Fallout 4 EP17: Cereal Killer

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

181 comments


Link (YouTube)

So the hunt to find Kellog is broken. But it’s broken in a REALLY ANNOYING WAY, which is that it has various contradictory excuses sprinkled around the world, and taken in isolation they seem to address one fault or another. So you point out plot hole A, but then an apologist claims this is explained by excuse B. But then you point out that excuse B doesn’t make sense because of contradiction C, and then someone ELSE points out that C is maybe justified by theory D. This seems to solve the problem, until you realize that D doesn’t work with B, and thus you end up arguing in circles forever. Most importantly, there never comes a time where you can map out what happened and why. You’re forever concocting and dismissing theories.

This is annoying if – like me – one of your coping mechanisms for plot holes is to simply document them. But the complexity of the brokenness makes such a task impossible. Every excuse is supported by broken excuses which are supported by broken excuses, leading out into this endless fractal of stupidity and frustration. It’s like the Mandelbrot set, but for bad ideas instead of numbers.

So to get anywhere in this analysis, we need to spoil the big twist of the game. That’s not bad, since the twist is both obvious and nonsensical. Here goes:

Shaun is now 80 years old.

This is OBVIOUS, because the game showed you being re-frozen after the kidnapping. Most players realize RIGHT AWAY that some probably-significant interval of time has passed. But then your character is stupidly railroaded into looking for a “baby”, despite the fact that they really ought to know better. And even if they don’t, the PLAYER knows better and thus we get frustrated waiting for our character to catch up to what we already know. This can work if the writer has a strong pre-built protagonist like Geralt or Adam Jensen, but even then it requires a fine touch to avoid annoying the player. But in a game with a quasi-blank-slate protagonist like this one, having our avatar spend most of the game oblivious to something we figured out in the first five minutes is pretty much the kiss of death for tension, immersion, and roleplaying. Instead of working to unravel a mystery, we spend the entire running time waiting for our character to pull their head out of their ass so we can get on with things.

This is also NONSENSE, because everything else in the gameworld contradicts this. And here is where we get caught arguing in circles:

Continue reading »


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Final Fantasy X Part 5: Blitzball!

By Shamus
on Jul 7, 2016
Filed under:
FFX

165 comments

After Kilika, the party sails for the coastal city of Luca. From here the journey will continue on foot. But first, there’s a major Blitzball tournament to play in. The game drops a ton of exposition and worldbuilding on us when we get to Luca. We’ll talk about it later, but first let’s talk about the tournament.

I’m not one for sports games. But I know some folks who are, and they’re pretty well divided over Blitzball. Some people find it painfully boring. I’ve got a brother who has spent hundreds of hours recruiting, building his team, learning techniques, and totally dominating the sport of Spira.

Blitzball!

The Blitz sphere looks gigantic in this pre-rendered cutscene, but seems to be smaller in proper gameplay. In this image it looks like the people in the stands would almost have their faces up against the glass.

The Blitz sphere looks gigantic in this pre-rendered cutscene, but seems to be smaller in proper gameplay. In this image it looks like the people in the stands would almost have their faces up against the glass.

The game is basically underwater football, and not a single aspect of it makes any sense:

Continue reading »

A Hundred!2020205Many comments. 165, if you're a stickler



Fallout 4 EP16: Fallout 4 is the Best Anime

By Shamus
on Jul 6, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

78 comments


Link (YouTube)

We’re here to rescue a private detective, in the hope that he’ll be able to help us find Shaun. To do that, we have to fight a bunch of thematically dissonant prohibition-era styled gangstersHats. Pinstripe suits. Italian names. Tommyguns. that don’t mesh with either the cold-war or the post-apocalypse aesthetic the game is allegedly based on. This is on top of the fact that “organized crime” makes no sense in a society this primitive. What sort of criminal activity would these guys engage in? Whose laws are they breaking? What government would oppose them? Who are they extorting? Who are their customers / victims?

I’m not saying Fallout 4 needs to spend hours burying us in exposition and codex entries to build up some Tolkien-sized mythos. I understand that this is a game about shooting and looting. But the game tries to adopt this super-serious tone and then presents the story of a cartoon world of goofy childish nonsense. These guys aren’t “The Mob”. They’re an all-male tribe with no visible means of making a living. This isn’t even a “What do they eat?” level question. This is far more basic: What do these guys DO? What do they WANT? These guys have the same needs (none) and motivations (endless murder) as the psychos in Borderlands. But the psychos in Borderlands are a comical element of a deliberately absurdist world, and the Triggermen here are attached to what is ostensibly a serious story. (SHAAAAUN!)

“Maybe this world isn’t supposed to be serious?”

Okay. But then where are the jokes? Where’s the sense of madcap fun? The only comedy here is watching VATS fight with the physics engine to create emergent chaos. That’s cute, but Garry’s Mod does it better and it doesn’t make you sit through infantile dialog in the process.

When we confront Skinny Malone, what is the player supposed to be feeling? Dread? Amusement? Anger? What’s the mood of this scene? I honestly can’t tell.

The writer went to all the trouble to write, design, and cast these two unique characters. Yet we bump into them with nothing in the way of dramatic buildup and then they vanish from the story. We can kill Darla or spare her, but that choice has about as much meaning as deciding if you want to kill a supermutant with a shotgun or a sledgehammer. We know nothing about her and have nothing invested in her story. We don’t even know what her relationship is with Skinny Malone until we meet them, at which point the game immediately offers you the chance to attempt to spare her.

Would you like to spare this total stranger Y/N?

Whee. “Roleplaying”.

You can tell a Saints Row style story. You can tell a Last of Us style story. But do not put The Last of Us story inside of a Saints Row world and expect it to work. The virtue of Saints Row is that it knows it’s dumb and it invites you to laugh along with it. The virtue of Last of Us is that it’s a drama between carefully written characters. This is the worst of both worlds. We don’t get the pathos of a proper drama, but we also don’t get to revel in the absurd fun of a playfully ridiculous world. It’s just lazy drama that’s hopelessly neutered by the incoherent worldbuilding and complete lack of self-awareness.

Spoiler: The game isn’t going to improve anytime soon. Buckle up.

2020201878 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



Ruts vs. Battlespire CH15: The Dance Commander

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

80 comments

I’ll spare the gentle Garrison Keilloresque lead-in, because I know people are impatient to find out just why the hell I can’t equip my two-handed sword. So pay attention, because I’m about to lay out my theory.

Continue reading »

20202020There are now 80 comments. Almost a hundred!



The Tea Drinker

By Shamus
on Jul 5, 2016
Filed under:
Personal

170 comments

I was going to start the Good Robot postmortem today, but that needs a little more time. So instead, please enjoy whatever this is:

I’ve often made reference to the fact that I drink a lot of tea. It’s become something of a running joke on the Diecast. This has led to the mistaken conclusion that I’m some sort of tea aficionado. Given how much I consume, I must surely be aware of all the flavors, be particular about my brands, and be picky about how I prepare it, right? Like a wine snob, but for tea?

Well, no. In truth, the only good thing I can say about tea is that I like it better than water.

So why do I drink it?

Continue reading »

A Hundred!20202010Many comments. 170, if you're a stickler



Diecast #157: Overwatch, Doom, Vive

By Shamus
on Jul 4, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

157 comments


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

Direct link to this episode.

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

Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes: Continue reading »


A Hundred!202017We've got 157 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.



Shamus Plays LOTRO #19: I Don’t Have Any Friends

By Shamus
on Jul 3, 2016
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

20 comments

I’m in the town of Scary. Things could be going better.

I’ve been working on the problem of a goblin invasion. Generally people fall into two camps with regards to goblins:

1) AH! I saw a goblin! We are dooooooomed!
2) Bah. The goblins are a myth.

Somewhere between these two viewpoints, it would be nice to find someone who thought that walking out to the goblin camp and killing them all would be a good plan. I have brought back news of the goblin camp to one Wilcome Tunnelly, in hopes that he would mobilize his people to do exactly that. Instead, he’s sending me into the mines because they have a… spider problem? And in order to fix the spider problem, he wants me to recover a skull they uncovered at the bottom of the mine?

You and the skull have one thing in common, which is what you`ve got inside your noggin.

You and the skull have one thing in common, which is what you`ve got inside your noggin.

Wilcome is warning me that I’ll need help on this job. Sadly, there’s no help to be had. I don’t really have any friends that go in for this adventuring type of business. And It’s been days since I saw another adventurer running around.

No, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it alone. In we go.

Continue reading »


20A natural twenty.



Ruts vs. Battlespire CH14: The Amazing Disintegrating Wardrobe

By Rutskarn
on Jul 2, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

62 comments

So now I’ve made friends with a daedric captain by way of watching his flunkies blow themselves up. Have I mentioned I’m starting to get the hang of Battlespire?

It’s all about embracing the chaos, the gamebreaking, the murderous non sequitur. I’ve escaped a tower with no elevator, arranged the world’s worst inventory, mastered the art of uncovering secret doors by headbutting furniture, and overcome fireball spam parties by standing very still and counting to twenty. I’m not going to act like getting this far has been easy, or even that it’s getting easier, but I will say that the game appears to be running out of arbitrary obstacles.

On an unrelated note, I can no longer equip weapons.

Besides this SMOLDERING GAZE. And this sword! Except when I can`t.
Besides this SMOLDERING GAZE. And this sword! Except when I can't.

Let me back up a bit. I can’t risk making this problem sound too straightforward or comprehensible.

Continue reading »

202020262 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



Fallout 4 EP15: “Fantasy” “Roleplaying”

By Shamus
on Jul 1, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

93 comments

WARING: This episode contains violence, drug use, kink, kink-shaming, marriage, bicycle kicking firearms, Bethesda dialog, baseball bat journalism, and allusions to that one episode where Rutskarn read us the Wikipedia entry on hemipenes. This episode may be harmful to children, pregnant women, and everyone else.


Link (YouTube)

Maybe I need to apologize for this episode? But I kind of feel like this episode needs to apologize to ME? In any case, something has gone wrong, somewhere, and it’s probably Josh’s fault.

Also, why was that vault door closed / how did they manipulate it without a Pip boy?

EDIT: Wow guys. I just realized: When Reginald died, do you know where the last save was? If you re-watch the episode, it was in the closet with the yellow drug container, which is the exact moment when Josh claimed he’d “become a god”. The game KNOWS. It punished him for his hubris!

I’d be okay with that, except we wound up getting punished along with him.


2020202013There are now 93 comments. Almost a hundred!



Fallout 4 EP14: Why Would They Do That?

By Shamus
on Jun 30, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

189 comments


Link (YouTube)

I think Fallout 4 wouldn’t be nearly so infuriating if the dialog didn’t keep making promises that the writer never intended to keep. It makes it sound like wall-painter guy has stories to tell, but he’s just a nonsense fetch quest. You meet a big bad guy who wants to talk, but the conversation is dumb and pointless because my character isn’t allowed to ask any interesting questions. You meet people with pre-war memories, or strange backstories, or in odd situations, which makes it seem like they’re designed specifically to deliver exposition and stories. But no. It’s just another bland NPC who wants to give you caps to kill a bunch of crap.

In most games, the designer will use a story to hook you into doing a quest. In this game I kept doing quests, hoping to find a story somewhere.

I was usually disappointed.


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Final Fantasy X Part 4: Death and Other Puzzles

By Shamus
on Jun 30, 2016
Filed under:
FFX

99 comments

Yuna, Lulu, Wakka, Kimari, and Tidus board the boat to begin Yuna’s pilgrimage. Their home of Besaid Island was there to show us Spira in its idealized state. It was there to build empathy and an emotional connection to this world. Our next stop is the island of Kilika, where that connection will pay off. Now that we sort of care about Spira, the storyteller will show us the brutality of Sin. As the ship approaches, Sin strikes the island.

The people of Kilika have built their houses out of wooden sticks. Out on the water. With rickety walkways between them.

Come on, guys.  Even if Sin wasn`t a problem, aren`t you worried about storms? Waves? HIGH TIDE?!

Come on, guys. Even if Sin wasn`t a problem, aren`t you worried about storms? Waves? HIGH TIDE?!

But of course they built on the water because it makes for a pretty good show when Sin huffs and puffs and blows their house down. Kilika is the Red Shirt of towns in Spira. Half the town snuffs it, and by the time our heroes arrive the whole place is filled with mourners and smashed huts.

When the party arrives, Yuna volunteers to perform the “sending”. Apparently summoners have a secondary duty. When they’re not on their way to fight Sin, they’re in charge of performing funerals.

And funerals in this world are important, because death in the world of Spira is completely bonkers. A summoner has to do a little dance to guide the spirits of the dead to the Farplane. (Which is apparently an off-brand afterlife.) If she doesn’t do this, then the spirits will linger, grow angry, and eventually turn into fiends. As the sending is performed, little rainbow firefly sparkles come out of the departed and drift into the skyWhat would happen if you did a sending indoors? Would the pyreflies bunch up at the ceiling like cigarette smoke? “Oh man. Looks like someone did a sending in here. Open a window, man.”.

Continue reading »

2020202019Ninety nine comments. Just... need... one... more!



Fallout 4 EP13: I NEED This Mole Meat!

By Shamus
on Jun 29, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

181 comments


Link (YouTube)

How do I get into Diamond City? Charm my way past the gate guards? Sneak in through the sewer? Bribe my way in? Lockpick the back entrance? Wear a guard disguise and walk in? Make friends with a resident and enter the city as their guest? Pay a sketchy half-crazed ghoul with a persecution complex to build a bomb to blow a hole in the wall? Hack a terminal to make a bot go haywire and create a distraction? Get hired as a caravan guard and enter with the rest of the group when they reach the city?

Oh, sorry. Those are things you’d put in a Fallout game like New Vegas or the 2D Fallouts. But THIS is a Bethesda game, which means the only way in is through a nonsensical, scripted, non-branching, completely banal dialog / cutscene where the rules are made up and your choices don’t matter.

The Fallout 4 developers could’ve tried to put some light roleplaying into their alleged roleplaying game and handled entering Diamond City the way Obsidian handled entering New Vegas. But instead they just copied the same sophomoric approach they used for entering the Citadel back in Fallout 3: A stilted, awkwardly framed dialog that can’t decide if it wants to be cinema or interactive so it decides to split the difference and fail at both.

Having the four-choice “I have no idea what I’m about to say” dialog wheel is directly at odds with their idiotic no-choice plot. And both of those ideas are at odds with the concept of “roleplaying game”. And none of this is helped by their fully voiced pre-war protagonist who never seems interested or curious about the world around them or about connecting with people who have pre-war memories to find out what’s happened in the last 210 yearsSpoiler: Nothing. Nothing has happened. After the bombs fell, people crawled out the the rubble and then sat around shooting each other until you showed up with the plot..

It’s not that the various designers weren’t on the same page, it’s like they were deliberately working against one another.


A Hundred!202020201I bet you won't even read all 181 comments before leaving your own.




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