Diecast #285: Guitar, Rimworld, Saints Row the Third

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 6, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 98 comments

Happy New Year! Reminder: Next week I’ll have SoldierHawk on the show. If you have any questions for her, the show email is in the header image.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:

00:00 Happy New Year

I played games for the new year. I started playing Saints Row 3 at 11:30pm. The next time I looked at the clock it was 12:20. In my defense, I’ve done quite a few of these things by now. This was the fifth time in my life I’ve watched the decade roll over, and it’s not as special as it used to be.

02:21 Shamus is “playing” the guitar.

In this segment I claimed that it doesn’t say “Squier” on my guitar. This is incorrect. It says so in GREAT BIG LETTERS on the head. For bonus incompetence, the guitar was right beside me when I recorded this. If I’d just moved my eyes a few degrees to the right, I’d have been looking at the object in question rather than relying on my faulty memory.

So far my playing style sounds like this:

Passable strumming a D chord » Awkward Pause » Shaky strumming a C chord » Awkward Pause » Passable strumming a G chord » Awkward Pause » Mangled D chord » Muttered cursing

But who cares? It’s fun!

05:52 Paul is playing Rimworld with his Wife

14:37 Shamus is playing Saints Row: The Third

Such an excellent game. It’s a shame the series died with its developer. I suppose it’s possible the rights could make it into the hands of someone new, but there’s no reason to expect that a new team would nail this particular feel. Likely as not we’d end up with something like Crackdown 3, and nobody needs that. There are enough broken hearts out there already.

19:58 Paul Wrote a Book Review:

You can read it here.

In this section I alluded to game developers that have been bad at taking criticism, but I didn’t name any names. It really is funny when you find yourself on both sides on the critic / creative divide. I’ll see a creator defending their work by claiming that the audience “just doesn’t get it”. It’s a cringe-y argument, because making sure the audience “gets it” is literally your job. But then I’ll release a game or a book, and I’ll find myself drawn to those sorts of defenses. It takes a certain degree of self-discipline to take the criticism and apply it rather than trying to invalidate the critic’s arguments.

If nothing else, I think spending a little time on both sides of the divide will make you better at both.

26:48 Mailbag: Elder Scrolls Mods

Dear Diecast,

It’s incredible to me how much effort and passion the fans of The Elder Scrolls series are capable of putting into some of the biggest modifications for these games. Between Tamriel Rebuilt, Skywind, Beyond Skyrim and Daggerfall Unity, it seems that it is a really good time to be a fan of the franchise – if one can find the time to play these enormous projects. Are you interested in one of them? If so, what drew you in?


This is the Vice City in GTA Mod I discussed on the show:

Link (YouTube)

It really is amazing what the community can do.

33:54 Mailbag: Detroit: Become Human

Hi guys,

I recently remembered that Detroit is coming to PC, so I will use my superpowers of persuasion to convince or bribe Shamus into reviewing it, because of course, this game contains his favorite two things: QTEs and lots of story!


Joking apart, I would love for you to review Detroit, because it was actually decent, I think, even if I don’t love QTEs that much too.

This email is continued in the next section…

39:37 Mailbag: Partner Games

My wife likes to watch games because she can’t play (no patience and no dexterity), and so she enjoys when games have lots of story and ‘cinematic’ styling. So we try to find games that i can play and she can enjoy watching. We played Detroit, The Last Guardian, A Plague Tale, a bit of Death Stranding (she lost interest once the cutscenes started to be less frequent), Life is Strange, Tomb Raider… It can be diverse.

So, have one of you had this kind of… erm… common hobby I guess ? with you partner of choice ? And would you have a few game recommandations ? We try to find games that are interesting story-wise, and if possible not always about killing thousands of people (’tis the reason we stopped the nu-Tomb Raiders, we liked the old ones more).

Thanks and cheers


From The Archives:

98 thoughts on “Diecast #285: Guitar, Rimworld, Saints Row the Third

  1. ElementalAlchemist says:

    Keeping up that tradition of the full article on the front page into the new year I see.

    It’s a shame the series died with its developer.

    Volition didn’t die, they are owned by Deep Silver. They are currently working on SR5 (or another entry in the series anyway – not sure if it will be labelled 5). Of course with SR4 being something of a let-down after SR3 and their last game, Agents of Mayhem, being tepid at best, it remains to be seen whether the series is functionally dead anyway. Perhaps that was what you were getting at?

    1. Pax says:

      Yeah, I wasn’t sure if he was unaware that Volition still existed, or if it was a “Shame they never made any Matrix sequels!”-type statement.

      I have a friend that swears up and down that future Saints Row games will be no good since Steve Jaros left Volition for Valve a few years ago. He is the one that apparently brought pro-wrestling and Jane Eyre to the table, so his writing may have been responsible for a lot of The Third’s feel, but for a lot of people, The Third was too much in a wacky direction, so I’m curious to see what the team comes up with as a follow up and possibly (almost necessarily) a reinvention.

      1. ElementalAlchemist says:

        I think 3 probably straddled the edge of too wacky, occasionally teetering, but for the most part retaining a reasonably good balance. There were definitely a few points though where you could argue they were pushing the “We’re totally not just a GTA clone, see?!” shtick a bit too far.

        4 kind of lost the plot in that regard though. It had its moments but too often pushed beyond wacky into absurdity, becoming downright cringeworthy at times. And it wasn’t helped by the game consisting of, in large part, recycled assets from 3, which cheapened the experience.

        1. Thomas says:

          I didn’t mind the wacky tone of SR3 – I think it fits the game better than SR2’s serious story even if SR2 has better writing.

          I could have done without the wacky sidequests about human trafficking though.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Yeah, I actually had the cringe experience with 2. I’ve played it in co-op with a friend and we mostly wanted to do wacky shenanigans but then the story was doing a lot of Very Serious Gang Drama. Like, after the monster truck scene we just sat there for a minute until I said “Know what? Our characters are horrible people”. I’m not saying there is no room for games that seriously explore the spiral of violence in gang warfare but for me SR2 couldn’t quite decide which direction it wanted to go and personally I’m glad the series went for wacky.

            Then again it might be because we’ve approached it specifically as a co-op game, the drama might have been more effective if we did it solo.

    2. Thomas says:

      I can’t remember but I think Shamus didn’t like SR4 and he was joking about how ‘at least they didn’t make a game that bad’

      1. CJK says:

        I think everything Shamus ever really had to say about Saints Row IV was on the Diecast, way back, so it’s really hard to say.

        Personally I bounced off 3, enjoyed 4, and then went back and enjoyed 3 retrospectively. 4 looks kinda dreary and it does feel a bit cheap in places, but I really liked the mechanical implementation of superpowers. It was just a lot of fun to play.

    3. Shamus says:

      I honestly thought the developer was shuttered back when THQ went chapter 11 and liquidated its properties.

      I’d totally forgot that Agents of Mayhem was a thing.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Huh, I remembered that Agents of Mayhem existed, but after it tanked apparently my brain generated a totally false memory that that caused the studio be shuttered.

      2. ElementalAlchemist says:

        Well now you have SR5 to look forward to. Maybe.

        Can we expect a SR3 write up/analysis since you are currently playing it? Or is it just for fun?

        1. BlueHorus says:

          He already did one when it came out.

          Though he might have more to say? Anything’s possible.

          1. ElementalAlchemist says:

            Ah, thanks. I kind of suspected he had given that he apparently likes it enough to be playing it again years later, but didn’t go looking for articles.

  2. Grimwear says:

    I haven’t listened to the whole podcast yet so I don’t know if it got mentioned but if you want cinematic type games you could try Until Dawn or Man of Medan. Both done by the same devs and are essentially pure cinematic experiences. The only problem would be if you’re not a fan of horror then these aren’t for you.

    1. Lars says:

      Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy (minus 11, 14 and 15), Darksiders, SW:J: The Fallen Order – EA, TLJ – The Longest Journey + Dreamfall, Indigo Project (Trash is good sometimes), Spidy, South Park games.
      This are game franchises with lots of story/cinematic and gamplay.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’ve been enjoying The Council which is conspiracy theory / occult take on a Telltale game where you’re invited to an island with figures like George Washington and Napoleon plotting revolutions.

        It’s not amazing graphically, but because it’s about uncovering a mystery there’s some nice gritty choice based gameplay that you can discuss and with a partner. It’s got a slight RPG bent that I love.

        1. Platypus says:

          The Council is great right up until the end where it goes Bonkers (like David Cage batshit) Me and my GF played it concurently sharing stories of what sheninaigans we had just pulled. She did get a bit pissed with me for meta gaming and doing the opposite of what i know she was going to be doing just so we could see things from two different sides :P

          1. Henson says:

            I think The Council is a game where I really liked the potential for the mechanics, but the end product just doesn’t use them to great effect in the end. I’d love to see a ‘whodunit’ murder mystery with the same mechanics; you could make it so that every clue obtained through your skills and every successful confrontation gained you information on who is likely to be innocent and who is likely to be guilty, culminating in you finally making an accusation in Act IV – Act V.

            Although, I have to say, I kinda liked how willing the developers were to take the story in such a bizarre direction!

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I second the Until Dawn recommendation. I feel this one could dissipate many of the complaints Shamus has against stuff like David Cage’s. The writers here definitely took obvious inspirations from horror movie tropes, but depending on your playstyle you can actually make the characters behave with logic and intelligence rather than the bumbling idiocy these characters usually get up to in horror films.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Until Dawn has been covered extensively on this very site: https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=35260

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          Oh, wow, how the hell did I miss this? Thanks!

    3. Tektotherriggen says:

      If you’re happy with disturbing/horror imagery, I’d suggest Limbo or Inside. There’s no scripted plot with dialogue or cutscenes, but they are both extremely atmospheric – in that sense, all the gameplay time is also story time. And as puzzle games, the watching partner can make suggestions.

      In a similar vein, consider Frictional Games’ stuff (Amnesia: The Dark Descent and co) or Layers of Fear. These do all have a full script with voice-acted logs, but are similarly all-atmosphere games.

    4. Duoae says:

      I loved Until Dawn but I didn’t see anything glowing about Man of Medan. Could you give some feedback on the game? I was a bit put off by the “episodic” short story nature of the promised series. My past experience tells me that game series tend not to see complete release :D.

      Though, Shamus already “saw” the story of Until Dawn because Spoiler Warning covered it…. I don’t think it’s the type of game to offer a lot of replayability.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Man of Medan is an anthology, so there is not “complete release.” Every story they release in the series will have it’s own beginning and ending. So they could make 10 of them if they’re selling and people like them, or just the announced 2 if they flop.

        1. Duoae says:

          Fair enough. So, any feedback on the game?

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            Yeah, I started a co-op playthrough that I haven’t completed yet for scheduling reasons. If the things you liked about Until Dawn were how there were lots of mysterious choices and having fun with horror movie genre tropes, I think there’s a lot to like in the first Medan game (volume? chapter? I dunno). If you’re really sensitive to:
            -Iffy acting/mocap on realistic game characters
            -Dumb/jerky 20 something horror fodder characters
            -Plots that don’t make 100% sense
            then this one might bother you. For my part, I kind of think of most of those as just part of the experience and fun if the work is effective overall. Can’t yet say how it will turn out, as of yet, since I haven’t beaten it. The co-op playthrough is a really neat twist on this style of game though. Making decisions secret to your partner that then have dramatic and surprising effects could have a lot of replay value.

            1. Duoae says:

              Cheers! Thanks for that. Yeah, I’m pretty forgiving for most of those points when I’m going into a movie or game that’s schlocky and so I’m expecting it.

            2. Sleeping Dragon says:

              Personally I liked Until Dawn better, in Man of Medan I figured out the twist too quickly and I felt like it didn’t give enough time to the characters before starting the scares, perhaps exacebrated by the fact that Until Dawn played the “teens in the cottage” tropes and archetypes pretty straight for the most part and while MoM characters are pretty tropish too I think they’re a touch more nuanced.

              That said the scares themselves are nice and somewhat varied, there’s a couple of really good scenes, like the octopus one that totally got me and I think your preference might highly depend on whether you found Until Dawn’s character tropes to be endearing (even in “oh, I can’t wait to see these kids get murdered” way) or annoying.

      2. John says:

        My understanding is that whatever replayability Until Dawn possesses comes in the form of trying to keep various characters alive (or, alternatively, trying to get them killed off). I don’t know how much the game’s story or its ending (or possibly its endings) change to reflect the surviving cast, however. If you liked the stories or the characters it seems like it might be worth playing more than once.

      3. Grimwear says:

        I personally think episodic games are a terrible idea to begin with but in regards to the game itself it’s an extremely average eh. Games done in the way of Man of Medan or Until Dawn can only rely on their story. Unfortunately I, and based on reviews many others, found the story to be boring, short, and not well made.

    5. Syal says:

      Don’t know how cinematic they are, but I enjoyed LPs of Unavowed, and We the Revolution.

      Anime-side, there’s Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, and the Zero Escape games the first Zero Escape game.

    6. King Marth says:

      Tales of Symphonia hit a particular chord for me in this situation for having flexible multiplayer. Along with being a JRPG where you’re mostly reading, the combats are real-time beat-em-ups rather than turn-based. You default to computer-controlled allies, but it’s trivial to plug in a controller and have someone jump in – or jump out, allowing a bit of direct involvement with the game without forcing a huge commitment. (Might be even preferable to wait before turning on co-op rather than tossing someone unfamiliar with games in from the start, between unlocking more characters and the standard reverse difficulty curve.)
      I imagine the other Tales games would be similar, but I haven’t the personal experience to confirm.

      I also don’t recall the grind being particularly bad, but I also had different standards at the time.

  3. Lino says:

    Happy New Year! Congratulations on your new guitar, Shamus! I hate being that guy, but I strongly suggest you go to some guitar lessons and start learning notes. The chords will come much more naturally after that.

    The big advantage to having lessons is that you can have someone much more experienced watching you, and making sure you use the right techique, learn proper posture, keep proper tempo, etc. While posture isn’t as important as it is in classical guitar, it greatly helps not only your endurance, but with the production of clearer sound as well. Having a teacher also helps in having someone give you direction, tailored to your unique learning process.

    Still, the most important thing is having fun, and it seems you’ve got that covered, which is all that really matters :)

    1. Geebs says:

      To restore balance to the force, I’m going to suggest not bothering with lessons and to carry on learning the chords. Rock guitar teachers are mostly terrible. Classical guitar teachers are way better (but often can’t improvise).

      Completely agree on the “having fun” part though!

      1. Lino says:

        Finally! A prophecy fulfilment that did NOT require killing younglings! And just when I had finished sharpening my lightsaber…

        Regarding teachers, I’ve had great luck with mine – before becoming a teacher, he was a jazz guitarist, so I think I’ve got the best of both worlds,since I started with the classical stuff, and went on to jazz. Now if only I practiced more often, my improv could include more than just variations on a handful of thirds :D

        But although finding a good teacher is very tricky, I still think it’s better to start off with classical guitar, and then branching off to what have you. Or at least go to some lessons until you know your way around I-V positions, because by then you should have a basic grasp of the instrument.

        The main reason I think it’s important is because thanks to that, I can learn songs for a fraction of the time it takes my self-taught friends – no matter if I’m using sheet music, chords or just keeping up with someone playing a song at a party.

        But at the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re after – if you just want to have fun, you definitely don’t need a teacher.

        1. Joshua says:

          When I received lessons in my teens, I felt my instructor’s focus on sheet music was detrimental to the casual playing I wanted to do. My boss experienced the same thing. It may be good in the long run, but there may be way too much theory to learn for what many people want out of it.

          Shamus is near 50, and it sounds like he’s just wanting to learn a few chords to strum. Going for proper classical learning might be overkill for someone not trying to become a professional.

  4. Joe says:

    Yeah, Skywind does sound interesting. But it’s not yet finished. And even when it will be, I’ll need to install Skyrim Special Edition. I played about half an hour of that when it was released, and went right back to regular. Still, if Skywimd ever *does* come out, I’ll have to give it another shot.

    I stopped watching Shad when he was so wrong about TLJ. If he’s wrong about that, then it casts the rest of his content into doubt. Skallagrim, Matt Easton, and Lindybeige are where I go to for sword talk these days.

    But still, Paul, if you or anyone else want to do some literary criticism, I have a couple of bits desperately wanting a look. Short fantasy piece, nothing worldshattering. Sarah and the River.
    Longer space opera. Nothing worldshattering either, but I still love it. The Adventures of Tommy Sutherland.
    Have at it, should anyone desire.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Shad as in Shadiversity? He really knows his stuff when it comes to the historical middle ages and HEMA. Don’t really know what that has to do with a sci-fi movie. Was interesting to see his analyses of some Star Wars fight scenes. Hollywood should hire people who know stuff about fighting to fix their terrible fight scenes.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I stopped watching Shad when he was so wrong about TLJ. If he’s wrong about that, then it casts the rest of his content into doubt.

      You can’t be serious. I don’t know who this Shad guy is, but you seem to equate a person’s opinion about a film being different from yours as “being wrong”. Plus, you seriously can’t expect to agree with someone about everything. This whole “This guy thinks differently from me in this particular subject, that means everything he’s ever said and he’ll ever say is wrong, even if I usually agree with him!” attitude is unhealthy and preposterous. People will have different opinions on stuff, and you won’t always agree with them, even if you generally do. If you only listen to someone because you expect them to always echo your thoughts then you have a serious problem.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Agreed. I have serious, deep, and troubling disagreements with the CinemaWins host, but I still watch and enjoy his videos. The differences are important to developing scope and a more-than-one-dimensional perspective.
        Same (to a lesser degree) goes for Shad and Lindybeige in my book. They are emphatic and imperfect, which means that they are not infrequently emphatically wrong. Still have a lot of good things to say though. Just means you can’t turn your brain off.

        1. Joshua says:

          I watched a few of his videos, and I much prefer Skallagrim’s. Both of them appear to be long-winded and seem to stretch out a 3-minute explanation into 15 minutes, but Skallagrim seemed to be a much humbler guy. That said, I believe that several of Shadiversity’s videos I watched were fairly informative.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Yeah, but Shad’s arrogance is part of what made writing that book review so fun!
            With someone like Shamus or Rutskarn – or even Bob Case – critical reading comes mostly down to taste. Alternately, an inexperienced author’s work doesn’t often bear deep analysis, as they don’t pretend to know what they are doing. Then there’s Shad, who is all “I’m an experienced writer! I know what I’m doing!” So I read his book; I grin and grin.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Eh, I can see one video or essay being bad enough to turn you against a creator, depending on what it is they said. “This movie (that I, the viewer, think is bad) is very good!” Eh, that would not be enough unless I found myself consistently having strong taste disagreements and not finding anything enlightening or interesting about their tastes. “(During a different topic unrelated to this) BIG OLD POLITICAL OPINION, tossed off as a joke because we all feel this way, am I right??” That… could do it if the opinion was horrible enough. Example for funsies, if the content creator was suddenly like “I miss South African apartheid, it’s too bad they didn’t stick with it.” I really don’t want to hear anything else from someone with feelings like that.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Greetings to South Africa! You’re up awfully early to leave political comments on a non-political blog.
          Just a reminder that “no politics” rule here is meant to head off heated discussions arising from the differences in what people think are obvious and universal. Clearly, living through the South African apartheid yourself, you feel that your views are well justified and widely shared. Nevertheless, please keep in mind that not all readers may share your opinion, or find it as uncontroversial as you apparently do.

          1. Arkytark says:

            I assume (hope) you are making a joke.
            Please dont make that kind of jokes.
            Just say politics is against the rules.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              Hey Arky, I appreciate you for saying this much. Sometimes the statements that are made here under the “no politics” rules make me feel like I’ve entered the Dark World from Link to the Past or something. I won’t go any further than that, as my original post was sincerely meant to be just a non-objectionable example of what could cause someone to object so strongly to content, not for any kind of discussion to be had about the example used.

          2. Paul Spooner says:

            No, I’m not a moderator. I can’t even approve your comment.
            I have been around a while though – Since 2007? Though I started commenting regularly in 2011 – so I feel comfortable helping to lean the discussion in a good direction as a member of the community. You’re welcome to do the same.

            1. John says:

              I know you’ve been around a while. We’ve talked before. I’m even willing to grant you the benefit of the doubt and concede that you think you’re helping. But if you really wanted to help, all you had to do was gently remind shoeboxjeddy of the no politics rule. What you did, even if you didn’t mean it that way–I remind you that the intent behind sarcasm is hard to parse in text–smacks of presumption. You have a weird quasi-official status here. You co-host the Diecast. You write occasional articles. Your current comment has a lovely yellow background. If you’re going to play the part of a moderator, I ask that you exercise a moderator’s restraint, particularly since, by your own admission, you are not a moderator. When you fail to do that, it looks an awful lot like you trying to throw your quasi-official weight around.

              For the record, this is not a conversation I intended either to start or to have. I was angry and I regretted my comment immediately. I see now that I should have remembered that Shamus is a busy man and edited the comment to something innocuous instead of requesting deletion.

              1. Shamus says:

                This exchange was deeply confusing to me until I looked in the moderation queue and saw your previous comment.

                Arg! WordPress is horrible about this. You literally can’t tell the difference between these three things:

                1) This comment was held in moderation because it has too many links.
                2) This comment was held in moderation because it set off the stone-age keyword-based spam detector.
                3) This comment was held in moderation because the author wants to remove it.

                WordPress is SUPPOSED to email me when #3 happens. In the old days, it would wait 6-10 hours before sending the email. These days, it doesn’t send the email at all.

                For the record: The moderation tab is different from the normal comment feed, so I don’t always see comments that have been set aside.

                WordPress desperately needs some extra metadata so various systems can say WHY a comment was arrested.

                Sorry for the confusion. I’m not upset at anyone here, I didn’t punish anyone, and I’m sorry this platform is so wonky.

              2. Yeah, that’s why I try to limit my gold-background comments to things where I’m responding on behalf of the show, as the post author, or otherwise in my semi-official capacity.

                As to the snarky response, it bugs me that shoeboxjeddy explicitly attacked the “because we all feel this way, am I right” attitude, and then immediately implicitly deployed it as justification for listing a specific politically charged example of what political views would justify unfollowing a creator. The implied defense of the example is “but obviously everyone thinks South African apartheid was horrible.” which, even if it is true, is exactly the kind of arrogant and explicit approach which – according to my understanding at least – lies at the black heart of pathological political discussion to which Shamus – and by extension this whole community – holds such an aversion.

                It bugs me, and I let that irritation show, because that’s how one most productively communicates powerless displeasure. If I were a moderator I would be equally irritated, but I would have the tools to express it in a more productive way. I could e-mail the offending party saying “I edited your comment to remove political content. Please recall TwentySidedTale has a strict no politics and religion policy as detailed here: https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=31891 I would be happy to discuss the particulars in this private channel if you feel you are being treated unfairly.” (similar to an e-mail Shamus has sent to me, when I overstepped the fuzzy boundary) As it is, I can’t do that, because I don’t have moderator powers. As a result, I’m not going to accept the responsibilities of acting like a moderator without the corresponding authority. An authority which I would be hesitant to accept, and which Shamus is certainly unwilling to give, in case you were wondering.

                Echoing what Shamus said above, I’m not upset at anyone either. Well… Maybe at shoeboxjeddy still.

                1. Shamus says:

                  All of this is made more complex and troublesome by the fact that the ACTUAL unwritten rule isn’t “no politics” so much as “no controversial politics”. People use Hitler / Nazis as a universal “this is bad” baseline and nobody blinks an eye, because that’s not a particularly controversial opinion in our corner of the internet. However, talking about (say) Republican vs. Democrats vs. Communists vs. Libertarians is a no-go, because those are fronts in the ongoing culture wars.

                  When apartheid came up, I immediately assumed it would be safe because I’d never see anyone argue about it. But then I started second-guessing myself thinking, “Shit. I’m not from South Africa. The topic is very cut-and-dry here in the ‘states, but I’ll bet this issue is SUPER complex for people who lived in the region at the time. I have no idea how people feel about it now. What if a couple of South Africans decide to duke it out and they start talking about historical events I don’t remember concerning political parties I’ve never heard of that govern regions I know nothing about!”

                  Thankfully, no such controversy arose.

          3. RFS-81 says:

            EDIT: Ninja’d by Shamus himself.

            I always understood no politics to mean no partisan politics.

            “The Salem witch trials sure were fucked up!”
            “Hey, no politics!”

            (and I bet one could dig up some fringe group somewhere who actually is pro-witch trials)

      3. Joshua says:


        I’m guessing OP is a fan of TLJ, because a YouTube search of Shadiversity and TLJ results in some critical videos?

      4. Joe says:

        No, I don’t want an echo chamber. I know TLJ is wonky, that’s fair enough. But his style was really confrontational. “Star Wars is dead and TLJ killed it” is not the opening for a discussion or analysis. If I outright insulted something you really liked, you wouldn’t bother listening to anything I had to say ever again.

        1. SidheKnight says:

          To be fair, at least half the SW fanbase feels the same way from what I understand, so the opinion isn’t exactly controversial or outlandish.

          1. DeadlyDark says:

            TLJ may not be solely responsible for this (I’d count TFA as well), but after TLJ, I’ve yet to muster any will to watch or play anything SW related. No desire to watch ep9 or mandalorian, no interest in playing fallen order.

            I guess I should launch jedi outcast or kotor

            1. Distec says:

              Playing through KOTOR 2 again recently has been worthwhile for me. If TLJ was aiming to be a ‘subversive’ Star Wars movie, I wish they had just lifted the game’s script with a few modifications, because it does it so much more effectively. I consider it proof enough that you can have a Star Wars product that’s respectful of the source material/universe but is also brave enough to question it as well.

              My appreciation for KOTOR 2 is my go-to defense against accusations that I’m “afraid of change”, “growing up”, or whatever else is often fielded.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      What kind of feedback are you looking for? The main reason I felt comfortable writing such an extensive critique of Shad’s book was that he is himself a vocal critic, and makes it clear he has high standards. What kind of standards would you like me to hold you to?

      1. Joe says:

        Y’know, I hadn’t actually considered that question. Still, I know I’m not earthshattering, I just want people to enjoy my stuff. What did you like, what didn’t you like, and so on.

        Oh, and given that you’re a person of faith, you may grit your teeth a couple of times. But I don’t delve much into that aspect. It’s just a story, y’know?

        On a less controversial topic, I’m left-handed and Australian. I think those elements come through too. :)

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Since you got some feedback on Sarah and the River below, all I’m going to add is the need to do an editing pass. Cut out 1/4 of the text – even 1/3 if you can manage it – and then edit the whole until it flows nicely again. Also, put the bit about the river being broken at the beginning. That’s your hook.

          The Adventures of Tommy Sutherland
          Is 172 pages and opens with six pages of guns and grenades bar battle, where a bunch of mooks are trying to kill Robinson, after which our viewpoint character Tommy observes “He had no idea why they were after his client…” Sadly, I likewise have no idea why I should care.

          Skipping to page 39, I find the viewpoint has switched over to the other side, and we’re privy to a conversation which includes a handy summary of the action so far. “[Robinson] got away. Met with her contact, who lead us through a good part of the city, picking us off one at a time. Finally, when we thought we had them cornered, we were attacked by a mob of Fiab DosXerlik fans!” I skimmed to the end of the section, but still no sign of a hook. Why are you telling us all of this?

          So I do a word search for “Robinson” and find that the last place she’s mentioned is page 147 where she’s locked up in the brig (with yet another viewpoint character). So, this story isn’t really about her. Maybe it’s about the eponymous Tommy Sutherland after all? I see that he wanted to study the Asari in university. I also see references to Clan Stormhoof cropping up here and there. Did you just skim names and concepts from your favorite video-games and then stitch them together through a series of vaguely military-themed encounters? Everyone in the story seems so over it all; They’re so bored. Can’t blame them. I couldn’t find the plot either.

          If you like repetitive sentence structure conveying a stream-of-consciousness story about a mish-mash of vaguely military themed spaceship “adventures” lightly seasoned with apparently unintentional video-game pop-culture references, The Adventures of Tommy Sutherland by Left Handed Joe from Austrialia will be a thing you can engage with.

          1. Joe says:

            The Asari! I completely forgot! Serious facepalm. This universe has been in my head since before Mass Effect. When I learned that series would have Asari, I was stunned! And yes, I’ve always meant to go back and change the name, but I never came up with anything good. They look like LOTR elves, if that’s any help to anyone. Stormhoof was original too. I think my brain is just attuned to the same frequency as game writers. :)

            Still, I do appreciate the feedback. Thanks!

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              I’ve had the same thing happen to me many times as well. This whole blog has a number of interesting psychic resonances.

              Since you brought it up though, it’s very tempting to lean on your trans-physical inter-personal abilities to write something that feels resonant. The difficulty is that it also results in lazy work. It’s like in chess. You have to assume your opponent is going to make their best move. If you just plan on them making a mistake, you make it too easy for yourself. Same with brain frequency. You’ve got to de-couple from the real cultural environment and get synched up with your fictional characters and their setting. Otherwise you fall into unconscious tropes.

              “Unconscious” could easily characterize both of the works you linked. Fine if that’s what you’re shooting for. If not, stop dreaming, and awake.

    4. Geebs says:

      The Skywind mod team / community has, to my knowledge, only ever actually released one thing in the last ten years – the Morrowind – to – oblivion conversion. Other than that they basically just make trailers and generate portmanteaus. You can’t fault their ambition, but I think they’re way more invested in making stuff for their own satisfaction – and more power to them, but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Oh yes. I remember getting super excited about Skywind, about 5 years ago. They even had a demonstration / demo module that you could download!

        …progress I’ve seen since then? You can no longer download the demo.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it happen, and would pay actual money for it. But like Geebs I’m not holding my breath.

      2. Decius says:

        Would you prefer that they be invested in making stuff for profit? Because then there would be no Skywind project at all.

        They don’t have a project manager to manage scope creep, and that’s going to result in them never getting everything completed.

        1. Geebs says:

          Which is fine! If they’re making stuff with mod tools for personal amusement or to work on a CV, that’s great. On the other hand, these guys do have a habit of announcing at least one more total conversion portmanteau every single time Bethesda releases a new revision of Gamebryo, with very little to show for it. They have been teasing this mod for more than half a decade; arguably, real artists ship.

    5. Syal says:

      Have at it, should anyone desire.

      And so it shall be.

      Reading Sarah and the River: “cluttered” is the word that comes to mind. I kept expecting it to be a time travel story, because information came at weird, disjointed moments, and blocks of information didn’t seem to have any particular flow to them.

      The first thing I tried to do was establish a timeframe, since rivers and Sarahs are pretty timeless. The cobblestones suggested 1800’s to me, but then the pastry shop suggested modern day in an old-fashioned town. But then later she grabs a sword and horse and it feels like a medieval kind of setting, and stays that way.

      Sarah is on a peaceful walk, notices the river is misbehaving, runs off to deal with it and… that’s when we get a physical description of Sarah. I generally ignore physical descriptions anyway (things will look how I imagine they look), but if I were interested, I would want to know that during the walk. Once the mystery of the river is established, it’s too late for Sarah’s description, I’m busy trying to figure out this river thing.

      She grabs her work clothes, but the description of the work clothes don’t indicate military. The bear calling her Colonel is the first hint at that, and the clothes don’t establish the necklace that gets mentioned later as her badge. Then the peasants say they’ve seen a foreigner around, and I honestly can’t tell if they mean Sarah; the only description has been her having a favorite pastry place in town, which sounds like a local to me. It’s another couple of scenes before it’s established that yes, she’s a foreign officer the locals don’t much care for.

      So far all of this information could have been established during the walk, before she noticed the river running backward. If she’s scheduled to show up at the temple, she can imagine that happening, with her in uniform and the disciples in their suits, making minor hassles or whatnot. Generally you want to confine as much description as you can to lull points; the walk, the ride to the village. Once something starts happening (“I’m going to get the bear to fix the river”), you want that stuff out of the way so the action can reach its conclusion uninterrupted.

      Some unintentionally humorous word choices for things. “His dark eyes bulged. … Two could play at that game.” So now I’m imagining Sarah trying to out-bulge her eyes while confronting this man. Then the second stomach punch made me laugh; now it feels like these stomach punches are routine inspection procedure. And, um… the sage’s death was a lot funnier than I think it was supposed to be. The one-word internal monologue style is more fitting for a minor hassle like trying to get groceries through a door that keeps closing on you.

      If the sage identifies the problem, the sage should say so, especially since Sarah’s already made a guess. Skipping past the sage to then have Sarah skip back to the conclusion seems awkward.

      There are multiple streams, rivers and waterfalls mentioned in the continuing quest, which seem to be working normally. Would have liked to see Sarah indicate that she’s traveled past the limit of the spell, or something. I’d been assuming it was affecting all the waterways.

      Nothing especially wrong with the scene with the Talians, though I feel they could have been mentioned earlier by someone. The black horse seems to be a red herring though; there’s something bothering it that can’t be identified, and then it gets sold and Sarah doesn’t worry about it anymore.

      Feels like loose ends at the end. I guess we don’t absolutely have to know who sent the assassin, but did the priest get arrested for reversing the water? Seems like some character should have had comeuppance for the whole thing.

      Kudos for finishing it; it’s been fifteen years since I’ve actually finished a story I started.

      1. Joe says:

        Thanks! That’s actually a lot of help. It’s all so clear in my mind, how everything works. But always good to see through fresh eyes. The funny thing, it’s a semi-sequel to a novel I never quite finished, so that’s where a lot of worldbuilding is. In another story no one’s ever read. Ridiculous, I know. :)

        I started a sequel to this story, where Sarah goes after the perpetrators. Only I’ve hit a block where I just don’t want to write fight scenes. I’ve had enough of them. The plot I’ve come up with requires three of the bastards. :(

        Still, I really do appreciate your feedback. Thanks again!

        Oh, and the very first idea I had for Sarah was a woman in a camo uniform holding a sword and shield. I always imagined a modernish military structure grafted onto a medieval-type culture.

        1. Syal says:

          I’ll add this one because it’s bothering me that I skipped it.

          Villains escalate, heroes just reciprocate. The part in the barn where the priest shouts and Sarah punches him and knocks him down? She’s escalated the conflict, so she’s a villain now.

          There are several ways to justify a villainous action. It could be the law of the land that any resistance of an officer gets met with violence, and she’s just following procedure. It could be a desperate pre-emption because there’s no way to win if the other guy makes the first move. It could just be cold calculation that this amoral action will have the best result.

          But justifications only make the character a relatable villain; they’ll still be a villain moving forward. Once they escalate a conflict, the reader expects they’ll continue to escalate conflicts in the future.

  5. Ander says:

    Partner games:
    Oxenfree. It is no graphical wonder (that is, it isn’t realistic looking; the animation is good), but teenage supernatural mystery is a common genre and the dialogue system provides consistent interaction. There’s a gameplay successor from the same devs, too.

  6. Lars says:

    Happy New Year in old tradition:
    The entire article is on the front page. :-)

  7. Zgred says:

    Hey, thanks for answers,

    About Skywind – if I understand correctly, all the assets that aren’t part of Skyrim are made from the ground. If you’re interested in the state of the project, there is a comprehensive 10-minutes demo, showing a typical quest:


    It seems to me that they’re sticking to the original feeling of the Morrowind. Plus, they somehow managed to add flying, spears, mark & recall spells, athletic and acrobatic. And cliff racers!

    Also, Tamriel Rebuilt is pretty easy to install. Don’t know about the others though.

  8. Chris says:

    Havent heard the podcast yet. But for partner games i find puzzle games to work well. Since it doesnt require dexterity and you can take turns trying to crack a tough puzzle. Although I can imagine that if your wife has little patience she wouldn’t enjoy being stuck at a puzzle for a long time.

    Maybe try puzzle agent. The puzzles are easy enough not to get you stuck for long and it has a neat story.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: Detroit, I think it was garbage for most of the typical David Cage reasons, but of all his games, it was definitely him at his least bad.

    It has some crazy Cage bullshit of course, but my biggest problem with it is that the slavery thing is terribly written. The robots all act like the humans enslaved them out of sheer bastardry, but the humans don’t think the robots are people! Not in a “they’re just slaves, doesn’t count” way, I mean they don’t think robots are people the same way you don’t think your toaster is people. No one thinks that the robots are actually self-aware, they’re supposed to be just sophisticated chatbots (there’s some Cage bullshit about robots “awakening” where it’s not even clear if they were self-aware all this time, but it doesn’t make any sense so let’s no go there). You could write an interesting story about this misunderstanding, but Detroit just has the two sides talk past each other in a way that makes it look like the author didn’t notice the problem.

    The one thing I have to begrudingly give Cage credit for is that with gaming being a sea of Telltale-esque fake choices, Detroit has your choices actually matter. The game branches to a surprising degree, with each playthrough having hours of content that another playthrough won’t see. Heck, you can get one of the three perspective characters killed at the start, and the game just proceeds without them, all their content skipped. It kind of highlights how vestigial that character’s role in the plot was that so little changes, but hey, points for committing.

    1. Fizban says:

      I watched LRR’s playthrough on Talking Sim- it’s the kind of thing you want to like so bad (maid-bot turns against abusive owner to save the kid? I’m all in!). It starts with potential, and then bit by bit systematically turns everything good it had into bad. And the moment you go back and see more than one fork, it becomes clear: if you painstakingly mapped out the perfect route through the game avoiding all the worst bits and highlighting the best, you could almost but never quite make it good enough.

      Watching Cam and Cory slowly descend into madness can get you through though. The part where they’re a stream or two in and talking about how the game hasn’t really been making the robots a race thing, and the menu robot chooses that exact moment to tell them about the Underground Railroad, *chef kiss*. And the descent begins.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        If I list all my complaints about Detroit we’ll be here until February, but I remembered one that’s perfectly on-brand for the site. The Underground Railway thing doesn’t work. The idea is that the robots want to escape to Canada where the sale of robots is banned (doesn’t that mean the government will give them no legal rights and treat them like a self-driving car that crossed the border? Don’t think about it). All robots need to refuel with magic blue robot goo or they die. Robots and their goo are produced by only one company. Problem: How are you going to get any robot goo in the country where robots are banned?

        TL;DR: What do the robots eat?

  10. Dreadjaws says:

    You know, for all of its faults, I really enjoyed Heavy Rain. I actually liked the fact that you could look at a story from different perspectives, that the game took your decisions into account much more than other games that claim to do so (*cough*, *cough*, The Walking Dead, *cough*, *cough*), to the point that all main characters could die if you made the wrong decision, and it had a nice, atmospheric setting with a lot of tension. Yes, the plot was a mess if you took the time to analyze it on the whole, but the way it was chopped up into separate pieces made it easier to ignore that. And yes, characters’ personal choices when you weren’t in control could be ridiculous, but the amount of input you had in key areas made it all more palatable. It was actually the first game by David Cage I had played, and I was looking forward to another one. One that would iron the kinks and deliver a better experience.

    Then I played “Beyond: Two Souls”.

    And wow, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so insulted so hard by a game’s narrative before. It really feels like Cage is expecting people who play this game to never have experienced any story before, because you can’t walk two steps without running into half a dozen overused clichés. At the game’s middle point you can’t help but wonder if Cage is going for a world record in tired basic tropes. He doesn’t even bother to put a new spin in them. If you’re irritated by watching a movie and seeing something play out exactly how you’ve seen it happen dozens of times before, I guarantee you Cage put that in this game. After playing this the problems in Heavy Rain’s narrative start to become more apparent. Rain is still far superior, though, since Beyond is almost strictly linear.

    And yes, it becomes quite evident the way things are set up and developed that Cage believes himself to be some sort of a genius for writing this trite dreck. There’s really only one surprise in the game, and it’s because it comes out of left field with no buildup or justification in the universe’s rules. Back then when I was into my trophy hunting phase I had decided to try to platinum the game, since it was remarkably easy, but at some point I got so tired of the idiotic plot and irritating characters that I just ignored it for good. And I want to make sure you understand this: Beyond came after Rain. This was Cage thinking he was becoming better.

    When Detroit was announced, I thought it looked nice but I could piece how the story would play out just by the previews, and, from what I’ve seen, I wasn’t wrong.

    1. ElementalAlchemist says:

      it becomes quite evident the way things are set up and developed that Cage believes himself to be some sort of a genius

      I am pretty sure he has literally said this in interviews.

    2. Thomas says:

      I had a similar experience where I enjoyed Heavy Rain despite some of the bad writing – mechanically it works better as interactive fiction than telltale games.

      But I also couldn’t stand Beyond Two Souls. There was much less choice, the controls sucked and the writing is at a nadir. When Cage introduced his hamfisted child soldier comedy sidekick I quit.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Have to say, ‘child soldier’ and ‘comedy sidekick’ are not words I expected to see next to each other in a sentence…

        But that’s the genius of David Cage, I guess.

  11. Duoae says:

    Happy New Year to the both of you!

    Good luck with the guitar, Shamus. I’ve been dabbling with the instrument for going on twenty years now. The beginning of learnging any instrument is simultaneously the most difficult and most boring part, unfortunately (though I’m sure you know since the similarities to programming are quite evident :) ).

    My mum bought a guitar to learn it after she retired but, as far as I can tell, she never progressed past the awkward strumming part because she found the finger placement super difficult and couldn’t get over the “hump” of ingraining the skills (and callouses) to actually progress…

    I hope you manage to keep it up because I really feel that the effort is worth it!

  12. Chad Miller says:

    So, I’ve also done the “play videogames around the significant other that doesn’t really play videogames” thing lately and one surprising hit with my girlfriend has been the new Hitman games.

    The key here is not to play through the main story, nor to go for the “same mission but increased difficulty” challenges like Sniper Assassin, Suit Only, etc. Instead the goal is to go for all the Mission Stories and wacky feats. Playing the game that way eventually gives it a sort of slapstick quality as you become accustomed to seeing the same people dying over and over, and talking about it while doing it makes it sort of like I’m a streamer performing for an audience of one. Also, if you make a mistake, try to play your way out of it. The results are funnier that way.

    Some examples of what I’m talking about:

    * I place a muffin on a plate in my target’s house. He walks in and eats the muffin. Apparently the programmers hadn’t considered the idea that the player would do this without poisoning the muffin first, as the target goes completely catatonic, contemplating the awesomeness of the best bakery good he had ever tasted (that is, his AI completely stopped). I start trying increasingly desperate behaviors to snap him out of it, including running into him full speed. I could just shoot him, but I want to try to do this with no bodies found, so I find the nearest corner to hide behind and throw a muffin at the back of his head. This does what I wanted it to do, so I go hide in a closet until the enemy bodyguards give up their search for the Muffin Man.

    * I start an Escalation that requires me to kill no one but the target, and also to use an item from the kitchen where the head chef is going to see through any disguise I would start with. I mess up and get spotted by the chef, but I had packed a melee weapon for just such an occasion: a Fish. I knock the chef unconscious with the fish. The other three cooks saw me, so I run up and knock one of those out with a fish. Another cook says “you can’t just knock people out!” I say out loud, “YES I CAN!” and knock him out with the fish. The fourth cook runs away in time that my knocking him out gets me spotted by two servers. I knock them out with the fish. “An auspicious start,” my girlfriend says.

    * My girlfriend comes back after having left the room for a minute. “Is that a rubber duck under that guy’s chair?” Me: “It is.” Her: “What does it do?” (target dies in an explosion)

    * I place an explosive. Her: “What are you doing?” Me: “Making sure I placed the explosive in the right place?” Her: “You’re standing in front of a proximity mine.” Me: “It’s the remote explosive.” (I die in an explosion)

    I think we’ll move on to Untitled Goose Game next.

  13. Moridin says:

    Re: Elder Scrolls mods
    These days it feels like getting mods to work(for bethesda games) is very easy, most of the time. You install the mod manager of your choice, then you just let the mod manager handle all the complexity of making sure all the files end in the right folders and so on.

    With OpenMW you don’t even have to do that, you just extract the mod into its own folder and enable it. Although for some reason you have to enable mods by editing a text file(see https://openmw.readthedocs.io/en/latest/reference/modding/mod-install.html), although I guess that’s excusable since the project hasn’t reached 1.0 yet. The problem with OpenMW with regards to mods is that it isn’t compatible with the script extender, or any mods that require it. Tamriel Rebuilt definitely works and doesn’t require tinkering(although on my last playthrough I didn’t get around to doing much with it, so I can’t say how polished it feels. Not to mention my playthrough itself was a while ago).

    1. RFS-81 says:

      While OpenMW is incompatible with mods that require script extender, AFAIK it is even more flexible than Morrowind + script extender. There is one mod called “Natural Growth and Decay” which implements an alternative leveling system and is OpenMW-exclusive. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, overall; if OpenMW really takes off, it might split the modding community…

      That said, I’m really glad that OpenMW exists, and I’ll probably give it spin sometime soon. Maybe I’ll finally play through the main quest?

      Finally, a random thing I remembered when Shamus mentioned the missing loading screens in the GTA mod: I had installed Morrowind on an SSD and literally blinked and missed the loading screen when entering a building :D

      1. Moridin says:

        I consider the lack of support for mods requiring the script extender to be a big negative: even if the modding community as a whole jumps aboard OpenMW, that still leaves a huge number of existing mods that will likely never be ported.

        I don’t really have extensive experience modding Morrowind(ages ago when I played the original game, I only used a few mods), but if it’s anything like New Vegas, almost everything that does new and interesting things(that is, doesn’t just add a new quest or weapon etc) uses the script extender.

  14. John says:

    For “partner games”, one genre that I’ve seen touched on only lightly so far is adventure games. I don’t necessarily mean the aged classics of the genre, your Monkey Islands or your King’s Quests or what have you. (Actually, I’d avoid the King’s Quest series and other Sierra games unless I had a very good reason to do otherwise.) I mean more modern adventure games. Wadjet Eye kind of stuff. Games like Unavowed, as Syal mentioned above. Adventure games tend to be story-heavy and mechanics-light. They also tend to have very simple controls and require almost no manual dexterity, should your partner ever feel like having a go. They aren’t exactly cinematic, but they’re almost never about killing lots and lots of people either.

    I wish that I could offer more specific advice, but I haven’t properly kept up with the genre since the early 90s and my knowledge of more recent adventure games–apart from the fact that Wadjet Eye’s games are generally well regarded–is quite spotty. It used to be the case that adventure games were all about puzzles to the point where they revolved around picking up everything that wasn’t nailed down and then trying to combine all the things with all the other things until something improbably successful happened. As I hear it, however, modern adventure games have stepped away from that and the more serious-minded adventure games are quite story-centric.

  15. Ninety-Three says:

    It’s a cringe-y argument, because making sure the audience “gets it” is literally your job.

    Eh, to a limited extent. On practical terms, I agree with you that almost everyone making that argument has failed to do their authorial job, but at some point the responsibility shifts to the audience.

    To take an extreme example, consider the criticism “This book is full of big words I am unfamiliar with, I don’t get it!” If the author is using real words that show up in the dictionary (as opposed to made up fantasy nouns), then at some point it has to be the audience’s responsibility to have a functional vocabulary, otherwise every book would have to open by teaching you the entire language it’s written in.

    Just as the audience is responsible for a degree of basic literacy, they’re also responsible for a degree of media literacy. If a player gets stuck in an FPS because they’re really bad at shooting dudes, there should maybe be an easy mode. But someone out there is going to be bad enough that they get stuck on even a very generous easy mode. At some point we should stop considering this a failure on the author’s part and recognize the problem as stemming from that player not having a big enough “gaming vocabulary”.

    For almost every work, some fraction of the audience is going to “not get it” in a way so improbable or unreasonable that it seems silly to blame the author for failing to anticipate and avoid the problem.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      The statement being discussed was “the audience doesn’t get it,” not “some guy in particular doesn’t get it.”

    2. Shamus says:

      Sure, sure. My argument was more about a critic arguing with a widespread consensus. Like, I agree that a few stray readers / viewers will certainly fail to “get it” no matter how good a work is. But if a widespread number of people are all coming to the same conclusions on their own, then it’s harder to dismiss their opinions.

      EDIT: I’d add that not only is it hard to dismiss a large number of people, it’s probably really bad for you as a creator. As painful as it is, it’s probably a really good indicator on where you need to improve / grow.

      If nothing else, it’s an indication that you’re marketing your work to the wrong people.

    3. Philadelphus says:

      It’s a cringe-y argument, because making sure the audience “gets it” is literally your job.

      Replying to your post because it prompted me to ruminate on the history and nature of art, though I want to stress I’m not disagreeing with you and this is a mostly-tangential rambling on my part. In that vein, is ensuring the audience “gets it” really the author’s job? (Speaking about the audience as a whole, not just a few individual members of it.)

      Looking at the history of classical music and painting (the two aspects of art I’m personally most familiar with), many people we now consider to be among the “greats” of those mediums wrote or painted work which the audience emphatically did not get, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Think entitled gamers are bad? The audience at the premiere of Shostakovich’s Rite of Spring literally rioted and trashed the music hall, that’s how much they didn’t get it.) New movements and expressions in art are often not understood by those experiencing them, and are only appreciated with the help of hindsight, continued exposure, and historical context.

      As a personal example, I took up painting in 2018 out of the blue. Prior to that, my ideal for a painting was realism, and consequently I looked down on much abstract, “modern” art. Over the past year and a half, however, I’ve come to realize that realism is not the only ideal of a painting, that things like composition can be an entirely separate ideal, and I’ve come to appreciate modern abstract art (slightly) more as a result. Previously I thought it was bad; now, I see that the author’s “good” and my “good” simply didn’t line up. This doesn’t mean I suddenly think all modern art is amazing—there’s plenty I still don’t understand, or just don’t like—but I do feel like my personal ability to appreciate (visual) art has, in a sense, “leveled up” a bit in that I can now enjoy works that I previously wouldn’t have. I don’t mean this in any “Look at how good I am at appreciating art, plebs!” sort of way, but in an almost purely self-interested manner: the sum total of my ability to get pleasure and joy out of the world has increased a little by learning to appreciate art that I didn’t before.

      Of course, saying “great art is incomprehensible, this art is incomprehensible, therefore this art is great” is strictly a logical fallacy. Bad art (meaning bad even when judged by the standards it’s striving for) can also be incomprehensible. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, other than perhaps saying that just because something is incomprehensible, it might not be bad, but might simply be that you lack the ability to appreciate it? I hope that doesn’t sound too confrontational. I now believe that one’s ability to enjoy art, though conditioned by both nature and nurture, can change throughout life, so saying that someone lacks the ability to enjoy a particular kind of art is no judgment, merely like saying that someone who can’t swim lacks the ability to enjoy the act of swimming. It’s something that could change in the future, but that person is not wrong for not wanting to learn. I’m not intending to defend any particular piece of work as being not-bad here, just sharing a rumination I had.

      1. Lino says:

        I think it all comes down to audience. A mass audience won’t understand a piece of abstract art, but a more niche audience will. This is why you should be very careful who you market yourself to, and be aware of that audience’s expectations. This is why you see abstract art in galleries, sometimes ones specializing in this type of art.

        So, as an author you need to know your audience and their expectations.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          It certainly helps if you’re trying to make a living off your work, that’s for sure.

  16. DeadlyDark says:

    Wait, Shamus is trying guitar now? Next you tell me, he watches Shredmaster Scott or something

    In more serious tone, that’s cool Shamus, it’s awesome to hear!

  17. Andrew_CC says:

    Wow. Paul’s review of Shad’s book , and my subsequent discovery of his blog is a revelation to me. It’s deep insight into Paul himself. Very interesting. Hidden depths and all that.
    When Shamus said next week he’ll have Soldier Hawke on, I wondered why Paul would not participate in that, as it would make for a livelier discussion. But now I don’t anymore!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yessir. It’s easy to imagine that people refrain from talking politics and religion here because they don’t have anything to say on those topics. As you have discovered, that’s not true at all! It really is all about good behavior and being a good guest here on Shamus’ blog.

      I’m fine co-hosting with SoldierHawk though. No idea what you’re implying there.
      The reasoning is that Shamus doesn’t like the clutter of a three-way (or more) discussion. A one-on-one dialogue is most comfortable for him. Oh, and scheduling gets way harder with more people. Plus I don’t play the same games that SoldierHawk does – she plays mostly story shooters – so I wouldn’t bring much to the conversation.
      I’m mostly here as an excuse for Shamus to talk about stuff once a week, so when he can get a real gamer on the show, who actually spends serious time playing video games? All the better.

      1. Andrew_CC says:

        I didn;t mean to imply you’d have any problem with Soldier Hawke, but I do suspect you’d have a lively discussion on politics if it ever came to that, which I respect.
        Shamus did do years and years of a 4 or 5-way podcast, tho. Maybe there’s some reluctance from him to tempt drama because of how that ended? It is sad that apparently they haven’t been able to reconcile even years later, I miss the old crew, while still enjoying the new format greatly.

  18. Mikko Lukkarinen says:

    I don’t think there’s multiplayer for Rimworld

    There is. It’s even fully compatible with loads of mods (over 1500 according to their mod compatibility spreadsheet on GitHub). I played it a few months ago with my brother and a friend and, even with our long list of mods, it was mostly fine.

    Steam Workshop link
    GitHub link

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Ooh! Very neat! I meant it wasn’t in the base game, but it’s good to know there’s a mod for it.
      Hotseat works fine for us, as my wife plays most of the time, and then I occasionally pop in to fix stuff like the wires and air conditioning and kicking out useless colonists. I’d love to do synchronous multiplayer, but our playstyles don’t mesh very well for that either. She plays in slap-dash fast-forward mode, and I do nearly all of my work meticulously paused.

      Also not really the kind of “Cinematic” partner game Prancibald seems to have in mind.

  19. Mehrunes_Dagon3e433 says:

    Playing guitar is fun! Been playing for 15 years. Got boring sometimes, but otherwise it never gets old and playing for other people is fun sometimes. I am a bit of a young hermit myself though…

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