t a lot of first-person survival-based dungeon crawlers, particularly not with this unique a setting.

Continue reading »


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Crash Dot Com Part 1: A World Gone Mad

By Shamus
on Nov 10, 2016
Filed under:
Personal

56 comments

The year is 1998, and the world has gone mad.

I’m caught in the middle of it all, but at this point in my life I’m not really equipped to detect the crazy. I’m 27 years old. I got married last year, and our first child – our daughter Rachel – was born this year. I’m young, I’m working hard, and I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m so wrapped up in the changes in my own life that I don’t really notice how mad the world is.

It’s a communal kind of madness. Individually, people are as sane as they’ve ever beenWhich probably isn’t saying much.. But we’re in a period of rapid technological and cultural change. Everyone wants to stay ahead of the game and nobody knows what’s going to happen next. It’s only been five years since the Mosaic browser hit the net and kicked off the web as we know it today. Since then the internet has exploded in popularity.

If you put the various consumer technologies of the 20th century on a graph, you can see the growth curve of the internet is steeper than the growth of household computers. That is, it’s going to take the internet even less time to go from “nobody has heard of it” to “everyone has two” levels of saturation. And the growth curve of computers was already steeper than the growth of automobiles and electricity, and both of those grew faster than the telephone. Not only is the world changing, the rate at which it’s changing is increasing.

If you’re an investor, then this is panic-inducing. If you’d dropped just $2,100 into Microsoft when it went public in 1986, then today in 1998 that stock would be worth over one million dollars.

Twelve years. A growth of 47,619%. The mind boggles.

Continue reading »


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Watch Overwatch – Over!

By Shamus
on Nov 9, 2016
Filed under:
Notices

9 comments

EDIT: The gang watched Josh play Overwatch. I am led to believe that fun was had. I’ll take your word for it. Thanks for watching.


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