A Collection of Unrelated Facts

By Shamus Posted Sunday Sep 16, 2018

Filed under: Notices 84 comments

The first thing, which I’m sure you’re already noticed, is that the theme is again changed. After gathering feedback for a few weeks and trying different things, it’s clear that having the menu at the top is the most popular option by far.

I apologize if it seems like we came all this way for nothing, but for me this process of theme-switching has been pretty useful. I cleaned up a lot of longstanding annoyances and gathered a lot of interesting use-case data. Thanks for being patient. From here the only things I want are a fix for footnotes on Safari, and maybe some automated system for changing a few colors around for major holidays. (For example, maybe making the main menu orange for Halloween and replacing the D20 with something else.)

Thing the second: No Diecast this week. Sorry. I needed a week off.

Third, I’m done with my first play-though of the new Spider-Man game, and about halfway through my second run. This is easily the best Spider-Man game ever made. It’s certainly one of the best superhero games ever made.

It’s tragic that this is a PlayStation exclusive. Curse this dumb industry.

Having said that: I see a lot of people praising the story, and I’m just not getting that. I guess it does okay when graded against cartoons and the comics, but it’s nothing special. You fight two major (and totally independent from each other) villains in this game, and they both have the same motivations, the same ridiculous nonsense scheme, and the same friend / foe dynamic going with Peter Parker / Spider-Man. This really stands out because you fight both of them near the end and Spidey has almost the same conversation with both of them.

Imagine a version of The Avengers where Loki attacks New York with an army of aliens pouring through a dimensional hole because he’s jealous of Thor, and then twenty minutes later Ultron shows up and attacks New York with an army of aliens pouring through a dimensional hole because he’s jealous of Tony. It’s not wrong or anything, but I did find it strange and distracting. Aside from having two finales so close together, the second was robbed of a lot of its emotional impact by retreading so many ideas.

I have a lot of other little gripes about how they’re constructing their ongoing story, but it’ll have to wait for a longer analysis.

I realize the story isn’t really the point and it’s drawing from source material that suffers from a lot of similar problems with repetitionAlthough in the case of the comics, the repetition exists because the story has been running for almost 60 years.. I only bring this up because the story has been getting some praise and I want to push back on that a little. I would characterize the plot as “mildly interesting and inoffensive”.

Overall, it’s a lot like Batman Arkham City. It’s an instant classic that gets away with a few very questionable storytelling decisions because the rest of it is so damn good.

I’d really like to do a long-form analysis of Spider-Man, but I’m a bit conflicted. This site leans pretty heavily towards the PC, so I’m not sure how many of you will care about a PS4 exclusive. To be clear, this series wouldn’t appear anytime soon. We’ve got about two months left on Grand Theft Auto V, and then almost six months of Mass Effect Andromeda. (Sorry not sorry.) Even if I did do a write-up on Spider-Man, it wouldn’t get posted until May 2019.



[1] Although in the case of the comics, the repetition exists because the story has been running for almost 60 years.

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84 thoughts on “A Collection of Unrelated Facts

  1. Content Consumer says:

    it wouldn’t get posted until May 2019.

    That’s cool, I’ll wait.

    1. Yeah, same boat here. I’m intellectually interested, but I’m in zero rush; got my own fallow games to address between now and then. Look forward to your thoughts whenever your schedule accommodates.

    2. Mechaninja says:

      Thirded or something.

      I remember another spiderman game that was on a console I didn’t have getting essentially this same praise, and it’s definitely something I’d play if I had a PS4 (my brother bought me one but it broke) or if it was on PC or Xbox (bought it on sale for the kids last year), so I’d say I’m interested.

    3. SoldierHawk says:

      Same. I’d dig the hell out of a Spidy retrospective specifically BECAUSE I can’t play it. (I get to choose between a console and keeping my PC up to date, so I choose PC.) I’d still love to read you’re thoughts.

      I think most of us are here to hear what you think about whatever you want to write, not for specific or timely gaming coverage.

      1. FluffySquirrel says:

        About sums up my opinion on it also

  2. Nilkad Naquada says:

    Personally I’d be pretty interested in your take on Spider-Man. I rented it and played to around 50% completion, and really enjoyed what I played (I plan on buying it), but there are also some choices in there that I think weaken what could have been an even more amazing game; A lot of people I’ve talked to are in agreement on that particular statement, but disagree about which things should or shouldn’t have been changed, so I’d definitely like to see your take on what was strong and what wasn’t.

  3. coleusrattus says:

    yay for Spiderman!

  4. BlueHorus says:

    6 Months on ME:Andromeda? YAAAAAAAAAY!

    Sounds like I don’t need to bother playing it after all.

    This is easily the best Spider-Man game ever made. It’s certainly one of the best superhero games ever made.
    It’s tragic that this is a PlayStation exclusive. Curse this dumb industry.

    Well, if it’s THAT good, it might get ported over to other platforms in time…fingers crossed.

    1. modus0 says:

      I wouldn’t count on it. Sony seems to REALLY want people to be playing games on the PS4.

      1. ccesarano says:

        The closest you might expect is PC, but it’s unlikely given Sony’s not ported, say, inFamous: Second Son, The Last Guardian, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War, The Last of Us, etc. etc. to PC. Some people have said the film rights to Spider-Man also includes video games, but that didn’t seem to apply during the 360/PS3/Wii or Xbox/PS2/GameCube era…or any era, for that matter.

        All I know is Sony put in the cash for this one. It’s an exclusive for the same reasons, say, Gears of War was an Xbox exclusive. The platform holder was footin’ the bill.

        1. Christopher says:

          It’s pretty weird to expect exclusive games to eventually make it to the PC. I know Microsoft started doing it this gen, but y’know, they’re _Microsoft_. They also do PCs. If anything, I imagine the next place you can play Spider-Man will be Playstation 5.

          It is technically possible to play PS4 games on a PC now, with remote play( https://lifehacker.com/ps4s-remote-play-is-now-available-on-windows-and-mac-h-1769386308?utm_campaign=socialflow_lifehacker_facebook&utm_source=lifehacker_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow ), but you still need a PS4.

          1. Fizban says:

            I don’t really see why. Exclusivity sells some consoles, but it won’t sell to everyone. Eventually there is a point where you’re just leaving money on the table, and when you’ve got a super popular blockbuster game then you’re leaving even more money on the table.

            Also, I expect the reason is that a lot of older games were made with permanent exclusivity rights, then later games were smart enough to not do that or bought their way out, before we reached the new era of console funding apparently being required to convince many “triple aaaay” publishers to make single player games. It seems to me more like back in the day exclusivity was often merely a case of not thinking the port would be worth it, considering how many games have since been ported.

            1. Thomas says:

              If Sony are smart they’re thinking about the PS5, and their reputation for quality games ‘only on PlayStation’ would help shift a lot of consoles on launch day. I can’t see them wanting to port their exclusives anywhere else.

              The extra PC sales are worth very little to Sony. Sony doesn’t make games to sell games, they make games to sell consoles.

              That’s part of the reason their games are so polished. Making a profit is a bonus not a necessity.

            2. Blake says:

              Exclusivity sells lots of consoles. For people not emotionally tied to a single platform, it’s the biggest reason to choose one over another.

              It might be costing them millions of dollars in lost sales, but they’d just see that as millions being spent on marketing.
              Having a big library of exclusives now also means it’s easier for them to sell the eventual PS5 both with re-releases and sequels.

              1. ccesarano says:

                There’s also the question of how much additional cost you have when trying to develop for a wide number of platforms versus developing for a single, closed platform. As a very, very bad simplified parallel, if I were to simply design a website to look good with Google Chrome, my time working on its CSS would be less than if I were to then have to test in Firefox, then Safari, and then…. Internet Explorer…. I feel like, in this day and age especially – and I know many PC gamers would probably hate me for this comparison – developing for PC is like coding for Internet Explorer. Firstly, you don’t know which version of Internet Explorer you might have to deal with. Sure, you can always discover which has the greatest marketshare, but there will always be someone with older versions you need to keep an eye out for. So just like different PC gamers will have different graphics cards with different processors and versions of Windows and this that and the other thing, you gotta take into account coding for IE pre-11, 11, and then Edge, all of which behave differently in CSS.

                Again, it’s not a perfect comparison, but when Sony is giving you money to make a game and you only have to worry about their hardware… well, that’s a lot less time spent figuring out why something works over here but is screwed up over there. So a lot of people say “leaving money on the table”, but it could be that potential PC sales are roughly as much as it would cost to develop and support the PC to begin with.

                Note I’m just spit-balling. Chances are Shamus or others around here would know better than I do. Most of my guessing comes from past examples like, say, Batman: Arkham Knight working mostly fine on consoles with only the usual minor bugs and glitches, versus the absolute travesty that was the PC port.

                As people have noted, however, Sony and Nintendo are both companies that have proven they care a lot about a strong first party line-up of games. Sony continues to invest in new IP and not just old, and has often proven that they’re willing to reinvent old IP like God of War. Nintendo has a vast stable of characters that have been tossed into a multitude of genres that are always well designed, even if not to everyone’s cup of tea.

                Microsoft… has, um…. ruined Halo and destroyed just about everything else they had going for them, and the second Sea of Thieves released it was forgotten, and… I guess they’re the go to for racing games? Unlike Sony and Nintendo, they legitimately do need those PC sales. Otherwise, there’s a much smaller market willing to shell out the big bucks for their platform (the greatest reason the Xbox One X is selling as well as it is, simply due to being the most powerful console on the market… but that can only last so long when you cost $500. Backwards compatibility helps, but I think we’ve learned that it’s not as big an upper-hand as everyone once assumed it was).

            3. Redrock says:

              I think Spider-Man might eventually make it to PC, a few years down the line. Hell, Yakuza did, and whoever thought that was possible? Thing is, with a propery like that it seems more likely and something Marvel would be interested in. Then again, maybe not. Insomniac are weird this way. They’re probably the only developer I can think of that has made console exclusives for both Sony and Microsoft and has never made anything but console exclusives. That’s some “psychotic, mormon, capitalist” behavior right there.

      2. Lars says:

        Sony has this Streaming Service to play PS games on PC. If not now, Spidey will be part of it sooner or later. (9 month???)

  5. Karma The Alligator says:

    and then almost six months of Mass Effect Andromeda. (Sorry not sorry.)

    I bet many of us were waiting for this. I certainly was.

    As for covering PS4 exclusives, I’m all for it. More content is always good.

    1. Chris says:

      I think the point isnt more content, more about which kind of content. Content most people could experience for themselves or content only PS4 owners can enjoy.

      1. Syal says:

        “On PC” is a superset like “on console”. My PS4 has more gaming horsepower than my PC. There’s no way my PC would run GTA 5, or Wolfenstein, or several of the games discussed here.

        1. Blake says:

          Same here.
          Also you don’t need to play the games yourself to enjoy the articles, I haven’t played most of the games Shamus writes about (have played quite a bit of this Spider-Man though).

          1. I haven’t played many of the games that’s have been poked at on Twentysided. (Heck, if you go far enough “back in the day”, I haven’t played D&D at all, much less things akin to campaigns Shamus covered.) But I still like reading about them all the same – both analysis of gameplay/story and “here’s some cool stuff I encountered along the way.”

  6. Liessa says:

    I’d be happy to see a write-up of Spider-Man – there’s no chance I’ll ever play it, but then the same is true of GTA. I’m even more enthused for 6 months of Mass Effect, though!

    1. Scampi says:

      Well, I’d be interested for sure, though I’m also a pure PC-gamer. I tend to prefer let’s plays and writeups on games I either would be interested in playing but can’t or won’t play for some technical reasons, like platform exclusives or games with heavy drm or game which I have already finished playing at least once. If I have an actual interest in playing a specific game at a later time, I will usually avoid any coverage to prevent spoilers.
      Since I don’t have a PS4 (and it’s unlikely I’ll be presented with one in the near future) I’m all in for your commentary.

    2. Penn says:

      I read your gaming posts because they are interesting and well-written, not because I may or may not play the game. You write what you are inspired to write and it’ll be better than what you think you should write.

    3. CraigM says:

      I agree. I would absolutely play Spider-Man, but don’t have a PS4, and have no plans to get one. But it sounds like a game I’d enjoy, so I’m all for covering it.

      That said I’m enjoying the GTA series retrospective, despite actively disliking the series. I’ve tried to get into it, and played several, but after 4 I just realized this series wasn’t for me. So, for likely petty reasons, I’m enjoying the far more critical take of Shamus. It’s a nice antidote to the usual fawning coverage.

  7. Lino says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in a Spider-Man 4 column piece – I’m a PC-only gamer, so I’ve never really cared for consoles, or console-exclusives for that matter.

    1. Adam says:

      Yeah, I have to agree here. I think as a comic-ported franchise, it would best benefit from an analysis including that background. So maybe as a “conversation with Mumbles” thing perhaps (but please not a podcast – that wouldn’t work for long-form in-depth analysis).

      In short, I’d rather have a long-form analysis of something else please :)

  8. Eichengard says:

    I’m pretty much a console only gamer and would welcome a spidey series. It would be nice to read one I might play. That said, I come here for the content, pretty much regardless of platform. I’m never going to programme anything but those posts are some of my favourites.

    Basically, more content? Hell yes.

    Also, new theme is much, much better on my phone browser. (Pretty much the only way I consume content these days.)

  9. Iunnrais says:

    Hey, we’re always down for more long form game story dissections. It’s one of the reasons why we come here, after all…

  10. dogbeard says:

    I’d be happy seeing a spiderman write-up. The quality of a series mostly seems to come from how much you’re interested in the game so I’d read it even if I haven’t played it (and I likely won’t play it because no ps4).

    Also I have no major gripes about the theme any which way but I think it’s funny that you switched back to the top menu just as I stopped reflexively scrolling to the top to hit the main page link.

  11. kikito says:

    I’m a PC guy but I don’t play most of the games you review, anyway.

    If you like that game as much as you say, I think I would enjoy your review of it, even if I don’t even own a PS4.

  12. GrumpyPants says:

    Hi Shamus!

    I’ve been reading your blog for so long that I don’t remember what brought me here. I’ve never commented. I don’t play many games anymore but I love your deep analysis and nitpicking, and it gets even better when you occasionally look at a game I’ve actually played. If you analysed one of the few games I’m planning to complete I’d be in heaven. Spider-Man is a yes from me!

    One of the strangest things about it for me is having absolutely no fear of story spoilers about a game I’ve been looking forward to for about 20 years – I never expected the story to do anything overly surprising or challenging. I feel like I already know what will happen so the pacing is the more interesting part of the plot for me. I’m interested in what design choices they make with Shocker, Rhino, etc, but I don’t expect any major character rewrites. Instead of story spoilers I’m avoiding spoilers about easter eggs, unlockables, and exploration… which is usually the kind of stuff I would just look up in the internet when I was done with the main game. It’s great, and rare, to have a single player game that I keep playing simply because it’s fun.

    I think as long as you write about things you’re interested in, we’ll be interested. I’ve never played Andromeda and never will, but I can guarantee I’ll read the whole thing and enjoy it anyway.

  13. krellen says:

    I might not care about the PS4, but I do care about Spider-Man. Do it.

    1. krellen says:

      Also, having had to scroll up to the top to get back to the main site link, I already miss the side menu bar. :(

      1. eaglewingz says:

        Or a “return to top” button that hovers on the left.

        I can use the KB shortcut or quick-scroll via mouse, but neither is as quick or efficient as one left-click.

  14. Shen says:

    I think you’re overthinking your audience, dude. Less here for PC stuff, more here for “whatever Shamus wants to say” stuff.

  15. ccesarano says:

    I will also chime in with being a console gamer that would really love to see you do something closer to my wheelhouse. Which isn’t to say things like Borderlands and Mass Effect haven’t been, but I don’t really care for Grand Theft Auto and have no interest in Mass Effect Andromeda. However, I’ll be reading those because I like to read your thoughts on these things.

    I think your audience comes here more to hear your thoughts on something rather than looking for thoughts on things they specifically are interested in. It helps that a lot of your audience is familiar with the games you cover, but most will be fine seeing you writing about something they’ll never play. For example, I will probably never play a Kingdom Hearts game, but I enjoy looking up the opinions of certain personalities to see what their thoughts are so I can learn something about those games. The same goes with whatever it is you’re writing about.

    As for Spider-Man itself, I’m only at about 80% completion rate according to the map, but if I had to hazard a guess regarding what they’re trying with the story…

    It’s basically another “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” tale because Spider-Man, where we see two good men corrupted by great power instead of using it responsibly. Which would have worked better if Peter were only just now becoming Spider-Man or if he was undergoing the Venom Symbiote arc (but hopefully NOT venom himself, that would be too much), but considering his lesson is that it’s okay to ask for help, it doesn’t really fit the arcs of the villains or even Osborne himself, who has not only been irresponsible with his resources but calls in a powerful strike team that is also pretty irresponsible with the power at their hands. The other possibility is that you “can’t save everyone”, but… nothing else he’s done in this game seems to truly lead up to that. It could have been with Officer Davis, but… if that’s what they were intending then they executed on it poorly.

    Also: was totally expecting Miles and Peter to have to do a blood transfusion while Pete was unconscious and for that to be the catalyst to Miles developing Spidey powers, but alas.

    1. Viktor says:

      Shamus, one other theme change that would help is giving us an easy way to get around spoiler tags on mobile. As-is, I have to copy paste the text into my Notes to read it.

      1. I wonder if a collapse/expand thing could be done. You click it and it expands to show the spoiler. This will remove a lot of “junk” fr those not interested in spoilers.
        I guess this would be a sort of block spoiler (div) rather than the current inline (span / strike) ones.

        Clicking a “Spoiler” link would then expand/reveal it. I guess it would be possible to do similar for inline spoilers (rather than a block of text) but if not designed carefully one might reveal all spoilers of all comments.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        I usually just do a “select all” for the page – selected spoilers are readable, albeit in a pretty annoying color.

        1. Liessa says:

          Selecting the text works for me on my Android phone, but not my iOS device.

      3. Scimitar says:

        A lot of forums I’ve seen that have spoiler text like this (text highlighted with the same color to obscure the content) tend to do it by making a clickable toggle. Click the spoilered text and it swaps to a different palette (eg, white highlight black text), with the ability to click it back to being spoiled in case you toggled it by accident.

        1. ccesarano says:

          I didn’t realize the conversation my post would spark would all focus on spoiler-tags. :P

          I don’t know how much JavaScript Shamus is running, but if he’s got jQuery then strike tags can easily be “display:none” by default and replaced with a button that says “Show Spoiler”. It’s been a while since I did something like that myself, but basically you could have the current system as default and use JavaScript (jQuery making it easier) to override the CSS, perhaps even applying a new class to make it more tidy, and then drop in a button that toggles the class on and off.

          The downside is it wouldn’t work for people with JavaScript turned off. I dunno what code Shamus is working with so he could be like me, using enough tools that you’re hosed without JavaScript anyway (in order for me to use BootStrap for responsive design, JavaScript must be on).

          Web development is fun!

  16. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I don’t own any current gen consoles, and have no plan to, so having you write a series on Spider-Man would allow me to vicariously experience it. To be honest, the fact that it is a console exclusive makes little difference. I skipped your Borderlands series because I played 30 mins of the first one and found it to be hot trash. I didn’t labour through the articles just because it was on PC and I am a PC gamer. Write what you are interested about and you’ll find an audience for it, regardless of what platform it is on.

  17. Dreadjaws says:

    I guess it does okay when graded against cartoons and the comics, but it’s nothing special.

    Whoa, Shamus, come on, no. Have you watched Spectacular Spider-Man? Have you read any of the celebrated Spider-man graphic novels? Saying that this game “does okay” against those is a disservice to them.

    In any case, it’s not rare for people to praise all aspects of something they like, even when it doesn’t make sense. Hell, Civil War gets praised for its story, when the only real attractive it had was having heroes fight each other (which isn’t even a rare thing for Marvel).

    Now, while I haven’t played the game yet, the little I’ve seen from the story seems to have been directly lifted from several unrelated comics and pieced together into one narrative, which is a bit normal for adaptations, but in many cases it doesn’t turn into a cohesive story.

    1. Shamus says:

      The last modern-ish Spidey I read was… Maximum Carnage. I suppose that’s dragging down my perception of where the comics are today.

      1. Christopher says:

        Hahah, oh no

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        Oh… oh, God. Oh, that explains it. That’s kind of if the last superhero movie you ever saw was Batman Forever.

      3. MelTorefas says:

        Oh man, I actually remember Maximum Carnage vaguely fondly. Mostly because I thought Venom and related were just the coolest thing EVER when I was a young teen. The last Spider Man I read was when his clone came back, it turned out he was the original, and he went around as the Scarlet Spider.

        …I didn’t read comic books any more after that.

  18. Christopher says:

    I’d love an analysis of Spider-Man! It’s game well worth nitpicking, but I also completely love it as a big ol’ spider-man fan. Insomniac did an amazing job. Personally I like it way more than any of the movies, probably only placing it lower than the original comics and Spectacular Spider-Man in my personal top list.

    About that villain motivation, it’s kind of the privilege of an adaptation to change and combine to keep the new universe coherent, while still trying to remain iconic. The second of the villains has only had the motivation he has now in recent adaptations, and for decades just did what he did for personal reasons. The first villain got his motivation _for this game_, for the first time ever. Insomniac didn’t pick these two villains because they share a motivation: They decided to try and thematically link these two completely separate individuals with a kinda new combined backstory.

    It fell pretty flat for me too, lol. But personally the weirdness of the villains takeover is way overshadowed by the quality of the portrayal of Pete and Spidey, as well as their MJ, who might as well be a completely new character but is at least a _very likeable_ character. I liked the arc of their relationship, too. Additionally, I adore how they wrote and presented the second villain.

  19. Kdansky says:

    Yes, best version yet, though I’m not fully sold on a transparent text background. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my text on flat backgrounds.

  20. Lazlo says:

    I suspect that this is related to the site theme changes (or maybe not, it could be something else entirely), but the diecast RSS is broken.


    gives a page that just says:

    ERROR: This is not a valid feed template.

  21. Fizban says:

    I would be interested in hearing about the new Spider-Man. Many of the games you cover are already games that I haven’t and probably won’t play anyway: ME 3 and Andromeda thanks to Origin, all the GTAs because I’m not interested, etc. If they’re going to keep making console exclusives, I’m just going to keep not giving them money. Maybe I’ll get someone to loan me their PS4 someday so I can play a couple of the ones I really would have bought, like Shadow of the Colossus or Bloodborne, but the longer this exclusivity crap goes on with Sony and Microsoft the more I’ll dig in against being forged to buy hundreds of dollars in hardware I don’t want.

    Nintendo only escapes my wrath because they’ve been in the dark ages in a bunch of ways, while also selling hardware that’s actually worth buying (the wii-mote and the 3d on the 3ds are criminally undersold by the combination of lack of competent 3rd party use and gamers that apparently can’t handle new things, and the switch is at least functional). It doesn’t hurt that they try to keep their hardware more affordable either.

  22. Drathnoxis says:

    The background around the comments is a little too close to the color of some of the comment boxes and I keep thinking It’s part of a comment tree when zoomed way in. A little darker maybe? Actually the comment colors were way easier to follow on the old theme in general.

    Also, I can’t browse the site on my 3DS, I just get an error 400.

  23. Duoae says:

    I’d be up for a spiderman dissection. I play both console and pc so no real preference but if you’re familiar with the comics and TV series then I think the conversation wI’ll be interesting regardless of whether people will play it or not.

  24. I saw a discussion of the footnotes-in-Safari thing in the last post where you mentioned it, so I assumed you had an answer by now – if not, here’s how I fixed it in a site of my own.

    The issue is that you are hiding the footnotes via a mouse event on the window object (line 4 in the JavaScript you included on that post, though line 3 would run into the same issue) and Safari on iOS (and therefore all iOS browsers, as Apple mandates that they all use Apple’s WebKit rendering engine) has some nonsensical restrictions on event bubbling for mouse events. Specifics here, but the upshot is that you can fix it by either (a) moving the event handler to some page element inside the body but containing anything the user is likely to tap (your div with ID of “page” would probably be the best place for this) or (b) setting the CSS attribute “cursor: pointer” on the body element on iOS devices.

    Doing (a) means you won’t run the risk of showing the wrong cursor on any device, but it does tie the code to a fact of your page’s layout and if you ever adjusted things such that the object you used was no longer appropriate (e.g., you no longer had a div with ID of “page” containing everything) you’d have to adjust this code as well. Doing (b) means your layout doesn’t affect the code, but there’s unfortunately not a 100% foolproof way to ensure you’re just setting the cursor for mobile. There is, however, a pretty good way – generally, only mobile devices set an “orientation” property on the window object, so you can check for this property and only set the CSS attribute if it’s present. Mobile devices don’t generally display cursors, so there should be no visual change anywhere, but now the tooltips should hide properly on mobile.

    So, route (a) would mean changing “window” in lines 3/4 to “document.getElementById(‘page’)”. I haven’t tested this.

    Route (b), which is what I did on my site, would mean adding the following to the end of the snote_init() function:

    if (typeof window.orientation !== 'undefined') {
    document.body.style.cursor = 'pointer';

    1. One issue with this though as per MDN.
      “This feature has been removed from the Web standards. Though some browsers may still support it, it is in the process of being dropped.”

      Just setting the pointer in the CSS (rather than via javascript) would be better.

      There is screen.orientation though, but that’s still experimental. And I suspect that desktop browsers also set this so you can’t “identify” a mobile device.
      Then there is the whole issue of someone being able to cast the mobile screen (or attach a 2nd display) on a different display.
      The less “hacks” the better. I stopped doing IE hacks and avoid any vendor prefixed stuff years ago. MDN and Can I Use are my go-to sources.

      I kinda wish all browser vendors just went for a single open source web engine. I had some hope a few years back when Microsoft almost decided to go for Blink (Chrome’s/Chromium’s engine), which would have left webKit (Safari) and Gecko (Firefox) the odd ones out (both Opera and Vivaldi uses Blink for example).
      Of course such a engine would have to be decoupled from any singular company and put under the umbrella of WHATWG and W3C, or possibly a new entity to manage it and the system as browser vendors would still need to have features added or deprecated.

      1. Just setting the pointer in the CSS (rather than via javascript) would be better.

        If you do this, unless you know a way to write CSS that only targets mobile browsers, you’ll end up with a ‘pointer’ cursor (the little hand, normally seen when hovering over hyperlinks) on the whole page in all browsers.

        For what it’s worth, I just re-tested the route (b) hack on my site and it still works. But if you want to avoid hacks or be more future-proof, I’d argue that just moving the event handler as in route (a) is a better solution, so long as you can be reasonably confident that the ‘page’ div will be sticking around.

  25. Are we every going to get the end to your Pixel City redux? It feels like we were kind of left hanging on that one

  26. Christopher Wolf says:

    Put me down as a vote to analyze the Spider-Man game when you get to it. I don’t own a PS4, but I still would love to hear your take.

  27. Syal says:

    I’m happy with the top layout or the right-side layout. It was just the left-side one I didn’t like. And the background picture covers the whole background again, it hasn’t done that since the dice!

    I’m actually more able to play PS4 games than PC ones. I’m not concerned whether I can play a game myself, I just show up for thoughts. Talk about Laser Lords if you want.

  28. Grimwear says:

    I’m interested in what Shamus thinks of how they dealt with J. Jonah Jameson. I’ve only watched about 6 hours of gameplay since I don’t own a ps4 but they seem to have made him into more of an Alex Jones/Bill O’Reilly type person? I’m not trying to get into the politics of it but I’ve only really experienced JJJ from the Sam Raimi movies and portrayed by J. K. Simmons. Modernizing him by giving him a podcast makes sense and while JJJ was always antagonistic he never seemed quite as malicious towards Spider-Man as he does in this game. Maybe he is in the comics? In the movies he tries to vilify Spider-Man to sell papers but here it just seems like he dials it up to 11 and just tries to pin every little thing on him. Maybe he gets better later in the game?

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      BREAKING: Mysterio is actually Qanon

      1. Grimwear says:

        I legitimately don’t know what this comment is supposed to be saying.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Lucky bastard

    2. ccesarano says:

      I’ve asked a couple people about their take, including someone that is waaaaay more Liberal than I am, and it seems that the overall impression is that it’s…. weird. I was worried for a bit if he was supposed to be funny, because 5% of the time he says something that causes me to pause and respond “Hey… he… kind of has a point,” and that has worried me about what the writers think about someone like me.

      It wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t for two or three times Clearly Bad People in the Faux-Twitter feed shouted “Fake News!”, which to me is making your politics blatant and thus causing me to start asking questions. I’m Right-of-Center, and so I often find myself in a weird space with these things and it can quickly cause some major mental anguish. Not the sort of thing I want in my Spider-Man game. Not to say I wouldn’t mind being challenged! I’d just rather it be with actual thought-provoking questions than outright mockery of other people.

      Based on speaking with others, J. Jonah Jameson sort of just is. He’s not really funny, sometimes he’s a realized character, other times he’s a caricature. I’d say he exemplifies the game’s writing: sometimes good, sometimes cheap, half-witted, or simple. I think the simplest explanation is they had an idea of what they wanted to do with JJJ, and they failed to execute it on a clear manner.

  29. Bubble181 says:

    I’ll join in the chorus of saying I’m a PC-only player, but would definitely read a Spiderman analysis. I’ve never played Mass Effect, Final Fantasy X, GTA, or a host of other games discussed here, either.

    Anyway, I understand hwy there’re exclusives – and I’m afraid we’re going to see more and more of them – but I do seriously dislike it. This game seems like it’d be something I’d really enjoy,b ut I don’t own, nor want, a console – I can’t use a controller.

  30. Nick Powell says:

    While you’re in site-editing mode, is there any chance we could get email notifications for comment replies? What I usually do is just bookmark every comment I make for a few days and then just check back occasionally but it would be a lot easier to automate it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if wordpress somehow makes that impossible though, considering the other troubles you’ve had with it

  31. CrimsonCutz says:

    Long time reader who has never commented before chiming in to say I’d read a Spider-Man analysis if you wrote one. I’ll read pretty much any game analysis you write if I have even the vaguest familiarity with it (in this case, I’ve heard that Spider-Man is a guy with spider powers who gets into fights over whether his name has a hyphen in it or not, which seems like familiarity enough to me), plus I kind of want to play the game myself but would rather wait until I can find a used copy to save a bit of money on it, so if you wouldn’t be doing it until 8 months from now it means I might actually have gotten around to playing it by then.

  32. Misamoto says:

    Voting up on Spider-Man analysis.

    These days the stories are so bad the Spider-Man one feels great :) It’s a bit too obvious, I would leave the dramatic transformation of the latest villain for a second game, that would probably make the pacing better. But they got a lot of things right :)

    The gameplay is also on the verge of being boringly repetitive, especially boss fights aren’t anything interesting.

    I don’t know why they included QTEs, they really didn’t serve any purpose.

    I guess, that game somehow managed to be more than the sum of it’s parts, because when I examine any part closely it’s nothing special, yet I enjoyed the game greatly

  33. acronix says:

    I personally enjoy reading your game analysis, even if I haven’t played them myself and even if I have no capacity to actually play them. You know how to explain the characteristics well enough that I never thought I had to play the game to understand your insight into it. So I say go for it.

  34. Baron Tanks says:

    Just pitching in to say, as a PC gamer, I have been eyeing Spider-Man longingly (as a lifelong fan). I would love to read your writeup on it, especially if it comes late and I’ll have forgotten largely about it again. So don’t hesistate, it intersects nicely with your audience and themes you’ve written about.

  35. BenD says:

    This theme adjustment might be the best ever for my particular mobile phone situation. Love it.

    One thing seems likely unintentional — huge black space between entries. I’ll try to get you an image. But it’s not problematic. Just probably more chasm-into-the-void between one post and the next than you intend.

  36. Even Alander says:

    One really small nitpick while you’re still doing theme tweaks.

    In “.comments-area ol li” you have margin-left set to 15px, which indents all the comments with 15px, including the top level comment, which I find sort of annoying. If you fall back on 5px there and instead add that 15px margin-left to “.comments-area ol.children li” only the child comments will indent width 15 px.

    To me that balances the comments a bit better, makes it easier to see when the comment is in reply to another comment and leaves you 10 pixels extra for the comments.

  37. PPX14 says:

    and then almost six months of Mass Effect Andromeda.

    Excellent. At last.

  38. MelTorefas says:

    First of all, though I know it’s late: THANK YOU for re-centered text! I am glad it worked out this way and was instructive and all that. Secondly, I would like to add my voice to those who are interested in the Spider Man writeup. I only play PC but that is mainly for practical/financial reasons, and I would love to hear your take on this game. Spider Man was the only superhero I ever got into (and even then it was decades ago).

  39. Angie says:

    If you’re collecting data on interest, I have pretty much zero interest in games like Grand Theft Auto, or the Batman games, or any kind of shooters, or anything that even loosely fits into the category that we old-timers used to call “twitch games,” but I enjoy very much reading your play-throughs. I’ll never play the new Spiderman game, or likely any Spiderman game, but if you review it, I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading that too.


  40. Redrock says:

    What’s interesting to me is the way Spider-Man made me rethink Arkham City and realize just how, well, gamefied everything in it was. Arkham is a better game, I’d say, because all of its systems are just so much deeper. But Spider-Man is a better, how shall I put it, superhero game? Superhero experience? To give an example, after a (short) while Arkham combat stops feeling like I’m actually fighting as Batman, but begins to feel as an arcade game, a mix of arcanoid and rhythm game where my goal is to keep the Batman-shaped rubber ball in the air while hitting thug-shaped bricks. My use of gadgets would be dictated by the arbitrary rules of the grading system – “remember to use the explosive gel at least once to increase your score for this encounter”. This has never happened over the course of Spider-Man. The combat just feels much more natural and organic – I’d web up a guy and throw him at another guy because it feels like the right move in that moment and not because the game says I have to do every move in every fight. At the same time, Arkham’s combat is probably an objectively better designed game system. The same can be said of collectibles, riddles, etc. Arkham does all of these things better, but Spider-Man is just a much more cohesive experience. Despite what all the reviewers used to say, playing Arkham, to me, doesn’t feel like Batman. Spider-Man, on the other hand, is all about feeling like Spider-Man.

    As for the story, I thought it was decent. Sure, it got a lot of extra praise in the story department for fleshing out MJ and giving her some agency (even though that’s nothing new for the comics and Slott’s run in particular), but it did some very good things with its characters in general. I very much like how they take the quasi father-son relationship between Peter and Octavius from the second Sam Raimi film and expand on that, making his transformation genuinely moving despite the fact that you know it’s going to happen. It also uses Osborn in an interesting way while managing to make even him a bit more complex than you’d expect. So while the plot is nothing to write home about, the characterization is. I think they should have concentrated on either Miles or MJ as an alternative protagonist, but it would seem that the developers have big plans for Miles in the sequels.

  41. Unbeliever says:

    I don’t own a Playstation of any kind, but I’m a Spiderman fan, and totally interested in hearing about a GOOD Spiderman game. Even if I can’t play it. (I don’t play a quarter of the games you review, including Mass Effect, but they make damn good reading. :)

    So, count me as a YES PLEASE. :)

  42. Paul Spooner says:

    I’d be willing to put up with a spiderman writeup, but only if we get a special theme that applies only to the spiderman articles.

  43. Piaw Na says:

    I’m currently a console only gamer (bought a PS4 Pro Spiderman Limited Edition) until graphics cards that can drive 4K displays come down to less than the price of a console. (My old PC with a Radeon 7870 could run Rise of the Tomb Raider only at 960p) I’ll be waiting for your analysis.

  44. Taellosse says:

    I’d be happy to read your analysis of the new Spidey. I haven’t got it yet, but I figure there’s a pretty decent chance I will and have played it by the time you start writing.

    I’ve been spending most of my game time the last couple years on the PC as well, but I HAVE a PS4 – just lately it’s been used primarily as a Netflix device. Well, except the last 6 weeks or so – I was given Horizon: Zero Dawn as a birthday present, and I’ve been playing the hell out of that.

  45. Olivier FAURE says:

    The new menu header is pretty good, it looks better than the previous one.

    That said, it would look even better if the title and logo were horizontally and vertically centered.

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