Diecast #364: Wheel of Rust Potion

By Shamus Posted Monday Nov 29, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 195 comments

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. The Christmas Shopping season has begun, the Steam autumn sale is in full swing, award season is here, and it has begun snowing in my part of the world.

I just noticed that Christmas and New Years fall on Saturday this year. We normally record the show on Saturdays. Rather than try to schedule around this, I think we’re going to take those weeks off.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

00:00 Veloren

Link (YouTube)

06:11 Rust Drama

I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t know anything about this community or how it works. But the resignation of the Rust Moderation Team contains juuust enough details to create curiosity and rubbernecking.

10:03 Batman Streams!

This week I’ll be teaming up with Chris from Ramblepak64 to stream Batman: Arkham Origins. The stream begins at 8pm Eastern Time on Tuesday November 30th. This link should give you the time in your local time zone. We’ll be streaming the game on Twitch.

12:10 Potion Craft

Link (YouTube)

22:11 Wheel of Time

As someone who hasn’t read the books, I’m kinda on the fence. As of Episode 3, I’m less interested in the overarching plot and more interested in individual scenes, situations, and locations.

But what I really want to know is: What do book fans think of this show?

33:41 Mailbag: Violent Games

Hello, Shamus and Paul.

There was an interesting thread on Twitter about how games are a very young medium, and we are still exploring all the possibilities to represent the real world or create new ones. TLDR of the thread: 1) most games are violent (having big and visible change on the game world) because it is easy to create an immediate feedback loop (shoot stuff – get points – monkey brain happy) 2) and because we are on 20th iteration of 3d shooters, 3rd iteration of photo games, 0th iteration of anything else possible.

What are your thoughts on that? Do you have some ideas what some non-violent games could look like? Paul, do you filter games you let your kids play based on how immediate/violent the response they get from the game?

Best regards, Ilya.

And here is the Errant Signal video that I think sums up the situation really well. Chris Franklin has created a lot of great essays, but this is one of my favorites.

Link (YouTube)

42:12 Mailbag: Chet Faliszek on Designer Notes

Dear Diecast,

Have you heard the recent interview with Chet Faliszek? (https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/chet-faliszek) I thought it might be relevant to your (i.e., Shamus’s) interests. My favorite part is the secret origin of Old Man Murray as a grey-market games reseller.


This podcast is amazing. A must-hear for anyone interested in the goings-on at Valve Software.

54:54 Mailbag: Good Design, Bad Design

Dear Diecast,

I recently watched Design Doc’s latest video on “Good Design, Bad Design” to do with UIs in video games. I thought it was very interesting and wondered if you had your own best and worst picks for game UIs? Do you have a preference for UI type: non-diegetic vs diegetic? And any other thoughts on the topic, if you feel so inclined?

Kind regards,


From The Archives:

195 thoughts on “Diecast #364: Wheel of Rust Potion

  1. Frozengrowl says:

    But what I really want to know is: What do book fans think of this show?

    No, you don’t want to know ;)

    Been a fan of the books for quite a long time, reread the whole series about three months back. And I won’t touch the TV series with a two rivers longbow. Simply because all material that I’ve seen before looks so CHEAP. Like, I don’t know where the money went. The casting I’m ambivalent on – some actors fit my headcanon, some don’t, but no one is a fail.

    The changes to the book range from “Yeah, they had to make changes SOMEWHERE” to “why the hell would they do that?!?” – (spoiler for Ep 1)Giving Perrin a wife and having him kill her 30 minutes later comes to mind.

    Additionally I don’t have much trust in the writers for a faithful adaption given that they have stated on multiple occasions that this won’t be a direct adaption but a different turning of the wheel*, which gives them carte blanche on whatever changes they want to make, basically saying “Your arguments are invalid, since this ISN’T the original story from the get go”.

    We’ll see how far they’ll go, and if their changes actually impact the story negatively, but I don’t have much hope, and I don’t have enough free time to invest myself into what I perceive to be a lackluster cash-in on GoT’s hype.

    *spoilered for those who have no idea what’s going on, since I don’t know if they explain this in the first few episodes;
    WoT world runs on some kind of cyclical history: The basic, broad events reoccur every X thousand years. Each time with different people playing the parts, and different details, but the overall gist is the same. In LotR terms think of it like this: Every 5000 years some bad guy looses his macguffin, and a thousand years later a small group of people need to destroy the macguffin. it’s a bit more detailed than that, but what it isn’t is that each cycle it’s a hobbit named Frodo with his friends. A different turning of the wheel should be MORE different than they make the show out to be. But here they adhere too close(-ish) to the books, while on the other hand wanting to make sweeping changes to the cast, characters and worldbuilding.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      There can never be a faithful adaptation of Wheel of Time because most fans literally agree that 3-5 books in the series are outright unreadable and that cutting down a lot of the filler in the books (which makes up about 50-60% of the series) is absolutely necessary.

      Right now, I’d say the WOT show is more faithful than Netflix Witcher but I’ll expect it to become an even looser adaptation by the third season when they start compressing entire books into each other (since the current plan for the entire show is an 8 season, 8 episode each run).

      Simply because all material that I’ve seen before looks so CHEAP. Like, I don’t know where the money went.

      Probably Rosumand Pike, the on-site filming locations, and the various special effects.

      1. Frozengrowl says:

        Addendum to make a point clear:

        Adaptions need to change stuff, that’s a given. And the WoT books have a metric ton of stuff that can and should be trimmed, especially in the middle books (and, rightly, that should have happened in the books, too). What gets me with stuff like this is if they
        a) excise important parts just to make changes or
        b) add parts that don’t need to be there, since that means they have to cut even more of the original parts, and sooner or later (later in the case of WoT, I’d think) they always get to the point where they NEED to cut vital parts of the original to cram their own in there.

        A good example would be LotR again – cutting Bombadil was A-OK. Nothing of value was lost. Adding the whole Arwen subplot in Movies 2 and 3, on the other hand, was stupid, unneccessarily broke the lore, and made the movies longer without adding to the story. They just wanted their love story in there.

        1. John says:

          For anyone familiar with Elrond’s backstory in the books, his behavior regarding Aragorn and Arwen in the movies is definitely odd. Elrond’s family has been through this kind of thing before. He’s called Elrond Half-Elven for a reason. Elrond knows what pride and stubbornness cost his great-grandfather Thingol and he strikes me as too wise–and also too nice–to repeat Thingol’s mistakes. But for people who aren’t familiar with Elrond’s backstory, I suppose “immortal father disapproves of daughter marrying a mortal” probably seems quite natural. I assume that Jackson guessed–probably correctly–that most of the people who watched the movies wouldn’t be familiar with Elrond’s backstory and thus wouldn’t object to his extremely abbreviated recapitulation of the Tale of Beren and Luthien.

          Speaking of Beren and Luthien, I’ve always thought that the Tale of Beren and Luthien would make for a really good movie. It’d be a heck of a lot easier to adapt for the screen than Lord of the Rings was, too.

      2. Jennifer Snow says:

        The first book in the series was literally a complete beginning-middle-end and should have also been the LAST book in the series. I am kinda hoping that’s the approach they take with the show and they are planning on ending things where the first book ended. If they actually try to do Jordan’s ENTIRE saga it’s going to degenerate into a pile of slop worse than Game of Thrones and get cancelled around season 4 or 5.

        I got, what, about 8 books in and reached a book where literally nothing happens for the entire novel. ALL of the characters are on the road traveling from point A to point B at the start, and at the end ALL OF THEM ARE STILL ON THE ROAD TRAVELING FROM A to B.

        Jordan wrote himself into a hole and basically got out of it by dying and having Brandon Sanderson take over. I’m lukewarm about Sanderson as well but at least he can write an ENDING, although last I checked he still doesn’t grasp how suspense works.

        The whole thing with Perrin having a wife was added because a lot of the aspects of Perrin’s character are all internal personality issues that do NOT translate well into observable action in a movie/tv format. Deciding that was unworkable and re-writing was going to be necessary anyway. People who do stuff in both media (Neil Gaiman) make those sorts of changes to their OWN work all the time.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          The show is adapting the entire series but I think the showrunner has said before that he plans to heavily condense the infamous slog and has a general outline for a eight season run for the show so I don’t think anyone has to at least worry about three or four entire seasons about nothing.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          The first book in the series was literally a complete beginning-middle-end and should have also been the LAST book in the series. I am kinda hoping that’s the approach they take with the show

          This is a good point. I think there’s a good fantasy story in the Wheel of Time, some decent ideas, and an ocean of bloat and meandering. A much-trimmed-down version that only took up 2-3 books could be a really good thing.

    2. Steve C says:

      Like Paul, I heard a lot of buzz about Wheel of Time in the early 2000s. Got a copy of the first book. Found it was going nowhere slow. I kept with it longer than I should. I think I got a 3rd through before I got fed up with it.

      I gave the first episode of the show a watch. Well the first 3rd of it. The acting/directing was not good. Felt like amateur hour at the local playhouse. All trying to convey subtext and hidden messages with looks. Which is better than dialogue if done right. Problem is the actors not having the acting chops to pull it off.

      Like the story, the TV show didn’t give me a reason to care about the characters within a reasonable amount of time.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Like Paul, I heard a lot of buzz about Wheel of Time in the early 2000s. Got a copy of the first book. Found it was going nowhere slow.

        Hey, hey, that’s unfair! The pace of the first book is frikkin’ light speed compared to some of the later entries! Stuff happens! People go places! Stages are set! There’s a managable number of characters to keep track of!

        …I guess what I’m saying is you did well to get out early. I gave up somewhere in the morass of books 5-8, and only read the entire series by borrowing other people’s books long after the series ended.
        Not worth it.

      2. Jennifer Snow says:

        Yeah that first episode or two was rough, but they had a LOT of characters to introduce in a very short amount of time (and yet they still spent a bunch of time on side stuff you didn’t need to know about at that point in the story). You can basically fast-forward through the entire first episode and then it gets substantially better, IMO, but from all you can tell the first episode is 100% pure bog-standard cliche fantasy trash with orc sprinkles on it. Excuse me, “Trollocs”.

        They needed to spend more time on the Mat-Rand-Perrin-Egwene-Nynaeve relationship circle and basically cut out all of their interactions with family and so forth.

        It might even have been better if they’d STARTED the show with them ALREADY on the road and then let their former lives come out organically through storytelling. I’m not GENERALLY a fan of In Medias Res (at least, in video games), but I think it might have worked well here and made for a much better first episode.

    3. CrushU says:

      Regarding the episode one spoiler, it sets up his primary character conflict over the course of the series in a very succinct way. Too succinct, it could be argued, but it’s hard to think of a better way to drive home the point that he’s got to make a decision between the hammer and the axe in such a short time.

      Regarding the ‘this is another turning of the wheel’, I’ve not actually heard that? Sounds interesting, would you happen to have a link to that?

      Honestly, the fourth episode touches on a few of the reasons why a lot of fans didn’t expect a visual series to ever get made… Channeling in the books is not very visual, there’s a lot of description and internal feelings related to it… So getting to see a pretty good visual for channeling is very nice. Especially how you can place each thread in a weave being related to an element…

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Regarding the ‘this is another turning of the wheel’, I’ve not actually heard that? Sounds interesting, would you happen to have a link to that?

        From Rafe Judkins’ reddit AMA, which has some other interesting info on the show like a certain prologue being moved to a much later time.

        1. CrushU says:

          Oh man that AMA was great.
          The small bit about ‘another turning of the Wheel’ didn’t… really sound convincing? More of a ‘if it helps you justify this to yourself, go for it.’

      2. Frozengrowl says:

        Thanks to MerryWeather for finding the AMA. I’ve seen the link to it in one of the rather… unpleasant… Threads over on GitP about WoT.

        About the conflict: As mentioned in my reply to Doodlydoot a few posts below, they’re not setting up his conflict from the books. They’re replacing it with a different conflict. Maybe they’ll pull it off (and make him a better character. His arc was getting pretty boring as the books went on), but I simply don’t believe they will. Same with the other big change I mentioned below. And with that change I’m even less confident, because THAT characters arc was good in the books, so I wonder why they did it – what were they trying to improve?

        Well, anyways, that were my 2 cents. I’m going to stop raining on the enjoyers parades with my slightly negative indifference now :)

    4. Doodlydoot says:

      Maybe I just haven’t reread the series recently enough, but it does feel like you’re getting hung up on what seem to me to be pretty arbitrary points. WoT was literally never going to make the transition to visual media intact, the same way that even LOTR wasn’t able to (possibly even worse). The thing I personally care about is that they capture the feeling of the series and hit the major plot points and character arcs. If they miss big stuff I’ll definitely be upset, though.

      I will say that the Trollocs looked pretty bad. They had a very Star Trek: TOS “guys in rubber suits” feel, but it seemed like the cinematography did everything possible to obfuscate that fact. I do like how they’re representing channeling so far, though I’d like to see some more clear labeling of the elemental threads in each weave.

      I figure I’ll keep watching for now. It started shaky and a bit plodding but seems to be improving somewhat. I hope they really find their stride.

      1. Chris says:

        And here I am thinking the trollocs are one of the things the show gets right. They look properly bestial, right down to some of them moving on all fours. Some of the animations look cheap in spots, but I was happy to not get store brand orcs like I’d feared.

        The absence of characterization, stakes, and context as the show sprints from rushed set piece to set piece is the greater problem, imo.

        1. Doodlydoot says:

          When they’re doing proper Trolloc things like sprinting on all fours and such it think they look pretty good. Just their combat sequences looked a little janky in my opinion.

          Regarding the stakes: as far as I remember, the stakes are not particularly high for the first 50% of the book. It’s pretty much the various POV characters meandering from point to point. A few things happen here and there, but I distinctly remember things not starting to get serious until at least shadar logoth. I think they are also doing a pretty good job so far of keeping the identity of the dragon reborn hidden, this far in the show at least.

          1. Fizban says:

            I’m fairly certain the close combat shots tall guys in fur suits- you can tell ’cause they’re smaller and lose the sheen that the cg versions have. Overall I find them a little Warhammery/zomg horns, but I was expecting more gorilla and find these sufficient.

      2. Frozengrowl says:

        Just in case I came off too harsh above: I’m not hanging myself up on that instance – that’s just the most egregious one I heard of, so far, followed by Moiraine healing Mat of the Dagger in a later Episode. It’s just that from what I’ve heard nothing of what they’ve adapted was done “good”, just “good enough”, and what they changed ranges from “OK, I guess” to “Why would they do THAT”.

        But all criticism consists of “pretty arbitrary points” – What else should they be? They changed two major character arcs so far, undercutting Perrins arguably undeserved guilt about the Whitecloaks death and replacing it with the well-deserved guilt about his wife’s death and basically the whole of Mats character development during books 1, 2 and 3(?) or whenever he was properly healed from the dagger.

        If you like it, more power to you. Always great if people finde something to like. Don’t let my grumbling and general MEHness for the series detract from that.

        I’m also not shouting my hatred for the series out into the wind. It’s just that as a fan of the books, the series does not inspire enough confidence in me to invest my limited free time and energy into this.

        1. Doodlydoot says:

          Are there leaks online I don’t know about? Your spoiler references something that definitely hasn’t happened yet as far as I’m aware. Unless episode 5 literally just came out…

          I will say that it would be silly to just solve the dagger subplot so easily, given how much the dagger is supposed to color Matt’s character.

          I guess I give more leeway to the earl changes to the Perrin story, as his original arc felt pretty bland when I read it, up until he actually started getting some more meaty interactions with the world and his own unique talents. The wife-fridge thing was poorly handled, but I appreciate that it at least gives Perrin some early characterization that always felt rather shallow in the early books. And this gives him a bit of a tie-in to later in the story (assuming the do it right).

          Sorry if I came off dismissive of your opinion, as that wasn’t particularly intended. A common theme in print to visual adaptations, though, is people finding myriad points of irritation. I have my own nitpicks with how they’ve handled some elements, but as I think I mentioned previously I simply haven’t re-read the series recently enough to be highly invested in the accuracy of the Eye of the World plotline.

          1. Jennifer Snow says:

            I’m generally viewing it as a new fantasy series to watch, as I will never, ever, ever, under any circumstances re-read those books.

          2. Frozengrowl says:

            Crap, yeah, seems like that might’ve been a leak. Apparently some people got to see the first 6 episodes. That’s what I get for not watching the show, I guess :)

            So consider the above second character story a rumour based on alleged leaks and disregard until it really happens.

            Sorry if I came off dismissive of your opinion, as that wasn’t particularly intended.

            Nah, you’re good. I tend to overexplain my standpoint sometimes, and since english is my second language I’m sometimes not sure if I explained it sufficiently. No offense taken, all’s well :)

    5. Retsam says:

      Overall I think the adaptation has been really solid, especially in the later episodes that have started introducing more of the Wheel of Time-specific bits of lore. The magic actually looks really good, which I thought would be a real challenge for the series, and they aren’t cutting nearly as much as I expected/feared they might: a lot of smaller details for fleshing out the world that I had thought might get cut, weren’t.

      I do have a few complaints: some of their changes feel unnecessarily “grimdark”, like they’re chasing Game of Thrones in style, which doesn’t really fit the original books. The bit with Perrin’s wife and Mat being a thief and having abusive parents. And there’s one change in particular that’s I think is unnecessary, confuses the underlying lore, and occurs within the first 30 seconds of the show:

      This whole “we don’t know if the Dragon is male or female bit”, confuses the underlying lore and really just doesn’t make sense. A huge part of the ‘dragon’ idea is that he’s a male magic user who will inevitably go mad and destroy the world but might save it – women don’t go mad from using magic so the concept of a “woman Dragon” doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

      In the short term it enhances the mystery of who the Dragon is, since it puts a few more characters ‘in the running’, but I think it does more damage to the overall lore and consistency of the world. Plus all the gender stuff is super-important to the overall story of the books, and it’s the stuff I’ve always had the least confidence that an adaptation would get right, and a major change right out of the gate is not encouraging.

      I also think cutting/deferring the prologue – which has the best ‘hook’ for the overall story was a bit of a shame and leaves the first episode feeling even more “LoTR-clone” than it had to, burying the lede quite a bit.

      1. Will says:

        Yeah, the choice to go grim and dirty in the Two Rivers is annoying. This place is effectively the human Shire. A string of quaint little villages all but forgotten due to blessings of geography. I’m going to have to write a Shamus-style novella just to get to all the dumb decisions made in only the first four episodes.

        1. Alecw says:

          This !!! Thank you Will couldn’t have said it better.

      2. Syal says:

        Reading this, I have a sinking feeling that they’re going to make Egwene the Dragon. For political points, and also to turn her into knock-off Daenarys. Ilyene may or may not be the Dragon in the prologue.

        I don’t plan on watching to find out, but… let me know.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          Obviously not, the third episode already set up the reveal with Rand channeling a bit to knock a big strong door down to escape, his eyes slightly watering when he hears the song about Lews Therin, and not to mention the stuff with the Aiel.

        2. Retsam says:

          Yeah, the show-writers have already confirmed that Rand is still the Dragon – it’s not really that I thought they were going to change that… but that also kind of makes mucking with this bit of lore that much more unnecessary.

        3. BlueHorus says:

          I’ve got to say, I’m super excited for this idea of Egwene turning out to be the Dragon Reborn instead of Rand.

          Not for story reasons (it’d be a fuckin’ terrible twist) but because of the Internet’s reaction.
          Not only would it be a great opportunity to bring popcorn…you could even cook said popcorn over the dumpster fires that many forums would turn into!

          It’s both good and bad that it’s unlikely to happen.

          1. wswordsmen says:

            Considering that the show runner is on record for saying a much smaller part of the story changing “wouldn’t be the Wheel of Time” if it was removed. I think your hopes were a little high that they would be that dumb.

      3. Fizban says:

        Caught up the last few days (having a thread here got me to actually go start watching it) as for myself, having just watched episode 5, I’m. . . kinda oblong orbiting a “decent, let’s see where this goes.” They’ve thrown out almost all of the events of the first book so far (and added one that was never shown, Logain’s capture), but in a way, you could actually throw out nearly the whole first book and big parts of the second and third without a problem: there are certain things that need to happen to set up for later, but particularly if you’re cutting plots and cutting and merging characters you could rewrite a ton of stuff, and move around even more.

        And that’s just what they’re doing. Only a couple specific things have happened with little alteration, and a couple more with significant alteration, and the rest has been written to fill the gaps. Perrin’s stuff is a bit off, but lets them save space by showing us more of the Whitecloaks doing their thing I suppose. The world feels tiny and empty since instead of a journey through several towns of increasing sizes there’s just one stop in the backwater and a dozen shots of empty plains and rocks, before time skip and everyone’s at Tar Valon, but important characters can be brought up later when they’re going to matter (casting every character in the series so they can show up for 5 minutes now and then be gone for two seasons would be silly- and they started this fairly early in the pandemic, didn’t they?).

        So far it’s more than an “inspired by,” but it’s definitely at least as loose as the difference between say, Jurrasic Park movie and book. If Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones were good when they followed the books, this Wheel of Time show has apparently made the odd decision to reorder and rewrite huge swathes to the point that I feel like I’m grading them on the fanfic curve.

        The part that’s starting to annoy me is, well, it feels like a bunch of forced religion and tell don’t show stuff. No one really worships or makes offerings in WoT, not that I recall, and certainly not as a serious thing among those who use the power. But, episodes 4-5 have this whole thing with a Warder surviving the death of his Aes Sedai, and instead of showing us the man getting himself killed or being visibly left a shell of himself, they make up a big elaborate burial ceremony, and a “bringing her ring back” ceremony, and he’s sad but mostly stoic until he kills himself, and then there’s another made up funeral in a different style for him. Seriously, like three different overblown funerals in the same episode, all of them completely made up for the show, and giving everything an organized/cultish slant to relationships and proceedings that are supposed to be the opposite. And I can’t help but feel the point is because someone decided it was faster to waste a bunch of time here, rather than keep enough characters around to show it naturally when it’s actually supposed to happen and be important.

        So by episode: Ep1 is rough, changed a bunch of stuff and spotty execution, ep2 gets back on track halfway through, ep3 is fine, ep4 pulls an offscreen/before the story scene and uses it to good effect, and by the end of ep5 we’ve wasted like half the episode on off-brand crap.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          The part that’s starting to annoy me is, well, it feels like a bunch of forced religion and tell don’t show stuff.

          Kind of agree here. I watched Episode 5 today and thought in some ways, it was quite well done. I can’t remember that Warder’s name for the life of me, but the actor did pretty well, a lot the the scenes were emotional, and they communicated the conflicts that were going on (loved the detail of the sleeping herbs he got from Nynaeve) well. I fould myself caring about whatsisname, which is impressive given how little time we’ve spent with him…
          …and then after he died everyone put on white robes, got into a circle and thumped their chests while a guy in the centre of the circle screamed. It was like some kind of weird cult ceremony.

          I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was ‘off-brand crap’, but I had a very distinct ‘what the hell is this?’ reaction – especially after the two perfectly good grieving ceremonies that the episode already had. Given how quickly the show is rushing through central story beats, and the effort that’s been put into making almost all of the characters talk and act in ‘naturally’…
          …the choice of things the showrunners decided to dwell on are…interesting.

          1. Fizban says:

            I started out more just “what the hell is this?”, but the more I thought about it the more irked I got, particularly in comparison to the previous episode. One does a great reshuffle for tv, the other ass-pulled over and over until I felt like it was wasting time. Fingers crossed the don’t bring that stuff back- I’d rather a tacit admission it was superfluous than revisit it over and over and over.

    6. Alecw says:

      As a massive fan of the books, while acknowledging some of their shortcomings, this show is an unmitigated disaster from the first moment.

      Changing the opening scene of the series was a bad idea. That scene was dark, violent and vast in scope and sets the tone and the stakes better then the exposition dump in the show.

      And it goes downhill from there. Pike is too old to play Morraine. The ageless appearance of her order is a crucial plot point – and a plot point they work into the opening moments of the show! (If they had to use her, CGI her into having smooth skin uncanny valley would be a good thing here! She is described as looking basically like that).
      The characters are fundamentally different people than the book versions. Their background is different. I can’t reconcile these people with the books.
      Witcher wasn’t exactly faithful, but they captured the essence of the world and the characters well. I could go on, but the list of terrible decisions in the first episode alone makes it generic and dull. This will get canceled soon.

      Skip it and watch
      the His Dark Materials series instead, which is excellent.

      Oh and it really does look cheap. It was the comment all my book reading friends made. I can’t put my finger on it but the world just looks cut rate,

  2. Christopher says:

    When it comes to the violence question, like that OG tweet says, I think the problem is pretty much limited to the western AAA corner of video games. You look at that Most Sold Video Games list, and you get a bunch of non-violent games or games containing only cartoony or fantasy violence. Mario, Mario Kart, Pokemon, puzzle titles, sports titles, Minecraft etc. And then you get your CoD and your GTA. There’s plenty of nonviolent titles to go around, so I don’t think there is a problem with some devs filling that (frankly, very mainstream) need for blockbuster action games in generally mundane settings.

    But I do sympathize with the tweet. Personally it just sometimes makes me annoyed that those moneybags big dog devs pump out their Far Cries and CoDs and can’t get me another Rayman or Beyond Good And Evil over a decade out form the last ones if you see what I mean. But that’s a good reason to get on the Nintendo train, if you want your AAA big dog who only puts out a third person shooter if it’s got squid kids shooting paint around. You got Sony over here putting out Last of Us and God of War, and you got Nintendo over there putting out Animal Crossing and Super Mario Odyssey. That’s pretty balanced as far as I’m concerned.

    1. MarsLineman says:

      I’m not sure in what universe Mario Kart and Mario Odyssey aren’t considered violent. Mario Kart isn’t a cart racer, it’s a *weaponized* cart racer, with missiles (shells), mines (bananas), and literal bombs. Mario has been, from the very beginning, about jumping on creatures heads and squishing them. Try jumping on someone’s head (or throwing a fireball at them) in real life and see how non-violent that seems. Obviously Nintendo violence is very cartoony and abstracted, but it remains violence nonetheless (see also Zelda, Metroid, etc).

      Personally, I don’t think you can possibly remove violence from many genres of video games– it’s a fundamental part of the experience, releasing aggression in a way that doesn’t hurt people in the real world. Certainly there are non-violent genres of video games (simulations, puzzlers, visual novels etc), but when it comes to action-centric games (and even most types of RPGs), violence seems to be an intrinsic part of the experience

      1. Christopher says:

        For one, I said non-violent or cartoon or fantasy violence.

        For two, I think that’s a silly argument because the difference between the ESRB E for Everyone cartoon “violence” Nintendo is doing and the latest CoD is clear to everyone, including you. It’s technically accurate but like, really not the issue. No one’s gonna put a clip of Kirby swallowing an unaware waddle dee inside some M for Mature stealth takedown compilation as anything but a punchline, so I don’t think I said anything wrong about them being a viable alternative to the western AAA action games.

        1. MarsLineman says:

          You’re right, you did clarify that you meant cartoon or fantasy violence. Apologies for the dismissive tone.

          That being said, I don’t think that in a functional sense there’s much of a difference between cartoon violence and graphic violence (of the CoD/ Mortal Kombat variety) in video games. In either case the violence (no matter how it’s depicted) serves as an outlet for aggression. In other words, IMO you get the same sort of aggressive satisfaction from a “kill” in Splatoon that you do in CoD. There’s certainly a visceral reaction to more graphic depictions of violence, which separates the E ratings from the M ratings. And to me this graphic depiction is unessential to the core gaming experience and could certainly be toned down/ removed without negatively affecting basic satisfaction you experience. But to remove the violence entirely would be impossible without fundamentally changing gaming altogether. For example, you can easily remove the blood and guts from Mortal Kombat and be playing basically the same game from a functional perspective (play Injustice for example). But removing violence altogether would completely eliminate the entire fighting genre (and the FPS genre, and the platforming genre, and the action genre, etc etc). Which is why IMO it’s important to distinguish between what’s essential to the experience (violence) vs how said violence is depicted when you talk abot removing violence from games.

    2. Ilya says:

      OG tweet thread is less about violence and more about violent (bombastic, visceral – I am not a native English speaker – sorry, if it was unclear from the question) actions, i.e. actions that have very visible response and effect on the world. Author of the tweet postulates, that big studios cannot risk experimenting with more quiet and toned down gameplay, because bombastic games are selling well (because people are used to them), and only indie devs can move the frontier of games as a medium.

  3. Chris says:

    I haven’t read the wheel of time, I haven’t watched the wheel of time. But I do know that, if the series doesn’t have braid tugging, it’s not a good adaptation.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      No braid tugging, smooth skirting, folded arms beneath breasts, or BDSM spanking so far.

      1. G says:

        Well. There’s been one notable and lengthy braid tug…

      2. Joshua says:

        Smooth skirting?

        Was that an intentional or unintentional joke about skirt smoothing?

      3. Retsam says:

        No skirts have been smoothed? Au Contraire

    2. Retsam says:

      If it helps, Nyaneve’s second word in the entire show is “braid”.

  4. Moridin says:

    I haven’t watched the series (though unlike Frozengrowl, I’m inclined to consider giving it a shot), but I just wanted to point out to Paul that the main character DOES go insane eventually. It’s just not an instantaneous, “You touched saidin so now you’re insane” kind of thing.

  5. Olivier FAURE says:

    The Rust mod team was three people, who were in charge of moderation on multiple platforms (I think Discourse, Zulip and Github, but not Reddit).

    And yeah, the resignation message is infuriatingly vague. Like, I get that they don’t want to encourage gossip… but come on, if you’re going to stage a coordinated walkout, it’s a bit too late to worry about that. I wish they’d at least given a vague description of the nature of the problems.

    As it is, they just say “We recommend that the broader Rust community exercise extreme skepticism of any statements by the Core Team”, which… well, it’s basically “We’re not going to say what’s going on, but if they say something don’t believe them”.

    I still don’t get the mindset that would lead someone to stage a public resignation but then not disclose any information explaining why the resignation happened. I believe they’re acting in good faith, but it still seems really immature, especially compared to the usual level of communication of the Rust community (it’s really not a toxic environment).

    1. Will says:

      The mod team explicitly was willing to go into detail with actual Rust team members. Per comments made by some of the former mod team members, they made the resignation public because the fact that there’s currently no moderation team definitely matters to the broader community; but they didn’t include any details, because the specifics are internal governance issues which only concern team members, not the broader community.

      They were definitely in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. If they had been specific, discussion of the resignation would have immediately descended into litigation of the specific claims and/or witch-hunts.

      1. Geebs says:

        The whole thing was so impressively vague that I got about two-thirds of the way through the linked thread before I realised that they were actually talking about the Rust language, and not the sociopathy simulator.

        1. kincajou says:

          wait what!

          I had to read your comment

        2. Philadelphus says:

          Wait, it actually was about the language? I saw the post title and thought, “Oh cool, some discussion about the new up-and-coming programming language!”, glanced over the show notes and thought, “Oh, of course, it’s actually drama about the video game of the same name,” but it turns out I was right all along?? What a twist!

          1. Syal says:

            Asses to Asses, Rust to Rust.

      2. eldomtom2 says:

        Past experience has made me very dubious of anyone who says “I’d like to tell you, but legally I can’t”.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      “We’re not going to say what’s going on, but if they say something don’t believe them”

      It does make it hard to envision this getting fixed. Like presumably they want there to eventually be a new mod team. And since mod teams don’t just coalesce out of the aether, that team will have to be appointed by the core team. Who they don’t want anyone to trust.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Yeah, that’s the weird thing. The whole “The core team is only accountable to themselves” is, well, kind of how running a project works? Who else are they supposed to be accountable to? Somebody has to be in charge if you want any level of coordination. Somebody needs to be able to put their foot down and say “This is the direction we’re going in, end of discussion”. And that goes for both technical decisions and organizational ones.

        I’m very leery about someone who won’t make any specific accusations but who makes sure to dump and entire 55 gallon drum of poison down the well before leaving. If the mod team didn’t like how things were being run, then fine, take your ball and go home, but what it really sounds like is that they wanted to be the tail that was wagging the dog.

        1. Steve C says:

          One person putting their foot down isn’t necessarily how an open source project works. Which this is.

          Making authoritarian decisions can be the very antithesis of how it works. Especially if that authority is based on nothing. Or if that authority is ill-gained in perceived violation of previously stated values and objectives. Which appears to be at least the accusation here.

          You may not, but I tend to believe it when a large number of volunteers dump poison and walk. If something looks like a dictator has seized power in a coup, it probably is exactly that.

  6. Joshua says:

    I haven’t watched the series yet. I have already heard there are some changes as Frozengrowl said above. I do think that WoT is one of the few series where it might be really, really good to cut back some of the material, not just to adapt to the TV medium, but because the books really started bloating between 7 through 10. Even apart from that, it probably could have been condensed down from 14 books to about 7-8.

    I must say, it does amuse me to think of them adapting Book 10 to an actual season, just to wonder how many episodes it took before the series was cancelled.

  7. Henson says:

    Sorry, no interest in watching Wheel of Time series. Barely made it through reading Book 1, on account of the first 100 pages of running from trollocs. Camp. Talk about nothing. Run from trollocs. Rinse, repeat.
    Book 2 was really good, though. Stopped after Book 3, just didn’t see the point anymore. The series is highly respected by fans, but I can’t quite see why.

    Man, after Wheel of Time, reading Game of Thrones was a revelation. Things actually happen.

    1. Will says:

      Man, after Wheel of Time, reading Game of Thrones was a revelation. Things actually happen.

      Hahaha, saying this about A Song of Ice and Fire is really a damning indictment of Wheel of Time. (Granted, the book A Game of Thrones probably drags the least out of the series—but it’s still seven hundred pages wrapping up maybe a dozen essential plot beats.)

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Absolutely. It took A Song of Ice and Fire longer, but it’s fallen into the same problems: just Too Damn Big and Too Damn Slow. Took it longer to get there, but the thought of reading another 700-page installment of ASoIaF is…not a pleasent one, for me.

        I think both of these stories are great examples of why editors are important.

        1. Joshua says:

          Question: What parts of ASOIAF would you cut out? I think a lot will likely be relevant to the endgame and/or themes (Euron and the Ironborn plotline will likely bring down the Wall, Arianne/Quentyn will likely show why Dorne is choosing Team Aegon over Dany and the disastrous costs of revenge). I could see how certain chapters might be cut to reduce these plotlines in size (maybe cut Victarion since you have Asha), but probably not more than half a book’s worth of material. Most of these plotlines were foreshadowed in the first three books or are a direct result of events from them.

          I think Jordan’s guiltier of “let’s add more plotlines because I realized I have a license to print money!”. I think you could cut segments out without a problem at all. Whatever those non-Aes Sedai channelers who helped the rain ritual, cut out Faile and all of her plots, Mat’s time being a sex slave of a queen, etc.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Hmmm…what would I cut from ASoIaF? Interesting question.

            It’s been a while, but off the top of my head: vast swathes of the later books, I think.
            Several chapters of Brienne of Tarth searching for Sansa Stark. In the wrong place. And the audience knows it’s in the wrong place.
            Dorne. Almost all of it. Quentyn Martell worked because he went to Kings Landing and got involved in an already-existing plotline, but the rest of it? It’s an entire new kingdom, full of new characters, doing something that will, hopefully, eventually, be related to the rest of the story. Whatshername Martell and her stupid, doomed plan to do…I forget…is just not necessary. Can this at least happen offscreen?
            I’d veto Aegon Targaeryan being secretly alive. Also Catlin Stark. Because WHY? They had their storylines, their stories ended, keep it simple. Ironically, it’s one of the things the Show was good it: just streamline that bit, get the general gist of what happens and move on.
            Someone we’ve never met before in the Citadel of Masters has a magic candle! And it’s lit up! How interesting! That’s clearly worth a chapter of this already-massive book!
            Oh, Tyrion escaped after killing his father and is on the run. So he’s going to go to Danerys and try to help her – no, he’s going to take a few chapters falling in rivers, asking where whores go, and riding pigs. This is another thing that the show did very well to just speed the hell up.

            Etc etc etc. I’m sure there’s more.
            It’s not that any of the above is particularly bad, per se – it’s all well-written enough – it’s just that there are already numerous plots unresolved in the books already, and this sudden influx of new characters is a massive distraction from stuff the audience is already interested in.
            The entire story screeches to a halt because there’s just too much happening – and a lot of it feels like it’s not going anywhere.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              Wait, I put the wrong Martell in spoilers. It should be Oberyn Martell who goes to Kings Landing. Quentyn Martell is the guy who dies a pointless death doing something dumb, which is another thing I would cut.
              It HAS been a while…

            2. Syal says:

              I would add the Onion Knight here, on account of not remembering anything he’s involved in.

          2. Henson says:

            Question: What parts of ASOIAF would you cut out?

            The last two books and the next two.

          3. MerryWeathers says:

            Hard to know what to cut and keep if you don’t actually know how the narrative will specifically end.

            1. Syal says:

              That’s easy. They all die.

              1. MerryWeathers says:

                What’s ironic is that GRRM has said that more characters actually died in the show overall than what he plans for in the books.

                1. Joshua says:

                  Considering that only three main POV characters have died in the books, one of them is almost certainly coming back and another’s death revealed that he was a Decoy Protagonist, and just the Doomed Mentor all along. Ironically, the third character HAS come back from the dead, but considering the complete personality change she’s effectively dead and her story concluded.

          4. Cubic says:

            I never read Wheel of Time but I’ve heard the lamentations many, many times. So I’ll probably skip that too.

            ASOIAF: I would basically cut books 4 and 5, and perhaps whatever comes thereafter too, if anything. Terrible waste of time in retrospect. Oh you want the story to be finished? Remember that GRRM seems unlikely to finish the series first of all. But if I had to, I’d instead go for a volume 4 that just closes the then-existing threads. Move up the zombies and dragons to make things more intense and shorten the civil war stuff. Follow up on the Starks. Winter comes. Epilogue chapter: Spring, some hundreds of years after or whatever. OK, everyone involved perhaps gets to roll in somewhat less gold, but it’s enough, isn’t it.

            Edit: LOL, I see that several have said the same but I’ll just leave it anyway.

            1. Syal says:

              Oh you want the story to be finished?

              I would argue that book 3 actually finishes the story pretty well. Sure the conflicts aren’t ended, but the dust has settled; most of the instigators are dead, all the living characters have turned their attention to protecting their homes. It’s a place of peace for Westeros.

              1. Cubic says:

                The readers would, I submit, have marched with pitchforks if the story had ended with the Red Wedding. But with that said, the whole thing was originally pitched by GRRM as a trilogy.

                1. Henson says:

                  Plus you’ve got whole unresolved plot threads with Daenerys and the White Walkers. I don’t like where the series has gone, and I can’t say I have confidence for where it may be going, but you can’t just purposely end it all after book 3.

                  1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                    You could, however, have made it the point where you pulled the trigger on one of those two plots instead of holding off until… who knows what. I think that’s part of the problem- every storyline in ASoIaF at this point is waiting for every other storyline to progress before it does something. GRRM never figured out what his trigger for starting the 3rd act was going to be.

                    Alternatively, never introduce Dany or the White Walkers in the first place and just have a trilogy about the war that ends tragically. But that would have involved planning more out ahead of time.

                  2. Syal says:

                    Plus you’ve got whole unresolved plot threads with Daenerys and the White Walkers.

                    Daenarys has stopped advancing because she’s decided she needs to learn to be a ruler in the kingdom she’s already made. The Wall has been defended and reinforced. No threats are imminent at the end of Book 3.

                    1. Henson says:

                      That doesn’t mean those plot threads have been resolved. The main plot of this series is the fate of Westeros. Both Daenerys and the Wall are separate ‘entities’ at present; their plotlines have yet to have a significant effect on greater Westeros (that I can remember), especially Daenerys. You just can’t devote chapters upon chapters to a character, only to finally say “and she never interacted with the greater plot, The End.”

                    2. Syal says:

                      The main plot of this series is the fate of Westeros.

                      Maybe, or maybe the main plot is the destructive nature of the Game of Thrones, to be resolved by all the living players passing on it.

                      You just can’t devote chapters upon chapters to a character, only to finally say “and she never interacted with the greater plot, The End.”

                      Of course you can! Just believe in yourself!

                      (Her involvement in the plot would actually be in her bitterness toward the original rebellion, her deciding to stay in Meereen being her finally letting go of it and making a new life.)

                    3. Cubic says:

                      Both Danaerys and the White Walkers are instances of Chekov’s gun. You can’t just leave them unfired at the end of the story. It’s not the done thing.

          5. Bloodsquirrel says:

            “A lot will likely be relevant to the endgame” implies that there will actually be an endgame.

            That’s the problem- even if GRRM was still 30 years old and still full of energy and passion, and still had 10 books left in him, they’d still never come to a resolution as long as he keeps adding more plot lines that will be “relevant to the endgame”. Even if you cut out some of the bloat from ADWD, the problem remains that the book is heading in the wrong direction. It’s not just that stuff needs to be cut, it’s that a lot of stuff needs to be changed to point it back toward the main plot so that things are coming together instead of sprawling ever outward.

            Things like:
            -Keep Arya in Westeros, where any scenes involving her training can be made relevant to the main plot. Yes, this limits what you can do in terms of showing off the faceless men, but that’s the kind of decision you need to make if you want to combat story bloat.
            -Don’t have Dany decide to go on a Meereenese side adventure. Keep her pointed toward Westeros, and either get her involved earlier or let her sit in the background for a book or two until you’re ready to have her show up.
            -Don’t devote like, half an entire book to showing Cersie’s downfall only to have a brand-new conspiracy pop up to keep her in power at the end. Seeing her go down in flames is great and all, but do it when you’re ready to commit to it and eliminate the Lannisters from the plot.
            -Don’t send Jon on an adventure up north just to do some sight-seeing among the free folk. If you’re gong to send him up there, then have him find out something important about the White Walkers, or have them following on his heels when he returns. If you’ve got business up north, get it done. If you don’t, skip the whole “great ranging” and have the free folk attack, and kill whoever you need to kill during the battle.

            There are a few things which are just obvious filler (Like everything Tyrion does after leaving Westeros), but the bigger problem is that while most of the material in the last three books is interesting in and of itself, it’s just isn’t moving the story toward a conclusion. Most of it could work find as its own story, or even as part of this story if the rest was trimmed and the whole thing was moved in that direction, but you can’t have all of it if you ever want the series to wrap up in a coherent manner.

            1. Kylroy says:

              When you are introducing new characters *and* new plots in Book 5 of your allegedly 7 book series, while not advancing the existing ones…you’re clearly not serious about wrapping things up any time soon.

        2. Bloodsquirrel says:

          Good news: You won’t have to, because GRRM feels the exact same way about writing it.

          That’s not even a joke. It’s beyond obvious at this point that GRRM has no idea what to do with the story he’s created so far, and isn’t motivated to even try to figure out a way to put it on a path toward a resolution.

          1. Kylroy says:

            I would argue that given the reception to the show’s ending, he has an excellent reason to *not* finish it. My take is that the show ending *is* broadly the same as his (if poorly executed), so he can either trudge through creating something people already hate, or he can revise the last 20%+ of his mammoth story on the fly. Neither is appealing.

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              I mean, a lot of what made people hate the show’s ending is that it wasn’t set up properly. “X could have worked if it didn’t come out of nowhere” is something a lot of people say about many values of X in that final season.

              1. MerryWeathers says:

                I’ve seen people who definitively hate the very ideas of Mad Queen Dany and King Bran. Even if the books finished before the show, I still think the ending would have been controversial just from what it entailed.

    2. MeryWeathers says:

      Well ASOIAF started suffering from a similar slow-paced bloat problem with AFFC and it has never recovered since then, at least Wheel of Time has an ending that’s even pretty solid in the eyes of most of its fans. But yeah, ironically one of the big hurdles that the WOT show has to face is that GOT already exists and the story in that show is significantly more compelling.
      If you read or watched ASOIAF/GOT first then WOT already feels redundant for most people unless you really want to get in the series.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        …ironically one of the big hurdles that the WOT show has to face is that GOT already exists and the story in that show is significantly more compelling.

        Oh yeah, this is really true. Game of Thrones is a much more acessible story directly informed by actual history: it’s got medievil politics, bastards (both kinds), betrayals, forced marriages, character-motivated actions and their results…

        Meanwhile, the Wheel of Time is much more a ‘fantasy’ story: knockoff-orc bad guys serving a nemesis literally called the Dark One; a meticulously-explained magic system that differentiates genders Just Because; epic prophecies everywhere; laser beams that don’t just kill you, they go back in time to undo what you did

        1. Rho says:

          This is what drove me away from the heroes: the characters are obnoxiously bland and uninteresting. I’ve seen first time DnD players come up with more fleshed-out personalities.

          While increasing length was an issue, the overall problem lies in the plastic shell of a world.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            I’ve seen first time DnD players come up with more fleshed-out personalities

            This made me laugh. It’s true, so have I!

            But. I’m not so bothered about the characters being dull as I am the whole story and world…
            The start of the series features a knock-off Gandalf turning up to recruit a farmboy. Said farmboy is, apparently, the Chosen One, who will Save The World from the Dark One and his army of irredeemably evil knock-off Orcs in The Final Battle…
            …and the start of the story even features the trollo(r)cs attacking his hometown to get our reluctant hero moving!

            It makes my eyes roll so hard. Other people might be less genre-savvy, but still, as stock fantasy stories go…

            1. Retsam says:

              Sure, the story is boring when you intentionally describe it in a way that leaves out all the interesting details that differentiate it from “stock fantasy stories”.

              Like, it’s not the “Chosen One who will Save the World” it’s the “Chosen One who will Go Mad And Destroy the World [and might also save it]”. And calling Moiraine (and the Aes Sedai in general) a “knock-off Gandalf” is a huge disservice to the character.

              And, yes, the beginning of the first book is an intentional LoTR homage with the hobbit-like characters leaving the Shire-like hometown on a quest after a wizard comes to town. … but that’s only the first third of the first book and maybe the first two episodes of the show.

              1. Rho says:

                It takes a *long* time for the characters to be anything more than stock archtypes, and even then I found it rather weak. The prophecy twist isn’t that impressive and of course nothing actually comes of it. But the bigger issue is that the world itself isn’t that detailed, nor are the cultures very vibrant. Most of them are either bland to the point of meaninglessness or so overdone that it becomes a near-parody. I.E., the Aiel are basically a massive and kind of obnoxious Fremen rip-off.

                1. Fizban says:

                  You said you were driven away- how much WoT have you actually read? ‘Cause I’m getting an overwhelming vibe of “listing all of the series’ strengths as weaknesses because they haven’t actually read the books further than getting a few keywords.”

                  Nothing comes of the prophecy? Rand gets crazier as the series goes on, alienating and harming his allies worse and worse.
                  World isn’t detailed, cultures aren’t vibrant? Every region in WoT has details of dress and local customs, characters that meet their stereotypes and break them, at least a half dozen major ones.
                  Aiel are a Fremen ripoff- you just complained about overdone parody cultures, and the Fremen are your example of something better?

                  1. Syal says:

                    Every region in WoT has details of dress and local customs, characters that meet their stereotypes and break them, at least a half dozen major ones.

                    I’m going to admit, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Caemlyn, Cairhien, Tear and Illian. Caemlyn’s got the sword decorations but I think that’s dropped after Book 1. Tear’s a big rock, I’m pretty sure.

                    1. Fizban says:

                      Caemlyn is the old city where everything’s mostly stayed good with a line of traditional ruler->child of ruler, but also some succession problems in the past (and thus unsurprisingly, the future), and is sort of the default (and technically has jurisdiction over the Two Rivers). Cairhien is full of nobles trying to backstab each other, no matter where they are, ‘causing all sorts of problems and opportunities, but its’ true we spend little time there. Tear has an ancient plot fortress that makes its lords overconfident and since they get conquered first, a lot of them end up being subsumed into Rand’s influence or removed, and the streets seasonally get turned into mud. Illian is the rich port city that tries to stay out of things (and of course fails spectacularly eventually), we get most of its characterization from one side character ’cause there’s not many from there and not much time is spent there either, but it’s also got what one might call a “free love” festival where people let loose and ignore class barriers for a bit.

              2. BlueHorus says:

                Nothing wrong with using tropes. Tropes done well are fine. Unfortunately – as I recall – when the tropes got expanded it wasn’t always better. I’d much rather the Aes Sedai HAD BEEN ‘knock-off Gandalfs’, frankly – I hated the way they always seemed to be scheming how to subjugate or undermine each other, or just bossing other people around.
                Well, that or abusing the Aes-Sedai-in-training so that they grew up just as jaded and domineering. No wonder several of the books’ cultures actively hid magic users from their knowledge!

                (Related: nearly twenty years on, the only thing I truly remember about Moiraine Damodred is that godawful prequel book where she met her warder Lan*. Several incidents of her bullying and torturing him, all while angrily thinking to herself how much he annoys her by being so damned manly and stoic!
                I mean, sure, a tsundere romance is not a traditional fantasy trope. But does that mean it’s good?)

                *Who, incidentally, was the Last Surviving Heir To A Destroyed Kingdom, ho hum.

                1. Fizban says:

                  She was also effectively a princess (a noble’s daughter at any rate), who had just spent the last several years if not a decade or more in a convent. I only read it the once, but if she went around acting like an idiot teenager who doesn’t know how to deal with the opposite sex or anyone who doesn’t immediately bow to their will, that seems wholly appropriate. And they’re also not actually a romantic item? Pretty sure, like, ever?

                  And Lan’s bad for having a basic played straight trope, but the Aes Sedai are bad for having a less tropey a corrosive culture of manipulation- Care to pick a lane?

        2. CrushU says:

          There’s a He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named style of effect in play, though. Saying the Dark One’s actual name gains his attention, so no one does it, not even Darkfriends. That’s why he’s just called “The Dark One” or other variants. I don’t think that’s explained for quite a while, though.

          Game of Thrones is a depressing story, though. If the show was in a GoT-like universe, wayyyy more people would be dead, for zero reason. Laila was unfortunately fridged, to be sure, but at least there’s a very very obvious *reason* why she died. And I get it, part of the appeal of GoT is that deaths don’t have to have a reason for them. Death is death, and it comes for anyone.

          1. Syal says:

            I don’t think that’s explained for quite a while, though.

            No, that’t explained before they leave Two Rivers; Mat tells the story of the guy who called Shaitan by name and then his house caught fire and all his crops withered.

            1. CrushU says:

              I’d meant explained as in explained that there is actually a real consequence, not just superstition, but honestly that would’ve sufficed, too.

              1. Syal says:

                …yeah, I guess there was nothing stopping them from having one of the Coplins say it and then get a knockout migraine or bloody nose or something. Probably should have. The books don’t do that until the opening of book 2.

          2. Will says:

            There’s a depressing lack of explanation going on in the show. Largely because they sidelined Moiraine with that stab wound, leaving her unable to do all the exposition to explain things like the Mashadar in Shadar Logoth. She’s the main source of lore, and they muted her with an injury that never happened. That leaves it up to Lan, who is not a talkative character. (But they made him much more chatty with the other Warders for some reason?)

            1. Jabrwock says:

              They did get the gist across. It’s a cursed city that even Eyeless fear to enter, they briefly explain the backstory, you can see the evil infests the place, but can’t leave it (except if someone does something dumb), etc. No spoilers, but I think they handled it well so far.

              Honestly, I think knocking Moraine out was a good way to explain why she’s not lore dumping like she does in the book. Just give us a few snippets to give us a bit of backstory, and then SHOW.

            2. Fizban says:

              There’s a lot of moments where it feels like the show is pausing to let you appreciate something, except if you haven’t read the books you won’t actually know what it is and they haven’t hinted at it yet.

              As for Lan being chatty- well they’re having him be chatty around Nyneave, seems they’re trying to move that relationship up. And with the viewpoint and events jumping around and forward, all the stuff that is shown in the books slowly on the road from A to B to C, has to be truncated and shoved at the viewer.

      2. Chad+Miller says:

        Remember when the Game of Thrones TV show ending was so bad that fan communities (most notably r/freefolk) overhauled themselves to be about other fandoms instead?

        In the late 90’s/early 00’s the same thing happened, except it was exasperated Wheel of Time fans overhauling their own pages into A Song of Ice and Fire pages instead.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          r/freefolk is still very much still a GOT sub except they spend way too much time still hating on the show and anything remotely related to it, even after two whole years.

          I do remember WOT fans during the slog jumping ship to ASOIAF and even Malazan.

          1. GoStu says:

            The memes on /r/freefolk were funny but they’re well past the Get The Fuck Over It threshold now.

            We get it, it sucked. Move on!

            1. Cubic says:

              It would actually be funny if they kept going for 20 years or more. Perhaps turn it over to the next generation who have only seen the memes, not the actual show. Let the fires blaze.

              (Declaration of interest: I hated the TV show quite a bit too, but nowadays rarely think about it.)

  8. MerryWeathers says:

    Wheel of Time

    The Amazon show is decent so far but it definitely needs to set its own identity to seperate itself from all the other fantasy shows that are currently airing or about to air, like visually it’s pretty dull and the soundtrack is meh.

    The first episode was bad, like most of the dialogue was basically just exposition on the setting and it does look pretty cheap compared to GOT. The pacing is also pretty rushed and while I get that they were trying to immediately setup Perrin’s main arc in the story, the way they went about it was too edgy and even problematic.

    Second and third episodes were definitely better, especially with the pacing. I think this is where Rosamund Pike really got to shine as Morraine, specifically during the Fall of Manetheren story. The best moments in the show so far are really the quiet scenes. I also liked that they were fleshing out a bit of a Darkfriends’ motivation into something more human, literally most of them in the books were just hungry for power or outright evil.

    The fourth episode, despite diverging the most from the book, was ironically the closest to the spirit of the source material. The stuff with Logain (where they speedrun his story but get the gist of his character right) and the Aes Sedai were compelling. Zoe Robbins really shined as Nynaeve and her chemistry with Lan was great. I also got more used to the Channeling VFX but the battles look very shitty and more like a hardcore LARP session.

    Overall, each episode is an improving over the last but the look of the show still feels and looks dull. I also noted that there was a lot of foreshadowing, even in the character posters, for certain details or events that will happen later on in the story so the showrunner, Rafe Judkins, at least knows his stuff. He better not fuck up Dumai’s Wells though, that’s the moment I’m really waiting for to see onscreen.

    1. CrushU says:

      Amusingly, my partner who is into theater, particularly the backstage production aspects (costuming, sets) really enjoyed the costuming in the show, because it really does look like they’re from a village in the middle of nowhere. It *looks* authentic. Moiraine and Lan stand out very noticeably.

      The main change that I’ve not seen people talking about is the lack of Min. They stopped in Baerlon and saw Min briefly before they split up, didn’t they?

      As we’re leaving podunk-nowhere-town, we’re getting better production values… Mostly the Aes Sedai. The battle did look a bit off, until they got to the Real Fight with Logain, that all looked great.

      My favorite visual touch so far is what male channeling looks like. It’s implying several things about how it works, and I like it.

      1. MrPyro says:

        Yeah, they have skipped Baerlon entirely; that random bump into the Whitecloaks in the middle of the woods was, I think, to replace the interactions with the Whitecloaks in Baerlon so that Perrin and Egwene know who they are before… later events.

        1. Will says:

          Baerlon is one place that could be safely cut, as long as they find a way to introduce Min later, like at the inn in Caemlyn.

          I’m a little annoyed with cutting Elias. He’s supposed to be Perrin’s personal Gandalf, and it doesn’t appear that they’re going to use him at all. It’s not like he’d be expensive. One or two episodes near the beginning, and then way at the end.

          1. Retsam says:

            Have they confirmed that Elias is definitely cut? They really haven’t done much with that whole aspect of Perrin’s character yet – it’s possible he will still play a role when that comes more into focus.

            1. Will says:

              Well, like Min, they’ve already sped past where he would have been introduced. Whether that means he’s cut or just coming in from a different angle is an open question. I suspect cut entirely to be either replaced or merged with an as-yet-to-be-named character.

          2. Xeorm says:

            It might be a case of not wanting to require actors early on when they aren’t used much. A small glimpse of characters are really easy for books, but that means signing on someone to play that character, even though they won’t have any real impact on the story until much later. Better to introduce them when they’re there fully rather than doing it too early.

      2. Jabrwock says:

        I liked the visual touch about male channeling as well. Both as a way to distinguish male and female versions of the power, so you can show the struggle between the to opposing weavers in the scene, but it also gave you the visual cue that one side is “tainted”, and you can instantly tell which side that is.

        The bit with the voices being given form was good as well, it felt like a demonstration they did once to help people understand what suffering from schizophrenia “feels” like. The reporter wore a headset that would whisper both random things like outbursts and distractive mumbling or sounds, but also very specific paranoia like things about people the reporter was interacting with (“they’re lying”, or “what was that?”).

        1. Will says:

          It would be nice if they would clarify who exactly can see the One Power in use in their version of events. So far the audience has been given a third-person god’s eye view, and I don’t remember any mention by the Aes Sedai of whether they could/could not see Logain’s weaves, just the sense of pressure, which is a good fit with canon.

          I think it would have been better to use a non-channeler’s perspective to start, then begin revealing the mechanics behind the magic as the various cast members begin to learn about it. You would still get the spectacle of the results, and save a bit of budget up front for use on other things.

          1. Jabrwock says:

            I want to say they did do that a bit, but I can’t recall whether they were consistent or not.

          2. Fizban says:

            The scene where they’re sitting there talking about Logain in front of his cage, Moiraine explicitly mentions how women can’t see men’s weaves. But yeah, it’s not actually conveyed to the viewer, at least not yet. When such things are relevant they could shoot, edit, etc the scene so that the viewer is clearly “following” one side or the other at a time and only show what that side is doing (could even have the camera swoop around and change viewpoints in a single shot, or flick the glowy effects in and out). Maybe they’ll do some of that later, but I doubt it since that’s a whole extra layer or two of stuff to pre-plan.

  9. tmtvl says:

    It’s funny that you got a question about violence in video games in the same week when I picked up Littlewood, a game about rebuilding after the great adventure has been wrapped up.

    It technically still has violence, though: in the Endless Forest there are evil trees that will try and attack you with their roots and you can smack them with your axe to knock them out for a bit.

  10. Tuck says:

    If people are complaining that WOT is visually dull, I think we’ve become really spoiled for quality in fantasy TV over the last 20 years!

    Personally (and having not read the books), I’m enjoying the fact that the characters aren’t just common fantasy stereotypes.

    1. Fizban says:

      I found their hometown and clothing overly peasant brown (particularly considering Rand’s traveling coat, contrast with Mat walking around what looks like long-johns and a thin bathrobe), and the Aes Sedai rings are grossly oversized and gaudy (for obvious reasons), but it mostly looks fine. Still, the comparisons are inevitable, and will inevitably unfavorable, since it’s the next big new fantasy series and the main two that anyone is going to know about are LotR and GoT. Both of which I’m pretty sure had much bigger budgets.

      WoT also needs to hit the ground running with a lot more cgi, and where GoT was happy to put people in “studded leather,” which is relatively cheap and gives a nice consistent look, WoT has people in normal-ass clothing. In fact, the paucity of armor in the series should be a welcome break in the budget.

  11. Lino says:

    22:11 – I also hate episodic shows for the same reason that Shamus does. But I even go a step further – I don’t watch any show that isn’t over yet. Before I commit to 5 or 6 seasons of something, I want to know for a fact that:
    A. The last season is the end of the story, rather than a cliffhanger for a next season that will never come, and
    B. The quality doesn’t take a sudden nosedive in the all-too-important final stretches of the story
    All that being said, recently I’ve been constantly braking this rule, seeing as how all the shows I’m currently following aren’t even close to being finished (case in point: The Mandalorian, The Witcher, The Watch (which I hope gets more seasons), The Boys, Arcane….)

    Also, Paul was absolutely relentless with the puns in this segment! Shamus should really look into increasing his Dad Joke Tax before things really go off the rails!

    Regarding why we don’t get that many non-violent games, as was covered on the show – there are tons of non-violent games. I think the reason they’re not as commercially viable as violent games is the exact same reason for why arthouse indie films aren’t as profitable as blockbusters. Namely – most people watch movies/play videogames in order to unwind after a long, boring day of work. After eight hours of mental (or physical) strain, most people just want to tune everything out and relax – preferably with something as far removed from mundanity as possible. Such as high-octane action and explosions. Which is something that you can’t really regularly engage in as easily in the real world.

    1. CrushU says:

      B. The quality doesn’t take a sudden nosedive in the all-too-important final stretches of the story

      Wheel of Time is the rare book series where the quality rapidly escalates in the final stretch; And it’s not just the Sanderson finishing trilogy, I’d say book 10 onwards is actually good stuff. (9 is debatable.) However, the caveat is that this is because the middle books, about 5-7, really drag the story. To be fair, this was actually intentional, and showing that Shai’tan was able to throw more problems at the heroes than just Evil Creatures.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        I’d say book 10 onwards is actually good stuff. (9 is debatable.)

        Really? The general consensus is that Crossroads of Twilight was the lowest point of the series, to the point that even Robert Jordan admitted (he had previously disagreed with the criticism that the books were too slow and bloated) that it wasn’t really working out so the next book and 11th novel, Knife of Dreams, really picked up the pace and plot progression and that’s usually when people thought WOT became good again.

        1. MrPyro says:

          Concur with this; the slog is generally regarding as being about books 7-10. Crossroads is absolutely the worst book at that stage, although TBF it works much better on a re-read where you haven’t waited 2 years for it to come out and don’t have to wait 2 years for the next one.

        2. Joshua says:

          Yeah, Crossroads of Twilight was an entire book based upon a concept of “Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when JFK was shot?” for an event that occurred in the previous book. An experimental book that turned out badly. Weirdly, the one new plot thing that DOES happen Egwene is captured by Tar Valon happens so abruptly and without much further discussion that it can result in a “What the heck just happened?” from the reader, despite there being plenty of page space that could have been used to not make this so jarring.

          1. Syal says:

            I remembered exactly three things happening in Crossroads of Twilight; the one you mentioned only happened in the epilogue, the chapter with Rand ended up not actually having happened until well into the next book, and I don’t remember what the third event was. It also introduced a replacement plot for the plot 9 had just wrapped up.

            I don’t remember much of the beginning of 9, but I do remember it ending on the most important event in the series.

            11 started picking up steam again and wrapped up a lot of threads, but there was still a lot of redundancy in there.

    2. tmtvl says:

      they’re not as commercially viable as violent games

      Aren’t they, though? I thought that Madden, FIFA, and Bejeweled did really well. They’re just not as visible in the public eye because it’s harder to say “video games are bad” when you point at them compared to Call of Honour or Grand Theft Auto.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Isn’t sports just the continuation of war by other means though? ;)

        1. tmtvl says:

          Bejeweled is very violent because you forcibly shove around innocent gems who, being inanimate, can’t defend themselves from your aggression.

  12. lucky7 says:

    I haven’t watched the show, and I only read the first book, but my dad has done both and he’s really liked it so far. Personally I’ve enjoyed the bits I’ve seen while making lunch or whatever, but the trollocs look a *bit* too much like something out of Power Rangers for my taste.

  13. John says:

    Glad you liked the podcast, Shamus! Soren has a lot of really good interviews like this. My personal favorite is still the epic four-part interview with Sid Meier, which in my view is a better overview of Meier’s career than his actual autobiography.

    Paul, there are many places to acquire Linux-native games. You can filter by OS or platform while browsing for games on Steam, GOG, the Humble store, or itch.io–but not Epic, because Epic sucks–to find games with Linux-native versions. (If you’re still having trouble with the store page on Steam, I again recommend Big Picture mode as a work-around.) What’s more, many of the games you already own probably have Linux-native versions. Minecraft does. So does Mindustry. I know you prefer indie games and in my experience indie games are more likely, on average, to provide Linux-native versions than non-indie games. Try filtering your Steam library for Linux games. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Last episode he mentioned filtering his Steam library on GNU/Linux games and there not being many.

      I should also take the opportunity to recommend ProtonDB. I will admit that I have had a problem with a game that had a gold rating on there, but usually a game with a good rating works fine. The comments also tend to contain tips on improving your experience.

      1. John says:

        Did he? I must have missed that.

        I’ll second the recommendation for ProtonDB though. (In fact, this is my second recommendation for ProtonDB, since I also recommended it last week.)

        1. Geebs says:

          I can never quite escape the feeling that ProtonDB’s database is mostly populated by people who are into tinkering and benchmarking rather than playing videogames. Which is fine – I enjoy fiddling with software myself – but I’m pretty sure that e.g. late-game bugs are under-reported, and I’m not really at a stage in life where I can afford to waste 20 hours on a game that might be unpredictably broken.

          1. John says:

            There’s undoubtedly some of that going on. Some people even note that’s what they’re doing. I choose to believe, however, that the people who play the game long enough to encounter late-game bugs would be kind enough to make note of them. My personal fear is less that I’ll waste time–I mean, 20 hours of fun is 20 hours of fun, even if I can’t finish the game–and more that I’ll waste money. That’s why when I buy games that I’ll need Wine or Proton for I always wait for deep discounts.

  14. RamblePak64 says:

    I should probably kick some health into my own blog with this topic, but it’s one I’m kind of tired of having every few years. I find that Errant Signal video particularly quaint in how… well, how of it’s time it is, but also how we went from collectively arguing about how wrong Jack Thompson was about games causing violence to amateur game critics on YouTube making statements about games promoting violence, which is only mildly different from saying they cause it. “Oh, they don’t cause violence, by the do encourage it through promotion of said violence!” Did we truly become the ouroboros eating its own tail?

    But even in the Twitter thread, there’s a lot of emphasis on the business end and the enthusiast gamer end but what about the standard consumer end? And I don’t mean Chris Franklin’s reductionist and insulting “targeted 18-35 male demographic” comment, either. I mean sharing the same shock as Bellular News that enough people are purchasing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla microtransactions for it to be Ubisoft’s most profitable game outside of its release window. I only know one person that played the game, and they don’t pay for MTX! Who is buying this stuff? Easy: the consumer that’s not obsessed with the news about it on the Internet.

    But that’s the thing. As was mentioned above, a ton of Nintendo’s less-violent properties are successful in the mainstream. The Sims has a huge audience, obviously. Tetris is still one of the biggest games ever. The concern of violence in games seems more like self-conscious hand-wringing and a desperate desire to prove dad wrong about games being a mindless waste of time than anything else. But it’s not like some of the most successful films don’t feature violence, either. Die Hard has become a meme of a Christmas movie in part because it is violent. But that’s the thing: how do you translate a concept like A Christmas Story into a video game and execute it as well as it was in film?

    Now, that itself is a pretty big question, because how do you determine what “as well” even means between two very different mediums? And I think this is always a part that people seemingly so into games miss when it comes to this conversation: conflict as a narrative device. Granted, Chris touches on this, but… obviously in a way I’m not satisfied with.

    Returning to the example of A Christmas Story, we can see that there are a variety of ways to illustrate conflict without violence. Ralphie’s desire to get the Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas versus his mother’s belief he’ll shoot his eye out. Ralphie and his friends regularly bullied by Skut Farkis and his toadie. The father’s love of his “major award” and the mother’s distaste of it. The father and the neighbor’s rowdy dogs. None of these conflicts are violent, but they keep the film entertaining and engaging from start to finish. Could these conflicts be used to create a video game? Well… maybe, but even if we execute them in a Telltale fashion, would it be making the most use of the game medium? Or would they be better suited to the film medium? And that’s a question I think is difficult to answer. I love the first season of Telltale’s Walking Dead because, on the whole, it tells a story about how you can’t protect your children from the world and must prepare them for the world instead, and then leaves you incapable of knowing in the end if you did a good job or not. That you were in Lee’s position the whole time making choices is what makes that ending work so well.

    As much as I dislike Life is Strange, I think having the player resort to using Max’s powers to create a “perfectionist playthrough” so to speak, where you get everyone to like you based on changing time to prevent someone from getting a soccer ball to the face or to sneak around someone’s room, etc., could have been an interesting way to mechanically emphasize Max’s tendency to think more of herself in relation to other people, as evidenced to her never reaching out to her family or her friends back in California, and how she never reached out to Chloe after moving. The game almost makes Max confront this towards the end and… then wimps out and decides Max is the best person ever, but it was almost a good use of the medium to combine player desire/instinct with a personality flaw. (And the fact that they chickened out from doing something meaningful and instead opted for two B.S. endings is why I will never touch another entry in that series again)

    But even so, are these the best uses of the game medium? And that’s not a question I think you can definitively answer since it depends on why someone is playing a video game. Is someone that plays the Sims playing for conflict? Is competition the same thing as conflict even if, by its very nature, competition is a conflict? Is someone playing the game for the story? Does someone want that conflict as a challenge to overcome or system to master?

    What’s more, I’ve begun to wonder how many people playing games really register the violence as violence at all. Which is a weird thing to say and probably sets off alarm bells, but when I’m playing something like Bloodborne or Devil May Cry, regardless of how realistic or visceral the graphics are, I’m mostly thinking of it in terms of mechanics contextualized by narrative, theme, and setting.

    I dunno, now I’m all over the place since I wasn’t even finished with my thoughts regarding conflict, and how even in film or television it’s difficult to sell an idea lacking in conflict outside preschool television. But, I suppose another way to put it is this: is a fight in a video game a simulation of violence or is it a problem to solve? The answer is most likely “both”, but I think that helps determine how it is people perceive it, and the choice to convey that problem solving as violence is one in which players can easily grasp the conflict without exposition or explanation. In addition, going back to story-telling in general, the easiest sort of conflict to convey is an inherently violent one. Even if Marvel villains are rarely liked, it’s easy to related to the protagonists because their characters are tested, defined, and refined by the conflict presented by that villain.

    I guess, for me, the issue of violence in games is one in which people do so much wringing of hands that’s unnecessary. We know violent games don’t make people violent in the real world. Is it disturbing to see something like Paul mentioned, of his son tazing a woman in a simulation? Possibly, because you don’t know if that’s some cyberpunk equivalent to a kid going out, catching, and cutting open squirrels as a first step to becoming a serial murderer (not to make implications of Paul’s kid). Someone that already has mental disturbances could easily use games as an outlet to explore that stuff before applying them to the real world.

    But, as mentioned with the animals example above, that stuff was happening long before video games anyway, and at the end of the day, there’s plenty of non-violent games out there that people play, be it gaming enthusiasts or mainstream audiences that don’t know an IGN from a GameInformer, or an EA from an Activision.

    I dunno. I guess I just get tired of seeing the topic come up repeatedly. I like my violent video games even if my core belief based on my faith is that violence is never the answer, it is a tool of worldly thinkers, and no matter the crime someone commits, they should be offered the opportunity to repent and redeem themselves, even if they are to be locked up indefinitely (and no I’m not about to preach and force others to believe the same thing as I do because I know this perspective is impossible).

    Doesn’t stop me from getting a heck of an adrenaline rush from getting a visceral kill in Bloodborne. Is it because of the violence? Or is it because I got a rune that restores health with such a finisher while also reducing the length of the melee, thus turning its success into a skill-based problem-solving solution? Both. Both is good. And I am fine with that.

    1. John says:

      Hey, while you’re here, do you mind if I ask you why you’re streaming Arkham Origins rather than one of the other Arkham games? I’m personally glad you’re going with Origins because it’s the only one I’ve played and I’m curious to see what other people thought of it. I’m pretty sure it’s commonly considered the worst one though.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        I replayed Arkham Asylum last year, and then replayed Arkham City this year which led to inviting Shamus on my podcast to talk about it and Spider-Man on PS4. So it was either Arkham Origins or Arkham Knight. I always wanted to go back to Origins and see if I could give it a “fair shake”, and while Arkham Knight is, on paper, the better game, every time I thought about having to drive the Batmobile again I just… didn’t want to.

        So Arkham Origins won out. If this works out, who knows? Maybe we’ll do it again with Arkham Knight, but for now I figured it would be a fun experiment to stream Origins with Shamus there to help provide analysis and commentary.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      Tangentially on Life is Strange, it ended up having a very small moment that ended up being one of my favorite “choice in videogames” moments precisely because it cut against the stereotype of a perfectionist playthrough.

      The catty Mean Girl antagonist Victoria has just had a bucket of paint spilled on her, and Max is given a choice of being either sympathetic or mocking. This is a Your Choice Matter videogame, so you just know that if you mock her, it will somehow come back to bite you because that’s the obvious way for this choice to matter. If there’s a Bad Ending for the game, mocking her is definitely a step on the path towards it. And with that in mind I mocked her anyway because I hated her and it was satisfying to make fun of her, even knowing that I’d pay for it later.

      I wish more of these choice-choosy games could get me in that mindset of doing things because I want to do them, rather than doing things because I sociopathically predict they will have the best outcome.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        Ah yeah, I think I recall that. Did they allow you the opportunity to go back and prevent paint from spilling on her at all? Or do they not allow you to do that? It’s been a long time and I don’t even recall what I chose in that moment.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          You had to use your powers to cause someone else to spill paint on her so you could progress the game (she’s standing in front of the building, refuses to talk to you and this is a videogame so her presence creates an invisible wall you can’t step around), the choice was entirely about how you handled the social situation of the aftermath.

        2. Henson says:

          You have to spill paint on her.

          But you could always mock her, and then just turn back time to take it back. That way, you can get the ‘good’ choice AND get the satisfaction of laughing in her face!

          1. Fizban says:

            And naturally, when you do have someone aware of your powers and you have a potentially awkward moment, they immediately suspect you will have rewound on them.

      2. Gautsu says:

        I feel like The Council did a really good job with this. I definitely did not get the best ensing dor my version of Louis

    3. eldomtom2 says:

      I find that Errant Signal video particularly quaint in how… well, how of it’s time it is, but also how we went from collectively arguing about how wrong Jack Thompson was about games causing violence to amateur game critics on YouTube making statements about games promoting violence, which is only mildly different from saying they cause it. “Oh, they don’t cause violence, by the do encourage it through promotion of said violence!” Did we truly become the ouroboros eating its own tail?’

      I don’t blame “we”, I blame the humanities, which have long loved to blame the media.

  15. Chad+Miller says:

    re: “Don’t watch stuff until it’s done”

    I read the Wheel of Time books while the series was still ongoing. That is, when there were 7 books. Then when 8 came back and disappointed me with how little happened, I swore I wouldn’t start another fantasy novel series until it was finished.

    A couple years later a friend talked me into breaking that rule, with a little-known book called A Game of Thrones

    1. The+Puzzler says:

      I got annoyed with Game of Thrones taking too long so I switched over to The Name of the Wind / Kingkiller Chronicle. See, Patrick Rothfuss was writing a self-contained trilogy, not some sprawling seven-volume epic, and the second volume came out in 2011, so the third one is bound to be finished any day now…

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Holy shit, it was 2011 when Wise Man’s Fear came out!

        God dammit…

      2. Cubic says:

        Never read that series but from a distance it gave a Lost-like impression of hinting at lots of interesting stuff without, as it turned out, the author having any idea of how to wrap things up. The busted flush, one might call it. There has to be a trope for this.

        1. Chad Miller says:

          My favorite term for it is Ponzi Scheme Storytelling. TVTropes has some similar things like Writing By the Seat of Your Pants (and for Chris Carter Effect when fans tune out because they suspect it’s happening)

          1. Cubic says:

            Pantsing is one of the two time-honored methods for writing (the other is planning the story ahead), and probably works best if you can go back and revise stuff at the beginning when you’re done. Not so great when you’ve already published the beginning and middle.

            Then again, I’m not a writer so I wouldn’t really know. Maybe it can be done.

            1. Henson says:

              Man, I really hate the term ‘pantsing’. I don’t think it’s particularly descriptive, and just sounds like you’re yanking someone’s trousers down. I think it’s much better to think in terms of Gardeners vs Architects.

              1. Cubic says:

                It’s not an elegant term, but I’ve seen it used a number of times before.

              2. Jabrwock says:

                Like an involuntary “excuse me while I whip this out”

            2. Chad+Miller says:

              Yeah, I’m not necessarily one to cast aspersions on making a story up as you go along. The thing I like about Ponzi Scheme Storytelling in particular is that it involves planting seeds at Big Things to Come without any inkling of what those things are going to be, in the extreme case handing the finale off to another writer to have to try to tie it together. It’s one thing to live hand to mouth and another to intentionally write checks you know you won’t be cashing.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          In retrospect, I think you’re right.
          While I love the Name Of The Wind (and…tolerate…the sequel), there is a hell of a lot more promises than delivery.
          Rothfuss even followed Robert Jordan and GRRM by wroting and releasing an unconnected prequel about a side character from the first book after a few years’ silence!

          It sure felt like he had a plan, at least in the first book. I think a third book (maybe a forth) could still neatly wrap up all the story threads and deliver a conclusion. But as pointed out it’s been more or less a decade, now…

          EDIT: Ah, so THAT’s why I got asked by the site for an email adress twice. Apparently I put the first one in the name slot.
          Not the tone I was looking for ;(

          1. Cubic says:

            Ouch, LOL! (rgd address)

            Yeah, you’re right. I had forgotten about the semi-related book connection. Didn’t GRRM even write a whole set of those? I skipped them without mercy and can’t even say I kept track of them. Anyway, seems like a pretty clear sign the writing engine has stalled and just isn’t starting again.

            Another infamous example is David Gerrold’s War Against The Chtorr series, where he wrote himself into a corner and never figured out the way back. That was a long time ago, come to think of it. Not quite that late for Rothfuss yet.

            Here is wikipedia’s list for the Chtorr. Hope springs eternal.

            A Matter for Men (1983)
            A Day for Damnation (1984)
            A Rage for Revenge (1989)
            A Season for Slaughter (1992)
            A Nest for Nightmares (in progress)
            A Method for Madness (in progress)
            A Time for Treason (projected)
            A Case for Courage (projected)

            1. Cubic says:

              The publication dates remind me of ASOIAF a bit: 1 year gap, 5 year gap, 3 year gap, (30 year gap) …

              Though GRRM started out better, more like 2 year gap, 2 year gap, 5 year gap, 6 year gap, (11 year gap) …

              Wheel of Time: Robert Jordan 0 year gap(!), 1 year gap, 1 year gap, 1 year gap, 1 year gap, 2 year gap, 3 year gap, 2 year gap, then Brandon Sanderson three volumes with 1 year and 3 year gaps. Almost 12,000 paperback pages all in all. There is a prologue book in there too that I didn’t count. That’s what I call work ethic.

          2. Shamus says:

            (Name / email mixup fixed.)

            1. BlueHorus says:

              Thank you so much.

              I’m not going to say that I’m the most mature person on this site – not by a long shot – but still, inadvertantly using the avatar name ASSBUCKETS is not a thing I’d be happy to have preserved on the site for posterity.

              1. Henson says:

                Or complete email addresses for the spam bots to find.

  16. Nixorbo says:

    But what I really want to know is: What do book fans think of this show?

    My own expectations for the show were so low as to be basically non-existent going in, so to say that they have been surpassed is likely more damning with faint praise, but yeah, my expectations have been surpassed. This is probably the best adaptation we could reasonably hope to get. Most of the changes make sense to me and don’t fundamentally alter the course of the story, but Perrin’s wife, woof. I don’t like to use the term “fridging” since the meaning seems to have mutated into “a sudden death of a character I liked,” but Laila ay’Bara was textbook fridging. Knowing Perrin’s arc, I understand why they thought it was a good idea but it was inexcusably bad. The trollocs look way better than I thought they might, though.

    The thing to keep in mind about The Wheel of Time and The Eye of the World specifically – it was published during the “The Only Fantasy That Sells is Stuff Like Tolkien” dark ages of genre fiction. Once the first book was a success, Jordan was able to branch out and it very quickly stopped being so Lord of the Rings-esque. This is a trailblazer series, without it we don’t get A Song of Ice and Fire (literally, George RR Martin credits Jordan’s cover blurb for A Game of Thrones for its initial success) and many of the tropes that feel standard and/or dated were started by The Wheel of Time.

  17. PPX14 says:

    Talking of games sales – I finally got the notification that Castlevania Requiem is on sale at £3.99 ($4.99) on the PS Store. Time to get Symphony of the Night.

  18. Fred Starks says:

    When it comes to violence and combat in games, I always like trying to see if you can look at it from a symbolic perspective. These monsters you fight are a representation for some sort of inner demon or fear- something like that. Can’t be applied to every game of course, but it’s there.

    I won’t deny though, games on a mechanical side lean easier towards forms of violence because of how it meshes easier. We’ve got multiple combat genres for a reason, and most non-combat games end up falling under the simulation or adventure game genres.

  19. Rene Jimenez says:

    Have not read the WOT, but I read a lot of fantasy epics. Saw the first four episodes and… oh boy. I don’t know if its all the hype some booktuber channels have made for it, but it pretty much felt like bland, generic fantasy. Game of thrones with ADHD, everything was very rushed, dialogues were so short! scenes felt kind of a diorama, little isolated vignettes “here’s the town!” “here’s some murderous “red aes sidai”, some murderous whitecloaks” (never explained who they were or what’s their deal) “here’s the city with sudden venom symbiote dust crawling on the ground! (?)” yeah… I think that maybe this was a greatest moments scrapbook from the novels, and those of us who have not read the books were pretty confused most of the time. The modern musical score with electro-acoustic guitars and modern drum set did not work for me as well. Especially on the town party scene. The scenes between the character Perrin and his wife were emotional, but after reading some comments here it seems that she’s just one of those Women in Refrigerators trope.

    1. Syal says:

      Don’t remember if the Whitecloaks get explained when they first show up. They’re religious fanatics who think all magic is evil, and are generally incompetent troublemakers.

      Don’t think Red Ajah gets explained for a long time, but they’re the ones dedicated to eliminating male channelers before they can go mad.

      …So, witch-hunters, and warlock-hunters.

      I think the venom symbiote dust is pretty self-explanatory.

      1. Jabrwock says:

        In the show they’re introduced as Sedai hunters, and it’s not made really clear they hunt Darkfriends in general, and consider Sedai to be Darkfriends.

        Which made the “I can’t heal this, you should go to the Tower to get it looked at” comment so out of place. I’m sorry, what? Go see yonder witches, whom we consider to be the bane of humanity, in league with evil itself, to get healed?

        1. Retsam says:

          Whereas I actually really liked that comment – I like that it shows that not all the Whitecloaks are equally fanatical and can actually have somewhat nuanced views. Not everyone in the organization is going to really believe the “party position”, at least not to the extent of watching an innocent woman die of a wound that could have been healed. (But, I’ll take any break from the “completely single-minded religious fanatic” trope, really)

          The only complaint I had about the scene is that he says this right in front of a Questioner, rather than taking more pain to convey the message quietly.

        2. Syal says:

          and it’s not made really clear they hunt Darkfriends in general, and consider Sedai to be Darkfriends.

          I consider that faithful to the books. Hunting Darkfriends is what they claim to do, hunting Aes Sedai is what they actually do.

          (Still haven’t seen this show. The Amazon reviews of “it sucks” warded me off.)

          1. Jabrwock says:

            The way they were introduced in the show it was the other way around. We first find out they hunt Sedai, so the encounter later is tense. But then the comment about “you’re injured you should go to the Aes Sedai, they’ll help” makes no sense.

            And they don’t hide the fact that they hunt Sedai. The Inquisitor is quite brazen showing off his trophies to get a rise out of Moraine.

            I feel it was a poorly written scene.

        3. Rene Jimenez says:

          what are “Darkfriends”? I’m really, really confused with the whole faction game in the series. There’s that dragon reborn, are they his followers? are trollocs darkfriends as well?

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            Darkfriends are humans who worship the Dark One. The thing about Whitecloak prejudice vs. the Aes Sedai is that the Aes Sedai are magic users but are not allied with the Dark One, as a rule.

            1. Rene Jimenez says:

              ah… I think I’m getting it. I had assumed the “Dark One” was the same as the dragon / dragon reborn. To be frank, I still feel the show is not doing a great job with narrative structure, there’s so much lore being constantly thrown at me with no previous reference! (this last ep. #5 just introduced werewolves (I think) ? and something called “the forsaken” which I’m assuming are old dead gods). The problem I had with the whitecloaks is that I had deduced that they were, Aes Sedai as well at first – just a militarized male version in white robes that ate baby birds in some bleeding mouth ritual magic. Had no idea until later episodes that channelers / Aes Sedai are only supposed to be women, and that Wardens were not just a mercenary dude that they banged, but some sort of special, spiritually bonded companion.

              1. Syal says:

                The Forsaken are the thirteen most powerful male and female magic users of the Dark One’s minions, who lived in the previous cycle. They never died, instead the Dragon sealed them alongside the Dark One at the end of the last Age. Generally, the only channeler stronger than one of the Forsaken, is the Dragon himself.

                “werewolves I think” sums up that part quite well so far.

                (Let me know if you want to just muddle through the show’s explanations, but I like the series and explaining stuff.)

          2. Syal says:

            Darkfriends are Cylons. They look and act like normal people but have made a deal with the devil for… actually I’m not sure they get anything out of it, they’re just sworn to the devil. My favorite part of the series is that it’s a huge game of Mafia.

            Trollocs would technically be Darkfriends, but they’re instantly recognizable as Trollocs so no one calls them anything else. Same with Myrdraal.

            1. Fizban says:

              The one who’s appeared in the show specifically mentioned that she has dreams, but that she has to take them to “him” to get her reward. It can be surmised then that while there may may supernatural communication, there is no immediate benefit. But if darkfriends can be found anywhere, at any level of society, that provides plenty of room for rewards of power and money and such. The books show and tell more, eventually.

              The forsaken are finally mentioned in the latest episode, and they were granted immortality: it should be little surprise that many darkfriends think they’ll be getting that as part of the deal.

        4. Fizban says:

          A major thing in Wheel of Time, with it’s many, many characters, is that we get to see good and bad and meh characters in every faction, often from their own point of view. Even so, yeah that line was probably way out of line. While some care more or less about hunting “witches,” you’d never see a commander openly tell someone to go to them- best case if they’re on the less witch hunting side they’ll just let you go on your way.

  20. Lino says:

    Hey, Shamus! After the stream, could you please post a link to the VOD somewhere? It could even be as a comment to this thread. Because while I’d love to tune in, it’s at 3 AM for me…

    1. Shamus says:

      Chris? Do you upload your VODS anywhere?

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        Right now I use a sort of workaround, as you can technically highlight an entire Twitch stream video as a VOD that can then be embedded. You can see it in action as an embed for our Star Wars Visions podcast here, as well as my Resident Evil Village Hardcore speedrun and my attempted achievement run of Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. The original videos were eaten up by Twitch’s broadcast devourer, but by highlighting the whole thing I’ve managed to preserve them.

        I had always planned on doing the same with the Batman streams in case you wanted to embed and post them on your blog, so don’t worry, I got your back. I’ll also download the streams in case Twitch decides to do some shenanigans so that I can always upload them elsewhere.

  21. GoStu says:

    I’ve never read the Wheel of Time series, although some acquaintances of mine are apparently passionate about it to the point of having tattoos of… something from the series.

    I watched the first couple episodes. It didn’t really grip me so far. I hate to criticize for being “generic”, especially when the source material has apparently been so influential on other works, but it’s not really standing out in my mind. Maybe I’m suffering the same affliction that’s struck Shamus – I’ve seen a LOT of this sort of fantasy story over the years and this one doesn’t feel different enough to grip me.

    In a way it feels like digging up an influential video game of years past which has begun to show its age. Everything innovative about it has since been copied, so looking backwards it’s very generic now no matter how creative and novel it was at the time.

    It’s very much an Amazon product. If something sells well enough on their site, they’ll make an Amazon Basics version and undercut them. This is the TV version of that.

    1. Retsam says:

      FWIW – if the first couple episodes is literally “the first two” you might consider giving it one or two more episodes if you were at all on the fence.

      The beginning of Wheel of Time is sort of a love-letter to LoTR, with the Two Rivers being an intentional Shire-analogue, but it drops those aspects pretty quickly and the third and fourth episodes do a lot better at actually showing off the unique bits of the world and lore.

  22. Jabrwock says:

    Picked up Potion Craft.

    Very chill. Also took me a while to realize I can turn people down, I was trying to drive “bad” customers off by offering a crap potion I had accidentally made.

  23. jurgenaut says:

    Long time reader of the WoT series here.

    I never expected them to make something perfect. I think the quality of the 4 episodes we’ve gotten is adequate. They’ve actually expanded on things that were lacking in the first book (Lan-Nyn relation, Mat, Perrin’s brooding, exposition of different Ajahs) in order to make good TV, so I think they’ve earned some confidence from my part.

    The things I didn’t like as much – trollocs (better than expected, but still goofy), the rushed pace (book 2 spoiler: Thom joining up and then sacrificing himself for Rand and Mat 20 minutes later feels off, for a guy who assassinates kings as a hobby).. Something feels wierd when they cut locations like Baerlon and Caemlyn and then they spend time on singing manetheren songs and telling the tale of Aemon.

    Also the team being split up escaping shadar logoth, in the books Rand, Mat and Thom were picked up by a trading vessel so it made sense they couldn’t backtrack and find the others, but here the two teams both jumped in the same river. And then around Perrin and Egwene it’s super cold and windy while Rand and Mat have sunshine – they should have been at most a couple of kilometers apart.

    So yeah… plenty of nits to pick, but I enjoy watching it nonetheless.

    1. Jabrwock says:

      I always thought the trollocs were goofy in description, basically goat-Uruk-hai, so their design met my expectation of how goofy I imagined them. Like an owlbear. It’s a bear with an owl head. I can’t take it seriously to begin with.

      I do like that they’ve been dribbling lore in what feels like more natural situations and conversations, instead of giving us a lore dump as soon as they arrive at a location. That would have killed the pace.

      Thom I feel they handled ok, especially how they’ve sown the doubts before the Eyeless fight, they planted the idea that he might be a Darkfriend, after he killed the one at the tavern, so when he returns again later they’re going to go right back to suspecting him for surviving. The end of the episode didn’t feel like fridging him, it felt more like “we’ll see him again, and the characters will still suspect him”. Especially since now they know the story of his nephew, and how he blames the Aes Sedai, and they’ve sown the idea that some Darkfriends truly believe the Dragon is going to heal the world.

    2. Syal says:

      when they cut locations like Baerlon and Caemlyn

      Wait, they cut Caemlyn? That was the second-most memorable part of the book!

      1. Retsam says:

        They haven’t gotten to that yet, but I’m pretty sure they’re moving the Caemlyn sections to be at Tar Valon instead – can still introduce the Camelyn characters Elayne and Gawyn and Galad and Logain (who the show has already introduced) have reasons to be at Tar Valon as well as some of Tar Valon characters like Siuan, who otherwise doesn’t show up until the second book (and maybe Verin).

        If they do it this way, I don’t think I’d really even call it a meaningful “cut” .

        1. Syal says:

          I guess so. It’d save on extras, definitely. But trying to blend in to Caemlyn culture and inadvertently declaring allegiance to a political minority is one of the few events that really stuck out to me in Book 1. You’ve got the beginning, the end, Shadar Logoth, and the red-white threads in Caemlyn.

          1. Fizban says:

            Indeed, one of the best parts of the book, I but I agree that it seems likely to be cut. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they cut *the end of book 1 itself*. The exact events aren’t actually important: its setup for the next book can be moved, an event that becomes an ongoing plot of sorts doesn’t matter if that’s getting dropped anyway, etc.

            Or the trip to Caemlyn could happen next season during the book 2 plot.

      2. jurgenaut says:

        That’s how I’ve understood it – they’ve never mentioned it by name in the series, only ever speaking about going to the white tower.

      3. Will says:

        It’s also where they head in to the Ways completely bypassing Tar Valon once they realize Caemlyn is surrounded. There is a Waygate in TV, but going there at this stage of the story before meeting the Green Man at the Eye would be a massive change in continuity. Cutting the Ways out would mean justifying how Shadowspawn got past the Borderlands.

  24. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Re : shows should make misleading recaps
    Community did that brilliantly in their clip show episode “Paradigms of Human Memory”. It was entirely new clips but it was set up in a way that at first you imagined you just didn’t remember that part, then you started wondering if you missed entire episodes, then you realize you’ve been punked and it’s delightful!
    One of Community’s classics.

  25. Morita Hikaru says:

    someone probably already mentioned but the main character of wheel of time very much is not immune to going mad.

  26. evilmrhenry says:

    (Yeah, I’m behind.) Regarding the Wheel of Time game, it was released (“The Wheel of Time”). Unfortunately, it’s not available digitally, and the disc version doesn’t work well in up to date Windows versions. It’s an original Unreal engine FPS.

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