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Steam Summer Sale

By Shamus
on Friday Jun 22, 2018
Filed under:
Video Games

It’s that time of year again! Gaben assaults our wallets with irresistible deals and we fill up our game libraries with titles we earnestly promise to play “someday”. It’s a mad frenzy of shopping and spending and gifting and making memes about how bad this is for our wallets.

Except… is it?

The whole “Gaben took all my money” jokes vanished a couple of years ago. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that it’s been about two years since my last madcap spending spree on Steam. It’s not that the deals are bad, it’s just that I don’t feel like I need any more games. I’ve got a nice backlog of titles to draw from and there’s plenty of new releases to keep me busy, so I don’t feel compelled to stockpile tons of games just because they’re cheap.

For me, the market seems to have returned to some sort of equilibrium. And going by the conversations I hear, this seems to be the case for a lot of other people.

I can point to three factors:
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This Dumb Industry: Punishing The Internet for Sharing

By Shamus
on Tuesday Jun 19, 2018
Filed under:
Column

I have a hypothetical situation for you: Let’s say you’re promoting a play or a concert or something. So you pay some money to have a graphic designer come up with a really clever, eye-grabbing advertisement for it. You print out a stack of leaflets. Your goal is to get these leaflets into the hands of as many people as possible. You want maximum saturation. You want everyone in town to see one of these things.

So you hire a guy to hand out the leaflets in the street. But instead of handing them out, he claims copyright on them and tries to sell them. He manages to get a few buyers, although obviously fewer people see the ad than if he just gave them away like you told him to. When it’s all over he proudly hands over the $1.25 he got selling a handful of flyers. The rest are still in his hand, unsold, un-viewed, unused. The concert tickets you’re selling go for $60 each, so this dollar and change isn’t really a lot of income for your operation.

Would you feel cheated by this guy? I would.

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Comments (112)



Diecast #215: E3 Aftermath, Oxygen Not Included, and Oops Coconut Oil

By Shamus
on Monday Jun 18, 2018
Filed under:
Diecast

Like I said on the show, it’s about time to have SoldierHawk back. She’s playing Dark Souls and Spec Ops: The Line right now. I guess she hates smiling? Send in questions for her. Or for Paul and I. Whatever.


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

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes: Continue reading »


 
 
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E3 2018: Wrap-Up

By Shamus
on Friday Jun 15, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

I wasn’t able to talk about everything I saw from E3 this year. There’s just too much for one guy to see and write about. I did manage to watch most of it, but I’d have to keep up the current writing pace for two or three weeks to cover everything properly.

I didn’t stream the Sony press conference. I watched it. It was a good show. But I wan’t up to streaming and giving live commentary. I just wanted to put it on my second monitor, slouch down in my chair, and let the information wash over me.

I also skipped Square Enix and Nintendo. The former because I was busy with mundane tasks in meatspace, and the latter because Nintendo coverage just isn’t a priority on this site. Nintendo is important as an industry-wide force, but I don’t have any reason to talk about their individual titles.

But before we end this week-long orgy of marketing, half-truths, and sensory-saturating trailers, let’s talk about a couple of the things I missed:

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E3 2018 Day 3: Ubisoft Press Event Part 2

By Shamus
on Thursday Jun 14, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

Here are the rest of my thoughts on the Ubisoft show. As before, the whole 1 hour, 50 minute ordeal is in this video at the top, and my text synopsis is below.


Link (YouTube)

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Comments (119)



E3 2018 Day 3: Ubisoft Press Event Part 1

By Shamus
on Wednesday Jun 13, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

This is it. The last of the E3 streams for me. This one ran long in terms of commentary, so I’m going to make it a two-parter. As before, I streamed this show along with Ross, who worked on Good Robot with me. He works at Ubisoft now, and was streaming this event from inside the Ubi offices.

We start off the pre-show with some talk about Uplay and the Ubi offices that I can’t easily summarize here. As before, I’ve got a brief text-based reaction below the video:


Link (YouTube)

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Comments (147)



E3 2018 Day 2: Bethesda Press Event

By Shamus
on Tuesday Jun 12, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

I went into this presentation with a massive chip on my shoulder. I’m always sharply critical of Bethesda on a creative level, particularly when it comes to things like narrative, dialog, playtesting, QA testing, interface design, art style, pacing, combat mechanics, PC support, sound design, presentation, user choice, character design, system requirements, physics, scripting, animation, game feel, respect for legacy source material, enemy design, lighting, and Todd Howard’s annoying half-smirk. I was ready to hate on these guys for an hour and a half.

But when it comes right down to it, I think they won me over. I liked several of the offerings. I was genuinely excited about others. I even enjoyed some of the presentations for games I don’t care about. And in the end, I wound up laughing at Todd Howard’s jokes instead of laughing at Todd Howard directly. It was a good show, with solid titles, well presented, with just enough levity and self-awareness to disarm me.

If you watch the video, take note of how many times this happens:

Me, shouting at Tood Howard, “So are you guys going to finally get around to fixing [longstanding annoyance]?!?”

(5 seconds later)

Todd Howard says to the audience, “And yes, [longstanding annoyance] is no longer an issue.”

Me: “Huh.”

The text summary is below the video:


Link (YouTube)

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Comments (159)



E3 2018 Day 2: Microsoft Press Event

By Shamus
on Monday Jun 11, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

More connection problems plagued this event for me, so the show was fragmented into several streams with annoying continuity gaps between them. Rather than posting the raw mess, I’ve trimmed it down to the coherent bits and omitted the stuff I don’t care about.

As before, the text version is below for the non-video folks.


Link (YouTube)

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Comments (99)



Diecast #214: Mailbag Clearinghouse

By Shamus
on Monday Jun 11, 2018
Filed under:
Diecast

I’m very busy with E3 this week and didn’t have time to come up with good topics. So we emptied out the mailbag.


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

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes: Continue reading »


 
 
Comments (42)



E3 2018 Day 1: EA Press Event

By Shamus
on Sunday Jun 10, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

Streaming is always a complicated process. You’ve usually got about six different bits of technology all strung together. My usual setup is Open Broadcaster + a webpage for chat + my webcam feed + ManyCam Studio + a AAA videogame. Add in the challenge of balancing multiple audio sources, keeping FPS reasonable, all the technology on Twitch’s end, and the capricious nature of Windows, and it’s a miracle I can do it at all.

All of this is to say I didn’t get it just right this time. The audio gets a bit wonky in spots and there’s that mishap in the middle. Whoops. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this just about the time E3 winds down.

Below are my thoughts in text form, for you non-video types.


Link (YouTube)

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Comments (77)



Shamecast: Destiny 2

By Shamus
on Friday Jun 8, 2018
Filed under:
Notices

It’s been a while since I last streamed, hasn’t it? In case you missed it, here is the stream I did of Destiny 2 on Wednesday, minus the first two minutes where my mic was muted:


Link (YouTube)

I really don’t like the special ability of the Warlock. Also, everything cool about him vanished as soon as the tutorial ended. Cool outfit? gone. Cool face? Obscured by boring helmet. Cool shotgun? Replaced with a much more powerful but bland SMG of some sort. Technically all characters go through this aesthetic downgrade once you start the game, but it was really pronounced for my Warlock. If we do another stream, I’ll probably use a different character.


 
 
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The Witcher 3: Skellige, Part One

By Bob Case
on Thursday Jun 7, 2018
Filed under:
Video Games

Skellige is the third of the game’s three major areas, and a nice tonal contrast from the first two. Velen smells like peat and wet leaves. Novigrad, of course, smells like sewage. Skellige, however, smells like pine needles and juniper. How do I know what fictional locations smell like? I just do. You know I’m right.

See? Juniper.

See? Juniper.

The historical inspirations here are a mashup of Norse and the odd bit of Celtic, particularly in the language. Skellige’s inhabitants supplement their income by periodically raiding sea traffic and coastal settlements in the Viking style. I think we’re meant to like the Skelligers. They have physical courage, an independent streak that appeals to a modern audience, and are loyal to their friends and honorable to their own.

For all that, I can’t shake the knowledge that this lot make their fortunes (such as they are) through armed robbery. This is a consistent problem in fiction that makes protagonists out of Vikings and Pirates and the like. Thematically, they like to play up the whole freedom and independence thing, and play down the fact that these supposed good guys are essentially stickup gangs with boats. Just once I’d like to see a piece of fiction grapple with that issue more thoroughly.

In terms of overall gameplay experience, I’d say that Skellige is my favorite of the three main areas, though they all have their strong and weak points. First reaching the isles – and realizing the size of them – was a memorable experience during my first playthrough, a sort of “damn, this game really is big” moment. I took some time to ride Roach around at a canter, just listening to the music.

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