Diecast #17: The Citizen Kane of Podcasts

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jun 19, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 134 comments

I won’t tell you not to listen to the podcast because I know you’re going to do it anyway, so I guess I’m stuck preemptively apologizing for this chaos. I really thought they were ready for this. I don’t know what happened.

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01:00 Shamus isn’t here this week.

True story: I was asleep. Since I don’t have obligations at specific times, I generally live on a 25 hour day. I’m currently on my favorite schedule, which is to go to sleep in the evening and get up in the wee hours of the morning. HOWEVER, this schedule is 100% incompatible with The Diecast and Spoiler Warning, which is recorded at night. By next week I expect my schedule to have rolled forward to the point where I can participate again.

08:45 What’s everyone playing, and what’s your favorite E3 news?

Chris made this video and played Animal Crossing.

Rutskarn graduated.

Rutskarn’s dad is playing Infamous 2.

Josh is wanting to play Borderlands 2 but I’m never around due to overlapping Minecraft and Starcraft addictions.

25:00 (ish) The “Citizen Kane of Videogames”. Found here.

54:30 (ish) Mailbag!


From The Archives:

134 thoughts on “Diecast #17: The Citizen Kane of Podcasts

  1. hborrgg says:

    Shamu- what have you been playing this week?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Don’t go Shamus… The drones need you.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        I actually just go that on the GOG sale.

  2. Chris says:

    In fairness to the three of us, there are some reasons we did this this week:

    1. Shamus was, as noted, absent. We didn’t want to progress in Tomb Raider without him, and The Diecast really relies on his iron fist to be as structured as it is.

    2. It was the week after E3. Which you’d think would be full of news! Unfortunately most of the news was video or announcements of stuff where the only real feedback we could give was “Whelp, that looks like it could be awesome. But it could also suck. We’ll find out in several weeks/months, I guess!” We’d just done episodes ragging on the XBone and weren’t really interested in revisiting the DRM controversey again, so we let it ride. So with E3 mostly being either stuff we’d already covered or stuff we couldn’t meaningfully talk about other than nodding our heads in agreement that an announcement or two happened, we had functionally no news stories to discuss. This meant that even if we wanted to, structuring an episode properly would have been difficult. There wasn’t even any hilariously sad SimCity news to make fun of. :(

    3. The three of us agreed to see what a more free form episode would be like. We brought up topics organically instead of making a list ahead of time with the intent of seeing if the more natural flow of conversation led to a more interesting discussion. I’m split on whether this worked – the flow of the show is undeniably less stuffy and awkward, and you can tell we’re all having fun. At the same time I’m not sure people tune into a podcast about video games to hear me talking about watching Commando or listen to Josh talk about X-Files and the like. My guess is opinion on how this plays out will be about 50/50, with half really liking the more loose banter and half absolutely loathing our lack of single topics or any structure whatsoever.

    4. It was father’s day. I’m not sure that’s a valid excuse for three dudes who don’t have kids, but I’m sure it factored in somehow. I know I was tired after spending time with both my parents and then the in-laws.

    All of that said, consider this a one-off experiment in podcasting by a bunch of people still somewhat new to the medium. Unless this is an insanely popular episode we probably won’t do this again for a long while – Shamus has been against goofy nonsense episodes from the moment a podcast was proposed in favor of more tightly edited/structured shows, and honestly this episode does a fair bit to make his point for him. But it also provides a nice compare/contrast, I think, between the rigid topicality and formality our shows typically have and the unstructured meaningless nonsense that’s in this hour-long Vent chat caught on tape. I’d like to think we could strike a sweet balance between the two, but in reality I think that requires what we were afraid of – recording hours of conversation and editing down to 60 minutes of the best stuff. And no one on the team has time to do/handle that. Still, it was a neat experiment where we did the best with what we have.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that we didn’t set out to sabotage the Die Cast. And if we did, it was all Rutskarn’s fault.

    1. Mormegil says:

      Do what Fear the Boot does – slap a warning on it saying it’s a bonus episode, may not adhere to usual content guidelines, don’t listen if you’re easy to offend, may just be the hosts stuffing around and laughing.

      I listen to all the FTB bonus episodes and normally really enjoy them, I’m sure this will be the case when I get around to listening to this episode.

      1. lostclause says:

        I was about to make a similar recommendation actually. FtB spends half their show on a ‘banter topic’ which is fairly freeform and may have nothing to do with rpgs before progressing to a more structured topic that’s the subject of that week’s podcast (unless they forget, then it’s a bonus episode). Maybe a similar structure would work for you guys.

    2. Tony Kebell says:

      Microsoft, just undid EVERYTHING!

      1. Michael says:

        Does it still spy on you?

        1. Asimech says:

          It never spied on you, citizen, and had it done so it would’ve been for your own good.

          But in seriousness, only stuff related to the DRM thing were cancelled, from what I’ve heard. Also it’s likely Microsoft can still un-cancel it.

    3. Thomas says:

      I liked it after a few minutes of adjustment. It was a lot of fun

    4. krellen says:

      You guys keep saying this is a podcast about video games, but I’m pretty sure the underlying demand for such a podcast was just to get to listen in on the SWCrew conversations, regardless of topic. Letting yourselves drift a bit more might be a good thing.

      1. Ardis Meade says:

        Full Agree.

    5. ngthagg says:

      The entertainment value of the podcast for me is listening to you guys talk about stuff you’re interested in (or even passionate about). The standard “what is everyone playing this week” works well for that reason. It’s the least structured part of the episode, but it’s a chance for everyone to talk about what’s on their mind this week. Because of that, I think the standard episode format works well. It opens with an unstructured round table discussion, but then moves into a more structured news-item discussion, giving a little bit of both each episode.

    6. I’ve always looked at the Diecast as being about the personalities on the show as well as the interesting, emergent conversations that come out of people discussing their opinions on topics they care about. The fact that it’s about video games is just a bonus.
      For me, it forms a natural counterpart to Spoiler Warning – Spoiler warning is about the analysis of games (with the bonus of interesting personalities), Diecast is about interesting personalities (with the bonus of video game stuff).

    7. TouToTheHouYo says:

      I listen to Podtoid, Destructoid’s podcast that is barely fit for human consumption and only tangentially has anything to do with videogames, despite being a videogame podcast on a videogame website, and only really popular because it’s been around off and on since 2006 and is presently hosted by Jim Sterling, the caustic Brit who isn’t Yahtzee that most know as “Jimquistion.”

      I am not only accustomed to barely cohesive perpetually off topic banter, I wholeheartedly prefer it. Having specific topics to cover is fine, but especially if you have little to actually talk about, a free form approach doesn’t hurt. I don’t listen to the Diecast for the same reasons as Podtoid but I always enjoy hearing casters banter back and forth. I’d say as an experiment it did well and I’d love to hear additional episodes as such occasionally in future.

    8. Cybron says:

      It was alright. I think it was fun, but I doubt it’d hold up as well to repeated performances as the standard format does.

    9. Kai says:

      I’d say some structure makes the show better, but it’s still nice listening to you talking about whatever comes to your minds. So I’d suggest that you stick with setting up some kind of agenda with things you definitely want to mention or discuss, while still allowing for enough free talking time and going off onto tangents.

      And I agree with those who say that the show doesn’t really have to be just about videogames – talk about whatever you enjoy talking about! That’s what I want to hear!

    10. harborpirate says:

      Yeah, I really did not like the format of this episode. Sorry, thats less diplomatic than I wanted to be, but I’d rather be unambiguous.

      I agree with several of the folks above – slap a warning on these episodes that they’re completely unstructured.

      I found the rambling nature really hard to follow, and it felt like (might just be perception) that there was a lot more cross-talk in this episode, which didn’t help.

      I don’t mind banter for part of each episode, in fact, that often makes for a better podcast, but its nice when the meat of the show has more structure. It feels more polished, more professional, and at least for this listener, a lot easier to listen to.

    11. shiroax says:

      I actually quite like this. There was another one a few episodes back where you also mainly just goofed around and that was fun too.

  3. Mathias says:

    A Song of Ice and Fire started in 1994.

    I only know this because it’s also the year I was born.

    …That feels weird to say.

    Also, as someone who’s really interested in medieval history, you would not believe how much A Song of Ice and Fire annoys me. The whole game is very much based on the feudal code around the earlier Middle Ages, but its technology, setting, and feudal hierarchy is much more telling of an organized feudal society in the Late Middle Ages. On top of that, apparently every one of the Seven Kingdoms is capable of supplying itself with a disproportionate number of longbowmen, regardless of the climate in their respective kingdoms, or the general income level or disposition of its citizens. The author does a really great job of recreating feudal politics, but he basically leaves any attempt at seriously representing feudal warfare at the door.

    1. Akri says:

      I have a friend who roleplays a teutonic knight in the SCA, and who gets really into the historical stuff (he’s read all of the books GRRM cites as references, plus a few dozen more). It’s fun to watch him get all twitchy when someone talks about how “realistic” ASOIAF is :D

    2. I’ve little idea of how realistic Game of Thrones truly is, but keep in mind that this is a world where magic does work, some high-magic (technology?) civilization has suffered a nuclear apocalypse, and seasons last for years.

      I mean, once you toss that into the mix, what’s “accurate?”

      1. Chamomile says:

        I hate this line of thought so much. No, introducing magic into the setting doesn’t automatically give you a “get out of explanation free” card. Unless the magic actually applies to the situation at hand, just saying “but there’s magic!” doesn’t mean that it is suddenly more logical to have nonsensical logistics and sociology in a story about the manipulation of logistics and sociology, because that is what war and politics are.

    3. ? says:

      +1 to that.

      It also bothers me how with limited number of noble houses ( to the point that characters can instantly recognize a sigil of some obscure house from halfway across a continent) and thousands of years of history (Starks always ruled the North, Lannisters had the Westerlands since the age of heroes, Arryns ruled the Vale since Andal conquest) and yet marriage between Baratheons and Starks is presented as huge “joining of the houses” when they should be thoroughly intermarried by that point. Also for ancient noble houses only Lannisters have sensible number of people in their extended family, with lots of uncles, cousins and cadet branches. Every other great house consists of a patriarch, his wife and his kids minus casualties.

      1. AyeGill says:

        “Also for ancient noble houses only Lannisters have sensible number of people in their extended family, with lots of uncles, cousins and cadet branches. Every other great house consists of a patriarch, his wife and his kids minus casualties.”

        This bothered/bothers me so much. It’s as if every generation of every noble house always has all the sons but one murdered.

    4. Alexander The 1st says:

      “A Song of Ice and Fire started in 1994.

      I only know this because it's also the year I was born.”

      So hypothetically, you could be the reincarnation of Ned Stark?

      1. Mathias says:

        …Hypothetically speaking, yes.

        And I guess you could handwave it by saying that some technological advances from the age of ancient Valyria weren’t lost, but it still feels weird to have an early feudal society in terms of common law, and then have the technological advances of the comparatively more ordered Late Middle Ages, especially since some of the advances of this technology logically should lead to an improvement of the estates that eventually came into (more) power during the Late Middle Ages, such as craftsmen and merchants.

        Also, the whole “every army has longbows” thing is weird because training longbowmen is incredibly difficult. An old English proverb was “if you want a good archer, start with his grandfather.” The English were able to drum up longbowmen because common law demanded that landowners with a high enough yearly income (called yeomen) bought and trained with a bow every Sunday after church. They had entire laws dedicated to archery that allowed them to, eventually, train an enormous amount of people with the longbow. For every noble house in Westeros to do the same would be astronomically difficult, especially in areas where it would be hard to grow the type of wood necessary to make a good longbow.

        1. Syal says:

          They have fantasy trees though. Those grow in any climate.

          There’s probably some fantasy string in there too that makes longbows easier to use.

          1. Dave B. says:

            Well, fantastical story elements certainly give the author some license to gloss over details, but for the sake of discussion let’s consider:

            There are primarily two things about any bow that makes it difficult to use.

            1. The stiffness of the bow vs. the strength of the archer. Estimates of Medieval English longbows’ draw weights range between 80 and 185 pounds. (Draw weight is the force the archer must exert to bend the bow.) Longbows used in battle were designed like this in order to impart enough force into an arrow to pierce a knight’s armor. In contrast, a typical modern bow has a draw weight between 50 and 75 pounds. It would take a lot of strength training for a longbowman to be able to use a full-size bow like that, though the ubiquity of armored knights in ASOIAF suggests that their longbows were not quite stout enough yet to pierce armor.)

            2. Aim. A modern compound bow usually comes with some kind of sights, for good reason. Sights and other aiming aids greatly simplify the process of making an arrow go where you want it to. Without them, you must practice exhaustively until it is perfectly natural for you to place the arrow in the same position on the bow, draw your hand to the same place relative to your eyes (the corner of the mouth is a popular “mark”) and judge the distance to your target and the angle of the arrow’s launch, mentally correcting for wind, and the fact that the arrow is slightly beside your line-of-sight. Other than anachronistic tech, there’s no substitute for a lifetime of training.

            With these facts in mind, magical string doesn’t plausibly solve the story’s problems.

            1. Mathias says:

              Longbows were never really able to pierce heavy plate armor, though. The way plate armor was used in warfare wasn’t so much to absorb a blow as it was to deflect it. That’s why you see a lot of curvature on suits of plate armor – to make sword blows and arrows slide off.

              What made the longbow so deadly and useful was the fact that it had relatively high penetrating power (hough not as high as a crossbow) coupled with the archer’s ability to shoot approximately ten arrows a minute.

              To illustrate how scary that is, at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, King Henry V’s army was composed of about 5.000 longbowmen and about 1.000-1.200 men-at-arms. That means those 5.000 longbowmen shot 50.000 arrows a minute. Reportedly, they were out of arrows ten minutes into the battle (meaning half a million arrows had been fired at the poor French knights at that point.) Even with a relatively bad penetrating power, some of those arrows are bound to get through, and even if they don’t, they could cause bruises, broken bones, and the like. The shock of impact wasn’t absorbed by the plate armor, but an ablative layer of padded clothing underneath, and if you aimed right, it wasn’t going to protect the wearer from all of the kinetic force.

              1. Dave B. says:

                True, the longbow never reached “like a hot knife through butter” levels, but it did prove very effective in more than one battle against French knights in the Hundred Years War. This is cited by many historians as a contributing factor in the diminished role of the knight on the battlefield. That’s one thing a lot of fantasy authors get wrong; they treat the military technology of the Middle Ages as a static thing when it was really an ever-escalating arms race.

                Well, now I’m starting to sound lecture-y, so I’ll shut up.

                1. Akri says:

                  By all means, keep lecturing! This is really interesting stuff.

                2. Mathias says:

                  The Hundred Years’ War was partially won by the English because of longbows, but that was by no means the only reason.

                  The English had some truly inspired generals at the time, and some of the kings and princes of the early Hundred Years’ War, namely Edward III, the instigator, as well as his son, Edward “The Black Prince” were great leaders and generals for their time, and helped to revolutionize the ways wars were fought and financed.

                  One of the other reasons was the fact that the English started using something called the indenture system. Rather than the old feudal system of mass-conscription from the peasantry, with each noble family being responsible for raising X number of professional troops and X number of peasants, the King instead gave each noble X amount of money to raise X number of men-at-arms (professional soldiers who weren’t nobility, but stil had the training and equipment of a knight,) archers, and other support troops (such as hobilars, which you can think of as precursors to the dragoons of Napoleotic warfare.)

                  Knights didn’t become less relevant because of the longbow so much as they became increasingly irrelevant because their status as ‘special’ started dwindling when suddenly mercenaries could reach the same levels of training and equipment because of the slow rise of the merchant estate, which could afford to equip their soldiers. The longbow was certainly a contributing factor to the shift in the balance of power, but it was because of the fact that these were peasants (or rather, yeomen, as they were known then,) who had access to an incredibly deadly weapon that most knights wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. On top of this, since the feudal nobility was paid by the King to finance their troops, suddenly the King held a lot more economic power and was less dependent on knights. Though they were still considered the elite, they lost more and more of their importance, especially during the Hundred Years’ War, particularly in England. France still considered its knights its pride and joy during most of the War, but even they swiftly learned.

                  And it is true, medieval times weren’t static. The Late Middle Ages had quite a few interesting developments, namely the reduction of the nobility’s influence over merchants and other estates with financial influence, and the Hundred Years’ War gave birth to the House of Commons in England.

                  One interesting note: You know how in most RTS games, knights on horseback trample archers? One of the first things the French learned when fighting in the Hundred Years’ War was that riding on horseback against archers was a terrible idea. While the riders were armored top to bottom in heavy plate, most of their riding animals weren’t. Thus, the archers would simply aim for the horses and let the riders crash, which might incapacitate or even kill them. Even if it didn’t, it injured and slowed them down.

                  1. Dave B. says:

                    I could not have said it better. Thanks.

                    BTW, that is an interesting fact about RTS games and trampling. I wonder, if it was so ineffective in real life, why do we always just accept it in our games? Hmmm…

                    1. Mathias says:

                      Weirdly enough, that’s a thing D&D did right. Armor class in that game was about making you harder to hit, not mitigating damage, and that’s exactly what the purpose of plate armor was.

                      And then every game since has just made it “plate armor makes you tankier,” which is silly.

                      And I think the reason we accept it is the same reason we accept that red barrels explode – it’s just a genre staple we’ve gotten used to, and now we don’t really think about it all that much. Even games like Total War have it as a mechanic (unless you do the sharpened stakes thing,) and in fact, cavalry is even tougher than regular infantry in that game. We don’t think about it because it’s become an ingrained genre staple.

                  2. Akri says:

                    Re: the trampling thing

                    Another thing games tend to get wrong is shields. Weapons are treated as varied tools with a wide array of functions, strengths, and weaknesses, but shields are essentially the same. The reality is that shields are just as varied as weapons. Try using a buckler like a scutum, and see how long it takes for your internal organs to become external ones.

  4. The name “Tooms” triggers a Mass Effect memory? I thought someone on the show here was watching the X-Files for the first time.

    1. Mintskittle says:

      Isn’t Tooms the from the Sole Survivor track? The other guy who survived the Cerberus Thresher Maw and went on a Cerberus Scientist hunt? I could be wrong, it’s been a long time since I last played ME1.

      EDIT: From the Mass Effect Wiki:
      If Commander Shepard has the Sole Survivor background, the Commander was the only known Marine to make it out of Akuze alive. If Shepard meets Officer Eddie Lang on the Citadel with this background, Lang will comment on a monument at Akuze and an entire section dedicated to Commander Shepard, suggesting that the colony of Akuze survived the thresher maw massacre, or at least that a new one was established in its place.

      Shepard can later discover that there was another survivor, Corporal Toombs, who claims the slaughter at Akuze was not an accident. According to Toombs, the renegade black ops group Cerberus deliberately set the thresher maws on the marines, to study the creatures and see how the unit reacted.

      1. That’s as maybe, but last Diecast, Josh mentioned he was watching the X-Files via Netflix for the first time, and Tooms was one of the more popular “monsters” of the early shows and got a sequel episode down the line.

        1. Josh says:

          See I didn’t like the sequel episode, though. I didn’t see the point of bringing him back and the justification seemed really thin given the massive body of evidence they had against him in the first episode.

  5. I also apologize for being “that guy,” but for Chris:

    At around 23:45, it’s “cachet,” (pronounced ca-SHAY) meaning “this thing has special gravitas,” not “cache,” as in “the mutant had a cache of ammo in his outhouse.”

    Here’s the Grammarist’s examples of the two terms. Again, sorry, but I’ve heard it here before and knew that something had to be done before civilization (I don’t know which one, V maybe?) collapsed.

    1. Chris says:

      I always mispronounce this word. Always. I am terrible at it.

      I remember that you don’t pronounce the ‘t’ at the end, and then my mind just translates that to “HEY WE DON’T NEED THAT LAST SYLLABLE, DO WE?!”

      1. Maybe a hypnotist can tie it to how you say “beret?”

        That might be drastic, though, and you could wind up in Manchurian Candidate territory. :)

        1. Syal says:

          You might also end up calling berets ‘bears’ from thereon out.

          1. “In other news, a man was arrested for panicking artists, stereotypical French people, and certain members of the military by telling them how they looked with a large, carnivorous animal on their head. After numerous injuries and riots, the suspect was tazered and held for questioning.”

          2. Zombie says:

            “Dude! There’s a bear coming strait for us!”
            “Chris, weird hat-things cannot walk, talk or run, no matter what those video games tell you.”
            “No, like bears! Big, fuzzy, man-eating kill machines that climb trees and eat honey! And I don’t think he wants our picanic basket Boo Boo!”

    2. anaphysik says:

      In Chris’ defense, *I* used to pronounce ‘cache’ “ca-shay.”

  6. Paul Spooner says:

    Wow, at 45 seconds this was your most concise show ever! Good job guys!

    Rename it “The Diescast” and then you can spend an entire episode discussing where to put the spaces and apostrophes.

  7. Merkel says:

    I would totally agree with you about Pacific Rim if not for one thing: Guillermo del Toro. This is the guy who took a break in a film about the son of Cthulu-Satan fighting an evil Elven prince for the fate of humanity to give us character-building via said demonic progeny getting drunk with his Fishman buddy and listening to country music. This is the guy who told a vampire story that touched on issues like addiction, and grandfather/granddaughter relationship, and American corporate neo-colonialism. This is a guy who made one of the most beautiful fantasy films ever, that may or may not end with a child effectively committing suicide (depending on whether or not you believe in magic). Guillermo del Toro has soul to spare.

    1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Agreed. I would be more interested in seeing Evangelion vs. Godzilla just for the laughs.

      But it’s Guillermo del Torro.

      Man deserves a shot.

      1. Tizzy says:

        so definitely thirded.

    2. My inner physics geek is upset at some of the footage (especially using the oil tanker as a club without it flying apart), not to mention the idea that fighter aircraft would launch missiles at a ground target that can’t avoid or jam them and then fly into claw/melee range so they can get smashed out of the air.

      And I know it’s kind of an anime trope, but it really looks to me like our robot (which can hit things without damaging itself, mind you) requires two guys to play Dance Dance Revolution to pilot them. Not to mention that I’m going to need one heck of a good reason why we need a giant robot in the first place beyond “the rule of cool.” I mean, at least Battletech/Mechwarrior had an advancement or two in technology that lampshaded why giant robots were in use.

      It’s no sillier than other productions, I admit, but it’s meant to be taken somewhat seriously given the apparent level of destruction and the death toll.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Even handwaving away everything about giant robots, they’re still the most BLAND type of giant robots: near-identical humanoid giants :/. /Maybe/ some of them will be painted different colours, or carry different missiles or something.

        Yeah, a lot of kaiju were pretty generic, but those /aren’t the ones we remember/ (except for really popular generics, like Godzilla/Gojira). When you think of the monsters Godzilla faced, you think of /how different they looked/; Mothra, Rodan, Hedorah, King Ghidora, Megalon, those guys (hell, even King Kong in that one film). They all have very different morphologies while still allowing a dude-in-a-suit to portray them (except for Mothra, I guess).

        The monsters were really only briefly shown in the trailer, and not very well at that, but even /they/ looked pretty similar to each other (though I did see a Rodan-like one very briefly). (Admittedly, it’s possible that they’re only showing a few of the total designs. Axe-face shows up a lot :/)

        I guess my point is: if you’re going for total handwaving, then you’d better damn well make what the handwaving allows *legitimately* cool and interesting. Because otherwise it’s just double dumb :/

  8. Thomas says:

    Tom Clancy, the man who gets people to pay him to put his name in great big letters on their books. There’s a special level commercialism in him, I don’t know if he even writes anymore, his brand his self-sustained by people paying to use his brand on their stuff

    I loved the Sum of All Fears film though, so at least his name gets used on good products

    1. Jeff R. says:

      If there’s an apostophe after his name, he’s written absolutely nothing of the book whatsoever.

      If not, the amount the various authors wrote is inversely proportional to the size of their name on the cover. So in the last three Jack Ryan books, that amounts to (1) Maybe the Title, and (2) The obvious political ax-grinding bits.

      1. Ithilanor says:

        …just the last three?

      2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Clancy can grind a political axe pretty hard. Sum of All Fears and Debt of Honor demonstrate that.

        He’s semi-retired now, doing more non-fiction than fiction.

        But if you want accuracy in your novels, Clancy was the one to go to. Somewhat famously, he deduced how the classified navigation systems on attack subs would have to work.

        Also – in the book, it was Denver, and the book was accurate enough that Clancy modified it so that he wouldn’t be publishing the details of how to build hydrogen bombs (said instructions apparently available at your local library…).

        Baltimore was in the movie, and while not a bad movie, it was a pale immitation of the book.

    2. BeardedDork says:

      I was in the 82nd Airborne Division, when the Tom Clancy novel “Airborne” came out and it got passed around the barracks with many laughs. Usually accompanied with something like, “Hey, check out how awesome we are.”

    3. Steve C says:

      I thought Tom Clancy sold his name entirely.

  9. meyerkev says:

    You guys talked about the Deep Roads, and totally forgot about the Fade.

    The Deep Roads were 30 hours of running around in a sewer level with your companions

    The Fade was 10 hours of NOTHING but solo combat combined with painful mechanics forcing you to toss out your carefully crafted character.

    /Of course, I played as a Mage who specialized in casting AOE spells on himself on Easy so combat (outside of like 2 fights) was really easy.

    1. Supahewok says:

      I guess I’m in the minority when I say that I like the Fade. It’s a change in pace, and personally I next to always like a segment in a party-based game where one of my characters goes solo. Just makes them feel like a badass for being able to handle themselves without support. Plus, the Fade is the only place in the game (that I know of) where you can get permanent stat boosts. I LOVE PERMANENT STAT BOOSTS. There’s something about your stats going up that I really, really love. I guess that’s why I’m a huge Fire Emblem fan.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        The thing is, if you aren’t going mage, then in order to survive the Deep Roads, you have to do the Fade first, basically.

        And a lot of that time is spent in forms unrelated to your character’s build, doing things you weren’t expecting to do.

        If you’re badly spec’d, then it’s even worse, as you deal with slow fights that end up killing you.

        And the final boss of the Fade? Even your typical JRPG final boss doesn’t have that many forms.

        1. Zombie says:

          Plus, to get any kind of “happy” resolution to Red Cliffe or whatever its called, you HAVE to do the Fade first, and do so in a way that you can get the Mages to help you.

          Plus, for an RPG, the place is just really confusing. I mean, you have to have one form to get this form, but you have to have another to get to this mini-boss, but to continue any further here, you have to have this other one. There’s five areas and four forms, so you will be doing a LOT of backtracking. And as someone who hates to backtrack, that by itself makes the Fade the worst area in the game.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      The fade was 2 hours, tops. Seriously, it was a single dungeon instance with 9 tiny locales.

      1. LunaticFringe says:

        This. People can complain about the Deep Roads and I totally get it (even if I don’t honestly mind the Deep Roads either) but the Fade is pretty easy to get through after you’ve done it once. I don’t really have a problem with the Fade first time around either, it’s got some variation and character development (as well as hints to later companion quests, which I thought was cool).

    3. Humanoid says:

      I don’t have any particular feeling about the Fade – it was about as interesting or uninteresting as the rest of the game. I see there’s a mod that removes it for example, but I’d have thought that removing everything from the end of the origin story up to the end of the Ostagar sequence, which I loathe, or even to the end of the Lothering sequence.

      The game in the end is one where my playthrough ended up dying a death of a thousand cuts – eventually the irritations built up such that I quit about 2/3rds to 3/4ths* through.

      * Wait, how do you write three-quarters in shorthand? 3/4rs? Huh, never thought about it before.

      1. anaphysik says:

        “* Wait, how do you write three-quarters in shorthand? 3/4rs? Huh, never thought about it before.”



      2. Thomas says:

        I think it has to be three fourths(3/4ths). If you want three quarters I think you write it as 3/4’s. I don’t know why, you can’t test it because we don’t have a separate word for thirds. thirths? =D

        1. anaphysik says:

          *sigh*, you simply write “2/3,” “3/4,” etc., like how you write “1/2.”
          The 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/nth thing is specifically for *ordinals*, not just any old numbers. And though my suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, percentages really are (along with fractions <1) appropriate to employ here.

          And if you're dead-set on using ordinals…
          "3/4 through" = "after the 3rd quarter and before the 4th quarter"

    4. Phantos says:

      Oddly enough, I don’t remember the Deep Roads in Dragon Age: Origins, but the Fade is the reason I will never replay it.

      Even if I’m wrong, and the Deep Roads is provably worse in every way, the Fade is just what I remember being the worst part. It has a way of sticking out as seeming like the most grueling part in my memory.

  10. Thomas says:

    The fantasy genre really does have a low reach of sources. Even in the Britain theme that most of them take, basically none of them dive into British mythology even. It’s a Tolkien or a vague middle ages political mash-up that covers like 75% of fantasy books.

    1. It’s incredibly frustrating. If you are going to make fantasy, then why are you creating Tolkien Fan Fiction by another name?

    2. Mathias says:

      Urban fantasy, at least the books I’m familiar with, tend to dive into some British mythology.

      And much of Tolkien’s worldbuilding is based on mythology that closely resembles British mythology (elves are pretty much lifted straight from their incarnation in Norse mythology, same with dwarves.)

      1. Thomas says:

        Tolkien’s mythology is pretty separate from British mythology (like old British mythology). There are some elements (I think the Dàºnadan bear some etymological similarity to the Tuatha Dé Danann of the Irish) but Tolkien himself wrote that he had a personal dislike of celtic mythology.

        So I don’t think there really is much in the way of Brythonic or gallic influence in LOTR. I think it’s most British influence is at best Saxon which was a relatively late influence and most of it is nordic or germanic.

        EDIT: To be fair apparently there’s a lot of similarity between the silmarillion and the Mabinogion and with the Elvish language and British-Welsh but that’s not the Tolkien parts that people really copy from

        1. Mathias says:

          Whoopsie. That was a mistake on my part, I meant to say “Norse or Germanic mythology” in my original post. I’m obviously not talking Celtic mythology, which is different altogether.

    3. Michael says:

      I’m British, and I think I can comfortably claim there is no such thing as “British mythology.” We are far too focused on the sub-sections, mythology-wise. Don’t ever let a Welsh person hear you describe the Mabinogion as ‘British’ (nor even ‘British-Welsh’) unless you’re in the mood for a punch-up!

      I have a feeling that what Josh was going for was “generic medieval setting” rather than “British” specifically, and may just have had e.g. the Knights Who Say ‘Ni’ in the back of his mind. (At least, I think it was Josh who mentioned Britain – I listened to the cast all the way back this morning and in my preemptive defence have been in a generic British pub for several hours…) If I’m right about that (and I’d love to be corrected if not) then I agree with what I think was the point: fantasy shouldn’t limit itself to either the Dark Ages or 40,000 AD.

      1. Josh says:

        Pretty much nose on. I was referring to the general fuedal-era “Britishness” of the stereotypical fantasy setting, with the accents you see everywhere and the chivalry and the rolling hills and forests and swamps and so on. Most fantasy works could be filmed in the English countryside with English actors (and the occasional Scotsman or Irishman because accents!) with no modification to the setting whatsoever. That’s pretty boring.

        And what is it about fuedal Europe anyway? There were far more interesting things going on pretty much everywhere else on the planet at the time. Greece was still Roman, the Middle East and China were experiencing golden ages, India and southeast Asia was becoming a melting pot of different cultures and religions and ideologies because of their positions on the silk road and the Indian Ocean trade routes, etc.

        And that’s just during the so called (and so very European) “Dark Ages” and completely ignores the other 4000 years worth of recorded history and mythology that you could use.

        1. Mathias says:

          And the Dark Ages weren’t even particularly dark.

          And when Tolkien designed his setting, he took various disparate European cultures. Gondor is very obviously based on Rome, whereas Rohan is basically vikings with swords. There isn’t even anything culturally unique about a lot of those fantasy settings, it’s just a mishmash of different cultures without much rhyme or reason or cultural differences.

          And chivalry was more a French thing than a British thing. The English, at least during the golden age of chivalry, weren’t all that vital in the grand cultural scheme.

  11. Tony Kebell says:


    1. Michael says:

      They should really go ahead and rebrand it “XBox One-Eighty.”

    2. Chamomile says:

      Yes, but the evil camera is non-negotiable.

  12. Thomas says:

    Josh there’s a game you can play with 5 friends where you each take a role on the bridge of a spaceship and each have individual screens with specific information, so it plays out completely Star Trek

    1. Jamas Enright says:

      You’ll be thinking of Artemis


      1. Asimech says:

        And if board games are your thing there’s Space Cadets: http://www.shutupshow.com/post/44856639527/your-guide-to-space-cadets (even if they’re not, that’s a funny piece)

  13. Ithilanor says:

    Congratulations on graduating, Rutskarn!

  14. Chris says:

    Shamus the Eastwood wearing a poncho with a six shooter for debugging.

    1. “Shame! Come back, Shame!”

      1. Bryan says:

        OK, I laughed *far* harder at that than I had any right to.

        I award five Internets.

        Well done, sir.

  15. The Rocketeer says:

    Sleeping Dogs was damn good, but it’s been long enough since I’ve played it that I don’t remember it well enough to praise its specific merits.

    EXCEPT! Except for the soundtrack. Sleeping Dogs has a killer soundtrack, and it’s a shame some of the songs seem impossible to get a hold of.

    1. McNutcase says:

      Daptone Radio is best radio. As far as I’m concerned, Hong Kong sounds like sassy brass and sweet guitar tone.

      1. impassiveimperfect says:

        Huh, for me Hong Kong was all about Cantonese gangster rap.

        H-Klub 4 lyfe.

  16. 6b64 says:

    Crusader Kings II actually has a Game of Thrones mod.

  17. Weimer says:

    Toombs from Mass Effect.

    When someone said Toombs my pavlovian instinct went straight to the Riddick movies, which led to me thinking that the Mass Effect games should have had (Pitch Black) Riddick as their protagonist.

    “Back to the Normandy, huh? Just huddle together, until the lights burn out? ‘Til you can’t see what’s eating you? Is that the big plan?”

    “All you aliens are so scared of me. Most days I’d take that as a compliment. But it ain’t me you gotta worry about now. The Reapers are here.”

  18. Siythe says:

    I like it when people experiment. In this case however I think Shamus was on the money. Your ramblings on the nature of games need a little more focus for me to enjoy.

  19. Paul Spooner says:

    I’d be interested to find out the download numbers for the Diecast. What’s the circulation like? A hundred? A thousand?

    Rutskarn’s home life sounds amazing. Is every conversation some sort of punata?

    “Tombs raiders” the latest MMORPG! None of the tombs are instanced, so the loot just re-spawns after a short period… nine out of ten, the next WOW killer.

    Tom Clancy is an interesting writer. His works are flavored with genuine patriotism which (although I certainly do not share) I can admire. He does (or, did?) a ton of research before the Internet was a thing. I appreciate his skill, but it seems like his time has passed.

    Discussions of “The Last of Us” seem to assume that cover based shooters are the pinnacle of the medium. It’s pretty good for what it is, but what it is has already been overwrought. I’d give it a pass even if I had the hardware to run it. Sad really. Seems well executed.

    Ooh ooh! Rutskarn mentioned that he wrote an analysis essay about “My Immortal” again! That means that I get to bring up my…

    So, head tracking displays and voice controls are all that’s going to stick? No phased sonic inner ear stimulation? No haptic interfaces? No force feedback rigs? No joysticks even? Man… the future sucks. (Thanks for the discussion though!)

  20. Nidokoenig says:

    Campster, your list of good 3DS games is missing Kid Icarus: Uprising, which is utterly awesomesauce, though I’ve heard a lot of griping about the controls. From my perspective as a motion sickness sufferer who thus doesn’t play enough FPS or TPS games to be any good at them, it’s no more arcane than mouse and keyboard for a third person shooter/brawler, though having to unlearn muscle memory and movement expectations probably makes it a lot harder.
    And more topically, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow War: The Subtitlening, which is a turn-based strategy game by Julian Gollop, which feels a lot like a simplified, on-rails X-Com. The levels and enemy placement are set in stone so once you’ve solved a level’s ‘puzzle’ you’re essentially done with it, but I got around 40 hours of play before I decided the last three optional missions where going to be more about messing with the AI than winning an actual fight. Also, the skill system can make your Medic and stealth specialist crazy awesome to the extent they can clear whole levels with a knife and an adrenaline pack between them.

    1. Michael says:

      I really liked the character interaction and silly dialog in Uprising for what I could stand of it, but the actual gameplay was just… Ugh.

      Movement and difficulty selection were probably the biggest factors that killed it for me. The normal movement speed just feels sluggish, and there’s a limit on sprinting for no good reason. The tutorial video says it’s “so you can’t just run past all the enemies,” but that’s a moot point 99% of the time since the stages are mostly made up of rooms with doors that won’t open until all the enemies are dead anyway.

      And getting bumped down an entire difficulty level for dying once, with no option to stick with the one I picked besides starting the whole stage over again from the flight section, is just chew-my-own-fingers-off frustrating.

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        Speed is more a thing you have to get used to. It varies wildly from staffs and clubs feeling like walking in treacle to palms and claws going so fast you can make characters interrupt themselves.
        You can also start walking by pushing the analogue gently, then pushing it to it’s limit, which causes Pit to trot along in a way that looks like he’s riding an imaginary horse side-saddle. It’s fast enough, if you’re not using a staff or club. And unlimited run with claws or palms would utterly break the game, even in small rooms.

        I can understand being aggravated by the difficulty drop. It’s mostly a mindset thing, though, it’s designed to encourage the 1cc philosophy from arcades, and to encourage you to try starting on a higher difficulty so that you manage to clear it on whatever your “comfortable” difficulty is. But there’s definitely an element of the game being a bit dickish, so people are definitely going to be divided on whether that motivates them to play something else or to beat it into submission.

  21. GeneralBob says:

    Sitting down and pugging some tf2 while listening to the diecast is the highlight of my week, keep em coming.

  22. Muspel says:

    “Shamus is gonna kill us!”

    Putting the “die” in “Diecast”, I see.

  23. River Birch says:

    Rutskarn, your father-son pun moment made my day. Thank you very very much.

    1. Mintskittle says:

      Punskarn is best skarn.

    2. Humanoid says:

      In hindsight I’m mildly disappointed that Dadskarn wasn’t invited to guest star this week. Being almost as old as Shamus he’d be a like-for-like replacement.

  24. Humanoid says:

    Soo, a couple days left on the Unrest Kickstarter. I’m pondering upgrading to the boxed version, but am a bit weirded out thinking that there’ll be a production run of barely one-dozen copies of it. What are they going to do, just have Ruts burn copies at home and put them into used Raisin Bran boxes turned inside out, with hand-drawn cover art done in crayon?

    On reflection, please, please make this happen.

  25. Blov says:

    The thing with Citizen Kane is that it’s the only Hollywood Welles film that wasn’t mangled to pieces by idiots with money. Also, while I agree with Chris that its importance to film as a whole is almost always overstated (nothing on Strike or Birth of a Nation or what have you), I still think it’s one of the few American films that manages to scratch basically every itch at the same time and be fairly innovative at the same time.

    1. anaphysik says:

      I was going to say that I liked /The Third Man/, but then realized that that wasn’t done via Hollywood, so…

      1. Blov says:

        Also not directed or written (aside from a speech or two) by Welles. The restored Touch of Evil is incredibly good pulp with some of Welles’ best directing. The (blah) Magnificent Ambersons and the (great) Lady From Shanghai are both worth seeing but we’ve just lost so much footage that it gets kind of hard to see the original vision in it.

        The Stranger is kind of a good and kind of a bad film – that’s also lost a bit, though.

  26. Frankenstein says:

    I realise you only spoke about inFAMOUS 2 for like a minute. But that is like my third favorite videogame of all time.
    Fallout 1/NewVegas>InFAMOUS2
    Its got probably the most likeable and well rounded characters of anything I have played. I also love the create a mission option so you can play forever essentially. And it is has my favorite ending(s) in video games. Also New Orleans is a brilliant free roam space. ITS NOT “Not New York!” and its not “NOT GREAT BRITAIN!”

    On Topic: I enjoyed the lack of structure, but I would probably like it less if this was done repeatedly.

    1. Thomas says:

      I’m still impressed with just how willing they were to see through all the consequences of the evil side. To the extent I’ve determined that I’m never going to personally play through that ending

  27. papersloth says:

    Just so you know Josh, there sort of IS a Molag Bal/Vivec slashfic in-game book in Morrowind, you just have to read a bit between the lines.

    “…My love is accidentally shaped like a spear.’

    So Vivec, who had a grain of Ayem’s mercy, set about to teach Molag Bal in the ways of belly-magic. They took their spears out and compared them. Vivec bit new words onto the King of Rape’s so that it might give more than ruin to the uninitiated. This has since become a forbidden ritual, though people still practice it in secret.

    Here is why: The Velothi and demons and monsters that were watching all took out their own spears. There was much biting and the earth became wet…”

    1. anaphysik says:

      First words: “Vivec lay with Molag Bal”


  28. DIN aDN says:

    Rutskarn has caused me to remember something involving Carol Channing which I’m going to go and inflict on everyone else now.

    Unless that’s actually what you were referencing, in which case I’m extraordinarily confused.

  29. papersloth says:

    On the whole recent citizenkane thing, it just makes me sick whenever people (often indirectly) say that cutscenes are the best videogames have to offer. It just reeks of infantilism and trying to mimick movies, ignoring the actual strengths of the medium. And I would obviously expect that from inexperienced players, but when all “journalists” happily jump in, something’s not right. Hope we get over this stage soon, and get back to appreciating the games for how they are played, not watched.

    1. Scampi says:

      I might be poking a beehive there but I had the feeling part of the Anti-ME3-Ending-Movement was based on that belief(yes, I’d maybe go so far as defending the ending, but I admit I can’t really back it up. I guess I better leave the judgement to people who did more than watch LPs of it). I had the feeling the original idea was that of creating a future you wouldn’t be a part of, only having a glimpse of an idea of what you were attempting to create, therefore the multicolored but in the end ambivalent cinematics. The cinematics were just what Bioware “owed” the player(hey, people have gotten used to being rewarded with cinematics, right? me too…:(), while the actual plot had been finished, once Shep had made the last decision.
      W/e. I think I’m not totally free from this sentiment, since some of my favorite games ever were strong in storytelling imho, dealing out large chunks of their plots during cutscenes.
      Cutscenes just are part of some games and sometimes an amazing proof of the creators’ rendering capabilities. Currently I’m annoyed because I’m replaying the WC3-campaigns and my new system won’t play the cinematics after I finish one of them (they play, but the screen remains black-I only hear the sound. If anyone knows a working solution to this problem, please tell me). It really breaks the mood and anticipation when I play to see a reward and it’s just not there. It feels as though the cake was a lie, I guess?

      1. Heaven Smile says:

        “I had the feeling the original idea was…”

        NOPE. The 2 writers clearly stated in the interview “The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3” (by Geoff “Doritos” Keighley) that they wanted the player to be in control, not to be confused. Which the ending has plenty off:


        They were making shit up as they went along. This ISN’T a planned trilogy as they said to the audience that already trusted them, thanks to previous accomplishments. There was NO need to lie to them.

        At this point, it is already too late for the writers to show their “real” vision all along, because no one will believe them. All thanks to the existence of the following trope:

        tvtropes org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Par­odyRetcon

        Everyone remembers how Tommy Wiseau, the director from The Room, pretended that his movie was a Black Comedy ALL ALONG when the box office results arrived….and no one believe him? yeah. This is what Bioware has become, someone that has to make excuses AFTER the fact in order to justify the existence of a mistake that shouldn’t have been there, and they are NOT apologizing for.

        They stole our damn shoes and they did it on purpose!

    2. Phantos says:

      Granted, there is such a thing as using cutscenes as a crutch(Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, etc.). But I will always defend the right to have cutscenes in video games. And I feel this way for a lot of the same reasons Extra Credits pointed out: they are a tool. They serve a specific purpose, and shouldn’t be thrown out just because a lot of people don’t understand how they can be used effectively.

      For the same reason we would not discourage cakes if a lot of people tried baking them with a monkey-wrench.

      1. papersloth says:

        I feel like you’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say devs should get rid of cutscenes, and I didn’t even criticize games that use them extensively. I enjoy some linear story-driven games, Silent Hill is among my all-time favourites, Walking Dead wouldn’t work any other way, etc.

        My point was that nowadays it’s too often that a scripted low-interaction hand-holding (buzzwords, I know) game is praised by reviewers simply because it looks “deep” (read: has an above-average story within the low standards of the modern medium). The fact that it is inferior to dozens of other games in every gameplay aspect suddenly becomes unimportant, it’s 10/10 GOTY.

        And even then I wouldn’t really have a problem as long as it doesn’t affect me. But when such non-game becomes this totem to parade around with, while screaming “Look! We’ve reached the point! Videogames are finally mature! This is the future!” – I feel like it impacts the potential of games for me personally. I want games to explore interactivity, not “be like movies”. I want to have something left to player skill, “awesome buttons” are not satisfying for me.

        Anyway, I also wanted to mention a percieved lack of experience among game “journalists”, but that’s a long one, and I’ve already gone on a rant trying to clarify my point. So I’ll just leave this, and go to bed.

    3. Wedge says:

      It’s also HIGHLY ironic, when you consider that one of the big things that Citizen Kane is praised for (deservedly or not) is that it catered to the strengths of its medium at a time when movies were still living in the shadow of live theater.

      1. Blov says:

        Bit of a weird statement about Kane, given that Welles was a theatre director whose unusual style partly came from not having a background in film. And y’know, you’d already had years and years of films that did a lot of the sorts of effects (c.f. I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang or such for an American example) that crop up in Kane. In many ways I think a lot of Kane’s strength comes from the sets and scenery being so fantastic and from just delivering on all aspects of the film. It doesn’t really have any element which is an obvious let-down. Again, it’s this whole thing that Kane is kind of presented as a watershed or the start of an era when really it’s just a really good film that got a lot of its techniques and ideas embraced some time after it came out as a kinda-flop.

        1. Heaven Smile says:

          Because it actually WAS the start of an era when CK was made. Not many people had so much creative control just to make something this unique looking, for the time at least, before the “Seinfield Is Unfunny” trope hit the movie hard (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/SeinfeldIsUnfunny/Film)

          There was an fragment on Tv Tropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatDoYouMeanItsNotDidactic) that went in detail about it, but it was removed. Fortunately, i have the old fragment right here on an old save. Here is what it said:

          Citizen Kane is a good film, but over the last 40 years or so it’s gained far more traction as Best Movie Ever and subsequent analysis than anything to do with the merits of the movie itself. To the point where it’s almost impossible for anybody on the planet to actually watch it with an open mind, without already being swayed by film-school graduates and other intellectual types that Kane is Serious Business of the highest order. Ironically – or perhaps not – it was a box office flop that failed to recoup its modest budget, and didn’t become popular until French and American critics “revived” it 15 years later.

          The movie itself is basically just a Take That aimed at wealthy, somewhat unpopular media mogul William R. Hearst, filmed by a guy known for doing whatever the hell he wanted to.
          It’s worth mentioning that a good portion of the blame for the film’s financial failure can be directly traced back to threats made by Hearst towards local theaters. Not only Kane, but a number of other movies from the same company were also threatened if any of the theaters dared to go against it. It arguably said more about the man’s power in how effectively he was able to crush it than anything in the movie itself. Keep in mind, only one theater in the United States ran the film – and it was rented independently by Welles and the Mercury Theater themsleves.
          Which brings us to one reason why the movie is – arguably – as momentous as many claim.
          Serious film critics will concede that the plot of Kane is actually pretty simple, and that its genius lies not in what it is about but how it was done. The first thing that most beginning film students learn is that all art, including movies, is composed of both form and content (the ancient Greek dramatic terms diegesis and mimesis being roughly analogous), and that it is ultimately the form that determines the nature of the content, not the other way around. Kane is special not because it tells an effective story (although it does, as any good literary critic will tell you), but because Welles filmed it in a highly imaginative style (visually, orally, continuity-wise, you name it) that was groundbreaking in his time – and that, truth be told, is not often seen in American cinema even today. That is what makes Kane unique – and for most jaded film critics, uniqueness is the thing that really makes them sit up and take notice.

          So with that information in mind, i concluded that Citizen Kane is “The Most Triumphant Example of VISUAL Medium as an Art Form”, since its uses the strength of the medium to tell the story, even if that story is quite simple and not overly complicated.

          Under that premise, a CK of gaming should be “The Most Triumphant Example of INTERACTIVE Medium as an Art Form”. It HAS to use interaction as a mean to express the story, not just visuals alone. To limit interaction similar to a movie that you just happen to take place into, will be an argument in favor of MOVIES being art, not games being art.

          Imagine a new movie coming out that its being praised everywhere, your friends love it, all countries made world peace after seeing its message, it cures Cancer by seeing it, and the bathrooms of the cinema have plenty of toilet paper now. You finally cave in to the pressure like a good little person who obeys the Ad Populum fallacy, and you see it. Aaaaaaaaand…..its text. No really, its text scrolling upwards in a black background and yellow letters. For 2 hours.

          It may be the best story EVER written but you cannot stop thinking: Why in fuck would people waste money into making a movie that has no visuals, and why not make it into a book? and that is the problem that games have today. Making movie-games without amphasis on the interaction only makes things worse. The common excuse is that the story CANNOT be told in ANY other way, and there are certain actions that would diminish the message if given alternatives. Case in point: The White Phosphorous scene from Spec Ops The Line, which you can’t avoid no matter what you do, no matter if there SHOULD BE more avenues to deal with the situation to rescue the hostages.

          While is true that giving alternatives to avoid the “message/themes” of SO:TL is detrimental to the point its trying to make, older games have done just that and in better ways. Take for example the game Planescape Torment, where nearly everything included in that game deals with the theme of torment in some way. “What can change the nature of a man” isn't just a way to beat the very definite final boss, it's what the whole things is about and every scene explores a possible answer to that question. Even if you don't realize the game is doing that, you have to admit that there is still something at work keeping the story cohesive, how the writers are able to make a linear story out of a non-linear experience.

          The quality of such story should be REINFORCED by the interaction. Maybe these 2 videos of MrBtongue make my point more clear? the “Shandification of Fallout” and “Choice and Consequence” ones:

          Its just another tool for the artist to let the audience see its point in different ways. Its a way to see if your ideas holds scrutiny, which most modern developers can’t even do without whining about people being entitled, resorting to number of sales (that probably was because the previous title of the game was good and people wanted more, not the sequel itself. Or because of massive marketing and not the quality) or pointing out the NOT SO PAID critical reception.

          Imagine, if you will, a game adaptation of “1984”. Most people who read the novel and the movie think that they can actually break the system that The Party created, they don’t see it as horrendously dystopian because they have to yet EXPERIENCE it themselves (since TELLING them, or SEEING IT its not enough). I see this type of audience as a “James T. Kirk” archetype, a person who says “I dont believe in the no win scenario” (in other words, a gamer).

          So what does an author do? why, you create a simulation of the 1984 dystopia and let the audience do whatever they want with it, playing as a citizen of course(or maybe as one of The Party from the start, to see if they can destroy it from the inside? the option of letting the citizen obtain that position should be there as well). Remember, the point of the story is to demonstrate how impossibly broken the system is, and how totalitarian regimes are bullshit, and how any ideology taken to the extreme is a bad thing. The audience SHOULD be allowed any tools they want so they can fail miserably in achieving a victory over the system. Its a no win scenario, and the only way you are going to learn that is by experiencing it:

          Maybe game design should be based around Daoism?

          If such game manages to make choices matter and branch the plot in a significant way, and manages to explore an idea in all possible ways, then THAT game would be The Most Triumphant Example of Interactive Medium as Art, OUR Citizen Kane.

          So what makes “Last of Us” as CK? does the plot changes per every seemingly minor decision done during gameplay (like IJI does)? or its just like Half Life 2 and Dishonored, where people talk to you in their scripted sequences and are oblivious to the fact that you are jumping around like an idiot and shooting them with the Gravity Gun with crates, completely ignoring your input so you get bored and behave like a good kid?

          Sadly, it seems that people do no like interaction. They like set pieces so they can be distracted and being TOLD what to think, they dont want to deal with the responsibility of choice and Free Will, its just too scary to think of ALL the possibilities.

          “”There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.”
          “” Soren Kierkegaard, father of existentialism

  30. Artur CalDazar says:

    You guys are really unfair to Dragon Age, am I so glad you will never be doing a Spoiler Warning for those games.

    1. Artur CalDazar says:

      And it seems I somehow removed most of my comment before posting.

  31. brunothepig says:

    Ok, what is the show Josh brings up at 48 minutes? I’ve gone over it about five times and I just can’t make it out.

    While I’m here, I’ll chime in that I did enjoy this episode. As others have said, the main selling point of this podcast is hearing you guys chat amongst each other and all that. If you want to keep it more structured, that’s understandable, but perhaps instead of being so rigid have your list be timestamped. That way you can happily go off topic for a little while, then bring it back around with a “it’s time to move on to the Xbone” or whatever.

    1. Josh says:

      Luther, Idris Elba’s British crime drama. Good stuff, getting a third series soon too. I think it’s still on Netflix.

      1. brunothepig says:

        Thanks, I’ll check it out some time. I do tend to enjoy “Sherlockian” shows. Unfortunately no Netflix for me, being in Australia. Though I hear it’s quite simple to circumvent the region lock (and not illegal), so maybe it’s time to look into that…

  32. Scampi says:

    Since I don't have obligations at specific times, I generally live on a 25 hour day. I'm currently on my favorite schedule, which is to go to sleep in the evening and get up in the wee hours of the morning.

    You’re apologized, I guess-I wish I could have that kind of opportunity to handle my time myself and have no obligations to anyone to be at specific places at any given time. Instead I have to juggle being at home to catsit, being at work, at the university, going grocery shopping, doing sports etc. and all of these activities have given time windows when I can pursue them.
    Usually I’d love to be awake late at night and not get up before say 10-11am. I spent my youth in a way that made me feel like my life only began after 6pm and never was an early sleeper to begin with.
    Sad as it is, but for me, it doesn’t work that way.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Many years ago, I had a restaurant job that had me opening the place on Monday mornings and slowly shifting my work later in the day until Saturday night I was coming in at 5 PM and leaving about 1 AM. I ended up sleeping to match and living six days (roughly 28 hours each) in a week. I was tired every time I went to bed, slept as long as my brain would let me, and it was absolutely GLORIOUS.

  33. Valthek says:

    I thought this was one gaint troll episode when the audio suddenly cut out after Josh telling me to stop listening right now.
    Turns out my internet died and the playback had stopped.

    This is going to be a good one.

  34. Bropocalypse says:

    Shamus, you should jump on Borderlands 2. If you haven’t played it much yet, you should know that it is, in my book, a shining example of what video game storytelling ought to aim for. Every character you interact with is interesting(though cartoonish, but that’s a part of the game’s aesthetic anyway), and all the story points are established in sensible but not obvious ways.

  35. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Technology is only part of the “next hardware thing”. There’s a couple of problems with the three-d thing, though, that aren’t really actual hardware things. (And be aware that this is coming from a three-d *enthusiast*, not a nay-sayer. I own and use a stereo camera primarily, belong to stereography organizations, and know which rockstars share my hobbies.)

    First off, doing stereo displays is a LOT more work than flat. Even if you’re doing all your modeling and mechanics in three dimensions already (and a lot of engines do, and just pass that off to the graphics card for rendering), your graphics card goes from rendering one image to rendering two. That doubles the load *at minimum*. Which means your tweaked out settings that you’re used to that give you 30 FPS. This isn’t a hardware issue per se ebcause we CAN roll back graphics textures and polygon counts and all that crap to what things were five years ago and the problem goes more or less away, but that’s a huge expectations change.

    Secondly, and much more complicated is that three-d stuff comes with a raft of other things that must be considered. A lot of things people think they know how to do need to be reassessed and thought about hard again. Let’s start with an easy one: The Stereo Window. Your monitor has edges, right? Stuff that’s “beyond” the edge doesn’t get seen. With three-d displays, that’s not necessarily the case, because what’s off of one display’s edge may not be off of the other. This sets up what’s called “retinal rivalry” and is actually a huge factor in depth perception, except it’s not with the edge of your vision but rather the edges of objects obscuring different parts of objects that are on the other side of them from you. Your brain copes just fine with that kind of rivalry. But the edges of monitors aren’t part of the world so your brain starts treating them as an object as well. Which is okay until you start getting stuff that violates that “object”. You know that amusing kind of clipping that happens when a game camera shenanigans itself inside yout avatar or an object and you start seeing just the hair, eyeballs and lips, or otherwise get something from the inside out? It’s like that. Sometimes, window violations happen for intentional effect, like when the bad guy in the three-d movie throws an axe through the screen at you, but those are (hopefully) happening at carefully scripted moments and infrequently. The general cure for this is to make sure NOTHING breaks the window except by intent and without violating the frame edges. Not terribly hard to do but it’s something you have to CONSTANTLY be aware of. (this is actually “controlled” by that overlapping/obscuring thing through horizontal alignment of the corresponding parts of the two images. If they’re set so that they overlap at exactly the same position in both images, they’re “at the window” and appear as the same distance away as the monitor. If the right-eye image has the thing to the left of the corresponding left-eye image, then the object appears as being behind the plane of the monitor, and vice versa; right eye having it to the right of the left eye image, then it’s closer than the window. And by how much gives you a nonlinear proportion. the further away something is the less the difference is until they’re essentially in the same plane as the background. But that also means that big things overlap more than small things a little bit which means you can’t have, for example, a battleship that’s a mile away not going anywhere actually BE part of the background. That’s still closer than the island that it’s between you and, so you have to render at least a low-res version of the battleship. That’s gonna increase the number of things you have to render for even pretty set pieces.)

    This has an impact on the next thing, too. User interface stuff has to be positioned in z-space (closer or further) as well. It’s easiest if you tie that to the window and set it all on the edges of the frame, but then all the UI elements become part of the framing themselves and NOTHING can be positioned in front of them, without getting a very disorienting “inside out” feel just like the lips and eyeballs example above. But you don’t HAVE to leave the UI flat. You just need to have a way to take control input from that z-space. Maybe instead of the mouse-wheel being a zoom-in function, that’s your z-space control. Or maybe you get one of those “tennis balls on a stick” hardware input things…

    (Edit to add) Another wrinkle with the obscuring edge thing is that your brain locks onto patterns very, very quickly. Which means if you’ve got a repetitive pattern someplace, like a texture, it’s really easy to end up with those textures overlapping in the wrong way and moving in z-space. Remember those Magic Eye things that were so popular 20 year ago? That’s exactly how those worked: get the eyes locked on to DIFFERENT sections of the pattern as being “the same” and the having that pattern not-quite repeat horizontally, and you can force the brain to see it as being in z-space instead of just a pattern. This also has an impact on how you can actually render textures used in backgrounds because if your texture is scaled in such a way as to INTRODUCE those discrepancies between the two displays, then you get the background suddenly changing z-space appearance in ways that you did not anticipate or intend. On the other hand, you can end up with backgrounds that are not flat as well, by carefully using two textures that are not exactly the same in such a way as to cause this, so long as you don’t allow the player to end up having the camera move too much.

    Finally, there’s an aspect that I’ve not looked into much yet but am working on that makes the setting of the stereo window also have an influence on the apparent SIZE of what’s being show, much like how monkeying with the focus (“tilt-shift”) can make photographs look all tiny. But with stereography, the trick seems to work both ways; you can fool the brain into thinking something is tiny and close or further away and much larger than it actually is by “improperly” shifting the alignment of different parts of the image. Which has the potential to make some settings and vistas in games look absolutely awesome if they’re done right.

    Also with regard to big hardware, this is a thing:


    Kinda makes $200 for Steel Battalion seem cheap in comparison, and that’s just the CONTROLS. There’s little instrument modules that can be added for about $150 bucks each that are independently addressable 400×400 or something LCD monitors, and a standard suite of those is six. On the plus side, that’s also the kind of kit that the FAA lets you use for part of the training needed to get an instrument pilot rating, which means you’re saving about a minimum of thousand dollars of instructor time and airplane rental….

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Content summary
      1216 words of which 408 are identified as unique, for a 2.98 vocabulary repetition rating (compared to 1.47 in the OP)
      6.8% “The”
      3.6% “That”
      3.3% “Of”
      2.6% “And”
      2.5% “To”
      2.4% “A”
      1.9% “You”
      1.3% “Thing”
      1.3% “Is”
      1.3% “In”
      1.1% “As”
      71.8% miscellaneous contents.

      A lot of the cheats and shortcuts that work in single perspective 3D can easily break when using stereoscopic 3D.

      Well, the first one is a problem, but it only doubles rendering load, not geometry and texture loading, which is significant for most 3D games. Bottom line, you don’t need exactly twice-as-fast hardware to run stereo.

      Interesting issues, but (as I implied in my summary) it seems that these are more “cheats that no longer work” than “problems that need to be solved”. Often, the straight-forward way is less complicated, though perhaps more hardware demanding. But I’m not an expert on the topic. You should collaborate with Shamus to write an article on “The Challenges of Stereoscopic 3D”, since you seem to want to write at length, but don’t seem to have your own blog.

  36. Otters34 says:

    Mr. Franklin, between your unease at the risk of finding out somebody’s personal info on a used console and Mr. Young’s determination to do the right thing in settling a mortgage default, this site has just been a ray of sunshine. No joke.

    As for the Diecast itself this was at least a break from the routine. I like listening to the cast talking about stuff like the Deep Roads, African fantasy and how Vivec is sooo tsundere, but the usual structured form gives the thing a much-needed coherency that can lead to really interesting discussions.

    Also Rutskarn, do you have any suggestions besides that Malian book for somebody interested in African myth?

  37. Vect says:

    The big lady in Borderlands 2 is named Ellie. She’s Moxxi’s daughter/Scooter’s sister.

    Nonetheless, I actually think that Josh might have fun playing the DLC character Krieg since he’s a high risk/high reward berserker-style character.

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