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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Shamus Plays WoW #1: It’s an Imp’s Life

By Shamus
on Sep 4, 2016
Filed under:
WoW

35 comments

This series was originally written and published on The Escapist back in 2011, just as World of Warcraft was transitioning to the Cataclysm expansion. World of Warcraft was six years old at the time, which is way past the point where most online games have gone free-to-play and had their player base gradually bleed away. But instead WoW was (and still is) still top dog and outstripping the competition by an order of magnitude.

The Cataclysm expansion wasn’t just a couple of new races and a smattering of high-level quests. This was an ambitious re-working of the entire game. It was a chance to update and re-work some of the early zones, which hadn’t really changed since the game launched in 2004. Blizzard had learned a lot over the previous six years, and they were using this update as a chance to apply some of those lessons to the rougher corners of the WoW experience.

Quests were changed, graphics were touched up, and some balance changes were made. The old World of Warcraft was wiped away. Forever. For everyone. If you didn’t get the expansion you couldn’t play as the new races, but you’d still get the new Azeroth.

These first few entries will show WoW just before the update, and then we’ll jump into the Cataclysm version of the world.

In the past I’ve written these things from the perspective of my character. But this time, we’re going to see the gameworld through the eyes of everyone’s favorite oppressed minorities, demons

A lot of people have this twisted view of demonic existence. Like, supposedly we sit around all day eating lava and making big piles of skulls. But the truth is that we get to do some pretty awesome stuff and there are a lot of really interesting arts and crafts you can do with skulls. I might be biased, but I’d say mortal worlds are a dump compared to the demonic realms. Check it out:

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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.
201535 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.



Rutskarn’s GMinars CH6: The Gamesbow 1-4

By Rutskarn
on Sep 3, 2016
Filed under:
Tabletop Games

112 comments

Rather than come up with more fictional tabletop games to explain mechanical paradigms, why don’t we just look at real ones? For the next two weeks I’ll be drawing up a spectrum of RPGs ranging from the rigid and traditional to wobbly and intangible.

Don’t take these as suggestions, per se–I include all of these because they make for a good sampling, not necessarily because I adore them. Whenever available, I’ll include links for legal purchase and download.

MOST TRADITIONAL

1.) BattleTech/MechWarrior (Introduced 1986)

This is the endgame; as far as I’m concerned, this system represents the tip of the creaking, painstakingly riveted tower of objective design. Very little in MechWarrior’s sundry editions is left to the imagination of the storyteller. You will not have to guess where your rocket lands or imagine which systems it damages, or how; all of that will emerge conclusively from an exhaustive cross-referencing of dice and rulebook. RPGs exist that are more minute than this franchise, but I’ve never seen anybody play them on purpose.

It’s not that anything in MechWarrior is particularly realistic. Nothing featuring giant chickenlike mechs is going to pass the snarky twitter test of verisimilitude–and frankly, even if the rules were meant to be realistic, they’re frequently incomplete and confusingly presented. Classically, striking a man-sized object with a mech’s melee weapon is nearly impossible…while stomping on them is an automatic hit and kill. And don’t even think about trying out a character who isn’t perpetually wrapped in Mech–the designers realized halfway through they had to make rules for people like you, and, also, that they really hate you.

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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 EP36: Mumblo Number 5

By Shamus
on Sep 2, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

79 comments


Link (YouTube)

At nineteen minutes, Rutskarn is quoting Deus Ex: The Recut, which I’ve nearly committed to memory from repeated viewings. It’s one of those things where I’m not even sure why it’s funny. Like, even the parts where they simply repeat Deus Ex dialog verbatim take on this strange sense of deadpan madness.


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.
2020201979 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



No Man’s Preorder Bonus

By Shamus
on Sep 2, 2016
Filed under:
Rants

73 comments

I was given the warning a few days before No Man’s Sky came out on PC: “Don’t use the preorder bonus ship. See, that ship already has a fueled-up hyperdrive. If you switch to it, then it will break the tutorial that’s supposed to teach you about the hyperdrive and give you the recipes to make fuel. You can end up either stuck, or at least in a position where you won’t know what you’re supposed to do next.”

It’s a little more complicated than that, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I left the preorder bonus alone. I played the game, was amazed at first, then had a lousy time and quit.

I came back to the game last night. I needed some screenshots for my column next week, and I was kind of hoping I might be able to re-engage with the game if I approached it with a different mindset. Maybe I could ignore the various systems and just play it like a Zen Game, the way Campster describes in his latest video:

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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.
2020201373 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.



Fallout 4 EP35: Big McLarge Huge

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

132 comments


Link (YouTube)

I know the definition of RPG is a mess. Diablo is an RPG. Borderlands is an RPG. Planescape is an RPG. Mass Effect is an RPG. To some people it means a game with leveling and looting. To some people it means a game where you think up a personality for your character and then respond to challenges as that person. To some people it’s about messing around with branching stories. To some people it’s just a game where you can drive the dialog and discover the details of the setting at your own pace.

It’s obviously a matter of degrees. The more of these attributes you have, the more roleplay-ish the game is. But genres are more of a Yes / No deal and not a measure of how high a game scores on the roleplay-o-meter. And so we have a lot of arguments about where we draw the line.

But Fallout 4 is an interesting case. If we made the attributes of an RPG into a checklist, Fallout 4 would score really high. It has a lot of roleplayish things, but they’re all really shallow, and often disconnected from each other.

  1. You can level up and spend skill points. (But this is neutered by the “all builds must be equally valid in the face of endless mandatory combat”.)

  2. You have a dialog wheel. (Which is useless since conversations are linear, your choices rarely matter, and you can’t tell what you’re doing to say.)
  3. You can loot things. (Which feeds into an amusing but shallow base-building mechanic where you build houses for inert nameless people who have no relationship with you, the world, or each other.)
  4. There’s a story. (Which is dumb nonsense and appalling melodrama as depicted in cringe-worthy cutscenes.)
  5. You’re given a character to play. (But then they’re never really given any personality, nor are you given the freedom to form one yourself.)
  6. You get to make “choices”. (Most of which are shallow, meaningless, or offered without really giving you enough information to make an informed decision. Sure, choosing between Institute, Railroad, Brotherhood, or Minutemen is a BIG choice. But like the red / green / blue choice at the end of Mass Effect, it feels contrived and arbitrary. It’s like choosing to blow up Megaton in Fallout 3. It’s a choice for its own sake and not a natural, emergent part of the world. )

Fallout 4 has all the ingredients of a roleplaying game, yet it doesn’t feel like one because every element is so diluted that there’s almost nothing left. Fallout 4 is a homeopathic roleplaying 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!2012There are 132 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Final Fantasy X Part 11: The Sphere Grid

By Shamus
on Sep 1, 2016
Filed under:
FFX

100 comments

Yuna goes off to marry Seymour and leaves the party behind to mope and worry. Eventually they discover the recording where Jyscal accuses his son of murder from beyond the grave. Nobody has really been a fan of this whole marriage idea to begin with, but they didn’t have the right to forbid it. But now that they know Seymour is guilty of both patricide and Maestercide, they assume that Yuna is in danger. This is all the justification they need to storm the temple and break up the couple with their own special brand of sword-pokey justice.

How does he sleep with those branches of hair in the way?

How does he sleep with those branches of hair in the way?

They do this to “protect Yuna”. Seymour is guilty of killing a Maester, wanting to destroy the world, and That Haircut, all of which are crimes that should be punished by death. So it’s somewhat ironic that when our heroes bring him to justice, it’s for a crime he wasn’t going to commit. Yuna isn’t in any danger from Seymour, because Seymour needs her alive for his plan to work. I mean, she’s still in danger because completing her pilgrimage will kill her, but Seymour isn’t planning to kill her before that.

When the party arrives, Yuna is in the chamber of the Fayth and Seymour and his goons are waiting outside. You would think that someone responsible and level-headed would open up the conversation. Maybe Lulu should say something, or (better yet) Auron. But for whatever reason, brave clueless Tidus shoves to the front of the group and appoints himself spokesman. Here is how he chooses to do that, which is verbatim from the game:

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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!A hundred comments! Everybody wins!



Eleven Years of Twenty Sided

By Shamus
on Sep 1, 2016
Filed under:
Notices

137 comments

So I’ve been writing on this site for eleven years. If this site was Duke Nukem Forever, it would be 73% of the way to its disastrous completion by this point.Let’s talk about the site and how I’m running it these days.

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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!2017There are 137 comments here. I really hope you like reading.



Fallout 4 EP34: Draggin’ Fly

By Shamus
on Aug 31, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

149 comments


Link (YouTube)

Mumbles pointed out that she’s logged more hours in Fallout 4 than New Vegas. Same with me. It’s interesting because we’ve both spent the last 33 episodes crapping on Fallout 4 and comparing it unfavorably to New Vegas.

I knew I’d played more Fallout 4 than News Vegas, but I was still shocked when I looked up the numbers. (174 for New Vegas vs. 600+ for Fallout 4.) There are a few reasons for this:

  1. I never got into the New Vegas modding scene, which is small compared to the massive flood of Fallout 4 mods out there. A lot of my time with the game was spent mod-browsing.

  2. For me, New Vegas was far more unstable than Fallout 4. I know some people have reported the opposite, but that’s my experience. Fallout 4 is still buggy as hell, but most of the bugs manifest as hilarious physics, animation, or AI freak-outs rather than frustrating crashes to desktop. The instability of New Vegas probably drove me away from the game before I’d really seen everything I wanted.
  3. Back in 2013 I got an upgraded computer with 16GB of memory. This means I can now alt-tab in and out of games for free, which wasn’t possible back in 2010 when I was playing New Vegas. So these days my “hours played” numbers on Steam tend to be inflated by the time I spend writing columns and reading comments while the game is idle in the background.

But I think the biggest reason I’ve clocked so many more hours in FO4 than NV is that I play the two games very differently. When I’m playing New Vegas, I’m usually interacting with the structured content like having dialog or doing quests. In Fallout 4, I spend my time doing everything I can to avoid the structured content, because it’s awful. So I do free-form stuff like building bases, exploring aimlessly, and obsessively searching for “treasure”. And judged on those merits, Fallout 4 really does have better unstructured content.

If you’re curious, I’ve got 1,100 hours in Skyrim. (Again, greatly inflated by Alt-Tab time and also by the ridiculous amount of time I put into playing mods.) I bought Fallout 3 on disk instead of Steam, so I don’t have numbers for hours played for that one.

Of course my dream game would have New Vegas quality structured content and Fallout 4 quality unstructured content, but I’d rather have some decent QA testing more than either of those things.

Care to share your hours played for Bethesda games? I’m curious to see the results.


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!20209We've got 149 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.



Ruts vs. Battlespire CH24: The Most Daedraous Game

By Rutskarn
on Aug 31, 2016
Filed under:
Lets Play

69 comments

I’m going to be seeing a lot of whatever’s going on in this next screenshot, because as of the next hundred hours of gameplay it’ll be the first thing I see when I load my “New Zone” slot. Which, in defiance of my convention, isn’t a New Zone at all. It’s just my last chance to save before the New Zone where I can’t save my game.

Fuck you for making me a liar, Battlespire.

I`m a writer, dammit! I take my savenames extremely seriously as works of individual--what? No, I refuse to explain ``farrrttt`` to an ENEMY OF ART.
I'm a writer, dammit! I take my savenames extremely seriously as works of individual--what? No, I refuse to explain ''farrrttt'' to an ENEMY OF ART.

Continue reading »


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.
2020209Sixty-nine comments, dude! Excellent!




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