Last of Us EP6: Very Poor Life Choices

By Shamus Posted Friday Sep 26, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 133 comments

Link (YouTube)

We already had the discussion on consumable melee weapons last episode when we talked about breaking metal pipes. Let’s not have the exact same discussion about shivs. Instead, let’s talk about buildings:

In the episode I said that buildings ought to be standing after just twenty years. (Assuming they weren’t bombed.) I mean, there are hundred year old buildings all over the place (especially around Boston) and buildings shouldn’t suddenly fall over just because people stopped sweeping the floor. But then Josh pointed out bursting pipes, and now I don’t know what to think. Let’s just set aside the bombed-out scenario we see in The Last of Us where (basically) warfare has turned the place to rubble. Let’s just imagine one of those “everyone is suddenly gone” scenarios:

I could easily see how burst pipes could slowly destroy a building in just a few years, assuming you’re far enough north to get a reliable freeze / thaw cycle. Overflowing water gets into the cracks in the basement, then freezes and expands to widen the cracks. Repeat that a few times a year and you’ll have cracks in the foundation and all the support pillars. Then again, the OUTSIDE of a building’s foundation is always exposed to the weather, and the freeze/thaw cycle doesn’t chew it apart from the outside. Sometimes buildings need to be patched up once a generation or so, but over the span of just twenty years most stone, brick, and concrete structures ought to be just fine.

Then AGAIN, we’re talking about flooding from the inside. Assuming a burst pipe fills everything below ground level, that water is going to be far, far more damaging than the freezing rainwater that slides ineffectually down the sides of the structure. Maybe all those tons of freezing water could turn the support pillars to rubble in just a couple of years.

Then AGAIN, where is all that water coming from? No people means no electricity, and no electricity means no water pressure. Either the power is on and the building is heated (which means no freezing in the winter) or the power is off and there’s no pressure in the pipes. Sure, they might burst and dribble out what they were holding, but that’s not going to catastrophically flood anything larger than a house. The floors will get wet, then the water will evaporate. No harm done.

Then AGAIN, maybe we’re worrying about the wrong sorts of water. Without city workers maintaining the storm drains, eventually they will get clogged. I have no idea how long that might take, but once it did then every rainstorm would result in some amount of flooding. Also, if people aren’t shoveling and salting the snow it might really pile up. In the winter it might pile high enough to present some serious spring flooding.

Then AGAIN, who cares about spring flooding? Most of it should be long gone by the end of summer. So again, there’s not enough water to tear apart the basement. Er, unless a window breaks. (How? What broke it? I can believe random circumstances might break an odd window every couple of years, but windows just don’t break that often, not even when the city is filled with busy, angry, careless, and clumsy people.) If the right window broke, then maybe a regular supply of showers would be enough to keep our basement full. It’s dark down there and not easy for the moisture to escape. So the basement would effectively become a pond (it is below ground, after all) and thus be subject to winter freezing.

Then AGAIN, there’s a lot of insulation in buildings and basements are deep. It’s supposedly 50°F (10°C) underground all year. Basements aren’t quite that deep, but the ground is a pretty good insulator. Also, even in water that’s exposed to the elements (like a naturally occurring pond) isn’t going to freeze solid. So our flooded basement would need to have just the right amount of water: Enough mass to damage the foundation, but not so much that it’s too massive to freeze.

Then AGAIN, our buildings are kind of complex and made of a lot of different materials. Perhaps some combination of elements and weather would be enough to rot out all the wood, drywall, plaster, and fiberboard, leaving behind a mostly empty shell of a building. I’ve been in some older structures that had wood floors, and it’s easy to imagine unchecked moisture would cause everything to fall into the basement, leaving only the outer brick and stonework in place.

Bottom line: I have no idea. My gut tells me the buildings should be fine, if only because we have medieval castles that are weaker, colder, and wetter than any modern structure, and they aren’t torn to rubble by the elements. But I don’t know. Modern buildings (by “modern” here I mean “less than 100 years old) are a different solution to a different problem, and might have some vulnerability I’m not thinking of.

From a game design perspective, it’s probably smarter to do what people expect rather than do all the research to figure out what would actually happen. Perhaps this is why the writers introduced the idea of saturation bombing to their story. They didn’t know, and didn’t want to do something that would feel wrong to the audience, so they punted.

Either way, it’s an interesting question.


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133 thoughts on “Last of Us EP6: Very Poor Life Choices

  1. Isaac says:

    I’m starting to think that this game’s depiction of saturation bombing is a bit unrealistic. If you look at WW2 pics of Dresden (or even pics from the Syrian Civil War) after it was bombed the entire city looks flat with only a paltry of completely hollow bombed places but here there is still alot of buildings left standing.

    I do like how despite the bombings there’s still alot of infected around. It points out the military’s incompetence and desperation.

    1. guy says:

      It’s probably a matter of quantity. The late-war allied air raids were huge. Given the news radio snippets from the time skip, I feel pretty confident a bunch of air bases had fallen before they bombed around quarantine zones. Also, the goal was mass casualties instead of destroying infastructure.

      It’s likely they weren’t trying to kill all the infected, just thin out their numbers enough to stop them from overrunning machine gun nests.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “It's likely they weren't trying to kill all the infected, just thin out their numbers enough to stop them from overrunning machine gun nests.”

        Probably.Seeing how its established that these things prefer underground,they were just disposing of those that were above ground.

        Also,props to the game for not using the nuclear option.

        1. guy says:

          Personally, I wouldn’t be particularly inclined to nuke a city I’m planning to live in. Even if it’s detonated far enough away to keep the shockwave from knocking down anything important, that’s going to contaminate the groundwater something fierce.

          1. ehlijen says:

            And no one wants to go to the hassle of building a water cleaning filter machine. It might overload and kill people.

            1. mixmastermind says:


            2. Isaac says:


          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well,yes,that is my point.It would be incredibly stupid.And yet,dropping the nukes on an infected city is a rather common trope in zombie stories.

            1. Thomas says:

              Everyone knows radioactive zombies are the worst

        2. 4th Dimension says:

          Eh, nuclear options have their use, and properly employed nuke (detonated at an altitude above ground so it doesn’t blow up bunch of dirt, iradiate it and scatter it around) will cause massive devastation and destruction of living matter for “minimal” radioactive hazard. But we are talking here about modern cities with skyskrapers which are pretty tough and your enemy is underground. You would need to get inventive to collapse underground passages.
          All in all majority of time conventional weapons will be better, unless you can get the enemy to bunch up in the open, than Gamma Ray burst caused by nuclear detonation will destroy all living matter in LOS.
          Hmmm, they are dealing with the enemy in the tunnels? Not a lot that airforce can do about those. They can pop individual sections of underground railway or sewer using bunker busters but not on a city wide area. And if herbicides don’t work incendiaries and cluster bombs are their only hope, but if like 70% of the city has turned you can forget about retaking it even seemingly functioning. What you can only hope is to level enough of it and get as many of them as you can in the bombardment.

    2. John the Savage says:

      Actually, the allied forces did a survey of how much damage those bombing raids had actually done, and found that they really weren’t very effective. Despite targeting industrial buildings, they had only managed to damage the German industry by about 10%. Most of the factories they targeted were still operating; they had damaged the structures, but most of the machinery inside those buildings were either undamaged or repairable.

      And unless we’re talking nukes, no amount of bombing is going to completely eradicate a population. It’s called “air support” for a reason.

  2. Tizzy says:

    The state of a post-human Earth was carefully laid out in The World Without Us

    Can’t recall all the deails, but the basic message is that stuff doesn’t last nearly as long as you would think. Also, be sure to differentiate between the currently old buildings (low-slung, lots of stone and wood) that can retain at least walls for centuries after being vacated, and modern buildings (tall and comparatively more erosion-prone).

    1. I’m not sure if this is kosher, but I stumbled upon this PDF of the book on the University of Vermont’s website. So only read it for educational purposes, people.

    2. Ithilanor says:

      Beat me to the reference. Interesting book, and worth a read.

    3. Joe Informatico says:

      Another vote for this excellent book. There’s also a documentary based on it, but I haven’t seen it.

    4. Hitch says:

      On a less literary bent, I saw several episode of this:

      They had a number of examples of places built in the 20th century and abandoned for a couple decades that were in really bad shape. It was surprising how un-durable modern construction techniques are without constant maintenance.

      1. SKD says:

        Love that series, it has a permanent place in my digital library. It is surprising how non-durable modern structures are without people living in them. The natural expansion and contraction of the dissimilar structural elements with no air conditioning to maintain humidity and temperatures within a small range will cause the structure to gradually pull itself apart over time. And most modern office or industrial structures actually have very little actual structure within them as they are built to be easily remodeled.
        Also Shamus, water freezing and thawing is not the only environmental hazard. You would also have to take into consideration plant and animal incursion.

  3. guy says:

    If you want to know how buildings would look after twenty years abandoned, look for pictures of Chernobyl. Generally, overgrown and rotting but still largely intact seems to be the rule.

    Granted, the radiation is probably hampering plant growth somewhat, and I don’t know if people specifically drained the pipes. But I expect all the water from the pipes would drain out or evaporate within the year.

    1. Isaac says:

      Yeah but this place was carpet bombed presumably 20 years ago.

    2. Thomas says:

      Varosha, a city in Cyprus, has been abandoned for 40 years this year and it’s tower blocks are still standing.
      Although clearly the climate is pretty temperate.

      A couple of buildings in Varosha even got bombed

      I don’t know of the designers put much thought into it or not, on the one hand we visit other towns and cities, some with moderately tall buildings, and the places there tend to be quite intact. On the other hand the buildings aren’t skyscrapers there.

      Maybe they just thought it was a cool image

    3. Svick says:

      Since the radiation in Pripjat (the abandoned town near Chernobyl) is low enough for day-long visits, I doubt it has any significant effect on the plants growing there.

      1. Jilkaa says:

        Actually, the plants and decomposers around Chernobyl are still suffering heavily from the effects of radiation. Apparently the only reason any trees are still in the area is that the microbes that eat dead matter die off before they break it down. Scary stuff!

        1. Ravens_Cry says:

          Yeah, all it takes one lightning strike in the wrong place. and it goes up like Yellowstone, where earlier forest fire policies of ‘No fires: PERIOD.’ also meant that the massive increase in debris and detritus resulted in massive conflagration.
          Still, yes, Chernobyl is an excellent example of what happens to a place after people leave. The exteriors at least seem to be in more or less good shape.

  4. Vermander says:

    Not sure about larger brick and steel structures, but I’ve definitely heard that without paint, varnish or other chemical treatments termites and other vermin would take a pretty hefty toll on wooden buildings and structures and a lot of older houses might start collapsing fairly quickly. There’d also be significant mold and rot everywhere, which would damage drywall and flooring.

    I also remember hearing that windows in skyscrapers need to be chemically treated or replaced every now and then because the start to warp and bend. Without maintenance they’d eventually start popping out of their frames, which means the interior of buildings would be exposed to the elements.

    I imagine fires would be a significant factor too. Who knows what would happen if a fire was allowed to burn unchecked in an abandoned neighborhood.

    1. Ithilanor says:

      Fire would definitely be a problem. From The World Without Us (chapter 3):

      In the first few years with no heat, pipes burst all over town, the freezethaw cycle moves indoors, and things start to seriously deteriorate. Build­ings groan as their innards expand and contract; joints between walls and rooflines separate. Where they do, rain leaks in, bolts rust, and facing pops off, exposing insulation. If the city hasn’t burned yet, it will now. Collec­tively, New York architecture isn’t as combustible as, say, San Francisco’s incendiary rows of clapboard Victorians. But with no firemen to answer the call, a dry lightning strike that ignites a decade of dead branches and leaves piling up in Central Park will spread flames through the streets. Within two decades, lightning rods have begun to rust and snap, and roof fires leap among buildings, entering paneled offices filled with paper fuel. Gas lines ignite with a rush of flames that blows out windows.

      1. Richard says:

        Gas lines?

        Sorry, but no. The mains gas supply would vanish within a few days of the electricity supply at most.

        Bottled gas would last until the bottles corroded enough to start leaking – perhaps 5-10 years?
        Barring a *very* unlucky strike or being caught in a fire before leaking they’d harmlessly empty themselves.

        1. I’m not sure where you get the idea that gas pressure would vanish within days. Most systems are designed to stay pressurized in the event of a power failure, mainly with pressure-sensitive valves and so on.

          I wasn’t able to find any data on how long a gas line would remain volatile, but you don’t need full pressure to give you enough gas for an explosion, and you don’t have humanity using it 24/7 anymore to heat water, homes, etc.

    2. ehlijen says:

      I’m told even just the vibrations of people moving around in a place are a significant factor in stopping some termite kinds from eating entire cities. They only go for dead wood and if there is too much movement, then they don’t consider it ‘dead’.

      So yeah, leave a queenslander with wooden posts alone for a year and it might just collapse. It’s why housesitting is a thing around here (in addition to the usual security and pet care benefits).

  5. “From a game design perspective, it's probably smarter to do what people expect rather than do all the research to figure out what would actually happen.”

    Actually – having not yet played der videos – I’d say it can be a good opportunity for playful subversion if the situation uses relatable logic to try and pull it off. Like, I always wanted there to be a post apoc scenario where people still use the internet and when someone brings up how, the simplest response would be, ‘because this is literally what the internet was designed for.’ Maybe it might not fly under extensive scrutiny, but the origins of the internet as a military application are still common enough knowledge to let it fly off the cuff.

    Not to say it aint a risk, but I appreciate such situations when they’re successfully handled.

    1. Thomas says:

      The origins of the internet as a military application are quite well known in America at least, because it was an american military. In the UK we get told about a British guy originating it in CERN with HTTP protocol (or incorrectly as starting with the Royal Mail). I imagine some other countries have their own origin stories too

      1. James says:

        i think the issue here is talking internet (the literally interconnected web of computers) and the web, Sir Tim Burness Lee can be credited with the web i think fairly as it is him who first created HTML.

        the Internets origins as in the network lie in the american military and DARPA net.

        as far as i recall

        1. Thomas says:

          That’s the thing with all these inventions though. There’s never actually one innovator, there’s 14 different innovations all made by different people and each country picks out the one closest to coming from them and teaches them ‘this is the origin of the internet’

          So I was just pointing out the military thing might be much less commonly known elsewhere because everyone has a different story. Being biased and British I would point out that it’s the Berner@s Lee thing that literally did become the internet

          (For another example, I bet a Brit is way more likely to know that Joseph Swan can lay claim to inventing the lightbulb. Or that Graham Bell is variously known as British, American or Canadian (?) depending on which country wants the phone. And then the Italians talk about the patent of an Italian engineer Bell supposedly nicked it from)

        2. From the top of my head, Tim Burness Lee created the HTTP protocol,
          I believe it was him that said when asked if there was anything he’d like to change and answered “the double forward slash” thing.

          So instead of you could use

          Pre-emptive comment, If you type just in your modern browser it will automatically consider that as the same as
          the underlaying protocol system and software out there still needs though. FTP uses

          Another pre-emptive comment: The “mailto:” thing is not a protocol really, it’s a local shortcut/uri.

          Oh and don’t forget local files that start with file:/// Yuck!

          PS! This comment got flagged for moderation because I typed too many times? Haha!

          1. Shamus says:

            You’re spamming me with links to myself!

            Actually, I guess that’s an edge case. I’ll forgive the spam filter for this one.

            1. The ironic thing is that it was the website that created those links, I just typed text (I.e. I did not use a href to create links).

              I wonder if turning off automatic links would improve things?
              I don’t mind having to use a href to create links.
              Then again others may like the auto linkifying going on.

      2. William Newman says:

        The Internet and the World Wide Web are two different levels of functionality, sort of like the difference between manufacturing tires or refining gasoline or building roads on one hand, and running a trucking company or a taxi company on the other hand. Sometimes people do use the terms very broadly, more or less the way someone might refer to the effects of the “interstate highway system” on the economy so broadly that they include the effects of spark plug manufacturers and local traffic police. But often it’s worth making the distinction: the direct mail industry uses the USPS, but for most purposes the two layers aren’t really the same thing.

        For more details (and pointers to *lots* more details), search for the word “layer” in .

    2. guy says:

      There’s, uh, a bunch of problems with using the internet in an apocolypse. Also, it actually wasn’t designed to survive a nuclear attack; it’s resistant to losing some computers because servers just crash sometimes.

      1. Obviously, everyone on it needs to have and operate computers.
      2. While there’s no single point of failure, it can still only take so much damage before it fails.
      3. The DNS system. If the root DNS servers go down, urls will eventually stop working once records get cleared from caches. There are a lot of redundant root servers, but we’re talking thousands at most.

      That said, if the survivors can run enough computers to make it worthwhile rebuilding the internet is a pretty sensible thing to do.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Depends on the power infrastructure. Arguably, once you’ve got that running enough to support an internet, you’ve pretty much successfully rebuilt civilisation.

        It’s a good goal, but there are a lot of things I’d use power for first when it comes to surviving. It’s not the last thing on the list, sure, but not even close to the first either.

        1. Felblood says:

          The kind of internet you would use your resources to keep online would be very different from the on we know today. I’m not buying a nuclear waste with my-space pages, but I can see news sites and helpdesk forums.

          Still, a survivor city looking to establish a satellite colony could do worse than to pick a site with intact fiber optic running back to the home city.

          Not only is it a harder to track alternative to radio communications, instant mail delivery will keep your groups connected culturally and reduce the chances of insurrection.

          1. ehlijen says:

            But on the other hand, radio, or even just landline telephones, are much simpler to build and maintain. Even a point to point internet connection requires computers which are not built to last at the best of times and without silicon manufacturing capabilities you’re not getting any new ones.

            If you have a fibre optic point in your post apoc village, I’d rather just set up a telagraph system (ie some person with a torch on each end) than a computer.

      2. Octapode says:

        If it’s the apocalypse, I think people will be able to cope with just using IP addresses for the vastly reduced number of boxes on the network. Your other points still stand though.

      3. 4th Dimension says:

        In the event of an apocalypse your Internet would be a network of networks in a small city or in an extreemly fortunate case small state, because the links to other places would go from lack of power/humans primarily. But on this network it shuldn’t be too much of a problem to set up couple of Servers to keep DNS records for hundred or so sites you might use. So DNS of a small comunity is not an issue, hell out of box setup of a Windows Server can do that. The biger problem as others have pointed out is lack of stuff to put on the web, and lack of computers/people to use/mantain it couple years after the apocalypse.

  6. James Schend says:

    The most obvious example of a place being abandoned for 20 years is Pripyat. And if you look at photos (or just play STALKER, which is a great game anyway), the interiors are complete messes, the wooden buildings are rotting and falling apart very quickly, but the concrete buildings are (structurally) fine.

    There’s also the case of the Ryugyong Hotel, which sat as an unmaintained hulk between 1992 and 2011. They were able to finish construction without having to do any major repairs to the concrete structure. (EDIT: fixed the name of the hotel.)

    Now that said, none of these places were bombed 20 years ago. That brings up a new variable. Who knows.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Someone should make a game where you are a sergeant or some such,and you just run behind the troops shouting “Hurry up!Clear that hallway!Open that door!Use a grenade!Quit stallin!”,and your squad is just a bunch of invincible badasses,but you die from 2,3 hits.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Meh,those videos about guys drinking expired soft drinks are mostly fakes.Cinema snob regularly drinks expired sodas,and here is the crystal pepsi video.

    1. djshire says:

      We were thinking the same thing

    2. SpiritBearr says:

      How have they not brought up the taste of old soda through 2 Fallout games and Half Life 2.

      1. To be fair, Nuka-Colas are supposed to be irradiated by design in Fallout (and a s a joke), so whatever happens to them over time probably isn’t from bacteria being able to consume the contents. As for Sarsaparilla, I don’t know what they made it from canonically, (there’s the sarsaparilla vine kind vs. the US version which is birch oil and sassafrass) so I dunno if it breaks down, ferments, or what over time.

        1. Joakim Karlen says:

          Sunset Sarsaparilla is made from agave leaves and xander root (also an empty bottle). The root (which does not have a real-world counterpart) is probably a reference to the sarsaparilla root. They are also at least 204 years old.

    3. Dave B. says:

      There is some indication (reliability unknown) that in addition to tasting awful, old diet soda might actually cause real health risks. Something about the artificial sweeteners breaking down into toxic substances like formaldehyde.

      Regular soda doesn’t appear to have this risk. Just another thing our hypothetical wasteland survivor needs to be aware of before chugging a bunch of expired Pepsi.

  9. Mike C says:

    A building will only last in a reasonable condition for as long as its roof lasts. A typical residential roof is rated for about 20 years from the time of installation.

    Now, at the end of those 20 years, it’ll need replacing, and may have a leak or two, but it’s not yet collapsing. However, few houses are going to have brand new roofs the day that everyone disappears.

    In 2003 or so, I’ve been in a complex of bigger buildings in the UK (a wetter, but not a colder climate than Canada where I am now) that were abandoned in the 1980’s. The buildings ranged from being salvageable (with cleaning, painting, and new carpets), down to roof gone, floors rotting out, and rooms filled with thick weeds. Of course, vandals breaking windows helped a little, but I think the integrity of the roof is the biggest contributer to the overall state of the building. While these buildings had sloped roofs, I would imagine that flat tar-and-gravel roofs wouldn’t last as long as that.

    1. The opening quote to Chapter 2 of the aforementioned book, “The World Without Us” reads:

      “‘If you want to destroy a barn,’ a farmer once told me, ‘cut an eighteen-inch-square hole in the roof. Then stand back.'”

      “”architect Chris Riddle Amherst, Massachusetts

      Also from the same chapter:

      As gravity increases tension on the trusses, the H-inch pins securing their now-rusting connector plates pull free from the wet wood, which now sports a fuzzy coating of greenish mold. Beneath the mold, threadlike filaments called hyphae are secreting enzymes that break cellulose and lignin down into fungi food. The same thing is happening to the floors inside. When the heat went off, pipes burst if you lived where it freezes, and rain is blowing in where windows have cracked from bird collisions and the stress of sagging walls. Even where the glass is still intact, rain and snow mysteriously, inexorably work their way under sills. As the wood continues to rot, trusses start to collapse against each other. Eventually the walls lean to one side, and finally the roof falls in. That barn roof with the 18-by-18-inch hole was likely gone inside of 10 years. Your house lasts maybe 50 years; 100, tops.

      So if houses last that long, these buildings still being up isn’t unreasonable. Now if this took place in New York, it’d be a different story, as without the massive pumping system still being powered, Manhattan would start flooding in days thanks to the loads of rivers that the island has that have been buried/diverted.

      1. Ithilanor says:

        Roofs seem to be the major factor for houses. For skyscrapers, water eroding the foundations would be a major issue; even outside of places like New York, there’s going to be issues with drainage once infrastructure stops getting maintained.

        1. Ithilanor says:

          Now that I think about it, Boston’s got the Big Dig and a healthy subway system; after 20 years, the Atlantic’s going to have leaked in and caused a lot of damage.

          1. Maybe, maybe not. As someone who has a stupid drain in front of his under-house garage (1917, what were you people thinking?), I’d say tunnels, even big ones, would clog up a lot sooner than whatever was on the other end flooded, especially if large chunks of debris (like cars) were involved.

      2. 4th Dimension says:

        Hmmm, I wonder does this rate of decay apply to all houses or only what Americans consider houses (big piles of flimsy wood wowen around a mesh of support beams). Cos while roofs will definitelly start sprouting leaks as tiles on them go, I don’t think houses mage from brick and reinforced conkrete will go that quickly. The floor/cielings might sprout leaks but all that conqrete and steel will require serious structural failure to collapse.

        1. That’s what pretty much the whole world considers houses nowadays, or are they still building castles where you live?

          Europe has more in the way of stone, but America also has its fair share of grand old houses and buildings built from quarried material rather than drywall and two-by-fours. If where I live (Kansas City) is any indication, it’s when a place was built that determines materials, as things built through the ’50’s around here have stone foundations at least, with houses made from cut stone, brick, marble, etc. with plaster walls, hardwood floors, and so forth before that. The farther back in time you place the construction date, the less “processed” your materials are.

          1. 4th Dimension says:

            I’m asking because around these parts a house is built using Bricks and Concrete reinforced by steel. While larger buildings are now more often made by building a steel/concrete frame and floors and than partitioning it with wood walls, smaller private buildings are still predominatly brick and cocrete.

            1. Kian says:

              Where I live we build houses like this as well. Floors and columns are made of steel reinforced concrete and exterior walls made of brick and cement.

  10. djshire says:

    Rutskarn, when talking about people drinking Crystal Pepsi….were you talking about The Cinema Snob?

    1. SpiritBearr says:

      Yeah in his video he liked it. He liked New Coke too.

    2. Cinebeast says:

      Thought the same thing.

  11. Traiden says:

    I rather doubt they flew any sort of plane to bomb the area, it would be much easier and cheaper to mortar the place to save on the valuable fuel that could be put to better use in generators. I would imagine they would also not use bunker buster type explosives and instead used something more along the lines of fire starting explosive if not out right napalm. The cordyceps are not hard targets using heavily fortified positions to send troops from, but a disorganized mob of presumably large number of human shaped low level apes using rushing tactics.

    I would imagine that they would use the destruction caused by those fires would be the cause of the majority of the weathering effects. Taking a look at the pictures of the aftermath of the Chicago Fires I could see how a block or two of bombing followed by 20 years neglect and vandalism as scavengers picked away vital components of buildings would leave the city in such a state. The incongruous part would be indeed the state of the museum. There should be a lot more missing from the place, I refuse to accept that no one would try and take the clothing at least from the dummies.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Actually,airplane fuel would not serve well for the generators.But the fuel used to move artillery would.So its more wasteful to use ground guns than planes.

      As for the zombies,they are prone to going underground,and theres plenty of metro and sewers here,so maybe they shouldve used bunker busters.

      1. stratigo says:

        You never really run in to city size numbers of zombies in this game, it is usually a few dozen at most, implying that the zombie plague essentially was cut down pretty ruthlessly through military force, but did enough damage to cause societal breakdown.

        Honestly, I could easily see society working fine in the way they have in game, with the understanding that they just omitted the farming areas. You have a hardpoint to retreat to when infected appear in numbers, and otherwise you just operate in a more feudal manner.

        1. Military force? Or memory limitations. :)

      2. The Rocketeer says:

        Jet fuel is damn close to kerosene. It should run a kerosene generator or heater with no issue.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Except your run of the mill generator is a diesel one.

          1. Octapode says:

            Diesel is kerosene. It’s the same slightly heavier than petrol oil fraction.

            That said, I think petrol would be the engine of choice for longer term apocalyptic power, for the simple reason that you can’t make a diesel engine run on pure gasified wood.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              “Diesel is kerosene.”

              No,its not.You are free to try the difference yourself.Just go and fill your gas tank with a different fuel and see how it will perform.

              1. Octapode says:

       People have, it goes.

                Jet fuel is the same lower vapour pressure (C12 I think?) fraction as diesel, home heating oil, kerosene. That’s why they have to dye kerosene and heating oil, to stop cheapskates using it for car fuel without paying taxes.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “People have, it goes.”

                  Yes,with extra lubrication.

                  Different fuels,while mostly the same,still differ from each other.Now you wont notice this short term,but long term you will.And when you need your generator to run at 100%(say if society crumbles),you cant allow yourself such experiments.

                  1. Octapode says:

                    I’d rather accept a bit of fuel injector wear than not having a working generator at all.

                    Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if military generators eat jet fuel already, for the sake of reduced supply chain complexity.

                    1. Felblood says:

                      There’s absolutely no way that the savings in logistics could justify the extra cost of the jet fuel. Kerosine is waaaa~y cheaper.

                      Don’t misunderstand, I’ve read some interesting studies (mostly ones funded by the military) on how to get jet aircraft to run on diesel, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you could sub-out the other way too.

                      The thing is those studies talk a lot about reduced performance and reliability, and the increasing risk of explosion the longer you rely on it. It wouldn’t use either of these tactics except as a last resort.

    2. Isaac says:

      You know how long it would take to mortar one section of an entire city to oblivion? Them bombing it is alot more plausible. I also don’t think they used napalm because there aren’t any scorch marks and none of the characters comment on the smells. There also aren’t any charred bodies. Besides, the bombing notice that Joel picked up last episode looked exactly like the kind of bombs put onto planes.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Maybe not mortars (in fact definitely not mortars) because if ther relative low range, but MLSR systems can deliver a lot of hurt in a nice cluster. Weather you diliver your dozen or so bombs by dropping them from a wing of planes, or by launching them from trucks via rockets the end result is same.
        On the other hand US military is probably more geared towards aerial based systems than ground based ones. Also relatively few planes today can deliver this kind of concetrated carped bombing. Most planes and weapons today are meant for precise targeting, hitting single houses or underground stations and not destroying and entire city full of reinforced conqrete buildings. So it’s kind of unbelievable that local forces had enough planes and ordinance to perform such a stike.

  12. Jabrwock says:

    I assumed the building had been bombed, wasn’t it in the area where the “saturation bombing” happened? But then again, buildings don’t have the kind of structural strength to stay mostly intact after clearly falling over sideways.

    Abandoned and poorly taken care of brick and concrete will be slightly crumbly years later, especially in freeze-thaw, but that level of collapse? I don’t buy it either.

    Burst pipes are generally a problem in winter, but as Shamus pointed out, only as long as you have a functioning pipe system and pumps to keep the water coming. Otherwise it just causes molding and rotting. And the concrete and brick won’t care much about those.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Let me give you some insight about the drainage systems in modern cities.

    So some 20 years ago,my country practically went to shit.Civil wars,huge inflation,stuff like that.Ultimately,all that led to city maintenance being figuratively nonexistent.

    This year,we had freakish torrential rains.And while most of the river were rising abnormally fast,and led to a bunch of cities being flooded,weird thing is that some places that were enough above river level(or not near a river at all)also got flooded,due to the rain filling up the clogged drains and spilling everywhere.

    And thats with still some (but not much) maintenance going on.No maintenance would probably make every spring into a full on flood season.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Flooding appears to be the natural state of things in many parts of the world. A huge part of making an area civilized to modern standards involves controlling water flows, especially the rivers, to prevent floods.

      1. Dt3r says:

        Yeah, flooding has been a big concern for a long time. The risk of flash flooding is actually much worse in modern cities because of all the non-permeable surfaces; roads, sidewalks, etc. It causes a huge amount of run-off that needs to go somewhere.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Interesting thing about clothing,did you look at that dead dude?He was dressed exactly how you would expect someone in this situation to dress,with a huge coat,long sleeves and gloves.So the reason for the main characters being this naked is artistic,as one of you pointed out previously.

    Oh,and shivs,as very crude improvised blades,are very easy to break.I mean try to make one out of a thin sheet of metal,and then stab it into a pig.Chances are,youll bend it with the first stab,if not break it completely.

    1. stratigo says:

      Then why not have a real knife? XD. They exist.

      1. Isaac says:

        Same reason why Joel and Tess don’t wear gloves or sleeves when they’re punching infected: Video Game Logic

        1. syal says:

          That’s completely logical, though. I think a risk of fatal infection that causes you to hurt the people around you is a small price to pay to not constantly be sweaty.

      2. Ambitious Sloth says:

        What’s funny about this is that Ellie, actually does have a knife, or she gets one later in them game. It’s a full-sized switch blade iirc that can be used like an indestructible shiv. She keeps it to herself which makes her seem kind of selfish since Joel, is actively playing bodyguard for her and going through shivs by the dozens. Still it makes you think that Joel, should pick up a steak knife or something not handmade since those are apparently more durable.

        Maybe Joel, doesn’t do that though because he likes making shivs? Like a compulsive whittler with a murderous bent.

        1. Alex says:

          “Maybe Joel, doesn’t do that though because he likes making shivs? Like a compulsive whittler with a murderous bent.”

          Noice. That gave me a pretty good chuckle. He is a question though. Why the hell are we so fixated on switch blades? In this time period would a switch blade even work, with any sense of reliability? It seems to me that a folding knife( hunting or otherwise) would just make so much more practical sense. This bothered me in the Fallout games and it bothers me here. Simpler mechanisms last longer and are just more reliable. Also blades can be longer.

    2. Isy says:

      It would explain why that one prisoner in Skyrim demanded his payment in shivs.

    3. Does it have to be my pig?

    4. Alex says:

      Um I guess that depends on what you make your shiv out of. Shiv just being an improvised knife, can be made out of anything. After years of scavenging it does seem a bit odd that Joel can’t find some stainless steel around that he can grind down to make a right proper shiv with. Scissors would work really well. At the same time knives are so common in our every day lives that just using one would be easier. I have kitchen knives that would work just fine in this situation. Yes some of them are slim but I’m sure you can find quite the chopper.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’m sure if you look for them you’d see actual kitchen knives lying about in the game =D

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,about that shaking of the controller,Josh said what it was fore,but to me it seems like its not properly designed since joel doesnt seem to be doing anything while you are shaking it.

    1. Thomas says:

      It’s not really noticeable. It feels very good when you do it, and the light actually does flicker out if you don’t do it.

      Of course I remembered to turn my light off, whereas Josh seems to keep his on in broad daylight

  16. tzeneth says:

    Shamus, are you sure the problems you have against the buildings aren’t just caused by a group of independent neurons acting against the group or put more colloquially: some rogue cells.

    1. Joakim Karlen says:

      Boo! Get off the stage!

  17. HiEv says:

    I’m reminded of Bangkok’s New World Mall. Construction began in the 1980s, but the top seven of the eleven proposed floors were never approved, so construction halted unfinished in 1997. Two years later it caught fire (arson was suspected). In 2004 demolition began, but as someone was killed during the demolition, that was halted.

    In the mean time, the bottom floor was filling up with water. Some estimated 1,600 square feet of water a foot or so deep. That water attracted mosquitoes. So, to combat that problem, the locals added koi. That then bred like crazy.

    So, somewhere in Bangkok there’s an abandoned “bombed out” looking mall with hundreds of fish in it.

    Details can be found here, plus some more pictures here. Pretty cool.

  18. Aaron says:

    shamus your conflicting comments are a sign of lack of full information. you need a new host to provide structual knowledge, talk the loading ready run crew into getting mike holmes on for a couple episodes

  19. Shamus you really should see Life After People,
    it tries to scientifically go through all that stuff (yeah I know, the “History” Channel), how things are the day after all humans vanished, then day two, a week, a month, months, years, decades, centuries, millenia and beyond.

    If you look at the trailer for the TV series you’ll see that Last of Us has reproduced that look of decay seen in that series.

    1. They really didn’t want to cough up the licensing fees for “The World Without Us,” did they?

  20. Orogoth the Overlord of Oranges says:

    “We already had the discussion on consumable melee weapons last episode when we talked abotu breaking metal pipes. Let's not have the exact same discussion about shivs. Instead, let's talk about buildings:”

    Helpful nitpick.

  21. BeardedDork says:

    Google “Feral houses Detroit”, and look at the images to see how quickly a city can decay.

    1. Or how slowly. Those and a lot of other buildings have been decaying for longer than 20 years.

      Also, we might be in Fallout 3 territory here, but older construction probably would last longer than newer, as more robust materials were used and we didn’t have engineering down to the point where the bean-counters could demand something be made to support X load and last Y years and NO MORE. The reason many bridges in the US have lasted so long under increasing stresses that were never predicted was that the engineers didn’t know what kind of lifetime these things were going to have to endure, so they overbuilt them to an incredible degree.

      1. Ithilanor says:

        Another reason they’re overbuilt is the lack of simulation to exactly compute tolerances. Without that, engineers just added a bunch of extra redundancy to be on the safe side, since they didn’t know how much would be required.

        1. Like Hoover Dam.

          I know a lot of crap was flipped at Fallout New Vegas for Hoover Dam still being in one piece, but that thing is built to last. According to the tour guides there, it could take a direct hit from a nuke and still stand. It’s expected to still be there in some form or another 2000 years from now, along with Mt. Rushmore.

          1. Ravens_Cry says:

            Or the Empire State Building. Dang thing got hit with a B-25 bomber and, while there was some damage, it sure didn’t collapse*.
            *The planes that hit the Twin Towers were much larger and going, much, much faster, so they impacted with a hell of a lot more kinetic energy. No need for conspiracy theories.

            1. A bigger threat to the Empire State Building might be water. Depending on where things are beneath the city, if the power goes, these massive pumps under Manhattan stop working. The water they pump away is from lots of rivers that used to flow freely over the island, and they’ll start flooding the subway in (I believe) 3 days or so. Then the erosion starts, the streets eventually collapse, etc.

              After learning about those pumps, seeing Manhattan where it’s not flooded in a post-apoc movie bugs the crap out of me. It’d be cool (visually) to see the buildings jutting out of the water, though I dunno if their foundation material can withstand constant submersion or flowing water.

              1. Ravens_Cry says:

                Given how far the pilings go down, I am not sure how much effect it would have after 20 years.

  22. Ithilanor says:

    About darkness: Josh, if it doesn’t harm you (like in this section), please keep your flashlight on. With it off, it’s pretty hard to see anything.

  23. Chris says:

    I can’t get over them leaving that ladder behind. I know they have to crawl through nooks and crannies to get from location to location, but I can’t cope with them finding a practically new looking ladder and not trying to take it with them..

    You know what would be a great tool to have to get around these things, something that would make sense as a one-use item. Alarm clocks. Something to set up to create noise to attract monsters to where you’ve been to open up new areas. Plus it would give a timing factor to what you set it to and how fast you can move there.

    Still not getting the buildings before the museum, they’re just too generic. But the Subway was interesting and felt like a real space. And the museum is really a nice touch.
    Thought it was funny that no one mentioned the Liberty Bell that Joel walked around (see 19:36).

  24. RCN says:

    All this building decay talk is ignoring climate. Sure, freezing in winter is a problem in the northern hemisphere, but most of the southern hemisphere has completely different problems that may or may not be more harmful to buildings. In my region, for instance, the temperature doesn’t drop too much in the winter, but it gets very, very dry. Below 20% humidity is common, with some days getting below 10% or even lower.

    Then there comes the rain season and it pours. Floods are the most common hazard in my country. Just last year we had a really big one on Sao Paulo. England has absolutely nothing on us when it comes to rally bad rain. If it is bad enough, our buildings might last only a few years without the heavy duty work of out drainage systems.

    Then again, one of the worst villains of building decay is looting. There’s a reason Rome’s pantheon survived 2000 years, even the Christians nor the raiding barbarians would raze it. There’s was a single pope to actively loot it, and it was only a big piece made of copper. Also, it helps to be the only building to receive active maintenance for 2000 years straight. Still, it is proof that human made stuff can last even if it is not just laying stones over a pile.

    1. The only “building”, yes. As an adjunct to your point, I suggest the case of many, many more or less still intact Roman aqueducts, which tended not to get looted, have the rock carted away to build something else etc. because are you crazy? That’s our water system!
      Some of them have still been in use into the 20th century.

  25. SmileyFace says:

    Okay, so, I don’t necessarily think it should be overused, since it might eventually get old (not quite ME3 Vanguard old, but still), and it is fun watching Josh scramble to win fights. That said, there are more resource-efficient ways to fight clickers, which might be handy later in the game in reserving valuable shivs to get to interesting story points.

    So, the most resource-efficient way to dispatch enemies in this game, notably including clickers, is to stun them by throwing an object at their head (or having Ellie do it), then sprinting at them and meleeing them with a melee weapon. The sprinting melee against stunned enemies will kill anything short of a bloater, only use one melee weapon charge, and not use all the shivs which you might want to keep as lockpicks. You can even use another throwable weapon as a one-off melee weapon to do the job, if you can throw-pickup-charge-attack quickly enough.

    Anyways, as I said, probably better something saved until needed, but I think it would save shivs for area doors, and also mix up Clicker fights so it’s not JUST shiv-shiv-shiv-shiv, maybe use it once there’s just a few left. That said, if you’ve got different plans for the playthrough, excellent, feel free to ignore me here.

    1. Thomas says:

      I was surprised Josh killed anything in this area. It’s easy enough to sneak through just killing the one clicker by the ladder

  26. General Karthos says:

    If you don’t maintain an average house, it will be destroyed within 20 years easily, regardless of exactly where you are unless you happen to be in a place where there is no humidity or rain, no wind, where no life can grow at all, and where there are no living animals. So basically, Utah.

    It’s incredible how fragile everything around us is, and how little we consider all the maintenance we do that keeps our houses standing. Those leaves you clean off the roof every year? Yeah, that’s important. If you didn’t do that, the roof wouldn’t last. And without a roof, your house would be open to the elements.

    In any closed system, entropy increases over time. The minor issues that you deal with on a daily basis can become major issues if you don’t deal with them. For example, a broken window (maybe a branch, maybe a baseball, maybe a grenade) will become a serious issue if you don’t deal with it. At the very least, put cardboard over it.

    Not ALL buildings will be destroyed in 20 years, but a good number of them WILL be, in fact. You might be surprised.

    1. tzeneth says:

      The more high-tech something is, usually the shorter time it lasts before it breaks without maintenance. Just look at how long the various mediums we’ve used to store information last. A stone tablet lasts longer than an ancient scroll but that ancient paper was made in a way that lasts longer than a modern book which is less fragile than a modern cd/dvd (one scratch can screw up a lot of information).

  27. McNutcase says:

    The “got something on your shoe” moment reminds me of a gaming story from a friend’s Shadowrun group. The decker had died on a run, and he had some pretty expensive cyberware in his head. They figured, get some value back from that, but carrying a dead body to a chopshop wasn’t going to work out. It wound up with a huge argument over how many times you’d have to slam the trunk lid of a car to sever the guy’s neck…

    1. Rutskarn says:

      Your friend’s group may be the source, but this is actually a classic gaming story. I first heard this one I want to say nine or ten years ago.

      1. You had very strange grade school friends.

        Oh, come on. He brought this upon himself with that setup. I’m only human!

      2. By means of apology for my previous comment, I offer this collection of puns to turn aside thy wrath.

      3. Cybron says:

        People claim famous stuff like that originates from their game all the time when among those who know no better. I remember in my first D&D group someone told me the old “I shoot my magical missile at the darkness” thing as if he came up.

  28. Some_Jackass says:

    “Life After People” states the building would still be standing. Every recent-ish (within the last century) abandoned location featured on that show (which they base their future human-less scenarios on) has every large building still standing or at least not nearly as damaged as the game depicts, regardless of where in the world they are.

  29. Paul Spooner says:

    I know it’s a game, but something just broke my immersion again.
    At 20:45 Joel lifts two giant beams. I’m guessing the board he uses as a lever is made of the same stuff as those dumpsters, because this is a real magic trick. Those beams would easily weigh a ton a piece, and way more if they are soggy. I’ve moved logs that size before, and it is all you can do to lift them a fraction of an inch, let alone a foot. The board would snap in half, especially if it’s as rotten as it looks. And on top of all that, there’s no need to move the beams! An adult could squeeze through the gap between them and the door frame no problem. The whole thing is a contrivance in service of the plot, of course, to split the party and build narrative tension. Oh well.

    1. syal says:

      I’m getting the impression Naughty Dog employees don’t ever actually lift or move anything.

  30. shiroax says:

    Hey Josh, nice job hiding that dialogue with the upgrade screen. Who cares about Ellie’s background when we have the 1 second of faster reload excitement.

    Also about busted buildings: according to Cracked you also need to think of busted gas pipes. I’m not sure how common those are, I think there’s hardly any where I’m from.

  31. Phantos says:

    I know this is unrelated, but I don’t know where else to address this:

    A problem with talking about games for a living: Everything you play needs to feed your output, and there’s less novel to say about oldies.

    Are you saying that nothing new or interesting can be said about old games? Because something about the way that sentence is structured is hard for me to read. I don’t know if the point in there is what I’m seeing, or if the truncated nature of Twitter is obscuring what you meant to say.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m just saying it’s harder to find fresh stuff to say about Diablo 2 than for (say) last month’s AAA game. This is particularly true in the case of legendary games like D2, which have been the subject of much detailed analysis over the years.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        On the other hand,you dont have to say anything different from what others have said in order to say it in an interesting and entertaining fashion.Heck,even diablo 2 didnt do anything new,it was just doing it in a distilled and polished way,which is what made it so good.

      2. Phantos says:

        Ah, okay then.

        This is kind of why I dropped Twitter(aside from Twitter banning me for following Rutskarn). That 140 character limit is not beneficial to engaging discussion, I’ve noticed.

        It’s like in Dr. Horrible. “I hate the homeless…ness problem…”

  32. Carlos Castillo says:

    I agree that most of the upgrades for the low-level weapons are mostly uninteresting. For the higher level ones though, they can mean quite a bit. Many of the high-powered weapons also have very limited clip sizes that can be overcome with upgrades (rifle, sniper pistol, shotgun, and the flamer)

    – The rifle also has:
    – A scope upgrade (and a range upgrade for it)
    – Armor piercing (makes a huge difference against helmets and armor)
    – Both it and the sniper pistol have initially 1-bullet magazines

    – The bow’s range upgrade is quite noticeable (arcs to straight lines)

    Although Josh complained about upgrading one weapon and running into an area with no ammo for it, that partially fits into the theme of survival (ie: allocation of resources in tense situations and using every tool), the game also has random loot drops (and NPC assistance) that try to avoid giving you ammo for the weapons with the greatest stock.

    I found two interesting about the upgrade system. First is that there is a severe lack of direct damage upgrades, many weapons instead improve DPS (ie: through fire-rate, and reload speed) or avoid penalties (armor piercing, shotgun range). Second is that difficulty affects the upgrades, so that some upgrades are unavailable on harder/easier difficulties. This is more present in the character upgrades, where on harder difficulties there are fewer upgrades (eg: health, listen range, weapon sway) and on the Easy difficulty shiv-master is gone (it’s level 1 is free, but you can’t get level 2).

  33. Keldoclock says:

    Josh, you haven’t been bricking zombies in the face!

    If you melee with a brick or bottle in your hand, you will smash it into the nearest zombie. Bottles break on the first hit and stun, I think, and bricks break in 3 hits (which is enough to kill a Clicker). Playing on the hardest difficulty incentivices shiv-saving, so after a while I mastered the art of bricking.

    1. I think you mean Josh must learn “The Way of the Exploding Brick” followed by the “Five Bricks of Death” and the most difficult “She’s a Brick House.”

  34. RTBones says:

    Very late to this party (a long holiday probably has something to do with that), but there is a logical explanation as to why Joel is dressed as he is: he is simply cold and has the shivers….

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