New Year’s Stream

  By Shamus   Dec 30, 2014   41 comments

EDIT: Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone who joined in. We played Spintires, Far Cry 4, and some insane wagon game that I don’t even understand. Happy 2015 everyone!

Original message:

The year is about to change, which means it’s time to watch Josh stream a videogame while you curse at him. It’s like being on the cast of Spoiler Warning except Josh will ignore you because he’s drunk instead of ignoring you on purpose. It’s a magical time of friendship, laughter, confusion, drunkenness, and Murphy’s Law. I hope you’ll join usBecause I wouldn’t want to endure this alone.!

Josh claims we’ll be watching him play Spintires, so there’s at least a 10% chance of us playing SpintiresHe’s more reliable when he’s drunk. Also a better driver..

The stream will start around 10pm Eastern time in the USA. But rather than convert time zones and worry about stupid-ass daylight savings timeIs it active now? Is it active where I am? Where they are? just use this timer:

The stream will be here when the event goes live.

20201Feeling chatty? There are 41 comments.

Experienced Points: How Lizard Squad Stole Christmas

  By Shamus   Dec 30, 2014   48 comments

This week I try to explain the Lizard Squad attack on PSN and Xbox Live.

To be clear: We don’t know for sure if Lizard Squad really staged the attack. Or if they did, it’s possible that the guys claiming to be Lizard Squad weren’t them. Or if it was, it’s possible the “squad” is really just one guy. It’s all secrets and hearsay. But for the purposes of clarity we’ll just accept the events as presented and talk about them assuming everything is true.

This hackingThis entire attack involved both hacking and DDosing. is interesting stuff. What if you had the power to make international news without physically hurting anyone? What if you could do something that would get the world talking? I imagine this is a big part of the motivation for stunts like this. It’s the equivalent of being able to spray graffiti on a global billboard. You can’t take personal credit without going to jail, but you can watch the world respond to your actions.

Which is to say: Harsh penalties won’t be enough to keep people from doing this. People regularly risk their lives for thrills, or to prove a point, or just to see if they can do something. There will always be people willing to stage attacks like this, so the only thing you can do is build robust systems, secure them properly, and make them tolerant of attacks. So, you know, the exact opposite of what we’ve been doing so far.

I think it’s interesting that Lizard Squad went after both PSN and XBL. That certainly made the attack more difficult, since it required them to divide the botnet between two targets, thus halving its power. I imagine this was to make it clear that this wasn’t a protest attack. If they had gone after just XBL, people would have been speculating about their motives. Was this done by Playstation fanboys? Is this to protest Microsoft in some way? As it is, it seems like, “Because they could” is the most plausible reason for the attack.

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Diecast #86: Telltale Games, Christmas DDos Attack, Edutainment Games

  By Shamus   Dec 29, 2014   77 comments

And here is the last Diecast of 2014.

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

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Jacob, and just normal Chris.

Continue reading »

2020201777 comments. (Seventy-seven is the smallest positive integer requiring five syllables in English!)

Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot

  By Shamus   Dec 28, 2014   91 comments

Dear Hollywood:

Since you guys are re-making, re-booting, and re-imagining everything, I assume you’re going to have a go at MASH sooner or later. And you should. And sooner would be better than later. Whoever owns the rights to the show is an idiot.

I subscribe to Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, and I can’t watch MASH on any of them! I guess they want me to buy the boxed set, but… no. I like MASH and all, but I want to watch two or three episodes from different eras of the show, not the entire ten-season run. And I don’t want to pay a hundred freaking dollars for that.

Keep in mind that I’m what’s left of the core audience for MASH. Everyone else is basically dead. (Give or take a decade.) So if I’m not going to buy the disks for a show I remember fondly, you can bet your ass that millenials aren’t going to put down money for a physical copy of a show they’ve never seen. Yeah, some of them caught the show on TV Land or whatever, but most of them just watch stuff online, and that’s where the future is.

Sooner or later my generation will die, and that will be the end of MASH fandom. So you need to reboot this thing while I’m still young enough to make it to the theater on my own. Just find whoever owns the rights to this show and explain how stupid rich they will be after a reboot.

MASH is such an ideal property to reboot that I can’t believe this hasn’t happened yet. It’s a story about war, yet is anti-war. That’s a good setup for having your cake and eating it too. You can have your fun action scenes that make audiences happy while still hitting all those “war is hell” themes that critics like so much. It’s set in a war, so you have an excuse when you need danger or blowing things up, but it’s also a comedy about the boredom that comes from waiting around for war to happen, so you don’t need wall-to-wall action set-pieces. You can squeeze in some trailer friendly action scenes but spend 80% of the movie cracking jokes, which is really cheap to film.

Convinced? No? Willing to listen? Okay then. Let’s do this… Continue reading »

2020202011There are now 91 comments. Almost a hundred!

Jurassic Park Episode 3: The Part Where We Skip Everything

  By Shamus   Dec 26, 2014   103 comments

Link (YouTube)

Thanks again to Pushing Up Roses for joining us on the show. Everyone had fun and we’re all open to doing this again in the future. We’ll see what happens. Be sure to give her channel a look. I mean, where else are you going to go for smart, informed, long-form analysis of twenty-year-old adventure games? IGN?

I think we’re done with Jurassic Park, though. Actually, Chris said some smart things in the comments and they deserve to be in a post, so I’ll let Chris have the last word on Jurassic Park:

Continue reading »

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Merry Christmas

  By Shamus   Dec 25, 2014   43 comments

Have a great holiday everyone. I hope Santa brought you something cool. This post is brought to you by my latest present: A couple of hours of peace and quiet while everyone else visits people and stuff. I’m going to use my gift to work on my end-of-year posts.

Coming in the next few weeks:

  1. My usual end-of-year Dénouement posts.
  2. A series of music posts where I attempt to copy the styles of game soundtracks that I like, as a way of learning more about music.
  3. I’m reading Game Programming Patterns, which was a gift from a friend. (Thanks friend!) I might do some posts about it. The first section in particular is filled with stuff that had me nodding my head.
  4. I still want to comment of Jon Blow’s language proposals. I have a few thousand words on it already. I just need to clean them up and post them.
  5. Pictures of cats and girls in swimsuits. Thousands of them.
  6. Good Robot is not forgotten. It’s been a year since the project stalled. I’ve just upgraded to the new version of Visual Studio. I might restart the project. Or do a code review. Or open source it. Who knows? We’ll see.
  7. One of the items on this list is a lie. (Not this one.)
  8. Added to the list just now: Apparently splash imagesLike the one at the top of this post, which is a picture of me from 1978. that aren’t the proper aspect ratio will get squashed or stretched. I guess I should fix that.

There’s one last episode of Dino Jeep left, which will go up tomorrow.

20203Feeling chatty? There are 43 comments.

Jurassic Park Episode 2: Jurassic Jeep

  By Shamus   Dec 24, 2014   50 comments

Link (YouTube)

Yes, we’re being awfully hard on poor Jurassic Park. Keep in mind that this is a goofy one-off series and not a serious look at the game. We did this specifically for laughs and not because we thought the game was some sort of profound title in the TellTale catalog. It’s just that the mistakes this game makes are hilarious mistakes. Like, the sequence where an unconscious woman manages to stop you from spraying her on the arm? That is both conceptually ridiculous and visually absurd.

This game is kind of goofy and awkward, but the thing that makes it special is that it’s by the same company that gave us The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands. That’s a pretty big step up in quality. This game is to The Walking Dead what Warcraft is to Starcraft. They took an idea and iterated on it until it was great.

It would be interesting to see what they could do with the exact same material today. What would a Jurassic Park game look like now that they’ve improved their craft? I’m guessing it would have a lot less “oops I dropped something, let me wiggle the stick to pick it up again” gameplay.

20201050 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

Experienced Points: The 200th Column – You Asked For This

  By Shamus   Dec 23, 2014   34 comments

Yes, I have written 200 Experienced Points columns. Here is number 200, where I answer reader questions. At an average length of 1,200 words, that’s about a quarter of a million words. If gathered into a book, it would be awkward and heavy. For comparison, Fellowship of the Ring is around 180k, and that thing is a pain in the ass to carry around.

I really enjoyed doing this. One of the things I dislike about this job is the search for topics worthy of doing a column. Will people care? Does this matter? Is this story going to be irrelevant, or fundamentally different, by the time this column goes live? I’ve scrapped a lot of columns and wasted a lot of hours digging for the “right” topic. Reader questions gives me a way to latch onto stuff that people care about, and it lets me cover smaller topics that might not be enough to fill an entire column.

So I hope this goes over well. My plan is that when I have one of those weeks where there doesn’t seem to be a worthy news topic, I can just dive into reader questions.

Of course, this was a terrible week to do this one. Christmas week is odd, traffic-wise. People change their browsing habits. So a tepid response might mean people are just busy Christmas-ing. I dunno. Maybe I’m over-thinking this.

201434 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

Jurassic Park Episode 1: Where is Jeff Goldblum?

  By Shamus   Dec 23, 2014   101 comments

Link (YouTube)

It’s the holidays, so all the rules have been thrown out the window! We’re playing a crappy licensed Telltale game! Chris is our player this timeInasmuch as anyone can “play” this game. Maybe it’s more correct to say he’s in charge of suggesting things for the game to do to itself?! Pushing up Roses is with us! And Josh is mostly sober! It’s chaos!

Following the example set by this game, I’ve decided to translate all of this for the benefit of the Spanish-speakers in the audience.

En español:

It’s las vacaciones, so all the rules have been thrown out the window! We’re playing a crappy licencia Telltale game! Chris is our player this timeEl taco.! Pushing up Roses is with us! And Josh is mostly sobrio! Es un caos!

We’ll return to The Last of Us once the holidays are over. Or when we come to our senses. Whichever comes first.

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Diecast #85: Old Computers, King’s Quest, Retro Games

  By Shamus   Dec 22, 2014   64 comments

This week we have a guest on the show. And since it’s December 22nd, I guess this qualifies our Christmas episode. Sort of. Not that we talk about Christmas. But, you know…. Merry Christmas. Or whatever.

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

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Rutskarn, the other Josh, and Pushing Up Roses.

Show notes: Continue reading »


The Gradient of Plot Holes

  By Shamus   Dec 21, 2014   159 comments

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the JJ Abrams Trek movies. Actually we talked about ALL THE TREKS. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have made that a weekly series instead of doing a new Trek every day. There just wasn’t enough time to give each show the attention it deserved.

But talking about the Star Trek reboot got us talking about plot holes and contrivances, because JJ Abrams doesn’t like to burn screen time explaining why things happen when events seem to break the established rules of the world. So, his Trek movies frequently and flagrantly break all kinds of rules and are constantly having things happen simply for the sake of drama.

Pine, Hemsworth, Pratt, and Evans. We have an overabundance of guys named Chris in our blockbusters.

I’ve talked before about Story Collapse. That’s where you keep getting yanked out of the story by things that don’t make sense. The more it happens (and the more seriously it happens) the more you stop thinking about what you’re seeing now and the more you find yourself looking back, trying to figure out how this can all possibly fit together. If the story is a huge mess, then this sort of reflection will just reveal more problems, and trying to sort out those problems will uncover even more, until you have story collapse.

Continue reading »

A Hundred!202019We've got 159 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.

The Last of Us EP33: Joel’s Sporting Goods

  By Shamus   Dec 19, 2014   62 comments

Link (YouTube)

We spent a lot of time making fun of the stupid church bell, mostly because we were in the middle of a six-hour combat section and had nothing else to talk about. But now that’ I’m thinking about it, what the hell is that bell for? I suppose it exists to let people know of danger, but I think the CONSTANT GUNSHOTS accomplish that. And how does the guy ringing the bell know what’s going on, or if he should stop ringing or start ringing? (Other than listening for gunshots, I guess?) How does this not attract ten thousand zombies?

The scene where Ellie escapes from food prison is so painfully contrived that I can’t stand it. They already have half a dozen dudes hanging up in the meat locker. Plus a horse. Plus a deer. Plus another thirty or so bodies thanks to Ellie and Joel. These idiots have more than enough meat.

But even if they’re going to butcher her now, are they really going to hack her up alive and clothed? Is that how they normally do it? Seems like that would be the messy and extremely dangerous dangerous way of doing things. And then her escape requires David to leave his cleaver where she could reach it, for both of them to fight like dumbasses, and for her knife to be on a shelf right outside the room. What is going on in this videogame?

I’m not even angry. This is just so goofy I actually find the entire sequence disturbingly funny. Two men are trying to chop up a young girl. I should not be laughing right now. I can’t believe all of this happens in the same universe as the tear-jerking scene where Ellie and Riley agree to lose their minds together.

And then at the end they turned David into this ridiculous psycho villain. He was so interesting in that first scene, and now he’s a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Snidely Whiplash. What a big dumb silly sequence.

Thankfully, the worst is now over.

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