Q&A Session #8 -- ANSWERS August 2017
 Lots of questions this time. Let's begin.

Bryan B asked:

Hey Joseph, hope your day is going well. I really appreciate you giving the opportunity for listeners to do this every single month, it must eat up so much of your time and I'm very grateful. That being said, my first question is:

  1. Do you still plan on doing these Q&A's even as the channel grows larger and larger? What happens when you get, say, 500 questions or something ridiculous?
  2. As the channel grows, what are your realistic plans to improve and change it, such as thumbnail art or an intro or something, and what are some unrealistic or lofty improvements you'd like to make?

Hey Bryan. Thanks!

1—It's convenient that this ended up being the first question that came in since I doubt most people read every answer. They probably start here though and it's good to give some info about the future of this feature.

500 questions would be ridiculous. With the scale of answers I'm currently giving, that would be a full-time job for a whole month. By the time I was done, the next set of questions would be coming in. The cut off is likely way before that, but it's hard to really nail down.

Some questions get longer answers than others. Some people also ask joke questions—there are a few below. Quite a few answers in past Q&As could be spun off into full articles, or at least editorial pieces with some tidying up. So this is a pretty hefty thing to do every month. I enjoy it, but the videos take priority. For this month and last month, it's gotten in the way of those videos.

I'm okay with this happening a little. I can't be balls-to-the-wall on video production every hour that I'm working, and I enjoy talking to you guys both here and on Discord, but there does have to be a limit. For this Q&A—as in, the page you're reading right now—there are ~80 questions by my count. The soft-limit is likely somewhere around 100. I answer the questions in the order that they come in so as I'm typing this, I haven't answered anything else below yet. I've read every question, but I have no idea how long this is going to end up at. 

The wordcounts for the Q&As so far (including questions) have been:

January – 31,423

February – 21,979

March – 38,779

April – 27,033

May – 15,496

June – 4,517 (Turbo Edition)

July – 28,299

August – no idea yet, I'll come back and add this when I'm done. (38,500)

I'm going to predict somewhere around 30,000 words for this one because this is the most amount of questions we've gotten so far by a big difference. You add all of those words up and it's around 200,000 words. That's a couple of medium-length novels, or a really long fantasy novel. That's a lot!

We have to edit all of this too so there aren't any horrible mistakes—some still slip through though. It can't be professionally edited. That means reading it out loud. It takes my wife and I a whole day usually.

I want to make it clear I do enjoy the feature. I don't want to see it scrapped or gutted into being unworthy of any attention. But if the questions keep piling up with long answers I'll have to do more "Turbo Editions" to take a break, or I'll have to limit the complexity of answers. Or limit the questions. But then that gets messy. "Only ask 1 complex question and 2 easy ones!" Well sometimes people don't know what will end up being the question I have a lot to say about, or they'll get confused or worried they're breaking the rules and they might not bother. So dropping the number from 3 to 2 would be best, but I like the symmetry of 3 dollar pledge gets 3 questions.

The scary thing to realize is that it's possible for this to get flooded with thousands of questions now that there are so many patrons. I don't know what I'm going to do if that happens, so maybe I'll have to put some sort of disclaimer or drop the questions to 2 preemptively so I don't get swamped. But I also think that interest may die off after this month, since all the new patrons have had their chance to ask their pressing questions already. I could be wrong though.

2) As the channel grows, what are your realistic plans to improve and change it, such as thumbnail art or an intro or something, and what are some unrealistic or lofty improvements you'd like to make?

An intro will never happen. I really hate it when other channels do that, especially the long musical ones like JonTron's. If they're entertainers then you can tolerate it but a channel like mine should get straight to the point. I'm not even happy with the introductions I've had to write lately because they slow everything down, but they're necessary to having a more organic spoiler warning—and to communicate that you should or shouldn't care about spoilers depending on the game.

Thumbnail art is possible but I like my minimalist set right now. I've had a few offers from people to do them for me—I just got an email the other day with some mock ups and, while they're good, I'm not comfortable changing things yet or partnering with someone. I don't think people should work for free.

A new banner would be good though. Something that's just as simple as what I have now but just a bit fancier.

There have been a few times that I wish I had someone to make diagrams and animations of examples for me, but that comes back to the problem of paying and partnering with someone. Videos take a long time to make and I usually blaze through the final part. Having to wait for someone to create everything I need—especially if that turns out to be complicated—would delay video releases or require an unrealistic level of planning on my part. I don't see it happening even though it would be cool, and I'm in no position to consider it right now. Moving has to happen first.

I'd like to do written articles or maybe some book releases that are linked to video topics but that's also far in the future, if ever. And I've also thought about recording these Q&As and releasing them as videos with some lighter video editing to match up with what I discuss, but my recording time is too limited at the moment. I also don't know if that would be a good fit with the rest of the content currently there.

The biggest thing I want to see happen is more regular short content to bridge the gap between big releases. This will probably be something I say a lot in the next few months: it all comes back to moving and having a separate work space. The second baby isn't that disruptive anymore. It's the two year old toddler that was the only baby before. It's pushing me into many late night schedules and that's not healthy. And I miss the boys when they're awake during the day because that's when I'm sleeping so I can record.

Should be a problem that's solved soon though. The beginning of next year at the latest.

I feel like this isn't a good answer now that I've read it back. Sorry about that. I'm caught up in too many immediate problems to properly think about a year from now.

Ty H asked:

Hi Joseph, before I get into my questions I, I just wanna say your videos are probably the best content on YouTube, and I really appreciate all the effort you put into them, and yet find time to do these Q&A's. 

  1. Would you have any specific advice for people wanting to get into writing stories?
  2. On a related note, whats your favorite video game story and why? (Gameplay not factored in).
  3. Completely unrelated, but are there any multi-player centric games that you've loved? Personally, I've sunk more than 600 hours into Team Fortress 2, and I still love it. 

Hi Ty! Thanks so much. Glad you're enjoying them.

1—I've gotten several questions about writing over these Q&As if you'd like to go back and see some other answers. There should be a link to a document of every question at the beginning or the end of this.

Specific advice is tough without knowing any specifics on the new writer's end. I guess we should start with that: you need to decide whether you want to write for fun, for yourself, or for an audience. Some people write their own stories and never show them to anyone, just like a recluse painter might have rooms overflowing with work that they never feel any desire to share. If that's the kind of writer we're talking about then they need no advice. Just do your thing. Do what makes you happy.

Writing for an audience is trickier. Arguably it's less elegant. But hey, I think what's the point of doing something if someone else can't experience it? I would make a terrible solitary writer.

Having someone else read your work for the first time is on the same level of losing your virginity. It might even be more nerve-racking. They're similar because you're being exposed for the first time. You're vulnerable. You want to be accepted and be worth something. You know it's unlikely to go perfectly, and people will be far more harsh with your work than they will judging your virginal gymnastics under the covers. Enough of this analogy though.

Other people have to read what you write so you can get feedback. There are two goals here but they depend on why you're writing for others. Money, or just because you want people to read your work? If it's for money then you need to write for an audience. There has to be enough people willing and eager to pay for your words and you need to know how to cater to them while also writing something you're happy with. You don't want to churn stuff out that you're not proud of. Not only will it rot you from the inside out, it's also very unlikely to work with how many books are being written and published today.

If you're writing for money then feedback is vital for tuning what you write. You want your stories to be accessible above all other things—people can get them, understand them, and hopefully enjoy them.

If you're writing for more artistic ends, then your feedback is more about how your work is making people feel. You need to judge that and see if your intent is coming through clearly, or if you're happy with the other interpretations that readers may be having. You should still change things and consider feedback, but accessibility isn't that important. You're likely writing for a smaller group of people that are intensely interested in what you have to say or, in many cases, just the way that you're saying it.

Literary vs Commercial fiction is what these two categories are usually called. I started with more literary stuff when I was younger. Then I published a bunch of commercial fiction that gradually drifted a little back to literary stuff. It's a weird mix.

However all of this advice is superseded by these two rules that I often point to when this question is asked: you have to read a lot and write a lot. No one becomes a writer by accident, even though most people are taught how to write at a young age. Fiction is entirely different and you'll hear a lot of people talk about how they tried to write a book and never got through the first page because they didn't know where to start.

That's the first big filter. Read a ton of books. Try your best to identify what you like and what you dislike. Try to understand why you feel that way. Then write as much as you can while trying to do those things you like and avoid the things you don't like.

Decide if you enjoy planning ahead of time, or if you'd prefer to have a ton of editing to do after your first draft instead. You can either be prepared and have less of a mess to fix, or just rush through the story and then spend a lot of time cleaning it afterwards.

Cautiously consider joining a writing group so people can do that same thing to your work, and you can return the favor by discussing what you like and disliked about what they did (be polite, and understand that every story you read is an opportunity to learn something new that you can do, or something to avoid in the future). Avoid the trap of spending more time talking to these other writers than actually writing.

Writers hate writing. All of them do. I hate it. You hate it. We all love telling stories. We all love having the story done and having written it... sometime in the past. Preferably yesterday. Even writers who say they love writing are lying to you. It's a period of self-induced insanity. They're crazy to like it so don't listen. You have to steer yourself on the path to stick with it everyday. Writers know this and use other writers as an excuse to not do it. "I'm not writing but I'm talking about writing so that has to be close enough!"

It's not.

Read everyday. Write everyday. Have people read what you write. Make changes when you agree with them. Grit your teeth and nod when you don't.

2) On a related note, what's your favorite video game story and why? (Gameplay not factored in).

I'll give you a couple because I don't like to discuss spoilers in these articles so I can't go in-depth on one specific game. Someone might glance at them as they scroll down, and I don't think I can block out text on Patreon.

Fallout New Vegas is the best story in video games that uses the fact that it's a game enough to earn that title. It could still be better. I wish they had been given more time to finish everything they wanted to do. But the story is still executed at a very high level, has some great characters, lines of dialogue, interesting side-content, and manages to incorporate player choices in a mostly organic way. That achievement impresses me. I hear Witcher 3 does this better and I'm looking forward to it.

SOMA has a great story that is made much more powerful by a few light interactive moments. What Remains of Edith Finch is in the same category. Aside from one or two moments, they don't necessarily have to be video games to be functional and, even then, those moments could be translated into a movie. Maybe not a book—that'd be something to think about, at least. The quality of writing in both of these games is well above what you usually see.

The Last of Us gets a lot of shit thrown its way for being popular but I think it has a good story. Not very original but not every story has to be. Like Uncharted 4, it's told in an extremely confident way and basks in how much money was devoted to realizing its story.

These four games all have stories that are better than the average film being released today. There are a few more that could qualify for that but most games fall short—and not just ones that focus on gameplay instead. Many games try to be focused on a narrative and don't pull it off. I think that the medium still has a long way to go and it's frustrating that more games are going the obscure "connect-the-dots" route that's been made popular recently. Some stories can work like that with a lot of effort, but my concern is that it's something done out of laziness, or fear of not being able to tell a story well. So they don't bother.

That wasn't your question though. Those four games above are the favorites that come to mind right now. I have videos on three of them if you want to see why! And I mention New Vegas a bit in my Fallout videos.

3) Completely unrelated, but are there any multi-player centric games that you've loved? Personally, I've sunk more than 600 hours into Team Fortress 2, and I still love it. 

This gets asked a lot, haha. Sorry but I can't give a wholly new answer since it's been brought up before.

I've gone through a few shooters and RTS games through the years. Before getting a computer I was heavily into couch deathmatches in Goldeneye 64 and Smash Bros. That continued with the Gamecube version and occasional jumps back to Perfect Dark. I didn't take to Perfect Dark as much as Goldeneye though. Captain Falcon was my main in Smash but I could play any character reasonably well. I was one of those "best amongst my friends" that would get fucking trashed in a real tournament.

On PC I was into an RTS game called Total Annihilation. I played that for years and loved it. I still think about it from time to time. I didn't get into Supreme Commander much—TA's spiritual successor. It would be Starcraft 2 that would grab me instead, although it's a very different game. I played that so god damn much, but I gave it up when World of Warcraft took up too much of my gaming time. Probably the right decision on what game to stick with, looking back.

I've always been fascinated by MMOs. I played Ultima Online a lot too many years ago now. I even had a house in that game, when land was super scarce! I jumped between a few others but settled on WoW when it came out. I've tried more since then but I haven't been able to stick with them. The Old Republic, Warhammer, EVE Online, Wildstar, and so on. The only one I've ever felt that could topple WoW has been the new Final Fantasy 14. But I don't have the time to properly find out. I have a friend who loves it though and I trust his judgement.

For shooters—the two biggest ones I've been into were Halo 1 and Planetside. I got really good at them too and that's unfortunately made it so I know how much time I'll have to put into getting to that level again in another game. Another reality I have to face is that I'm getting old enough that my reflexes aren't quite up to the task on something as precise as a shooter. That said I'm tempted, right this second, to get that new Battlegrounds game and give it a whirl. So go figure that out.

Oh I was also into League of Legends for a bit but that was very casually. Well as casual as you can still be while screaming obscenities at your computer.

Kevin C asked:

Hey Joseph, never managed to post in the Q&A section months after the 15$ pledge but I think today is the day. 

  1. Have you ever tried any game in the Dead Rising Series( especially the 1st and the 2nd ones) ? If so, what are your thoughts on it?
  2. What is your advice for aspiring youtube creators?

Hey Kevin! Well unfortunately I can only answer one of your questions after all this time. Throw one or two more in for the next round if you have them.

1—I haven't played them so I can't say anything, sorry. The time mechanic in the first game appeals to me, but the wacky nature of them also puts me off. Is the new one worth playing the series for?

2) What is your advice for aspiring youtube creators?

This has been asked before and I think I said the same thing last time: you probably shouldn't listen to me. Looking back I did everything wrong, made it all so much harder than it had to be, and still stumbled into more success than I probably should have. I'm very lucky to have the channel where it is today. That's not to say that I don't work my ass off to make content, but that my way of doing it shouldn't work. Therefore I conclude it's mostly chance.

The best way to find success on youtube is with frequent uploads of short, interesting content. You need to have some sort of talent or ability beforehand—whatever topic interests you really, or if you like to create music or art, or you program and want to showcase that. Anything along those lines. Everytime you upload a video you are rolling the dice, or pulling a slot machine, on whether you get a bunch of new subscribers. Your video has to both appeal to people and also be posted somewhere that those potential viewers notice it.

This is difficult to do even if you know the right places that your content belongs. So you need to walk this line between making content that you're proud of and aren't just shitting out for quick views, but also not taking too long between videos because otherwise you're not going to see much growth when most of your early videos are duds. Because most of them will be. It's not until you've gathered an audience that you'll see consistent attention—from your viewers sharing it with others and talking about it. After that point you can start to invest time into more substantial projects now that you have the viewers to support it, since you know it won't flop.

As you can tell I didn't do any of that. I had somewhat frequent releases but most of my videos are really long and took weeks to make. Things weren't so bad at the start because I made a lot of mistakes in video editing and recording that take a lot of time now to fix—which slows down video production significantly—but I pushed myself way too hard to get some of those videos done. Sometimes that still happens near the end of a project, where I just decide I'm not going to sleep until I'm finished because I just have to get something done, but there are entire videos I barely remember making because I wanted both long content and a semi-relevant release schedule.

And the only reason that worked out was because of luck. No Man's Sky and The Witness, specifically.

There are also a ton of resources I've never used that other people live by. I don't know anything about YouTube's algorithm. I don't go chasing big topics (aside from the No Man's Sky followup and even then, that was pretty tame). I don't dig into political controversy or start shit on twitter for attention. I didn't do any collaborations with other youtubers, or attend any of youtube's classes or workshops. I know next to nothing about making good thumbnails and most of the good titles I've had have been accidental. Same for keywords on my videos for getting picked up in searches. SEO, as the kids call it. I have no idea how to market myself and, as I said in the patreon video, any self-promotion makes me uncomfortable.

I had audio clipping for 18 videos! 18!!!

Maybe video game analysis is immune to a lot of the rules most youtubers go through. There are a lot more channels trying it now than when I started, but it's still relatively underpopulated. Especially with longform stuff. Are there even ten channels that do that, currently active? So again it comes back that you shouldn't listen to me unless your channel idea is very similar to what I do. And even then, looking back, if I had to start all over again tomorrow, I'd go about it very differently for the first year.

Ramiz G asked:

Hi again! 

  1. Do you like the adventure genre? I mean games, like The Longest Journey, Monkey Island, Broken Sword, Tex Murphy, etc.
  2. Ok, it's a question, that somewhat related to things I asked two months ago and the 1st question here, but I feel there's similar themes in my questions (don't know what that says about me). But anyway, if you played and liked adventure games, do you prefer more puzzle-heavy games of more classic times (there're new games like that, but they're not as famed as it was, a B-C stuff, not AAA) or newer adventure games, that have little to no puzzles and pixelhunting (so called Interactive Fiction games, like Heavy Rain, Until Dawn or Telltale games), and what do you think about that evolution of the genre? Do you think (and here the part that was the same as my older questions, and I was almost hesitant to ask that), that these changes, while making games slicker (pixel hunting or moon logic puzzle could be infuriating, I agree), also make these games to lose some charm (or magic, or something, can't find the right word for that; I hope you understand what I tried to say). 
  3. What do you think about FMV in games? Do you prefer (if prefer) FMV that in-between missions (Command and Conquer style) or more in line with fully integrated FMV (like older FMV-games, like later Tex Murphy series or Phantasmagoria and such). In any case, I really enjoy these QnA sessions. Keep up the good work, and I really hope, that you'll be enjoying it in the process!

Hi Ramiz! Hope you're having a good day.

1—I played an old adventure game called Goblins when I was a kid. I tried Monkey Island but I think I was too young to appreciate the humor.

It's not my favorite genre but I haven't given it a chance as an adult. I think I might find them boring—maybe not though. The Longest Journey looks interesting and some of the stories might be good. I know Monkey Island is meant to be really funny. My issue when I was younger was that a lot of the solutions would be stupidly obtuse and involve just trying everything you could possibly do. Maybe those were just bad parts of the ones I played though.

Sorry I can't talk about it more than that. Do you have a few recent games you'd recommend as starting points?

2) Ok, it's a question, that somewhat related to things I asked two months ago and the 1st question here, but I feel there's similar themes in my questions (don't know what that says about me). But anyway, if you played and liked adventure games, do you prefer more puzzle-heavy games of more classic times (there're new games like that, but they're not as famed as it was, a B-C stuff, not AAA) or newer adventure games, that have little to no puzzles and pixelhunting (so called Interactive Fiction games, like Heavy Rain, Until Dawn or Telltale games), and what do you think about that evolution of the genre? Do you think (and here the part that was the same as my older questions, and I was almost hesitant to ask that), that these changes, while making games slicker (pixel hunting or moon logic puzzle could be infuriating, I agree), also make these games to lose some charm (or magic, or something, can't find the right word for that; I hope you understand what I tried to say). 

I don't think I follow, sorry. I'll do my best though.

It might be best to consider them different genres. You're talking about the more obscure puzzles and irrational problems in comparison to the more story-heavy, and specifically directed gameplay sequences, right? Heavy Rain's button prompts or required inputs that are tied to decision making, or considering things in your environment instead of making huge leaps in guesswork on what's being asked of you. The newer games typically have more time limits to increase tension too.

So different genres. If Heavy Rain counts as an adventure game then I have played them. I played Indigo Prophecy too—or Fahrenheit depending on what it was called when you played it. My consideration at the moment is that it'll boil down to why you like the genre and, if those charming nonsensical sections were what you liked, then it might be worth a sub-genre split of old and new adventure games. Then there's something like Professor Layton which is in between. The best of both worlds as I see it and a game I am consistently surprised to remember exists at all. I think I only played one of them. Are they on the 3DS? I hated the old DS screen. Way too small.

Anyway, I'm not familiar enough to speak about this but you can look at something similar with RPGs and FPS games. RPGs have moved away from weird combat systems into something more mainstream. They are inarguably better for it since the gameplay is closer to being fun, but maybe some of the charm is lost. Shooters are more extreme since they've been shoved into this regenerating health, linear corridor military thing. Multiplayer games show more creativity now although there is something of a pushback happening at the moment. I'm curious what the result will be in a few years after the success of Doom 4. Indie developers are also graduating into more complicated 3D games and we already have stuff like Desync, Ziggurat, and Immortal Redneck.

My outsider perspective is that these adventure games are focusing on stories rather than puzzles, which makes them a different thing altogether.

3) What do you think about FMV in games? Do you prefer (if prefer) FMV that in-between missions (Command and Conquer style) or more in line with fully integrated FMV (like older FMV-games, like later Tex Murphy series or Phantasmagoria and such). In any case, I really enjoy these QnA sessions. Keep up the good work, and I really hope, that you'll be enjoying it in the process!

Cool question! They're not that common anymore, are they? I never quite understood the distinction between "cut scenes" and "movie parts" either. I'm also going to take some liberties with "FMV" and talk about the Final Fantasy pre-rendered scenes as well.

Command and Conquer 1 was probably the first game I played that had them. It was a really interesting gimmick. It was fairly popular to see that sort of thing on Playstation 1. I remember a helicopter game that used them too? Soviet Strike? And Nuclear Strike? Those games were strange. Open world helicopter games. I think I liked them but we're talking almost two decades ago now.

I think those old games used them really well. It made Command and Conquer feel especially unique. Later games took the Brotherhood of Nod as the foundation to make everything campy and intentionally bad in a B-Movie way. The girls were always chosen to appeal as eye candy too but—and maybe I'm misremembering—I thought they became more and more in on the joke as the games went on. Red Alert 2 was especially good and had gameplay that even matched the wackiness of the movies. I don't think I finished Red Alert 3. I think the series lost something when it made the jump from 2D to 3D.

You can view these movies as rewards for completing prior missions. I know that's how they functioned for a few friends of mine when we were teenagers. Especially the funny moments with General Ben Carville. Yuri himself was also a highlight. I don't think that's how they were intended to function in the first games though—they were there to explain the missions and make the game feel more authentic and mature. Just like those Strike games used them.

A reason I believe they were successfully integrated with those games is that the gameplay is abstracted enough from reality that it isn't jarring. You have a satellite view of the battlefield in Command and Conquer. And you have arguably the same in the Strike games. I think it would be far too jarring to have real people in movie scenes and then switch to a traditional character perspective with 3D models that leaves you having to pretend that everything would look realistic if the technology that made the game was just a bit better. I think there was a game recently that did that and it threw me off a bit. Was it The Surge's introduction? Maybe not. Sorry I can't remember it.

Final Fantasy used those very pretty cinematics as both a reward and a way to push the story forward. They were always highlights for playthroughs of those games and definitely became rewards. I remember playing parts of Final Fantasy 8 and 9 again just to see some of those scenes before they were easily available online. I remember finding music videos of some of them on Kazaa and the like and that was fun. I think that was around the same time that YouTube was created. I think for some people those movies were a huge reason to play the games and that probably makes sense. They usually acted as big moments in the story and were very impressive for the time. Especially the opening to Final Fantasy 8. A visual feast was still a novelty.

Games can't really get away with that anymore, can they? That's an interesting thing to realize. Huh.

Soznyw asked:

Hi Joseph, thank you very much for your time to answer my questions about writing in the previous Q&A session. Some follow-up questions: 

  1. When you are reading a book in order to learn something from it, what's your method to ensure that you are learning the right thing from that book ? I am not a native English speaker, thus sometimes it's extra challenging for me to filter out what's actually a great writing piece versus a writing that's just designated to impress and has zero calories for the reader to take in;
  2. You mentioned something about making your works public as a crucial step in order to become a great writer. Do you have any advice(s) on how to accept the fact that some feedback are great for your growth as a writer (or as an artist, or as a salaryman, etc.), and not feeling slighted by every criticism directed at your work? To simplify my point, When is the right time to accept criticism as a valid opinion and when do you have to defend your own work? 
  3. Putting aside the discussion on what 'art' truly means (since it's often contentious), do you think the reason why most game developers are unwilling to experiment with the medium (and thus raising its value as an art) is because the cost of making video games can be really high? While I'm not denying that salability is important, I wonder if the cost of producing video games becomes cheaper, we will see more developers going wild with their ideas. 

Hi Soznyw. Your English is very good from what I can tell. I wouldn't have guessed you weren't a native speaker.

1—Oh that's a tough thing to properly know. Don't ever feel like that might be because English isn't your first language. That's just hard to really know, period.

Let's break this down into a few broad things you can learn from reading a book in regards to writing. The obvious one are new words. New phrases. New ways to construct sentences and paragraphs. Some of these are easy to identify—you see a word you don't know and you look it up. You read a new phrase and google its meaning and history, unless it's easy to infer within the context of the book.

Sentence and paragraph structure is harder since much of it is invisible. One way is to recognize when a book successfully sucks you in and you haven't realized that you're turning pages until a few minutes later. If a book is immersing you, then you want to know why. Is it simply the story itself, or is it how it's being told? Think about the plot and if it's really all that engaging. If it isn't, then it's likely the way the story is being told to you. This could be with some wonderfully crafted sentences—closer to poetry than prose—but chances are it's also about structure.

A writer can have you charmed with one long sentence that goes on for an entire page. Or it could be a quick bombardment of short sentences. Or a mix of long paragraphs with one sentence paragraphs to punctuate a point they're making.

Like this.

Or it could be something that's built over an entire chapter. Chuck Palahniuk is incredible at this. He'll start a section of his book that has a theme, a rhythm, and a building up to something in both the story and how he's putting the words on the page. There may even be a countdown to what he's working through. I think many writers get way too hung up on vocabulary—whether that's using words that are big and impressive, or really uncommon so they appear knowledgeable. "Look at this big word I know!" Or they'll have learned a word so long ago that they love so much that they want to use it, because it's a new toy to them. I read an article about Cormac McCarthy's use of the word "salitter" in The Road that left me borderline disgusted. That's not a good use of language as far as I'm concerned, even if I do love that book.

Narrative structure can mean a lot of shifting between dialogue and narration. Or it can be a massive, overly long—intentionally so—rant about something to make a point and then pound it into a bloody pulp to such an extent that it gains an entire new point. James Joyce has this section in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that's this seemingly neverending sermon given by a Catholic priest. And sure the point is made very quickly but then you realize—no, no it wasn't. It's not enough that you sort of get it on an intellectual level as you recognize what's happening in the book. You have to feel it. And therefore it's important that it goes far beyond reasonable in length.

Anytime a book makes you pause in awe—or the opposite, and makes your attention falter for a moment—you want to try to understand why. As long as you're a writer, anyway. If you're a reader then just continue to enjoy it. Or put the book down and walk away for a bit. Same for when you've read three chapters non-stop and suddenly it's three in the morning. Find out why the book did that. Or why you keep stumbling over the same introductory sentence over and over, unable to get into it, like a screwdriver slipping out of the screw's groove everytime you try to turn it.

For plot, things could be seen as more complicated. Some books don't have good stories. They're vehicles for some interesting observations on society, on people, and on life. There will be something happening to the people in the story, but it's often unimportant. Other books—the plot is the whole point. The characters may be given equal or maybe even more love and attention than in literary books, but the plot is a big reason why you want to keep reading. Whether that's for massive revelations in what's happening, or a big climactic showdown between conflicting forces. Or the resolution of a building dread that's been lurking within the book since the first few pages.

Reading a lot will help with this. Many stories follow a formula. It's gotten to the point now that I enjoy stories that intentionally ignore those standards even if the result isn't all that great—because at least it feels fresh. I hate plotholes so I notice them and I try to think of how I could have avoided it if it was my story. Or some slight changes that could fix it. A game I play is "fix the story while changing as little as possible". If I can't succeed in that, I consider the story so broken that the writer must have been making it up as he went along and then couldn't be bothered to fix it during editing.

I enjoy good plot twists. Other people think they're cheap. I like flawed characters that have some amount of honest strength to them—usually in some sort of ethics. A character doesn't have to be relatable for me to enjoy their story, whereas for others that's the holy grail and they won't be able to connect with a story without that. I think that might be wrong though. "Relatable" shouldn't mean that a character is in some way the same as you. It should be that the reader should be able to understand their motivations. I have a book idea that I hope to write one day from the perspective of a serial killer, with the goal of making the reader in some way root for him to succeed even though he's a monster. Without cheating like Dexter did, either.

Lastly, I want to say that you should trust your instincts. If something seems good to you then go with it. If it's bad then also accept that, even if it's something that many people like. Go on Goodreads and look up the highest rated books on there. Or the top 100 movies on imdb. Someone hates those books and movies. Passionately. With a white hot rage—someone hates them, hates that people like them, hates that no one else can see the flaws that stab their eyes everytime they try to see what it is that everyone else likes. Same for some lower ranked books. Some people love them and wish that everyone else could see the masterpiece that they do when they turn the pages. Your taste matters and your voice, however different you may think it might be, is valid. Never be afraid to reject something that's celebrated and think, no, that's not what I want to write. Not at all.

2) You mentioned something about making your works public as a crucial step in order to become a great writer. Do you have any advice(s) on how to accept the fact that some feedback are great for your growth as a writer (or as an artist, or as a salaryman, etc.), and not feeling slighted by every criticism directed at your work? To simplify my point, When is the right time to accept criticism as a valid opinion and when do you have to defend your own work? 

Not all feedback is valuable or welcome. I don't mean that in an emotional, protective way for your work either. Anything you create has a piece of yourself tied to it. Even something you might pump out to make money has some of your perspective and time captured inside. At the very least, someone criticizing that can be felt like someone saying "you wasted your time by making this". And what's more precious than time, really?

No, what I mean is that some feedback simply isn't worth listening to. We can split it into two types, right? Solicited and unsolicited. Unsolicited criticism can be valuable—every video I have made has been unsolicited and I hope that at least some of it is worthwhile to those who make games. But there's a huge difference between going out and finding someone to read your work and then asking for feedback, than waking up one day to find an email or a comment criticizing what you're doing.

My rule is that if criticism does not come with a set of examples then I ignore it. "This video is bad". You just ignore it. "This video is bad because of X, Y, and Z." Okay, read that and consider it. They still might be wrong, but you should be grateful to this person because they just took time out of their day to explain why they think the way they do. Even if you disagree with them you can still understand their perspective and, moving forward, you may use that understanding to know why some people might not like what you do.

Solicited criticism is different because you likely know the person, or the writing group. Or whatever it is you submitted your work to. The same rule can apply—no example, no reasoning, then you don't listen. But if you're familiar with the readers already then some general comments might be worth paying attention to. However you can also encounter people in writing groups that get off on being overly harsh and putting people down.

Which brings us to the final point: you should never defend your work, unless someone is accusing you of being racist or something equally awful. Even then, you should strongly consider ignoring it. If the conversation is productive you can discuss why you did what you did and try to explain some of the flaws in your work but that's often unnecessary.

Accepting criticism means you have to understand it. A discussion can help with that. But never make changes and respond to points that you don't agree with. Never change something out of spite. If you don't understand something that someone is criticizing then you'll unlikely be able to fix it. Ask politely for clarification, or make something new instead and see if the realization of what they meant comes to you by creating something.

If you ask for feedback then people are going to give you something, even if your work is flawless. They'll find something to pick at, because that's what you asked them to do. So it's vital that you can understand what they mean and, remember much of it comes down to taste. "I don't like this part" is worth far less than "I don't understand this part". No one can enjoy or hate anything you make if they don't know what you're trying to say to begin with.

3) Putting aside the discussion on what 'art' truly means (since it's often contentious), do you think the reason why most game developers are unwilling to experiment with the medium (and thus raising its value as an art) is because the cost of making video games can be really high? While I'm not denying that salability is important, I wonder if the cost of producing video games becomes cheaper, we will see more developers going wild with their ideas. 

The underlying argument you're making here is that art is risky and more likely to be unprofitable. Is that a good argument? Probably. But I don't know if it's something that's so readily evident that we can accept it.

We still should just because otherwise we'll have to do months of research.

There are lots of possibilities that explain the current state of Triple-A, top tier video game development. You can view those teams as a factory, not unlike those that produce regular things that you can go to the store and purchase. If they're not working on something—if the factory isn't producing—then that means they're losing a ton of money since they still have to pay for the upkeep to maintain it. So keep moving onto the next project, with very little room for innovation between them.

I don't know how likely that is, but it does fit for something like Ubisoft.

Another possibility is that the people in charge of projects lack imagination, or lack the experience necessary to push ideas forward. I feel pretty comfortable in saying that gameplay is designed by committee at these big developers. That things are changed and changed again as development progresses. The main story idea, however, is decided by only a few people or maybe only one person at the top. While characters, dialogue, and some of the story sequences do change, the setting and broad story does not. If the person making those fundamental decisions has no writing experience—or, far worse, is thinking more about marketing than anything to do with harmonizing narrative within a game—then you can see the resulting abysmal stories that video games have been stuck with for quite some time.

Funnily enough I think Hideo Kojima is a prime example of this, but he has so much unbound creativity and imagination that he pushes things away from being boring. His stories are still god damn terrible in a lot of ways, but they're really interesting and unique.

The other possibility is that art can't be reliably created when too many people are involved. This doesn't mean that it can't function—many movies have huge production teams—but there's usually a central vision that's being followed there. Many video games don't have that. I think this is likely because I'm noticing more "art" coming from smaller teams or even solo projects. Things are being pushed forward by people who have a vision, or a shared vision amongst a handful of people, and work together to achieve that.

This would mean the issue is with game directors at the big companies. My guess would be they have way too much work to do. They have to manage a lot of the teams, as well as finances, producing things and the like, instead of being someone who is directing every stage of the project. But there's very little concrete information about how many game companies work and, even if there was, you also have to wonder if it's accurate. Very few people are going to come out and say "yeah developing this game was fucking hell, total chaos, no leadership, it was a mad scramble but we got it done. Please buy our next game."

I think we're going to be seeing more and more meaningful stories in the next decade. We'll also see more small projects smashing out wonderful games, and a lot more experimentation with gameplay and narrative merging together. I don't think there's ever been a time that it's been easier to get your hands on an actual, proper game engine and start tinkering around with it with no upfront cost acting as a barrier. If you have a computer you can make a game now. You just need to learn how to code.

Which is pretty fucking hard but if someone else can do it, so can you.

Aydin O asked:

Very important question: Are you a tits-man or an ass-man?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn1VGytzXus (probably not good to open at work)

This Q&A is going to get REAL fucking awkward if we have a discussion about this so let's leave it at the song.

Zachary S asked:

Hi Joseph, recent patron here and I wanted to say thank you for all your work. It is amazing. 

  1. Are you familiar at all with the dawn of war series, and if so, would you do a video on the series or one of the games on the channel?
  2. Strategy and tactics games are usually my favorite genre, do you have any you would recommend? 
  3. Do they have taco bell in Canada?

Hi Zachary! Thank you! I hope you're doing well.

1—I played the first one when it came out but that was 13 years ago, so I don't remember enough of it to comment. I remember enjoying it even though I don't care much for Warhammer. I can't say more than that sorry, my memory isn't good enough.

2) Strategy and tactics games are usually my favorite genre, do you have any you would recommend? 

I mentioned Total Annihilation in an answer above. That's a bit old now though, even though it does have a fan update that makes it a bit more tolerable. Supreme Commander might be a better fit even though that's old itself now too. It has less character than the original Total Annihilation.

You probably shouldn't trust my opinion on these games. I was one of the only people who hated Sins of a Solar Empire. If a game doesn't have base building then that usually drains my interest. I loved the old Command and Conquer games. Red Alert 2 and Retaliation especially. Dune 2000 was alright. Notice I have a lot of old games here? I lost interest in the genre as time went on. But then so did the industry itself.

Chances are you've played more of these titles than I have.

I've heard great things about Total Warhammer but, since you brought up Dawn of War, you've probably already played it. Does X-Com and the like count as "tactics"? Turn-based squad warfare. I'm not sure about that. I played a lot of Ages of Empires 2 and 3 if those games passed you by.

I'm looking at some lists now and I can see how I went more toward builders as the genre shifted to things like Company of Heroes. Anno 2070 and 2205 have some strategy parts but they're mostly about economies and cities. I think there's a great combination waiting to be made of the two but we're not there yet, which leads me more to looking at pure builders instead since they usually have more depth in that one side of the game.

I'll take a really bad shot here and say you should give Starcraft 2 a chance just in case you thought it was mostly about the multiplayer. Wings of Liberty in particular has a very good single player campaign. Probably the best I've seen in any RTS. It can get quite challenging too on the harder modes and achievement runs. Very micro heavy compared to Total Annihilation's more macro scale of a whole battlefield.

I was borderline addicted to Total Annihilation for a while and now I can barely remember it. Getting old sucks. And I'm not even that old!

3) Do they have taco bell in Canada?

Yep! But I've never eaten there. I don't think there are any nearby, or close to where we usually go when we go out.

I like tacos and burritos a lot but only mild ones. I can't tolerate hot spices very well, which is weird because my family loved them growing up. My dad would eat the hottest curries he could find. My wife loves spicy food too. I've been thinking lately that I should just force myself to eat incrementally hotter food until I'm used to it. Would that work?

Most chains in America are also in Canada, I think. Even some Canadian places are slowly crossing the border too. Some places in America have Tim Horton's now. Slowly creeping down, like winter crossing the wall.

Mel K asked:

Awesome videos, I love to show my friends your reviews as we usually share the same opinion. :) 

  1. So I've read in some of the questions that you previously enjoyed chess, do you still play nowadays? Do you ever find the time to watch chess analysis YouTube channels like Kingscrusher?
  2. Part of the reason I love your videos so much is because I myself am a game developer and I enjoy the candid critique. Do you take any issue with greenlit or crowdfunded games like ARK that release paid DLC before they even qualify their own game out of "beta" status, or do you sympathize with these developers? 
  3. Have you seen a solar eclipse at full totality? :)

Evening Mel!

1—Chess is, to me, one of the most refined and elegant games. It's also a bit boring after you play enough of it, but it held my interest for many years as a teenager. I played in a few tournaments and have a trophy or two buried somewhere. Or maybe they didn't survive the move back to Canada.

Getting a computer with an internet connection killed my interest in chess more than anything else. Which is ironic considering I taught myself how to play the game on the first computer we ever had when I was about five years old. I remember getting very angry that the computer kept "cheating" when it castled, because I didn't know that was a valid move.

Playing chess on a board, with your opponent in front of you, is very different than playing it online. It's easy to get distracted since you can't study the board and your opponent's hesitation, or expression, in the same way. For some I imagine this would be a purer way of playing the game since it's just decision making. Nothing else. But I found it too stale to continue with it. I felt the same way about Smash Bros the first time I tried an online version of that on the Wii—although latency was also a factor there as well.

I haven't watched any chess videos. Maybe I should check them out—they might be more interesting than playing the game online. I do look forward to teaching my kids how to play but when it comes to board games there might be more interesting ones out there. I wonder if voice chat, which was really rare when I was a teenager, could help make online chess matches more appealing.

Or it could be that I reached a level that required more of a commitment than I was willing to give. Chess may be a bit bland after a while but it doesn't lack depth despite its simplicity. I learned a lot from it though and I consider it to be one of the more valuable hobbies I went through.

2) Part of the reason I love your videos so much is because I myself am a game developer and I enjoy the candid critique. Do you take any issue with greenlit or crowdfunded games like ARK that release paid DLC before they even qualify their own game out of "beta" status, or do you sympathize with these developers? 

The kneejerk reaction is to condemn this as terrible. Usually kneejerk reactions are wrong.

I don't think it is in this case.

It's going to depend on how successful the game is and what the developer intentions are. Let's imagine ARK flopped. It only managed to gather a small, passionate following. Nowhere near what the developers hoped. They continue making the game but they were banking on early access sales funding the rest of development for a proper launch.

They realize that they've badly miscalculated how much they would earn during this period since interest in the early access version is low. They have a choice. They can scrap the project and disappoint those fans. Or they can come out, hat in hand, and explain that they need more money from these people to finish the game and they're willing to crunch out a small amount of DLC content in order to justify that purchase.

Is that ideal? No. But it's honest, understandable, and is trying to make the best of a bad situation. The real issue here is how easy it is for early access to fail, but that's a whole other issue.

From what I understand and have read—which isn't much—ARK is a massive success. Over five million sales according to steamspy. Producing DLC like that means they wanted to cash-in again and get another round of purchases from their fans while they still had interest, which makes me wonder how much early access is being used as a shield to deflect criticism when the game is done. I believe Rimworld is also in a similar situation in regards to considering development permanently ongoing, so therefore early access is valid.

If this is true, and is to be a sign of a shifting definition, then I think "early access" should be renamed to something like "might never be fully finished". Not the most confident title but that's what it means.

Now the ARK devs might be playing a game here of managing the goodwill of their playerbase. They make a game people like. Then they cash-in with some questionable DLC that many people complain about but still purchase anyway (considering it has over 3,000 reviews on steam), and then whip that around into more goodwill when they surprisingly do finish the game and win everyone over again. You could argue that's what Hello Games is trying to do with No Man's Sky right now with their free updates which are, as I see it, them finally just finishing the game they didn't bother to finish for their first launch.

And it's working for Hello Games as far as I can tell. Most people are responding well. Steam reviews are "Mostly Positive" for recent ones. I think it's great that the game is being improved but that this sudden turnaround is making people defend the awful, unfinished, full-priced launch is leaving me more than a little faithless in our community. Let's see how long it is before they hit with a paid expansion too.

I think it could be argued that a game shouldn't be allowed to have an expansion or DLC for sale on Steam while in early access, but Valve clearly disagrees. The extreme case here would be ARK 2 coming out while ARK 1 is still in early access. At that point the feature loses all meaning, doesn't it? So maybe the answer is that if a developer abuses it then they don't get to use the feature anymore. But then Steam loses potential sales, customers who are happy with the system lose out on playing a game, and how is a system going to work that polices it?

People are still buying it too so maybe the answer is on the individual. Some days I think that response is unfair. It's flawed. Customers shouldn't have to spend hours researching trends and be responsible for making sure reputable companies aren't cheating them. Products should work instead, regardless of whether people are buying them or not. But right now that's my only answer.

I almost bought ARK a few months ago. It looked interesting. I won't now.

3) Have you seen a solar eclipse at full totality? :)

Nope! Only a partial one. And I don't remember it. I think I was terrified of going blind if I accidentally looked up for too long. Come to think of it, I was terrified in general about going blind as a kid. I can't remember why. I wonder how that fear gnawed its way into me. Huh.

Tom B asked:

Hi Joseph, keep up the amazing work! I have just two questions: 

  1. Which is your favourite of the older Zelda games and what do you think of the less appreciated Oracle games and Minish Cap?
  2. Is there anything you wish you knew starting out on Youtube, and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about doing what you do? Many thanks!

Hi Tom. Hope you had a good summer. It's almost over now.

1—I haven't played many of the handheld Zeldas. Link's Awakening is the only one. I don't think I could even name them all. Hm. Oh I played Phantom Hourglass too.

The first Zelda I played was the second one on the NES. I liked that a lot. I think it's still a good game but it's practically a different series compared to the others. It's really hard too, and a bit unfair with some of the "secrets" you need to know to progress near the end.

A Link to the Past is my favorite of the older ones. If the N64 games count as that era then Majora's Mask would take the title, since that's my favorite overall. I have to play it again to know for sure, which means I should probably play the ones I've missed too. The only 3D one I skipped was Skyward Sword.

Let me look up the games. I'd need to play the original on the NES—I have played it but I didn't finish it. Then the Oracle games. Is Four Swords worth checking out? I was never sure if that was a fun gimmick title or not. I beat Phantom Hourglass and I thought it was okay. I didn't play Spirit Tracks. Nor Minish Cap. Or TriForce Heroes? I don't think I heard of that one until now.

That's not too bad considering how big of a series it is. And I'm counting the oracles as two games.

If Breath of the Wild had dungeons it would have been my new favorite, assuming they were well made. I'm hopeful we'll get a new game in the same engine with a ton of content in a few years. That could take the number one spot from Majora's Mask.

2) Is there anything you wish you knew starting out on Youtube, and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about doing what you do? Many thanks!

Someone asked a similar question above and I don't want to repeat what I said there. Or at least I'll try not to. You might want to read that answer first and then come to this one.

The most important thing about starting a YouTube channel like mine is that you have to be honest with yourself about your intentions. I can't speak for Let's Players or any other type of channel—only longform videos on games. You need to be honest with yourself about whether you love it or not. That sounds cheesy, but success isn't guaranteed and will be very hard earned. That may sound fucking rich coming from one of the most successful video game "analysis" channels but like I said above: I got very, very lucky.

If you don't love it—if the need to make videos like this isn't bursting out of you—then there's something else more worthy of your time and attention, especially if you're hoping to make it your job. There are so many more reliable skills you could teach yourself in the time it's going to take to reach success, unless you get very lucky.

We had a back-up plan with the books going in so we weren't quite as stupid as it sounds. But it was still a risk and it's just by chance that you're even reading this right now. If you still want to do it but it's not something that has to happen, then go slow with it. Treat it like a hobby and see what happens.

Looking back I wish I knew more about audio editing, and to practice more at reading aloud. But that might have been something that could only come with time. I wish I had my video editing knowledge back then too, and had the confidence to start with Adobe Premiere instead of using an easier program. Again, though, maybe that was necessary to ease myself into it.

I'm not sure if I would have made smaller videos. If I was forced to restart today then yes, I would definitely go that way. But, luck or not, I'm happy with what I've produced and how the growth of the channel looks when I go back through it. I was fortunate enough to find my niche and I wouldn't change that knowing that it somehow worked out. If I was back to rolling the dice then it would be a different story.

I know I say this a lot but I still do feel like a tiny channel. I'm not anymore. Still, it doesn't feel like I'm qualified to give out any advice about this. It's not even imposter syndrome. It's that I just do what I do and some people, for some reason, really like it. At least that's how I feel right now real early in the morning as I'm writing this.

So yeah, feel free not to listen to me. Because most days I think I'm here by accident.

Noyan asked:

Hey, I was wondering, what's your take on works of art that are "intentionally bad"? This can happen in all forms but it's most complicated in gaming. The most famous example is Spec Ops: The Line. The game is known for its subversive story about "war is hell, etc". It also has incredibly bland and generic gameplay. Advocates of the game say that this is intentional, part of a deliberate effort on the game devs to show the player the mundanity of the process and the ease with which one can mow down so many people, or something. However, this argument can easily be viewed as one constructed after the fact to excuse for the game's poor gameplay. First question is, do you think this is the case? Second question is, is this as effective a form of expression in games as it is in other media? Survival horror games can be intentionally obtuse to instill unfamiliarity and stress in players, but that's not the game being inherently poor, I think. Something like Spec Ops is special because it just does nothing special whatsoever with its gameplay and feels low budget, not intentionally designed. The reason I compare to other media is you can watch a movie that is intentionally rough/challenging and it will be over shortly, but an intentionally """bad""" game will require active effort from the player and last a lot longer. Thanks! 

Hey Noyan! Your questions are linked so I'm going to answer them together. I hope that's okay.

First off games are arguably the worst medium for something to be "intentionally bad". Books would be a close second. Music, film, and television—these things all continue without any input or effort on your part. You can ignore them and they'll continue to march on in fucking spite of you. Books require you to continue to read and understand. They're powered by your eyes and mind. Games requires that, plus physical inputs and interacting with systems and mechanics. If it's bad then you're going to suffer through it a lot more than the same thing in another medium.

The examples you brought up are good ones but they're not strictly "intentionally bad". This is going to veer dangerously close to tumbling off the cliff named Semantics but if something is intentionally bad in order to be good—by conveying some emotion, meaning, or an experience—then it isn't intentionally bad. It's intentionally good.

I love games that have a double jump. I think almost every game that has a jump should have a double jump. Does that mean a game that doesn't have that mechanic in order to build some sort of challenge is making itself intentionally less fun? No, the moveset is being built around a specific idea and double jumps would break that—at least that's how it should function. Same for games with slow movement speed on your character. If you're going to keep the pace so slow then you better have a good reason.

Same for the lumbering tank-like controls in survival horror games like Resident Evil. The more deliberate, thoughtful movement in the early Tomb Raiders. And the extremely awkward way your guy moves in Stephen's Sausage Roll. The games are built around an idea.

This doesn't mean that this sort of thing is always good and successful. Games that focus on character building, and therefore make it so your ability to aim is meaningless and use dicerolls instead to determine if you land a hit, or have slowly focusing reticules like in the original Deus Ex, are not always welcome features. I think they're very frustrating even if they do adhere to an idea the developers had. Some people may like them but they're not essential to the experience like some of the above examples are. Even then, some people don't like the controls in those early Playstation games.

World of Warcraft did something similar to this when they took the ability to fly away from players in the latest expansions, so that they could construct the new zones to reward players willing to explore and get creative on foot—and to prevent them from flying over a lot of dangers. Understandably some people hate this feature even though it opened up a lot of possibilities for them to do some creative things with secrets hidden in the world. I think a compromise could have been made somewhere though to prevent players from feeling so grounded after flying free for years. It was very jarring.

I've only played Spec Ops: The Line for a few hours but I've watched a handful of videos on it now. I don't think the game is intentionally bad. I don't think it's even bad, just mediocre. For a while I liked that argument because, as you say here, it makes it seem like an artistic decision. It makes what you're doing feel dull and routine, but it's also all so familiar and easy to slip into after playing so many shooters.

However the game tries too hard to be exciting (its opening comes to mind), has some fairly interesting level design, a creative setting, and a really cool mechanic with the sand behind breakable glass that is painfully underused. These things lead me to believe that the game wasn't trying to be dull and it failed. I think the argument in favor of generic gameplay comes from the generic title. It's not a bad argument but as I'm thinking about it now, wouldn't the shock and the guilt and the self-reflection the game is meant to trigger be more meaningful if you were enjoying the game more until that point?

I think a game's story can be intentionally bad and still work. So can the dialogue, or the way some of the movie sections are presented—basically any part of it that isn't interactive. What you said in your question holds true. Anything that requires active effort is going to be terrible and can never reach the status of a campy b-movie, although I wonder if there might be some exception somewhere. Something to think about.

Shockwave1211 asked:

Hey Joseph, keep up the great work, cant wait for the hollow knight review! 

  1. Will you be letting your children play video-games as they grow up, if so how will you limit the type of content they get to see (violence sexual content etc.)
  2. What do you think of the current console market, is it in a good place or has one company been doing anything much better than its competitors.

Hey Shockwave. The script should be done a few days after this Q&A goes up, but I want to record it first before I let people read it. I doubt the video will be longer than 45 minutes but it'll be very heavy on gameplay and examples, which means it's going to be tough to put together. I hope it turns out well.

1—This is already something I have to consider when I play games around the older boy. He's obsessed with the computer, the keyboard, anything on my desk, and my wife's laptop. He's figured out how to play youtube videos, turn speakers on, plug in headsets—the list keeps going. I think most parents say this about their kids because they're so used to them being useless babies: he is shockingly fucking smart.

When I was playing Hollow Knight for the first time I would often have him on my lap watching since he loves colorful games. Hearthstone was another big one he'd like to watch. Sometimes he wants to have my headset on to listen as I play, which means I don't get to hear but I'm okay with that for a game like Hollow Knight. I'll be returning to a lot of areas to get a chance to listen to them again, and I bought the soundtrack for the video.

When I got to the Deepnest I couldn't let him have the headset anymore because I thought it would scare him. This made me realize that I wasn't comfortable playing some games and tv shows around him anymore. When he was a newborn baby who couldn't understand anything I would watch, like, the Walking Dead while he was sleeping in the same room. I can't do that anymore.

The kids will certainly be playing video games and I look forward to seeing them figure it out. The most the older boy has done so far is make Donkey Kong jump in Tropical Freeze. He figured out that the buttons make things happen but full comprehension isn't there yet. Nor is the ability to properly hold the controller—although who is ever really comfortable with that giant Wii U pad? The fuck were they thinking with that.

I consider myself to be quite a liberal parent but I'm a lot more protective than I thought I would be when we discussed having kids. Conversely, my wife thought she was going to be very overbearing and it turns out she's a lot more relaxed with them. So we both drifted somewhere toward the middle from the extremes we thought we would be at. That said, despite wanting to be open with the kids about a lot of topics, I'll want to limit what they can play until they appear ready.

Our society is a lot more comfortable with violence than it is with sexual content. I'm sure books have been written on why this is but as I'm thinking about it now, I think kids are far more likely to understand and rationalize violence than sex. The older boy will already lash out and hit if he's frustrated—not hard, but he gets the idea that a physical response can yield results. Especially breaking out of his playpen. Anything to do with sex is beyond meaningless to him. It would be like trying to teach him quantum physics. So you can contextualize violent content quite early, but not with anything sexual.

Yet as they get older I don't want to be the hypocrite that shields them from one but not the other, when they're both important parts of our society and our history. For video games, as of now, there are very very few games that deal with sexuality on any level. And I can only think of a handful that are popular enough to be concerned about—RPGs mostly. Other games are more about titillation that's difficult to notice as a kid. I know I was oblivious to a lot of it when I was young. But there's still a line that games and movies can cross.

For violence and horror, it'll be like navigating a minefield for when the kids will be ready. They'll need to understand that it's all fake. I think kids reach this point quite early and, from what I've watched and read about it, being desensitized to violence from fake violence isn't a thing that regularly happens. Which makes sense when you really consider it, although most of us in the west are lucky enough to have never been exposed to much true, real violence. When it happens, you feel the difference.

Prejudice is something I'm more concerned about because I do think ideologies can come through more clearly through games, movies, and books. Some ideas can be toxic but then so can a lot of people. Blocking it out isn't the answer. I think discussion is the better way but the older boy only just turned two. There's a lot ahead of us still.

As for games themselves I'm hoping to start them on old NES stuff and have them graduate to newer consoles as the months go by. If they can finish a dozen or so NES games then they get the Super NES. Maybe a Sega console too but I was never big into those games so I'll have to ask viewers for some classics I should be hunting for. I don't know if this "technology tree" approach will work but I think many old games age so poorly that they're hard to try when you start with newer games. You can adjust but I'd like them to experience at least a few of those games like they're new, cutting edge titles like I did as a kid.

Maybe I'm being selfish with that idea though.

2) What do you think of the current console market, is it in a good place or has one company been doing anything much better than its competitors.

Since getting a PC, the best thing about consoles for me was the simplicity. You plug it into your television, put in the game, and away you go. No tinkering with installs, settings, no compatibility issues, the games usually ran well enough—it's a more streamlined experience.

That isn't really the case anymore. Consoles install games. They patch and update. The playstation 4 is constantly pestering me to download stuff I don't want. I've had a ton of licensing problems with Bloodborne. Many games struggle to maintain acceptable frame rates even on the one set of hardware the developers knew they were creating the game for. Load times are awful on a lot of titles.

Exclusive games are something I'm continually torn on since they're exciting, usually pretty good, and wouldn't be made without the funding of a company trying to push hardware sales. But then that might not be true if we lived in a world where everything was on multiple platforms. Today it feels like some games are stranded on hardware and, in the case of Nintendo, I genuinely worry some of the motion control games will be impossible to play decades from now.

Emulation is difficult but, as we've seen with Cemu, a lot can be done when money is thrown at an issue. So maybe that's a solution in the future but it's also one that's in a legally gray area.

I like being able to play games on the couch instead of being stuck at my desk, but that's something that can be solved with PC games if you're willing to put in some effort. You can't really use a keyboard and mouse on the couch though unless you're willing to entomb yourself there with a bunch of surfaces to use them on.

I prefer the approach Sony and Microsoft are taking right now. The console functions as a mostly straight forward game machine but can also play movies and run stuff like netflix. I think many households don't really need a dedicated PC anymore if they only do light gaming and browsing. Just get a console and a tablet or two for around the house. I know more and more people are using their phones instead. I have a shit phone with a tiny screen so maybe that's why I don't use it much.

Nintendo's consoles should, in theory, be more celebrated since they're more focused on gaming. But they're not intuitive at all. Nintendo doesn't know how to do online stuff. And they're too focused on gimmicks that, as I just said, may make their games impossible to play years from now. The Switch is too big to be something you put in your pocket. So now you need a way to carry it around. That's great for trips, but as a regular handheld it's outclassed by Nintendo's own 3DS. And as a home console it suffers from being underpowered and overcosted because you're paying for the gimmick portability even if you never use it. Not to mention the baffling way that games run better in handheld mode than they do on a television.

PC has problems too don't get me wrong, but I think maybe this answer is giving the wrong impression of my thoughts. I don't really care all that much about these things even though I do have to think about them sometimes, especially hardware limitations. I'm mostly about the games themselves. Factors like consumer interests are good to think about—especially the bait and switch I feel Sony and Microsoft pulled with their updated consoles recently—but they're not my area. Everything is more or less functional right now and that's good enough for me to just play the games and think about them instead.

That might change if some games are PS4 Pro and Xbox One X "only".

Nasigil asked:

  1. I saw you used Ori and the Blind Forest footage in your Little Nightmares video. Have you played it? If you do, pls tell me what you think of it and whether you plan to make video for it. If you don't, you should totally try it!
  2. Have you considered doing some streaming or even making a "let's play" series while you play and review the Witcher series, especially Witcher 3? I do think that's a better idea than making buffer videos for small games. While I do enjoy your insights for the games like Edith Finch and would kill to see you make videos about Ori or Hollow Knight, they won't get you far in viewers and subscribers count like the big names(witcher, fallout, souls, etc). And it might turn into another black hole that you don't know when it will be enough. A thoughtful, experience and eloquent player like you can totally make some great "let's play" videos and attract more people, which is always a good thing for the channel. 
  3. Do you think it's reviewer's responsibility to make games fun for them personally? For example, Super Bunnyhop mentioned that turning off minimap in Witcher 3 helped him enjoyed the game a lot more. If the same situation happened to you, would you consider that to be the fault of the game for leaving minimap on by default or it's something that should just be player's business? (yeah I know I just want to see your witcher videos man)

Hello Nasigil. Big Witcher guy!

1—Yep I played Ori a while back. Not long after it came out. I'll be playing it again for the Hollow Knight video after I'm finished with this Q&A. I liked the game a lot. It's gorgeous, has an interesting setting, and some great movement mechanics and abilities. The combat was only okay but that was clearly intentional. Some better combat and bosses could have been great but I think they wanted it to be more about navigating the world instead.

I don't want to speak about it much more because my memory of the game isn't great and I'll be replaying it so soon. I might do a video on it when the sequel's release date gets close. Not sure though, I can't promise anything.

2) Have you considered doing some streaming or even making a "let's play" series while you play and review the Witcher series, especially Witcher 3? I do think that's a better idea than making buffer videos for small games. While I do enjoy your insights for the games like Edith Finch and would kill to see you make videos about Ori or Hollow Knight, they won't get you far in viewers and subscribers count like the big names(witcher, fallout, souls, etc). And it might turn into another black hole that you don't know when it will be enough. A thoughtful, experience and eloquent player like you can totally make some great "let's play" videos and attract more people, which is always a good thing for the channel. 

Streaming will likely happen a few months from now, or early next year, depending on how long it takes us to move. Things are, of course, a lot more complex than we thought when it comes to moving. Traveling with both kids will be a challenge as well, but it's definitely going to happen if things stay steady.

Picking games that will bring in a lot of views and subs isn't really a big consideration anymore. The channel's audience is large enough that I have a lot more freedom to pick my projects. It just so happens that, right now, I'm really interested in a lot of the newer games that just came out. If enough people request a game I also feel obligated to do it. That won't always be the case but when hundreds of people ask me to do Nier Automata I feel like I probably should.

I still should make it a priority to do at least three or four "big" games every year to grow the channel but it's not that necessary anymore. Maybe that's the wrong approach but I know I'll tire myself out if I'm constantly chasing new releases. So far I've never picked a game that I didn't already sort of want to play. That wouldn't be fair for the game in question, or a good way to spend my time. But I have favored researching new games because I think more people want to see them.

I'm hoping to do a bunch of older and slightly obscure games for the Witcher buffer. Obscure might be too strong of a word there though.

I have my doubts about whether I'll be a good Let's Player. I'd need a second channel for that and I'm not ready to make that commitment—and I don't have the time. Streaming could be fun but I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with a chat while playing. When it comes to reviews and critiques, that would actually be detrimental to my process and I'll have to turn chat off. I can't have people influencing my playthrough too much, nor can I lose concentration on what I'm doing.

Then there are pauses to make notes and, with our current set up, I frequently have to get up and help my wife with something or get pulled away by the kids. Some people may still be interested in that process as long as I "narrate" what notes I'm taking and the like, but I don't know if it'll be really worthwhile. I'm interested in trying though.

Streaming board games and something like a podcast appeals to me more.

3) Do you think it's reviewer's responsibility to make games fun for them personally? For example, Super Bunnyhop mentioned that turning off minimap in Witcher 3 helped him enjoyed the game a lot more. If the same situation happened to you, would you consider that to be the fault of the game for leaving minimap on by default or it's something that should just be player's business? (yeah I know I just want to see your witcher videos man)

I wonder if you have any idea how huge this question is. Holy fuck this topic could cover an entire book. Maybe multiple books. You could create a university course around this question.

I have a script in mind for this already. "Death of the Developer" in reference to the (flawed but important imo) concept Death of the Author. Let's try and take a more restrained approach at this so I still have something left to write about for the script, and so this doesn't spiral into a gigantic answer. I think I'm only halfway done the Q&A right now.

First up: it is definitely the reviewer's responsibility to explore all of the options presented by the game, and to choose those that make the experience the most enjoyable for them. That's what the options are there for. Sometimes games can not communicate clearly enough that there are alternatives to the default mode, but that's a problem that an average player should encounter. Not a professional review. Mistakes can and will happen—and that's fine and forgivable—but it's part of the job the way I see it. I did something similar with turning the HUD off in Breath of the Wild.

The issue with this line of thought can be seen with something like Darkest Dungeon. There are options to turn off some of the gameplay features. Not UI stuff. Not controller tweaks. Huge gameplay features that are part of the intended challenge—so much so that the game tells you that you won't get achievements or some warning about how you're kind of "cheating". I can't remember exactly.

These options are good but they do not excuse poorly implemented features just because they can be turned off. Nor does it mean that those features are suddenly immune from criticism because they're now "optional". Other games can do this too so please don't think I'm picking on Darkest Dungeon here. I've done that enough. But with this example I want to point out that it's actually the reviewer's responsibility to not use these options and play the game as intended instead. If they do want to explore those options it should be on a second playthrough.

But hey, most reviewers don't even finish the game once nowadays. Twice is unthinkable.

The massive discussion point is loaded into something I just said. "Intended challenge." "...the game as intended instead." Some people will think that developer intent is worthless. I think this perspective has merit but to fully embrace it is to be narrow-minded. It can bleed into film and literature as well, and you can find yourself against some deeply arrogant opposition that believe authorial intent is destructive when it comes to appraising something.

Video games, in my opinion, need their intent to be understood more than any other medium because they're interactive, and because they often challenge you. Meeting the game halfway is unavoidable because, to stretch a comparison, playing a game is both learning and mastering something at the same time, whereas books assume you already know how to read.

And I'll stop there before the rest comes vomiting out.

Alex T asked:

Hey Joseph, always look forward to your videos! Just skip over these questions if you have answered them before...I am exclusively on an iPad and it's difficult to Control + F on previous sessions if you have answered these. 

  1. What would you say your short (1-3 years) and long term goals for your channel would be (5+ years)?
  2. In your opinion, who are the greatest antagonists in fiction (any medium)? I've always been partial to Iago in Othello and The Mule in The Foundation as far as evilness and cunning go. 
  3. I cracked up during one of your reviews when you say "like Shania Twain, 'that don't impress me much'" (paraphrasing). Consider it a friendly challenge to find another cheesy op lyric to throw in one of your reviews!

Hey Alex! I don't see any duplicate questions. Well, the antagonist one has sort of been asked before. I don't know if I'll be able to give a new answer to that.

1—The completion of several more long videos for a start. A few more on a whole series, like The Witcher Project.

A goal I want to achieve in the next year is making production more efficient. So my own work space so I can play the games with fewer interruptions and open up streaming. Then a separate recording space—probably the same space as before—so I can stay on the same schedule. This will make everything faster and much more reliable.

I'm hoping this will lead to short videos being possible to make within the space of a week, when the games themselves are short. There have been a few videos I've made in the past that only took a few days: Factorio, The Openings of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, ActRaiser, and I think the Infinifactory video. I had already played the games before that though so I had an advantage. I think something like Edith Finch, or even slightly longer games like Hellblade, should be possible to do very quickly if I had the room to focus on them.

For an expansion of the channel I'd like to try doing first impression videos of new steam releases. I'll pick a game, play it for a few hours, and then explain what it's like and how I understand the core gameplay loop at an early stage so people can watch that before buying a game. That might eat into too much time for longer videos though and I'm not sure if I'd enjoy it to be honest. So that might be something that never happens if I'm continually caught up in critiques. Which I have been for a while now.

I don't have any goals in terms of money or audience numbers. Patreon and ad revenue combined is way higher than I ever thought it would be. It may not be the most lucrative perspective to have but I think I make enough money doing this. But then I don't know what the standards are and where the limit should be so I'll continue to lightly promote myself and that's about it. I think hitting one million subscribers would be really cool but that's, what, 5 years away at least? Unless there's a few videos that hit big back-to-back.

A longterm goal would be making a game. If I have a second channel then that would become something like a devblog. I'd like to continue making videos in that time, which may not be possible since I'll also be learning how to code while leading up to that. So five years in the future may be too soon. I don't know if I'll want to continue doing this YouTube forever and ever, but I can easily see it going on until I'm 40. I love this job and I'd like to continue doing some of it indefinitely but if I have the chance to make a game then video production may lessen to make that happen.

And that's not even considering all the books I want to write. My wife and I also want to have a third child in a few years but that might not be possible.

A lot of this will depend on how the next year goes and how much of a change a separate work space makes. Because right now it is very stressful juggling all of this with weird hours in our small apartment. But it's just a matter of time before that problem is solved. Hopefully before the end of the year and, if not, tax season next year.

Mortgages are adult shit, yo.

2) In your opinion, who are the greatest antagonists in fiction (any medium)? I've always been partial to Iago in Othello and The Mule in The Foundation as far as evilness and cunning go. 

Yep so I looked it up and I had a similar question in this Q&A linked below:


Do a search for "villain". It's near the end and asked by Henrik.

I'll talk about a few more that spring to mind below so there's something here at least:

For television I really liked Wilson Fisk in the recent Daredevil series. Same for Hannibal in the new show. There's also another one that comes to mind in American Gods that I can't say without spoilers. Gus Fring is probably the best antagonist in Breaking Bad (but who is really a "villain" in that show?). Same for every character in The Wire, haha.

The Master in Doctor Who has a few moments to shine. As does Moriarty in the BBC Sherlock series—despite it not making any sense retroactively, unfortunately. Is there a term for when a show would have been better if it had ended early? Doctor Who has some good monster villains though. The first iteration of the Weeping Angels. Same for The Silence. Actually most Doctor Who bad guys are better their first time and then get worse after that.

For movies: this should maybe count as TV but the Operative from Serenity, the Firefly movie. If only for pulling off being honorably, honestly evil. Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds. Calvin Candie from Django Unchained. Tarantino does villains really well.

Tyler Durden from Fight Club is a big one for me, but many might disagree. Both in the movie and the book. I also really like the idea of the antagonist in Inception, even if they aren't a traditional sort of villain. The main "bad" guy in The Watchmen—both the graphic novel and the movie—which I can't say because of spoilers.

Most of the books I've read don't have literal antagonists. Many of them are just about someone's life, or have more vague problems with an environment or a war, or a planet in the case of The Martian. That said I can point again to Dolores Umbridge who overshadows the actual big bad of that series. Regal in The Farseer Trilogy is another candidate for "holy fuck you just HATE him" tier. Randall Flagg from The Stand is a really compelling character even without being an antagonist, which he still is.

Captain Beatty from Fahrenheit 451 for the scene where he unpacks, unloads, and then reconstructs the protagonists entire perspective and argument back at him in such a convincing way. Fuck that's a great scene.

I'm certain I'm going to think of three more a few days from now and start swearing out loud.

Video games don't have many good characters at all yet, never mind good villains. But some that I can think of right now are: Kefka from Final Fantasy 6 for what he accomplishes halfway through the game. Jon Irenicus for being complex, cunning, and also somewhat sympathetic by the end. A character in Knights of the Old Republic 2 that I won't spoil. GLaDOS of course. Vaas from Far Cry 3 didn't get nearly as much screentime as he deserved. And, naturally, Edith Finch Senior.

3) I cracked up during one of your reviews when you say "like Shania Twain, 'that don't impress me much'" (paraphrasing). Consider it a friendly challenge to find another cheesy op lyric to throw in one of your reviews!

To reveal just how lame I am when it comes to these jokes, whenever I'm on a night schedule I have to take the dogs into the bedroom with me to sleep during the day otherwise they'll body slam the door open and then I'll hear the kids screaming. Whenever I take them in I say "let's go girls" and, everytime, the god damn music plays in my head as I walk down the hall with them.

I'm glad to know at least a few people like my stupid jokes. I'll keep trying to slip them in whenever there are good opportunities for them. They make me laugh too when I watch them back.

Menzo D asked:

Hey Joseph, I have some questions I'd like you to answer 

  1. How was your experience playing Shadow of the Colossus?
  2. Fumito Ueda proposed some changes to the development team for the remake of Shadow of the Colossus. Are there some changes you think the game would benefit from? I knew the answers to these questions might be elaborate so sorry and take care :)

Hey Menzo, I have some answers I'd like you to read.

1—Fucking magical. Let's not act all cool and reserved about this game. Shadow of the Colossus is god tier so let's gush about it.

First off—it lived up to the hype. I watched a trailer and I was excited. It had huge expectations to meet and it surpassed them. I wasn't expecting nearly as many bosses as there were in the game, even though I now know so many got cut. I wasn't expecting to enjoy riding around the wasteland, like a really mature Zelda overworld. And I certainly wasn't expecting so many of the bosses to be so god damned thrilling.

Jumping onto Avion over that dreary lake is one of the best moments I have ever experienced in a game. Then the music picks up and the game carries on like hey, no big deal. Run across this bird while it flies through the air. Look at how the camera pans back to give you this beautiful shot as you run down its tail. And it's all gameplay. You have to time grabs, judge your stamina. It's not excruciatingly deep or demanding but you still have to pay attention and kill this giant.

Then the game tops that with the Phalanx later? We already had this game-making moment early on and this game, this same fucking game, surpasses itself?

And that's still not enough. It has to have this twist in the narrative, which immediately makes sense whether it clicks with you earlier on or with the arrival of the priest and his henchmen. It's not clear if you're outright the bad guy or not, or whether Dormin is truly evil—looks can definitely be deceiving, as we've already been taught.

The game knocks it out of the park in every area. Incredible visuals for the time, unique gameplay, more content than I was expecting, a great story that uses the fact that it's a video game at least a little bit, and some of the best "experience" moments you can have in a game even today.

Fuck my life that game was phenomenal the first time I played it.

2) Fumito Ueda proposed some changes to the development team for the remake of Shadow of the Colossus. Are there some changes you think the game would benefit from? I knew the answers to these questions might be elaborate so sorry and take care :)

So now after proclaiming it as one of the best games of all time you want to me criticize it as harshly as I can? You know me too well, Menzo!

Well let's aim to be as constructive as possible since I don't have visual examples to back up what I say.

The biggest change I'd like to see, because I think it's also the most feasible, is a stable frame rate. Visuals are important but the scale of the colossi carries enough weight that a stable 30 should be very possible. I'd prefer 60 but let's not even go there with consoles.

I like the movement system and the camera in the base but enough people don't that they should make some alterations, with an option to have the old mode active as a legacy mode for returning players. I think that controlling a game's camera should be considered as part of playing the game—maybe even a skill of games all on its own—and when viewed like that the camera in both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus becomes much better. Some people dislike the floatiness of movement and climbing as well, but I appreciate how much control you have. Control that I was sad to see gone in The Last Guardian. There are some really neat tricks you can do with climbing jumps and grabbing onto things.

I have no idea what these changes should be, or if it's a matter of a better way of teaching players how to use them. But I do think some effort should be made.

Some of the colossi should be changed in minor ways. Having to wait for the cinematics of toppling pillars to fall during the Cenobia fight is really tedious. As is the baffling solution to the puzzle presented by Argus. Why does he step on the platform to help you? You're not tricking him into anything. The water one that you have to hit the "head teeth" in order to lead to the islands is kind of boring. Phaedra feels like a complete crapshoot to get him reliably in position to jump on after running through the tunnels. This may be a Learn To Play issue on my part but I don't like this part of the game. There's an alternative solution to this guy if I remember right. A lot of the colossi have different ways to climb on them or creative drops to make if you hang on at the right time. Of course the final colossi is the worst offender for really awkward fucking jumps and it was only recently I found out you're supposed to shoot arrows into his shoulder after revealing a weak spot with your sword. I just made the jump from his hand everytime I beat the game.

Big changes would be more bosses—some of the cut content being finished and restored. This would help alleviate the issue of some of the colossi feeling too similar. The small ones are quite close together if my memory is correct. Same for the basic "humanoid" type that's used three or four times with only minor variations. I don't know much about the cut colossi but four or six more, with the most creative ones being used, would be fantastic. Very unlikely though.

What I hope isn't changed are the player's movement options. It should still feel like you're a relatively normal guy with your horse, sword, bow and arrow, and that you should really have no business fighting these things never mind winning. That's an integral part of the experience and, while I do think another game similar to Shadow of the Colossus could be made with a much more interesting movement and climbing system, the remake should not deviate from what the original did in this way.

wellwish3r asked:

Hey, my questions are mostly about your books, 

  1. Does it make any difference for you (in terms of money) whether if i get your books via Kindle Unlimited, or actually buy them?
  2. How much does Youtube interfere with your writing? Do you Plan to only work on youtube eventually, or do you plan to split your time somehow?

Hey Wellwish3r. I combined two of your questions because the answers are so linked. Hope you're okay with that.

1—I don't think there's any difference. If there is it's so small that you should go with whatever is easier for you. Unlimited pays out per page read and the rate is usually good across a whole book.

2) How much does Youtube interfere with your writing? Do you Plan to only work on youtube eventually, or do you plan to split your time somehow?

I'm not doing any writing at the moment. That wasn't always the case since the creation of the channel. I have half a novel finished—it's sort of like Mass Effect Andromeda, funnily enough. About the journey to Andromeda, not what happens after they arrive. I'd like to get back to that but channel work takes up all of my time.

Creative writing takes a lot longer than writing for a script, an article, or things like this Q&A. I need to take frequent breaks between bouts of intense writing. Intense meaning a lot of words, not an emotional experience. There's a lot of things to consider—the plan I'm following, whether or not a character would speak in a certain way, how to structure the next sentence and the next paragraph. That's just the basics. Much of it has to be felt out intuitively and then edited into something worthwhile. Scripts do take work, and they are edited quite a bit, but I'm a lot less fussy with them because they're only about a third or half of the finished product. Video editing and narration matter too.

So I'm not writing at all anymore and I miss it terribly. I've spoken about it in a few of the prior Q&As. Even a novella takes weeks to months and I can't afford the time away from channel work. The most I'm doing now is an updated version of The Wizard and the Dragon for its physical release with a new cover. And even that, with the story already long finished, is very difficult to find time to work on between videos.

Returning to writing would likely mean the end of the channel, or an extended hiatus. The other possibility is a repeat of what I'm doing for The Witcher right now: make a bunch of videos ahead of time and then release them over a few months so I have time to do something else. But this is a very demanding task since I have to also make main videos at the same time. With our current work situation, it takes several months to a year in order to "buy" a few months of time. Not a terrible rate but a low return for a lot work, and the videos will be shorter than usual too.

For Witcher this is clearly worth it. For a book? Not sure. I'm hoping it'll be easier after we move. I really am bringing that up a lot in this Q&A. We're so sick of this apartment.

Craig asked:

hi Joe! thanks so much for your time. i'll try to make these quick. 

  1. You've mentioned liking Porcupine Tree in a previous Q&A; there's a video game coming out at the end of this month called "Last Day Of June" based on some of Steven Wilson's (PT's singer/guitarist) solo music/lyrical content. i'm definitely getting a bit of an Edith Finch/Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons vibe from the visual style/gameplay. would you have any interest in playing that at all (not requesting a video by any means, just curious)?
  2. have you played FEZ? 
  3. favourite emoji?

Hi Craig. Yeah these will be some short answers to some easier questions. Thanks for that, haha.

1—I think I saw a trailer for that a while ago. I might check it out. Porcupine Tree is great but I don't care as much for Wilson's solo stuff, although I haven't given it a proper chance yet. I'm more curious to see how a game interprets song lyrics like that.

Oh it literally comes out... today. Well, the day this Q&A goes live anyway. Haha. Well I hope it's good.

2) have you played FEZ? 

Yep. I didn't like it but, as I just said for Wilson's solo work, I didn't give it much of a chance. I thought it was pretty and quirky and fun enough to look at, but the rotating gimmick felt clunky—it takes a bit too long for the rotation to finish, and it was awkward on top of that at first. Maybe it gets more natural as you play but at the time I had enough other games to try that I didn't keep at it.

There have been times like that recently with games that I had to stick with and eventually it clicked and felt great. So please don't take this as a condemnation of FEZ. Sorry I can't talk about it more though. The game's creator seems to have a lot of issues being a public figure too. I wish him well with it and hope he focuses on making games instead, which he clearly must enjoy.

3) favourite emoji?

:thinking: by a landslide. I probably use it too much in Discord chat. Although there's also a shocked face one on my phone that I send to my wife a lot. We both like that one.

Emojis are good. I think that might surprise some people to hear that from a "writer" since we're supposed to be so big on words, but symbols can be far more efficient at communicating emotion. Especially when you're typing so quickly and so often online that you can't always carefully measure what you're saying—and how you're saying it.

For years and years people said they wanted a font for sarcasm. Now we have kappa.

Michael C asked:

  1. Do you have any podcasts that you listen to frequently? My feed consists of Hardcore History, Anime World Order, Shut Up & Sit Down and Software Engineering Radio.
  2. Do you get any help from your wife in your videos? What parts, if any, has she contributed toward?

Evening Michael!

1—Okay well no one is going to believe me but the only podcast I've regularly listened to is the Co-Optional Podcast. Sometimes I would grab some food and watch most of it. Usually I'd have it on while I was playing Skyrim or World of Warcraft. I think I had watched almost all of them a few months before I started the channel. After that I didn't have much time looking after the new baby and trying to make my own videos.

I used to listen to the radio a lot but I fell out of that habit at some point many years ago. We're quite insulated here, now that I think about it. That's probably not good, but anytime that can actually have a headset on to listen to something should go to games for videos. My older boy has a really bad habit of breaking speaker cables so that isn't a good alternative. When I do have time I'm usually watching other video game channels on YouTube because I enjoy this type of content almost as much as I do making it.

Anyone who's reading this: can you recommend some good podcasts? I'd like to try getting into some. Maybe I'll mount some speakers somewhere away from the evil toddler.

2) Do you get any help from your wife in your videos? What parts, if any, has she contributed toward?

Yep! My wife helps out a lot. We work together on a lot of things. She writes books as well. I think part of the reason why we got along so well when we first met is that we both liked writing.

With that shared experience we can help each other plan and edit. Everything that I've published, whether that's a book, a script, or this Q&A right now, has been read aloud by my wife and I for mistakes and badly phrased sentences. Which is probably a bad phrase in of itself. "badly phrased sentences"? Ugh.

The books get way more attention in the system that we have, but it's still a vital part of our process for finding errors. Some always slip through—even literary classics you can buy at a bookstore have a few mistakes that you might miss while you're reading—but it's enough. And it works.

She also acts as a sounding board for a lot of ideas. My wife isn't into video games much. She's good at Tetris Attack. Enjoys Mario Kart and Stardew Valley. She recently beat Super Mario World for the first time. But it's not her favorite thing to do. Still, I get a lot out of being able to verbally work through things so I'll speak to her about some plans I have, or try to explain something about a game, and I consider it a success if I can get her to understand something complicated about that game even if she hasn't played it. There's also plans for the more mundane side of channel work—what videos to do next, some twitter stuff, we discussed these patreon rewards, and so on. Things like that.

Outside of directly helping she also takes the lion's share of work looking after the kids. At the beginning this was split firmly 50/50 and we were both happy with that arrangement. My wife had just given birth and that's very taxing. I was doing video work but it wasn't a priority yet. She was going back to work about a year after the baby was born (Canada is very generous with maternity benefits). When she did return then things got difficult for me since I was alone with the our first son all day. Video production slowed significantly around that time—the gap around August last year.

She lost her job shortly before she was due to stop working toward the end of her second pregnancy. Since then that split has probably drifted somewhere to 80/20 with the kids. With her being the 80. I still help when I can and try to make it somewhat close to even, but there are many days that she does everything so I can work. The channel makes more money now than we would if she went back to work, since I wouldn't be able to work nearly as much as I do now that there'd be two kids to look after. And the older boy is so much more trouble now than he was a year ago. If I was home alone with them all day I don't think I'd be able to get anything done really.

So yep, she helps a lot. Reading. Editing. Decision making. And enabling me to work as much as I currently can, and to go on night schedules for recording too.

Daniel T asked:

Hey Joseph. I expect by this point reading pre-question openers can be a bit tedious, but for what it's worth your work deeply resonates with me and I couldn't be more comfortable with my decision to become a patron today. That aside, I have 3 questions. 

  1. In your SOMA critique, you talked eagerly about the idea of consciousness and sentient thought, which I enjoyed a great deal. Was it the game alone that caused you to explore that type of philosophy, or is it something that has interested you for a while?
  2. Following on from that, have you watched HBO's Westworld? If so, what did you think? If not, I would very strongly recommend it. (I don't like being THAT guy who recommends shows simply because they liked it - I mention the show purely because it perfectly visualises that 'consciousness question' you brought attention to during the SOMA video) 
  3. Do you have any other interests you could picture yourself writing review/critique scripts for in the same style as you have been for games? I find it incredible that you take the time to do this every month Joseph. I am, as I'm sure everyone else is, very grateful for the time you set aside for your supporters and followers.

Hey Daniel. People are usually really nice in their openers so it's no bother at all. And thank you, it's great to know people enjoy the videos and can get so much out of them.

1—I don't consider myself to be a particularly deep thinker. I likely have the capacity to be—everyone does really—but when I look back at my life I see someone that is an intermediate thinker spread over a lot of topics, who rarely goes deep on any of them. Even with writing and game design: I spend a lot of time thinking about them but I only go extremely deep in some areas. In my defense, however, a ton of my time is eaten up by producing things. For channel work, not even close to half of my time is spent thinking about games and topics. Unless you count playing the game as part of it, which could be argued as correct.

I have problems with authority, likely stemming from some incredibly poor parenting while I was growing up. That's my own issue and I don't want to bore you with it—I bring it up because as a result I am wary of academia. Much of it is, to me, a waste of time and involves sucking off intellectuals rather than doing work yourself. I am likely wrong to have this opinion. Whether that's something I have to work through, or simply a symptom of encountering only bad academics in my life, I can't say. There are times I wonder if I've limited myself because of it.

So, yes, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about the idea of what makes a consciousness, or what even qualifies as sentient thought. But I don't know if my thoughts are worthwhile. I've written a bit about them in my books. The Lost Starship, some of Bounty Hunter, and even a tiny bit in The Wizard and the Dragon if you're willing to stretch the concept. It's a core theme in the Monster Slayer Series with Kate vs. Kathleen. Clearly I'm invested in the idea, and all of these came before I played SOMA. I think they may even predate the game's release.

Those books were written for money though, so they're not high literature. I'll be the first one to admit that. They gradually became closer to what I want my writing to be—and have written before I started those books—but they are firmly genre fiction. Firmly commercial. They start off as lighter reads and become more for that reason. Turns out I can't only write disposable stories. I get bored. So I had to be a bit experimental within the confines of the series foundations. Except for the short stories I wrote separately in collections. Those are the most successful I've ever been at staying within a limited writing style, while also being the worst things I've done for that same specific reason.

I have a sleep disorder that I've spoken about before, and will do so again in an answer below. It's relevant now because I have had far more alone time than most will in their lives, because I don't sleep much. When I was a kid I would lay awake for hours and hours staring at the ceiling, hoping I'd fall asleep. Every night it'd be like a soft form of torture, because I was terrified of my parents's wrath if I was caught out of bed.

When I could read, I would do that. So I read lot. I'd think a lot. About what I read, or things that happened to me. I'd spend hours every night taking "inventory" of my life and everything that had happened to me that day, that week, that month, that year, and I'd keep going back back back until, finally, I'd fall asleep. Or I'd get caught in a stray thought about space or dinosaurs or anything else I had read that day. And I'd stare at the ceiling hoping I wouldn't hallucinate and see "ghosts" because that's what my sleep disorder can cause.

What I now know about narcolepsy leads me to think that I probably was falling asleep often back then, but whatever I was thinking about would become a dream instead. It happened everytime I was in a sleep study in my twenties: they'd hook all these sensors onto my head—with this shit gunk that would harden and pull out my hair when it was done, it's awful stuff—and then I would try to nap. Twenty minutes would go by with me staring at the ceiling, thinking like I was a child stranded in bed again, and I'd be wide awake. Who could sleep in such a weird, cramped room in a strange bed with all of this shit attached to your scalp? The twenty minutes would pass and the tech would come in and tell me I had fallen asleep five minutes in and stayed asleep for fifteen minutes. I was conscious the whole time, but the rest of me was asleep. Because that's how weird and wonderful narcolepsy can be.

The hook that got me into thinking about consciousness a lot was the knowledge that I was sleep walking. When I was a kid my parents would ask me in the morning "do you remember getting up last night?" and I would say no, smile and laugh, because I thought it was funny. That still happens. My wife asks me it many mornings. Sometimes I still smile and laugh—and she's used to it so it doesn't bother her—but at some point in my teenage years I started to wonder "if I don't remember it, then who was really doing it?" A thought that has stayed with me and matured since then.

As a teenager I would wake up in parts of the house. It was rare but it would happen. Considering how often I sleep walk now as an adult, with my wife to report to me when it happens, it's overwhelmingly likely that before I was getting up, walking around, doing some stuff or going to the bathroom, and then going back to bed without any knowledge of it. For a while my trick was to turn the alarm clock off hours before it was set. Which lead to the joke "the dreaming version of you wants to stay asleep".

Now this is, of course, explained away by the brain's ability to create short-term memories compared to long-term memories. I'm supposed to be asleep so my thought process and decision making, while still occurring, isn't recording. The needle is off the hard drive even though it's spinning like crazy. But I still find myself thinking about it and wondering if it's really the same me who is deciding to get up, walk around, fiddle with things in the room and, on many occasions, actually have a conversation with my wife. Not a good one but still, a bit of talking.

I can't remember what movie it was that I watched but it involved memory loss. A long time after that I would spend my staring-at-the-ceiling-time wondering about how that really works. In a movie there'll be some sort of timeskip or a flash to signify it. Lately it's often done with the memory loss being skipped over and then filled in later. Memory loss is a real thing though. What would it be like to actually experience it?

Let's say a few years from now you take a bad hit to the head or are in a car crash or develop some brain injury. You lose most of your memories—avoiding the can of worms that is how people lose only some types of memories but still remember how to walk, talk, and read. You still experienced a stream of consciousness developing them, just as you are right now while reading and considering this. That's you. This moment then this moment and so on and on. When your memory is lost, it's like all of that never happened, yet it still did. You're going through it right now.

People experience this with sleep. They dream and forget. It makes me wonder if that's what death is like. Just this loss of acknowledgement of all a life's experiences even though they did happen. But with memory loss it's like you become a different person. Who was the stream of consciousness before? Who is the person that's sleep walking when I'm asleep? Is that still me, with the same stream of consciousness, with the same thoughts and decision making that I'm going through right now while I'm writing this, and my brain just didn't make a record of it? Or does whatever consciousness that takes over while sleep walking also remember every other time they went sleep walking and are their own separate entity.

That's getting close to science fiction but I find it unsettling. And there are a ton of analogies you could make. Like our minds can be close to a video player, and videos can always be paused and then resumed, or temporarily play another one in the meantime. I don't know about all of that. Comparing our brains to technology must be flawed even though it's the easiest comparison to make. With the exception of physical damage, are memories ever truly gone or just rendered inaccessible? If I strained hard enough, or found someway to think back to those nights, could I remember the sleepwalking? Just like you can squint your mind's eye and almost see some murky memory of what you did the night before when you drank too much.

SOMA takes this idea and creates copies of those streams of consciousness. The segregation is made a lot more plain since each consciousness is inhabiting a different piece of hardware and can't possibly still be connected to the base that it originated from. But what if they were merged afterward somehow? Would that cause a conflict, or some sort of harmonization? Are those simulations even real and valid, or are they true to what "simulation" means. The way you control Simon would prove otherwise, as would Catherine's experiences of seamless time jumps between each terminal that powers her. It's strange that any physical, mobile body makes it appear more valid than the computer-based renditions you can find in the game. Including the potentially millions of iterations we never see from Doctor Munshi's experiments.

I don't believe that there's a split in consciousness whenever you sleep. I know that I have experienced a continuous transition from night to morning since I dreamt the entire time but, even without that, the memory gap and jump from sleep walking is entirely different than the continuity I feel from one day to the next after sleeping.

This is without getting into the possibility of the computer simulations being far more complicated than what we see in that game—even in the ARK. I hinted at that possibility near the end of the video but I decided it wasn't worth getting into. I still feel that way now because it's a giant topic. It's also the most disturbing thing I've ever thought about because it makes anything possible, really. Any sort of nightmare or secret, personal hell. The laws of the universe don't have to apply anymore the way I see it, but really what are the chances we're in a simulation?

I've thought a lot more about consciousness than all that. This is how I typically mull over so many topics throughout my life. It's a conversation in my head, usually while I'm failing to try to sleep. Like I said I'm not a deep thinker since I often flit from one thing to the next, sometimes seeing how things can be combined. It's a good habit for writing, maybe, but not for seeking some sort of truth. If one can be claimed at all.

It's a lazy sort of thought. That's for a reason though. The same reason that writers write, instead of getting into science and research. Writing is so much easier.

2) Following on from that, have you watched HBO's Westworld? If so, what did you think? If not, I would very strongly recommend it. (I don't like being THAT guy who recommends shows simply because they liked it - I mention the show purely because it perfectly visualises that 'consciousness question' you brought attention to during the SOMA video) 

I haven't watched it. I want to but we don't have HBO. We don't even have a television hooked up at the moment. We have Netflix and Amazon's prime tv service thing. I'm not sure if HBO online is available in Canada yet. I have so much to watch at the moment and I try to be careful about starting shows before a third season since they tend to get canceled after I'm invested.

3) Do you have any other interests you could picture yourself writing review/critique scripts for in the same style as you have been for games? I find it incredible that you take the time to do this every month Joseph. I am, as I'm sure everyone else is, very grateful for the time you set aside for your supporters and followers.

It does take a while. I hope I can continue to do it but I'm concerned after this Q&A. I'm thinking I'll give it another month to see if the amount of questions we get settles. I don't foresee the patreon ever getting another bump anywhere close to what we had last month, so this should be the largest spike of questions we should ever get. If that's true, then it should be sustainable while causing only minor video delays.

As for your question: movies and television definitely. Maybe books but that would be difficult to do without visuals for videos. I could hold the book and talk into a webcam but that's kind of boring. I'm not sure if there's a market for book reviews either, but I think I'd enjoy it.

The issue there is that I would feel awkward criticizing other writers when I am a writer myself. That's bad form. I could do my best to be respectful but that doesn't always work out. I could also only pick books that I liked a lot and do 90% positive videos but that might get boring. Anything I do will also eat into videos on video games, which is what I'm currently being paid to continue doing. So it would have to be sometime far in the future when I'm comfortable enough to risk taking a loss when some people are understandably upset that I'm switching priorities.

I think most people would accept a few videos here and there on movies and television though, especially given how easy it would be to make the video part since there's a limited amount of footage to consider, and no choices to constantly go back and play the game again for. No difficulty settings either! Some videos have over a hundred hours of footage to pour through.

I'd want a second channel for that though since I'm really anal about what ends up on the main channel. I don't like it when I find a youtuber who has a bunch of pointless shit in their catalogue that makes it difficult to see the real, proper content that they make. I'd like to avoid that.

I've thought about a long series on Doctor Who for a while. Going through it episode by episode, pointing out what's good, but also proposing fixes for some of the incredibly stupid plotholes that show has. No other series has such a stark contrast between its highs and lows as Doctor Who. But like I said, that's a long time out if it ever happens.

Raviolli Warrior asked:

Hi Joseph! I really enjoyed the last Q&A even though I happened to repeat a question :) Sorry. I have a few more I'd be interested to hear your opinion on, and they are partially based on your response to my 1st question last time, however I feel like the question I want to ask is pretty big and demanding so I'll leave it at one this time.

It's now common to talk about the ages in comics - golden age, silver age, bronze age - and anything inbetween that people seem to add on to that. I'd be interested to hear your take on if such division could be made in gaming? I would argue that games like Super Mario were great yes, and didn't need a story per say, because games didn't grow up enough to accommodate stories, at least not the mainstream ones. I realise there are games like PUBG where story is basically redundant, but at the same time sandbox games feel like a whole new beast anyway. PS. As a creator myself I know youtube algorithm rewards retention time now and more frequent uploads. Have you maybe considered making the Q&A's a filler content video on the channel? It'd probably draw more attention to the patreon too as only patreons can ask questions. This seems like a low effort content that would only take you an hour or two to read out and record. Just a thought.

Hi Raviolli Warrior. I've thought about it but I don't think it's a good idea right now. Recording time is too difficult to arrange. I do like the idea though. Maybe sometime in the future.

Regarding "golden ages" and the like—I'm not sure. I haven't thought about it much. It's potentially interesting to consider but it ultimately doesn't matter much. Developers aren't going to run out and start making more games—and better games—just because they find out we're in a "golden age" or something like that. It's just a confluence of games that were already being produced that may feed into each other. Good trends may be set off, but that can happen at any time.

As far as I understand it, golden ages meant a period in time that the conditions were right for a great amount of art to be created. Maybe I'm getting my definitions wrong there but if that's correct, the original meaning of a golden age can't ever apply to modern society. So much art is being created that it's always a golden age, which means it also never is.

For a narrow period when something specifically great is being made though...

Video games already have a far better way of dividing eras: primitive games, 2D games, and now 3D games. They can be further divided by the technology available at the time (8-bit, 16-bit, etc) or with "early" qualifiers for the first 3D games on the PS1 and N64, for example. Or those that came even before.

Having brought up consoles you can also split them like that. Or, if you want to get really technical, the hardware available for gaming computers. That's going to be much harder to communicate with than console names though. Most people know the rough idea of what you're talking about with them, even if they've never played them.

If we approach the issue as a matter of quality, however, then I think we're still very low on the ladder. Games are great and fun and I love them, but I've said it before: you could make a very strong argument that we aren't good at making games at all. They are so much more complicated than other art forms and we're still in the growing pains period of huge technical issues. Sometimes you buy a game and it just doesn't fucking work. And it's not an issue with the disc you bought or a corrupt download either. The game just wasn't made well enough to run on your hardware, or is so bugged that many people are getting major issues. Imagine that happening with a book or a movie.

This isn't solely the fault of game developers. I'd also argue that the PC hardware industry is in a pretty bad state right now too, but that would be just a feeling I have and not something you should listen to me about. Consoles should, in theory, be far more reliable and avoid many of these problems but they don't. Sometimes I wonder how PC gaming functions at all when consoles still struggle like that.

Stories in video games right now are almost universally terrible. There are so few good ones that I would struggle to fill out a top 20 list without making some compromises and excuses for some of them. My concern is that gameplay is in a similar state and we just don't know it yet, because it's new. There could be major leaps forward that will make today's games look as old and quaint as silent black and white movies do to us today. Will it be that extreme? Probably not, unless we get some science fiction mindjack VR going on, but that would be a whole other thing all on its own. Not really video games.

Art does age. Anyone that says otherwise is either arguing semantics or hasn't thought about it for long enough. If you don't understand that standards change over time, and that the first attempts at something can be good when they were first made and then terrible after it's improved, then you have some serious questions that you should be asking yourself about what you're trying to argue. Especially if you claim to enjoy games that are released today—double especially if you like many of the stories in games today.

I've seen people claim that the late 2D games that came out just before gaming switched into 3D in a big way were some of the best ever. And indies are blowing most of them out of the fucking water now, and even those could still be made better. I don't think we're at that level of refinement yet for 3D games. Maybe we're just about to get there though.

Musica asked:

Only have one question. I don't know if you have taken any time yet to play the Witcher 3 but what do you think of Gwent?

Hey Musica. Sorry for the lame answer but I haven't played it yet. I don't want to play Gwent as its own thing until I play it within Witcher 3 first, since that's where it got started as far as I understand it. I know some people loved that mini-game almost as much as the game itself.

Having seen some trailers and screenshots I'll say that it doesn't look anywhere close to as charming or interesting as Hearthstone—that game heavily benefits from World of Warcraft's lore. I suppose Gwent could pull a lot from Witcher after you've played those games. Blizzard's signature pristine presentation adds so much to Hearthstone that I think any game will struggle to grab enough players without something close to comparable, on top of a much deeper and balanced game. Which is something I wonder is even possible with the card game format.

Feel free to ask this again after I've played Witcher 3, although I'm sure I'll speak about it at least a bit in the video. If it ever manages to get made.

Jaret B asked:

  1. A lot of the time, a game's music can be the focus of praise or criticism. However, what I don't see talked about as much is the usage of quiet-time or silence in games - moments when the music cuts out completely or times when an area or scene is soundtracked by environmental noise rather than composed tracks - either for tension or emotional impact. What are your favorite uses of quiet moments in games you've played?
  2. Favorite voice actor in the games industry? 
  3. What sort of cartoons did you watch growing up, if any?

Afternoon Jaret!

1—I think Bunnyhop has a video on this doesn't he? I should watch it. There are a lot of his videos I still haven't seen.

I like contrast. Breath of the Wild didn't have much music. When it did, it was usually good. I really like part of the Stone Talus track that I used for the opening in my video. It's a shame the rest of it wasn't that good the whole time, and that it was quite short.

The lack of music in that game didn't bother me as much as it did others. In fact I was going to mention it as a positive in the video since I liked the understated piano during exploration. But then I went back to Hyrule Castle and noticed how much the music helped sell that area. It added a lot and didn't hurt how much I was enjoying running around and climbing.

I think Nintendo made the right decision for when you were out in the world. Imagine if they went to the trouble of making a unique track for every major area in the game. Considering how long you spend in them, that would still get tiring. So now you have to make many more, have them loop and change, for something that people may still get fed up with after a while. Skyrim's outdoor music is also very understated. Bethesda probably did a better job with that actually. It's still there even if it is mellow and doesn't get in the way.

If Breath of the Wild had dungeons with music, instead of the shrines with the same song again and again (my wife just said, while reading this with me "That got so annoying. I HATED the shrine music." And she only watched me play that sometimes!), that could have been a great contrast. Exactly how Hyrule Castle works.

Music is one of those things I don't usually notice, which is why I rarely comment on it. I'm not knowledgeable enough either. If the choice was between bad music and no music, I'd choose no music. Games that let you run around in silence, with only the environment creating sounds as atmosphere, can be great experiences. That's probably what I prefer overall, but then it may depend on the game. Furi's music is like a dance track that the fight is following along with, instead of it just being blasted as background noise. Hollow Knight has music that suits each area and, since that game is usually quite quick with jumping through a lot of enemies and obstacles, I think it's matched well.

I'm trying to think of an example of bad music now and I can't, because when it's bad I just ignore it or turn it off. There are also grinding games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Path of Exile, that I just play my own music instead because I know I'll get sick of it after so many hours. Even though Blizzard's music is usually very good, I don't bother with it.

Souls has some great quiet moments. The games are full of them. Shadow of the Colossus does too. I don't know if the scene was actually silent, but the part on the beach in Edith Finch has stuck with me very strongly. I paused there in the game and stared at the water for a bit thinking about what just happened. Video games are different from movies and closer to books for allowing stuff like that. I'm hoping to speak about it in a future video.

I believe Hollow Knight also has a great moment before you reach a certain area, when it goes quiet as you approach it. Then the music slowly fades in with the sound of the rain. Pretty great introduction to that part. Same goes for another section later on that I can't spoil. I'll mention it in the video though.

There must be some in the old SNES RPGs as well. Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6. I wonder if this technique could be mapped and matched to when people think they had the strongest reactions to a game's story and atmosphere. It's not something I often consider in games but it's interesting. Parts of horror games especially. The elevator ride in SOMA comes to mind.

2) Favorite voice actor in the games industry? 

Oh I have no idea, sorry. I probably can't even name more than five. I think the more prevalent a voice actor gets, the more that risks looping from good to bad. If you can recognize a voice then sometimes you're not able to appreciate a character. All you hear is "I know that voice!" It just happened to me when I tried the Destiny 2 beta with Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Lance Reddick.

I'm going to go with the vanilla option of Nolan North because I didn't even recognize him in The Last of Us, even right after I was done with Uncharted.

I also really liked Camilla Luddington's performance as Lara Croft in the New Raiders. I also thought Tim Kang and Benedict Wong did a great job in Prey.

Oh and I shouldn't answer this without mentioning David Hayter. I always liked him as Solid Snake. I was disappointed when he wasn't brought back for the latest one.

I try not to think about this sort of thing too much though. I find it easier to listen and accept a character if I'm not thinking about who's voicing them. Sometimes I do have to look it up though if it's some celebrity I recognize. Otherwise it's like having a song stuck in your head when you can't remember the name.

3) What sort of cartoons did you watch growing up, if any?

I was big into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Or Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as they were named in the UK. Because, y'know, mutant is all well and good but ninja? Fuck that bust out the red pen.

There was a Ghostbusters cartoon I remember liking a lot. He-Man was pretty big back then as well. Ducktales (awooooo). Rescue Rangers. I wasn't into Transformers, surprisingly enough. 

After that it's a bit hazy until early teens. I loved Dexter's Laboratory. Powerpuff Girls was pretty good too. Doug. Rugrats. Animaniacs was great but I think a lot of it was lost on me. Pinky and the Brain was great. And I think I liked some of the side-characters in Freakazoid more than the main part of that show.

The Simpsons and South Park should probably be assumed without even having to be mentioned, although I haven't watched either of them in a very long time. I also liked the Pokemon cartoon and this other anime thing called Samurai Pizza Cats? But they were on at bad times so I never got to see them as much as I wanted to. Maybe I'll watch the Pokemon series with my kids. That's a good excuse for it.

I also watched a ton of Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons, Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons. So much so that I can't stand them anymore. Especially the god damn Flintstones.

The only cartoon I watch now is Rick and Morty.

Teret asked:

Hi Joseph! Here are my questions!

  1. What do you think about the new dlc for Darkest Dungeon?
  2. Fallout: New Vegas vs Fallout 4. Which side do you take? 

Hi Teret! Here are my answers.

1—Not much, I'm afraid. I've been sent the patch notes a few times and they seem to be a big improvement on most fronts. Extra content is great but I don't know if there are any changes to dungeon goals or how they're generated. A big issue with the random generation in that game is that it creates layouts that feel very similar. That would be fine if the gameplay was fun or there were different modes to go through those similar layouts, but that wasn't the case when I played the game.

Darkest Dungeon made me miserable but I am willing to play it again, unlike No Man's Sky. When I can stream I might do some marathon thing for it as a celebration. Another game might be a better fit so I won't promise to do it. I've been kicking around the idea of doing a followup video but I have no idea if people would want to see that. The concern I have is that I'll still hate it and the video will come across like beating a dead horse—and, after playing it for so much, I'd have to make the video to justify that time.

I also think "radiance mode" might lead people to thinking that's an easy mode and go with the grindy boring "pure" version instead? I don't know how it's presented in the game though. It's funny to me that the game is available on tablets now. I always thought that would be a good fit for it, even down to how the UI was designed.

2) Fallout: New Vegas vs Fallout 4. Which side do you take? 

New Vegas! Best game ever! Oh my god how can Bethesda even compete! Fallout 4 sucks, yo! Terrible game! Obsidian for life!

That's what people are going to expect right?

I don't think these two games can be compared fairly. They have many similarities even if you ignore that they're in the same series. They have vastly different goals though, so it's like asking if Super Mario World is better than Super Mario RPG.

New Vegas doesn't try to have good combat. That's likely a limitation imposed by the engine and making what is essentially just a really good mod for Fallout 3. The changes that were made can be seen as equally there to improve "immersion" and also character building—iron sights and armor piercing rounds. New Vegas wants to give you a compelling world, interesting characters, a story that utilized the medium, and a lot of difficult choices—or at least choices that you stop and have to think a little bit. The game also reacts and changes to these choices. It has a lot of ways you can choose to interact with quests, using the skills, perks, and stats that you've chosen.

Fallout 4 doesn't do this, aside from a few exceptions dotted around the place. I remember being shocked to find a bit more of it in the Far Harbor DLC—there was a whole area devoted to some skill checks in the south part of the map where a family had met a bad end. You trace your way through it and turn their generators back on to find a hidden stash of items, if I'm remembering it correctly.

Instead, Fallout 4 tries to have fun gameplay and a ton of stuff for you to do. And it succeeds at least moderately in both of these goals. For some people it succeeded far more than that. I think Bethesda's goal with their open world games lately has to provide you with such an overwhelming amount of things to do, and places to find, that when people finally stop playing they haven't seen even half of it. They leave the game thinking "holy shit that was such a massive, enthralling world that I barely scratched the surface with my dozens of hours I spent playing."

It could still be better, just like New Vegas could also be better at what it sets out to do, but they're so different that I don't think it's fair to compare them. Fallout 3 and New Vegas on the otherhand... Fallout 3 does try to have more roleplaying options and the like. They're much closer and I think that's why people bicker about them a lot.

Fallout 4 is the better game. By far. New Vegas is the better story and the better experience. Also by far.

Fallout 3 is worse than either of them, because it tries to do both and doesn't succeed at either.

Dino M asked:

First off love your videos they are the highlight of my YouTube watching month. Haha. But I'll get you the questions. 

  1. With the third content patch to no man's sky releasing yesterday which promises to add a story and a whole swath of new content on top of the previous 2 content patches that seems to have improved on a lot of your issues with game have you considered doing a year later video similar to your fallout 4 one?
  2. How has your book writing been coming along as of late? I took a look at your Amazon store and noticed you haven't published a book in 2 years, is this due to you concentrating more on the YouTube channel, or because you haven't been fully compelled to write another book? Thank you for your time and apologies if you answered these questions already.

Thanks Dino!


I'm tempted to just leave the answer as that because it's been asked so much, but that would be rude.

The final words of the No Man's Sky video are "I turned the game off, and I will never play it again." So no matter what, I'm going to cheapen the ending to that video—which is probably my best one—if I do anything else on the game.

I don't want to play it again. I am curious to see if the changes are significant but not enough to have direct flashbacks of what I went through so many nights playing. 

I know it sounds melodramatic but fuck was I really starting to question my life while I was stuck mining gold and emeril and the engines kept breaking and all of the black holes and the loading and the flying down to planets only to see they don't have the resources I need to fix the engines but then maybe they're just not appearing since I'm flying so fast so I have to keep boosting over the planet and land wait for the ship to hit the ground then hop out and run around for the resources to appear then mine them since they all look the same and hey it's not gold or emeril but some nickel that I don't even need so now I need to leave the planet warp out to another one and go down again and oh no sentries are attacking so now I have to do a dog fight interruption then mine up some more isotopes to power the booster to go down to the planet and oh thank god there's gold on this one but it's still rare so I have to mine away the whole pillar of golden dog shit and oh no my inventory is full my mining laser is out of power fill them up and then mine the rest of the pillar just 200 more gold to go so back to the ship and fly around for more green gold pillars sticking out of the deformed ground like the whole planet is a mutant representation of a scrotum only this time it isn't gold so haha back to the ship fly around again still no more gold maybe this planet only had one pillar of gold just to fuck with you right the game is buggy enough who knows maybe that's a thing that happens sometimes oh wait there's some suck up the whole pillar and then finally fix your engine or maybe not maybe you need emeril too so go to another star system with your crappy low range warp and go to three other planets again and hope the sentries don't interrupt you again and no emeril on planet one no emeril on planet two oh finally emeril on planet three maybe you should suck up more in advance just in case your engines break again but the stacks are so low that it'll take up too much of your precious cargo hold since other things might break too and you need the space remember you need the space to make your next batch of warp cells so you're not always going through that after every blackhole jump so just one stack 250 gold and emeril okay that's something at least your warp drives are fixed time to drift through the map select screen with the tinkling fucking music and try to find the black hole that's farthest from your current location to maximize the use of this jump and this warp cell and oh no you went too far so creep back and try again now you can't find a black hole though still can't find one wait there's one it's kind of close but you know fuck it I just want to warp and leave this dirty asshole of a system even though the next one with be just as dirty and just as ass so you warp through the blackhole representation of the entire fucking game and the same engine you just fixed breaks again so do it all again just for one fucking god damn fucking jump so just give up the center isn't going to be any different any you already saw the ending why are you making the video anyway it's been too long no one is going to watch it you're putting yourself through this for no reason just give up and don't bother there's no point going down to that planet or the next one even though you're already halfway there and it's doing its blurry loading transition to no gold maybe emeril start mining keep mining next blackhole keep going going going.

2) How has your book writing been coming along as of late? I took a look at your Amazon store and noticed you haven't published a book in 2 years, is this due to you concentrating more on the YouTube channel, or because you haven't been fully compelled to write another book? Thank you for your time and apologies if you answered these questions already.

Someone else asked something similar above. I had a novel halfway finished but then videos started taking up more and more time. The original intention was for the channel to promote the books. That quickly changed when the channel became a more reliable source of income. The books still sell a little but nowhere near what it used to be.

Amazon changed how they promote self-published authors. So I went from selling thousands of books a month to being lucky if it was a hundred. Not good. Publishers are also reluctant to consider self-published writers, even though for a while that was the best way to get yourself out there. It's frustrating and often makes me question the professionalism of many literary agents. At this point I'm convinced most of my queries aren't even being read as soon as they see "self-published" anywhere. So it'd be better to write something brand new—or something I haven't published yet—but then that takes time. It also doesn't strike me as right. Am I supposed to just not mention that I already have thousands of readers, a bunch of positive reviews, and books that were in the top 1000 on the Amazon store?

I love writing. It's part of why I like doing these Q&As even though they take up so much time. I can get a bit more creative and loose than I am with script writing. It's also a special kind of stressful to have stories in your head that you can't let out. The Bounty Hunter and Monster Slayer books are in a long series that's currently unfinished. Both of them are currently stopped at good "soft" ending points so I'm not too worried about it, but I still have close to a million words spread over both series in my head right now. All the future plot points, twists, characters, things that I've already brought up that need to come back later, and the big climactic endings for both of them. I always know the endings when I start. And I simply can't afford to write them because the channel has to come first.

There are also at least four novels I'd like to write that aren't a part of those series. Especially the one I had half done.

I don't want to come across as whining because I love this youtube job. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky and I remind myself everyday that there are people out there who would kill to do what I do—although they may not understand quite how much "background" work and frustration you have to deal with. I don't want to leave it and go back to writing. What I wish for instead was someway to balance it and have some way to do both. However I already struggle to keep a regular release schedule with the frankly unhealthy hours I'm already putting in right now, because I have to compensate for how much time I lose to the kids and rearranging my schedule. I don't think I could keep this up longterm and, thankfully, I don't think I'll have to after we move.

I hope so anyway. Maybe I can spend some time writing after that. Burke is at the highest point of his entire career and I've been looking forward to writing that for so long. Kate finally met Bryce and I'd been building to that for years.

I'm a little sad now. Not your fault.

Jason B asked:

Hello Joseph, Excellent video game analyses; I enjoy every one. My three questions are: 

  1. What are the top three things you love about living in Canada and what are the "top" three things you hate about living in Canada (without becoming political; just asking for your own personal sentiments of just living, raising a family, etc.).
  2. You once answered that the video game you spent 100+ hours with but disliked the experience was Fallout 3. Can you be a little more specific? Not defending Fallout 3, just, again, want to get your take. 
  3. If there is any hope that No Man's Sky achieves redemption, (I have read the new Atlas update) is a step in the right direction, what would that game/Hello Games have to do -- is it just fulfilling promises made during that game's promotion? Best of luck to you, best wishes to your family, and look forward to the next video from you.

Thanks Jason! Hope these answers are okay.

1—I haven't seen enough of Canada to really answer this. So while some of what's below may apply to the whole country, this is really just about life in Toronto.

Three things I love: 

First would be the weather. I like how different the seasons are. Summer gets really hot and sunny. Winter gets a ton of snow. Autumn and Spring are like extreme reflections of each other. It breaks up the year in a really interesting way and makes time pass a bit slower than I think it would otherwise. While the hottest and coldest days may be uncomfortable, and the crazy storms in Spring may knock out the power, it's never boring compared to the consistent dreariness of the UK. Things do change there too but not like Canada.

The people would be next. I think most cultures are friendly and welcoming. Canadians hold true to that but they're also some very good looking people. This may be a little inappropriate but fuck it I'll be honest. The women here are quite beautiful. The men aren't too shabby either. Maybe I'm biased and just like something "new" compared to where I was born but it's something I noticed coming from the UK. Toronto is also very multi-cultural which I like a lot, but then so was the part of the UK that I grew up in.

Another would be the support given by the country. Britain has some good programs too but Canada should still get credit for it. I don't know which is better and it's not a good use of time to find out. But not having to worry about most healthcare costs, when America just south of us with almost an identical culture does, is a huge plus for living here.

Three things I don't like:

Toronto is so spread out that it's assumed you know how to drive. I can't drive, and I'm not sure if I'm even allowed to learn because of my sleep disorder. My generation also got a raw deal when it comes to income so a car isn't something many of us could afford. Public transportation is awful in Toronto. The subways are great for the slim portion of the city that they cover but the buses are some of the worst I've ever seen. It's something that's frustrated us for years.

This may seem really strange, especially if you don't know any different, but in the UK tax is included in the listed price. This is still something I forget when I'm looking at things in stores or online—I actually don't know if tax is included online in the UK? This adds a whole other step to judging what something costs that I didn't have to do for most of my teenage years.

The inflated housing market should probably go here but that's not a fun answer. Let's go with this instead: how everyone assumes I must be into hockey and that I must want some sort of beer when we go out.

2) You once answered that the video game you spent 100+ hours with but disliked the experience was Fallout 3. Can you be a little more specific? Not defending Fallout 3, just, again, want to get your take. 

I can't remember my exact words for that. I may have been exaggerating. Fallout 3 is not a bad game but it's not something I'm eager to ever play again.

So much of the Capital Wasteland feels the same. There are two "biomes" in my memory: there's the neverending stretch of ruined city with subway after subway. And then there's the equally neverending wrecked countryside with the occasional cluster of toppled buildings. The post-apocalytic Mojave Desert may not be the most imaginative or varied setting, but it does do a much better job at breaking up its world with noteworthy locations and identifiable landmarks to make it feel like an actual place—in fact you can see where the game fails at that in the area surrounding New Vegas itself, where it becomes close to how Fallout 3 is across its entire map.

Fallout 4 does this better than either of those games. Different regions feel distinct, even in the ruined buildings. I'd love to have that level of world building tied to an Obsidian style game and story. I have to wonder which is the more impressive accomplishment. What Bethesda achieved in Fallout 4 couldn't have been easy. It's taken them many games to get that good too.

Back to Fallout 3 though: the world is too samey. Combat is terrible. It really does feel like this to me: that shooting a gun in that game is like casting a spell within the Oblivion engine, and a small pellet to represent the bullet is being flung out like a quick fireball. I know that you could use that description for any game with guns, but there's a specific feeling to firing a weapon that isn't present in Fallout 3, and is there in Fallout 4. There's a clunky sluggishness, like the engine doesn't know what's really happening. The game feels uncomfortable with what you're doing.

Story and characters aren't much better. Almost every location in Fallout 3 doesn't make sense, so it's hard to care about any of the characters that live there. It even has the Bethesda staple of some weird cannibal-but-also-not-cannibal cult that you're meant to sympathize with in some way. MrBTongue has that great video on the game but many of us were already thinking a lot about it before then. The main plot makes no sense. Megaton makes no sense. Rivet city makes no sense. The radio station makes no sense. Little Lamplight? Really? The game is built around this assumption that there's something close to a big civilization in the area that's supplying the Wasteland in some way.

However I did still play the game for a while. I think I modded it to make it more fun—I liked leveling up and acquiring things in the game, so I cut exp gains so I wouldn't hit the cap. Exploration is okay since you have so much freedom, but I do have to wonder how much of my playtime was out of some obligation to see most of it. I've never played any of the DLC in Fallout 3 because I didn't want to go back to it.

That was my introduction to the series as well. I wonder what it was like for fans of the first two games. I guess they got some of the atmosphere and the setting right. And the game does have some roleplaying checks and ways to reward character building. Was it still a massive disappointment? Or was it acceptable because the series was dead until Bethesda revived it?

3) If there is any hope that No Man's Sky achieves redemption, (I have read the new Atlas update) is a step in the right direction, what would that game/Hello Games have to do -- is it just fulfilling promises made during that game's promotion? Best of luck to you, best wishes to your family, and look forward to the next video from you.

I think they're already there. The game has mostly positive reviews on steam under "recent". Everytime they update the game it's a newsworthy event because of how infamous the launch was. And everytime I see someone bring up how bad the game was at launch I see many people jump in to defend the game and demand that they judge it as it is now instead of back then.

Is this okay? I don't know. Maybe. People want games to be good. It's an interesting underdog story now. They brought it back from the brink! I think too many people are being capricious about this though. The game deserved every bit of criticism it received at launch. Sean Murray did lie about many features, and that shouldn't be ignored. It's all well and good to celebrate their continued efforts to update the game when the sting of paying full price for a game in early access without the early access tag is long forgotten.

But how do you do that? How do you communicate to the developers "I think you're doing a good job but also, hey, FUCK YOU for what you did at launch"? I don't think there's a clear way to do that, so the bad has faded away and is brought up by those who don't play the game anymore, while those who are giving it another chance are impressed by a moderate amount of improvement because the game was so shit and barebones to begin with that it doesn't take much. Maybe I'm bitter saying that but I mean it. I won't play the updates so maybe there's a TON of new content but I doubt it. I think it's more like being happy with scraps after being starved for so long.

For me there is nothing Hello Games could ever do outside of making a new game in which they deliver on every promise. No Man's Sky will be forever marred as an incomplete mess at launch and, if they ever do finish it and make it a great game, then it will only ever get a "congratulations on doing what you were supposed to years ago when you charged money for it" from me.

Does that make me a bad person? Could be. But I won't be making another video on the game so my opinion won't sway anyone. They can judge it for themselves and I can continue being my own biased ball of hate.

Riccardo B asked:

Do you have some cool/interesting/freaky stories to tell about your narcolepsy episodes (like the air conditioner one), and could you share some?

Lots of narcolepsy talk in this Q&A.

So I think most people who read this won't know about the air conditioner reference since I spoke about it on Discord. They also may have missed some of the answers in which I mentioned narcolepsy.

I sleep walk and occasionally hallucinate. There's a specific term for it: Hypnagogic Hallucinations, which would make a pretty good band name. Or some ability for a death knight or warlock in World of Warcraft. This is almost always accompanied by sleep paralysis. Thankfully this doesn't happen to me often—and only does so when I'm falling asleep or waking up.

I like to explain narcolepsy as a series of switches in the brain. Just like a light switch with and on/off setting. You have Awake/Asleep. Dreaming/Not. Paralyzed/Not. Most people are paralyzed when they're asleep so they don't act out their dreams and potentially hurt themselves. You can still move a bit, especially when one of many sleep cycles you go through ends, but most people can't move. It also takes most people a while to fully enter REM sleep—dreaming. Whereas narcoleptics can have that switch flipped and go into instantly, even before they're asleep.

So this results in sleep walking. Vivid dreams. Lots of nightmares, some of which continue after waking up or begin right before falling asleep. I've spoken in a past Q&A about this "mental arms race" I've been in with my own subconsciousness. My nightmares develop patterns and themes, which I then recognize and force myself to wake up before they can trigger. These patterns then change and I have to relearn them, or they will incorporate fakeouts with dreams within dreams so when I think I've woken up I'm actually still asleep and will get caught by the nightmare. It's also strange to realize that I am the one doing this. I'm doing it to myself. I must enjoy it in someway since I've gotten very creative at terrifying myself. I don't know what that says about my subconsciousness or who "that person" really is if they're separate from me. Sounds crazy typing it out. Maybe I'll delete this.

The air conditioner story is about a recurring nightmare that I would be fiddling with the air conditioner when it would be ripped out of the window from outside and, with my hands still on it, I would be pulled out and fall to my death. Most people say their dreams stop when they die, or something that big happens, but mine carry on. I'd feel the fall, along with the wind ripping and roaring as I plummeted with my arms stretching out like they're made of rubber on this air conditioner, and then I'd hit the ground and die. The dream kept going. Death in the nightmare would be a violent void of sound, both dark and light. No judgement but not welcoming either. Usually I'd wake up a little after that in an almost gentle way, very surprised that I was seeing my room.

This happened quite a few times until one night I woke up in the middle of this dream and actually had my hands on the air conditioner. It was loose in the window but not enough to fall through. This was still enough to spook me that we had to get rid of the window units. We used fans for the rest of that summer and, the year after, we got a portable one that stands in the room with plastic tubes that feed into the window.

The most tame things that happen to me are waking up in different parts of the apartment—or the house when I was younger. Go to sleep in bed. Wake up on the couch. With pillows and blankets because my sleep persona is very considerate. Go to sleep on the couch. Wake up in bed. Wake up in the bathtub. Wake up downstairs. Wake up on the floor. The most shocked I've been was when I woke up in the corner of my childhood bedroom, pulling on a nail in the wall. It used to have something hanging on it that had long been removed. In my nightmare, I remember being stuck in a dark room with no windows and no doors. Someone was screaming at me that I had to leave but I couldn't. I thought the nail was a door knob and so I kept trying to pull it open. My fingers kept slipping and that's how I woke up, crying my eyes out and wailing. When I was finally fully awake it was like changing a television channel. I suddenly stood up, realized it was just a dream and I was in my room, and I went back to bed and lay down. Less than a minute later my father opened the door to my room, probably because I had woken him up with the noise, and then left when I was quiet and in bed. Must have freaked him out, thinking back. I was too embarrassed to tell him so I just pretended to be asleep.

The nightmares don't happen as much anymore since I've been "winning" the arms race for a few years by waking up dozens of times a night. No dream or nightmare can progress very far if I keep interrupting it. At least in theory, anyway. Sometimes they resume after I fall back to sleep but nightmares are rarer because of it. I still sleepwalk—it just happened last night, actually. My wife came and got me from the hallway as I was walking to the living room with my blanket. In the dream I remember her waking up and telling me that I had to leave because "they're upset". This was a complete fabrication on my part and she was very confused. I woke up when she got me and I went back to bed.

That's a common feeling, actually. Waking up and not knowing where I am, even though we've slept in that same room for so many years. I think strange noises set me off, or I'm listening for either of the kids making noise in my sleep. We were also worried about that when my wife first got pregnant. We had to make some plans that if I was getting up and holding the baby in my sleep, that I'd have to either be tied to the bed at night or locked somewhere else. Thankfully it wasn't a problem. I'm still surprised it wasn't.

I don't suffer from severe sleep attacks like many narcoleptics. I do occasionally get very tired but I can resist them and I don't fall asleep. However, if I'm already sleep deprived then I do sometimes have to go to bed right then—usually I've been awake for nearly 24 hours at that point, which is something I'm capable of doing less and less as I get older.

I'm also lucky that I don't get any cataplexy, nor much sleep paralysis. I've woke up a handful of times and not been able to move. This is usually partnered with some sort of aural hallucination of a voice growling at me, with some huge shadow stomping around the bed. You don't truly understand how real hallucinations can be until you experience one yourself. Again, this may sound like I'm crazy but it's really just a dream bleeding into my perception of reality before the "dream switch" gets flipped to off.

Sleep paralysis happens much more often to me when I try to nap. Almost always if I try to fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. I think part of me is afraid of falling asleep when I should be doing something else instead, or has learned that this will trigger sleep paralysis and wants to avoid it. It's like having invisible weights tied around your arms, legs, and chest. Or that you're stuck under a layer of really thick syrup. You can strain and almost kind of move, and then suddenly you'll burst through and be able to break free. My muscles ache afterward but, unfortunately, I'm still half asleep and immediately want to go right back to it. So sleep paralysis again. Trying to break out of it again. Ultimately this ends with me sitting up more exhausted than when I tried to nap. Which means I don't try to nap anymore. But hey when you're a new father and more sleep deprived over months than ever in your entire life, sometimes you nod off.

The scariest hallucination I ever had was when I woke up in my bedroom at 17 and it was on fire. Exactly as it sounds like. Paralyzed. Eyes open. Room is on fire. I could see it, hear it—I can't remember if I could smell it. Then something snaps and the room is fine. Understand that I didn't know I was narcoleptic back then. Which is something I'll speak a bit more about in the answer to the question below about ghost stories.

Today I mostly see spiders crawling on the walls as I'm trying to sleep. I find this oddly relaxing now even though I don't like spiders. I know what they are. I know they're not real. So I'll watch them skitter slowly around the ceiling and the walls. There aren't many of them, and they're more shapeless than real spiders. Not unlike the mimics from Prey, come to think of it.

I die a lot in my dreams. I get hurt a lot. I don't understand how things can feel so real in dreams. I've been shot, stabbed, ripped apart. I know it can't possibly be close to the real thing but it does hurt. It feels convincing. But worse than that is the emotional loss. I've had dreams that had friends for years or, in the most extreme case years before we had kids, I had a daughter in a dream that went on for so fucking long. Days condensed into minutes that kept going for weeks. And then I wake up and yeah, it's not real, but it felt that at the time and it's all gone like a shape becoming sand and pouring through your fingers. Maybe that's the craziest thing of all. Mourning a dream.

Inspector Gesicht asked:

  1. I played Hollow Knight to 95 percent completion and I loved it even if I sucked at it and hated how useless healing was in boss fights. It took the old metroidvania formula but added a whole load of breadth like character-specific side-quests, a customizable load-out, a greater degree of sequence-breaking, and multiple endings more in-depth than just the Knight wearing a tank-top. It reminded me of how DS felt like a new spin on the stagnant Zelda formula. What games do you think deserve credit for breathing life into either dead or stagnant genres? Ubisoft took the romance out of open-world games for me.
  2. I hated FTL because you are forced down a linear path and your chance of getting suitable gear is a crapshoot. I only enjoyed the game when I cheated, used backups, and got to witness 90 percent of the content I missed. Dead Cells in Steam EA, which I do like, lets you invest in upgrades between levels that persist for future runs. What would be your metric for a perma-death game so that is both fun and fair? When does a Roguelike start taking the piss like Darkest Dungeon? Do you prefer that some progress persists after failure? There are just too many indie-games out there that use the Roguelike tag as an excuse for lacking content or uneven difficulty. 
  3. System Shock 2 had a dreadful last-third, Dark Souls loses goose after the Super Londo brothers. What games do you enjoy that you admit its last hours are its weakest? Which games have faults in the middle but stick the landing? 
  4. Quickie--Pick One: Kirk, Picard or Sisko?

1—Metroidvania has been alive and well for a while, although this year has been particularly full of them in my opinion. I do see where you're coming from with how it added a bunch of things to it. Similar to how Dark Souls handled NPCs.

I'm not sure if I can think of any that did something similar though. Let me pull a Pinky and the Brain and ponder what you're pondering.

World of Warcraft revolutionized MMORPGs. For better or worse, nearly every single one has tried to do WoW-but-better since then. I don't know if we'll see a similar revival of the sandbox style for a while yet, since they take up so much time. Other games seem to be filling in that sort of niche with smaller scopes at the moment. Especially those survival PvP games.

Similarly, Breath of the Wild is going to have a ripple effect on many open world games throughout the next few years. They were definitely in a questionable place but I'm concerned that developers won't fully realize what Breath of the Wild needs on top of what it did so well, and will instead try to copy and paste it into genres just because.

I don't think this truly counts because there haven't been many other games like it since, but Legend of Grimrock brought back a genre I liked as a kid. I remember Dungeon Master on the Atari, and the sci-fi game Captive. I loved Grimrock. Looking forward to finally playing the sequel, which I hear is even better.

Yeah I'm struggling with this one, sorry. Unless we want to talk about things like Stardew Valley surpassing their inspiration. Same with Prey in my opinion. I wish that Dungeon Keeper would get similar treatment. War for the Overworld is okay but I want something to go further than the original Dungeon Keeper. Same for Pokemon, which I think an indie dev could do far better than what Game Freak has been making recently.

Wasn't XCom also responsible for bringing that kind of game back from the dead?

2) I hated FTL because you are forced down a linear path and your chance of getting suitable gear is a crapshoot. I only enjoyed the game when I cheated, used backups, and got to witness 90 percent of the content I missed. Dead Cells in Steam EA, which I do like, lets you invest in upgrades between levels that persist for future runs. What would be your metric for a perma-death game so that is both fun and fair? When does a Roguelike start taking the piss like Darkest Dungeon? Do you prefer that some progress persists after failure? There are just too many indie-games out there that use the Roguelike tag as an excuse for lacking content or uneven difficulty. 

Perma-death is weird. Not many games truly have it. Even Darkest Dungeon, Rogue Legacy, and Enter the Gungeon. Same for Binding of Isaac really. There's a progression separate from each individual run, so each death usually makes some amount of progress to making the game easier, or pushing you forward. Darkest Dungeon might not qualify for that though since it's a major setback compared to others. Spelunky also doesn't have any progression right? You can open shortcuts which are more of a trap than a help. I don't remember new items being unlocked through runs in Spelunky.

That doesn't mean this is a bad system. Death should have some stakes, or else what's the point? I've read comments from viewers saying they hate it when I point out that death is meaningless, but they don't say why. I think that death should have some penalty, or there shouldn't be death. Use a system like Bioshock's or Prince of Persia's instead and incorporate the reload or rewind in some way. Admit that it's meaningless and contextualize it, although I think the Shocks could do it better.

Death in roguelikes makes things more tense the further you get. Then, as you get better, that threshold for when you start getting worried is pushed more and more away from the start of the game. That's progress. That's mastery. Same for how good you can get at Souls or Bloodborne, or even Hollow Knight. Any game with great gameplay and a significant punishment for death can give that experience to people.

I haven't played FTL so forgive me if this is wrong: I've read that it's either based on chance, or trial-and-error. You have to learn many of the tells the game has for when things are about to go south. Until you know them, the game can fuck you out of nowhere. Same for Darkest Dungeon, although that has a potent dose of RNG for certain.

In these examples, it's not perma-death that's the problem. It's that the death isn't always your fault. At best you can mitigate a lot of the damage—and I've also read that FTL can get very reliable once you know how it all works. Somewhat the same for Darkest Dungeon, but is that really a good system? It's frustrating to get to that point, whereas with the other games we brought up it's about player skill and getting better at playing the game through making mistakes that are your fault, not guessing wrong or rolling your dice poorly.

Dead Cells does it well. It's like a side scrolling version of Enter the Gungeon to me. Things get a bit more tense with each new level, and you never feel like you're wasting your time since you can unlock things between runs. Death is almost always your fault from playing poorly—or, at least, there might be balance issues that cause them and not just RNG mechanics.

Balancing games is difficult. It's easy to make something that's too hard or too easy. Hitting a good curve is what takes time and effort. It's made even more complicated when you have to factor for varying levels of skill attached to different players. I think it's one of the most important things to get right in games, and isn't something that's discussed nearly enough. Maybe because it is so difficult. Has a good book been written on it yet? I know there's been at least one good GDC talk on it.

Perma-death interests me more to convey an experience in horror games than it does in others. Although it's still effective like that. I've felt far more tension trying to get to my bloodstain in Dark Souls than I have in any horror game, and you're quite powerful in Dark Souls.

To answer your question on what system I prefer: I think Gungeon doesn't do it all that well. You can beat the game with a low-level load out, but the weapons you unlock in Gungeon are so much better than the choices you have to begin with. This can lead to the game having a "grinding period" with attempts to unlock some of the good stuff to balance the difficulty. Whereas without the system it could get boring. Maybe slightly less powerful unlocks are the answer, or sidegrades rather than full upgrades. I think I wrote something similar to that in the notes I made when playing Gungeon for the video I haven't made yet.

Maybe that's still the best way to do it because it's the most exciting. Most people complain Gungeon is too difficult at the start though. So not everyone will agree.

3) System Shock 2 had a dreadful last-third, Dark Souls loses goose after the Super Londo brothers. What games do you enjoy that you admit its last hours are its weakest? Which games have faults in the middle but stick the landing? 

Three tough questions, Gesicht. You're good at this. Let me think. And maybe scroll down my steam list.

Well I just spoke about how the middle of Prey sort of does nothing exciting in its main story but still comes back with a potentially interesting ending after a great opener. That's just in terms of the story though and not gameplay, which is more even throughout it all.

If you count the DLC as part of the game, Dark Souls 2 starts out fairly good and ends very strong, after a very poor middle.

I think the end portion of Bloodborne isn't as strong as the rest of the game, but that'll depend on when you do some of the optional bosses. The weakest hours are probably at the end though, and I like the Mergo's Wet Nurse fight more than most.

I think the beginning and ending of INSIDE are the best parts of it, especially the end. Even I enjoyed that part despite not being charmed by the game.

The final part of Diablo 3 is incredibly rushed. It's very pretty and has a fair amount of bosses, but everything is so packed together and you're shoved through it. It should be the best part of the game.

Owlboy sort of just... stops. Maybe that's not fair of me, and I should really play it again if I'm going to properly comment on it, but I remember the game building to something and feeling like it stopped two hours too soon.

The Surge's best parts are the beginning and the end. The final level is actually very good. The boss is okay, maybe slightly good. It's the middle that drags it down. In terms of gameplay now. In terms of story the game makes a trainwreck look tidy.

Depending on a choice you make at the end, Furi's final bits are the worst of it. There should have been another big fight between The Edge and The Beat in my opinion.

I think that's all I have. This is a good question but I think it would take a lot of research to answer properly. I'd have to play a lot of games again to refresh my memory. Probably worth a video on channels that like to do focused variety topics on games.

4) Quickie--Pick One: Kirk, Picard or Sisko?

Picard is the only one I really know so let's go with him. I think I might like Sisko more if I watched Deep Space Nine enough. I didn't give it a chance when I was a kid.

Alex O asked:

Hey thanks for all the work you do, I'm glad that I'm able to support you to make these videos. Keep up the good work fam. 

  1. Do you have any ghost stories?
  2. A lot of people including myself want Legacy servers for WoW is that something you would ever want to see happen or not?
  3. Is pineapple on pizza heresy or no?

Hey Alex. Thanks for the kind words!

1—Technically yes, I have a lot of ghost stories. Although... should it be technically no, because they weren't actually ghosts? What's technically correct here?

I thought they were ghosts at the time, at least.

So again, narcolepsy. It's a big part of my life. And it was already a big part of my life before I knew I was narcoleptic. Everyone with a permanent mental illness—although I do think that's too strong of a term for narcolepsy, but it fits for now—will say something similar. It defined their lives before they even knew the definition.

For me this meant a lot of sleepless nights and foggy days. It's a miracle I got through school, looking back. Many narcoleptics don't. I think I'm lucky that I get the extreme side of it in dreams and insomnia, whereas others get it easy on that but tough on cataplexy, paralysis, and sleep attacks.

I would hallucinate more regularly as a kid, probably because an overactive imagination would fuel it. Plus I was forced into longer periods of inactivity with a strict bedtime so there were more periods of idleness to drift into these hallucinations.

The scariest of these were voices whispering my name directly into my ear at night, just as I was about to fall asleep. Sometimes my name would be spoken quite clearly. Other times it would be like an exhaled rush of cold air. That Hellblade game does audio hallucinations very convincingly, by the way. Maybe I should speak about that in the video.

Visual hallucinations would take the form of "ghosts" in my room. I remember seeing a dancing man in my first bedroom when I was four or five. It's one of my earliest memories. I remember him standing on one leg and doing a ballerina twirl across the room. He did it silently, and I was so afraid that I had to hide under the blankets.

This may sound like a typical childish nightmare, or seeing something that wasn't there. It's possible one or two of them could have been that, but I know now that I was really seeing these things. It's happened a few times as an adult. That makes it both a lot more reassuring to look back and realize I wasn't actually haunted, but also far more terrifying to know that it wasn't just my imagination. Or does it still count as imagination? What's technically correct this time?

These apparitions would always be tied to when I was just about to fall asleep. So a hand appearing from behind a door. A man standing over my bed. A woman sitting on the bottom of the bed. I vividly remember one night that someone yanked the blankets clear off me, after I spent a few seconds struggling to hold them over my head as something pulled. I have trouble rationalizing that one. I must have been close to asleep and tried to turn over, but my blanket was stuck under the mattress or under the foot of the bed. This felt like a pulling to me when I was half asleep. Then, combined with some sort of growling hallucination, I tried to fight against it so hard that the blankets sprung away from me when they slipped out of my hands. I remember thinking I was so brave when I reached down and yanked them back up again.

It didn't help that our house was old and creaky. There was a frosted glass window above my bedroom door for some reason and I remember seeing faces and figures through that a lot. That was probably my imagination though, or seeing something in shadows. These experiences stuck with me and I used to be very uncomfortable with ghost stories in books and movies. Now that I have my answer I'm a lot more comfortable with them and have even written some horror myself. I don't believe in anything supernatural anymore, which wasn't the case in my late teens. I did see those things afterall so it would be ridiculous not to try to find some explanation. I used to say "either ghosts are real or there's something wrong with me". It was good to have a concrete answer.

2) A lot of people including myself want Legacy servers for WoW is that something you would ever want to see happen or not?

Sure why not? I don't think I'd use them very much but the demand is clearly there. I was just speaking to HeavyEyed about Vanilla WoW yesterday, actually.

World of Warcraft is a much better game today than it was back then. But is it a better experience? There was a much tighter sense of community on servers at launch, because there was no cross play, no easy access to dungeons and raids and PvP. You got to know a lot of people. I think I spoke about this in the last Q&A, didn't I? About how you would accumulate a list of good tanks, healers, and DPS. And a similar list of who to never bring again.

I think it would be interesting to see the reaction of people who try Vanilla who didn't play until after Wrath of the Lich King. I think many people automatically assume it must have been better. Like some fine aged vintage of... gameplay? It has its charms, definitely, but it's something you had to really commit to, like hardcore raiding is currently in the game.

I'm surprised Blizzard hasn't done something with it. I'd like to see a mix of that and the season system from Diablo 3. Old raid content could be made relevant again. Progression races could happen again. I have no idea if people would like it or not but the scale of releases could be sped up to keep things fresh.

Blizzard already struggles to keep steady with WoW content though. However this could be a good alternative when there's a drought. Or something they could do once per expansion—a seasonal runthrough of the entire game so far—while they develop the next big release.

Cool idea, actually. No idea if it would work. That's why ideas are cheap!

3) Is pineapple on pizza heresy or no?

I'm allergic to pineapple. There's some Joseph Anderson Lore for you. It makes my mouth bleed. It's a fairly common problem with pineapple, from what I understand.

It's not heresy unless you're forcing it on someone. Let's be honest and boring and serious: it's just pizza, put whatever you want on it as long as it makes you happy. And it's your own pizza.

It's not as bad as eating it with a knife and fork. Now that's fucking heresy.

Aaron H asked:

My favorite channel! I'm not missing this Q&A session. 

  1. Have you tried any VR headsets?
  2. Do you have any interest in any VR titles? 
  3. Your thoughts on Fallout 4 VR?

Hey Aaron. Sorry to disappoint you but I can't give very good answers to these questions. I'll address them all at once otherwise they're going to be very curt.

I haven't tried any of the VR headsets. I know next to nothing about the games. It doesn't interest me much at all. To be brutally honest, I'd be more keen to try some of the VR porn than the games and even then I'm not all that intrigued. I think I'd feel like an idiot with the headset strapped to my face and it doesn't look comfortable, or something I could use for games without my kids pulling it off of me.

It's likely I'll get to try it sometime in the future and eat these words when it's awesome, as many people have said when they finally do try it, but until then I can't justify how expensive it would be to take a risk on it. Nor do I have a way to try it without buying it.

Fallout 4 and Skyrim sound like good candidates for it though. I imagine the perspective adds a lot of immersion and those games have worlds that would benefit from that. Horror games would be great as well. I doubt shooters would be all that great, although some people in Discord said Superhot did VR really well.

Am I wrong about this? Anyone want to try to convince me to get a headset to try it?

Also have a bonus question to ask next time Aaron since I couldn't give you something good for this. I probably should have replied and asked you for some different questions in the post. My bad on that.

Arthur D asked:

  1. Do you feel like J and W rpgs are the best or worst genre for telling stories in game and why?
  2. What are some tips for starting a YouTube channel or video making 
  3. Well i just have to ask how do you feel about getting articles and videos prasing you from SJWs? I know its good way to get the word out about your channel but dont think being paid up with the like of the hbomberguy is good in the long term

1—Absolutely not. Although I understand why some people may think otherwise.

"RPG" doesn't mean anything anymore. For a while it was something close to literal—you play a role. What does that mean though? Does it mean you play as a character and experience their story? Or does it mean that you create a character and go through a story that you make happen? JRPGs tend to adhere to one of these. WRPGs to the other.

The problem is that building a character like that is really rare now and, even when it does happen, you're still pushed along a story in which you have very little agency. The other end is that you play the role of a different character—well almost every game is like that now. Is playing as Lara Craft or Nathan Drake playing a role? Some people may say yes. It's the same as playing as Cecil or Terra or Cloud in Final Fantasy right?

This was a distinction that was made to separate those early games from those that have no story. Or to something that has stats and experience systems. RPG really did mean "has a stats and leveling system" for a while. Now a lot of games have that. So you're left with "story is a huge focus" which also doesn't work anymore now that so many games give a lot of attention to their stories.

But that last one has sort of stuck. If you think games with good stories, you're immediately drawn to RPGs. So that's what we're left with. RPGs, on average, spend more time on their characters and stories. Does that make them better or worse? It'll always depend on the story. I know that Uncharted 4 has a better story than most RPGs I've played. So does SOMA, The Last of Us, and so on. The "best" story in games is an RPG in my opinion but that seems to be the exception, not the rule.

They're not the worst either, except if you're looking for something that ties gameplay and story together. RPGs divorce those two sides more than any other genre I can think of. It's turn-based (usually) gameplay time, and now it's story time. Not a good way to do things in my opinion but some people do like them. RPGs with real-time gameplay do a bit better but most of them still have bad gameplay.

I've heard so much conflicting information on Witcher 3. I'm not expecting to love the combat but I hope it's above passable.

2) What are some tips for starting a YouTube channel or video making 

This has been asked several times now—this is the third time within just this Q&A session alone, so I'll use my right to pass if something has been asked before. I don't think I have anything else I can say that's new about this. At least not right now.

3) Well i just have to ask how do you feel about getting articles and videos prasing you from SJWs? I know its good way to get the word out about your channel but dont think being paid up with the like of the hbomberguy is good in the long term

Hmm. Has that even happened? I don't think so. Why would anyone link my videos in a political context? I don't speak about it in any videos.

Normally I'd pass on a question like this because it's best to avoid politics but let's go for it.

"SJW" is not a good term. Anything that pushes people into a sort of label is going to be detrimental to any sort of discussion or debate. You sort of just did it here when you dismiss the entirety of Hbomberguy with that label. He makes good videos that you're not always going to agree with. That I'm not always going to agree with. Why wouldn't I want to be in the company of another good video creator?

You should be more than willing to get out of your comfort zone and interact with people who have different opinions and perspectives than you. More than comfortable because it's vital to fully understand many complicated issues that you're going to encounter in the world. Even if your mind is never, ever changed by anyone, you'll have a better understanding of why some people think the way they do and will be able to speak with them without involving huge arguments or shitflinging, which is often what I see happen on the internet.

To be clear I'm not saying you do this. Just that the term "SJW" used dismissively can usually lead to that. Just like "Nazi" was softened to label and dismiss people on the right (until actual fucking Nazis showed up, that is). Just like "alt-left" is being pushed as an alternative to "SJW" right now. 

Nothing is ever going to be accomplished if more time is spent pushing your opposition into neat little boxes where you can ridicule them than trying to meet some sort of compromise. If someone is being irrational and violent then it's most likely caused by fear. There is real hatred in the world but hardly anyone—maybe even no one—is born hating others. It's taught or beaten into them, often literally.

The more you push people further away from proper discussion and deeper into labels and boxes that you promptly disregard, the more you're creating groups that are insulated from any outside discussion. All that fear and loathing gets more and more concentrated. They speak to each other—people within the group—more than anything else. Extreme views get normalized. When they venture out and speak to others, they meet more resistance because of that. Their fear is justified. Strengthened. Things continue to get more extreme.

Notice I'm not naming any sides here.

Discuss individual points and arguments instead of broad ideology. "I don't like capitalism" is a lot less productive than specific reasons why you think it fails and could be improved. "That guy is an SJW" is a lot worse than pointing out something they said that you disagree with, and can then have a discussion about whether they're right or not.

The tricky part comes from how inflammatory these discussions can become. A good rule is that when someone descends into ridicule and insults, they don't have any real arguments. Most people don't know how to argue well or logically or reasonably, but they still insist on doing it. Which is understandable, considering how common it is for discussions online to immediately get to shitflinging insults. The struggle is keeping calm and not stooping to their level, while also not being put off by trying to reason with people in the future when this keeps happening. It's why twitter is such a bad place for it, since "hot takes" and "OH SNAP" image captures and reply chains get the most attention and replies, since it's almost always one-sided. It's hard to construct a reasonable rebuttal, or have any sort of nuance, when you only have 140 characters.

It's still important not to dismiss these people though, because then it's the same problem as before. Toxic people don't go away just because you block them, or try to push them out of society. It may not have to be your sole responsibility to engage these people, but if you are going to participate and judge, then pushing them away does more harm than good. Something as close as possible to compromise and agreement should always be the goal. Always. Or else things continually get more and more extreme until it spills over to violence.

We're already there. We should be trying to pull back from that, not push it harder. No one has ever thought "oh I just got insulted, they must have a point!" They doubledown instead and commit harder than before. It may make you feel better in the shortterm, but in the longterm? Who knows how much damage it's causing.

Sciner asked:

Hi Joseph. If I ask a question that you've answered before and you don't feel like replying or copy pasting your last answer, I can go find that other answer myself. I can only imagine how frustrating that is with the massive flood of questions you get. Anyway, onto the questions, and thank you. 

  1. Have you thought about expanding into movies? That can be as little as a yes/no. With the almost can of worms-like situation you've opened with your success, I can imagine that going even further into anything else seems like a step in the wrong direction, but I'm curious from your side.
  2. Less a question, more a comment: I grew up (and still live) within an hour of a wide variety of the places mentioned in the works of Stephen King (or their real counterparts, in the case of Castle Rock, for example.) My favorite title by him is Gerald's Game; have you read it? Would you recommend The Dark Tower series to someone who doesn't find a lot to like about fantasy fiction? That's pretty much two questions, so I'll leave it there. Thanks for reading, and I hope I haven't asked things that have just been asked before. 

Hi Sciner. Hope you're doing well.

1—Someone asked this above so I'll try not to repeat too much. I'd love to do some movies and I think it'll be easier than most video games once I got through the first few. Finding relevant footage and playing so many hours of games takes a lot of time. Movies would be, what, 3 hours at the absolute top end with something like Lord of the Rings? Big series could take a while but even then, games are so much longer.

The problem is that people are supporting me for video game content, so I'd have to do stuff on movies as side projects and put them up soon after main content. I'd need another channel for it too. It's not something I'm going to rule out but it's years out at the earliest. If I had the time to do something outside of video game videos, it would be writing a book.

2) Less a question, more a comment: I grew up (and still live) within an hour of a wide variety of the places mentioned in the works of Stephen King (or their real counterparts, in the case of Castle Rock, for example.) My favorite title by him is Gerald's Game; have you read it? Would you recommend The Dark Tower series to someone who doesn't find a lot to like about fantasy fiction? That's pretty much two questions, so I'll leave it there. Thanks for reading, and I hope I haven't asked things that have just been asked before. 

I've read several Stephen King books but not those ones. The Dark Tower was on my list for a while but I didn't want to get to it until he finished it. Which was a few years ago right? 2012 according to wikipedia. My perception of time is a little off there. I must have seen the series around 2001. I'm reading A Widow for One Year by John Irving at the moment. Maybe The Dark Tower series should be next.

Stephen King has a specific style that I think, if you like most of his books, it won't matter what genre he's writing. That said I'll contradict myself by saying I couldn't finish The Talisman, despite liking most of what I've read of his. I find that King's biggest problem is that he doesn't end his stories well, likely because he gets a cool idea and then runs with it until he's done. The Stand is probably the best ending of any book of his that I've read, not including some of his short stories. The Stand was one of the first things he ever wrote, too.

I recently read American Gods by Neil Gaiman and thought he had a voice that was very similar to King's. Similar style, similar use of horror and the occasional bit of imagery coming out of nowhere. I'm not sure I can recommend the book because I don't know if I liked it yet. It has the same problem that King has too, funnily enough, with an unsatisfying ending.

I think King gets a lot of undeserved shit for being so popular. Many of his books have no business being as good as they are considering how much he's written. I wonder what kind of reputation he would have if he still wrote as much but only released the best of it all. I doubt he would have liked that, but it's fun to think about.

I just looked up Gerald's Game on wikipedia for the premise. Looks interesting. I'll try to check it out.

uyuyu asked: 

(these questions were eaten by patreon from last time. I answered them in a private message with uyuyu and I'm repeating them here)

  1. How do you type? I mean literally, do you have the standard keyboard and keyboard layout, or something more ergonomic like special keyboards (or maybe even steno machine) and Colemak or Dvorak as a layout? I'm curious because as a programmer I always try to improve my typing experience, otherwise I sometimes get wrist pain. And you seem to type A LOT.
  2. Do you know any other languages? If not, have you considered to learn one? I think it's great to be able experience literary art, movies and games in their original language, because a lot of stuff can be lost in the translation. 
  3. (I forgot what I asked last time, so it's new) What was the most weird game you've played? Do you have interest in games like Yume Nikki, OFF, I Wanna Be the Guy? Games that tried to play and experiment with the genres or game mechanics. 

1—It's funny you ask this because I've been having some problems with my left hand recently. Quite bad finger pain in my index and middle fingers. It's almost certainly from sleeping awkwardly on my hand—I get more injuries like that than I care to admit—but typing isn't helping it heal. It feels a lot better today though. Holding a gamepad hurts more. I think I grip it too tightly.

I am a poor typist. I am probably above average in terms of speed when I'm really into something but I don't have any formal teaching or technique. I taught myself with what was the most comfortable way at the time, which means I don't use all of my fingers. Mostly two or three on each hand, not including thumbs. For some shift and ctrl shenanigans I can use an entire hand, especially for hotkey macros in games like World of Warcraft, but I don't find them comfortable. In fact I remember hurting my left hand quite badly one month after doing too much arena as a warrior, with my 50 macros all over the keyboard or something equally ridiculous.

Standard keyboards are all I've ever used. I think the most expensive keyboard I've ever owned is the one I'm using right now, and it cost me 30 dollars and came with a bundled mouse which I don't use—I already had one. For a very long time I couldn't justify ever spending money on something I viewed as not strictly necessary, or a risk for something that's not worth it. So all of these options you brought up in the question—I've honestly never heard of them.

Things have changed now and I should probably look into some mid-range items that I use everyday that would end up being more than worth it in the longterm. A really good chair is another one. The only thing I can comment on is that I hate laptop keyboards. And there have been a few smaller keyboards I've tried over the years that I equally disliked. There's always a little bit of a learning curve when you get a new one too. It's cool how quickly you can adapt to that.

My hands do start to cramp after a lot of typing, although I think I can get through that with micro breaks and walking around for a bit. Is there a type you'd recommend? Is a mechanical keyboard worth it? Are there some that are "softer" on your fingers when you press down on the keys?

2) Do you know any other languages? If not, have you considered to learn one? I think it's great to be able experience literary art, movies and games in their original language, because a lot of stuff can be lost in the translation. 

No, I don't. It's a big regret of mine.

Now in my defense we moved around a lot so it was impossible to get a good foundation for a second language as a child. In Canada they push French. In Wales they push Welsh. It just so happened I missed all of the starter classes for both of these languages and no teacher was interested in helping me catch up. I was a good student but languages are very different. You can't just "figure it out" at the start, and my parents only spoke English.

In high school I tried to learn German instead of Welsh. They started the class from the beginning, and I managed to understand some of it. But then a foreign exchange teacher came over and—in a much nicer way than I'm about to say it—revealed to us that we were wasting our time. She was from Germany and could speak English wonderfully. She said that the course wasn't pushing us hard enough to learn German vocabulary. That we should be learning so many new words every week instead of constantly translating things in textbooks. Looking back she was exactly right, and it killed my interest in paying attention. I regret that I didn't take her advice the other way and try to make up the difference myself at home. The actual, permanent teacher was awful too.

If I was to learn another language now it would probably be French. It makes the most sense in Canada. For work though I guess it would be Japanese? I wonder what that would be like. What you describe here—having a whole other cultural world open up to you. I don't know if I have the capacity to do it. I firmly believe almost anyone can learn almost anything but I know myself better than anyone. I have this awful habit that if something doesn't come easy to me then I don't stick to it—I've only ever managed to overcome that a handful of times.

My wife would like to learn another language. It's something we should do together.

3) What was the most weird game you've played? Do you have interest in games like Yume Nikki, OFF, I Wanna Be the Guy? Games that tried to play and experiment with the genres or game mechanics. 

The weirdest game I've played. Hm. Well I have played I Wanna Be The Guy. I didn't finish it. I didn't have the patience for the trial-and-error aspect of it. It seemed interesting as a sort of experiment though.

I've heard of Yume Nikki. Definitely looks weird.

I think there was a game I played recently that had me gobsmacked by how unexpected the ending was. Or maybe it was a tv show or a movie? Let me look through my steam list.

Oh! Stephen's Sausage Roll. That's a strange fucking game. Especially toward the end. But I can't talk about that because of spoilers. I've already written the script for the video on that one too.

"Weird" can go in a lot of directions. That new Hellblade game is really weird in how intense it is on how audio plays into the experience. Eternal Darkness is similarly fucked up with its sanity mechanic—and it's above Kojima levels in terms of screwing with you. Having brought him up, the Metal Gear Solid games can get really out there with both gameplay and story. Psychomantis was a big moment for a lot of people. There are all the fourth wall breaks. And the hot mess of a story in Metal Gear Solid 2, which I look back at now and wonder if it was all intentional all along. Death Stranding has my attention because there's no way I won't enjoy it, even if it's shit. Haha.

There was this really strange Michael Jackson beat-em-up I played on... Genesis? Or Mega Drive? One of those two when I was a kid. He could turn into a robot, I think? That game was really weird.

Same for Silicon Valley on the N64, and the wacky game Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Oh what about Pikmin as well? Really think about Pikmin. And how apparently it's Earth, or a post-apocalyptic version of it, that you're running around. That game is really weird.

Even Cookie Clicker gets weird the more you play it. And there's also the obvious one with Frog Fractions. I can't remember if I finished that though. You Have To Burn The Rope is in that general area too, but that's clearly a parody game. Maybe not so weird but memorable.


And that's it! Thanks for reading guys. I think we'll be dropping questions down to two per person from now on so this feature can stay around but not eat into so much video time. I think that's a good compromise that I can revert if interest cools a bit. If your questions are missing it's possible patreon ate them. Please send me a direct message about them if that's the case. Thanks!