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Diecast #22: Videogame Journalism, Pacific Rim, and Comics

By Shamus
on Tuesday Jul 23, 2013
Filed under:


I’m pretty proud of the conversation we had about game journalism. We had a lot of different views, we looked at it from a lot of different angles, and I think some smart things were said.

In other news: Someone suggested that putting the fully qualified URL to the audio in the RSS feed would help the Diecast show up for podcasting software. I have done this. I’m sure you’ll let me know if it helped.

Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, and Mumbles, Chris but not Rutskarn.

Show notes:

02:30 What’s everyone doing?

Shamus is playing Borderlands 2. Also Evoland.

Chris is playing Animal Crossing and making a new Errant Signal.

Mumbles is playing Mann vs. Machine.

Josh is playing Metro 2033 and Borderlands 2.

20:00 Warren Spector: Where’s Gaming’s Roger Ebert?

We basically covered this topic because Chris’ post on his Errent Signal blog made me want to talk about it: NO BUT SERIOUSLY, WHY AM I NOT ON TV?

Here is the Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage video on videogame journalism that we mentioned.

For “big name” journalists, we suggested: Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw of Zero Punctuation
Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb, James Portnow of Extra Credits.

Here is the Jimquisition where Stirling talks about how consumers SAY they want a “rich dark roast” but BUY creamy sweet inoffensive blends.

Also, today’s Critical Miss strip is relevant.

45:30 Pacific Rim. (And then Rutskarn shows up and we talk about random things for 15 minutes.

58:30 Mumbles talks comics!

1:17:30 Mailbag.

Comments (147)

  1. Grampy_Bone says:

    Come on Josh, someone with your PC can easily run the PS2 emulator. It runs Persona 4 just fine. I’ve been using it since my PS2 finally crapped out on me.

  2. guy says:

    Ar Tonelico is noteworthy for not only having surprise extra game, but actually rolling the credits when that happens.

    Pacific Rim was indeed pretty fun, although there was the slightly disconcerting feeling of having a very, very clear idea of where the story was going at all times. I think I have watched too much Anime.

    • Nytzschy says:

      I really enjoyed Pacific Rim, and will defend to the death its right to be a silly, over-the-top, enjoyable robot vs giant monster movie, but unfortunately I felt the same way. Especially with regard to the ending, which I felt was much too similar to the ending of Independence Day, except that Independence Day’s climax/ending was slightly more plausible and consistent, while Pacific Rim’s denouement felt like it didn’t have enough breathing room.

      Also, nuclear reactors don’t explode like that. They’re not bombs. A meltdown is what it sounds like: the nuclear fuel undergoes a runaway reaction until it can melt through its containment. If you were weaponizing a meltdown, the results would more likely be a kind of “China Syndrome” meltdown, in which the runaway fuel simply burns through everything it comes across.

      However, the most ridiculously physically implausible moment of the movie was when Mako Mori stood right in front of a landing helicopter in the rain and stayed completely dry under her umbrella. What!?

      • guy says:

        Well, actually certain kinds of nuclear reactors can potentially explode. We, uh, don’t use them often for obvious reasons

        • MikhailBorg says:

          If you’re going to bring it up: the square/cube law doesn’t work that way either, nor do any construction materials we’re likely to have by 2020, nor can you evacuate a city in an hour, nor can you throw punches underwater that way, nor / nor / nor / nor…

          Hey, I knew what kind of movie I was getting into. Pacific Rim gave it to me.

      • Phantom Hoover says:

        One of the big messages I got from the film was that Guillermo del Toro has a very confused idea of how nuclear reactors work.

    • postinternetsyndrome says:

      My teenage self had his mind promptly blown when perfect dark did this. It was only an extra two levels after the fake ending, and I’m not sure I’d be as impressed today, but back then it was the coolest thing ever.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “although there was the slightly disconcerting feeling of having a very, very clear idea of where the story was going at all times”

      It was going towards giant mechs fighting giant beasts.And as someone who grew up with voltron and robotech,I really enjoyed that.This is what we wanted to see from transformers movies,and Im so glad that someone had the courage to simply make a silly live action cartoon.

    • Thomas says:

      Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has such a subtle after-game game that I didn’t actually know it existed until I read a walkthrough. The characters seem to get resolution, there’s a final boss fight, the day is saved the plot is solved, there’s a sequel hook, the entire credits roll.

      …and then it turns out there’s another 6-7 levels, a final boss fight and a massive revelation with an entirely different resolution and sequel hook.

      But it’s even more hidden than that, at first it looks like the after credits game is just some new game plus. You replay a few sidequests and old missions and then you get a weird codex conversation. And a new bit of news. And you do it again and something new pops up and you notice there’s a new mission in the menus…

  3. anaphysik says:

    The first stretch goal for the ‘kick Josh in the junk’ Kickstarter should be to also hire the sketchy dude/lady to say “I will punch your eyes.” And then actually punch him in the eyes, of course. A missed opportunity in 400 Days?

  4. X2-Eliah says:

    Currently it seems that the only avenues that are worthwhile, wrt game criticism, is (short, 3-7min) video content… In other words, game criticism is profitable only when it is posed as bitesized entertainment. Imo, that’s a huge problem.

  5. patrick johnston says:


    that is all.

  6. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    1.) Wow, that was a short discussion of Pacific Rim. Eh, I actually thought the movie had some interesting ideas -especially regarding the Drift -I wish it had developed more. There are some neat places to go with a piece of tech that creates one mind across 3 bodies (two pilots and the jaeger). Maybe in the sequel.

    2.) For a variety of reasons I decided to play ME3 again. I’m only just past Palavan. I’ve noticed a few things. Now that I have a big screen TV, the view angle is really constricted. I’d never noticed it (I remember when the SW crew turned it off) on the small screen. Also, the characters are very wooden and stiff. Again, not new, but never noticed on the small screen. And finally, I am dreading the ending. That’s how bad it ruined the game.

    3.) Branching storylines are possible, but it seems to me like they need to converge pretty fast. The problem with the ending of ME3 didn’t seem to me -per se -to be that it was always the same, but that the choices didn’t pay off. Having spent 3 games doing all this stuff, we wanted to see how it worked out. Instead, it’s relevance was relegated to an abstract bar. Tuchanka always ends the same way (there’s only 4 varients, and none of them affect the levels themselves) but many choices made up to that point pay off. The whole game should have been like that, and the ending should have been the grand pay-off.

    4.) I wonder if the ending could have been a little better had the emphasis been not on preventing a singularity, but on the preservation in reaper form. The ending would still need a massive rewrite, but something like “it is in the nature of organic life to divide and destroy itself -the Mass Effect network shapes you into specific types of civilizations, which we then preserve in Reaper form.” Hence, “salvation through destruction.”

  7. Bryan says:

    Evoland. Bought that one from GoG. Unfortunately I can’t get it to work with the version of wine that I have installed. :-( Haven’t tried pulling down the earlier Linux release of Air, though (since they stopped releasing newer versions, and I don’t know what release this requires); it’s possible that that might work.

    Probably just need to upgrade wine, but that’s sometimes problematic, as it can break other games, and cross-testing the new wine build against the ~10 games I run under it (variants of HL1, Deus Ex, Anodyne, LoTR (…no, not the version you’re thinking of; this one follows the book), Raptor-2011, Stonekeep, Unreal, Unreal 2, and maybe a couple others that I run under a shared profile) takes a long time.

    And I don’t see a native-linux version either. :-/

    • ferry says:

      three words, Play on Linux, and all that wine version and wineprefix hassle goes away. it also downloads precompiled wine binaries and libs for you, so you don’t have get all the dependencies if you want the latest unstable version that’s not in the apt or whatever package distribution system you’re using

  8. Spongioblast says:

    Couple of DC related thoughts. The whole talk about the Riddler and how Batman is kind of enabling him reminded me of this scene from the Justice League cartoon.
    Also, in DC attempt to make the Avenger’s lighting strike for them after the Superman/Batman movie there will the a Flash movie and that will lead to a Justice League film. How the Nolenized DC film universe with handle the Flash, light hearted jokester with a kooky cast off villains, is something that will be at the very least interesting.

    • anaphysik says:

      this scene from the Justice League cartoon.”


    • Thomas says:

      Actually DC may or may not suck at everything else, but their cartoons are all excellent. Even Young Justice, despite the motorbike and black shirted angry superboy, at least it realises that the anger is a problem that superboy needs to fix. And they feel much more like a team than the Justice League or even the Avengers, the first time they had a complete psychic conversation with each other excluding outsiders was such a cool character moment.

      …although it might just be that deep in my heart I want to watch romances and all the sci-fi and superhero stuff is an excuse for that. Why I watched Firefly? Kaylee/Simon, JusticeLeague animated? Batman/Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl/Green Lantern. And Young Justice ships everyone =D

  9. anaphysik says:

    Shamus: “top ten lists and beautiful people”

    Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me? Lisa Foiles does Top Five lists, you rube! ;D

    • Shamus says:

      I know you’re just poking fun, but I should say this:

      I tried to be careful to avoid criticizing anyone in particular because 1) I sorta work with these people 2) I might meet them someday 3) I don’t have a problem with any one person and 4) Not all top 10 lists are bad. Here’s a great one: http://mentalfloss.com/article/49935/10-very-costly-typos

      There’s TOTALLY room in the news feed for a top 10 list or a top five list. We can talk about what the difference is between a good list and a bad one, but I’ll give Lisa credit: She knows her stuff. Sure, people rage at her for omitting X or Y from the list sometimes, but she’s at least as well-rounded as I am, in terms of titles played. Even when I disagree with her choices, I can see her lists are genuine and not just flamebait to churn up links.

      And to be fair: If I was a lantern-jawed hunk and someone was willing to pay me to pick “top 5 somethings”? You bet your ass.

      For me it isn’t that top 10 lists exist. It’s that there are so many of them, they trend shallow, and they do really, really well. Again, I hate to put myself in a position where I’m complaining about the audience. “Oh, why can’t people be analytical and deep like me?” I don’t want to come off like a pretentious hipster jackass. So, yeah. Not finding fault with any one person in particular.

      • anaphysik says:

        (I actually really like Lisa’s Top Fives (though I haven’t watched them of late, because I basically never go to the Escapist except when you post an article or when I hear about a cool Robert Rath article). That was an additional part of the poke-funnery.)

        “I don't want to come off like a pretentious hipster jackass.” Aha! The /real/ reason why you star on a show alongside Chris, Rutskarn, and Josh, respectively ;D

      • False Prophet says:

        And it’s not even a new thing. When I was reading guitar magazines in the early 90s, every third or fourth issue would have a cover proclaiming “20 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time!” “50 Greatest Riffs of All Time!” “The 30 Greatest Guitarists…of All Time!” And sure enough, the letters pages a couple months later would be full of readers writing in “I can’t believe you forgot [thing I like]? You’re obviously morons!” or “How could you include [thing I hate]? You’re obviously morons!” The web has just made the turnaround on this process a few hundred times faster.

        Also, I like Lisa’s videos too. But a large part of that is because unlike 90% of these sorts of lists, there’s no phony pretense of “Serious Journalism” or the obvious need to pad out site content on a slow day. They’re primarily comedic entertainment from someone genuinely funny (YMMV obviously) and knowledgeable about her material. And while I love deep critical analysis as much as the next Twenty Sided reader, once in a while it’s nice to just celebrate the things we like about this hobby.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        When I used to write for IGN (I’m not evil really, I was writing for a site while it was being bought out by IGN…), I co-wrote a top 10 list.

        We did it because we had no content for the next day’s front page – the guy meant to provide it had crapped out at the 11th hour, and we needed to do something quick and easy.

        It was quick and easy, and we felt kinda bad. It’s one of the things I’m least proud of writing.

        So therefore it became one of the most popular articles I ever wrote on that site (in terms of reader / forum feedback).


      • Karthik says:

        Paul Graham has an interesting essay on why The List of N Things is popular.

        (Chiefly because it’s a cognitive crutch for both the writer and the readers, but I’m oversimplifying here.)

  10. Rick says:

    I’ve got a few things to say about Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward.

    1) It has one of the best stories of any video game I have ever played. It also uses its game-play in a really interesting way to help convey the narrative.

    2) It’s also available on the 3DS, so no need to buy a Vita just for ZE:VLR.

    3) I highly recommend playing “999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors” for the original DS first. ZE:VLR is a direct sequel of it. 999 is just $20 on Amazon at time of writing.

  11. jarppi says:

    Shamus, you totally should play through Metro 2033 (and Last Light). You’ve said you like survival horror. I wouldn’t classify Metro series as that but they definetly have survival horror elements in. The 2033 is the most atmospehric game I’ve ever played. It may has some odd difficulty spikes but it is still a very good and unique game, like a triple A game by some indie developers. Story is in both games, for obvious reasons, way better that you can find in average shooters.

    Josh, Last Light changed some things but at least in my opinion it didn’t ruin anything, so no worries.

    Chris, I would also recommend this game for you as you seem to seek games that push the media foward. This game has a message to deliver…

  12. I always took the desire for “unbiased” video game reporting not to mean “give me something dryer than kibble in Death Valley.” I thought it meant “this review is in no way skewed by a large ad buy being made on the site where it appears, and if a number-based rating system is used, it’s multifaceted with several categories and/or isn’t always a number between 8.5 and 10 on a scale of 10.”

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Nah, it’s not that. Sure, it is a factor but what those complaints are usually about is the search for an actual “objective” review. Because everyone assumes that they are the one objective person and, as such, an objective review would be the best consumer advice for them because it would give them an “honest” information about the game, not skewed by personal preferences or perception.

      Back in the day we still read reviews in the form of paint on processed dead trees I’ve seen a number of magazines get a lot negativity for doing things like giving games for review to people who like or dislike a given genre (I mean, from among the writing staff of a given mag) and I imagine this is just a future iteration of the same discussion.

      • Jakale says:

        I’ve mostly been assuming that calls for “unbiased” reviews are usually from people who disagree with the reviewer, but don’t want to put too much thought into their disapproving response, rather than any meaningful desire for objectivity.

        I imagine there probably are some who are honestly concerned that the guy who often talks about how little he likes playing with other people is reviewing MMOs, but by and large I treat it as one of the many forms of “Nuh uhh” in the reactionary internet comment maker’s arsenal.

        • Syal says:

          Agreed. Usually the “biased” argument goes “I like this game, therefore this game is good. Reviewer doesn’t like this game, therefore reviewer is biased against this good game.”

    • Eric says:

      I write reviews for GameBanshee pretty regularly. My opinion of an “unbiased” review is an analysis of a game’s mechanics, systems, presentation etc. It’s easy to say “this game is good” but I’d like to think the better review is an analysis that explains how or why a game works or does not work. Obviously it can be difficult to walk a line between boring and entertaining, but then maybe I’m a more boring writer than some.

      There’s a limited appeal to that sort of thing though. By avoiding click-bait, I’d like to think the site is able to foster a professionalism that attracts a certain niche of people. There’s a place for IGN and GameSpot; there’s also one for sites that are more detailed and insightful.

      Of course, I also save the more in depth commentary and discussion on game design, level design, systems and mechanics design, blah blah for my own personal blog stuff… but even I’ve noticed that my most popular article ever was one released shortly after Skyrim proclaiming that it had the “worst user interface in human history” in the title, or something to that effect. And I admit that it can be tempting to put an otherwise pretty serious and reasonable article behind a sensational title.

      • As with anything involving opinion, you need multiple voices from different points of view. I don’t mind if reviewer X hates RPGs and is given one to review, nor do I de-value reviewer Y who loves platformers and thinks everything else is a waste of time. That is, I value these opinions so long as I know their peccadilloes going in.

        I like RPGs, so if I read the reviewer who thinks they’re largely crap, I can still see what’s disliked and perhaps what’s a deal-breaker for them is just a mild annoyance to me. Still, I can be made aware of it.

        It’s how I watch Yahtzee’s stuff. He’s paid to snark, but once you get used to his patter, you know where the actual review part that you might glean info from is located. Usually it’s a kind of “okay, this game was fun, but…” and I’ve come to learn that means “probably a good diversion, nothing special, but it’s not going to make me throw my keyboard away because I feel it’s become tainted.

        • Dave B. says:

          Since I never pass up a chance to shill my own blog…

          My personal approach to writing about games is hopefully displayed in something I wrote a while ago. I lack the authority or desire to write consumer advice or “unbiased reviews”, so I adopted this style. I try to say whether or not I found the game fun, and then explain why. I try to keep my tone fair and even-handed, but I don’t try to disguise the fact that playing games is a personal activity, and all I can really say about them is my personal opinion. I was recently talking to one of my friends, and he mentioned that he was thinking about getting Company of Heroes 2, but had reconsidered because my post had made the first one sound un-fun. Now, it was un-fun (to me) but I was taken aback when he said that, because I never intended to imply that it was a bad game or that no one would like it.

          And now the reason I replied to you: I watch Zero Punctuation in much the same way. Buried in all of his hyperbole, are some important insights about the games he reviews. I actually read user reviews on Metacritic that way too. I look especially at the strongly negative opinions because buried amongst the “This gaem is teh wurst!” posts, are some that reveal problems that would annoy me, but the other reviews don’t mention. I don’t just want to know if a game is “good”, I also want to know if it will annoy and frustrate me. There is sometimes a certain honesty in the rage-reviews.

      • The (admittedly limited) time I’ve spent making titles for articles has taught me something – you don’t need to be sensationalist to get a higher amount of traffic. As Shamus said, you need passion, but there are other things involved too – most importantly is value. People are more likely to click on something if they can instantly see how it will provided value to them.

        And I think that’s why game critique is such a small, niche market – the only people who are going to click on the links are people who think that game critique will be valuable to them, the only people who are going to read/watch that are either
        a)Not your standard gamer or
        b)A game designer (wannabe or otherwise).

        The problem we need to solve isn’t that most people aren’t interested in the theory behind games (most film-goers aren’t into the theory behind cinema – they don’t know cinematographic techniques, how to act in a convincing manner, why certain elements in a frame are arranged in a particular way, etc). These people will probably be never interested in these things, because these people don’t actually perceive fiction as art – they perceive it as just entertainment. It is impossible to get these people interested in detailed analysis because they do not see it as important. They have “better things to do”.

        On the other hand, there are still lots of people interested in this sort of thing, but it’s very hard to find as sites which congregate content tend to cater towards the “Top 3.5 Boobs of videogames” market, rather than the market of deep analysis. In other words, there are no centralised locations for academic analysis. Most Niche’s have large hubs of centralised content, off which hundreds and hundreds of less wide-reaching content spins off. In the case of analysis of video games, there are no specialised, centralised sites. Everything is just a sprawling web of various analysts who aren’t necessarily even linked to each other in an easily accessible way.

  13. I can’t speak much to DC vs. Marvel killing off and resurrecting villains, but the heroes? Both are mega-guilty. Marvel just brings them back to life eventually, as does DC… SOMEtimes. What DC seems to do at first is have someone new take up the same costume/name with the same powers (go figure). Then, after a year or two, the dead guy comes back as well, which is how we get boatloads of Flashes, Super(people), and Green Lanterns.

  14. JPH says:

    Considering how often Mumbles and Jarenth end up on the show, I feel they should be put on the titlecard, or at least have alternate titlecards featuring each of them for episodes when they’re on.

    Maybe that’s too much work for something most people won’t notice or care about, though.

  15. No joy on the RSS-enclosure front, alas.

    And of course adding the full URI broke danferno’s Yahoo Pipes solution, which adds the domain name to the MP3 link as a first step. (This is a clone of Daniel’s original pipe, minus that one bit, and Works For Me™ in gPodder for Windows and Linux.)

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, not working for me either. There’s a list of “notes” on WordPress podcasting page – specifically, it looks like you need to be sure the audio files are in place when you publish the posting; if not, you need to repost to get it to notice them. I wonder if that’s what went wrong here?

  16. thehokeypokey says:

    I agree that Ron Perlman is awesome. One of my favorite cameos of his (NSFW Language and Violence):

    • If you like horror stories, you might want to check him out in an episode he starred in for the Showtime series, Masters of Horror.

      A huge, honkin’ warning on this next link: This story takes place at an abortion clinic. There is a metric ton of violence and blood. It probably will offend and/or trigger a few reactions in those who watch it. However, it is part of a horror anthology, so that’s kind of par for the course. If that’s do-able, you can enjoy seeing Ron Perlman acting the psychotic heavy in the episode entitled “Pro Life.”

      Edit: If Shamus or someone else with moderation powers feels this link isn’t what they want ’round these parts, feel free to delete it or add more warnings or whatever.

  17. Arkady says:

    At around 32 minutes Mumbles says “[The Escapist could be *that* place for game reviews] if it weren’t for … ” and then I can’t catch it. (Shamus talked over it …

    What did she say there?

  18. Arkady says:

    Also, a representative summary of my internal dialogue during Pacific Rim:

    Hey! There’s no way a robot made of titanium that size could – HOLY SHIT IT JUST SUPLEXED A KAIJU! / USED AN OIL TANKER AS A CLUB / ETC … THAT IS FUCKING AWESOME!

    I also loved the way the fight scenes were choreographed with a mix of movie-Kung Fu, BJJ, Judo and good old fashioned ‘Merican style brawling. It was really cleverly (and subtlety) done.

  19. Mathias says:

    As an amateur Norse mythologist/historical scholar, I am now very, very angry.

  20. Heaven Smile says:

    First, some music to digest the following words:

    *I will comment on this “issue” even before downloading the diecast, because i am tired of hearing the Roger Ebert shit every second. Also, you may probably know me as Dio Wallachia, or EmperorOfLols on Youtube*

    Interactive Medium doesn’t need a Roger Ebert, it needs an Andy Warhol.

    Someone that mocks the critics and art “experts” that only think that there is Art when someone important is doing it, rather than on the merits of the work itself. Interestingly enough, MrBTongue commented that THIS is what happened with Mass Effect 3.

    He argued that the audience is being excluded from the conversation because the industry doesn’t care about the “Games as Art” argument, they care about WHO is making the argument and not its merits.

    You want games (all games in general) to be taken seriously as Art? i suggest taking down the arguments of the asshole that set this whole dispute in the first place from more than a century: Arthur Schopenhauer

    He is responsible for what later will be know as “The Autheur Theory”, because it was based on his writings. And more importantly, he was the one that invented “The Will”.

    TL:DR on “The World as Will and Representation”: He viewed “The Will” as the reason the world is a clusterfuck. It is that constant desire of WANTING something non stop, but once you are finish with what you want you end up wanting another thing. Repeating this processes leads to misery because you ABSOLUTELY CANT satisfy that desire, ever. And yes, Arthur did see humans as no better than animals, since humans can only maintain their intellect for brief periods of time, while The Will perpetually drives them. He isn’t the founder of Pessimism for nothing.

    He did offered solutions to this, Buddhism or High Art (Or “Sublime Art”). He saw Sublime Art as the key to make people STOP being such entitled whiners that want everything on sight, and become enlightened.

    He was the one who suggested that Artist should save the people from “The Will”, like if they were the architects or the high priest of a new civilization.

    So how games fit into this? well, if the artist job is to make sure the poor, entitled, and biased audience gets “fixed” out of this aliment (and yes,i am implying this with that tone: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CondescendingCompassion) then the LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO is to give the audience ANY input at all. Otherwise they will do whatever they WANT, and what they WANT is not follow YOUR carefully planned vision.

    Now, videogames didn’t exist 100 years ago but gambling games and other things did. If The Will is the source of all misery, then gambling games make your life worse, due to the fact that instead of SOLVING the problem of gambling addiction, it actually makes it worse.

    The gaming equivalent of this is, of course, The Skinner Box. (Here is link from Extra Credits take on it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWtvrPTbQ_c)

    If games are to be art, they have to STOP manipulating the audience into being a bunch of addicted junkies. They dont have to make the problem worse, they have to solve it or at least stop it for a while.

    Not only that, but you have to convince the idiots that The Will CAN be used as a tool by a intelligent artist. Like ANY tool in existence, they can be used both for good and evil deeds, and The Will shouldn’t be an exception.

    A “Sublime Art” Game would, in theory, manipulate audience desires in order to send them to a particular conclusion that will show them the message the author wants to tells them. A daunting task indeed, since the artist has to be smarter than the audience in order to predict their desires, and make the plot and the world adjust to their needs….only to turn back on the audience and show the consequences of their unrestrained desires.

    My favorite example on the Youtube comments is an hypothetical adaptation of the novel “1984”. Why? well, i see gamers in general as James T. Kirk. Someone that says: “I dont believe in the no-win scenario” specially presented with something as dystopian and ruthless as the “1984” setting, where The Party is practically omnipotent and omniscient (or are they?), and the system is so broken that any attempts to fix it or work around it is bound to disaster.

    So what would an artist do here? let the audience try everything they want to destroy the system and save the world (and i mean EVERYTHING). The audience should be free to try every option and FAIL SPECTACULARLY at their mission, because one can’t win against this broken system. Hell, every expansion and update to the game should include options that player feedback gave, so they can be tested on this setting and ultimately fail to accomplish anything like all other attempts did.

    And, just like in the novel, once the audience sucumbs to the will of The Party, the system will win.

    The CLOSEST games have to something as “Sublime Art” is, in my opinion, “Missile Command” (Extra Credits link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJA5YjvHDU)

    What better way to send the same message of “The only way to win is not to play” that “War Games” had, but in videogame form?

    • I don’t really want to distract from your awesome rant, but I must add that, from personal experience, skinner boxes don’t always work. In the games industry in particular, if you base your game design around skinner boxes and those don’t work, then you have a completely uninteresting and worthless game. For example, if you give a reward the player doesn’t want or is indifferent about, or if you make getting a reward require too much effort (especially nuisance), the game just doesn’t work. I’m not supporting skinner boxes, I’m just saying that they are actually quite difficult to get right.

      In addition, though, I seem to have managed to not have skinner boxes affect me – for a few years now I’ve never felt compelled to do anything by skinner-box full games. This may be just a placebo, though, I have not figured out a way to discover if this is true or not (as I’d need to be unaware I was being tested for skinner box response, otherwise I’d just think it was a skinner box, which would make it easier to stop).

      • Heaven Smile says:

        Moar music:

        But there were addictive games before The Skinner Box was know. Case in point, Tetris, Super Metroid.

        The formers is supremely addictive, and because Sublime Art is supposed to make you STOP pursuing petty endeavors rather than keep doing them, it cannot be Art.

        And Super Metroid reinforces the idea that “getting stronger and acquire more power is the key to get what you WANT” (i will keep CAPITALIZING the word “WANT” to remind you of “The Will”).

        Again, its not limited to MMORPGs. A modern example is Diablo 3 where the general consensus seems to be that “gameplay is addictive” just like the Diablo 2 was. Even MrBTongue comments on this:

        I think that Campster did elaborate on this before, when he mentioned how gamers do not play by the story standards or roleplay per se, instead they “gamify the system” to win (cant remember which diecast was when he said it). Sublime Art is supposed to supress those desires. If Tetris were Sublime Art under those standards, then just playing it once should be enough to satisfy you. Hell, even Egoraptor commented on this on his “Sequelitis” series on Castlevania 2. He mentioned that older Castlevanias were like a high-class dessert, and the new ones with RPG stuff is there to make you addict to it and want more, like snack food.

        You know what? i think that South Park has a scene that shows how Art people see gamers and games as a whole. Here is the scene of Randy playing with “Heroin Hero”:

        But you know what the funny part is? under that definition of Art that Ebert and others that follow Arthur teachings believe, NOTHING can EVER be Art.

        Why, you may ask? well……remember how The Auteur Theory is supposed to allow artists to have full control over their visions? that is done under the assumption that, as long the artist does what he/she/it WANTS, it will create Sublime Art that will enlighten humanity and save them from their entitled and miserable existence of WANTING and never being satisfied. It is kinda the equivalent of Scientists, on how they are SUPPOSED to make discoveries and advances for the greater good of humanity, and not for their own selfish desires. Artists are SUPPOSED to be like that, by making a work that will help humanity in the long run. The Audience will always outlive The Artist after all, so may as well think in long term.

        And before you ask, yes, i DO paint artists with “Savior” or “Messiah” implications. Its what Arthur said that Artists should be, High Priests of a new civilization.

        Here is my question: If Sublime Art is supposed to make people behave properly, then why almost all artists in existence act like assholes for not getting what they WANT?


        Lets see what the link says about James Cameron:
        “Some of his crew took to wearing T-shirts that read “You Can’t Scare Me. I work for James Cameron.” Some of his friends refer to his bad temper as his Evil Twin “Mij”.Several actors on The Abyss had horror stories; Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio both refused to work with him again after that * , and Harris won’t even talk about his experience. During the filming of True Lies, he apparently refused to allow any of the crew to take bathroom breaks until a shot was, ummm, in the can. During the filming of Titanic, a crew member put PCP in the wrap party soup as revenge (this didn’t work out so well, as dozens of crew members were hospitalized as a result). That said, plenty of actors and crew work with him time and again, so he can’t be that bad all the time… either that or the pay (or the career boost that starring in a James Cameron movie will offer) is just too good to pass up, no matter how much of a Jerk Ass he may be.”

        Seems like a price too high to pay JUST to follow his vision. But surely its all for the greater good, right? a vision that can make even the most depraved sociopath feel empathy for the first time in their lives, cure Cancer, and make Pepsi taste like Coke Cola, right? I mean, surely a man as humble as Cameron is not abusing the fact that being an “Artist” today is something lucrative that one WANTS in order to achieve a elite social status or such petty things that, according to Arthur, make your life a living hell, right?

        I guess not.

        Why does this happen? isn’t the vision already played out in the head of the Artist and becomes, for the lack of a better word, the first member of the audience to see his/her/its masterpiece? shouldn’t he/she/it be the first one to be “changed” by experiencing Sublime Art? People reported that Alfred Hitchcock had its vision already completed in his head and everything else after that is just going through the motions, and yet he did not became a good person after that. He still treated actors like cattle.

        Its almost like…..like if Auteur Theory is not doing what is supposed to do, isnt it? Instead of solving the problem of giving artists power to do what it takes to save humanity by preventing The Will, it corrupts the artists into raving jackasses that do what the WANT instead of what they SHOULD.

        People elevate a bunch of loonies into “messiah” status, and then give them absolute power to do what they WANT. The solution is making things worse and exacerbating the problem. The artists no longer do it for the greater good or meaning, they do Art because they feel…entitled (yep, i went there)…to all the power and glamour that comes with being an artist. The very Raison d’être of The Auteur Theory is broken.

        So, if the Art elite and critics STILL consider the works of those entitled assholes as Art, then games can be Art as well. Remember, the mere idea of choice that games offer is rejected as Art because people do whatever they WANT. But guess what? artists do whatever they WANT too and their works are considered Art, even when they are acting like the people they are lecturing. To favor one side over the other would be a Double Standard and will put into question the credibility of these supposed “critics” and “art experts”.

        I, Dio Wallachia, have spoken. And now that the artists of the world have been brought down to the Real Worldâ„¢, let make them feel confortable. After all, loosing their “messianic” status must be quite a shock for their entitled minds. Lets us chant:
        Gooble gobble, Gooble gobble we accept you, one of us! Gooble gobble, Gooble gobble we accept you, one of us!

        • The problem I have with the overall theory is that it requires artists to be perfect. And that’s impossible, because no human can be perfect.
          Therefore the world is going to be destroyed by us, as the Will will take control, lead us to the edge of destruction and our supposed messiahs will be leading us there.

          Artists don’t start as some sort of perfect, high priest – they start as one of us. They succumb to the WILL – and the only way to stop them is with others who have overcome it, who have created art to stop them from wanting and wanting and wanting.
          But, this can never happen perfectly because no prior artist has been perfect – they are all corrupt.

          The Auteur Theory can never do what it is supposed to do – why should artists alone be burdened with the responsibility of saving the world?If we are the problem, you can either solve it externally (aliens? they’re all too far away to help in any meaningful way), or you can solve it with everyone. Everyone should have the responsibility of helping others stop the WILL – to give this responsibility to a few is to abandon a matter of incredible importance by creating a social class of the saviours – people who aren’t necessarily better than the rest of us (and are often worse – they exhibit the symptoms of being controlled by the WILL in a public sphere – not a good message to be sending as one of the supposed saviours, is it?)

          If Schopenhauer’s theory is true, we have no escape – we will be lead to destruction by those who are responsible for saving us.
          And that’s part of why I think his theory is nonsense – if you need a human to be perfect for your plan to succeed, then your plan will not succeed.

          • Heaven Smile says:


            Yep. Humans can’t do it. Hell, i dont think even the fucking Ubermench like Socrates and Jesus could do it (Friedrich Nietzsche said those 2 count as Ubermench). We are going to need Morpheus or Helios from Deus Ex, since they lack all ambition:

            But here is the million dollar question: Why this theory still exist? I know that Auteur Theory was made almost 59 years ago, but Arthur’s idea of Artists and Sublime Art are much older. So why no one questioned the premise of Arthur after thinking about it for the grand total of 2 seconds? How many people firmly believe this and we are not told about it in simple terms? If it wasn’t for Brian Moriarty apology for Roger Ebert i wouldn’t have guessed in a million years what the old man wanted:

            Remember, not in a single FUCKING blog Ebert gave to gamers did he ever mentioned Arthur or the concept of The Will being the KEY factor of game never being art. Which is ironic for a man that complained that adaptations of works should be self-contained, and his blogs were ramblings that needed another extra blog to explain what SHOULD have been explained in the first place….and still didn’t work. He could have avoided all these problems if he just said 5 words “Arthur Schopenhauer and The Will”. End.

            But i guess he was too embarrassed to admit that his belief is quite stupid when you put 2 braincells to work. Specially when he demonstrated NO interest in even playing the games before commenting.

            Roger, i will let George Takei say what we are all been thinking about you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yytbDZrw1jc

            Now, i can understand WHY, at first, the idea may sound good on paper: Being an Artists wasn’t a very lucrative job on a money making standpoint, even to this day. Here is what i found on the Real Lifeâ„¢ section of this trope, regarding entertainment:

            This is really the soul of entertainment. Given, a large portion of it is made for monetary purposes, but the first person to transcribe a story couldn’t have done it out of greed, and still those writing for money are outnumbered greatly by those who just hope for somebody to enjoy their tale. And even with the monetary slant, much of that ends up being cost of living. When it comes down to it, any entertainment/creative industry from music to video games has such high levels of risk/reward and employment that if you really wanted to be rich, you’re better off being something like a doctor or lawyer.

            Can’t really blame them for thinking that someone who put so much effort in telling its “vision” at the expense of his mortal desires (at least the desires they KNEW the common vermin would be affected by), would do it for the Art, and not for some ulterior motive. I can relate to the fact that most artists die famine, and should have been rewarded for their services for humanity. We may never know how many works Vincent Van Gogh would have done if hadn’t die in poverty.

            And while all that is true, The Will works in mysterious ways. What Art doesn’t give you in money, it gives you in plenty in other departments, like having a cult of personality for being a “visionary” (and bitches love VIP, amaright?), and having the rest of humanity copy your ideas may be considered a form of compliment (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SincerestFormOfFlattery), and shaping humanity’s future.

            Why have tons of money by being a lawyer, when one can become IMMORTAL though ideas? Nobody remembers a good doctor because doctors ARE supposed to be good at their job, only when you are a failure or a monster of a doctor you may be infamous for eternity. Just ask Mengele and Kevorkian.

            Gee, that almost sounds like something you may WANT to have, doesn’t it? all that power and influence is just too good to pass up. Here is an example of a single director changing the industry and inspiring hundreds to follow his steps: Akira Kurosawa

            Renegade Cut: The Seven Hundred Samurai

            This idea that Artists are like fragile saints that must be worshiped and must NOT receive any criticism is still seen up to this day. Do i need to remind people of the Mass Effect 3 fiasco? Say what you will about the ending, but its clear its disconnected nature exist not because it makes sense with everything leading up to that point (themes,logic, and so on), but because Casey Hudson and Mac Walters (without the input of everyone else) WANTED TO.

            And despite all evidence, despite how clear it is was that The Will got the better of these saviors, the journalists pulled he “entitlement” card and shut down ANY discussion of Games As Art or how The Auteur Theory even applies to an Interactive Medium.


            Didn’t we established that Artists are like Scientist, and they are supposed to do shit for the greater good and not because the felt like it? when a scientist releases a vaccine that kills more people that it saves, we go ape shit, but artists get none of that shitstorm. Well, they DO. One doesn’t even NEED to look the “People Vs George Lucas” documentary to know that, and yet the discussion on the Artistic side of things is never mentioned, only from the audience perspective. And then everything goes back to normal without any side actually winning anything from all this, business as usual i suppose.

            “The Auteur Theory can never do what it is supposed to do ““ why should artists alone be burdened with the responsibility of saving the world?”

            Because we are idiots that keep telling them to save us without even saying it directly? When gamers and moviegoers claim the death of Cinema/Gaming every time Michael Bay, Adam Sandler, EA are making money when Guillermo Del Toro, Amy Hennings, Christ Avellone get none of that shit, you are bound the get people that think that “Only I can save the medium because everyone else is too busy complaining and doing nothing about it. If the medium of storytelling is THAT important to them, then why aren’t they doing anything to solve it? Not even making mods or upgrades to games they love in order for future generations to be able to even PLAY the fucking things. And yet, again and again, even for all that outcry of being relevant, they still make those shitty movies win billions of dollars”.

            The discussion never advances because everyone already assumes that the audience is entitled and biased to WANT their happy ending (or *insert pandering technique here*), without considering that this time may be different. It COULD be that the audience wanted for the artist to enlighten them and rejoice in child like awe, but then went of the rails at some points, contradicting the very message that the audience was getting from the work. Then again, everything depends on perspective. There is a reason the phrase: “This is not a pipe” exist. http://awtr.wikidot.com/long:this-is-not-a-pipe

            Since the audience complained before when they get something they didn’t WANT, therefore they will complain again, there are NO alternatives here. Its like an Appeal To Probably + False Dichotomy worthy of The Catalyst from ME3.

            How much you wanna bet that the reason this trope exist:
            ..is because as long you dont give The Audience what they WANT (because they CLEARLY dont know any better) you are saving them from themselves. As long everyone else believes that The Audience is like this, games cannot be Art.

            Hell, gamers are also guilty of doing the same thing that the art guys are doing to us. Remember the Dark Souls “easy mode” debacle? The hardcore gamers know that the DS experience, as hard as it is, its the most exquisite experience you could imagine, and anything lower than that is just piss in the wind. They do not trust the filthy casuals enough to let them have even the option of DECIDING which difficult is best suited for THEM (again, “Appearance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder”, “This is Not a Pipe”, or if you are into Daoism “Everything is subjective because the way you experience things is unique to everyone”) because THEY know better, and not the casual filthy that its easily distracted with their Farmvilles, Gears of War, and everything that has no effort put into it and has been done before much better.

            I may as well start making the funeral for our medium, and to the credibility of all critics everywhere. We cannot have a Roger Ebert because there is no such thing as objectivity and unbiased criticism to being with. We fucked up before we even started.

            This is my song for all of you:

            • Heaven Smile says:

              Now, a clever observer may have noticed that the link to the apology does NOT mention The Auteur Theory being inspired by Arthur’s teachings per se (hell, a quick rebuttal of a film student or a visit to Wikipedia can tell you that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auteur_theory). Does that mean that my ramblings were for nothing? not really. Roger Ebert clearly stated that he believes the author should take control, since he finds himself…how should we say…”not worthy” of choosing himself:

              “Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control.”

              He is, after all, being influenced with the idea that any path he takes will lead him to misery because of The Will, and only an Artist could help him with that.

              But, as i have painfully elaborated, Artist are too drunk with power to be of any use, or being ANY different to The Audience. So his argument still fall flat on his face because now we are free to be on equal ground as the artist.

              How can an activity motivated by decisions, striving, goals and competition, a deliberate concentration of the force of Will, be used to transcend Will itself?

              You might as well try to smother a flame with oxygen.

              How? well, if Sublime Art has been made with idiots drunk with The Will, then yeah, one CAN use The Will to create something to transcend The Will itself.

        • Otters34 says:

          The one where Campster made that comment about people playing games tending to exploit the game’s systems was in Diecast #8.

  21. krellen says:

    I hope the zoo didn’t make her forget, because Mumbles didn’t talk about how EPIC our MvM win was. We got the last tank as it was opening up to drop the bomb – it blew at literally the last second. Even I got pumped by the epicness of that win.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Everyone knows that the best riddler is Jim Carrey.Isnt that right,Mumbles?

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Tim Burtons batman was killing people left and right.And he was cool because of that.And no one liked him because of that.So thank you everyone for bringing us Joel Schumachers batman,which was sooo cool.Cool as ice,one might even say.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Unbiased thing should be kept for news.Reviews,on the other hand,should be biased.Ebert was biased as hell,which one could easily gleam from any of his reviews.Thats why people loved him,because he poured himself into his reviews.And even when you disagree with someones biased review,it can still be quite entertaining and informative.Thats why I like Angry Joes reviews,even though I disagree with him lots of times.

    • Phill says:

      When people ask for unbiased reviews my suspicion is that they mean reviews that are the opinion of the reviewer alone and not essentially unannounced advertising in collaboration with the publisher masquerading as a review. Which, to be fair, is something that has been a problem in the industry, certainly on the past. Maybe it is becoming less of an issue with more and more people paying attention to reviews from sources other than the mainstream gaming media these days.

      • False Prophet says:

        I can’t say I’ve encountered people like that recently, but if they’re still around, I’m sympathetic. But those aren’t the “unbiased” crowd I’m familiar with.

        The ones I encounter see to be more of the type who say, “You criticized A in game X, but liked similar thing B in game Y. You’re biased against game X because you don’t like the genre/publisher/developer/platform!” as if art criticism was some kind of exact science or mathematical formula.

    • Thomas says:

      There are two purposes a review can serve, one is to start a discussion about the thing and the other is to act as consumer advice for people deciding if they want to pay for the unseen product or not.

      Heavily biased reviews are rubbish at the second. If FilmHulkCritic makes a really awesome review about how much 50/50 moved him because of his deep experiences with the struggles of cancer, that’s super useful consumer advice to the 0.001% of the population who’ve shared similar experiences and not good advice for anyone else (luckily FilmHulkCritic is aiming for purpose no.1)

      If you aim to remove the parts of the thing that you can identify as liking due to unique personal experiences, and instead study the patterns and techniques in the medium which you’ve learned tend to have X affect on people then you’re review is less biased and contains better consumer advice. ‘Y game was incredibly buggy and the gunplay is slow’ is more useful than ‘Z games reminded me of the time my family moved to Iraq’ when I want to decide which to buy, but the second one promotes greater discussion.

      Angry Joe actually does both, there are a huge sections which he dedicates to very obviously trying to be as least biased as possible. He says things like ‘I liked it because of Y but if that wasn’t true X probably like it. If you like Z then it does A really well which should have this affect for you’. He spends a lot of time trying to give facts about the game that relate to other people’s points of view and not his own.

      But because his reviews are huge in length he also has longer segments which he fills with his passion and his personal experience too which is cool to watch and good branching points for discussion and understanding.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Heavily biased reviews are rubbish at the second.”

        Actually,biased reviews are great consumers advices.You just need to find a couple reviewers that have similar taste to yours,and then go with them.

        • Thomas says:

          That’s not heavy bias and I wasn’t arguing for no bias. What you need is a passionate writer with similar tastes to yours who moderately reigns in their bias.

          For example, if you like all the stuff MovieBob likes and think like he does then most of his reviews are helpful to you. But if he says something like ‘I hated American Pie reunion because American Pie 1 was really popular with people who were giving me a hard time at school’ that’s still useless to you unless you also share that experience. It’s too heavily biased.

          As another example ‘I hate Scream because I was the kid at school who knew about films and then Scream came out and other kids started acting like they knew about films’ is also too personal to be useful to many people*, even people who share your tastes and interests. It’s still an interesting example of the human condition, but way too biased for consumer advice, and that’s what I mean by heavy bias.

          *But MovieBob doesn’t really aim for consumer advice. He tries to give consumer advice to his perfect consumer, which he’s well aware is mythical

          • But all of these example statements have a flaw: they are hypothetical and unlikely. they are heavily biased, yes, but a good writer can take these statements and turn it into an interesting and engaging story that illustrates a point about the film.
            “I didn’t like it because of social circumstances” is a completely moot point – it’s irrelevant to the review, because that’s not opinion about the piece, that’s directing anger at it from extant circumstances.
            “I connected to the game because it reminded me of my struggles with cancer” is, by itself, not particularly helpful. But if that’s expanded into a paragraph or two, for instance one where the reviewer describes what he felt in his personal struggles and then another explaining how the game brought those emotions back up so successfully, then you’ve got a powerful review.

            • Thomas says:

              Both those examples are opening points or summations from statements reviewers have made. And remember I’m saying that statements like that do promote interesting discussion and are valid and interesting. I’m saying they aren’t good at consumer advice. What I think the thing you described is, involves talking about something with heavy personal bias and then linking that into a discussion where you’re trying to analyse the film in an unbiased faction. This is a good approach but it’s the non-biased(ish) analysis of why a film promotes those feelings that’s useful to the consumer

        • Aldowyn says:

          What I usually do is just read a bunch of reviews from some of the sites I know/respect a bit more than others and find the commonalities. See what everyone liked, what bugged different people, etc etc. With a bit of research you can put a fair picture together, usually.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Anyone who says that mass effect couldnt end in a satisfying way definitely needs to watch madoka magica(or just watch SFDebris talk about it).There you get an unfathomable alien being that is being unfathomable simply because it is an advanced alien,and its reasons go beyond “lets murder everyone because of lulz”.There you get a satisfying bitter sweet ending.

    The main problem with ME3 isnt that it had a dark ending,or that it couldnt be done in a satisfying way,its that the trilogy wasnt planned in advance.You need to be crazy talented in order to pull something like that,and while bioware does employ some talented people,I doubt any of them are that good.Also laziness.

  26. Hal says:

    Shamus, as long as you’re playing Borderlands 2, a question:

    I’ve never played either of the Borderlands games, and the general description makes it sound like something I wouldn’t enjoy.


    I read a description of the Tiny Tina expansion that was recently released, and it sounds like exactly the sort of thing I like. Is it worth getting the game just for that?

    • krellen says:

      The DLC starts at level 35, so you have to play some of the base game before you can play the DLC with any chance of success.

      If you like tabletop gaming tropes, however, the DLC is extremely good. Extremely fun. Very epic. Plus it has ponies (well, A pony, anyway).

      • SyrusRayne says:

        Uh? The DLC – All Borderlands 2 DLC, in fact – locks to your level when you start it.

        It’s possible Dragon Keep is the one that doesn’t do this – I was around that level when I started – but all the others do, to my knowledge.

        • somebodys_kid says:

          I was level 40+ (first playthrough) when I started both Hammerlock and Tiny Tina’s DLCs and they wouldn’t go higher than 35.
          …not sure if that helps.

        • Shamus says:

          I tried it with a low-level char. The guys at the front door are 30-31, and it ramps up to 35 or so as it goes on.

          • SyrusRayne says:

            Interesting. I guess it’s just the other DLC that does it? That or it could be that there’s a minimum level the DLCs start at, and that will raise. I know that Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage did something like this, as I played it with both low and high-level characters.

            On the other hand, maybe I don’t know anything at all. This is a distinct possibility.

        • Vect says:

          While technically you can enter the DLC areas anytime you wish, the enemies will generally be at a minimum level of 15 or 30 and will scale to your level.

          The first two DLCs can be tackled at roughly Level 15 (I generally tackle them by the time I get all my weapon slots) while Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt and Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep require you to be at least level 30 since they’re meant to be played post-game. The Tiny Tina DLC in particular deals with a pretty big spoiler that happens 3/4ths of the way in the main mission so it was very much meant to be played after you beat the main story (or at least after you beat the quest “Where Angels Fear To Tread”).

    • Shamus says:

      Tough question. I LOVE Tiny Tina’s thing, and it may be the best DLC I’ve ever played, but you still spend a lot of time shootin’ guys and picking up guns. I think you’d have to enjoy the core gameplay to enjoy the DLC.

    • Humanoid says:

      I’m in a similar position: I haven’t played a ‘proper’ shooter (not counting, say, the Gamebryo Fallouts or DXHR) for over a decade now, but I did pick up BL2 a couple of months ago. And while I haven’t played it – I not only have to beat my own inertia, but that of the folks I usually play with – it’s a start, at least…

      Only got the bare game for now, would have picked up DLC if it was a reasonable price, but Steam had an Australia tax on the game of about 66%, so I’ve skipped out on the option for now. Heck, two weeks before the vaunted Steam sale, GMG had the game plus season pass for ~$13, while Steam at their cheapest was asking over $30 for the same thing (and a little over $20 for US residents).

      At any rate, there’s no rush given that Shadowrun Returns, unless it turns out to be a total lemon, will be taking up all my time in the immediate future.

      P.S. Random quirk with the region locked DLC. Apparently Russian users can’t gift the Mechromancer pack, but can gift the Psycho pack, which handily was about half of the US price and a third of the AU price of the thing. It’s labelled as an RU version, but worked no problems with my GamersGate-sourced worldwide retail key.

  27. The Rocketeer says:

    If you need a sketchy guy to kick Josh in the junk, I’m your man! Really, I’m, like, super sketchy, and I wear heavy work-boots on the regular.

    I don’t know if I can foot the ticket out to the Mojave, but I’d assume that’s part of the Kickstarter.

    Nothing in the least against Josh, by the way; I just feel like a job this important deserves its proper diligence, and I bring that professionalism to the table. Sketchy professionalism.

    (Serously, steel-toes. Elevens.)

    • Corpital says:

      Do you have any references? Pictures or videos of you kicking guys in the junk? Or maybe something written? Your know, “This guy kicked me so hard, even my grandfather felt it. Sincerely, Idon Texist.”

      Anyway…I think Shamoose forgot to put the link to the kickstarter (I will NOT make any pun about this. I’ll just kick back and let others do it.) in the vid…podcast description.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        I kicked a man in the junk not but two weeks ago; he disparaged my riding-gloves, and I demanded satisfaction.

        If you live in the western hemisphere, you’ll get a good view of his re-entry on the night of the 30th.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Anyone else thought of this while they were talking about kicking Josh in the junk?

      • Corpital says:

        The first thing I thought of was a Simpsons episode with a movie festival and an old man getting hit my a football. I know, it is as unappropriate as it can get, with ageless Josh flexing his well oiled videogame-muscles regularly, while a gentle breeze blows through his long, flowing hair and…wait, what was I talking about?

        Took me a while to find it because apparently every other video with this scene was filmed by pointing a camera at a TV while an earthquake occured. I am shocked, people are still doing that. It’s not a foot to the balls, but a football to the balls, which doesn’t make it more relevant, but double ballsy.

    • Trix2000 says:

      I have thirteens. Obviously I’m more qualified for the job.

  28. BeardedDork says:

    So you want Jason Todd Batman then?

  29. Chris says:

    I love how my stupid WordPress layout auto-capitalizes every article’s header so when Shamus links it I appear to be yelling.

  30. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I am one of the few that say that I want a rich dark roast,and buy that rich dark roast as well.I hate sweet coffee.In fact when they give me a sugar bag in a coffee shop,I eat that sugar before drinking coffee,so it would be more bitter once I start drinking.

    But,like stated above,I like biased reviews.Though I am an aberration,seeing how I actually do know what I want and enjoy,unlike most people in the world.

    • Atarlost says:

      Possibly it’s selection bias. If the research leans heavily on Starbucks it would run into the problem that Starbucks doesn’t roast their beans — they scorch them. If given a choice between black coffee and froofy coffee I take black unsweetened. Unless it’s Starbucks, in which case I would go for a chai or something (or just go somewhere else) because their coffee tastes like it’s been cut with soot, but if I had to drink a Starbucks coffee I’d go for something heavily adulterated because the less coffee is in the drink the less soot is in the drink.

      That said I don’t really care much about the difference between a dark and medium roast. My preferred coffee is Costco with five or six sprigs of chocolate mint to the pot.

  31. Thomas says:

    Games aren’t played be enough people (non-iOS). In terms of money they’re reaching the same values as Hollywood films, but a game is 6x more expensive, so we’re talking about .15 of the audience.

    There’s not a lot of space for intellectual film journalism compared to normal film journalism, and the space for games journalism is much smaller just from the number of people who play games.

    And I don’t know, $60 and 10-30 hours is always a much bigger investment than $10 and a 2 hour film. I think that might always make the gaming audience smaller and so the space for their criticism small as well. The iOS exception is also the small and cheap section of the market

    (Incidentally, I’ve mentioned Ebert’s name to a lot of people in the UK including a film student and most of them didn’t recognise it, so it’s not like he was a completely universal figure)

  32. Thomas says:

    I’ve not bought into the reasons most people give for the dissatisfaction with the ending, and I personally love bittersweet endings and think that’s a great way to end a series.

    But the point that the entire series before that point had the tone of Shepard-badass coming in and solving all the problems without having to take almost anything in negative consequences and that doesn’t fit with a bad ending. That does make sense to me

  33. O.G.N says:

    On the topic of finding the good video game writing on the web. I usually check out “The Sunday Papers” on Rock Paper Shotgun and “This Week in Videogame Blogging” on Critical-distance. Anywhere else I should be looking?

  34. krellen says:

    The Diecast version of Batman vs. Superman would be like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCRfJf-ZCqA

  35. Hitchmeister says:

    The linkage between Pacific Rim and Superman vs. Batman: Bambi Meets Godzilla.

  36. Paul Spooner says:

    Mumbles: “People are really afraid… that videogames are just going to be not respected for a long time. And personally I don’t give a shit.”

    With you there! People are going to do and support what they enjoy. If lots of people start enjoying videogames, they will become ad-hoc mainstream. Ebert didn’t “make” movies great, they became great and he helped and rode it and was successful and a minor figurehead. People seem to think that we need a hero to lead videogames into a new age. We need no such thing.

  37. Hitchmeister says:

    My thought during the “What if a Punisher type character took over as Batman and just started killing the villains rather than rounding them up and sending them to Arkham Sieve:”* Wasn’t that Jean-Paul Valley as Azrael/Batman in Knightfall?


    • Deadpool says:

      Mumbles, if you’re not reading Young Avengers, you are not reading the right comics…

      Seriously, Journey Into Mystery was the deep, philosophical, meta prequel. Young Avengers is the awesome, super fun, let’s have a party sequel.

      Two quotes to convince people:

      “Come with me if you want to be awesome.”

      “The laws of physics can kiss my ass.”

  38. Mr Compassionate says:

    Another Mumbles episode?! Awesome!

    As somebody who knows nothing much about comics I enjoyed this week and found it very educational. I also found out I need to go watch Pacific Rim.
    I also found out that Rutscarn has reflexive trolling syndrome.

    Arnt we all learning today?

  39. Kanodin says:

    Now I get nobody on the show likes the witcher, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was really jarring to hear that apparently we’re never going to get a 3d big budget fully voice acted game where choices matter when that’s exactly what first two were and what the witcher 3 seems to be. Granted, they still gotta stick the landing, but they’re in a much better position to do so than Mass effect ever was post EA-buyout.

    Furthermore this is a game series that started off fairly low budget and only grew into huge budgets because there was enough interest to warrant them.

    • Mumbles says:

      I really do wish I liked the Witcher, but I think it’s actually GOOD in a way that I don’t. It’s got its own flavor, something that I can’t immerse myself in because it doesn’t create a world I’m interested in or can relate to. This means that they’ve made something unique and there are going to be people out there who really dig the world they’re making.

      • Kanodin says:

        Eh I dunno about that, I thought you were pretty spot on a few weeks ago saying it just doesn’t appeal to women well. I’d certainly like it more without the juvenile sex cards for example I just accept the overall package even with those failings.

        • Deadpool says:

          I have a friend who loves the Witcher and finds him super sexy and it is about time there was a lead she can appreciate.

          She’s also not a teenager as one would expect, but a grown woman.

          I can’t stand the game either so I can hardly judge it either way, just saying: There are differing opinions.

  40. I think what people mean when they ask “Where is our Roger Ebert”, is actually:

    “Where is our intelligent, entertaining, insightful, honest critic concerned more with advancing and appreciating the art-form…

    …who is also well-paid, well-known and appreciated”?

    Well, the truth is Roger Ebert worked for decades to achieve that legendary status. And a lot of the films and stories we consider classics now, including Citizen Kane were hated when they were released. It wasn’t until decades later when people were able to appreciate the things we call “instant-classics”.

    History will decide who our “Roger Ebert” is, and what our “Citizen Kane” will be. And even then, we probably won’t notice.

  41. Chris says:

    Nice diecast, I think all reviews are not going to be provided by one voice in current age but with games more so than other mediums I think what is reviewable is such a personal taste as game type, mechanics, graphics, & etc. I think that what is one person’s fun is more subjective than movie/book likes and dislikes, which could be genre, actor/character, or plot. I watch a ton of board game reviewers for board games that I will purchase next but I like the fact that several reviews of the same game will give me the different perspectives to make up my mind on the game.

    Shoes for Mumbles

  42. Akri says:

    So I was listening to this while doing housework, and in the middle of the Superior Spiderman conversation a spider crawls in front of me. Mumbles summoned a spider. I think we should all be a little bit terrified.

  43. LunaticFringe says:

    I don’t know, I’m somewhat skeptical towards the idea of a ‘gaming Roger Ebert’, namely because of certain trends I see in some gaming critics. I’ll be frank: I’m finding that a lot more of the general well-known critics are becoming more narcissistic already. I’d rather see more ‘mainstream’ gaming critics taken down a peg, not raised one into the popular consciousness. Sure, critics like Moviebob can raise some good points, but the name-calling he throws at his opponents has become worse and worse. Bob keeps pushing this narrative where people who say, like Transformer movies and Call of Duty are misinformed, idiot jocks. Now, one could easily strawman Bob’s love of Nintendo the same way by saying it shows he’s an immature man trapped in childish fantasies, but unlike Bob I don’t assume character traits on entertainment choices. Or Yahtzee’s recent column, where he (though at this point I’m not sure if he’s trolling) laments the fact that games focus on violence so much, and then honestly says:

    “A saying I’m fond of is “Blame the audience, not the author”. Rather than consider games full of killing to be in the wrong, here, I might invite you to consider what is wrong with our society that such games find a large audience.”

    I’m sorry, but is this not the man who makes a living making jokes about murder and rapist serial killers? Stop exploiting this ‘culture of violence’ for your own monetary gains and then acting like you’re some moralist for pointing out that it exists. The intellectual narcissism of some of these guys is incredible. Frankly, no media needs delusional egoist pretentiousness like this (they get it anyway but that’s beside the point). I’m not stating that there’s ‘No True Critics’ anymore, I’m just saying that I’d prefer that some of gaming’s ‘intellectuals’ mature a bit more before being thrust into the public forum. And that’s not to say that the critics I complain about don’t raise good points from time to time, just that I really have to roll my eyes at the idea of some of these guys being seen a positive representative of ‘gaming culture’. I’m comfortable with gaming where it is: a semi-recognized form of media that really needs to solve its economic and financial problems first (bloated budgets, the dreaded publisher culture, a complete disconnect between what the industry views as their audience and what their audience actually is, a blatantly anti-consumer view of how supply and demand works, etc.).

  44. Steve C says:

    Ok Mumbles went on and on about hating DC, but loving elements such as characters and events. It didn’t sound like you were referring to DC the company with financial statements and payroll etc, it sounded like the DC Universe. I like comics but I’m not a connoisseur and I don’t understand what you are talking about.

    Note that I also like elements of in DC but only taken in a vacuum. (IE I like Batman, or Superman but only if Batman or Superman was the only superhero in the world.) But even given that (which I don’t think you were saying anyway) I still don’t know what you were talking about.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I can field this one. With comics, you’ve got two assets: the elements (characters, world, etc) and the storylines. The characters are the ingredients, and the storylines are the recipe.

      Over the years there are broad paradigms where the newly-introduced elements are particularly good, the storylines are particularly good, or, ideally, both are good and work well together.

      Right now, DC is basically gathering up all their fresh world-class ingredients and making a pot of shit stew with them.

      They’re also pretty determined to ruin a lot of their good characters, but I’m not the right guy to go on about that.

  45. Cerapa says:

    Regarding RPGs with choices, I really think the Fallout series has the best solution. I.e. self-contained endings for every larger sidequest/quest hub/faction.

    This was actually what I had been expecting from the Mass Effect series from the start, considering they were keeping track of the results of a lot of quests. Sadly that was not what was done. It would have been a natural fit too, until the end, with mostly self-contained sidequests, larger quest chains with a definite resolution, personal quests/choices for the crew members and choice duality with paragon vs renegade which lowers the amount of necessary different endings.

    I think Rutskarn would really be the authority here on the viability of producing short snippets of conclusions for quests and characters spanning 3 games, but I think it might have been possible.

  46. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Citadel was okay the first time through (and in a couple of places on the second time through where I missed something on my first playthrough like with Joker’s awesome story). But it was blatantly pandering and fan servicey.

    You want to complain about how this started out as a decent sci fi series and then ended up all rah rah military shooter. At least the military and shooting stuff had always been a part of the franchise and the Reaper invasion kind of justified that focus. Where in the first game was the two hours of clubbing, partying, and campy self reference jokes?

    So your ending is, after discovering one of the older deeper mysteries of the universe, a vast incalculable intelligence that preys on our civilizations, we blew it up and had a party and prattled on with EDI about shopping and had a pull up contest with Vega? I don’t want to single you out, I know a lot of the fans want the Citadel to be the ending. But while I certainly thought the real ending had problems, my ideal ending is way closer to what Hudson was attempting than HOUSE PARTY 2213!!!

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