Domino Worldbuilding and the Brilliance of Mass Effect

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 14, 2020

Filed under: Column 155 comments

If you’ve spent any time reading my work or watching my videos, then you know I tend to be kind of negative. So I want to change things up this week by talking about something I love. The problem is that I don’t really have a good word for this thing. So I’m going to do what all pretentious and self-important critics do, and make up my own term. And then I’ll explain what it means, why I love it, and why I think the first Mass Effect game is one of the most interesting fictional worlds I’ve ever visited.

To explain what makes Mass Effect so interesting to me, let’s talk about how other game worlds are developed. Different writers have different approaches to creating their fictional worlds, but the overwhelming majority of them are built in a needs-first kind of way.

Link (YouTube)

The writer thinks to themselves, “I need the hero to go on a quest for a magic sword to defeat the bad guy who lives in a hellish wasteland.” They start with that premise as the base and they only add details when they need to.

Then a self-important critic like me will come along and start asking annoying questions like:
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Diecast #286: Half-Life, Fallen Order, Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 13, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 119 comments

SoldierHawke is back, and so we spend a lot of the show talking about Valve games. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. Paul will be back next week for more of… whatever it is we do here.

Hosts: SoldierHawke, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes: Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Diecast #286: Half-Life, Fallen Order, Mailbag”



Grand Theft Auto V: Survive The Hunt

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jan 12, 2020

Filed under: Video Games 75 comments

Now would be an excellent time for me to talk about the speedrunning marathon Games Done Quick 2020, which just wrapped up last night. However, I managed to miss most of the show this year. I’ll talk more about that on the podcast tomorrow, but in the meantime let me tell you about this other video game thing I’ve been spectating.

Survive The Hunt

You're not allowed to shoot from a car, but if you're the prey then you ARE allowed to chuck sticky bombs at target cars.
You're not allowed to shoot from a car, but if you're the prey then you ARE allowed to chuck sticky bombs at target cars.

Survive the hunt is a community-created game that takes place within Grand Theft Auto V. It’s an asymmetrical PvP game mode where a dozen or so hunters must track down and kill a single player. The trick is that the map is hidden and players don’t have names over their heads. This means that you can’t automatically tell the difference between a player and an NPC. A player can blend into the crowd by simply dressing and behaving like an AI.

The prey has the goal of driving around the city and destroying one of the hot pink Premier model carsI’m not 100% sure this is the model of car in question. The guy making the videos calls them “pree”, which might be a Primo or a Premier. I don’t know the game well enough to tell the difference at a glance. that have been parked around the map. However, doing so will advertise their position to the hunters.

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Dénouement 2019 Part 4: The Good Stuff

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 9, 2020

Filed under: Industry Events 83 comments

Now that it’s finally 2020, it’s time to talk about what games I loved in 2019. Keep in mind that I’m just one over-the-hill nerd and I don’t have a staff of younglings helping me to achieve Total Coverage. As a result, I only play a tiny fraction of the games that come out in a given year. Moreover, I try to play a mix of AAA and indie stuff. The result is that there are probably a lot of really good games that I never got around to playing.

Also, I don’t always pounce on games at release day. You might see a few games in this list that actually came out at the tail end of 2018, but I didn’t get around to playing until this year. Given how much publishers like to fight over the Christmas shopping season, I have to allow a bit of slop in the dates or some games would never get a chance.

I’m not very good at putting games in order. The expectation is that the list should be sorted in the order of ascending quality, with the #1 spot going to some sort of “Game of the Year”. That’s a reasonable expectation as a reader, but the ordering of these things is inherently and inescapably arbitrary.

Hm. Do I give the #3 spot to Landmark Game That We Never Thought Would Get a Sequel? Or maybe I should put that one space below Niche Game I Was Personally Obsessed With? And hang on, shouldn’t both of these be lower than Smash Hit That People Are Still Making Memes About? Oh crap, I didn’t leave room on the list for Surprise Hit That Everyone Thought Would Be Terrible! And what about High-Profile Remake that’s Better than The Original, or Gem From Last Year That I Didn’t Get Around to Playing Until This Year! This is a mess. I need to start over.

So don’t give me a hard time about the ordering, okay?

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Dénouement 2019 Part 4: The Good Stuff”



Entitled to an Explanation

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 7, 2020

Filed under: Random 176 comments

A couple of weeks ago we ended up discussing the term “entitled” in the comments. This was part of a side discussion regarding “entitled gamers”. Someone noted that entitled seems to be its own opposite. As in:

  1. This fender bender is covered by your auto insurance, therefore you’re entitled to money from the insurance company. (You really do deserve the money.)
  2. You’re an entitled gamer because you’re demanding the developer add additional features that were never promised. (You’re confusing something you want with something you deserve.)

So which is it? Does entitled mean you deserve something, or does it mean you’re acting like you deserve something when you don’t? The answer, of course, is “it depends”, because language is obnoxiously fluid and there’s nothing to stop people from bending words until our language is confused.

I find the mutation of “entitled” to be interesting because I saw it happen during my lifetime. I saw the usage of the word slip subtly over the years. Each individual evolutionary step made sense, but at the end we’d ruined a word.

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