Diecast #137: Amplitude, Cradle, Slime Ranching

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 18, 2016

Filed under: Diecast 85 comments

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Campster, Mumbles. Episode edited by Josh.

The show is late. There are no show notes. I am not in this episode. The answers behind these mysteries are bound together: My daughter Rachel – who edits these things – turned 18 this weekend, and I was at her party. Also, her graphics card died, meaning she can’t use her computer until the replacement arrives.

But Josh came through and edited the episode. Rachel’s new card will arrive tomorrow. Things should be back to normal-ish next week.

Show notes:
1:40: Slime Rancher

Link (YouTube)

6:25: DDP Yoga
13:50: Danganronpa is coming to Steam
14:50: Cradle
26:50: Artsy Indie Game Stories
36:15: For some reason we talk about the diecast schedule I guess


From The Archives:

85 thoughts on “Diecast #137: Amplitude, Cradle, Slime Ranching

  1. hemebond says:

    I can’t tell if Josh missed Rutskarn’s wok pun or purposely ignored it.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    For anyone who wants to see ranching of slimes in action,heres Jim Sterling doing it for quite a while.

    1. nerdpride says:

      Eh? A joke? There is actually a video on the internet of Jim Sterling talking about this.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yup.And its even named by something he actually says in the video “The cat slime booped me!”.

  3. Muspel says:

    During the yoga segment, I’m surprised Rutskarn didn’t make the pun “Diecast: come die with us”.

  4. AileTheAlien says:

    Anyone know what Mumbles said the name of the game was at about 13:20?
    I couldn’t make out what exactly she said, and “doggone rama bear game steam” (and variants) doesn’t seem to show anything useful in internet search, or on Steam. :S

    1. straymute says:

      It’s Danganronpa

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Danganronpa. which has a sadistic, remote controlled teddybear operated by a mysterious antagonist.


    3. Mumbles says:

      it’s a murder mystery game that everyone should play

    4. Amstrad says:

      Not only is it a game, it has adaptations into anime, manga and light novel form.

      More related to the game: It also had a highly popular Let’s Play series that was being posted on the Something Awful forums that generated quite a bit of drama. (Mostly involving the forum occasionally going dark for those without subscriptions.)

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Is it ad&d 3 that made gnomes into illusionists?Or did that happen back in 2?

    Also,”only the lamest magics”?Um,correct me if Im wrong,but isnt it enchantment/charm?You know,the school that lets you dominate people?

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      Gnomes could be illusionists as early as 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, back when Illusionist was one of the bonus classes (along with monk, bard, and psionicist) that appeared in an appendix of the Dungeon Master’s Guide IIRC. They were basically variant Mages with a different spell list, and there were no other official classes that specialized in any other school, just illusion. I can’t remember if spells had even been codified into the eight schools of magic in 1st edition or not. (I’m sure there had to be one or two necromancer write-ups in issues of Dragon Magazine, but those were unofficial.)

      In 2nd edition, you could be a specialist in any of the eight schools of magic. IIRC, 2nd ed. Gnomes could still be illusionists, but not generalist mages.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        There were references to different categories that could be termed “schools” on the spell descriptions in AD&D (*sigh* okay “1st Edition”), but yes only Illusion got its own classes officially. I did have my own rules for an Enchanter class, and bits and parts for classes that did transformation or summoning, but strictly house rules, and I think only one character I ever DMed for was ever an Enchanter.

      2. Supah Ewok says:

        Gnomes were also special in that they could multi-class with Illusionist, I believe; IIRC, you can’t usually pick a specialization when multi-classing wizard.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thats what I was thinking of actually.

          1. Supahewok says:

            The spirit of Jan Jansen haunts us still, aye?

            Thinking about it now, I don’t think that nonhumans could be a specialist wizard at all except for gnome illusionists, but I’m on shaky ground there with my memory.

            1. Phill says:

              You’re correct. The illusionist subclass was only available to humans and gnomes.

      3. Matt Downie says:

        Am I right in thinking Illusionist was always a terrible class? In general, illusionists can conjure up fake fireballs and fake summoned monsters and fake walls, and real wizards can conjure up the actual thing.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Aside from using illusion in social situations(disguise self is an early spell),you can use it plenty in combat.Blur,mirror image*,various invisibilities,all make you and your allies very hard to target.And there are a few nasty spells that can damage,or even kill your opponents(basically you manifest their worst fear to kill them,or harm them if they survive).Plus,there are spells that mimic spells of other schools,which can harm your foes even if they realize its an illusion(though not as much as if they fail).

          *creates duplicates of you that shuffle around,making you hard to hit,because enemies wont know which one is the real one,thus wasting their single target attacks on the illusions.

          1. krellen says:

            High level illusion introduces Shadow Magic, which basically is a versatile spell that, from one slot, can produce one of half a dozen or so different effects. The effects are largely illusional, but are some portion real because of the “shadow” aspect – so they have an extra saving throw for the illusion part and only have partial effect if that save is passed.

            This is what makes high-level illusionists powerful.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      It’s been a while but if I remember correctly in 3.5 at least enchantment becomes a rather limited school at higher levels. Assuming the wizard knows and has prepared a particular variant of a given spell a lot of higher threat rating creatures are entirely immune to mind affecting spells and abilities (justified in some cases, for example by virtue of being mindless, in some others the limitations appears to be imposed almost specifically to prevent players gaining control of such creatures), a number of spells have repeated will saves throughout their theoretical duration, hit dice limit and/or built-in narrative limitations (such as “only reasonable commands” or “orders that aren’t harmful to itself”). There is a certain type of DM, whom I personally advise against playing with, who will interpret these limitations to the point of rule abuse (that is not to say there isn’t a certain type of player…).

      Mind you, at low levels, unless the DM is very particular about what he throws at the party, the sleep spell alone can hand players some easy victories and especially in a campaign that goes beyond strict dungeon-crawly-monster-extermination enchantment can remain a borderline gamebreaking school in some situations, especially in the hands of an imaginative player. After all, while it would make sense that a savvy monarch would have some protection from being manipulated in this fashion it’s unlikely they’d have resources to apply the same protection to every schmuck in their employ…

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah but those creatures also have high damage resistance and spell resistances.The thought behind this is that a high level mage will have feats,skills and artifacts to counter this.

        As for the enchantment school,while sleep is a powerful low level spell,there are three extremely powerful high level spells in the school:Power words.These are spells that will automatically affect a creature as long as it has less than X hit points at the time of casting(though magic resistance still applies).

        1. ehlijen says:

          It highlights the difficulty of balancing gradual effects against binary outcome powers.

          Magic missile will chip off some HP. It actually gets more powerful over the first half of the level scale, but it never becomes truly amazing, just kinda neat. Then it drops off sharply and in the end is just something kinda neat to use Quicken Spell with.

          Sleep, on the other hand, is essentially a save or die spell. Unlike MM above it does not get more powerful and in fact very quickly hits the hit dice limit (to non players: this spells only works on foes up to X levels of dangerous, where X is regularly exceeded by a lvl 4-5 party.

          Evocation (where most of the damage attack spells are) gets more powerful, whereas enchantment tends to stay as powerful, only you have to keep using bigger spells to effect bigger enemies.

          What this means is that specialising schools in 3.x is not a good idea for enchantment, because what it does is give you more spell slots each day for the specialised school, specifically, one extra slot per level of spells.

          Because in enchantment, almost only the highest level slots you have can do non-trivial things, you very quickly end up with spells slots you don’t care about but had to give up two other schools for.

          Meanwhile, an evoker can always just cram some lower level attack spells in to use in a pinch. Still not amazing, but almost never useless.

          Now, there are some spells in enchantment that aren’t level capped save or die, so there’s always that, but overall, enchantment is a weak school to specialise in.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The problem with direct damage spells is(as in practically any setting that has direct damage)that they dont scale well.Sure,that fireball is great for clearing a room of orcs,but once you get fire resistant monsters that also have high reflex save,youll do pitiful damage(if any).The most powerful mages are transmuters,conjurers and necromancers,the casters that can either buff their allies,or summon allies from thin air.Which is exceedingly helped by the fact that these things dont have a saving throw of any kind.Yes high level mages are great at decimating armies,but they are even better at helping their allies to completely devastate those armies.

            Still,I rank debuffs (enchantment/charm being in that group) higher than direct damage spells.Sure,dominate person will not give you consistently good results as a lightning bolt,but once it does,it will give you an amazing result.

            1. Merlin says:

              To add to that, elemental resistance and abilities like Evasion are a compounding issue, but even just how HP bloat works undermines evocation. In 2E, both spell damage and monster HP were mostly just a bunch of d6s/d8s/whatever. In 3E, the spell damage got ported over directly, but everything also gained +CON HP per level/hit die. So spells that were once good started sagging behind immediately (3d6 vs. 3d6 became 3d6 vs. 3d6+9) and high-level monsters generally had both higher CON and more hit dice relative to your level. So your evocation spells – which you pretty much just use in competitive combat scenarios – become decreasingly useful as the game goes on. I’d MUCH rather have enchantment spells, since Charm/Dominate/etc. never get worse, and the school as a whole is far more versatile in terms of when you can take advantage of it.

  6. Graham Mitchell says:

    Well I’ll be the human being in the room…..
    Happy Birthday Rachel!

    1. Funklewrinkler says:

      Deep within the womb of time,
      A creature thus be born!
      The seed of life is united with
      The egg of tyranny,
      Gestates forth from within the womb of life
      For three-quarter and nigh a year!
      The creature thus be born!
      The creature thus be formed!
      And ye of years, 18 bells will chime!
      When the heavens open up
      And drink from the silver cup!
      The creature thus be born!
      And blow the magic horn
      To alert the spirit deep within the cycle of life!
      The creature has begun it’s journey deep forlorn,
      Upon this day which he be formed!
      In the sea of mucus the spirit rides down from the mountain
      And unites with the creature in the womb!
      A holy union, dark mortality,
      Until the dark mortality
      Breaks the chain of life!
      The creature thus be born!
      And every year raineth down the celebratory tears,
      A celebration of the years,
      From mere mortal sky!

      1. Funklewrinkler says:

        So, yeah. Happy Birthday, Rachel!

        1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

          I don’t know why Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary never caught on.

  7. SyrusRayne says:

    I’d play Rainbow Six Siege with you, Campster!

    ETA: Badly, probably.

  8. Retsam says:

    The only thing I could think of during Josh’s description of Cradle’s setting.

    I sort of agree with both Mumbles and Josh on Braid. The aspect of Braid’s story that Mumbles describes does work really well, in my opinion: the framing of time-control puzzle mechanics in the context of a broken relationship is a really nice way to add context and flavor to what otherwise would have just been a clever platformer. The last level in particular was pretty brilliant.

    But there’s simultaneously the aspect of Braid’s story where it’s trying to be this big deeply profound and meaningful thing with multiple interpretations, like how it’s about a breakup but it’s also about the atomic bomb. A quote from the Wikipedia article on Braid.

    > Blow had stated… he “would not be capable” of explaining the whole story of the game in words, and said that the central idea is “something big and subtle and resists being looked at directly.”

    I suspect that’s more what Josh had in mind when he started talking about Braid as an example of indie games in which “nobody knew what they were writing”. According to the above quote, Blow literally cannot describe what he was writing, so Josh’s assessment seems rather accurate.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      I’d like to make a distinction between a work that generates interpretations the author never envisioned themselves, and a work where the author just uses obfuscation and ambiguity in lieu of actual depth or vision. E.g., I’m sure today people read all sorts of things into Shakespeare that could never possibly have occurred to him 400 years ago. But he was definitely saying something, even if the audience reads different things into his work as well.

      1. JackTheStripper says:

        I’m pretty sure that Josh meant the latter, where vagueness is used to avoid writing a deep story. Of which Braid is very guilty of.

        1. ehlijen says:

          I’m thinking maybe it’s a reaction to the criticism games like ME2+3 explaining their mysteries badly?

          As Shamus points out in his ME series, there is a conflict between stories that rely on mystery and stories that rely on following rules. The ME series botched explanation stories. Maybe people are trying to avoid those mistakes by choosing vague stories to tell?

          I’m with Josh on this.
          Not every game fits either approach, and when the writer has to make a choice, even though vagueness seems easier to write (after all, it gives less info and others have recently really messed up explantion type stories), it doesn’t actually remove the need to tell the story well.
          To do vagueness really well, you typically still have to work everything out, and then in an extra step chose what to remove to get the desired effect. Good vagueness can require more work than open explanations, not less.

          (And that, btw, is where stories like Lost dropped the ball in my opinion.)

          1. JackTheStripper says:

            That’s the secret. Good stories can be vague but they must still have deep, intricate details and explanations that support and broaden the main story, not contradict or undercut it. Bad stories will either stay vague even if you look deeper into it (like Braid) or they’ll make no sense and cheapen the main story (like Assassin’s Creed).

            A couple of examples of this are the Silent Hill games, where the ones made by Team Silent are very vague at first glance, but have very explicit rules to how the nightmare works and a very detailed story to the town; and the ones not made by them, like Silent Hill Downpour where the story is also vague, but contradictory if you look deeper into it. For example, in Downpour, the background story for why the main character is in the town will change from a wrongly convicted felon to a murderer depending on how you behaved during the game (there’s no time travel by way, it’s just that you being nicer in the future changes your past for no reason).

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      I think the difference comes down to the same as the difference between the lyrics to “American Pie” (the song, not the movie) and the output of this thing.

      …or the difference between a good abstract painting and just random bits of colour on a canvas — I don’t think there must necessarily be a definitive truth or message that could be spelled out, but there must be a recognizable intention behind it all. Now, how recognizable something is depends heavily on the observer, and some observers need everything spelled out for them, others will recognize meaning even if there is none (that’s part of the point behind the bullshit generator) — so in the end it’s mostly in the eye of the beholder.

      However, there are people out there who can draw a recognizable face with three lines and make it look easy but it’s not. The same goes for storytelling.
      The lesson I draw from this is that you should only do the kind of not-quite-definite stories Josh complains about if you know what you’re doing. If you never had a story to begin with, then fail to graft one onto the game and just relabel the half-finished and broken story elements in the game as intentional — that’s a bad recipe.

      Also, the Swapper. My favourite example of a puzzle game with minimal but magnificent storytelling.

  9. Chris says:

    Hahaha, the ending ramble about incompetence ended up making my media player spazz out and skip back to part way through the episode… Somewhat fitting, I’d say

  10. Neko says:

    Also, her graphics card died, meaning she can't use her computer until the replacement arrives.

    What sort of excuse is that??! It’s a podcast there’s no graphics involved!

    1. Josh says:

      Apparently the integrated graphics on her CPU was also super wacky, so there was nothing to drive the monitor.

      1. Squirly says:


        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Lucky!We didnt have enough light for it to be dark!And snow wouldve been a welcome source of heat,thats how cold it was!

        2. Cyndane says:

          Back when Fortran was not even twotran?

          1. Mike S. says:

            …And the mainframe was only a toy
            And we did our computing by torchlight
            When I was a boy.

  11. Slothfulcobra says:

    It’s weird, I was thinking recently of how game plots become garbage from the opposite angle. Big studios often have the too-many-chefs-im-the-kitchen problem where nobody agrees with the overall goal or arc of what the story should be, which leads to things like Assassin’s Creed, where now each game is trying to further at least three plots, present, past, and ancient first civilization, and they’ve all been spiraling around into nonsense. It’s possible that someone at some point knew where the series was supposed to be going back in AC1, but they’re probably long gone by now.

    There’s also the problem that unless games make a real effort to focus on a coherent story like say, Uncharted, they will steadily start to go mad over the course of sequels where the entropy of bolting additional stories onto the old one catches up and turns the overall arc crazy. There’s the two-pronged Zelda timeline, Halo’s constant revelations about prehistoric Forerunner politics, and StarCraft as examples of that. Even the simplest seeming stories and premises start to go insane if there’s no active push against overcomplication.

    1. Lachlan the Mad says:

      Actually, the official Zelda timeline has *three * branches, splitting at Ocarina of Time (and you also have to consider the pre-OoT games as their own branch, or possibly trunk). When I first read the timeline, I quickly dismissed it as nonsense — I much prefer a parallel universe/reincarnation reading of the setting — but most Zelda games since the release of the timeline have actually been written specifically to conform to it. Urgh.

    2. Falterfire says:

      There’s also the continual issue where game writers will write a 10+ hour story with an arc that doesn’t really make sense cut into pieces. Frequently I’ll play a game and spend a game session that’s an hour or two long going into a dungeon/mission/whatever where my goal is to do something or other to get a favor from somebody so that they’ll give me the key to the next dungeon which contains a clue to the location where the MacGuffin is hidden.

      I maintain that games should take lessons from Comic Books (and probably TV Shows) in structuring their plots more episodically so that every chunk of gameplay tells a complete story that connects into the larger one instead of just being a tiny fragment that’s incomprehensible when separated.

    3. ? says:

      But it’s really the same problem, neither AAA nor indies (at least given examples) can point to specific “what this story is about” document. One has a Frankenstein’s monster of plot ideas, the other vague “you decide, we are not committing to anything”.

  12. Rayen says:

    DDP YOGA! and the resurrection of Jake “the snake” roberts? stone cold never seen stops plugging tat shot on his podcast! mumbles my sista! swig of beer for the working girl!
    and motherf-in’ Rutsjarn Dnd stories oh listening to he’ll out this die cast I. the morning. stay fresh you crazy cats. I love you all

    1. Supahewok says:


      That is either the best or worst imitation I’ve ever read.

      1. Rayen says:

        I am very drink tight row. please forgive me.

        1. Supah Ewok says:

          I think I took a wrong turn at the Twilight Zone. I can no longer tell surrealist humor from drunken reality.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            At this point, does it really matter?

    2. Mumbles says:


      *six hours later*


  13. falselordzalzabar says:

    So would the From Software Souls/Borne games be a good example of “story telling through subtlety” at least according to Josh’s working definition?
    Because I do really like the Dark Souls/Bloodborne storytelling through being withholding but I think a lot of it has to do with the storytelling through gameplay and scenery and such.

    1. Falterfire says:

      “Somebody says ‘Dark Souls is a good example of X’ on a post not about Dark Souls” should be a part of the Twenty Sided Drinking Game.

      1. Christopher says:

        It’s almost gotta count as harassment of poor Shamus at this point.

        (Although I also totally thought about Dark Souls from his description of System Shock earlier.)

    2. GloatingSwine says:

      Souls games don’t really deign to tell a story though.

      They have lore in spades, and it’s tangentally connected to events that you’ll be experiencing because it tells the interconnected histories* of various things you will at some point be called upon to smack with a big sword. Lore isn’t story though, lore is setting.

      And yes, they convey that setting lore indirectly via item descriptions, placements, and very very occasionally things NPCs tell you.

      In terms of “story”, Souls games are almost purely ludic, the story is an emergent construct which arises out of the player’s actions and almost nothing else.

      * One of the reasons why Dark Souls 2 is so unsatisfying is that, like the world itself, the lore elements aren’t as logically connected as in Demons/Dark/Bloodborne. There are lots of things that exist in isolation that almost feel like they are supposed to have happened at wildly different times throughout history with no logical flow between them. But you can’t really strongly point to anything which says that other than a feeling that they don’t fit together otherwise.

    3. Merlin says:

      I found DS lore to be more of the wishy-woshy “It could be a lot of things, we don’t know, it is whatever you want it to be” that he was condemning, really. And that’s both before and after watching some highly recommended lore videos by… was it Epic Name Bro, maybe? Not all of it is that handwavy, but it definitely landed on the wrong side of that line for me.

      That’s not helped by (as GloatingSwine addresses nicely) DS having lots of lore but no plot, or by me getting annoyed by lore delivery by way of equipment descriptions. It’s one thing to have NPCs dropping audio logs all over the dang place, but what is even the mechanism by which finding a helmet teaches me about some ancient god of war that wore it centuries ago? Do all these things just have intensely detailed tags on them?

      Non-clear-cut stories are always going to be a YMMV situation though. Dark Souls’s Lordran got on my nerves immediately because it didn’t clearly convey whether it’s in the “real world”, in some kind of divine realm, or in some kind of afterlife world. (See also: casually referring to undeath as if it is no big deal.) I’m not sure why, but I found that hugely bothersome. But those circumstances aren’t too different from Transistor’s Cloudbank, which I loved despite not knowing whether it was a physical city that’s super technologically advanced OR a Reboot-style representation of a computer as a city. Is the difference just that Cloudbank is clearer about how its “works” than Lordran, despite the contextual ambiguity? Is it just a better cast and stronger plot? Is it better use of the gear-as-lore-delivery stuff I just complained about? I’m not sure.

  14. Ilseroth says:

    Just wanted to say I knew you’d be talking bout slime rancher Mumbles, and as someone who played Harvest Moon games in the past (and one Animal Crossing game) when I saw a trailer for it I was absolutely hooked on the concept. It isn’t done yet, and I feel like the money growth is probably a bit too fast, but it is in Early Access.

    Surprised Campster didn’t put forward interest, given his previous Animal Crossing play.

    But yeah this kind of game actually done well seems… extremely rare. So I am pretty excited to see how they finish it.

  15. Steve C says:

    Could someone define exactly what a “walking simulator” is? I can guess, but I’ve been quite certain what it is referring to and what it is not.

    1. Falterfire says:

      Generally speaking, a walking simulator is any game where your interaction with the world is limited to moving around and possibly pressing a single interact key. There are no game-like mechanics and usually either no puzzles or only a small number of very simple puzzles (like “read this thing to get the code to open the safe”). The good ones are held together by being an engaging story that benefits from letting the player wander around and examine things at their own pace.

      Basically, it’s a genre defined by the lack of traditional game mechanics or player challenges (There are no ways to lose, no inventory, no health bar, and so on) and they live or die by their story and writing quality.

      Because this is the internet, some people are very passionate about getting into semantic arguments about whether they’re “real games”, which is the source of the hostility mentioned in the episode – After all, if you can’t yell at people about how much they suck at it, why does the game exist in the first place?

    2. Supah Ewok says:

      I think the definition has been loosening? I think it was originally a derogatory term for Dear Esther, that got adopted in seriousness when other games like it started popping up. It’s a first person game where moving forward on a linear path is the only form of interaction. Since the interaction is so simple, lotta folks questioned whether it was a game at all.

      Later walking simulators expanded the mold by offering branching paths or a story that’s a puzzle, and you have to figure out what the pieces mean. You can’t call them adventure games though, cuz you still don’t interact with the environment.

      They’re really passive games. And honestly, I suspect that their very existence is a cost cutting measure. Games must be a hell of a lot easier to code if you don’t have to program gameplay. Lets indie devs make their artsy game without getting complicated. Except for something like Stanley Parable, which has so many branching paths that it was definitely complex enough to be a headache to code.

      Anyway, yeah. Walking sim isn’t a good name for the genre because it really isn’t about the walking. They’re games with the gameplay stripped out in order to tell an artsy story. Which is fine if you’re into that sort of thing, but of course the Internet doesn’t know how to let other folks alone.

      1. Falterfire says:

        I think it’s as much to do with the story costs of having gameplay segments as anything else. If your gameplay is shooting dudes with guns, then every time you want the player to have a say in the plot, it has to be in a way that involves shooting dudes with guns. If your gameplay is managing a town, the story has to frequently hit points where the player can solve problems by managing a town.

        So if your story doesn’t have these recurring elements where lots of problems can be solved with the same rough bag of mechanics you’re stuck either bending the story to meet gameplay or making a bunch of different minigames for all the different ways you want the player to advance the story. By removing that core of mechanical gameplay you can get rid of that particular limitation on your story.

        I’m sure cost is a factor in making the decision, but there are benefits beyond just saving money.

        1. GloatingSwine says:

          The downside that a lot of “walking simulators” run into is that the player tends not to be very involved in the story.

          The story is most frequently something the player uncovers via investigation of the gameworld, which means that the story is usually something that has already happened to other people before the player arrives, and the things that are happening to the player themselves tend to be less interesting.

          1. Mike S. says:

            That kind of harks back to the early incarnations of the novel. You’d either have a collection of letters that told the story (epistolary novels), and the author would be there only to say “look at this interesting collection of correspondence I snagged somehow” plus maybe a little editorializing, or the author as viewpoint character who has some thin excuse to have been present at every important scene, but often purely as an observer of the actual protagonist. (Partly because there was a conceit that the events had really happened, and so the reader needed to know how the author had learned them and passed them on.)

            In these sorts of games, the issue isn’t the provenance of the story, of course, but possibly character agency. (Most games are first-person. “Walking simulators” are third-person. In principle it might be possible to do a present-tense game where the PC isn’t the protagonist, but I suspect that would be intensely frustrating.)

            Making the third-person viewpoint effectively a detective discovering the past gives the player something to do, while making it understood why they can’t actually change the events of the story (because it already happened).

        2. Supah Ewok says:

          Monetary cost isn’t exactly what I was referring to. Cost also includes the time to create the mechanics, and the skillset you need to do so. If a game dev can make pretty environments and wants to tell an artsy story, but doesn’t have the skillset to make game mechanics, they either need to bring somebody on or make a game without gameplay. Walking sim devs choose the latter. The way I see it shaking out, they’re not interested in games per se, they just want to tell this story and at this time it’s cost effective to use games to tell these stories. If these devs had the skill and the money to make a film, or a short film, I’d bet that half of the walking sims we have would disappear, at least.

          1. Mike S. says:

            Maybe I haven’t played enough of them. But I’m not sure how you do “Gone Home” in another medium without entirely changing the experience. You could dramatize the individual stories the character learns about. But the process of discovery would be entirely different, and that’s what I found interesting about it: the changes in mood, tone, understanding, apprehension etc. as you made your way through the house.

            This sort of reminds me of the early days of comics criticism, when a friend opined that comics writers were essentially frustrated movie producers. But e.g., “Watchmen” as a comic is so much richer and more layered than its film adaptation that there’s really no comparison. And conversely, a comic adaptation of “Citizen Kane” could be done as a summary of the film, or as a completely different work based loosely on it, but you couldn’t do a direct one-for-one translation of one to the other and retain what’s great about it.

            1. Supah Ewok says:

              I don’t know enough of any individual walking sim to make individual judgement calls. I’ve seen nothing of Dear Esther that couldn’t have been done as some experimental short film. Stanley Parable obviously couldn’t be a film. As for Gone Home, nothing you said there struck me as being uniquely videogamey. Obviously you can’t and shouldn’t do one to one adaptations, but I think a movie of vignettes could do as you described, as a detective or the next buyer of the house or whoever explores the house. I couldn’t say if it’d be better without playing it, which I have no interest in doing, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

              1. Mike S. says:

                You could transmit the same plot details about the same characters. But medium matters.

                (Or we wouldn’t need “Star Wars” to be a movie when we can get every important event and character beat out of Wookieepedia.)

  16. Jakale says:

    I’ve got this image of Mumbles’ gnome deciding (unwisely and un-charismatically, naturally) that everyone in the party needs an “Ed” name regardless of actual fact, so he never calls Campster’s character by her proper name and just keeps making up new “Ed” names for her.

  17. MichaelGC says:

    Well, I hope it wasn’t Fireball Whisky Josh went off to get because it sounds like an enchanter won’t be able to use that.

    I wonder – if you get a low enough charisma can you become an anti-bard?

  18. Doppleganger says:

    Regarding exercises for a better low back. I checked briefly the website regarding DDP Yoga and quickly backed away when I saw the multitudes of DVD combos and what not (for a price).

    I offer you instead free exercises designed by Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo

    Here are links for pdf documents that show among other things the exercises often referred as the “big three”. Those are the three best exercises that have been selected because they have been quantified to sufficiently challenge muscle, spare the spine of high load, and ensure stability. Those are the curl-up, the side bridge and the bird dog.


    1. Mumbles says:

      This is great too!

  19. baseless_research says:

    I strongly disagree with the assertion that if you are overweight you need to focus more on your diet rather than exercising. I’ve seen too many people in my direct environment who get overweight, go on a diet, lost an impressive amount of weight … and a year later they are back where they started.

    I think that most of the problem is that they diet so strongly that they lose a handhold on what is a balanced (calorie intake vs outtake) and also the mindset that they can afford that extra candy because they have “reserve weight”.

    So I call bull to the notion that diet should be the focus of weight loss. Burning more calories through sports more will pay far more dividends while also allowing you to keep your food habits constant.

    And if one is currently gaining weight then they should balance that diet before starting to decrease the weight. Simply because otherwise there is no point to it all.

    1. Mumbles says:

      Hi there! I knew someone would be offended by what I said, lol. Most people cant outrun a bad diet (myself included!) And feel like absolute shit trying to get fit while eating bad. However, there are people who do this! Whatever works for you, bro. No need to get hot over it :)

    2. krellen says:

      “Go on a diet” indicates you might be using a different definition of “diet” than Mumbles. She was referring to long-term eating habit changes, not a short-term caloric reduction. “Diet” as in “what you eat”, not “diet” as in “attempt to lose weight”.

      It is scientific fact that studies show that changing caloric intake is a far more effective method of long-term weight loss than changing activity. Doing both is better, but as willpower is a limited resource (there are also studies showing this), if you can only accomplish one, what you eat is generally more effective.

      If it’s easier for you to do more exercise than to eat less, then your personal calculus is different from the general trends (generally, both are equally difficult.)

    3. Zak McKracken says:

      Take it from an engineer: The change in body weight is whatever goes in minus what goes out.

      => This means either decreasing input (food) or increasing output (sport) will help.
      Although more helps more, usually there’ll be some easy wins for doing a little but diminishing returns later. Which means that doing a little of both is the most effective way.

      Especially with diet there are some pretty effective ways of changing your metabolism to work better (like foregoing processed sugar in favour of sugar contained in fruit and stuff).

      …exceeeept if you have personal preferences or conditions which bias the whole thing either way.

      For long-term effects: I think if you revert your eating habits, you start yoyo-ing back quickly. If you stop exercising this happens much slower, though once your muscles are back to where you started from, it’s the same. But really the main obstacle is having to change habits and getting up and doing things, so I think that everyone should just do whatever it is they can get themselves to do and feel good about it. Unless you talk about “use this one trick to get slim without changing diet or working out” schemes, this should not include telling people they’re doing it wrong, although it seems to increase some peoples’ motivation :)

  20. A Huge Nerd says:

    “They need to harvest it from people with low purity quotients. So what are the implications of being able to harvest energy from emotions”, Josh says.

    Hm, coming from the Escapist’s former anime reviewer, this really sounds familiar…

  21. Nidokoenig says:

    I’m not sure what Mumbles is getting at when talks about walking simulators getting shit on. I’d assume most of the shitting on is by people who don’t want to play or buy walking simulators, and who are only going to get louder if they happen to accidentally buy one. If it’s a flaw, fix it, if it’s a feature, flaunt it. I know there’s people out there who loudly and tiresomely complain about some of my favourite games, and I only pay any attention to the complaints because they’re a surprisingly efficient way to find fun vidya. Maybe I’m weird from all my time on imageboards, but if the promo fluff looks good and I can’t see any complaints about stuff that bothers me, I assume I’ll have a somewhat fun time at worst.

    1. Supah Ewok says:

      You missed out on the whole “Gone Home shouldn’t be $20, it’s 2 hours long and isn’t a game” thing then. The shitting on is real. Pretty much any time game reviewers give a walking simulator attention the same crowd comes out of the woodworks to fling shit everywhere.

      1. DHW says:

        And a different crowd comes out of the woodworks to throw shit at games like HuniePop or whatever. Same old, same old. There are always haters; the mistake is to pay attention to them instead of the people actually interested in your genre.

  22. Metal C0Mmander says:

    Yes! I was screaming at Chris to go priest and he did. That way we now have the 3 spell casting amigos. I can’t for them to get into all sorts of intense library actions! Also I can’t tell if the guys remember they are playing female characters in this session.


  24. Zak McKracken says:

    Yay, roleplaying!

    May I humbly suggest a separate full-length roleplaying podcast?

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