The Other Kind of Life – Book Launch

By Shamus Posted Friday Dec 14, 2018

Filed under: Projects 48 comments

I got a copy of my book yesterday. I’m old and I can remember a world where you couldn’t walk around with a hundred books in your pocket, so for me the book wasn’t real until I held it in my hands. But here we are. It’s real. Inside of the cover is a bunch of pages with words on them, just like a real book!

So now you’re wondering where you can go and buy two dozen copies of the thing, right? You can get the Kindle version of The Other Kind of Life, or if you really have it in for trees you can buy the print version, which looks like this:

Contents: Words, punctuation, and whitespace.
Contents: Words, punctuation, and whitespace.

The print version is currently priced at $20.01. I realize that’s a lot for a paperback. Let me explain.

Currently, Amazon is offering a coupon that will give you $5 off for books over $20. We were going to put the book up for $16, but then Amazon offered this deal. If you order the book as it is now, it should offer you the chance to use coupon code “GIFTBOOK18” and you’ll get it for $15. Except, the discount comes out of Amazon’s share, not mine. Essentially, I make more and Amazon makes less, while you supposedly pay less. I tried it when ordering the copy you see above, and it worked as expected.

I’m a little nervous about this. Maybe some people will see that $20 price tag and keep scrolling because you have to click through to see the coupon. Maybe the coupon isn’t available in all regions. Obviously if you’re planning on buying more than one copy then this does you more harm than good.

I don’t know. It seemed silly to leave money on the table, particularly when that money is Amazon’s and not yours. I figure it won’t hurt to have the book like this for a week. The coupon thing runs out on the 21st of this month, at which point we’ll drop the price.

So now I anticipate you’ll have some questions: Continue reading ⟩⟩ “The Other Kind of Life – Book Launch”



Spider-Man Part 3: Fisk Fight

By Shamus Posted Thursday Dec 13, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 94 comments

Our first swing through the city takes us towards Fisk tower as we accompany the police on their way to arrest Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin. Swinging over the police cars is this wonderful moment that really sells the idea that we’re immersed in a city where things are happening, and not just cruising over static scenery.

Fisk’s men are defending the tower with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, trying to prevent their boss from being arrested. Spidey defends the cops and we get our first handful of combat tutorials out of the way.

We learn that this version of Spider-Man is allied with the police. Unlike the unappreciated Spider-Man I remember from my youth, this guy has an established contact in the NYPD. He has a working relationship with Captain Yuriko WatanabePeter calls her “Yuri”. Fun fact: The voice actor for Peter Parker is also named Yuri. That’s not important or anything. I just thought it was a fun bit of trivia., who does for Spidey what Commissioner Gordon does for Batman. She guides him and slightly legitimizes his actions, while making sure his super-heroics don’t  accidentally destroy evidence they’ll need once the bad guys are webbed up.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Spider-Man Part 3: Fisk Fight”



Experienced Points: Taking Out Bethesda’s Trash Bag

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Dec 12, 2018

Filed under: Column 93 comments

My column this week details the mind-boggling string of outrageous failures perpetrated by Bethesda surrounding the Power Armor edition of Fallout 76. Specifically, it talks about how this $200 edition of the game promised a canvas bag but delivered something worth far less.

Like I say in the article, a company as big as Bethesda has no excuse whatsoever for making this kind of mistake. Only an idiot would cut this particular corner. If you’ve got a customer willing to pay you $200 for a videogame with some extra trinkets, then you need to make sure that customer is happy. Not because you’re a nice person or you care about the customer, but because this customer is a cash cow and treating them well will allow you to extract more wealth from them in the future. I’m not faulting Bethesda for being rapacious and exploitative, I’m faulting them for attempting to be rapacious and exploitative and being completely shit at it.

It’s easy to look at Fallout 76 and see that Bethesda is arriving two years late to the fad of Day Z clones. Fine. They attempted to jump on a trend and they miscalculated. Predicting the future is hard and I don’t fault them for messing up. But the canvas bag controversy? Market segmentation is Business 101. This is the easy stuff. The obvious stuff. If you can’t get this right then what are you doing trying to run a company?

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Experienced Points: Taking Out Bethesda’s Trash Bag”



Andromeda Part 9: The Squad

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 11, 2018

Filed under: Mass Effect 73 comments

One of the goals BioWare had for Andromeda was to make a game about being an explorer. That’s what the whole “Pathfinder” thing is about. Strange new worlds, new life, new civilizations, boldly go, etc etc. It’s a great thematic fit for a sci-fi series like this.

But then apparently someone else on the team decided that the Pathfinder should be fourteen months late to the party. The Nexus exiled a bunch of people and now they’re scattered all over the cluster. In the course of the game, you will never be the first person to set foot on a world. For the major worlds, you’re not even the first person from the Milky Way. You’re not even the first human. Everywhere you go you’re bumping into existing human communities and structures.

You’re not the Pathfinder, you’re a tourist.


Before we take off in our shiny new spaceship, let’s look at our starting squad members. Like Mass Effect 1, you begin with a couple of humans and then add aliens to the crew as the story goes on.

As before, your crew members have special “loyalty missions”, which are quests dedicated to their character. In Mass Effect 2, you had to do someone’s loyalty mission to enable them to survive taking part in the suicide mission. It felt a little arbitrary. How does settling Garrus’ grudge enable him to survive a rocket to the face?

Here in Andromeda, you can’t unlock the top-tier abilities for a character until you make them loyal. I like this better. It makes a little more sense and it makes them more generally useful. If I make Garrus loyal in Mass Effect 2, that’s only useful in specific circumstances during the final mission. If I make Cora loyal here in Andromeda, she’s more useful every time we’re in combat together.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Andromeda Part 9: The Squad”



Diecast #235: Black Mesa, The Outer Worlds

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 10, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 67 comments

For whatever reason, my audio is blown out in this episode. I have no idea why. I checked it on my end before we started recording and the levels looked good. This happened a couple of weeks ago and I’m not sure where this is going wrong. It’s amazing that I’ve made 235 of these silly things and I’m still running into new ways that things can fall apart.

I should add that I have my audio going into my headphones and it sounds just fine. The levels coming from the microphone looked reasonable. But somewhere between the microphone and the final recording is a bit of software that’s decided to “help” me a little too much. I was forcibly updated to a new version of Windows a couple of weeks ago. That update is my first suspect, if only because that’s the only thing to have changed recently. I did find a volume slider set to 100%I seem to recall that the slider in Windows audio settings use the convention that 50% is full volume and everything above that is software boosting. I can’t find any confirmation of this., but that doesn’t explain why the levels were fine last week.

I don’t know how people produce regular video content without losing their minds. I feel like every year adds a few more layers of abstraction between me and the hardware.

My voice really is terrible in this one. Sorry. I’d scrap the whole thing, but this episode is a chat with SoldierHawke and we don’t get those very often.

To compensate for this bad sound, I suggest listening to the show in a noisy old car with blown out speakers while driving very fast on a busy highway with the windows down while a truck shadows your blind spot. That should fully mask the audio problems by hiding it under many other audio problems. Also, the constant danger will probably make the show more exciting. Good luck!

Hosts: SoldierHawke, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes: Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Diecast #235: Black Mesa, The Outer Worlds”