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Diecast #87: Batman Endgame, ToME, Stone Soup Dungeon Crawl

By Shamus
on Monday Jan 5, 2015
Filed under:


Happy 2015! Enjoy this extra-long Diecast with a full crew and a lot of topics.

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

Direct Link

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Rutskarn, Mumbles, and Chris.

Show notes:
2:00 Mumbles is reading Batman: Endgame.

CORRECTION: During the conversation I mention a “Think Geek” Loot Crate, but I’m pretty sure Loot Crate isn’t affiliated with Think Geek. The deal is that for a small monthly fee (around $12-ish) you get a box of random geek crap supposedly worth $40. I’m sure it’s just overstock stuff some other outfit is trying to unload quickly. It’s the online equivalent of a bargain bin. But it’s also strangely fun. We got it for my son on his birthday, and getting our monthly loot crate is a big deal around here. Everyone gathers around to see what bits of random fandom we got this month.

20:00 Mumbles recommends Lost Constellation.

You can get it from the official site and is offered on a “name your own price” basis.

22:00 Chris is playing “You Don’t Know Jack”.

Also, the new Errant Signal is out! It’s about GTA V.

28:00 Josh is playing roguelikes.


34:00 Shamus isn’t playing much of the videogames.

Instead I’m writing my end-of-year stuff and watching speed runs. Here is the Awesome Games Done Quick. But really, I’m a sucker for any Deus Ex or Human Revolution speedruns. I don’t know why, but I love watching this bonkers secret agent save the world through inexplicable nonsense and hilarious stunt-jumping.

37:00 Josh is fighting with Windows.

43:00 Ruts is also playing roguelikes!

Stone Soup Dungeon Crawl.

48:00 Rutskarn is making a new campaign setting.

Also he’s working on his FMV game idea in the margins. Also we talk about rollerblades for a long time. I can’t even explain why. It just happened.

1:13:00 Shamus can do it.

True story: At the one hour 13 minute mark Chris jokes that I could help Rutskarn make this FMV game. I didn’t join in on the joke, because a few minutes earlier Rutkarn had said that he would need to find someone to make the game, or that he would need to program it himself.

That immediately got me thinking, because writing a video player would be monumentally hard for a new coder, but the simple logic that drives a small-scale FMV game would be a fantastic thing for a new coder to work on. So it seems like you’d need some kind of simplified video player (it would only need to handle one format) that used game logic as a front end. This got me to thinking about the most recent chapter of Game Programming Patterns, which talked about building a virtual machine to process your own scripting language, so you can handle exactly these kinds of specialized problems where you need artists to be able to code simple things. (The example given in the book is a system where artists could add complex spell effects to the game without needing to get the coders involved. You just need to be able to examine and change stats and create particles.) So I started thinking about scripting languages and what you’d need to be able to do with one in order to drive an FMV game.

Suddenly my name came up in conversation and I had no idea what anyone was talking about. It wasn’t until I edited this episode that I realized I missed the joke about working on the project because I was daydreaming about how one would go about working on the project.

1:16:00 Adventures With Content ID.

Josh tells the story of when we tried to upload the New Year episode of Far Cry 4 and YouTube killed it because the credits used a copyrighted song.

Comments (108)

  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I absolutely agree about continuity. DC should do more with its Elseworlds label and/or give the “All Star” concept another shot (or something in between).

    About the Riddler long con thing, Superman/Batman Generations did something like that with Lex Luthor. The premise of the series was “what if Superman and Batman started in 1938 and time moved forward normally?” so they kept hopping ahead decades and Luthor played out a long scheme to destroy Superman. It kind of worked too.

    That said, they’ll never let go of continuity, its their bread and butter. You always have to buy the next issue or else you’re behind and you can’t discuss it on the forums or whatever.

    But they should let go because then fans wouldn’t get so angry when you, say, want to do something like Frog Thor. Or female Thor. Or alien horse faced Thor. Or gritty street Thor.

    • Counterpoint: Continuity can be great in comics, but it’s got to be tempered. I’d argue that unless you jump into a mainstream comic in the middle of a story arc (i.e. Joker started something two issues ago, so you might not know why Joker is in a mech suit for this particular issue), you won’t be lost. There’ll be a recap, or an aside someone makes, or even a narration box at the beginning of the issue that brings you up to speed on current events.

      It’s how the show Stargate SG-1 handed things. There was a continuity, and a very good one. So people weren’t totally lost, you had a “previously on Stargate” bit at the beginning, and the dialog from the characters allowed you to figure out what was what. If comics seem a lot more detail-oriented, that’s probably the work of the fans obsessing over minutia (“Hey, the Green Goblin did X in issue Y, so he HAS to be Q in issue Z!”) or, again, a tightly-scripted story arc that has about as much or little permanence as any other arc in comics (which is to say, next to none).

      When I did a short story for Marvel some time ago, I was introduced to what was called “rolling continuity.” It was a basic rule of thumb that the most distant events in Spider-Man (or any comic) took place “about ten years ago.” I was even told not to worry about whether or not Spidey had organic or mechanical web-shooters (that was kind of up in the air at the time).

      Then there’s the other factors of comic continuity:

      1. Reboots, where everything gets reset.
      2. Alternate universes, where some of the more experimental stuff goes on (and is often quite good. See “Elseworlds” and “The Ultimates”).
      3. Continuity mistakes that are turned into twists by future writers (“Ah, you see he DIDN’T die, he just had the MacGuffin of Ultimate Power in his sock!”).

      It’s one of those things like continuity from comic books to film: What really, really matters is that the stories remain true to the characters. In other words, Kevin Smith writing a Batman story isn’t awful in and of itself. It’s Kevin Smith writing Batman admitting he once peed himself early in his career that was awful.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I think it would help if they at least were willing to decouple the characters from each other. I really liked All Star Superman and Batman’s approach. There was a Superman in Batman’s title and a Batman in Superman’s title (though Batman is only mentioned, never shown) and in fact the Justice League existed in both. But each title had their own versions of those characters that existed for that set of stories.

        As a Superman fan, it was much easier for me to accept they way he was treated in ASBats comic (like a complete tool) because I knew this was a version of Superman crafted to fit those stories (not that they’re the best stories). When Superman suddenly gets treated like an idiot in mainstream comic book crossoves, my inner fanboy rolls his eyes and says “HE’S NOT AN IDIOT. YOU’RE JUST MAKING HIM LOOK LIKE A DOPE SO YOUR OTHER GUY CAN BE USEFUL.”

        So yeah, more freedom with the decoupled approach.

        • Thomas says:

          I still like the idea of playing fast and loose with continuity. It’s cool that random superhero X shows up in Y’s story, but that shouldn’t mean you’re wedded to the universe and need to process every little detail. So you’re approach sounds fun to me.

          Although I generally really struggle to process the idea of stories that don’t have endings. After a while you’ve given superheroes so much character development, and then reset it all, so many times it feels odd right?

          I guess that means I actually _like_ the idea of the constant reboots. You create a guy called Batman and run all his stories and his life journey for a 4-5 years and then you finish it and start a new story with a guy called Batman except he’s slightly different but kind of the same and you do his story for 4-5 years…

          Maybe that ruins the iconicness of someone like Batman or Superman? Or maybe that’s how comics actually do it. Comics are super expensive and there are some really good webcomics out there…

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I think it reinforces the iconic status to show so many different interpretations.

            I’ll tell you, that whole ongoing thing creates other problems in the fandom. Part of what makes a character interesting is watching them grow but comic books are serial drama so you either have the heroes keep their flaws, never learning (which can sometimes work for some kinds of flaws) but that frustrates some fans who want their heroes to learn and grow. Or you can have them grow, work past their flaws, which can make them kind of dull and flat because fanboys tend to hate it when you try to introduce new flaws or when you drag them back into a life situation they had resolved (like Peter Parker getting married and then having his marriage retconned out of existence after a couple of decades)

            Or you can say “screw the fanboys” and let your character grow, overcome old flaws, develop new ones, and eventually you’ve lost the core of what originally made that character appealing.

          • The funny thing is, it’s the books that actually DO that which people remember.

            Superman: Red Son is a great example.

        • I think the “Supes is a tool” thing is the fault of the writers. Batman and Superman should have some VERY different ideas about justice, vigilantism, etc. which can easily lead to conflict between the characters. This goes back to writing the characters that are true to their legacies as opposed to continuity.

          But it’s comic books, which often means that as soon as Hero X meets Hero Y, they have to fight. It’s not just a Superman/Batman problem.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            The “tool” thing is just an example. The point is, if you decouple the comics and fans have the understanding that the Spiderman showing up in your Punisher comic is not the same as the Spiderman that appears in the Spiderman title and that the Punisher version of Spiderman is crafted to serve a story where Punisher is the main character, then fans will be more forgiving if you take liberties and offer your own interpretation.

            Or lets say you want to use Spiderman but you want to use the Spiderman we’re all familiar with, not the Spiderman that is in the middle of an 18 month storyline where he lost his powers and got cybernetic upgrades and wears an anime-inspired costume because that’s what the kids like right now (sillier things have happened to Spiderman). You’d be free to use classic Spiderman without having to explain where that fits in the shared universe continuity (and many of your fans will probably be grateful to see classic Spiderman after month nine of the Spider-Force X saga).

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        Having half of your issue’s story be recaps so that the new audience members know what the hell is going on is a problem in and of itself. My experiences trying to break into Marvel’s comics were full of exposition being substituted for actual storytelling. That, and no amount of recapping is going to make the Summers family tree palatable to casual readers.

        Continuity itself is a perfectly good idea, but not when you want it to last 50+ years. Manga has a far better model*, where individual manga have continuity for a story that might last 10 or 15 years, but each manga is coherent enough as a stand-alone product that if you’re interested it’s easy to start from the first volume.

        DC kind of half-ass realizes this, but their cosmic reboots both tend to fail at actually getting rid of old continuity and come at the cost of dragging the existing versions of the characters out back and shooting them instead of just saying “We’re going to end the old story and start a new one”.

        *Not that I actually recommend reading manga, for many other reasons.

        • Here’s the rule I follow: If the continuity is SO complicated that it can’t easily be made mention of in the comic pages, then it needs a recap inside the front cover. That way, people who need it can get up to date and those who don’t aren’t losing page space to someone playing narrator. It can be done cleverly in dialog, but it’s not easy to make it sound natural.

          • Bloodsquirrel says:

            That still doesn’t fix the problem, which is that I’m not invested in the backstory that’s being used as the basis for the plot. It’s like if someone just gave you a detailed plot synopsis for a movie right up until the climax, showed you the climax, and expected you to have the same response as someone who had actually seen the movie.

            There’s just too much that recaps can’t cover.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              In spite of all my protesting, I think that as long as they’re going to keep doing continuity and shared universes, Marvel’s recap page is a pretty good solution. Heck even when I was reading every issue, I was collecting so many titles that it was nice to have a little quick reminder of where we left off before continuing.

              And investment is something you’re gonna have to deal with no matter what. I don’t think continuity prevents investment. In fact, the events where they keep kind of doing “status quo” resets and cleaning messy bits off the table undermine investment for existing fans. After a while its like “why does it matter? They’re just going to undo it in 6 months.”

              You might say “well if they do self contained stories, they have the same problem.” But the problem is, part of the impact of continuity based story telling is knowing that the hero has to live with whatever happened. If the understanding from the start is that you’re going to be writing self contained stories, then you’re both free to do what works for the story and focused on that goal as opposed to what works as a new status quo.

    • Phill says:

      Over-attention to consistency and continuity, particularly when you have multiple writers overlapping in the same fictional universe, takes you to silly places. The best example for me is the “St. Elsewhere Unification Theory” (explained fairly well at http://www.slushfactory.com/content/EpupypyZAZTDOLwdfz.php – which explicitly makes the comic book continuity link)

      The short version: St. Elsewhere was a 1980’s medical drama. In the final episode, everything turns out to have been the dream of a boy (one of the regular characters) in a coma. But….. due to the love of crossovers in US TV, various (non-existent, coma-induced) characters from St. Elsewhere appeared in other TV shows, making those part of the dream. And characters from those other shows appeared as guests in yet more shows….. One person figured that something like 90% of American TV shows don’t actually exist except in the mind of thet small boy while he was in a coma.

    • Otters34 says:

      The Eternal Crossover is one of the most dire things to happen in comic books. It’s flattened a hundred different genres into one, welded together disparate universes so slap-dashily that they frequently contradict themselves, muddied the waters of narrative by drafting entire sections of those universes into general ‘leadership’ roles, stifled any kind of real growth or change by making superhero stories ultimately about superhero WORLDS, and proven to be the only thing keeping this shambling, amateurish mess(Quote from A Place) going. I will not go into how it has turned almost into some kind of bizarro world TV show, with figures rising to prominence or else being relegated to bit parts as seasons pass, since that’s a whole other issue.

      That and, as an almost inevitable result, the frequency of protagonists fighting other protagonists has not only risen but become routine. Imagine if the cast of Firefly was in open war with each other every other season.

      That plus the surge in events has made the various superhero lines almost useless for actually telling stories that aren’t soap-opera-esque dramas(“You killed my son, Wolverine!” “I had to, he was…from the future“), so the crowds of heroes and relatively smaller stable of regular villains are not only being pushed into conflicts with higher and higher stakes, but those stakes ring increasingly hollow given the inevitable return to how things were. The only real exception was Civil War, and that was garbage for entirely different reasons. The end result is a world where a lot happens(to the point where comic book fans often joke about how ludicrous they are) but very little actually matters, very little is really real.

      Sure, there are solo lines. There are personal, unique stories being told that use superheroes to their full symbolic, metaphorical or literary potential. But they all have the wider universe casting its shadow over them. They are bound to an orbit they and their creative staff are powerless to change, and it sucks.

      This is another reason why Squadron Supreme was so great. It took all that crap that was still to come and made something unique and powerful out of it. It had an ensemble cast that worked like an ensemble cast and not just some people to spout catchphrases and hang around waiting for fights to happen.

    • SlothfulCobra says:

      If you think about it, DC should be way more free and loose about doing crazy things with its characters, seeing as how it keeps rebooting its entire continuity.

      Marvel on the other hand, doesn’t have that kind of freedom, but they use their continuity right. At any time they could bring back Spragg the Living Hill, or dredge up a bunch of obscure characters and put them together like they originally did to make the Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s the fun thing with Marvel, anything that’s ever happened can be brought back up, and all the wacky things characters have done like Doctor Doom fighting Luke Cage because he didn’t want to pay him, or Magneto using a weird mind control helmet to get acquitted by a world court, or the Punisher trying to kill Archie are still canon.

    • Felblood says:

      The trouble with superhero comics is that they generally want to have their cake and eat it too.

      They want to be serial fiction, but they also want to have a stable status quo. You can’t really do both entirely, and finding a balance point between them is only possible if you accept that you can’t have it all.

  2. Satisverborum says:

    RSS feed is still busted.

  3. Only a fedora on Riddler will tick you off about Batman, Mumbles?

    Did you ever read Batman: Odyssey? :)

  4. DanMan says:

    In response to Awsome Games Done Quick, that’s actually happening right now. It’s on Twitch this whole week.

    • Tizzy says:

      Yeah, I thougt it was the hell of a coincidence that Shamus watched the old streams maybe a couple of days before they started this year’s.

      I’d never heard of it either until this week-end. Cool stuff, and nice to watch live too.

  5. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I think everybody who saw that movie in 1988 wondered what 2015 would really be like. And those of us who were kids probably thought that the stuff they showed was plausible. But even the adults had to be wondering. In 1988 you already had computers in homes, microwaves that could cook things in minutes, VCRs (for crying out loud! You can record what you’re watching on TV now and you can watch movies after they’ve left the theater.) Cell phones. Video games and Arcades. These were things the twenty somethings and older had in their adult lives that had not really been a part of their childhood. It must have been for them a lot like what the internet and smartphones are for us.

    So we all wondered. And now we pretty much know. And I’m more or less satisfied.

    People will have a laugh about what Back to the Future 2 got wrong but there’s one important thing they got right that most sci fi movies don’t. We’re not in a dystopia. We haven’t blown ourselves up. Things haven’t really gotten any worse (I think whatever your leanings, you’d probably call it a mixed bag) and a lot has gotten better. Life has gone on as it goes on for the most part.

    Ok so maybe thats a few things they got right depending on how you count it.

    • Thomas says:

      A lot of the time distopia’s are less about trying to predict the future and more making a setting for an interesting story (or hammering home some political view)

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Yeah, I know. Just as BTTF 2’s future was about making jokes about pop culture not about actually predicting the future.

        Just sayin’

        Actually, if I were to point to a movie that was fairly accurate about the tone of the future, I’d say Minority Report. We’re still basically decent people and life still goes on but there are some worrisome things we’re doing. Not that we should get into any detail about the specifics (please, I want to leave this in the most general terms).

    • We’re not in a dystopia?

      Constant war. Constant surveillance. Many people can’t ever afford to retire. Education and even basic living can result in eternal debt. Cities can go bankrupt. Corporations are people.

      Dystopia means more than blowing people up. We’re pretty close to a corporate-cyberpunk dystopia, just without the mohawks and wetware enhancements.

      • Wide and Nerdy says:

        They had their own set of problems. Financial scandals, lower literacy, worse health care, more intolerance and bigotry, the looming threat of nuclear annihilation (sure that still exists but the Cold War made it a much more present reality). Corporations did nasty things back then too. There was less surveillance but intelligence agencies did horrible things during the Cold War.

        Like I said, mixed bag. When I think Dystopia, I think about worse things like 1984 or Brave New World.

        • Tizzy says:

          The 1980's had this weird vibe, a mix of over-optimistic yuppies, Tom Cruise in every damn movie, with possible nuclear anihilation as a not-so-subtle backdrop.

          But to me, the decade that gets the disfunction prize must be the 1970’s. Domestic terrorism around the world, crisis at all levels (energy, obviously, but also deep ideological questioning for almost everyone), rise in crime, and basically boomers becoming very disillusioned with themselves and the world.

          I’ll take the current dystopia over that any day…

    • lucky7 says:

      Speaking as someone born in 2000, I’m looking forward to seeing what current science fiction (including what I’m writing) gets wrong.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      In the director commentary for the movie, one of them -I think it was Zemeckis -points out that if they’d known they were doing a sequel they wouldn’t have gone to the future at all, but they ended the first movie on the “we’ve gotta do something about your kids! So bring her along!” gag, and they were hemmed in. So they decided to just make it as outlandish as they could manage and get back to the show.

  6. Benjamin Hilton says:

    I Kind of agree with Shamus’ idea of worrying less about continuity. One of the few example of comics without continuity happened with the early to mid 90’s love of crossover comics. And I don’t mean Batman/Superman I mean stuff like Batman/Predator. Those were some really interesting stories, that very obviously are not in continuity.

    Also fun is Judge Dredd vs Xenomorphs……holy hell do those two fit well together.

  7. Alchemist64 says:

    Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup was my first roguelike I played/really got into. The game was practically all I played throughout high school. As sad as it’s about to sound, I never beat it, and got about as far as Rutskarn (assuming Rutskarn goes through Lair first).

    Some places you can get help\discuss the game with the community:
    The Forum (called The Tavern)

    The ##crawl IRC Chat

    I play sporadically on WebTiles, and have the username the username xxx.

    An interesting thing to discuss is how the game has changed over the years. The game has gotten easier in some ways (Nausea’s gone, item weight is gone), harder in others (new, harder monsters, you have to get a rune now in order to enter Vaults) since the old versions. Not to mention all the item and spell changes.

    • Charnel Mouse says:

      I think the only time I’ve managed to get a rune was when I gave up on Minotaur Berserker, and abused the hell out of the fact that Orcs can collect their own small Orc army to follow them around and kill most enemies for then. It’s a little harder to get going now that Priests are no longer a background, so you have to hunt for an altar to Beogh first.

      Speaking of which, the developers are refreshingly fearless about removing a part of the game if they don’t think it works. No feature creep here. Before I took a break from playing they’d just announced the removal of the Mountain Dwarf – a big deal, as it was the go-to race for beginners at the time.

  8. DrMcCoy says:

    A video player as such isn’t that much of a problem. Especially if you just need it for an FMV game, i.e. no seeking controls and stuff like that.

    The brunt of the work, the actual video decoding, can be handled by a library like FFmpeg, or GStreamer if you want something higher-level.

  9. Hal says:

    Oh man, I loved You Don’t Know Jack (well, #3, anyhow) in high school. My friends and I would just play that for hours. Loved it. I understand there’s a new version now, but it’s one of those things where playing alone isn’t the point. My wife, bless her heart, refuses to play competitive games with me; she hates losing too much.

    • It was a hysterical game limited only by having to crowd so many people around a keyboard.

      The game also looked at your system clock, chiding you for playing by yourself, late at night and/or on holidays. The commercials over the end credits were also well worth listening to.

      The greatest quip from the game came after a speed round. You had to try and match James Bond villains to their movies. Player #3 had never seen a James Bond movie, so he didn’t try. When the round was over, the game said: “Player One, you rocked, Player 3, you chickenshit, you didn’t even press the button once!

  10. Andy says:

    Mumbles’s “What a rush!” mumblegrumble is from the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom intro and the Skylander in question is Pop Fizz.

  11. Thomas says:

    The last speedrun of System shock 2 I saw on a charity marathon:

    *Had the player getting himself halfway stuck in the floor early on. He remains this way for the whole game. It makes you run faster or something.

    *Jumped through a map leak and skipped 90% of the Rickenbacker. Eggs? What eggs?

    • Shamus says:

      If we’re thinking of the same play-through, then the “stuck in the floor” bug was actually something even more absurd:

      What happens is that when you die, the controls are disabled and you fall down. After N seconds, the screen fades and dumps you back at the title screen. However, if you happen to land on a ladder when you fall, then touching the ladder re-enables your controls so you can move again, even though you’re dead. If you can then immediately go through a loading screen, then the “fade out and return to the main menu” timer gets cleared. So you’re dead, but you can still play. You’ve got 1 HP and nothing will ever hurt you again, because you’re already dead. The only downside is the wonky camera angle because you’re supposed to be prone on the floor.

      It’s a wonderful, ridiculous bug.

  12. Aitch says:

    What YouTube does to erase copyrighted music files is actually a really simple process, at least compared to all the exact file matching and whatnot for song recognition.

    Take a simple square wave that oscillates between +1 and -1 at x frequency. Duplicate the wave and shift the duplicate’s phase forward by half a wavelength so each peak and trough of +1 / -1 matches to each trough and peak respectively of -1 / +1 on the duplicate. So when the two functions are summed on mixdown you end up with an overall value of 0, and no sound (or, in practice, with more complex waveforms like full songs, very little sound) ends up being produced on output.

    People talking over the track, game sound effects, or any difference between the two tracks will be left intact as a simple byproduct of the process.

    It’s how the looneys used to explain the silence of “black helicopters” – much tinfoil was had, then years and decades later it’s a totally viable useful process for so many of the noise-cancelling things we have nowadays. Also, with a proper EQ on the vocal bandwidth, a great way to mute out singing enough to make your own karaoke instrumental tracks.

    • Cuthalion says:

      I’m surprised it sounded bad at all, really. (I haven’t listened to it.) I would think all they’d need to do is take advantage of the quirks of sound you’ve mentioned to identify the start and end of the song (which they must already be doing), estimate the average volume (surely they must be capable of this if they can identify it in the first place), invert their reference copy, and mix it with the video. I would expect that to, in theory, erase the music perfectly, with no side effects, provided they used the exact same version of the song and the video did not vary the song’s volume at all.

  13. Octapode says:

    20 year old who got roller blades for christmas checking in, at least at my uni there’s a fair number of people who skate. I don’t know if the general popularity of skating died with my generation, but as a niche sport it’s still very much a thing. At least here in the UK, you can get adult size roller blades if you go to a proper skating store instead of a more general place like target. I don’t know what it’s like in the US, but there was a skate store in the mall in the nearest city for me.

    I think blades never really stuck like skateboards did because you can’t just pick up your skates and go do something else like you can with a skateboard. You have to actually faff around with changing to proper shoes instead, and I think that pushes roller blading to being a speciality sport instead of something you can just kind of dick around at.

    • Thomas says:

      Uni’s a good time for the resurgence of roller blading. My uni’s on a hill, so there’s a professor who rollerblades home everyday with his suit and briefcase =D

    • Groboclown says:

      I’m on my third pair of roller blades now – purchased about 5 years ago after the last pair shattered (all plastic crap). I use them for an activity I dubbed “roller sailing” – I pull out an old bed sheet with ropes tied to the corners, and roll around at a good speed when the wind really picks up. Back when I was at Lubbock for college, a cop clocked me going 30 mph.

      I’m old enough to remember when the first roller blades were introduced back in the early 80s (83 or 84). They were really expensive, and were used by the kids that wanted to practice their hockey skills during the summer.

      • Groboclown says:

        Looking up inline skates on Wikipedia, it looks like the kids at my school in ’83 were wearing some custom contraption. Given that it was Minnesota, it’s not surprising that people were trying all kinds of things to keep playing hockey.

  14. Geremy says:

    I know you’ve said before you don’t really know what’s going on with the itunes RSS Feed, but the last two episodes havn’t showed up on itunes for some reason. As some one who mostly listens there, I’d very much appreciate if you could look into why that is.

  15. Sacae says:

    I wondering if Rutskarn’s Patreon novellas will appear in other ways to buy later. Like amazon/kindle?

    • Rutskarn says:

      My actual first step is to try to farm it out to publishers, but if they all turn it down, which (given the field) is the healthy assumption, I’d make it available for purchase.

      • Sacae says:

        A lot of my favorite books on amazon have been self-published, its becoming a good route for indie writers. But I also understand wanting to try publishers first.

        I’ll look forward to either way happening. The novellas sound really interesting and I would love to get them on kindle.

        Good luck on either route.

      • McNutcase says:

        I’m tempted to put you in touch with my publisher. You’d have a much better in with an introduction from one of their stable.

      • Tizzy says:

        Anyone who goes the publisher route has to be very patient and ready to endure a lot of rejections. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame kept his day job for quite a long time while enduring multiple rejections. Not the route to go if you need cash in a hurry.

        Even for cash in the long run, self-publishing might be best. Dave Sim of Cerebus argues that keeping his early work in print was critical to his finances. And he did this the old fashioned way, with warehousing his goods and distributors and selling by mail. With print-on-demand services, keeping your work available for longer becomes easier for the self-published.

        Of course, traditional publishers have a bigger marketing reach, but that may apply only to the best-selling writers. My impression is that most writers still need to promote their work themselves.

  16. Alex says:

    While there is a place for Elseworlds and What If?, the problem isn’t that too much attention is paid to continuity, it’s that not enough attention is paid to continuity. Nobody cares when a superhero dies any more because they do it so lightly knowing they can just retcon it later that it has lost all meaning. If you’re not willing to have a character stay dead, you shouldn’t have killed them in the first place.

    And beyond that, without an ongoing continuity none of my favourite comics could exist. Comics like Secret Six, eXiles and Thunderbolts are built on a foundation of continuity. For people who don’t want to read about Superman and Batman, razing the continuity to the ground every five years means we wouldn’t get five years of comics – we might get one or two before they get shoved aside for the new continuity.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      The reboots and retcons is what eventually drew me away from the major series. I may occasionaly read a self contained story arc if an opportunity presents itself but without continuity I see little point in following the series. This has put me off of many TV shows as well.

      That said series like Batman or The Avengers were never really meant to tell a singular story, different writers have different views on characters and events, and there’s also a huge marketing pressure. If you’re fixated on continuity like me stay away from those big series and stick to comics written by the same author(s) who wants to tell a specific story.

  17. Paul Spooner says:

    Chris! Buy your roller blades online. Or at a sports store. Or a hockey store maybe?

    I used to commute to work on rollerblades. It’s still a thing.

  18. Ivan says:

    For the record, this is the first time I remember the diecast playing smoothly from start to finish without it’s usual “play 20 seconds and stop forcing you to restart it where it will work smoothly from start to finish”.

    So if you changed something, maybe it worked? (or maybe I got lucky)

  19. Andy_Panthro says:

    I played a bit of ToME over christmas. I kinda hate it, and I uninstalled it recently.

    I got to a point where I had cleared out the easy dungeons, and was stuck with other dungeons with impossible bosses. I could kill all the normal/rare enemies to clear the main levels, but once I reached the boss I just got killed. Also I had a couple of bad experiences in the sandworm dungeon, where I got stuck in the sand and died.

    I guess I just find roguelikes generally too frustrating, but for some (Nethack, FTL) I find they have enough charm to get me to keep playing.

    • IFS says:

      I’ve got about 30 some hours in TOME myself and I quite enjoy it though it took me a few deaths to get to the point where I had enough of it figured out to play well. I would argue that it does have its own sort of weird charm, on the surface its pretty generic fantasy after all but then you start playing around and suddenly you’re trapped in a temporal paradox killing some time dragon with the power of hate. Also there is a class that can get the power to summon a future self to fight for you and when it runs out you get yanked back in time to help your past self, which is all kinds of fantastic in my opinion. It also has some pretty creatively designed dungeons, and does some interesting stuff with its mechanics.

      So far I’ve yet to run into a boss that seemed truly insurmountable, the Chronolith twins are responsible for a few of my deaths but I know how to prepare for them and they’re optional besides. My last encounter with the Master also ended poorly but that was more because of a bad move on my part than anything he threw at me. As for sandworms I love their dungeon’s gimmick, though you do need to be careful to stick close to the burrowers and failing that keep a teleport ability ready for if you get trapped under sand.

      • Galad says:

        Haven’t listened to this podcast yet, so I’ll just say – I got ToME during this sale, and it will be a while before I get to it, but when I do, ohmagad, 1372 steam achievements. I’m probably gonna be stuck on it for a while too.

        Though granted, my previous experience with this kind of roguelikes – Sword of the Stars: The pit, wasn’t quite as stellar. I had to buff up quite a bit my char with equuipment and food from previously died chars just to get to floor 25-30, and the game still had another 10 floors down. And this was just on normal difficulty, out of 4?6? possible difficulties. Oh well, we’ll see.

        • Richard H says:

          ohmagad, 1372 steam achievements

          A lot of the Steam achievement inflation (apparently, this actually broke the Steam API, initially is because there’s “easy”, “normal”, “nightmare”, and “insanity”, along with one-life, a-few-lives, and infinite-lives options. I think “easy” and “infinite-lives” don’t get achievements, but, for everything else, it’s multiplied by a factor of five, basically, for the different options. (You get all that apply, IIRC.) On top of that, there are achievements for *everything*… plot quests, leveling up (every 10 levels), kill x monsters, use abilities in entertaining or creative ways, etc.

          • Galad says:

            Yep, so I noticed. I guess this game’s playtime for me will depend on how well it’s balanced between interesting and difficult.

            You have any link with more info about this part – “it broke the steam api”?

  20. Magistrate says:

    1:08:00 At one point I was running a Film Noir style game, and one of my players played this street rat with big dreams sort of character. Thing is, I run these games very improv, I have a lot of NPCs and locations prepared, but very little else. So this street rat knew some gangsters, and I knew he wanted more money/power/status, so I do what the DM is supposed to do – I challenge that motivation. HOW BADLY does he want those things?

    So he gets picked up by his gangster buddy (a real scary looking dude) and they tell him they’ve got a simple job for him: all he has to do is stand guard in an alley while they do a job. So he agrees, and we cut to him in the alley while behind him, the gangster visits some dude and confronts him about some money he owes. And the debtor says he can’t pay, so the gangster threatens to break his legs with a bat (and eventually does so too), and the debtors wife comes out and pleads for him and while I’m describing this shit I just go “what the actual fuck is going on here this is super uncomfortable” – not just to the player, but to me. So I did kind of a discretion cut to another scene.

    The whole thing lead to some great character moments, where the street rat tries to stand up to the gangster and convince him not to do this but he fails his rolls, and he isn’t willing to escalate far enough to permanently damage his rep with the gang – it was pretty good, but I seriously managed to creep MYSELF out…

    • Mike S. says:

      Steven Brust seems to have gone through a similar evolution while writing his “Jhereg” series. The first couple of books have the protagonist as an affable first-person smartass gangster who explains that all the stuff he does is just business. And hey, we don’t start breaking bones or finalizing people unless they’re unreasonable.

      Then in the third book his (soon-to-be-ex) wife and grandfather tell him, flat out, that what he’s doing is terrible. By the fourth he’s broken ties with the Organization and made himself decidedly non grata.

      (I’ve heard rumors that Brust lost a friend to Mafia violence in between 2 and 3, but I don’t know if they’re remotely true.)

      The series is up to fifteen books now (the original plan was for nineteen, though time will tell). While the protagonist is still a smartass and still prone to violence, he’s built up a lot more thoughtfulness and regret than he started with, and the Organization has never been treated with quite so light a touch since.

  21. Joakim says:

    The discussion of an experimental game based on receiving an error messages reminded me of a contest launched in connection to the Tomb Raider release.

    They argued that since raiding tombs in essence is finding out what happened to places nobody visits any more the contest was to visit various formerly popular web communities and find out what happened to them. Who now owns the sites and where did the users go? I thought that was a clever concept.

  22. Bryan says:

    That’s OK Rutskarn, I don’t have a smartphone either.

    Well, I do have one phone’s worth of hardware (and it’s all in one piece even), it just has no service hooked up to it. We got them as holiday gifts from work a couple years ago, and I’ve been using it as an ipod but nothing else.

    Email and calendars on phones is just dumb, I think. :-) Maps are overrated; looking before you leave works just as well (at least for me).

    • CJ Kerr says:

      What on earth is dumb about a calendar on a phone? It’s just a calendar – if you find a calendar useful, it remains useful on a phone.

      Maps matter a lot more if you’re unfamiliar with your destination – unless you have a perfect memory you’ve got no framework to work with, so you end up with “turn left at an intersection I don’t remember the name of and have never seen”.

      Obviously I’m talking about fairly dense urban regions, not “get on the M1 and follow it for 5 hours, then follow the signs to Destinationtown” type journeys.

  23. Ithilanor says:

    Rutskarn, you mentioned a lot of DMs wanting to make their games “like Game of Thrones” and going to uncomfortably dark places – would you say this is a recent phenomenon as GoT and other grimdark fantasy works have gotten popular, or is it a tendency that’s always been in RPG circles that happens to be using GoT as a recent example?

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Not Skarn but I’ll chip in. I think most DMs and players, especially if they start RPing in one of the “generic fantasy lands”, tend to get tired of the abstraction at some point and want to try something more gritty. There is just not always such a clearly defined (pop)cultural phenomenon to trigger it en masse, I wouldn’t be surprised if the anti-hero from the, I think, 70’s was a similar influence, though the spread would be less intense at the time.

      To be honest a lot of things that PCs do in your average RP are pretty grimdark if you either think about them closely or get descriptive. There is really no need to pile up rape and (additional) mutilation on top of it. For that matter I know some DMs use more graphic descriptions when they want to discourage players from doing something in the future or hint that “this was a bad thing to do” (say, fireballing peasants as opposed to fireballing goblins).

      • Felblood says:

        Actually, some of the best off-the-cuff roleplaying I ever managed to wring out of players was during my very first campaign, when I unwittingly injected an extra pile of grimdark, in the form a new PC whose darker, edger style turned out to have as much bite as bark.

        While tracking a pack of goblins in the woods, the party met a crazy dwarf with the auspicious sirname “the Goblinslayer”. Figuring that this was exactly the sort of person they needed along, the party offered him a job on the spot. When he calmly started hatcheting up the goblin civilians at the end of the battle, nobody much bothered to stop him.

        To be fair, his player was considerably younger than the other players, and inclined to press boundaries, so maybe I should have seen what was coming.

        When the party returned to the city, to shop and look for a new quest. I happened to mention that there were dense crowds of civilians in the streets that, made it slow and difficult to travel around the city. This was purely fluff, and I wasn’t planning any encounters in this space.

        Immediately, he exclaims, ” I KILL THEM WITH MY AXE!”

        At first, I was inclined to declare that I wouldn’t accept this, but instead, I decided to put it to the other players. After all, I let him kill the goblin children, which one could argue was even more dark.

        The Goblinslayer has drawn his axe and is clearly preparing to charge the unarmed, human populace. You probably cannot take the city guard in a pitched battle. What do you want to do?

        Seeing each of the more established characters suddenly thrust into this situation, and forced to figure out how they felt about it, was priceless.

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          I have a hard time keeping grimdark going when I have players who pull stunts like leaping on a rolling chair, bouncing off the wall to gain speed, and then leaping onto a demon with a knife in order to add some punch to get through the damage reduction.

          Also something that made Battle of the Five Armies a little hard to take seriously, come to think of it.

          So I just embraced the crazy. Created a world where technology has replaced all arcane magic except that created by creative acts (ie, Bards). The players then roamed the countryside as a band, looking for the perfect score, and engaging in medieval rock-offs with expies of Elvis, the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and some others. Let them get creative with how their performances could result in specific magical effects and just went with it.

          Did manage to restrain myself from having the final battle involve rocking out with devils, but I did have clerics who wanted to ban all music that wasn’t somber and might lead to dancing.

  24. Aaron says:

    As a minnesotan i can completely confirm that “minnesota” is just one big scandinavian invasion plot.

    also we get visits from scandinavian royalty and one of the earliest LARPS the St Paul winter ice carnival where we fight the gods to get summer back

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Galaxy Gun was expecting motor boat from Chirs?Dudette,he is married!

  26. @1:00:30 Chris reveals he’s actually Critic Smurf.
    @1:06:30 Rutskarn gets jittery about free speech consequences. (shame on you Ruts, man up.)
    @1:10:00 Chris outlines a plot from a CSI (NY?) episode (IIRC) without realizing it.
    @1:11:30 Rutskarn says “My roommate’s going to be the director”, such a sentence taken out of context on the net usually imply a certain type of “movies”. *laughs*

    @Rutskarn, for FMV may I suggest Ogg Opus audio (alternatively Ogg Vorbis) which is open source, royalty free/license free and very low bitrate for the quality given. And for video consider VP9 (alternatively VP8) again open source, royalty/license free.
    A lot of games over the years have used Ogg Vorbis audio and Ogg Theora video (Theora is a precursor to VP8 and VP9).

    • CJ Kerr says:

      Please don’t use VP9 – yes, it’s amazing, but most hardware can’t accelerate it, so it burns many CPU cycles. Fine on the desktop, stupid on the laptop.

      (No, I’m not annoyed at all about YouTube in Chrome defaulting to VP9, why do you ask?)

      • Naota says:

        This is always the problem with video-heavy content – there are just so many codecs, and with so many quirks and eccentricities it’s hard to find one that does what you want with minimal fuss. I imagine Ruts’ “intended shittiness” clause opens up some new possibilities in easy compression, even.

  27. The Rocketeer says:

    I just want to say that Table Tales with Uncle Rutskarn is one of my favorite things and I am always eager for more of it.

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Waitwaitwaitwait!Just,wait!Google owns both youtube and twitch now,and it has enforced its dumb copyright thing onto twitch as well(Ive seen a bunch of videos being half muted,or some crap like that,because of music).But it doesnt enforce the same system on both sites?Why?It blocks the song on youtube,but not on twitch?Thats just weird.

  29. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So Shamoose,how does it feel like to see something come to life,become cool,and then uncool again?

  30. Nytzschy says:

    What would a lost constellation eat out there in the woods? Answer me this. You can’t. It makes no sense.

  31. Rutskarn you could have stopped this. >:-)

    Also, I’d recommend ya bone up on your 80’s animated rock operas, cause yer setting’s dropping all kinds of nostalgia bombs on me.

  32. SlothfulCobra says:

    I get why you could be uncomfortable about certain negative aspects of a setting being included, but I feel like the more unsavory facets of whatever part of reality you’re taking from should be at least acknowledged.

    If you don’t acknowledge these things, you end up with big ol’ chunks missing from how the world works, like how taking religion out of the medieval era leaves you with a big whole where a lot of the people’s main driving force was. You can also end up giving people a really skewed perspective on how it would be to be in that era; Athens and Rome sound great if you leave out all the murder and slavery.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      But RPGs aren’t meant to be history lessons, they are meant to be fun and adventures. When I’m playing Victoriana I want my stuck up brit gnome to be funny and maybe have him cause an occasional incident with the locals, I don’t want to deal with poverty, misogyny and domestic violence.

      • Odd you juxtapose something not being a history lesson with something based in the Victorian era (even a fantasy one). Looking at their website, I see publications regarding wars, kidnapping children, murder, etc.

        Such a downer!

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          I guess Victoriana (I used it as an example because it came up in a similar discussion earlier) sort of acknowledges at least some of the period issues, for example warning the players that female characters may face limitations and attitudes wildly different from the ones players are used to. At the same time, while I don’t have the book on hand, far as I remember it tells players in no uncertain terms to skim over or treat lightly the issues that they do not feel comfortable with in their game, and indeed while misogyny did come up every now and then in the campaigns I was playing it was generally treated as a minor-to-medium obstacle or even, on occasion, played for laughs. My point is that these are theme park versions of the settings to make them fun rather than attempt a biting social commentary or cultural period analysis.

      • SlothfulCobra says:

        Well obviously it wouldn’t matter for purely lighthearted adventures, but if you want to depict an entire world with any amount of seriousness, you have to take the uncomfortable things too.

        Victorian London for example, couldn’t exist in a vacuum. It relied on a lot of brutal labor from the lower classes in factories that put out so much smoke that it blurred the entire city with smog, and that’s not even getting into all the colonial subjugation that brought London its wealth. “What do they eat?” Food from around the world that their empire makes easily available.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Depends on what you want to do -both as a DM and as a player. Once did a game Star Wars game adapted from a book about the Protestant Reformation, and even the heroic NPCs (the Luther, Melancthonen, Carsltadt analogs) approved of and participated in things that were justifiable, but still might make you queasy. And they were just the idealists. The Frederick analog was flirting with Sith Lord at points.

      However, even then we veered away from getting super-dark. The Peasants War happened in the background while the players mostly focused on establishing an Augsburg style peace.

      However, I could see interest -much like the homicidal goblin-slayer above -if you wanted to throw your players into a rebellion where they are perfectly capable of mowing down the rebels, and if they don’t the rebels will burn everything to the ground, even though the rebels do have some points.

      The difficulty in adapting something like, say, The South: 1860-1920, let alone trying to stretch to 1960 or the present -is that the particulars of the South are so, well, particular, and it’s a period not horribly well understood by the people who live there now, let alone live elsewhere and get the third-hand view of it. My dad grew up in Chattanooga from 1948-1972 and even he has a hard time explaining everything that happened there in that time period, though he can recognize things. The Help for example, he said hit the level of backbiting among upper-class whites (of which my grandparents were not) pretty well dead on, and that people like him just tried not to get caught in the middle of it.

  33. Hoffenbach says:

    I was so excited to hear about Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup on this! It’s my favorite roguelike, and I’ve managed to beat it 3 times over the past couple years.

  34. Gordon says:

    Nutty coincidence: much like Shamus having an issue of Batman: Endgame on his desk as mumbles was talking about it, I happened to have an old issue of Detective Comics on mine. Specifically, the issue with Riddler, Batman, Oracle, an Detective Chimp in a chatroom together. I hadn’t read it yet.

    What the nutballs? Am I in the Twilight Zone? 900 issues of detective comics and I have THAT one?

    Also, it was really good. Issue 845, if you’re curious.

  35. Thranduil is kinda already king of the hillybilly elves, or as close as Middle Earth comes to it. Heck, in the book the dwarves stumble across the elves partying and get arrested and thrown in jail for that.
    Mirkwood’s the only elven realm without a ring of power sustaining them, and also the only one without either descendants of elves who left the Undying Lands or actual elves who left (Galadriel’s backstory is insanely kickarse what with crossing the polar ice cap and all after her grandfather? got killed by the devil while he was stealing 3 awesome gems and her cousin?Feanor and his seven sons and their servants decided it was the best idea ever to go after him, killed a bunch of other elves who tried to stop them stealing their boats and then burned the boats once they made it to Middle Earth. Feanor also invented weapons, I like to think of him as the Reginald Cuftbert of the elves). These elves (Noldor) are the most “advanced”, then you have the Sindar who didn’t go to heaven but did hang out with an angel for a long time, and last you have the Sylvans who just hung out in the forests. Mirkwood’s a kingdom of Sylvans run by Sindar, and their “palace”, well, it’s a cave in a hill/mountain, not a stunningly gorgeous villa in a mountain valley or a city in the trees with an astonishing lack of Health and Safety (obviously they were inspired by Moria’s lack of guard rails).
    I may have gotten some details wrong, it’s been over 10 years since I’ve read the Simarillion and the Unfinished Tales and I have no desire to read ’em again, and also it’s been a few years since I reread the Hobbit.

  36. silver Harloe says:

    “…and [just for fun], I want to switch it up so magic users are the religious ones and clerics…” – Rutskarn, more or less

    I don’t think that’s how words work? The reason clerics are called “clerics” is because of religion, not because of their spell selection.

    I think you meant, “I want to switch it up so the magic users have all the healing and buff spells, and clerics have all the damage and support spells”? But, of course, spell selection lists are purely arbitrary. I think 3rd edition played with this by having your spell lists and weapons for clerics depend on the god worshiped rather than being arbitrarily equivalent across all gods. Clerics=healers is just an AD&D trope. Heck, so is “and everything else magical all goes to one class.”

    It’s like you’re interested in playing with AD&D tropes but are so immersed in AD&D tropes that you can’t even escape them when talking about them.

    • Rutskarn says:

      On the off chance you see this:

      No, that’s not what I meant at all.

      “Priest,” if we are in fact escaping 2e tropes, does not mean “magic man who worships the one true real god.” It means a person who wields some religious authority and provides moral or spiritual guidance to a community. What I mean is, “wizards, as in people who learn magical spells from scrolls and study and can really only be called wizards, perform that function.”

      Clerics, on the other hand, receive divine power from a heretical power source. They have no role in the community and are instead fringers and outcasts. Thus do they fit the standard classic fantasy trope of the renegade “witch” spellcaster, which was traditionally reserved for arcane casters.

      That’s what I mean. Using the language I used was perfectly appropriate.

      • silver Harloe says:

        On the off chance you actually see this:

        It’s just that the word cleric literally means “a member of the clergy”.
        All priests *are* clerics (at least in the real world).

        Switching it up so clergymen get their magic from study, and there are other practitioners who get their magic from the grace of heretical gods is one thing (and I’m all for it). But I would argue the latter wouldn’t be called “clerics,” at least not without their own churches organized enough to have a clergy (at which point they are hardly outsiders and fringers, since specialization of that sort requires community support? I guess maybe like one of those temples that does its own farming as part of service, and just occasionally trades with people for cloth and metals would be considered ‘outsider’ish)

  37. Will says:

    Just for a little thread necromancy: The hilllbilly elves concept is played up for some pretty decent laughs in the Monster Hunter novel.

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