Ask Me a Question: Reset Button

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 14, 2010

Filed under: Personal 48 comments

From Fenix:

Are you planning on doing anymore Reset Button episodes?

Just watched the Fuel tech one and felt like a show not focusing on game quality and more on the tech within the game could be a cult hit (which is a contradiction I believe).

For the curious, here’s the video in question:

Link (YouTube)

Here’s the thing about Reset Button:

It’s crazy time consuming. Of course, that’s true of pretty much all video content. In the time it takes to produce a ten-minute video, I could probably hammer out 5,000 words. (One episode of Shamus Plays is ~2,000 words, and my weekly column probably averages just over 1,000.) I’d rather produce video if I could. Video is way more viral and my video work always has a longer reach than my written stuff. But the time just isn’t there. (Josh handles all the editing for Spoiler Warning, which is what makes that series possible.)

This is actually a really interesting time for me. In the past, I’d pick up a project and fiddle with it until I was bored with it or people lost interest. But at some point this site became popular enough that projects would no longer fizzle out, and instead they would grow in scope and in audience. So instead of dropping the project I’d add it to my list of weekly duties. Then when I’d get another itch I’d add yet another new project. We now have this blog, Stolen Pixels, Experienced Points, Shamus Plays, and Spoiler Warning. I’m getting restless because I’m at capacity and I can’t add anything new without dropping an existing project. And I can’t bear to let any of them go.

Our only hope now is for me to lose my day job.


From The Archives:

48 thoughts on “Ask Me a Question: Reset Button

  1. X2-Eliah says:

    So to sum up, you are asking us to help you get fired? That can be arranged, good sir, that can be arranged..

    On a more serious note, you could use the ’empty-talk’ time in Spoiler Warning to point out interesting (to you, at least) aspects of the technology there – would certainly beat repeating the same issues with a certain plot point over and over (“WHY do I want to find my dad, they NEVER GAVE ME REASON”, anyone?).

    That said, the quality and quantity of content you are churning out really is the thing that makes people stick around, so you must be doing things right.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      Well the problem there is that the chat might get sidetracked when they get talking about something interesting, as we saw last episode with their discussion of Team Fortress 2.
      (speaking of TF2: )

      Agreed on your first and last paragraphs though.

  2. Blanko2 says:

    well, you’ve got a large enough nerd following that, within that group, there are probably people willing to get the footage you need for a certain game.
    and likely someone to help edit, both of which could cut your work time quite a bit.
    course the footage wouldnt necessarily be as perfect as you liked, but i dont think people would mind as much as you do, because what i think the public likes more is your insight, rather than a perfectly edited visual extravaganza. it could just be a nearly perfect one.

    1. MichaelG says:

      Can’t find a link, but there was a guy recently who had lost an eye and wanted to replace it with a webcam, so that people could look out of his right eye whenever they wanted.

      If you would just strap a camera on your head (no need to remove an eye!) and learn to talk to yourself constantly about what you see, including game tech, we could all just ride along.

      Why selfishly keep any part of your life from your devoted fans?

      1. Shamus says:

        I like it!

        Let me see about getting this eye out. I’ve got a spoon here someplace…

        1. Mari says:

          Sporks are much more effective for eyeball removal.

          /phobia inducing squick-fest

  3. somecrazyfan says:

    I’m going to do something that may get me banned!
    Instead of commenting about this article I am going to ask something, here, because I can’t think of a better place to ask.
    Could anyone tell me, in special you Shamus, some video game design blogs?I have found some but only one of them is large and varied enough.
    I want to read especially about RPG video games, something like how do you get a certain reaction from the player, or how do you implement a certain sistem…Pretty please:)

    1. Blanko2 says:

      you can try i think its
      hes got a section on mechanics, for all games, really, though, but there are a lot that refer to rpgs

      1. somecrazyfan says:

        That’s a great site, thanks.
        Do you know any others?

        1. Cuthalion says:

          Well, the Rampant Coyote is usually pretty interesting to me. He’s made some games before and is currently working on an RPG. Every week or so, he’ll do a post specifically on how the game is coming and what he’s run into in the process. Other topics include nerd culture, indie game news, interviews he’s found or done, and game design.

          You might also check Shamus’s links on the right sidebar of this very site.

    2. Lalaland says:

      Oooo +1 on that, as a failed programmer I’m fascinated by terms like ‘tree traversal’ and ‘genetic algorithms’ (my thesis was on those, possibly quite useless as a practical tool but so beautiful in concept). In fact it was the ‘procedural city’ programming project that first drew to me the site. Digital Foundrytech interviews and post mortems are good at getting at some of this stuff but I’d love to see hear of other ‘go to’ sites for this stuff.

      1. Valaqil says:

        Not entirely useless. I certainly haven’t written a thesis on it, but, for my senior project in computer science, I designed/implemented a genetic algorithm that found solutions for a search-optimization problem. It worked really well at minimizing conflicts when generating a schedule.

      2. Lalaland says:

        My mistake it wasn’t a thesis, it was for my bachelors (damn university lingo, I was no good at it then either). What always worried me about them was the local minima problem and whether they were just a really complicated way of coming up with yet another ‘good enough’ approximation (particularly with the really big datasets). Such an elegant concept though, it just feels so right

      3. Blanko2 says:

        if you like that sort of stuff you should REALLY go to that site i linked, his 300 mechanics is pretty interesting

        1. somecrazyfan says:

          There should be more of them. Look at this site I’ve found about psyhology in video games

  4. jokermatt999 says:

    That’s a shame. I knew there was something I was missing about your writings since you got hired over at The Escapist and such, but I thought that may have just been the eternal “OMFG SELL OUT!!1” reflex, so I ignored it. This post made me realize it was those random awesome projects. Let’s hope you find the time sometime.

  5. kingcom says:

    So operation get Shamus Fired? Whose with me!? Anyway, i really enjoyed the reset button, i hope to developing games someday and this is absolutely fascinating to me.

  6. Galad says:

    Dear Shamus,

    I realize I’m probably not in a position to give you advice, but I thought I’d do so anyhow, just in case it helps you make up your mind. Please take care not to burn out. And Losing your day-time job is most likely the worst choice of “which egg to drop from the basket”. That would be all.


  7. Kevin J. says:

    Well, I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I’d prefer you spend the time writing. I can consume your 5000 word post in considerably less than 10 minutes, and I can do it in places that watching a video wouldn’t be feasible. I’ve been very disappointed in the movement of blogs in general to video, and I almost never bother watching videos created by bloggers.

    1. Ross says:

      I second this. I can read at work. Video, not so much. When I finally get home from the office I only have a couple hours to get dinner made, consumed, household chores, etc and then bed to go through it all again the next day.

    2. Lalaland says:

      Video is a time sink best saved for projects like the Mass Effect & FO3 LPs (where the MST2K feel is impossible to achieve in text), I’d love to see content like this in text rather than not at all. Of course this is whenever that 25th hour in your day comes round…

    3. somebodys_kid says:

      Agreed. Keep writing. I’d be willing to forgo video.

    4. asterismW says:

      I concur. Reading your posts gives me something to do at work during lunch. And you’re extremely funny in writing, a talent which many people lack.

    5. Valaqil says:

      I n-th this. Text is much easier for me to consume at my leisure.

      1. steve? says:

        I also prefer your written articles and fully agree with Ross (although some topics like the Fuel video are better suited to video formats).

    6. Mistwraithe says:

      And now n+1th… reading is just a more convenient way of getting a Shammus hit.

  8. Deoxy says:

    If only you could sell out somehow – that is, get paid to do this stuff. This BECOMES your “day job”.

    Unfortunately, I see no way of that happening. I think that leaves “buying lottery tickets”.


    To take good care of yourself, though. Some of this content is a lot better than NONE, which is what we would get if you break down.

    1. Mari says:

      I had the same hope for Shamus. Unfortunately the interwebz has proven impervious to the “hey, why don’t the fans of Shamus pay him to do what he does best and we enjoy most!?!” model. It works for a little while sometimes but in the long run I haven’t really seen it work out as a family-sustaining career model. Which is a pity.

      I admit that people like me have contributed to the failure of that particular business model. Shamus’s site is officially the oldest site on my “visit regularly” list. Most things I get bored with after a while and quit visiting. Ergo, I rarely pay for that kind of content and if I do my support dries up when I get bored and move on.

      I think two things keep me coming back to Twenty Sided where other content has failed to capture me. One is the ongoing “community.” The minimal amounts of drama and copious volume of proper English (even among non-English speakers! Amazing!) have done a lot to keep me here. It’s fun to have a discussion with people who can hold up their own end. The other thing is exactly what Shamus mentioned. There has historically been a huge variety of content produced by Shamus. A lot of it has interested me but when something didn’t capture my interest I knew I could come back tomorrow for something completely different.

    2. Erik says:

      “To take good care of yourself, though. Some of this content is a lot better than NONE, which is what we would get if you break down.”

      Amen to that. Your writing is intelligent and insightful, and I’d miss it were you to burn out.

      When you’re evaluating your schedule load, remember to schedule in down-time. You are probably already be scheduling game time, so you can have something to write about. But be sure to also reserve some play time that has nothing to do with any of your projects, just to keep yourself sane and have some fun. Call it Quality-of-life time.

      As someone else with a day job and a major side project/second job, I find it pretty important for myself.

  9. DaveMc says:

    This reminds me of something I read, decades ago, by a science fiction author who had made the transition from working at a day job to being a full-time author. He was commenting on the conventional wisdom that you should feel ready to switch when your income from writing equalled your income from your “real” job. What he noted, though, was that people tended to forget that this would mean that you’d be cutting your current income in half when you quit your day job! If you’d been accustomed to getting both sources of income, that pay cut could be something of a jolt. I forget, unfortunately, what he recommended instead, but I think it was something along the lines of “Quit your day job when you’re ready to get along on just your writing income”.

    Anyway, it struck me as a similar issue faced by someone like you, Shamus, when you start making a bit of money from your web-based activities. I’m guessing that quitting your real job isn’t a realistic short-term prospect, nice though it might be for your fans.

    You know, there are a couple of podcasts who existence I want to support, where I kick in a few bucks a month through a Paypal donation. I’d do something similar for Twenty Sided, if the option existed. Just sayin’.

    1. Mari says:

      The same type of advice is given to couples hoping to transition from dual-income families to single-income families so that one parent can stay at home with the kids full time. Here’s where it differs: You spend a period of time living on just the income you plan to live on, socking the second income away into savings. Once you’ve satisfactorily demonstrated to yourself that you can run the household on the intended income then you quit the job you intended to quit. Not only do you have a track record of living off of what you intend to live on into the future, you have a sizable savings account in place for life’s little surprises.

      From what I’ve gathered, though, Shamus isn’t even making beer and skittles money from his web content and probably is not in a position to live off of it.

  10. Factoid says:

    I think like most anything, practice makes perfect. The more video you edit, the faster you get at it.

    Look at the editors on something like the Daily Show. Probably two people, max, and they edit a 30 minute broadcast in less than 5 hours 4 times a week, and they’re dealing with multiple camera angles, multiple segments, pre-taped bits, content edits, etc…

    And in reality it probably has to be done quite a bit before that: show finishes taping around 6pm, airs at 11pm, but it probably has to go out to affiliates for rebroadcast by 10pm, and probably has to go to network for standards-and-practice people to evaluate by 9pm, with time further edits if the network requires it.

    Of course these are professional editors with specialized equipment and advanced training, so making cranking this stuff out fast is easier for them, but with enough practice I’m sure you could get to the point where editing a 10 minute piece takes much less time than it does now.

    Obviously it doesn’t address the fact that you don’t HAVE any time…but still, if you were to pick up a video project on a regular basis I would anticipate that you’d steadily see your time spent on it diminish as you went along.

  11. Shamus' Boss says:

    Our only hope now is for me to lose my day job.

    Done! Fired!

  12. Torsten says:

    At first, since the video is about FUEL and the old posts have not had comments in months I want to ask, where did you get the cheats that unlock the play areas? I am starting to get tired of opening the game by racing.

    More on the topic, I personally prefer your columns and blog posts about gaming over Reset Button videos. Sure they are nice to look at and bring new thoughts, but the same can be done much better and in larger quantity in text. Perhaps you should consider sometimes doing a combination of the two, much like Escapist has video and column reviews of games.

    1. Drexer says:

      Here you go. It’s just a manner of enabling the console and then you can just change the needed detail. I too had the same problem once I got FUEL and just wanted to drive around. I dread to imagine my position if I had gotten it for a console.

      What happened to the days of cheat codes?

      1. Zukhramm says:

        For the PS3 at least, it’s possible to download a save with everything unlocked.

  13. David says:

    As a part of my Reclaim Your Attention post, there’s a section on Killing, Committing and Transforming your projects.

    It’s hard to kill a project one started up intending to see it through, but sometimes it’s really liberating to kill it in order to make the time for something more worthy. I guess I’m encouraging you, Shamus, to go ahead and re-evaluate your projects and the way you use your time.

    Or maybe you did, and this was your polite way of saying Reset Button is one of the projects you’re officially killing?

  14. Ragnar says:

    I am one of those strange fellows who very much prefers text to video and audio for the following reasons:

    1. It’s much easier to skim a text to get an overview of the text. And to skip uninteresting sections.

    2. As a non-native English speaker, I have a much easier time understanding written English, than spoken. Especially since the audio quality in podcasts and video blogs usually isn’t top notch.

    1. somecrazyfan says:

      That also goes for me.

  15. Cuthalion says:

    Well, I generally skip videos due to network filterwall constraints, combined with the fact that people are more likely to read over my shoulder when it’s something moving. So personally, I prefer text as well.

    But I understand how the video can have a wider reach, especially if it’s put on youtube or something. Videos are something people like to spread around virally. Blogs, not so much. So while some of us may not be able to do video, there are a whole lot of people out there who can and will, but won’t read your posts.

    Anyway, hopefully you’re able to manage which projects you want to keep and kill without burning out or messing up your bread-winning day job. ^_^

  16. ChechenRebel says:

    Hmm… Yes, I noticed that.

    You know, Shamus, the reason why I came to this site was due to your incredibly thorough and detailed reviews of video games. Even when the game in question did not interest me in the slightest, I like to read your reviews.

    Lately, you have stopped doing that and that makes me sad. I would rather have the reviews then these endless “Shamus Plays”. You don’t know how happy I was when you finished Shamus Plays: City of Heroes … but then you started another one :(

    1. somecrazyfan says:

      I like th “Shamus plays” section, just like I enjoy the reviews and articles related to game design, but I don’t like the videos.
      It seems that a part of the fan base doesn’t apreciate the novelties that Shamus has been bringing to us during the last 3-4 mounths and wants the old stuff back.
      Maybe we should start a site

    2. Ragnar says:

      I definitely agree on that.

  17. WCG says:

    So, skipping the actual post here, let me ask about that video. I didn’t think that Oblivion felt that big. Morrowind was bigger. But the game that felt BIG was Daggerfall.

    Bethesda claimed that the land mass was twice the size of Great Britain. I’ve heard that disputed, but I don’t know. It was supposed to have 15,000 cities, towns, and dungeons.

    At any rate, I loved the game – or should I say, that kind of game? It had plenty of faults, but I loved the idea, and I wish the sequels had built on it.

    I’m sure Daggerfall had a main quest, but I don’t know what it was. I ignored it in favor of wandering and exploring that massive world. I have no interest in racing games, but when I see a huge virtual world like that, I just want to explore it. An RPG or survival game would be perfect.

  18. Johan says:

    “Our only hope now is for me to lose my day job. ”
    At which point you could no longer afford the electric needed to run a computer D:

  19. Mistwraithe says:

    I know it wouldn’t make any difference to the lack of time (at least not in the short term) but would it make sense to have a way for readers to give money in return for the value they feel they get from the site?

    Obviously it would be a huge step from there to getting enough money to drop the day job back to part time but you have to start somewhere.

    My main reason for suggesting it is that I would much rather quickly send some money (donation, optional subscription, whatever you want to call it) than spend time clicking on adverts that I have no interest in!

  20. UtopiaV1 says:

    Just like to throw in my weight and say – I also loved driving around the world of Fuel for hours at a time. And to be honest, i don’t usually like racing games, but the races in this are easy enough and fun to do, thanks to the ad-hoc non-linear racetrack… plus a killer soundtrack! You’re right though, this technology was needed in an open sandbox game.

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