Diecast #21: Steam Sale, Mortal Kombat, Deus Ex

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jul 16, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 168 comments

I don’t like how Josh and Rutskarn have been tarnishing the show with their lack of professionalism. So this week I reclaimed the throne and hope to return the show to its former glory as a bastion of efficiency and order.

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

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Rutskarn, Chris, Potato Chips

Show notes:

00:30 Nom nom nom. We fail to introduce ourselves.

01:30 What’s everyone Playing?

Josh is playing Borderlands 2 and Civilization V: Brave New World.

Rutskarn is playing Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Here is the Extra Credits episode about Call of Juarez: The Cartel that we mentioned.

Chris is playing kairo.

I am playing Borderlands 2. I’m also playing Papo & Yo, and for reference here is a post where I talk about how I was initially afraid of my stepfather. I’ve also been playing Scribblenauts and Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition.

14:00 The Great Steam Salepocalypse of world-ending savings.

28:45 An unplanned aside on Dark Souls, punishing games, smashing keyboards, and dealing with frustration.

For the record, the thing I hate is punishing games, not hard ones. Hotline Miami was sometimes really brutally hard, but when you died you just hit spacebar and tried again. You might die 15 times trying to overcome a challenge, but the challenge is only thirty seconds long. You never lose more than thirty seconds of progress, and you’re usually right back where you left off within a few seconds. This is an extreme contrast to a game like Dark Souls where dying at a boss means you have to run down some corridors, fight mooks, do a challenge, open a thing, traverse another corridor, fight more mooks, gather some stuff, and THEN try the boss again.

When people talk about “hard games” they usually blur these two concepts together, but it’s really important to differentiate between the two. I’d rather play a very hard game with a low retry cost than play a piss-easy game that has a huge retry cost. And in the case of Dark Souls where you have both high difficulty AND high penalties for failure? That’s not a game for me.


This was supposed to be a quick five-minute discussion of the game, and I think it ended up being the longest segment of the show. Oops. Even worse: I added Mortal Kombat to our agenda specifically so we could discuss the shockingly long and complicated story mode – which is unlike the story mode of other fighting games – and we never got around to talking about that. Instead we blew a huge chunk of time talking about the female costumes.

I don’t remember who, but at one point someone said to me on Twitter: “Lowbrow has a right to exist.”

I agree with this, and I never want to fall into the habit of sneering at things for not being high art. I think there’s a place for stuff that’s pulpy, broad, or aiming for the lowest common denominator. I’m not going to condemn MK for going for cheap, fan-service-y sex appeal and ridiculous female costumes. I will condemn it for doing it in the most profoundly uninteresting and single-minded way.

I tried to frame my criticism of this game not in terms of sneering at the game for being lowbrow, but for its failures to be lowbrow in an interesting way. I guess I’ll see how well I did in the comments.

And again, this segment wasn’t supposed to go on for so long.

1:02:00 Deus Ex: The Fall Disables Weapons on Jailbroken Devices.


From The Archives:

168 thoughts on “Diecast #21: Steam Sale, Mortal Kombat, Deus Ex

  1. HeroOfHyla says:

    The sound of crinkling chip bags over microphones is incredibly hilarious for some reason.

  2. DrModem says:

    Does the diecast have an RSS feed? It would be cool if I could subscribe to it.

      1. The Jake says:

        How do you mean it is not a problem? Do you mean that the RSS feed for the posts is there? Then yes, not a problem.

        What I think DrModem is talking about, and what I am definitely talking about, is an RSS feed for the podcast itself. I would love to be able to download this, as a podcast, to my ipod or other mobile audio device.

        So that is the question. Can I get this through some podfeed or other?

        1. Jeremy says:

          According to this, all Shamus needs to do is refer to the .mp3/ogg/etc with an full url (http://www.shamusyoung.com/diecast/diecastXX.mp3) and WordPress will automatically do the right thing. But at the moment its just a relative url (/diecast/diecastXX.mp3) which gets ignored.

        2. Jeremy says:

          According to this, all Shamus needs to do is refer to the .mp3/ogg/etc with an full url (http://www.shamusyoung.com/diecast/diecastXX.mp3) and WordPress will automatically do the right thing. But at the moment its just a relative url (/diecast/diecastXX.mp3) which gets ignored.

          1. Shamus says:


            That should be easy. Thanks for the info. I’ll give this a try.

  3. ngthagg says:

    This Steam sale represented an interesting milestone for me. It’s the first time that my video game purchases have been restricted by time. Previously I’ve been limited by money and difficulty finding quality games (I couldn’t afford to take a risk on a $60 game that I wasn’t sure would provide plenty of quality gaming).

    But now, the combination of higher income and drastically reduced prices make money a non-issue, and the internet has provided a wealth of resources for identifying games that are both high quality and likely to appeal to me. Now my barrier is the amount of time I’m willing to dedicate to gaming, and that limited supply simply can’t keep up. I purchased a few games from GOG during its recent sale, and those will keep me occupied for months. Combined with other games in my library that I’m likely to go back to, I can wait until the next Christmas sale.

    There’s a hint of bitter irony that as the financial and quality barriers have dissolved, the time barrier has risen, but I’m mostly pleased to be finally sated on video games.

    1. Zombie says:

      My bitter irony regarding this summer’s sale is that it just had to start before I go on vacation. I mean, really. I try to save money all year long and Steam goes all: “Hey! I got a sale! On almost everything! Including almost everything on your wishlist (Rome II, BNW and CK II: The Old Gods excluded)! And I’m just going CRAZY with these sale prices! Want this $30 game for $5?! WHY THE HECK NOT!”. But I’m not going to complain, ’cause I did manage to get Dishonored and The Knife of Dunwall for like $14.

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      The next step is the removal of time as a factor and to stop considering whether you’re every going to practically have time to play all the games that you own. Before you die. Even if you were to suddenly become wealthy enough to not have to have a job. At that point, when the sale prices and the ease of purchase click together the release of concern whether it’s ever going to be “worth it”, then you have reached the Steam Sale Nirvana.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        Eh, I’m there, but it doesn’t feel like Nirvana – it just makes me feel sad. I have Jade Empire, both System Shocks, Baldur’s Gate II HD, the entire Thief series, the Mass Effect series and more in my library (either GOG or Steam) and haven’t played them yet. I’m an RPG fan, I know most of those are good games, I simply can’t get around to them.
        It also makes it very difficult to decide…Waht game will I play next? is that good enough? Is there a better option?

  4. Den says:

    The intro today by Shamus reminded me a lotttt of that one time Handsome Jack contacts you to taunt you while eating pretzels

  5. Tse says:

    Well, Sonya’s outfit, while skin-tight, doesn’t show too much skin. There’s also Sindel, she may dress like a prostitute, but she’s old enough to be a grandma. And there is a reason for Kitana and Milena looking the same- one is the clone of the other. Jade has the same look because the 3 of them were a palette swap, just like all the ninjas and all the cyborgs.
    So… I wasn’t creeped out before, but now I am…

    1. burningdragoon says:

      Sure, but the guy ninjas have evolved into more varied and distinct designs, some even pretty radically different depending on installment. Reptile even went from green ninja to actual reptile. The girls are still basically just color-swapped porno ninjas.

      1. False Prophet says:

        Even the female counterpart of Goro, the half-dragon, wore a Stripperific outfit.

    2. Humanoid says:

      They should have had a policewoman obviously.

      1. Tse says:

        Or a pole-dancer dressed as a policewoman!

        1. Atarlost says:

          Or a Polish policewoman who engages in folk dancing in her off-duty hours.

  6. Deadpool says:

    If I may, Dark Souls’ difficulty is greatly exaggerated.

    Care, paranoia and preparation will avoid 99% of deaths in that. It is not abnormal to go hours without a death.

    I highly recommend it because this is a game that does something no other game does: a total and complete combination of art, design and mechanics working together for a single goal: To make the player scared, alone, paranoid and oppressed.

    It isn’t something EVERYONE will like, but I do feel like everyone should try them…

    1. AJax says:

      Now I definitely want a Spoiler Warning season with Shamus playing Dark Souls instead of Josh. I doubt we’ll pass 5 episodes. XD

      But honestly speaking, if I had to describe Dark Souls’ difficulty, it’s “manageable” if you’re incredibly careful and aware of your surrounding environment and got the hang of the blocking, dodging and countering mechanics. It’s not that hard of a game.

    2. IFS says:

      I cannot second this enough, Dark Souls is one of my favorite games for a number of reasons, the atmosphere of loneliness punctuated by rare moments of jolly cooperation is certainly one of them. Its also not as punishing as some people would think, most areas don’t go terribly long before a checkpoint, and there is usually a shortcut or only a short run to the boss of an area.

      Additionally paying attention in the game is rewards you beyond simply making things easier too, as there are all sorts of clever details in the game, including bits of lore that people have put together from things like item placement, enemy drops, and bits of scenery that in other games wouldn’t tell you anything.

    3. burningdragoon says:

      Oh Dark Souls, I love you to death. (*snicker*)

      this is a game that does something no other game does: a total and complete combination of art, design and mechanics working together for a single goal: To make the player scared, alone, paranoid and oppressed.


      It’s a shame not everyone is going to like it but it’s understandable.

      And for the record, there aren’t really that many cruel gotcha deaths, though there are plenty of times where the game is being very mean.

    4. Grampy_Bone says:

      I think it’s entirely arbitrary to declare “this challenge is fair because X but this challenge is unfair because of Y.” A challenge is a challenge. I don’t see how Dark Souls expecting you to make it through an area and defeat a boss without dying is any different from Hotline Miami expecting you to make it through an entire floor and defeat every enemy without getting hit once. Looking back at the NES days, if you couldn’t beat a game it’s because you sucked. Now if you can’t beat a game it’s because the developers didn’t “balance” it correctly, or include enough checkpoints, or whatever. Should anyone be able to finish any game simply by investing enough time in it, or should games demand some level of skill and prowess for progression?

      I think achievements are dumb… but I recently hit 1000 points in Dark Souls, after something like 200+ hours. The game was just that fun to me. Every time I died and swore and cursed and declared it to be impossible, I found if I went back and practiced and learned from my mistakes I could overcome the challenge and get further in the game. It gave me a sense of accomplishment I have not felt in a game since playing Startropics, or finishing the original Zelda’s second quest.

      1. Tizzy says:

        Ah, the good old NES days…

        Anyway, the concept of game balance has changed a lot since the NES days. The technical limitations of the console meant that it could keep track of a very limited game state. And, possibly more relevant, many of the games were simply adaptation of the coin-op games, often with no attempt at tweaking the difficulty (more lives, infinite lives).

        And how were arcade games balanced? Exactly hard enough to part you with most of your cash without being so obviously unfair that you wouldn’t play them in the first place. And since it was the prevalent paradigm on consoles, punishingly hard was the norm for all.

        Meanwhile, the PC had become a credible gaming platform, and PC games didn’t bother about balance really. Save whenever, a big difficulty slider to give everyone the challenge they want (remember Doom?) and you’re good to go.

        I was one of the ones that sucked, so the NES never attracted me in the first place, and I have no interest in games that emulate that particular spirit now.

      2. Nidokoenig says:

        I think the main thing that makes a challenge unfair to people is that they don’t see how to learn from it. A gotcha trap is the perfect example, it’s a trap you couldn’t know about without getting killed by it beforehand. The people who like Dark Souls realise that Dark Souls doesn’t really do gotchas, it just expects you to pay more attention to your surroundings than any other third person brawler ever, those people know that if traps are hitting them, they need to look out for them better and learn what the various traps look like. That’s the perception I get, my toaster not being able to play it

        The big reason anybody who plays games for challenge does so is to learn how to overcome that challenge. We basically we want to learn, and games that deliberately make learning hard by racking up the punishment and dead time between failing a test and retrying it, or divorce punishment from challenge with gotchas, games that do those things are going against the “legitimate” purpose of being challenging, which is to get the player to rise to the challenge.

        If it’s not clear what’s making them lose, players get angry at the game. They aren’t being given a learning experience(“When Cerberus growls and braces, he’s about to dash across the arena so I need to…”) they’re just being messed with(“There’s traps around here, no idea what or where until I trip them all”). The second is technically a challenge and is interesting to some, but it’s fundamentally a stamp collecting exercise, cataloguing the ways the game will mess with you and planning a route that eliminates or minimises that, rather than the interesting physics learning, of being taught how to use the game’s systems.

        Basically, a good game for everyone but the stamp collectors should be able to be beaten by a hypothetical savant player on the first time. Someone who has perfect knowledge of every way in which the game can throw challenge at them and everything they can do, but somehow has absolutely no knowledge of the level layout or specific enemy placements. This gets more complicated if randomisation is involved, like with anything that claims the vaguest kinship with Rogue, the question of whether randomisation should trend hard so players can know beyond doubt they weren’t given an easy ride by the RNG, but basically, if you’ve learnt and can apply what the game’s taught you, it should not be difficult any more. Then rhythm games come in and trash my argument. Bah.

    5. Humanoid says:

      Josh talking about the satisfaction of trying something over and over and finally winning made me think of just one thing – the Simple Reading Comprehension episode of New Vegas. Surely this logically then is Josh’s favourite videogame accomplishment ever.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        I can understand the idea, and really do like a tough challenge that I eventually managed to learn to deal with and finish. What I don’t like is when there’s no progress, no indication that I AM doing better over time. I’d like to blame most of that on me not being the best at all games, but sometimes things get designed to be really frustrating.

        This is more of a problem if each failure requires a significant amount of time/effort to try again than anything. I do like the trend we’ve had overall towards reducing that, since I don’t believe there’s much value in wasting time redoing stuff.

    6. BeamSplashX says:

      Well I agree that this is the case, sometimes a person’s reaction time or ability to keep up that level of vigilance all the time is limited. I know it’s feasible to beat Devil May Cry 1 on the highest difficulty with no upgrades or weapons besides what you start with, but there’s a vast gap between knowing it’s possible and feeling that it’s possible.

      I actually got a good amount of time in on Dark Souls because my brother bought it without knowing its reputation. He could potentially beat it, but he pretty much never will because he works long hours and isn’t in top mental shape when he comes home to it. He likes the feeling of overcoming the game’s challenges… just not enough. If you are worse at Dark Souls than most of its players, a lower difficulty will still communicate the same sense of danger and loneliness; you’re still being pushed to your limit.

    7. kdansky says:

      What bothers me is that Shamus hasn’t played Dark Souls, but this is at least the second time he writes about how hard/punishing it is. It isn’t! It’s challenging, but it’s not punishing. The hardest boss (O&S) has exactly two enemies between him and the respawn point. The Iron Golem can be run past (a useful skill to learn), and the Silver Knight parried (an incredibly useful skill to learn). That small repeating piece actually teaches you how to beat the last part of the game (including the last boss), where parry is super-powerful. On the PS3, the loading screen takes longer than the walk back to the boss!

      It’s much more forgiving than you give it credit for. I completely missed the bonfire in front of the bed of chaos (most annoying boss in the game to boot), and I still beat the game.

      The placement of bosses, shortcuts and bonfires are very deliberate, to keep the travel distances short enough to not feel like a chore, but long enough to make you think about your mistakes, and not try to brute-force your way through the encounter by retrying until you get lucky.

      Lastly, Dark Souls is way easier than people believe. Sure, it’s harder than Skyrim, but that is because Skyrim is a joke. Play Ninja Gaiden, or Sengoku Rance (it’s a Japanese Ero-Game with a deep and satisfying strategy engine, well worth playing, just skip the porn [though some of it is hilarious]), or Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup for an actually hard game.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        So did they remove the souls mechanic from Demon’s Souls? Because that’s the part of the game that makes it punishing.

        1. Deadpool says:

          Souls are still your XP and your money and they are still lost upon death barring a corpse run.

          What they took out was soul mode and replaced it with being Hallowed, which isn’t as restricting, but also doesn’t give you any buffs.

          Sneaking isn’t any easier and there is easily accessible Thief Ring analogue here, so less exploits available…

    8. Weimer says:

      True, for the most part Dark Souls balances things quite nicely. But when the game fumbles the ball, it becomes almost stupidly unfair. Examples: The Capra Demon boss, the Anor Londo rooftop javelin-bow snipers. Also I’m convinced winning Smough&Ornstein without any ghost help is next to impossible.


      1. burningdragoon says:

        I’ve beaten Snorlax and Pikachu solo (well, with Solaire) a few times, but on my more strengh-focused build using an upgraded Zweihander they were almost trivial.

        That’s kind of the problem with talking about where the line between fair but difficult and unfair bullshit is with DS. No one really agrees. I don’t usually get too frustrated with Bed of Chaos, but I die often to the mooks in the Archives.

        Except for the spear-bows. NO ONE likes the spear bows.

        1. Just Passing Through says:

          Snipe them with poison arrows, then change the channel and wait for them to die. Those guys are a good example of why these discussions pop up all the time. Vets either know ahead of time how to cheese by encounters, or are already good enough to beat them normally. Those guys are certainly not easy to a first time player with patchwork gear and unoptimized stats.

      2. kdansky says:

        Capra is overrated by a ton. If you use resin on your weapon, and murder the dogs the moment you go through the gate and survive, he’s trivially easy. It might take a few tries to figure out how the AI behaves, but he’s not that crazy hard. It would have helped if the camera was a bit better, though.

        O&S: Again, if you fight them a few times and try to figure out their AI, they are not hard. I literally killed them on my first attempt on my second character (after twenty tries on my first character), because I knew how they worked.

        Anor Londo Silver Knights: Nope again. Run up the slope, go right, dodge once forward when the arrow comes at you, then run up to the Knight as close as you can. If you are fast enough, you won’t get shot in the back, and the two Knights can’t see or shoot at each other, so no arrow to the back. Then parry him once, push him off, go to fire.

        Bed of Chaos on the other hand is an admitted design blunder.

    9. I personally have get no enjoyment out of completing challenges other people have set for me. I find it tedious and frustrating if I can’t do it, or boring and pointless if it’s too easy.

      I do, however, get enjoyment out of challenges I set for myself. For example, I once played through (almost) all of half life 2 without using bullets. (There’s an achievement for doing that in episode 1, but hl2 was not designed with that possibility in mind).
      I also enjoy doing casual speed runs – setting the challenge of seeing how fast I can get through something.

      I have almost zero tolerance for challenges set for me by someone else, but I have essentially unlimited tolerance for my own challenges.

      With dark souls in particular, I was stuck on the first boss fight (the one in the tutorial) for around 40 minutes when I just got so completely bored that I stopped playing and never came back.

      While playing, I could see how some people enjoyed it (on an intellectual level) – and talking to a friend confirmed this when he related the fact that “when you finally get through an intense challenge, the exhilarating feeling is so perfect.” It was at that point in the conversation that I realised that there are fundamentally different people and some people will enjoy the grind and some people despise it.

    10. InternetCommenter says:

      I think I like Dark Souls precisely because it’s not a hard game (and I skipped it for a long time because it was marketed as one). There are always obvious tells to any action, so barring the very first time, I don’t get killed because of something I don’t understand. As soon as I make a mistake, I understand where it went wrong.

      On the other hand, games killing me a dozen times in a row do nothing for me, because if I died this much in the exact same spot, then either the game doesn’t explain itself well enough, or it’s too based on twitch skill, or it’s too reliant on luck. Letting me restart on the same spot might alleviate frustration on a local level, but as a whole it turns the game into brute force trial and error, bumbling from checkpoint to checkpoint feeling like a fool, which is ultimately even more frustrating.

  7. NamelessOne says:

    really rutskarn has a girlfriend doesn’t he know girls have cooties?

    1. Humanoid says:

      Oh god, Rutskarn with an equally fan-fic obsessed partner, they’re multiplying!

  8. More like The Great Steam Salepocalypse is a savings-ending world, and I wasn’t ready.

  9. Duneyrr says:

    Guys, you need to get some Model M keyboards. I got one from Unicomp and it’s a friggin’ BRICK.

    I’m serious, you could probably get 20 uses out of it as a melee weapon in ‘The Last Of Us’.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Wanting a backlit Model M however, which Shamus would want, would be heresy.

      1. If the internet has taught me one thing, it’s that LEDs can be inserted into anything.

        Yes, anything. Even that. That, too.

        1. Humanoid says:

          A bit less messy than the cold cathode lighting that everyone was modding into everything a decade ago.

    2. Simon Buchan says:

      I’d love to try a Model M some time. I’ve tried several mechanicals, the Das Keyboard, a Steelseries and the Razer Blackwidow, and surprisingly, the Razer was both the cheapest *and* the best feeling of them.

      It has a very clear “click” at exactly where the key triggers, unlike the steelseries (i’m not sure what model, it was a co-worker’s) so it’s *excellent* for typing, and it doesn’t have any “float” above that point, unlike the Das Keyboard.

      On the negative side, the non-standard spacing of the Esc/Function keys and the offset due to the macro keys on the left takes some getting used to, the printed key labels wear pretty quickly, and the matte key surface looks weird on the glossy casing. Overall, though, those are pretty minor for me.

      Mechanicals are definitely a different feel to collapsing rubber dome (the cheap-midrange keyboards) or scissor-switch (laptop/mac keyboards), so it might take some getting used to, but I basically can’t type on anything else anymore.

      If you like the backlit, there’s a version with that too.

      PS: Shamus – send me your new address or something, I’ll get one sent to you. Also Dark Souls :P

      1. Humanoid says:

        The feel of each will depend on the type of switches it employs, not the make of the specific keyboard. Most consumer-level mechanical keyboards employ one of the Cherry MX range of switches, and while there are several types available, the most common are Blue, Brown, Black, and Red. The former two are tactile, that is, they have an initial ‘bump’ in resistance to keypresses, while the latter two are linear, which lack that initial ‘bump’. Blue requires more actuation force than Brown, and Black requires more than Red.

        Now, I believe that Razer normally ship with Blue switches, the only SteelSeries model I’m aware of ships with Black, and Das do either Blue or Brown for their models (the latter is branded as their ‘Silent’ range). Assuming the Das you tried was a Brown, this lines up with your experience with the three models.

        Aside, given that you like the Blues, a Topre RealForce might be right up your alley, they’re closer to the old buckling spring Model Ms than any Cherry MX switch – at a price, of course. If you do choose to stick with Cherry MX switches, then any one with Blue switches will behave as you expect: and therefore I would avoid Razer’s implementation as it’s somewhat infamous for poor electronic reliability.

        You’ll find a pretty good rundown of the options available here.

        Addendum: As much as it’s considered blasphemy, I’d say the Model M isn’t necessarily the best solution for the present times, particularly for gamers, as it has limited (and somewhat unpredictable) key rollover: that is, the number of simultaneous keypresses that it can register.

        1. Duneyrr says:

          Oh, absolutely. I use my Razor Blackwidow (Cherry MX Blues) for gaming. My Model M is at work and I only use it for typing text. It would be pretty terrible for games, but I’d never need to worry about breaking it with my fist. No, my fist would be far more likely to break first.

          It’s got a friggin’ steel plate in it!

          1. Peter H. Coffin says:

            I prefer my Unicomp for all things, including gaming. It’s very predictable, it’s heavy enough that it Does Not Move on the desk, and the objections up thread about “non-standard esc spacing” is not the case because the model M layout *is* the standard for us old farts.

  10. Talby says:

    Dark Souls is glorious. Yes, easy mode would be a betrayal. You can’t give Dark Souls an easy mode without destroying what fundamentally makes Dark Souls what it is. The difficulty is a large part of what defines the experience, much moreso than in other games.

    It’s like asking for a version of Skyrim that’s just a series of linear corridors with no wide open sandbox, or a version of Thief that’s a first-person shooter. You’re taking away a defining element of the experience and turning into something completely different. (and much worse)

    1. kdansky says:

      I’m fine with adding an easy mode, but then it should be super-silly-easy: Every enemy dies in one or two hits, your character starts with thousands of HP, and all the traps and ambushes are disabled, all the bottomless pits gain invisible railings, you are invulnerable while drinking HP potions (of which you have 50 times more than usual) and so on. It should be so easy that my non-gamer wife can easily beat it without dying once, and be completely boring to anyone else.

      Then everyone can get a look at it similar to a tutorial or set-piece game.

    2. Midnight on Mars says:

      The problem with that is that not everyone is at your skill level. So if someone who’s like twice as bad as you in action games plays Dark Souls, they’ll essentially be playing a game that’s twice as hard as the one you played. They’ll probably be turned off by such a hard game and stop playing. There’s a limit to how challenging games can be before they get too annoying. If there was an easy mode that was closer to their skill level, they could get the right amount of challenge out of it and enjoy the same difficult game you did.

      1. Talby says:

        I actually suck at action games, and I sucked at Dark Souls as well, at first. EVERYONE sucks at Dark Souls at first, because the way the game creates the difficulty is different from almost all other games. Mechanically the game does not demand a great deal from the player in terms of precise timing of dodges and attacks. The difficulty is derived more from the lack of hand-holding and the fact that the game does not pull any punches. This video goes into a lot of detail on why an easy mode would ruin Dark Souls; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b91BWzLigs

        Further, the game does have built-in mechanics for making the experience easier. Dying in one hit? Get some better armor or improve what you have. Weapon not doing enough damage? Craft a better one. One difficult boss stonewalling your progress? Try exploring somewhere else for a while – the game is nonlinear by design and you can spend hours exploring non-essential areas, which will also net your more souls and gear. You can also summon an NPC or player to help you with a boss fight if it really is giving you that much trouble.

        …and after all that, if you still can’t get into the game, you just have to accept that this game isn’t for you, just as sure as StarCraft isn’t a game for someone who hates real-time strategy games.

        Sorry, but every time someone argues for including an easy mode, it says to me that they just don’t understand the game very much at all. When someone says they want an easy mode so they can experience the game too, I tell them that if you include an easy mode, you WON’T experience Dark Souls. Just like you wouldn’t truly experience Thief if there was an option to play through the game with a machinegun.

  11. Bruno M. Torres says:

    Ah, kairo… Personally, I think kairo is a post-singularity filosophical discussion abou geometry.

    Oh, and Shamus, Dark Souls is even better than that: In this game, you use souls to buy a level up, and, when you die, you lose them. You have to go back to where you died to get them back and, if you die before that, ITS ALL GONE.

    1. IFS says:

      The way you phrased that makes it sound like you lose the level, which is not true, you just lose what you have on you and usually that’s not a terribly big problem as you don’t tend to walk around with a pile of souls in your pocket (at least I don’t) and it rarely takes long to get back to where you died. The more valuable resource to worry about losing in such a situation is humanity, although its value depends somewhat on the equipment you are using. Besides for both souls and humanity there are some items that can be used to acquire more of them, and said items are not dropped on death.

      Also Shamus, it’s Demon’s Souls that did the half health thing when you died, Dark Souls has a status condition that can cause the same effect but its actually somewhat beneficial in one area and only a couple enemies can inflict it, and its fairly easy to avoid when they do.

      1. BeamSplashX says:

        Your attack power in soul form was also higher, and there was a ring you could wear to offset the HP loss. But the game doesn’t go out of its way to tell you that- that’s good and bad.

  12. Gabriel Mobius says:

    The thing I find even more offensive about the whole Deus Ex DRM fiasco is that if someone had jailbroken their device to pirate it, and did pirate it? It’s more than likely that the pirates would have already found that DRM and patched it out.

    So yet again, they’re having the wonderful effect of inconveniencing legit, paying customers, while the pirates thumb their noses at them and cackle off into the sunset. It’s just mind-numbingly stupid.

  13. Just Passing Through says:

    So what characters do you guys play in Borderlands?

    1. Shamus says:

      Assassin: Level 40 (solo)
      Commando: Level 39 (solo)
      Mechromancer: Level 33 (solo)
      Siren: Level 8 (With Chris and Josh)
      Gunzerker: Level 22 (with Josh)

      Have not played the Psycho yet.

      1. Zombie says:

        Which would you say is your favorite to play? Or to put it Borderlands language: Which one makes you want to laugh while brutally murdering dudes for the longest time? I’ve only played the Siren and the Mechromancer, but I find the Mechromancer to be the most fun to play, just because its just so hard not to maniacally laugh while my Death Robot shoots lasers from its eyes.

        1. Touraxus says:

          Gaige’s trash talk is so much fun too. Especially the one about needing to build deathtrap another arm just for Hi-5’s.
          I haven’t tried the psycho yet because i just picked him up the other day but mechromancer was the most fun of the original batch of characters to me.

  14. hborrgg says:

    Hey Chris, I’m glad to hear that you love Steam trading cards so much so I’m trying to figure out how to give you all of mine. Either I am missing something or the system is highly unintuitive. Steam name is ohenry415.

    1. Corran says:

      I’m in the reverse boat…

      My friends are not interested in the trading cards so I asked them if they wanted to send them to me.

      And then I looked at the system and can’t find any way to send them.

      I was expecting the same system you use to send gifts to also be able to send cards.

      But after reading the FAQ and everything it seems the only way is to start a chat on your friends list and then start a trade on there… Not very handy at all.

      If anyone knows a better way I’d be happy to hear.

  15. WILL says:

    Dark Souls doesn’t have that many gotcha traps. You can easily spot the traps if you just stop and think. It’s like Castlevania – made to screw up people who decide to just rush in.

    It’s filled to the brim with brilliant game design, it really is.

    1. IFS says:

      I think the only traps/situations that really ever felt ‘gotcha’ to me were the boulder in the first area (which does little damage, does not reset on death, and is intended to point you where you’re supposed to go so its forgivable), the archers at Anor Londo, and the Bed of Chaos boss fight which was the only part of the game that caused me any frustration.

      Other than those three, one of which doesn’t matter much, the game is incredibly fair with its traps. So long as you pay attention you can avoid/handle every situation in the game, even turning some traps to your own use.

  16. I like how Shamus may have coined a new term by accident. I think he meant to call Games For Windows Live “malware,” but it sounded like he called it “mallware.”

    I don’t know about you, but when someone says “mall,” it suggests a place that’s an overpriced jumble of offerings that seem hardly worth the trip when you get there and are rarely available at decent prices.

    Who’s up for calling such a negative store-like platform “mallware?”

    1. Adam says:

      It might be one of those words he’s just never heard spoken aloud, based off of what the word looks like it should be pronounced as. For me, “malware” just reads as a contraction of “malevolent software” and thus I pronounce it with the short A. Shamus pronounced it with the long A as in the french “mal” meaning bad. (Which is certainly a fair assumption given that malware is universally BAD.)

      1. Now I’m wondering how many French people there are named Shamus.

        1. anaphysik says:

          It’s pronounced “Shah-mue”

        2. BeardedDork says:

          Approximately zero, I couldn’t find it on the list of names French parents can legally use. Though it’s possible the law restricting baby names has changed.

  17. patrick johnston says:

    Just wanted to point out an interesting tidbit to Shamus. I was looking over your steam profile because I was curious how much borderlands 2 you had actually been playing. At 171.6 hours in the last two weeks that is 51 percent of the last two weeks was spent playing borderlands 2. Just found that interesting

    On the idea of difficult games I oddly find myself rage quitting minecraft more than anything else. When I play dark souls I am somewhat mentally prepared for it so the deaths do not affect me as much. I just accept it as a mechanic like dodging or attacking. with minecraft on the other hand I see it as more of a free range exploration game so stupid arbitrary creeper death tends to infuriate me so much more.

    1. Shamus says:

      For the record: I leave games running and alt-tab away. This is especially true for AAA games with lots of splash screens and loading time. Sometimes I have games running for days at a time like this. (Meaning the game is running when I’m asleep, eating, out of the house, or working in another window.) So the Steam figure for hours played is always WAY off for me.

      1. patrick johnston says:

        makes sense. I was just curious because steams been giving me the Shamus is playing borderlands two pop up fairly often and it got me wondering. The number of hours did seem a tad bit excessive.

      2. krellen says:

        So that’s why StarCraft II was always claiming you were in-game.

    2. Rick C says:

      It’s a bit of a blunt instrument, but you COULD set Minecraft to Peaceful. It means you wouldn’t get skellies and zombies, though.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:


      I think it’s because Dark Souls clearly places whatever causes your death (like enemies) as an obstacle to be overcome as part of the gameplay and a goal. Minecraft has a more undefined, largely emergetn, gameplay and overcoming mobs just isn’t something that you perceive as your goal. I know I had a few cases where I abandoned a world and whatever project I was working on there after a death.

      Like Rick above suggested, turning the world peaceful may be an answer, though on the other hand it strips the game of a large aspect of gameplay and sometimes left me a slight aftertaste of unfulfilment.

      1. patrick johnston says:

        That’s my problem. While I hate getting shot into lava by hidden skeleton number 342 turning it to peaceful makes the game feel empty. As much as I hate creepers part of the fun is having to spend some of my hard won diamonds making an awesome sword. As frustrating as mobs are they really do help to both motivate and add excitement to exploration. So apparently I am just a masochist.

    4. Jokerman says:

      I find this weird also as i am the same, only i rage at plenty of games… For me knowing what i am getting my self into when i am about to play darksouls helps, the game being fair also helps a lot.

  18. anaphysik says:

    Really enjoyed the mailbag this week! It was great to finally hear some of my own questions be answered, what after Josh explicitly chatted me about having sent in questions!


  19. Vipermagi says:

    Oh boy. I normally don’t listen to these, but you mentioned Dark Souls.

    “You never lose more than thirty seconds of progress, and you're usually right back where you left off within a few seconds. This is an extreme contrast to a game like Dark Souls where dying at a boss means you have to run down some corridors, fight mooks, do a challenge, open a thing, traverse another corridor, fight more mooks, gather some stuff, and THEN try the boss again.”

    Nnnnnno. There are very few cases where there’s a true obstacle between the last Bonfire and the boss, if you have rested at the right bonfire. The few monsters that are around can be ran past without much issue, or they’re weak cannonfodder that should pose no problems. Sadly, the second boss is one of the exceptions. You can run past the trash there, but it’s positively hard to do.
    It’s more often a minute than fifteen seconds, sure, but it is rarely more than that.

    Bosses are the best-designed areas of Dark Souls, alongside the art (Dark Souls is seriously good-looking).

    I’ve always wanted to buy you Dark Souls, but it has GFWL, soooo yeah. Still sometimes feel sorry for getting you FC3 with free U Play.

    Anyways, reason I wanted to buy you Dark Souls is because I think you can have a good time with it. Storytime!
    My first experience with Dark Souls is at a friend’s (Greyah), on their X360. He guided me a decent bit, and I’d watched him play a fair amount already. Went fairly well, and I liked it, so when From Software announced the PC version, I bought it plus a gamepad*. I played for like four hours, maybe. Soon as I got further into the game than at Greyah’s, I didn’t like Dark Souls anymore. Monsters were mean and they killed me. Lots.
    It wasn’t until Greyah bought the PC version and we did a co-op playthrough that I started enjoying Dark Souls again. I’d make a second character, and go through the places we had co-opped on my own using a wholly different setup, and it was great fun. I knew what was coming, roughly, and I didn’t die to every second enemy… so now I have over 500 hours of playtime, most of which is solo play. Even done some minor challenge runs, which I normally outright fear.

    Dark Souls is not hard. Even I can reliably complete the game (that’s some twenty bosses, plus an army of mooks) in under ten deaths, if I pay attention while playing. It has to be easy, otherwise challenge runs wouldn’t be possible!
    Dark Souls has a decent learning curve, is all. When you die, you can normally see what killed you, and why. The game then expect you to figure out how to prevent it, and it gives you a lot of tools to do so. The problem is, they’re not always apparent, and like hell the game is going to tell you. That is what makes Dark Souls “hard”. It just doesn’t tell you enough. The challenge is figuring out a specific mechanic or even just finding a blacksmith. Mooks are rarely the challenge.

    So yeah. I think you too can have a decent time playing Dark Souls, just… Not when you try to solo it. The offer stands :)

    * = Dark Souls can be played with a keyboard, and plenty people have made it work. I just bought an Xbox controller with a USB cable though.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Shamus wrote:

      So what we have here are different groups of players, some of whom think the game is infuriatingly hard and other players who find it to be a little too easy. Part of this has to do with the frustration threshhold[sic] of the player. When playing a videogame, do they think:

      That game is easy. I only died every once in a while. Maybe a couple of times a level.


      This game is frustrating. I died twice on just about every level.



      1. Vipermagi says:

        My whole point is that playing Dark Souls doesn’t have to equate to returning to the bonfire over and over again (plus that the description Shamus gave doesn’t actually apply to Dark Souls), because you’re not alone in the world.

      2. Deadpool says:

        Next sentence was…

        “Some players (like me) see death / failure as something that should only happen if you are careless.”

        Which, to be fair, is how Dark Souls operates.

        It is true the game is punishing. But the game isn’t trule HARD. It is just unforgiving about carelessness. If you act like the lord king of all creation, the game will smack you. If you act like the tiny, insigficant, pointless little piece of carbon messing with forces he can’t comprehend, let alone control that you ARE, the game will reward you.

        I am not saying Shamus WILL like it. I’m saying a lot of people have a fundamentally wrong understanding of what the game IS.

        1. Asimech says:

          “If you act like the lord king of all creation, the game will smack you. If you act like the tiny, insignificant, pointless little piece of carbon messing with forces he can't comprehend, let alone control that you ARE, the game will reward you.”

          There’s a lot of middle ground between those two. How much grovelling towards a piece of entertainment is required so it stops hitting you? Because as-is it’s sounding like a very stressful game.

          1. Deadpool says:

            It IS stressful. It’s the point.

            I never said the game was for everyone, I never said the game was for SHAMUS. I am just merely correcting a common misconception about these games:

            People seem to think these are super duper hard games that will make you lose days of work because you pushed a button half a second too late. They think it’s Ninja Gaiden without checkpoints.

            That is not quite how the game works. It uses its mechanics to create an emotional reaction out of the player. It does BEAUTIFULLY. Some people may not like the opressive, lonely, insignificant in the face of inevitability feeling the game creates. That’s fair. Not everyone likes horror. I am just pointing out the difference.

            Btw, this is a better horror game than ANY of the “survival horror” games I’ve ever played.

            1. anaphysik says:

              It sounds like it’s stressful… *if you play it skillfully.*

              If you play it poorly, then it just sounds like pure frustration.

              1. Klay F. says:

                If you play poorly, then you either need to get better, or (if you have no interest in getting better) you need to conclude that the game isn’t for you. The game has no interest in coddling you, but it won’t go out of its way to dick with you either.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  This continues to sound increasingly like the article I reposted is highly fucking relevant. /Especially/ the proposed ESRB label. http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/images/timesink.jpg

                  It sounds like a game heavily built around a ‘win more’ (or perhaps ‘lose less’ would be more appropriate) dynamic. If you’re really good, and ever watchful, then you’ll go through it without too much difficulty. But if you’re not as good as the game wants you be, if you slip up once – well, then the game punishes you, making a fairly difficult task (which you weren’t capable enough to beat) all that much /more/ difficult.
                  It’s like the shit that some people were suggesting for Tomb Raider – limb damage when you goofed and so forth – that doesn’t actually make the game harder for the best players, it just makes it increasingly hard for the less-than-the-best players (i.e., the people for whom the game was *already harder*). For those best players, it adds tension, sure, but for everybody else it’s just frustration.

                  Now, sure, at some level that kind of dynamic exists in most games. But many games also allow the player /some/ sort of direct control over the experience (like, say, a fucking difficulty slider, which, when well-made (and many aren’t) lets the player match their skill with their desired experience). Dark Souls sounds like it’s designed for a single, set difficulty. Some Dark Souls players are saying that it would be ‘ruined’ by a difficulty slider (and maybe it would (as some people would play it at a lower difficulty than they ‘could’ handle like the game wants them to), although to me that implies that the game mainly makes its oppressiveness known via death or the threat of death, with other cues being very ancillary – just because you don’t die (or even don’t take damage) doesn’t mean that you feel /unhurt/ <_<). –Ughhhh, too many parens, lost count, too lazy to check, starting new paragraph

                  Anyway, since the game doesn't want people to be able to even /choose/ not to follow its plan for them, it has a set difficulty. And for those people that can play well enough to get that stressful experience at that difficulty, the game works as intended. But there's a downside to that: anyone who can't play that well – EVEN PEOPLE WHO *WANT* THAT STRESSFUL EXPERIENCE – *can't*. And for those people, the game *is* dicking with them; it's not going out of its way to dick with them, no no – it's just going to be dicking with them constantly.

                  *None of this means that Dark Souls is a poorly crafted game.* Which for some gravdamn reason is what all these Dark-Souls-lovers seem to be hearing. Shamus isn't saying that (nor am I). Shamus *is* expressly saying "I /know/ this game isn't for me, and thus doesn't interest me; also, please stop asking me to play it."

                  Dark Souls could certainly be a marvelously crafted game – for the people able to play at its expected level. But for everyone else, it's probably going to simply be frustrating. Pretending that it can't be frustrating is disingenuous. Implying that people who don't care for the possibility of that frustration are 'wrong' or 'lesser' or some shit (which I don't actually see explicitly in this thread, but does look like it might bubble under the surface) is just downright jerkfacery.

                  tl;dr: this thread is dumb and aldowyn should feel dumb. #badumtish

                  1. Deadpool says:

                    I’m not arguing when Shamus says “this game isn’t for me.” He’s a grown man, he can decide that kind of shit for himself. He certainly knows himself better than I do.

                    It’s when he says things like “well a game that is both insanely hard and super punishing isn’t for me” that I argue. Because Dark Souls ISN’T like that.

                    “But if you're not as good as the game wants you be, if you slip up once ““ well, then the game punishes you, making a fairly difficult task (which you weren't capable enough to beat) all that much /more/ difficult.”

                    And this is where I disagree. By and large the game tasks you with relatively simple tasks. It just asks you to be very careful and very paranoid while doing it.

                    It doesn’t ask you to face a million enemies that can one hit kill you and soak up all your damage, it doesn’t ask you to dodge a rail of bullets where the only safe spot is about two pixels larger than you game avatar. That’s difficult.

                    Most enemies are slow, predictable, who don’t just telegraph their attacks, they send you a latter about it first. But they do quite a bit of damage, and they will ambush you if you aren’t careful. The skill here isn’t reaction time, it is not getting ahead of yourself.

                    It is okay not to like the game, it is okay to not play it or not beat it. What I don’t like is damning the game for things it DOESN’T do.

                    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

                      I'm not arguing when Shamus says “this game isn't for me.” He's a grown man, he can decide that kind of shit for himself. He certainly knows himself better than I do.

                      It's when he says things like “well a game that is both insanely hard and super punishing isn't for me” that I argue. Because Dark Souls ISN'T like that.

                      Is it worth pointing out that you’re arguing against something that isn’t something Shamus even said? The show notes clearly say “I hate playing punishing games, this game is punishing, it is not for me”. The “punishing AND hard” that you’re saying is completely wrong crept into the conversation completely elsewhere.

                  2. IFS says:

                    True the game may not be for Shamus, however that doesn’t mean that he isn’t misrepresenting it, which is what people like me who like the game are reacting to. Certainly Dark Souls can be frustrating and punishing, but its reputation for such things is exaggerated. Personally I found Hotline Miami way more frustrating than Dark Souls, which yes is a personal experience but at least I have played both games before making that judgement. Its annoying to hear things that simply aren’t true being used as an example of a problem, particularly when the discussion of the problem itself is otherwise interesting.

                    I have nothing but respect for Shamus, and it is certainly his choice what he plays. However just because I respect someone does not mean that I won’t offer an opposing opinion, particularly when I feel theirs is based on a misconception.

                  3. Aldowyn says:

                    The heck are you dragging me into this for?! >:[

              2. Vipermagi says:

                Maybe I’m just far too autistic to feel such things as emotions, but I never play a game while stressed (?!), and don’t see the point in making myself feel uncomfortable.
                Playing Dark Souls makes me feel powerful. I’ve gained enough familiarity and knowledge that I can murder everything that stands in my path fairly effectively. The only reason my first solo playthrough happened, was because Greyah dragged me along for the first ride. “The Dark Souls experience” doesn’t have to involve stress, hundreds of deaths and whatever else real people feel. I play Dark Souls for the zombie dress-up and many varied methods of killing dozens of different monsters and two dozen bosses.

                To demonstrate what I find fun in Dark Souls, I made a new character today, and got to Firelink. In these two videos I kill the second boss (first one is in the tutorial and is boring). Note beforehand: cold day in hell I remember that Fraps records WinAmp as well. Was listening to Amon Amarth at the time.

                Couple notes (more in the video descriptions if you like reading):
                -I get interrupted when the big feet appear. I suddenly blow chunks but survive just fine without a shield anyways, because Dark Souls is not hard.
                -The Black Knight is essentially a miniboss at this stage. I did atrociously and managed fine.
                -The boss is a big guy: get between his legs and attack his future offspring. Doesn’t hit nearly hard enough to one-shot, so if you take a hit just block the next and then heal up. Usually works out. Goes down like a sack of spuds to Gold Pine Resin (the lightning).

                Now, it took a fair bit of playing to be able to pull this off for the first time. This is not indicative of your first character, and probably not the second either. The videos are meant to show that Dark Souls gives you leeway, especially early on. I barely use my shield (shields are The Best (TM)), I’m careless, have only half of my light armour equipped, don’t level Vitality… And I do fine. Even when I get punched, I’m not in a situation where my character is doomed. Blocking the skeleton instead of trying to charge past would have worked fine. I take like six bolts to the neck. A Black Knight goes to town with a greatsword. Doesn’t matter. Get out of the way, flask up, finish the fight.

                I play moderately skillfully (far more foreknowledge than skill there), and it’s a breeze. I really doubt a somewhat “guided” playthrough will lead to stress (especially when co-op fires up, which is literally right after the Taurus Demon), and I am deathly curious about what other people think of Dark Souls, because it’s one of my favorite games — Especially with someone who has such a bizarre idea of what Dark Souls is like (say, Shamus), I want to know what they experience actually playing.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  That was in response to DS players specifically saying that the game was designed to be stressful and that they enjoyed that stress. My point was that ‘enjoyable stress’ isn’t merely something that some players /don’t/ want to experience, but also something that some players CAN’T experience.

                  As it is, it seems that you’re in a /different/ group of players that can’t ever experience that ‘enjoyable stress’ – because your frustration threshold is much higher than DS was designed for, rather than being much lower. Your threshold appears to be so high that you don’t even consider memorizing the game layout to be mildly annoying, so…

                  1. Vipermagi says:

                    Fair enough re. stress. :)

                    As for the memorising: I cover roughly 80% of the graveyard in that video.
                    But yes, I don’t find memorising areas annoying at all. It comes naturally to me (although I basically cannot draw from memory at all), so I’d be pretty screwed if that ticked me off. Know a couple people that’d get lost in their own house if someone changed the color of a door though, so I can see why people could find that a nuisance. There’s definitely some stuff you will have to remember if you don’t want to waste a bunch of time, as well.

            2. Daimbert says:

              That is not quite how the game works. It uses its mechanics to create an emotional reaction out of the player. It does BEAUTIFULLY. Some people may not like the opressive, lonely, insignificant in the face of inevitability feeling the game creates. That's fair. Not everyone likes horror. I am just pointing out the difference.

              Btw, this is a better horror game than ANY of the “survival horror” games I've ever played.

              I think it is a mistake to conflate “horror” with the sort of care that seems to be required for Dark Souls, although please note that this is coming from someone who has not played it. Especially since Shamus has written much commenting that you don’t need to have deaths to make for good horror, and that in fact deaths tend to break horror by dragging you out of the moment and reminding you that you’re playing a game.

              I find it hard to believe that Dark Souls has a better horror atmosphere than, for example, Fatal Frame. But death wasn’t a constant in Fatal Frame, nor did it occur frequently. Yes, you often had to prepare as well, but if you paid attention you could win a lot of the time. And it had difficulty levels as well, allowing you to pick the difficulty where you most enjoyed the game. The only reason to not allow difficulty levels in a game is if making things easier would ruin the game, which would suggest that the game is all about the combat/puzzles and has nothing else. That’s hardly something that can be true about a game that’s a good horror game.

              1. burningdragoon says:

                The Souls games do address that in a way, since death is written directly into the world. You aren’t effectively immortal because it’s a video game and their are checkpoints. You are effectively immortal full stop. The actual story of the game has it so you don’t actually fully die until you give up and stop playing (although it’s not so cruel as to delete your save if you don’t play for a while). NPCs in the game who eventually lose the will to go on either literally fade away (Demon’s) or go completely insane and you have to kill them. Your deaths are there for other players to see and vice versa.

                Frustrating as it will be for people, it’s deeper than “oh you died, try again.”

                Also there are more ways to have varying difficulty than just having a slider. There’s even an old post of Shamus’ about that. Both the Souls games have starter class (Royalty and Pyromancer) that make the game easier, though it could do a better job at letting the player know

                1. IFS says:

                  I will say that while I never really thought of the Souls games as horror games (rather games with horror elements) the way they handle death does an excellent job of maintaining immersion and atmosphere. Demon’s Souls was a scarier game to me, The Tower of Latria in particular just oozed with the atmosphere of a horror game.

                2. Vipermagi says:

                  The Pyro especially doesn’t showcase its strength at character creation at all. Ragged, messy robes, the lowest level (which is actually a plus in Dark Souls), a shield that looks about as horrible as that of the naked man…

                  I personally rank the Bandit above the Pyro even, but I’m horribly biased :P The Battle Axe is so cool.

                3. Daimbert says:

                  I think you missed the point I was trying to make here. It was not about how death was written into the game, but because that even with that sort of mechanism every time you die, you get hopped back to a bonfire and generally remember that you’re playing a game.

                  That being said, I’ll concede that it is possible to work that sort of mechanism into the game itself and have it work to enhance the atmosphere (Torment, for example, did that). So if Dark Souls does that, then it might have a better blend than it is being given credit for.

                  That being said, I had enough trouble with “Catherine” — which had difficulty levels and even a super-easy mode and was STILL incredibly hard — that I don’t want to try another game like that, thanks [grin].

                  1. burningdragoon says:

                    No I understood. Whether dying and being kicked back to the bonfire cracks your immersion or not depends on how much you can buy into the mindset that death is not a failure state. That may keep it from being a good true horror game, sure, but there are plenty of horror elements not directly related to everything being able to easily kill too.

              2. Deadpool says:

                It is a different kind of fear (although Demons’ Souls’ Tower of Latria IS more clasically scary), but the game IS scary.

                All the mechanics and sounds and visuals force you into paranoia. In a new, unknown location, a player will often find himself paying real close attention to noise clues, peering carefully around every corner, and dodge rolling at your own shadows when the light changes.

                You don’t want to die in this game. And the only way to avoid death is to either know what you’re doing before hand or being really paranoid and scared of everything.

                It isn’t a horror game, but I was more scared during it than any Silent Hill, or Fatal Frame, or Rule of Rose, or any other game really…

                1. Daimbert says:

                  I think this was precisely Shamus’ point in the other article — not this podcast — and one that I agree with: you’re not afraid as a result of being immersed in the environment, but are afraid because you know that if you aren’t paranoid you’ll die, and dying is costly — in some sense — and you don’t want to pay that cost. It is, it seems to me, the sort of attitude like Shamus expressed in his Silent Hill: Homecoming review, where looking for save points — or bonfires in this case — is an overarching concern because if you don’t use the right ones you’ll have a painful way to get back.

                  In Fatal Frame, walking around the mansion felt creepy, regardless of any of the game elements. Mostly, it seems to me, due to an exceptionally good use of sound. We should not conflate “horror scary” that comes from the environment with “desperation scary” that can come from the environment or a knowledge of the game mechanics.

      3. Just Passing Through says:

        When it comes to Dark Souls, the two groups are more accurately described as people who have beaten the game already, and people who have not.

      4. IFS says:

        While certainly this is true, I for one am certainly worse at Dark Souls than Vipermagi, the point is that Dark Souls difficulty is exaggerated somewhat by the fanbase. It has challenging parts but there are a number of ways to mitigate the difficulty from paying attention, preparation, summon allies and more.

        It would be nice for Shamus to try the game, given how much he likes to talk about it being frustrating, as it feels to me like he’s occasionally somewhat unfair to it, although that’s clearly not his intent. It is understandable that it gets used as a posterchild for being a frustrating game based off of its reputation, but it remains a bit annoying.

    2. burningdragoon says:

      You’re kinda understating some of the difficulty, but I will say that even though it kinda goes against some of the spirit of the game, playing with someone you know who knows what they’re doing with voice chat or something does help make it less frustrating.

      After (finally) getting one of my friends to play Demon’s Souls, we ended up coordinating our online together and used skype chat. I knew pretty much all there was to know, so I just did my best to keep my friend from dying and maybe giving a hint every once in a while.

  20. Deadpool says:

    Btw, I have a pet peeve with Papo & Yo.

    The story is based around a favela, a brazilian shanty town. “Papo & Yo” is “Dad and Me” in SPAINISH.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Appropriately enough,this piece came out this monday.(“Die frenchy!”)

    2. Humanoid says:

      Portugal? Isn’t that a city in Spain?

      1. krellen says:

        It is when I’m playing Spain.

    3. Astor says:

      Papà¡ = dad.
      Papo = it can refer to a double chin (and has some dirty slang uses too!), it’s usually used as a nickname.

      I call your pet peeve null and void!

      1. Deadpool says:

        It is DOUBLY peeving then!

  21. guy says:

    I am astounded that Chris managed to get through that Origin suggestion without anyone bursting out laughing.

    Wow, Origin really does trip the spam filter all by itself.

    Also, I installed Uplay yesterday. It was incredibly painful, and made me wish Steam gave refunds for the first time in my life.

    I’ve never used the store portions of GWFL, but it is stapled to Dawn Of War II like a butchered albatross made out of lead.

    1. Yeah, I used GFWL the other day for the first time.
      And it’s just like Rutskarn says – you see people complaining and you just think, “oh, it’s just nerds complaining on the internet.”
      But it’s not. It’s one of the worst pieces of software I’ve ever had to deal with.

      1. I have only one GFWL game: Fallout 3. I bought the DVD, lunchbox, and battery-devouring Pipboy clock and everything when it first came out. I don’t think I’d been subsumed into the Steam collective yet, but there was no comparison.

        I bought the GOTY edition of F3 on a Steam sale for five bucks for many reasons, but one was just to show GFWL that I was SOLIDLY seeing other people and they should go find another naive victim for their unwanted advances.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          GFWL is undoubtedly THE worst online marketplace I’ve used by a huuuuge margin. Origin and Uplay are only mildly annoying, and really the only reason they’re more annoying than Steam (well, Origin is the only one I use semi-regularly) is because I don’t have them auto-start on launch.

  22. Deadpool says:

    Btw, this is one of the most hysterical plays of Dark Souls…

    Note how awful at the game he is, and how well the game “teaches” him to play properly.

    Bet your ass he will spend the rest of the game with his shield up…

    1. I think you forgot the link.

    2. Deadpool says:

      Did my link get moderated away or did I, hysterically, FORGET TO COPY AND PASTE IT?!?

      I’m guessing the latter, but I would rather not risk re-posting it until I know it isn’t the former…

      1. Shamus says:

        I didn’t mess with the link. Try again.

        1. Deadpool says:

          Well, I’m an idiot…




          Not the best port of the game for the PC btw, but it is still amusing to me…

      2. Nidokoenig says:

        I’ve noticed before with posting links that they won’t show up when I post, so I’ll have to edit it to include them, which seems to always work. *shrug*. Just a matter of remembering to copy the original post and paste it back in.

        1. Youtube is an odd duck for posting links. This could be a Firefox thing, but here’s what I’ve discovered:

          You go and find a video you want to share here. But what’s this? It’s got a load of crap after the v= gobbledegook. I don’t want to have that “feature=footmassage” stuff, so I just select the relevant bit of the URL, copy it and paste it.

          This doesn’t work well. For some reason, you have to then paste the de-cluttered link back into your browser and actually load the page. Once that’s worked, you can select it, Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, and it’ll work. I have no clue why this is, but it makes no sense to me. It’s as annoying as those pages you can copy a bit of text from and when you paste it a tag of “For more great stories visit our site at URL!” comes along for the ride.

        2. Humanoid says:

          I’ve observed that the comment system just strips out HTML that either is unrecognised, malformed, or otherwise not supported in a comment. So if there was the smallest of syntax errors in your anchor tag, it would just get silently removed wholesale instead of raising an error.

        3. Deadpool says:

          This could also be that I was using my girlfriend’s tablet and the Ctrl key isn’t where it’s supposed to be, so I didn’t paste anything when I though I did…

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    If we get dark souls for Shamoose,we also need to get duke nukem forever for Rutskarn.

    But what are we going to do with Chris and Josh?Chris is just too mellow,and Josh is too much of a troll to be griefed like that.

    1. Humanoid says:

      It’s a shame there appear to be no further entries in the “Season of Mystery” franchise, as the title would have implied.

      On the other hand, it’s $1.69 right now for anyone who missed this timeless classic first time ’round.

    2. Syal says:

      Final Fantasy 10 for Josh.

      Don’t know about Chris. Maybe get to school on time.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Man the new mortal kombat is sloooooooooooooooooooow…I wouldnt get it if I wasnt bugged by a friend of mine,because she wanted to duke it out with me.Now the last one I played was 3,about a decade ago,but surprisingly I still have a lot of skill with the game.And this game is just so sluggish.

    Also damn,those tits are huge!I mean wow!I usually dont notice stuff like that in games,at least not right away,but wow,these are ginormous!

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Does anyone else find it funny how Shamoose is so scared about games being too difficult,and yet he has quite some skill?That comment Josh made about Shamoose turning out to be some sort of dark souls savant,I dont think it is actually that far from truth.

    1. Humanoid says:

      True, he was one of the few people to manage to get to the end of Trainz (though somewhat too literally).

    2. krellen says:

      He’s a better StarCraft player than me. I have no idea what to do if my one strategy doesn’t work.

  26. Gravebound says:

    Re: fighting game females:

    I really like the King of Fighters games for non-skeevy female characters. I mainly play Whip, Malin and Leona. There is still the ass-flashing, boob-jiggling Mai Shiranui…but at least the others aren’t just copies of Mai.

    And if you really want to be creeped out play Arcana Hearts. Although, I do think it’s fun to play, the whole cast being loli girls is creeeepy.

    The Soul Calibur character was Hilde from Soul Calibur IV. And that series is odd because the female’s outfits got more revealing and their physiques got more and more ridiculous as the series progressed. But a fully plate-mailed female only comes along in the fourth installment and not sooner?

    1. Ofermod says:

      I really am a fan of Hilde’s outfit. Also the interesting fact that apparently Sword/Spear dual-wielding was actually a historical thing. That never fails to amuse me.

    2. Humanoid says:

      Smash Bros is the worst for skeeziness – I mean, the suggestively named Jigglypuff is stark naked!

      1. Syal says:

        Even worse was the Peek-at-you character.

      2. burningdragoon says:

        Not to mention that Peach character who literally attacks you with her butt. I mean, come on, Nintendo!

      3. anaphysik says:

        Jigglypuff is my maiden (in Melee; in the original I main Ness (well, actually I’m a Ness-only guy); in Brawl I main… Ike, I guess? I don’t really play Brawl).

        I admit, I just like staring at her sweet-

        You know, mybe I don’t need to be so explicit about this. Just know that my love for Jiggly has only ballooned over time.

    3. False Prophet says:

      The Soul series is really perplexing to me, because while the female characters were clearly designed to be cute and attractive, they generally weren’t skeevy compared to other fighting games out there–Ivy being the notable exception. But at some point around Soul Calibur III, they decided to give the DOA franchise a run for its money, sexing up its female characters. Then, paradoxically, they introduce Hilde and Ashlotte. Weird.

      Incidentally, DOA, jiggle physics and beach volleyball spin-offs aside, also paradoxically had the most covered-up female character in a fighting game ever.

      1. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

        So, funny story to tie this all together:

        When I was in college, lo those many years ago, Soul Calibur II and Smash Brothers Melee were the two major party games.

        One day, playing both games in sequence, I decided to try jigglypuff in melee (and actually didn’t do too badly -I usually plaid Fox or Samus). When we switched to SCII, I decided to try out Taki. In the red jumpsuit. And she decided to start the match with some jumping jacks while the camera framed her from the chest up.

        I cracked “I didn’t know I was playing the same character in both games.”

        And since then, Taki has been known in my circle as “jigglypuff.”

        1. anaphysik says:

          Taki’s red suit is simply painful to look at. Even her second costume (the armored one) is a bit skeevy, but it’s at least moderately not bad (and actually has some, you know, armouring on it).

  27. Zerotime says:

    Josh, I’d warn you that I’m going back in time to steal your sushi, but technically I’ve already done it.

  28. kdansky says:

    As for fighting games and Mortal Kombat: I recommend Injustice. It’s somewhat similar to MK in how it controls, but less macabre and with BATMAN vs SUPERMAN! It has decent online too, though of course, fighting games can be frustrating when you play against someone who is way better, similar to any other competitive game.

    I’ll play anyone on PS3 – Europe, my nickname is the same.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      Injustice doesn’t seem to flow very well though from what little I have seen of it, which kinda makes everything look stilted.
      It could be different to play, but it certainly doesn’t look good.

  29. Thomas says:

    I bet the developers of Deus Ex: The Fall didn’t even think about what Rutskarn said. I literally believe they all made a genuine mistake in that they didn’t even think that even if they prevented the pirates from pirating the game, they would actually still be preventing said pirates from buying the game legally either.

  30. Corpital says:

    I have to say, I am VERY disappointed with this episode.

    First, you introduce your fantastic new host, Mr. Potato Chips, cut him off after two sentences and then don’t let him speak again. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of you, but you simply cannot compete with Mr.Chips’ charisma.

    I sincerely hope, he isn’t offended and will show up again next weekend.

    -A concerning citizen

  31. KMJX says:

    Hate to only post with a complaint, but I think I need to bring this up :P

    Why is this podcast so loud, and why does the player not have a volume slider?

    Here are my options:
    – Stream it, and have my ears hurt after a couple of seconds
    – Adjust the volume for Firefox, which will make streaming this podcast not hurt my ears, but will make any other media I stream barely audible
    – Download the files, play them in my preferred player (MPC) where I can adjust the volume to my liking
    All of these are kind of a hassle to me.

    While not a horribly big issue, as a matter of convenience to the end user, wouldn’t it be easily possible to have a volume slider on the embedded player?
    Because right now i can only mute it, or use one of the options above.

    Thank you for putting up with my whining, have a nice day :)

    1. Humanoid says:

      This has to do with how each browser handles embedded audio, as opposed to something Shamus has control over – you can easily test this by loading the page in a different browser: I get a properly functioning volume slider in Opera for example. Alternatives have their own quirks – IE users were complaining that the Diecast would autoplay when the blog’s main page was loaded.

      In this case, you’ll find it down to how Firefox does HTML5. it has no volume control – or more accurately, it has one which doesn’t seem to be working in the visual UI – but a workaround you can employ is to use the up and down cursor keys to control the volume.

      Bizarrely, Firefox *does* have a speed control (in the right-click menu). And it doesn’t even make them sound like chipmunks. Listening to the Diecast at double speed is going to be a real time-saver.

      Never noticed before because I always just download the ogg, heh.

      1. KMJX says:

        Thank you for the tip with the arrow keys… which scroll the page up/down for me

        1. Humanoid says:

          Heh, you’ll have to give the player focus first, i.e. click anywhere on it.

          1. KMJX says:

            I wouldn’t have bothered posting about it if I didn’t try that first.
            Still appreciate the effort ;P

            Now if I knew whether it would be possible to have the Greasemonkey fix the missing volume controls, and how exactly I should go about that, maybe I could actually get somewhere.

    2. Humanoid says:

      As an addendum, I see that it could be worked around by Shamus adding custom JavaScript controls for the volume, but it’s irritating to have to work around what should be an obvious browser issue.

      For what it’s worth, tested the barest minimum audio embed on a HTML page, and the same issue crops up, so there’s nothing fancy or exotic hidden in Shamus’ content that would be causing it (brackets substituted obviously):

      [audio src="http://www.shamusyoung.com/diecast/diecast21.mp3" controls /]

  32. Tony Kebell says:

    Kane and Lynch, isn’t that bad. It’s mechanics are quite good, not amazingly polished, but decent. The characters are fun, because they’re just so ‘anti-hero’ its hilarious and the stories are pure pulpy B.S I loved both of them.

  33. Tony Kebell says:

    Rutskarn, Stryker is THE MAN. Bar, none. I respect Styker, he has the balls to go head to head with a four-armed half-dragon, with just his t-shirt, knightstick, gun and tazer. (maybe Kung-Lao, my 1st char)

    The emotion is more impactful, when you’ve allowed yourself to be sucked in by the movies, comics and tv-shows and love the characters (like me, I LOVE MK, the ‘reboot’ is beautiful)

    Also the contrast between the story and gameplay is weird, the universe and cannon is pretty deep and it can be quite serious and grim-dark, whilst gameplay is almost completely the opposite. (say it with me; LUDO-NARRATIVE DISSONANCE!)

    Also the skeezy more hurt = less clothes aspect of the womens’ character models, is kinda a side effect of them wearing a bikini, there not much surface area for them to rip, without having to suspend gravity as well as disbelief to keep them decent.

    (Additionally; Rutskarn has attracted a mate? This cannot be good for humanity, He. Must. NOT. Produce. Offspring)

    1. burningdragoon says:

      Also the skeezy more hurt = less clothes aspect of the womens' character models, is kinda a side effect of them wearing a bikini, there not much surface area for them to rip, without having to suspend gravity as well as disbelief to keep them decent.

      A side effect that could easily be addressed by not having basically every character be a porno ninja/whatever the non-ninja girls are.

  34. Orillion says:

    Mortal Kombat IS lowbrow in an interesting way. The least amount of clothing in a costume is on Mileena, and she has gigantic teeth for a face. Also I think it’s pretty neat that her veil gets wrecked in her combat damage model, so it’s kind of an interesting “does the Nightmare Fuel prevent the Fetish Fuel thing going on there.”

    I do hate Sonya’s costumes, though. She if anyone should have sensible gear and reasonably-sized breasts.

  35. Muspel says:

    The Steam trading cards thing is interesting. On the one hand, I don’t care about them, at all. On the other hand, you can sell them on the Community Marketplace (usually for fifteen to thirty cents each, although the rarer foil cards can go for a few bucks).

    And Valve gets a cut of that, which actually a smart business move on their part. Games with cards might draw a second wave of attention after release, which is cheap publicity. Players that don’t care about the cards can sell them and use that money to buy more games. Steam earns money from their cut.

    Everybody wins. Well, except for the people that actually pay for the cards, I guess.

    1. bucaneer says:

      As far as I know, items in the community marketplace can only be bought using Steam wallet funds, so Steam is really earning all the money that goes through the marketplace, only occasionally having to provide access to a game in exchange. The cut (not sure what it is – 10%? 15%?) is just a sink which ensures that more cash keeps getting poured into the system.

      1. Muspel says:

        Sort of. Steam has to give a cut to the developers/publishers when it sells a game, so they don’t actually get all of the money.

  36. Hydralysk says:

    I had the same problem with Mortal Kombat’s women when I played it. Really the only fighting game I’ve played where I didn’t notice that issue was Persona 4 Arena, which isn’t that surprising as they mostly used the outfits from Persona 4.

    Mind you I don’t play many fighting games as they aren’t my cup of tea, so I’m not knowledgeable about the genre by any means. I only picked up P4A because I heard the story mode was good, which to my surprise it actually was. It was the first fighting game I’ve seen where they actually justify the traditional fighting game mechanics through the narrative.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      Persona 4 does have the advantage of most of the characters just being in their school uniforms, although there are the case of the non-students having a spy catsuit and a guy refusing to wear a shirt. This is mocked thoroughly by everyone. (“Half-naked man in a cape!”)

      I do hear that BlazBlue’s story mode is fairly good in a similar way (also because things happen like an in-story wounded character has less health during the fight, and people get killed off after losing battles). Although Persona 4 Arena totally retains the plot brilliance of the series it comes from, although it is completely a visual novel style due to the lack of an engine to show any sort of non-pre-rendered cutscenes in. It is so brilliantly justified in having a fighting tournament setup in a serious setting, it’s insane.

      It also is designed for the RPG fans who came for the story from Persona 4 in mind, being the most easily accessible fighting game I’ve seen and the story mode having no unfair bosses (in fact, they are bit more stupid than the same difficulty in Arcade mode). They keep all the unfair bosses in their own mode if you are a crazy person.

      I will stop gushing about Persona 4 Arena now, as I am a complete sucker for it, to the extent that I actually started playing it online against random people which I never thought I’d do with a fighting game, having never played a fighting game before really.

  37. Dave B. says:

    RE: Deus Ex mobile DRM

    PC games have had DRM that does something similar for quite a while, though there are important differences. They won’t run if they detect disc-emulation programs installed on your machine. When I bought LotR: Battle for Middle-Earth II several years ago, I couldn’t play it for a long time because the DRM system detected that I had at one time installed Daemon Tools. It was long since gone, but my game still wouldn’t run. I eventually had to reinstall Windows.

    So the obvious similarities are that both games treat you like a pirate based on something completely unrelated to your game, whether you’ve actually paid for the game or not. On the other hand, jailbreaking is not inherently linked to piracy, while disc-emulation has very few uses other than piracy.

    One final note: don’t bother renting movies from Google Play if you have a rooted device. The player app won’t work.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      mmm BFME2. I was kinda sad they made that one more traditionally RTS-like, although being able to play a LOTR game based NOT on the movies was awesome. Also the expansion let you play as the Witch King.

    2. EwgB says:

      It is a little understandable (though still pretty bad) for Daemon Tools, since it is a program that is often used for emulating an original disc from a pirated disc image. But it often happened that one of the forbidden programs was Process Explorer (from Sysinternals), a better task manager for Windows.

  38. Phantos says:

    I can give Dark Souls the benefit of the doubt, since it never purports to be anything BUT a punishingly difficult game. At least it’s open about it, unlike the occasional moment in a game where the difficulty is ridiculously unfair and inconsistent with everything else.

  39. abs1nth says:

    Chris’ stance on sexism in media strikes me as: I don’t like skimpy women in my media therefor noone should see skimpy women in media.

    Rutskarn hit the nail on the head. There is nothing inherently wrong with having bikini fighting characters it’s the lack of variety and choices that’s problematic.

    1. Orillion says:

      I just like equality in my scantily-clad characters.

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