Diecast #319: Halloween, Noita, Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 19, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 90 comments

So once again, my audio is severely over-boosted. It sounds perfect during recording, and then the resulting saved audio sounds like I’m talking through a megaphone. The same thing happened a few episodes ago. Afterward, I went in and balanced all the levels to stop it from happening. And then I was VERY careful to not touch any volume levels. And yet here we are again.

I’ve been doing this show since 2013, and this has never been a problem before. Now for no reason my recording volume is being randomized every week. I can only speculate what sort of nonsense is going on under the hood. The one clue here is that this began happening right after the latest Windows update. I wonder if they added some horrific new “smart” volume system that tries to do your thinking for you.

I guess I need to stop and make a test recording every week, just to make sure I haven’t been sabotaged again. If this was really triggered by a Windows Update, it means this supposedly “helpful” undocumented invisible feature is adding friction and complexity to my workflow.

Oh, and there’s another Windows update waiting for me. I’ve been delaying it every time it pops up, but I know it won’t let me do that forever.



Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
Diecast319


Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 The Irony of my Next Video

I think I’ve decided against pushing to get the video done for tomorrow. I spent most of Sunday polishing it, and made many solid improvements. Like I keep telling the big publishers, “Save time for polish.” Usually a project reaches a point where a little more time will result in a significant improvement in quality, and I think that’s where I am right now.

03:44 Noita V1.0

10:31 Teardown is finally coming out! (But I’m not getting it.)

Yeah, I know you’re tired of hearing my whine about my first-world problems. But in case you missed my bellyaching last week: The first 9 months of the year had just two games that I cared about, and now there are FOUR games just in the last two weeks of October.

12:45 Introversion’s Subversion City Generator

14:49 Halloween Decorations

Like I said on the show: When I was a kid, Christmas was the big national cultural event, and Halloween was a distant second. But in the last 20 years it feels like Halloween has made huge strides. I wonder why?

Here is my incredibly American-centric analysis:

  • Maybe this is because of the internet? It’s easier to share and get people excited for costumes than, say, your Christmas tree. (I dunno. I see lots of Christmas light displays that get a lot of attention.)
  • Maybe this is because of the shift in the way we think of Halloween? When I was a kid, both holidays were more or less “for kids”. Christmas has retained its focus on Children, but Halloween seems more able to capture the attention of adults. (Hm. I dunno. SOMEONE is hanging all those dang Christmas lights, and it’s not the kids.)
  • Maybe this is a reflection of a general shift away from religion? (Maybe, but Christmas has always enjoyed a great deal of secular appeal.)
  • Maybe this is a result of simple economics? Christmas is traditionally much more expensive than Halloween. If you’re looking to “go big” on a holiday, then it’s a lot easier to scale up your Halloween spending than to increase what you already spend on Christmas. Also, the expectation of giving is hard on people with limited income. The stigma against giving cheap gifts is a lot stronger than the shame you’d get from handing out cheap candy or having a lousy costume.
  • Maybe this is the result of demographics? Boomers are THE Christmas generation, and most of what we call “Christmas tradition” is stuff we inherited from them. But Boomers aren’t really driving the cultural zeitgeist like they used to, so perhaps this shift is simply the expression of preferences that have always been there, but were drowned out by the values of the baby boomers.

(While my family isn’t really big on either holidayWe don’t go for full-yard displays or big spending., there was a point in my 30s where my wife and I both came to the conclusion that Christmas is a really weird holiday. Like, doesn’t it feel really strange to bring a tiny pine tree into your house and hang shiny things on it? The Santa mythos is a bit goofy-pants as well. Every Santa Claus movie has a different plot because there isn’t a single strong story to support the character. I have a few additional criticisms of the holiday from a religious standpoint, but I really don’t want to offend anyone or make people feel like I’m judging them, their parenting, or their love of the holiday. I’m just saying it’s not for me. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to celebrate, we just like to keep it low-key.)

So, how does the Halloween vs. Christmas thing stack up in your part of the world?

29:09 Forced to use UbiStore

If nothing else, buying Watch Dogs Legion from Ubisoft’s pathetic late-90s digital storefront should yield at least one good rant.

34:57 Mailbag: First PC Build?

Dear Diecast

My beloved decade-old laptop has finally given up the ghost and I figured it was high time to build my first pc. It went much smoother than I thought it would as someone who isn’t particularly tech savvy. The only problems I encounter was with installing Windows 10. The problems I encounter with it are too numerous to list here but it basically came down to it making me reinstall windows everytime I booted up my computer. What did you find hardest, most frustrating or most surprising the first time you built a pc and what were the specs?

Sincerely, Ty

Here is the machine I talked about on the show.

41:26 Mailbag: Half-Life: Alyx

Dear Diecast,

Now that there’s been some distance between the release of Half-Life: Alyx and a promised revitalization of the franchise, I’m curious if you had any thoughts on the potential narrative directions the series could take, and if the developments in HLA met your approval or critique. I know Shamus’ love of the Half-Life series is well documented at this point, but I don’t recall hearing any takes from Paul. His input is nonetheless appreciated if he has any. Hell, maybe reach out and get a quote from Soldierhawk too, if she’s available!

Like Shamus, I am both: 1) A massive fan of all things Half-Life, and 2) Lacking a VR setup. Setting aside the cost, I couldn’t justify the purchase of a headset since I was unsure how much mileage I’d be able to get out of it without an expansive and varied game library. The announcement of HLA left me fighting myself real hard on whether or not to dump a few hundred bucks on a Vive just to play that game, but I think I made the right choice in the end. Since I couldn’t play the game, but refused to torture myself with avoiding spoilers in the long-term, I went ahead and watched a compilation of all the cutscenes, dialogue, and narrative beats of the game. This is an admittedly incomplete experience that skips over all the moment-to-moment gameplay sections, but I trust it’s sufficient enough if we’re just evaluating the story, and nothing major is being lost in a truncated highlight video.

For reference, this was the video I watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57NPnGvhzvE

[Redacted spoilers]

Regards,
Dtec (dee-tek)

 

Footnotes:

[1] We don’t go for full-yard displays or big spending.



From The Archives:
 

90 thoughts on “Diecast #319: Halloween, Noita, Mailbag

  1. Lanthanide says:

    VR has never been more accessible. For $299 you can get the Oculus Quest 2. For about another $25ish you can get a 16ft (5m) USB 3.0 cable to use with Oculus Link, which lets you play Steam VR games on the headset – or you could use Virtual Desktop which costs about $15 with a side-loaded patch that will let you stream PC games to your headset wirelessly. Just need a PC beefy enough to run HL Alyx (Shamus’ is far and away powerful enough).

    One potential pitfall is the Quest 2 requires a Facebook login to be associated with your Oculus account.

    1. Redrock says:

      Yep, I have the first Oculus Quest and it works just fine, although getting Oculus Link to work properly was a bitch. Had to fiddle around with all sorts of stuff, try several different cables, check USB port power settings, and it still glitches out from time to time. Worth it, mostly, but I find myself using Oculus Link less frequently than I might have had otherwise simply because I never know whether I’ll be able to jump right into the game or spend thirty minutes plugging stuff in and out, rebooting, etc., etc.

      All that being said, the Quest or the Quest 2 really is THE headset to get. No contest whatsoever.

      1. Lanthanide says:

        I never had any problem with the Oculus Link at all.

    2. Mersadeon says:

      > One potential pitfall is the Quest 2 requires a Facebook login to be associated with your Oculus account.

      This one is so ridiculous and to be honest, I don’t think they get much out of it. It just seems like really bad PR. I mean, anyone who can get through the task of setting up a VR-Headset -still a daunting task for non-techies- is probably capable of getting a fake Facebook account.

      1. GoStu says:

        I can’t help but get a laugh out of this.

        “We did it, now we own Oculus! What plans do we have for this VR technology?”
        “Uh. Well. Maybe we can use it to get more people on Facebook?”

        1. The Puzzler says:

          That’s a very 1990s vision of the future:
          “Stand back everyone, I’m entering cyberspace!”
          (Puts on VR helmet in order to log in to Facebook.)

      2. Rosseloh says:

        It just seems like really bad PR

        It IS really bad PR.

        I own an Oculus Rift. It was….well from a tech standpoint I really wish I had spent the extra and gotten a Vive at the time, but it was decent enough.

        Once they released this news about Facebook being associated with your stuff….Nope. I’m not buying their gear anymore. I’ll get an Index (or more likely, whatever the best bang for your buck without linking to Facebook is once I actually want to buy something new, which might be a while since I don’t really have a good VR playspace at the moment).

      3. Lanthanide says:

        > This one is so ridiculous and to be honest, I don’t think they get much out of it.

        Heh. They get heaps out of it. They’re an advertising company. They’ll be able to put ads into your games. They’ll be able to track whether your eyes are looking at ads. They will find out more about what you like based on the games you play.

        It also gets another generation of people to create Facebook accounts, since it’s fairly unpopular with the later millenials and ‘zoomers’.

        VR has the potential to set the entire direction of Facebook for the next 10-15 years. Right now 98% of their revenue is from advertising, Oculus gives them a genuine way to extend revenue into hardware and software sales, create a game storefront like Steam but for VR where they get a 30% cut of all sales, and potentially pivot into other consumer space products such as phones once they’ve built up the expertise of their hardware division.

        VR is the future and Facebook are at the forefront of it.

        1. The Puzzler says:

          I doubt VR is a major part of the future. If people cared that much about immersive visuals, they wouldn’t be getting most of their electronic entertainment from their phones.

          1. Lanthanide says:

            I mean using your logic, PlayStation VR wouldn’t have sold 5 million units by the end of 2019, because apparently people prefer to watch YouTube on their phones. Or something.

            I think Zuckerberg knows what he’s doing.

  2. Daimbert says:

    The one clue here is that this began happening right after the latest Windows update. I wonder if they added some horrific new “smart” volume system that tries to do your thinking for you.

    Probably. I had noticed with my work laptop that when I powered it on for the day or when it went in and out of complete powersave mode that it would crank my volume up pretty high. I really didn’t get why it would do that and now that I’m working from home it doesn’t matter, but, yeah, my experience is that it WILL reset your volume without telling you.

    So, how does the Halloween vs. Christmas thing stack up in your part of the world?

    Up in Canada, I haven’t noticed much difference. One reason for Hallowe’en decorations picking up might be that you can get better ones now than you used to, so they don’t look as cheap if you buy them and you don’t have to make things yourself to make it work. This followed on from shifts and improvements in the Christmas decorations, but you didn’t need a lot of fancy decorations to do a good Christmas display, and it was always more important to just HAVE one. But no one would want to decorate that much for Hallowe’en unless it looked good.

    I also wonder if the expansion of TV and Internet could be responsible as well. There are so many more good movies for Hallowe’en than there are for Christmas, and not very many songs, so you both can spend a lot of time watching Hallowe’en media but there aren’t the sort of songs that you get sick of long before Christmas. That might tie into the adult/children divide you talk about since there are things that adults can get into that aren’t saccharine sweet or overly repetitive.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think there’s also more general availability of Halloween supplies now than even a decade ago. The electronics / computer industry is so well-established, that I think it’s causing some spill-over into other areas. The supply-chains, computer-controlled factory equipment, etc – those have to make churning out Halloween smoke machines and spooky decorations easier. :)

  3. Lino says:

    Regarding Halloween, here in Bulgaria (South-Eastern Europe if you’re too lazy to Google it), we’ve seen an increase in the popularity of Halloween. Initially it was just kids, but now there are more and more venues holding Halloween-themed parties. Since it’s not that widely adopted. trick-or-treating is mainly done to friends’ houses, but one year we did have some trick-or-treaters come to our house. Thankfully, the “trick” part of trick-or-treating hasn’t shown up, but who knows.

    In general, I think people are cool with it. Of course, there is the occasional “Boycott Halloween” Facebook post, along the lines of “I’ll put on a Halloween costume when those Americans put on a martenitsa!” Or, another one I really like: “The land of kukeri doesn’t need Halloween!” Even though both of these Bulgarian holidays don’t clash with Halloween – neither date- nor theme-wise, and have retained (and even increased in popularity) their popularity. Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, is a bit of a problem, because it’s superseded a traditional Bulgarian holiday. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles, I guess. Globalization, and all that jazz.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      Those costumes look amazing!

  4. Philadelphus says:

    Noita does seem to be slightly buggy after release (the dev version of the game that I use to test the mods that I’ve started making since Noita last came up on the show has been a bit crashy the last few days), but the devs have been releasing hotfix patches almost daily so it should be better soon (and to be fair, I haven’t actually had the non-dev version crash on me yet). While there are a ton of new things and improvements I think one of the most atmospheric is the improvements to the sound engine, with explosions now sounding properly “deep” and booming.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I haven’t had any trouble with crashes, but I’m using the stable release. No choice really, since I bought it on GOG.
      Yeah, the explosions are pretty satisfying now!

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Yeah, now that I’ve thought about it it really is just the dev version (which contains a lot of debugging stuff and is pretty much only used by modders testing things) that’s been crashing. There do appear to be a few bugs in the game—like Toxic Sludge Immunity seeming to cancel the next-most-recently taken immunity, or poison gas no longer causing poisoning—but given the rate of hotfixes I expect they’ll be taken care of pretty soon.

  5. Joe says:

    I remember the Halloween episodes of Roseanne back in the 90s. They were always the best ones IMO. But here in Oz, Halloween seems to have gotten big within the last 15 years. I say that because I have relatives 16 on down, and they grew up with it. So I agree with Shamus that the rise was probably around 2000.

    Okay, I think I’ve said this before here. But to me, if a game is on a storefront I don’t have, or it contains DRM, I’m not interested in playing it. There is no game with so much promise that will make me go through that kind of frustration. Mad Max was patched to add Denuvo. I uninstalled it that very day. You don’t get to treat me like a criminal.

    1. Lars says:

      Halloween rised due to television. Like you said Rosannes Halloween were the best episodes. Same goes for Treehouse of Horror in the Simpsons.
      Television shows like that are the reason why Halloween is not an US exclusive anymore.

      Other than that: Mexico celebrate its Dia de Muertos bigtime. Maybe the US didn’t wanted to fall behind and blew up the budget for its corresponding holyday.

      1. The Puzzler says:

        I remember watching those Roseanne episodes in the UK and thinking, Halloween must be a really big deal in America.

  6. Smosh says:

    Christmas is about a bunch of mixed up religious ideas, stressful gift-giving and meeting your whole family, including Uncle Frank who always makes racist comments and half the time Aunt Mary and Grandpa John get into a big argument about politics.

    Halloween is about dressing up in fun costumes, meeting friends that you actually like and having a few drinks together.

    It seems pretty clear why we prefer the latter.

    1. Addie says:

      Britain checking in.

      Our traditional holiday this time of year would be Bonfire Night on the fifth of November. Hallowe’en would normally be for the kids, maybe have a fancy dress party or something. A few days later, the adults can open up a few cans and stand around a nice big fire with their mates just as the nights are starting to draw in. And like you say, what could be better than that?

      We’re celebrating the anniversary of a failed Catholic plot to blow up the houses of parliament, so there’s opportunity to talk religion and politics too, if you feel like starting some controversy, but it is certainly not required.

      1. Thomas says:

        As someone with a birthday on 5th November, I’ve always irrationally treated Halloween as an unwelcome intruder on British celebrations. It definitely is on the this though.

        On the plus side, I’ve still never been trick or treated.

        1. The Puzzler says:

          I guess a similar competitive holiday clash in the US is that Thanksgiving is only a month away from Christmas and has a lot of thematic overlap (getting together with family and eating too much). We don’t have that in the UK, which helps keep Christmas special.

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    I imagine [the crunch] is over, they have to have gone gold by now

    Why on Earth would you think that’s when crunch ends? In the current year, standard operating procedure is to ship a game full of bugs you really don’t want players to see and deal with them in a day one patch.

  8. Mephane says:

    So, how does the Halloween vs. Christmas thing stack up in your part of the world?

    Germany here.

    Halloween is barely a thing over here. It exists as in various store will sell you cheap costumes, some decoration etc, but it is mostly only celebrated by a few, and ignored by majority.

    In its stead, we have a rich tradition of carnival (“Fasching”) which, depending on how important this is to you personally, can range from a single day in February where people wear costumes at parties and parades, to an entire “season” that starts in November already with various events, shows, parties and vast amounts of alcohol, lasting until February.

    Christmas on the other hand is a big thing here and not fundamentally different from the USA, albeit traditions like those huge front yard decorations don’t really exist primarily due to the lack of said front yards, especially if you are living in an apartment block (which most of us do). Instead, people tend to hang various types of still or animated lights into their windows or on their balcony, and of course lots of interior decorations including of course Christmas trees. Oh, and presents are exchanged and opened on the eve of the 24th, and not left under the tree until the next morning.

    That said, I don’t celebrate either holiday for various reasons, so there’s that.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Same thing in France. Halloween is basically a non-event, except for all the american media we consume (also children’s TV channels and the like will mabe get some Halloween theming).

      Trick-or-treating almost never happens, and is thought of as “that thing you see in american series”.

      1. LCF says:

        It was not a thing at all twenty years ago, then around 2001 we suddenly started hearing from the candy companies and the mass retailers who wanted to increase consumption, thus increasing their profit.
        I vividly remember even some mobile phone companies doing marketing around it.
        It’s not very well observed, yet some places (typically those with a bunch of young parents and/or young kids) have became annoyed by candy-beggars.
        At some point, my father has taken to turning off his door-bell on Halloween, so he would not be disturbed anymore. I don’t know if he still has to, though.
        For me and a couple of friends, it’s a reason to throw a costume party. Not this year, of course, due to Covid.
        Beside that, yes, France does not feel very impacted by this event. Big Sugar is not that influent.

    2. Asdasd says:

      One thing to consider is that, such is the proliferation of US popular culture, the bigger Halloween becomes over there, the bigger it becomes in the collective imagination everywhere else.

      Edit: this was already pointed out in literally the comment above this one. Reading fail ><

    3. Zak McKracken says:

      Halloween varies a lot throughout Germany. In the place where I grew up, there is St. Martin’s day in November, where children get lanterns (I still had ones with actual candles, and we went out alone — these days they’re all electric, and accompanied by parents…), go from house to house, sing songs (there’s a bunch of St. Martin’s day songs) and get candy. When we moved a bit eastward, we were surprised ” to see a very lively Halloween thingy a week before st. Martin’s day, including covering our door handle in toothpaste (because we weren’t home, and we hadn’t expected anyone either), and a week later, for St. Martin just a bunch of kids plus parents “parading” through the street, with lanterns, in silence. So it _has_ replaced local traditions in some places.

      In the UK, it’s a pretty lively thing by now. There’s not much trick-or-treating in the bigger cities but tons of private Halloween parties, and generally people in the streets dressed up and looking crazy.

      As to why: I blame movies :) I mean, some people in Germany think the judicial system works the same way as the US one, because that’s the one they know better.
      That, and people evidently do enjoy the “scary dressing up” stuff a lot, plus it works much better for stores selling Halloween stuff than just selling some lanterns and a bit of extra candy, so they’re advertising a lot more. In my perception, Halloween hasn’t detracted from Carnival/Fasching much, though. First because why not dress up twice a year, and second because Carnival also has a political dimension, and you only get that during proper Carnival.

      That said, when you come right down to it: All the purists are completely wrong anyway because all those traditional Christian holidays are themselves repurposed heathen traditions. Christmas trees were an ancient German winter solstice thing (a green tree in your house, and a huge meal on midwinter day), Easter eggs, bunnies and bonfires are all taken from Beltane (The spring celebration and fertility rite), Carnival (start of the fasting season before Easter) used to be a mix of traditions do drive out the winter spirits, merged with the Roman Saturnalia (where the slaves got to be masters for a day, completely let themselves go, and at the end one of them was sacrificed…), and Halloween derives from some pre-Christian Irish rite (sorry, I forgot what that used to be…). So … it’s actually completely normal to have these things mutate and migrate between cultures. It just maybe does it a bit faster now with all the communication stuff we’ve got these days.

  9. Gautsu says:

    Halloween got bigger because of sex. Look at all the top selling and most popular adult costumes. Look at liquor store sales charts. You rarely see people dressing up as sexy Santa or Mrs. Claus during Christmas. That and as you posit the internet; how to videos on kick ass make up and costumes are a hell of a lot easier to find

    1. Cilba Greenbraid says:

      I think this is correct. I think Halloween’s profile has risen in lockstep with the cultural acceptance of casual sex and sexual hedonism (even 20 years ago, it was far less “out in the open” than it is today; to pick one cultural marker, the TV show Sex and the City ran from 1998-2004, and was a controversial phenomenon in its time, but seems pretty tame by 2020 standards–single women have sex! A lot! Sometimes with more than one man in a year! Scandalous!)

      From the adult perspective, whichever Friday/Saturday is closest to Halloween is National Frat Party Weekend. It’s when adults of all ages are allowed and encouraged to pretend they’re in college.

  10. Joshua says:

    I’ve had a Windows update since August or so that keeps wanting to break my desktop. Every time it updates, my password sign-in box disappears so I can’t log in (even though my password is actually “”, so not being able to type it in shouldn’t make a difference). I’ve had to do a Start-up Repair twice which eventually ends up uninstalling the update and telling me it won’t update again for a month.

    I guess I need to figure this out eventually.

  11. Abnaxis says:

    For my part, Christmas is a holiday that I spend completely at other people’s houses. Typically (COVID will muck with it some) I have a celebration at my mother-in-law’s, a separate one at my father-in-law’s, a big reunion/get together/dinner at MIL’s separate from the smaller celebration, than finally one more celebration at my aunt’s house.

    I never did Halloween as a kid (diabetic) so I never really got into it, but if I did I think I’d be enthusiastic about a holiday I can celebrate at home without offending anyone. Even now that we have our own family, my wife and I are finding it hard to figure out how to have our own holidays without uprooting to shuffle here and there and everywhere.

  12. Nixorbo says:

    South Jersey born and raised – Thanksgiving kicks both Christmas and Halloween’s asses.

    That said, Halloween only seems faster-growing just because of how big of a juggernaut Christmas really is, from a cultural saturation point. Christmas is a month-long overwhelming juggernaut that saturates every corner of American culture. Halloween, on the other hand, is a fun little holiday and the first real excuse to throw a party, especially if your birthday is in winter or spring, since what, 4th of July? Halloween is going from a 5 to a 9 while Christmas is hanging out at 15.

    1. John says:

      I swear, Christmas is the longest two months of the year. I am grateful for the rise of Halloween. If Halloween did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it, if only to prevent retailers from breaking out the Christmas decorations and carols prior to October 31. I only wish that Thanksgiving were as big as Halloween. Then Christmas wouldn’t start until almost December.

      1. Thomas says:

        “If Halloween did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it, if only to prevent retailers from breaking out the Christmas decorations and carols prior to October 31.”

        I’m fairly sure that’s what happened.

        They’ve also got February on lockdown with Valentine’s day, and are steadily working on the commercialisation of Easter. Along with 4th of July in the US that makes sure there is no 3 month period without some reason to buy stuff.

        By the way I’ve heard American thanksgiving contains a lot of what’s put into UK Christmas – that you have a big roast meal with turkey, and go for a walk with the family and play board games / watch TV together etc. Do you also do that stuff again at Christmas?

        1. John says:

          More or less. They’re pretty similar holidays, apart from the turkey and the presents. I’d say that TV is somewhat more stereotypical of Thanksgiving than Christmas, but that may just be because there are more football games to watch at that time of year.

          1. Syal says:

            I think they both traditionally get turkey, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Christmas has less turkey just because Thanksgiving is so intertwined with it.

            Of course the biggest part of Thanksgiving is it’s always a Thursday, so you consistently get a four day weekend out of it.

        2. Nixorbo says:

          From what I can tell it varies from family to family – I grew up with a big Thanksgiving meal with all my aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents on my dad’s side and then a small, just my immediate family celebration for Christmas. After my grandparents died we haven’t really done that since and now I have both with my inlaws and my parents split Thanksgiving and Christmas between my sister’s family and me.

        3. Matt says:

          My wife’s family would literally re-do the Thanksgiving meal at Christmas. The exact same turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole (and other dishes), prepared the exact same way, in the exact same huge proportions, a month or less apart. It was a decade-long project to convince them to abandon their traditional Christmas feast in favor of a little variety. We now have a delicious beef tenderloin with totally different sides and everyone is much happier.

          1. tmtvl says:

            The exact same turkey? After a month? That thing must have been as stale as a day old baguette.

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              They didn’t have refrigeration back in the day either, so it was just in the oven that whole time to keep it from going bad.

        4. Daimbert says:

          It’s not quite but is pretty similar between the meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas in Canada, but Canadian Thanksgiving is in October (it was last Monday, in fact) so at least there’s a couple of months in-between …

        5. galacticplumber says:

          The feast is not always a thing on Christmas, though when it is the proportion of sweets is much higher than on Thanksgiving. Less simple candy like you’d see as the mainstay of Halloween, and more pastry and other homemade goodies. Party as opposed to feast, and a bit more fancy.

          I don’t always celebrate holidays, but I feel that if you do it they should FEEL different ya know?

      2. Fizban says:

        if only to prevent retailers from breaking out the Christmas decorations and carols prior to October 31.

        Maybe not the carols, but we didn’t even get halfway through October before the Christmas stuff started leaving the back room at my work this year. It’s kinda pissing me off- thanks to Christmas, Halloween basically hard stops at the 31st. And it doesn’t really do much before that: having the stores full of Halloween stuff is like half the actual holiday. So what’s this BS where we can’t even get to Halloween before we’re flooded with effing Christmas?

        1. Daimbert says:

          This year was a weird one, though, because there was a lot of talk about cancelling trick or treating in general. I noticed at my grocery stores that the Hallowe’en stuff started out being very prominently displayed and then kinda hidden the next week or so.

        2. Philadelphus says:

          I was talking to my brother who got a job as a Home Depot night stocker this year, and he said the same thing: it’s not even Halloween yet, and they’ve already began downplaying the Halloween stuff in favor in Christmas stuff. Where (on the calendar) will the madness end?

  13. Chris says:

    Netherlands here, Things are a bit weird here. Christmas is national get together day (like thanksgiving for Americans), presents are given on saint Nicolas’s day (5th of dec.). Kids going from house to house to get candy is on saint Martin’s day (11th of november). But instead of wearing a costume and saying trick of treat, you instead carry a paper lantern and sing a little song for candy. Halloween is practically non-existent until multinationals, the internet and international students introduced it. Students because its an excuse to dress up and party, multinationals since they want to sell candy and dont want to bother with local traditions, and the internet because it lets in foreign festivals.

  14. Redrock says:

    My first build was a mini-ITX, because, hey, who wants to learn to walk before they try to run. Went way better than expected, even though I failed to connect all that needed connecting twice, and got to experience that heart-sinking feeling when you press the power button, the lights turn on, things start spinning, but the monitor stays stubbornly, defiantly black. The worst thing, however, is applying the thermal paste. Not because of the action itself, that’s relatively simple, but because of all the worrying afterwards. Running the stress tests, trying to figure out whether your temps are within the norm or you screwed up somehow.

    Oh, and about 8 months later the pump in my AIO liquid cooler just died. Apparently, they do that. That was a fun afternoon.

    On an unrelated note, my Gravatar seems to be acting up, so I’ll have to figure that out.

    1. John says:

      My first build was a mini-ITX, because, hey, who wants to learn to walk before they try to run.

      Yeah, that’s pretty ambitious. I’d hate to have done mini-ITX and liquid cooling for my first PC build.

      I’ve always been tempted by mini-ITX because the space I need to put my PC in just isn’t that big, but the premium you have to pay for mini-ITX parts has always put me off doing it. Micro-ATX for me, I suppose.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Mini-ITX is my favorite now, and is the motherboard form factor for the last three computers I’ve built:
        http://peripheralarbor.com/gallery/v/Projects/Computer/
        Getting it all puzzle-boxed into the case can be a little more tricky, but the small size while accommodating a full size graphics card makes it all worth it.

        1. Redrock says:

          Hey, I’ve got the same case as you, the Coolermaster Elite 130. Which is a fantastic case. It’s practically the only part of my first build that I’m still keeping around, although finding an RTX 2070 Super that would fit was a bit of a pain, and I’ll probably need to get a new one whenever I decide to upgrade again, because by then your average GPU would probably be the size of a VCR.

          A note for the young’uns: a VCR is an ancient machine that The Old Ones used to watch moving pictures at home. It’s roughly the size of a PS 4 Pro.

  15. John says:

    For most of my life, I used either pre-built machines or laptops. It wasn’t until 2008 or so when my laptop died, I desperately needed a computer, and I had an extraordinarily small budget to work with that I built my first PC. It had the cheapest Intel dual-core CPU I could find, 2 GB of RAM, and no GPU, all thrown into the cheapest micro-ATX case I could find. I bought a new hard drive, but the rest of the components and peripherals–the optical drive, the monitor, the keyboard, etc.–were re-used from previous machines. All told, I think I spent $300 or less. It was the first computer I’ve ever owned that was slower than the computer it replaced.

    At the time, I found the building process extraordinarily stressful. (For various reasons, 2008 was a very stressful time in general.) I was convinced that I was going to break something. I was tense, angry, and afraid. My wife, who had a little previous building experience, finally stepped in and took care of the CPU and the memory for me, and thank goodness for that. What I’ve discovered in the years since is that a little experience and a little confidence go a long way. When I built a newer, nicer machine in 2015 things went very smoothly and I didn’t find it stressful at all. I knew approximately how much force I’d need to get the CPU and the memory set and how unlikely I was to damage them in the process. I’d learned to install PCI cards in the intervening years so installing the GPU wasn’t a problem either.

    The funny thing is that my wife and I have more or less reversed our positions on PC building. I’m all for it now, but she’s no longer convinced it’s worth the trouble. She’s not really an enthusiast and only ever built her own PC in the first place because it was cheaper that way. She’s no longer convinced that’s true and these days goes for laptops and refurbished business machines. I, on the other hand, have become something of an enthusiast, if only in a low-key, unlikely to ever spend more than $200 on a GPU kind of a way. I spent seven long years gaming on a potato and I’m not eager to go back. But nor am I eager to pay the gamer tax on even a low-end pre-built gaming PC. I can’t bring myself to pay for an all-new PC when there are so many parts in my current PC that I can re-use. In particular, I really like the dimensions of my current case and I love the front IO. The kind of generic mid-tower case I’d get from a typical pre-built machine wouldn’t work nearly so well for me.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Building your own machine can be cheaper, but I’m not doing it anymore because of bad luck. My computer was going to be medium-priced, but then got extra customs and duties I wasn’t expecting, and a dead motherboard, or dead RAM, or maybe both. I was already on the fence, since computer components are largely aimed at gamers now[1], so I think it’ll be a while before I try anything like this again. If I get lucky, Intel-based[2] everything-on-one-chip systems will become readily available where I am[3].

      [1] Power at any cost – energy, noise, money, size.
      [2] So I can play all my games from Steam.
      [3] Canadian customs is the worst. Instead of giving companies a nice website or set of APIs to get pricing for the things they sell to Canadians, just charge them after the fact. And open their packages – that’s great for security, getting an entire country to expect people fondling their electronics, and spam-/scam-looking letters asking for money. :|

      1. Moridin says:

        “computer components are largely aimed at gamers now”
        It’s more that the parts marketed towards gamers get the most attention. “The fastest gaming CPU ever made” gets more headlines than the same CPU limited to 65W TDP. Although low-end GPUs are a dying breed, mostly because integrated cards are now powerful enough to render them pointless, there are still some pretty good low-power GPUs available.

        1. John says:

          I really like that my 1050 Ti gets all the power it needs from the PCI Express connection and doesn’t require an external power connector. It’s darned handy. I expect I won’t be able to get away with that again when I upgrade some day.

        2. Echo Tango says:

          Yeah, if you want low-power, everything-in-one chips are pretty good already. You won’t be playing the fanciest or newest games, but if you’re 2 years behind on AAA games, you shouldn’t be doing to badly. Smaller budget games are generally not a problem at all, even when new. :)

        3. Redrock says:

          Personally, I don’t know a single non-gamer who owns a desktop PC and not a laptop or an all-in-one, although the latter are usually Macs, naturally. Not a single person. Certainly not anyone who’ve bought their PC in the last two decades.

          1. Fizban says:

            It weirds me the hell out the number of people at work (grocery store, but still) who apparently don’t have a computer. Oh they all have smartphones, some have tablets or laptops, and gaming consoles, but it’s bizarre having someone who thinks of themselves as a gamer or otherwise modern internet connected person, and yet can’t play PC games or do anything that their smartphone won’t let them. Particularly when someone says a desktop is too expensive, while talking about their $4, 6, 800 phone they replace every year. Bonus points if they complain about ads because they have no concept of adblock.

            1. Gautsu says:

              +1 this. I’m getting a PS5/Xbox Series X because I want to play next gen games.

              Or you know, just get a PC. Can’t argue the exclusives though

  16. Mersadeon says:

    About Halloween, I think one of the reasons might be because Christmas is a family holiday, while Halloween is kind of a party holiday. Considering that means Christmas is spent at home, likely with your parents, means it’s not quite as marketable (likely factors are also that we all have to live further away from our families on average and thus have to rely more on friends).

    Here in Germany, Christmas is still king. Halloween has mostly been an “American” thing that you might do for fun, but which has only recently, within my lifetime, become even a thing people regularly plan for. It’s mostly seen as an opportunity to get together with friends, with costumes often not even being required.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    I thought that Subversion was the thing that inspired Shamus to do Pixel City in the first place?

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Turns out that Pixel City has had several incarnations, the first of which was years before Introversion were even a company.

  18. Paul Spooner says:

    Since Shamus was too self-effacing to mention it during the show, here’s the Autoblography chapter about eating a pillowcase full of candy. https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=12754

  19. Grimwear says:

    In regards to Halloween I’ve always enjoyed it because I’m a fan of monsters. I loved all the different costumes and all the movies that were released to coincide with it. But as to how it works now? It’s weird. Shamus makes mention of getting popcorn balls and candy apples but I may have only ever seen one my entire life. And if I did get one it went right into the garbage. Homemade candy was a big no in my family, no clue who put what in it and therefore it needed commercial sealed packaging or nothing at all. Also having people sit outside watching stuff sounds great but up here in Canadaland that wouldn’t be feasible. We already have snow on the ground and current temperatures with windchill are at -16 celsius. Back when I would trick or treat it was always a fight with my mom forcing me to wear my winter jacket either under or over my costume and it just ruined the whole thing. I guess with Halloween nowadays kids are going to malls and just go from store to store getting candy? That seems so odd to me. But I have noticed that my neighbourhood gets less and less people each year. That may just be to the kids growing up and not coming anymore though.

    1. Joshua says:

      ” I guess with Halloween nowadays kids are going to malls and just go from store to store getting candy?”

      Here in the U.S., there’s been a trend over the past 10-15 years or so to do “Trunk or Treating” where they just do costumes and candy in a parking lot out of car trunks. This tends to be for safety reasons, and keeps the kids in the same social groups as their parents (it’s usually a church event).

      Personally, I’m disappointed in the practice. It makes perfect sense why people in rural areas or apartments might need a viable alternative, but I remember all of the excitement of walking through the neighborhood streets when I was a child and going up to strange houses, albeit usually with friends and/or parents nearby. But then again, kids these days are not nearly as free to roam around the neighborhood like my generation was in the 80s and earlier.

    2. Daimbert says:

      Also having people sit outside watching stuff sounds great but up here in Canadaland that wouldn’t be feasible. We already have snow on the ground and current temperatures with windchill are at -16 celsius.

      I feel compelled to defend my country with the classic defense: This is no ordinary storm!

      Seriously, Canada in most places isn’t usually that bad. The worst weather I’ve typically seen on Hallowe’en where I am — which isn’t the warmer West Coast or Southern Ontario — is kinda a chilly rain.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Over here in Rectangle-land, Halloween evening is usually one of the first snows. But yeah, it’s uaually not colder than like, -5. -16 seems like Winterpeg or maybe farther north in a different province.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I rescind my previous statement. It’s going to be like, -8 to -13 this week. Apparently I don’t know what temperature range is common for light snow. :|

          1. Daimbert says:

            We commonly get our first snowfall at about -5C lows, or generally right around 0C to be honest. So I think you’re in the right range, but are just a bit colder right now.

  20. Dennis says:

    >my recording volume is being randomized every week

    Do you have any other audio devices, and is your microphone USB? I remember you mentioning buying a guitar. It took me a while to discover a similar issue, but it had been happening for months.

    I have a headset I use for talking in games and Discord. It stays connected to the pink microphone input port. I play bass through Rocksmith 2014, so I have Ubisoft’s USB-to-1/4″ cable as well. I unplug that cable when I’m not using it.

    It seems every time I plug in the guitar cable, the volume for it in Windows (under Recording Devices) gets randomized. I finally dug into it when I got some strange errors in Rocksmith.

    Sadly I don’t have a fix. I’m not sure if I trust Microsoft or Ubisoft less, so I just curse them both while double-checking that volume is at 100 in Recording Devices every time I want to play guitar.

  21. Steve C says:

    With holidays I think it is more about the parents and what they have nostalgia for.

    For example my parents favorite holiday when they were kids was Christmas. Therefore when I was growing up they put most effort into Christmas. However Halloween was far more fun for me when I was growing up. I had a bad Halloween that made me stop as a kid. The good feelings and nostalgia remain. So Halloween is the holiday I’m willing to put the most effort into as an adult today.

    For me, Christmas was a real drag as a kid. Being dragged around to the homes of people I barely knew. To houses I had no emotional connection to. Often with personality clashes, family drama, and unpleasantness. With all sorts of annoyances like buying gifts and picking out Christmas cards. You know what is far less popular with Gen X today? Giving cards. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

    My family did not celebrate Thanksgiving as a child. As an adult, I’ve had a few good Thanksgivings so I’ve warmed up to it a lot now. On the flip side, I had a few rotten birthdays as a kid so I don’t like them as an adult. I have no nostalgia for birthdays.

    tl’dr: Nostalgically speaking, Halloween is net positive. Christmas is net negative. Thanksgivings are slightly positive. Birthdays are very negative. Everyone will have their own personal nostalgia ratings. I’m willing to bet the holidays people put the most effort into today are ones adults think back most favorably on as a child. And that overall, Christmas was uncool for kids in the 80s-00, while Halloween was cool.

    I bet Halloween in 20 years will not be nearly as popular. 2020’s Halloween is going to suck due to 2020. Kids today will remember that.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I bet Halloween in 20 years will not be nearly as popular. 2020’s Halloween is going to suck due to 2020. Kids today will remember that.

      I’m not so sure about that. Even as we can see from the comments here, one of the reasons for the rise of Hallowe’en recently might well be that you can do so many different things in the spirit of the holiday, which isn’t true of pretty much any of the others. If parents are on the ball, they’ll put together fun things for the kids to do that are still in the spirit, like dressing up and posting pictures of the costumes, getting candy themselves like you get at Easter, and watching horror movies and shows and specials with appropriate mood lighting, or even playing horror-themed games (I actually own two board games, one zombie and one more generic horror, that encourage people to play the included soundtrack while playing the game to set the mood). Hallowe’en is probably the one holiday — Valentine’s Day might be the other — that can most easily adapt to what’s happening right now.

  22. Content Consumer says:

    But in the last 20 years it feels like Halloween has made huge strides.

    I kinda worry that eventually we’ll start talking about the “Halloween Creep” and stores will start putting up their halloween decorations two months early.

    1. Syal says:

      Sepoooky!

  23. Matt says:

    I blame the rise of Halloween on the arrested development of millennials. It seemed to me as if adolescence was treated as extended childhood and young adulthood was treated as extended adolescence. One relative in her mid-twenties is ascribed no agency whatsoever as she flits from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, and scene to scene. Why shouldn’t our holiday celebrations follow this trend?

    1. Gautsu says:

      While not commenting on the second half of.your post why do you see the rise of Halloween as a bad thing?

      1. Matt says:

        I’m not a fan of socially sanctioned hooliganism, inebriation, and raunchiness, which often seem synonymous with adult-oriented Halloween celebrations. These were annoying enough when I was in college, but I find them irresponsible and a little pathetic as one gets older. I don’t like St. Patrick’s Day for similar reasons.

  24. guapimao says:

    So, how does the Halloween vs. Christmas thing stack up in your part of the world?

    In New Zealand, Halloween is the reason we get cheap lollies – candy – in November. It’s generally considered smart to buy a bag in case one or two people show up at your door. I don’t think we ever fully got the idea, and throughout my life Halloween has either remained equally irrelevant or became less so.

  25. RFS-81 says:

    Just a heads-up about the subject of your upcoming video: Apparently, Jason Schreier has talked to an ex-employee of CDPR who claims crunch has been going on since May 2019. I think the general point you made about crunch in the past stands, but it’s not clear if CDPR is indeed a good example.

    Now for something completely different. I’ve started playing Prey last week. I don’t normally care much about spoilers but this time, I’m so glad that I went in nearly blind. I hope you someday get around to writing a series about it, Shamus!

  26. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Halloween is kinda making some forays here as a sort of “entertainment holiday” but it’s also encountering some resistance. On the one hand I’ve seen a few houses put up some, relatively small scale, decorations and once, about five years ago I think, had two kids and a mom knock on my door asking for candy but it’s definitely not a standard thing here. Where it does show up is definitely in themed club parties and I think international chains are trying to push some pumpkin flavoured products, they don’t seem to be very popular. On the other hand the following All Saints’ Day is a very somber occasion celebrated with all gravitas stemming from historical and patriotic sentiments, so there is some resistance to anything Halloween related as an attempt to undermine the seriousness of that and also, mostly from the Catholic church, as a “pagan derived holiday”… which… let’s just not get into this based on the “no religion” rule.

    Then again I think the push for Halloween is likely to continue, at least as far as having themed parties and decorations is concerned, since we don’t really have a lot of social holidays in this period and Christmas is very much a family celebration (often of the “all the extended” kind, I guess since we don’t have Thanksgiving we have to have the awkward silence at the dinner table at some point in the year). Now that I think about it we generally don’t have a lot of holidays that involve… uh… fun I guess? Like literally only New Year’s comes to mind. So I guess there is room for some of that. Or if you’re more cynical than I imagine stores would not mind being able to make people buy more than just grave candles in the season.

  27. Olivier FAURE says:

    My take on HLA’s story is the same as my take on every other Half Life: mediocre story, fantastic storytelling.

    I mean, HLA is basically “you go from point A to point B, then you go into a spooky magical spaceship, then there’s a cliffhanger”. It’s the dialogue with Russel, the power progression, and the interactions with throwaway NPCs that make it worthwhile.

  28. Webternet Rando says:

    The atmosphere and gameplay of the prior Half Life games were unparalleled, but the point of the narrative only seems to be to keep the plates spinning as long as possible with no resolution reached.

    Half Life 1: Black Mesa incident ends, Freeman’s fate ends on cliffhanger.
    Half Life Opposing Force – Ends with character’s fate as cliffhanger.
    Half Life Blue shift – Yeah, I guess this one had closure.
    Half Life 2: Ends on giant bang, with character fates as cliffhanger.
    Half Life 2 Ep 1: Ends on giant bang, with character fates as cliffhanger.
    Half Life 2 Ep 2: Ends on that ending, with character fates as cliffhanger.
    Leaked plot for HL3 by Marc Laidlaw – turned out the plan was to end with character fates as cliffhanger.

    This is probably unfair to the series, but the only controversy I could see from Alyx is that maybe it has a narrative that tells a complete story?

    At what point does concluding a narrative thread become unfaithful to a series when most entries in the series seem determined to end with cliffhangers that may never be resolved?

    1. Syal says:

      At what point does concluding a narrative thread become unfaithful to a series

      Never. I guess it could be unfaithful to the authors, but never to the series. The audience needs a place to set their feet; keep the audience perpetually hanging and eventually they’ll fall off.

      1. Webternet Rando says:

        Yeah. I think this is a good take.

    2. Nixorbo says:

      At what point does concluding a narrative thread become unfaithful to a series when most entries in the series seem determined to end with cliffhangers that may never be resolved?

      Found JJ Abrams’ burner account.

      1. Webternet Rando says:

        Yep, you got me. Sorry for Star Wars everyone!

        All joking aside, I think that JJ Abrams is a good comparison, as the TV show Lost seemed similar to Half Life in that it always ended on cliffhangers, and dropped great hints about a larger world that it just never seemed to deliver on.

  29. evilmrhenry says:

    Re: Refrigerator

    You might want to do a cost-benefit calculation on replacing your fridge anyway. The fridge might be from the 80s or something, and modern fridges are much more efficient.

    (Likewise with boilers. I think you live in a bad area for heat pumps, but modern boilers are much more efficient, and an upgrade could easily pay for itself, especially if it’s original to the house.)

  30. Duoae says:

    I had to laugh as i read through Shamus’ 2013 computer post, especially at the graphics part. It was very akin to the fake/mistold apocryphal Bill Gates story…

    Paraphrasing: “GTX 650 is amazing and all games manage 30 fps. Who would need more?!”

    I guess we should always expect that people will need more. :) Though, i don’t know what they plan to do once they reach the 3nm node…

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