About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier

Diecast #37: Oblivion, Anthropology, and Sid Meier

By Shamus
on Tuesday Nov 19, 2013
Filed under:


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

Hosts: Rutskarn, Josh, and Shamus.

Show Notes:
1:00 We Dump on Oblivion for ten minutes for no reason.

Also, Rutskarn Wants to be an Anthropologist!

17:30 Shamus is watching Brady Haran videos and playing Kerbal Space Program.

Here are the Deep Sky Videos mentioned.

Now that I’ve gone back and re-read my original list of suggestions for campaign mode in KSP, I think the final product looks a lot like my wishlist.

Also, Rutskarn drags us back to Anthropology again. Here’s the book he’s banging on about.

30:00 Josh is playing Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

Josh would have us believe that Top Gun was not a documentary.

We also talk about Ron Gilbert‘s Scurvy Scallywags.

49:00 Hey, let’s go back and beat up on Oblivion some more!

1:03:00 TWO Mailbag questions this week:

1) How do you organize your gigantic Steam library?

2) [Comparing roleplay focused tabletop games with systems focused ones.]

Comments (94)

  1. Thomas says:

    Whoo Brady Haran =D He films at my university which makes it extra fun if it’s a lecturer you’ve crossed paths with

  2. Retsam says:

    Haven’t yet listened to the show, but did read the show notes and go re-read that wishlist and … yeah I think I’m just going to assume that the maker of KSP is a lurker on this blog. Only logical conclusion.

  3. Infinitron says:

    Oblivion the game or the movie?

  4. Eschatos says:

    Dumbest thing in an Elders Scroll Game? Being able to become the head honcho of all the different guilds at the same time. At the same time, it’s a good kind of dumb. I’d hate to have to reroll when I feel like becoming an assassin.

    • Tizzy says:

      It’s heart-breaking, because on the one hand, these games are huge time sinks already, no point in rolling three tons of different characters. But on the other hand, it completely kills any pretense at a real, reactive world when you can do stuff like this.

      Overall, I am not convinced that this is the right choice for me.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I think the dialogue kills that a looong long time before you get to any of the guilds.

      • Yeah. I mean, I cut my teeth on the old blue basic D&D set all the way through 4e, and while a “classless” game can have appeal, there needs to be minimum requirements for some stuff. If you’re a nimble pickpocket, you might be able to scam your way into the magic college and possibly fool those there into thinking your can do great magic, but no way should you be capable of attaining any named position at the school.

        I mean, it’s also a lost opportunity to add more choices to the game. Maybe the sword-swinger can do missions for the magic college and so forth, but he also might have the ability (being a non-magic dude) to decide the college really needs to finish falling into the ocean and do something to speed that along.

    • Jokerman says:

      Something inside of me prevented me from doing that, i just could not finish the other guilds with the same character… so i did make a new PC for each.

    • Chris Davies says:

      I don’t think anything can compete in dumbness with Skyrim’s marriage system. “Oh, you’ve completed a time-wasting fetch quest for me? *swoon* Take me to the chapel, handsome!”

      Oh, oh. Or the fact that your followers are stuck at the level you were at the precise moment you first met them. Want to hang around with someone for the entire game? Tough luck, buddy. By the end they’re blown over by a stiff breeze.

      Come to think of it, just about everything about Elder Scrolls games are dumb. Open world considered harmful.

    • ENC says:

      I dunno, if someone walked up to you as the man who saved the continent from Dagoth Ur and said they want to be head of your guild are you really gonna say no?

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    Normally I would leave a comment and then edit it as I had more things to say, but now I’m just going to wait until I’ve heard the whole thing. Maybe this “editing comments is disabled” business is for the best after all.

    The whole “what stupid bullshit do you people believe in?” vein reminded me of the beginning of Anathem. Man, what a great book.

    Yeah, air combat with altitude as a tactical resource sounds great. People don’t appreciate how hard it is to gain, and how quickly you can loose it.

    “Tom Clancy’s Tony Hawk Sid Meier” was amazing, especially where you got to do the lobby scene from Snow Crash.

  6. Alex says:

    My most annoying dumb thing in the Elder Scrolls at the time I discovered it was a quest in Skyrim that failed to do the New Vegas thing and take my character into account.

    I was playing a powerful warrior, and a few crooked guards tried to frame me for a murder and throw me in a prison from which nobody had ever escaped. Naturally, I said “screw that”, gutted them like fish and then strolled out of their ambush smelling like roses.

    Then I found out that the only way into the prison is to be captured. There’s a chain that the prison guards theoretically pull to open the gate, but it doesn’t actually do anything.

    But mostly, New Vegas and Skyrim have both been awesome.

    • Tizzy says:

      That’s a constant problems with games where leveling creates big power differentials (which must be every single level-based computer game out there).

      Either everyone levels with you (ridiculous), or you end up pestering the player with hordes of mook that are really not worth the player’s time, but without an option to skip the combat either.


      • Alex says:

        “That's a constant problems with games where leveling creates big power differentials (which must be every single level-based computer game out there).”

        The problem was not that I could evade capture – that part was far better than a similar event in Fallout 3 where a power armoured badass got ganked by a bunch of raiders. The problem was that they created a door, told me I wanted to be on the other side, but didn’t consider that I might try to open it.

      • New Vegas did a decent job with that, I think. There might have been some scaling with mobs, but it wasn’t as blatant as other games. Even with the best gear, I never truly felt indestructible.

        • Alex says:

          New Vegas was explicitly designed without much in the way of level scaling. Right from the get go, the north and east roads out of Goodsprings have been cut off by giant mutant wasps and deathclaws respectively. They are no longer a death sentence, but that is mostly because I’m sneakier now and have a bigger gun, not because I can get into a stand-up fight with them.

    • Humanoid says:

      It’s extra disappointing because there’s one guild/storyline where turning around and murdering everything is presented as a valid option. Which was fantastic in itself, but leads to the question – why isn’t this possible for all the factions in the game?

  7. Aldowyn says:

    re crash course: They’re almost done with US History. I haven’t watched any of the science stuff except for ecology cause I already took these classes in school :D

    I should go watch more deepskyvideos though. Mostly I just watch numberphile and sixtysymbols.

  8. Tychoxi says:

    I wish STEAM allowed to put games into more than one category, there’s no need for them to be mutually exclusive damn it!

    My categories are:
    2D Action
    3D Action

    The five step process for putting games into categories is the reason my “Games” category has so many games.

    Also, I’m eager to hear Rutskarn’s SS2 experience next time.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, exclusive categorization is a long-running hold-over from physical object stocking mentality. My guess is they are thinking of categories as “shelves” where you are actually keeping a physical copy of a game disk. Totally silly when applied to what is essentially a list of pointers, but there you have it. As was said in the ‘cast, fixing this obviously isn’t a priority for Valve.

      • False Prophet says:

        Even us librarians, who developed classification schemes like DDC and LCC because physical media could only “live” in one place at a time, still had these labels called “Subject headings” that allow you to group a bunch of related items together conceptually, even if not physically. It annoys me when modern software filing systems, which never really had to deal with physical space limitations in the first place, can’t even do that much.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          You belie your handle!
          Yeah, have we completely forgotten the card files as well? It was an inferior solution because it was harder to access, not because it embodied an inferior concept. The computer allows you to have an easily searchable card-file that will instantly transport you to the appropriate shelf (to maintain the library metaphor) and yet software developers insist on sorting everything alphabetically by title. Madness.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Mine are:

      True Art

      We both have ten so clearly 100% of Steam users have ten game categories.

      • Tychoxi says:

        lol I had to google “popamole”. We also share 4 categories (aside from “games”), so 100% of STEAM users also rely on those.

      • Syal says:

        I can’t believe you have a True Art folder but no Fake Art folder.

        I have thirty games total on Steam. The sorting system is basically one desktop shortcut for the game I’m currently playing, and then everything else.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I have a few categories.

        Favorites: Games that left an impact on me.
        Finished: Games I have completed
        Done With: Games I tried, but have no desire to finish.
        Needs Mods: Games that have potential, but probably need a mod or two for me to really like (ie Morrowind)
        Games: Everything else goes here.

        That way, I can just look for a game I haven’t played if I want something new.

        • Eruanno says:

          I’m running with
          “Currently playing” which is games I am currently playing that are installed on my computer.
          “Old favorites” which is games I really liked and that I will probably replay at some point.
          “Too lazy to bother” which is games that I started playing and never bothered finishing or games I got included in Humble Bundles etc. but can’t be arsed with for one reason or the other.

    • Spammy V says:

      My Steam category is really just Installed. The only major piece of categorizing I do is deciding on which Steam games get desktop icons. Essentially, which games are high enough on my want-to-play list or at the top of my backlog list that I want them at my desktop so all I have to do is click the icons and go.

    • Thomas says:

      I’ve got
      Interested (so the games I’m actually interested in playing)
      Games (Which is minimised)

    • LazyWizard says:

      I’ve had my Steam account for nearly seven years, and thanks to Steam’s dirt-cheap holiday bundles my library has bloated to a few hundred titles. Categories have become an absolute necessity to find anything.

      My system is pretty simple: games are grouped by series/universe, with games that aren’t part of a series being categorized by genre instead (prefixed with ‘misc’ for faster lookup). I use favorites to denote games where I’m in the middle of a playthrough.

      My library tab looks like this:

      Assassin’s Creed
      Baldur’s Gate
      Company of Heroes
      Deus Ex
      Dragon Age
      Elder Scrolls
      Far Cry
      Grand Theft Auto
      Mac Versions
      Mass Effect
      Max Payne
      Misc Action
      Misc Adventure
      Misc Horror
      Misc Indie
      Misc Multiplayer
      Misc Racing
      Misc RPG
      Misc Sandbox
      Misc Shooter
      Misc Simulation
      Misc Stealth
      Misc Strategy
      Monkey Island
      Mount & Blade
      Neverwinter Nights
      Not Worth Playing (shovelware included in various bundles)
      Realistic Shooter
      Red Faction
      Saints Row
      Serious Sam
      Splinter Cell
      Star Wars
      The Witcher
      Total War
      Valve Multiplayer
      X Series

      As an aside, when I was a child I remember thinking my family’s SNES collection was huge because it had almost twenty games. Twenty!

    • Ranneko says:

      Originally they actually DID allow you to put games in multiple categories. Then you selected a main category from the same area where you currently pick Installed/All Games/Your Games/etc. And the other categories were listed as they are now.

      Some of the UI is actually a holdover from this too, like use checkboxes for categories rather than a radio button.

      • ET says:

        Wait, does Steam not allow you to tag a game as multiple things anymore?
        I was doing this like…last week, I swear!
        Game A would be tagged as “finished”, “multiplayer”, and “meh”.
        Game B would be tagged as “finished, “good”, “platformer”.
        Am I going to get in front of Steam tonight and find that my sorting system is now broken? :|

        • Ranneko says:

          If you were actually doing that last week I would be very surprised. My copy has not allowed it since they made the change I mentioned during the New Steam UI beta in 2010.

          It unchecks any other ticked checkboxes when you select a category, so I suspect you will find that your games are all in the last of the tags you selected.

    • Humanoid says:

      I wanted to do something as basic as “shove all the crap I will never ever play to the bottom of the list”, but nope, all custom categories will always appear above the master list, regardless of alphabetical order. So if I wanted to set it up the way I wanted, I’d have to put every single one of my titles into custom categories and never use the master list.

      Fortunately the list of junk is pretty small so it’s not totally unmanagable, it’s mostly just unwanted shooters and other miscellaneous rubbish that are bundled in with Humble Bundles and whatnot.

      And these guys think they can make an OS. Pfft.

      • ET says:

        Last time I was on Steam, there were little minus and plus signs in front of my categories.
        So, opened categories would have a – to indicate when you clicked it, it would shrink, and closed things, like my own “junk” category would have a +.
        So, you could have a single category called “junk”, shrinkified, only taking up a single line in your UI.
        Has this changed?

    • Starkos says:

      I thought a few moments about categorizing my games by genre, but instead I went with:

      100+ Hours: Dungeons of Dredmor, Civ V, Terraria
      50+ Hours: Borderlands 2, Deus Ex, L4D2, Torchlight II, Tropico 4
      Achievements: Too many to list
      Demos: Not as many, but still a lot
      Games: <<>>

    • Hang on a sec. I thought we’d firmly established that there are only two categories: “Video Games” and “NOT Video Games.”

    • I’d settle for a delay on organizing my games if they’d let me filter the specials they have on sale into actual games/apps and the often multiple pages of DLC for games I don’t even have an interest in, let alone own.

  9. a guest says:

    Dumbest thing in Elder Scrolls games?
    No competition: The conversation wheel-persuasion-thingy in Oblivion. Just like a real conversation… You asshole! You are beautiful! I’m going to beat you up! A horse enters a bar – “what’s with the long face”!

  10. Spammy V says:

    Speaking of depictions of air combat, there’s a board game called Sortie that I thought was very interesting in how it systemified air combat, especially altitude.

    Basically, your “altitude” is the number of maneuver cards you have in your hand, drawn from a deck. You always have the Climb card, which barely moves you but lets you draw cards. So, your altitude and the number of maneuvers you can pull off are tied to the cards in your hand. And when you perform a maneuver you have to discard cards and lose altitude. And basically the game is about reading what your opponent is doing and trying to get on their six, as if you’re lined up at the end of the turn you fire and kill the player who’s in your gun range.

    In short: I’ve watched like nine million episodes of Dogfights and even got the first season and I borrowed Sortie from a friend and it was a really good game I thought.

  11. BlooDeck says:

    Part of the reason why Herodotus said that the Greeks and Persians kept on going to war was because they kidnapped women from each other is a reference to Homer and Helen of Troy. :)

  12. CLoki says:

    Though you mock a Turn Based First Person Shooter, there is a Turn Based Third Person Shooter. Valkyria Chronicles by Sega on the PlayStation3.
    You start by seeing an over view of the battlefield. You then choose one of your troops and you take over their actions for a limited time. You have limited movement and enemies shoot while you do so. However when you go into targeting stance all enemies stop firing, giving you unlimited time to line up a shot. There is a bit of randomness in the shot hitting, you overlay a circle on the enemy and the bullet goes anywhere in the circle, giving a chance to miss. When you finish with a troop you zoom out back to the over map and choose a different troop. You have a limited number of command points with which to move troops, however if you have leftover when you end your turn they are saved for your next turn, giving more for that turn.
    It has Troop classes with strengths and weaknesses. Anti-Tank troops take more damage from Bullets and less from Explosions, and cant shoot at moving troops. Scouts have more movement but only five shots per action.
    It has no multiplayer and only a campaign. It feels more like a Role Playing Game in the story, Focus on the Characters then on any kind of action scenes.
    The Art is Amazing, no dull Brownness, Except for the stupid desert levels.
    All in all its a JRPG with a unique Combat Style, in a WW2 Setting.

  13. Nytzschy says:

    Fun Fact about Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: I was reading that book on a trip several years ago and asked an older relative of mine, who is a retired anthropologist, about Marvin Harris. According to her, she tried to talk to him at a conference and found him to be incredibly arrogant and dismissive. That didn’t change my feelings about the book, which I found pretty interesting, but it was hilarious.

  14. Melfina the Blue says:

    Um, Fallout 3’s main plot? That’s my vote for most stupid, or maybe the unsacked grocery stores or the lack of greenery in a damn swamp, or okay, can I just nominate F3 as most stupid game? That seems easiest.
    Only way I got through that game was deciding that my character’s father was completely insane and yet capable of convincing many people to follow him, and she was just trying to limit his damage. Can’t think of anything in Morrowind, Oblivion, or NV that bothered me that much, but I haven’t played Skyrim (if my laptop overheats with NV, WoW, or LotRO, Skyrim is probably a really bad idea)
    Also, yay my question! I want to have the ability to sort my library by the labels games have when I search for them in store. Also, a brief description would be helpful, since my biggest category is “I HAVE NO IDEA stupid bundles grumble”
    I may comment more (am only 20 min in)

    • Tychoxi says:

      Yes… yes! FO3 hatred fills me with power!

      Also, using cooling pads for your laptop is almost a must (in case you don’t use one).

      • Melfina the Blue says:

        Thanks, I had to upgrade to a fan panel (which is noisy and I dislike but thankfully I only have to use when running a game). Sadly just a cooling pad wasn’t doing the trick anymore. Stupid Lenovo, using subpar thermal paste on the processor. I guess I should be happy it’s lasted 4 years, but I can’t help but remember that our old IBM desktop with the gb hd from 95 still boots and runs.
        Sooner or later I will get the courage up to try replacing the paste, but it’s scary to put my only machine capable of modern gaming at risk when there’s no cash to replace it.

  15. Thomas says:

    Steam categorising is really terrible. Facebook has already shown that self-selected categories basically never work and Steam makes it so much harder to even do that. Some sort of drag and drop interface would be really good

    • Zukhramm says:

      Facebook has already shown that self-selected categories basically never work

      What? How did they show that?

      • Thomas says:

        They had a category system not much more advanced than Steam’s and it turned out to have been used by less than like 1% of their audience. I meant ‘not work’ as in isn’t a solution for the majority of people as opposed to ‘categories have no use’.

        I think Google+’s circles are used more often but I also think they more aggressively chase categorisation

  16. One of the dumbest things is in Skyrim, and it’s an NPC. There’s a cave with some sea hags in it, and they’re holding a guy prisoner. You can let him go and even arm him, and he can fight alongside you as you take on the rest of the hags.

    After he saw me magically nuke every hag before he could even get one swing at them with his sword, he thought it would be a good idea to betray me and try to kill me. I would’ve thought a little bit of code that did a quick comparison between him and even just the gear I was carrying would’ve led to a different outcome where he said “gotta go now!”

    • Humanoid says:

      To be fair, I don’t think the guy in New Vegas who “tricks” you into killing geckos for him has any such check either?

      • Yeah, though his stupidity is spilling the beans that he tricked you, as opposed to outright attacking you.

        I mean, it would’ve made a little sense if the Skyrim dude had become hostile just because he thought you wouldn’t let him keep what you gave him and his only recourse to keep it would be to fight.

      • IFS says:

        That guy is intended to run into you right at the early areas of the game at least, where you aren’t going to be terribly strong. Not that much of an excuse but certainly better than Skyrim’s myriad completely unexcused betrayals.

    • Disc says:

      Don’t know if it was the same guy, but I had similar thing happen with a naked bandit wielding only an iron dagger. Find a room with some bad guys, kill them all, discover the man inside a cage. Let him out, and he decides a good reward is to threaten me to give him everything I have or he’ll kill me.

      Talk about times I wish I could call NPCs out on their ridiculous shit. Everytime I see stupid shit like that, I just want to start debating with the NPC in question on why they’re wrong and a moron.

      • Zagzag says:

        I seem to recall that one of the options when a thief tries to rob you on the road is something like “I don’t have the time for this.”

        That, to me, felt like calling the NPC out on just how insignificant they really were to you. (Granted, that option still required you to fight them afterwards.)

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        A sense of self-preservation is a thing lacking in pretty much every video game AI on the planet. Little level 2 squishy lizard may not have the intelligence to know that I’m level 76, or any world view that covers the idea, but when it sees four of its kin reduced to slices suitable for sandwiches before they even get the first bite in, you’d think that some kind of “reverse aggro” concept could happen and it would run as far away from you as its ranging radius allows. And even illiterate human mooks ought to be able to read the difference between a skinny dude in a rotten sack armed with a rusty sword and a wizardess in self-cleaning velvet suffused with the glow from eldritch tokens and bearing a crackling staff shedding sparks and ozone with every twitch, and adjust their approach (or not) strategy accordingly.

  17. Steve C says:

    I have a problem with the Diecast- volume normalization. For example listen to the 5 seconds of volume transition at 28:50 between Rutskarn and Shamus or the 7sec at 30:00 of just Josh.

    This has been bothering me every Diecast. #36 was really bad but it bothers me more depending on what I’m doing while listening. Today I listened on a player that I couldn’t normalize my end. It was not good.

    I don’t want you to change how you speak or anything just please balance the volume with software/hardware. You all use a soft voice that’s hard to hear and you all use a loud voice that red lines your mics. Lower the red line a bit your ends and problem solved.

  18. I think at 1:01:50, Rutskarn has come up with the title for whatever scholarly tome he ever decides to write: “Brief but Survivable Swims in Lava.”

  19. Re: Origin and making products people want.

    I was listening to NPR’s (well, really MPR, but whatever) “Marketplace,” and there was a story about marketing new technologies. The person being interviewed was talking about things like the microwave oven, which originally there was no demand for, and marketers had to convince us it was an indispensable part of our kitchens and educate us as to why we SHOULD want them.

    Listening to it, I get the impression that marketing has taken over with a mutated form of this concept that boils down to: Consumers are sheep, they’ll buy whatever we tell them to if we shout loud enough.

    This seems to circumvent that whole “making stuff we want” and goes to “making stuff the company will use to make more money, often at the expense of the consumer.” Software especially is prey to this, being the virtual equivalent of a car company also making the only tires that’ll work on the car they sell you, their own unique brand of gasoline, etc.

  20. ColdDeath says:

    The problem with Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition was NOT that they didn’t KNOW if they had the rights to Baldur’s Gate but that the publisher (Atari, what a surprise) pulled a d*ck move and refused to let them continue publish the game via their own venues (Beamdog).

    And how exactly are the production values low? I dunno, but that small interjection just felt like “bashing for bashings sake”

  21. Nick says:

    Aww, I liked The Cave – it had a nice mix of a cutesy art style and really quite dark humour and subject matter. I had annoyances with it but I played through it a lot to get all the achievements and had fun.

  22. Justin says:

    I find it very interesting, from a scientific perspective, to see how the flow of conversation in this episode differs from that with a cast of five.

    With more people, we seem to spend more time “handing off” the conversation from one speaker to another, or from one conversational pair to another. Example: Shamus brings up a topic, and then Chris adds to it. After a bit of back and forth, Mumbles steps in to comment on something Chris said. In this example, we start with a Shamus”“Chris handoff, and then that thread is transformed into a Chris”“Mumbles exchange. But if Josh had a comment on the same thing, he might start speaking at the same time as Mumbles, and they would spend a second or so doing that little dance of “who gets to complete their thought first?”

    So there’s a certain conversational overhead that grows with (at least) the square of the number of people involved. A conversation graph of n people has (n² – n)/2 edges. Each edge is a potential 2-way conversation or handoff from one person to another, and each carries an overhead cost, in the form of each participant spending mental energy (and speaking time) figuring out whose turn it is to speak, who wants to speak right now, who started to say something but got interrupted, etc.

    However, I think there’s also a meta-graph, where each edge of the previous graph is a node, and each node connects to every other node that involves one of the same two people. So for a group of 5, the four Shamus nodes (S”“J, S”“C, S”“R, S”“M) all connect to each other, and also connect to three other nodes in the graph. This meta-graph has (n² – n)/2 nodes and (n³ – 3n² + 2n)/2 edges. If handing off from one conversational “pair” to another carries conversational overhead, then conversational complexity actually grows in O(n³).

    So this week’s episode may have been filled with pointless crap, but it was efficient pointless crap!

    • Paul Spooner says:

      The conversation isn’t flat either, with each edge exploration adding another “step” to the conversational graph. All this adds to your point that more participants leads to a less efficient conversation. However, the whole point of having a discourse is to bring in as much data as possible, for which you want to maximize the number of participants.

      Ideally all of the discourses would be explored fully, but that takes time, and most of them end up being redundant. Additionally, not all edges carry the same overhead, and a good moderator will weed out useless threads and encourage beneficial ones. The difficulty comes in distinguishing beneficial digressions from rambling. More “polish” usually means trimming the hairy edges and knocking off all the corners, but that also removes a lot of interesting detail. So, even though efficiency is nice, you don’t want too much of it or you end up with nothing being communicated.

      There’s a certainly threshold of conceptual feedback that is necessary for a “vibrant” discourse. Some people naturally dampen this, while others exacerbate it. Plus the individual conversational feedback coefficient is highly dependent on topic. That’s why its nice to have a “meta-conversationalist” as a moderator in any social gathering. Someone who isn’t there to particularly say anything, but generally regulates the energy levels by adding or subtracting based on the current state of the discourse instead of (or in addition to) their personal interest in the topic at hand.

      Ideally everyone would do this, but most people aren’t aware enough of conversational dynamics to do this with any great skill, and when they are, they are often perceived as a “wet blanket” or “overly excitable” because of the role they play in countering the general trend of conversations to either peter out or blow up. In addition, a good moderator (or “host” in this case) takes the burden of self-moderator off of the other participants, allowing them to enjoy simply saying whatever comes to mind. Of course, once the conversation is running at a good energy level, you need to steer it, which is why it’s nice for the moderator to also have a game-plan for topics to discuss. They will already have a good sense of how the conversation is running since they are monitoring and controlling the inertia.

      Usually a topic is “done” when everyone has run out of things to say. With a good moderator, this will mean that the moderator is doing all the talking (keeping the energy levels up) at which point they can (with confidence) switch to the next topic. The opposite state can happen as well, where the moderator is trying to keep everyone’s energy levels down, but it isn’t working. This is also a good time to switch to another topic, as run-away conversations are almost as useless as dead ones.

      Anyhow, yeah, fewer people are easier to manage, but I’d say that the hosts (all of you!) have a lot to learn about moderating conversations. Both the rambling and the dead-ends don’t speak well of this show. I realize it’s free, amateur, and “just for fun”, but as long as you’re doing it, may as well practice doing it well.

      I hope this has been helpful, though since at least two of the members of this podcast profess to be writers they probably already know all of this. Time to put it to work.

  23. Coblen says:

    I went back and started playing oblivion recently, and I was surprised how much I still enjoyed it. Every time I looked back at it all I could think off were complaints, but I had a lot of fun.

    One of the first things I did was lower the difficulty setting to get rid of the terribly grindy combat. Doing this also alleviated the problem that if you don’t level well that monsters become way stronger then you.

    I realized the two things I enjoyed most was wondering around exploring, and doing quests. The combat was just a means to an end.

    Skyrim really nailed the exploring for me but fell so so so short on the quests. All the guild quests where short and boring, and so where most of the quests I found wandering around.

  24. Apropos of nothing, has anyone here ever clicked on the “transcripts” feature for Spoiler Warning videos? They’re… interesting. For example, in the 3rd episode of the Deus Ex playthrough, it reads:

    incidently talking about the
    fraud from last episode a little
    thing I discovered when I thought I was going to be played a sex this week
    is our the
    your fellow you next go guys you can stun prod them unconscious
    with impunity and limp

    And that’s just Shamus. When there’s cross-talk it gets even weirder.

    • Heh. Found an even better one. From the cast introducing themselves in the first episode of the Bioshock playthrough:

      by everybody else’s
      and i mumble
      we’re playing system shark too

    • Otters34 says:

      Yeah, whomever designed the ‘Trascribe Audio’ feature for Youtube should get whatever the Eisner Awards are for comedy through technology. Just about every video on the site is improved when you turn that on, it turns merely interesting viewing into gut-busting surrealism.

      This is especially good for Lets Plays, and the in-depth discussions of the Spoiler Warning crew.

  25. Ben Hilton says:

    Renegade Anthropologist.

    Yet another combination of words that that would never be put together by anyone but this group.

  26. The Schwarz says:

    I can’t believe you haven’t titled this “The Esoteric Bullshit Episode”…

    Shamus – I had *exactly* the same experience as you with the Steam categories when they first introduced them. Took me about an hour to set it all up and then a few days later it was all gone. It was all the more annoying because I wanted this feature for SO long.

  27. Otters34 says:

    Thanks for answering my question so excellently, Rutskarn and Shamus! Yeah, ‘simulationist’ seems like a better way to explain what I wanted to try and ask.

    That does make a lot of sense, that game makers are just trying to give everyone something they can feel comfortable with and get excited about playing instead of nailing everyone to the same scheme. I’m used to the idea of catch-all systems that are broad enough that you can use them in a myriad of different ways, so more focused games seem just crazy to me.

    A fair point about FATE Core not really being that loose, Rutskarn! I suppose it’s just different enough from other systems I know that it feels like it is.

    Sorry for not giving you something to work with there Josh, but at least you got your 2nd Diecast Question!

    • Otters34 says:

      Sorry, by “catch all” I mean as Shamus said, balanced. Not leaning fully towards either roleplaying(FATE, 13th Age, etc) or simulationist/wargaming(GURPS, Warhammer), but with resources allowing lots of people to find their niche in that structure in the gray space between.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>