An award-winning graphic designer, an independent game developer, a self-published novelist, a movie and video game critic, and everyday artist. Matthew VanDevander lives in the great state of Tennessee and is on a never-ending quest for the deeper meaning of life.
This week, we might convince you that the end of Game of Thrones isn’t actually the worst thing ever. Hang in there for all the undeserved praise and you may uncover some treasure nestled among the melted steel beams and charred bodies. Naturally there are SPOILERS for the entirety of Game of Thrones, there are no spoilers for anything else, even though we make some oblique references.
The dunces convene once again, for the first time, for the last time(but certainly not the last!), in order to let Matthew rant about how much he hated the end of Harry Potter, after waiting 10 years to finally see it. Also we got scammed! Tune in to find out how!
It should go without saying, but this will spoil anything in Game of Thrones up to and including the current episode, (Which would be Season 8, Episode 3, for those reading this in the distant future, as it is inevitably passed down through the generations).
For whatever reason, my level of general annoyance and malaise at the trajectory Game of Thrones has taken over the past season and change has led me to actually write down “thoughts.” Yes, I know, the web has become an utter vomitorium of opinions, hot takes, and memes on Game of Thrones, especially as the show heads into this, the very lastest of seasons. And though everyone and their dog is scrawling their opinions upon the bathroom stall of the internet, I ask you to bear with me, because there is one important difference between this opinion piece and all the others: I wrote this one.
In this long-delayed episode, Matthew and Kknewkles reunite to re-discuss Dark Souls. Perhaps some opinions have changed. We also discuss Undertale, The Witness, Life Productivity, Programming, and probably something else.
Get ready to unsubscribe! In an ill-advised move, the dunces are getting all political this week. So strap yourself in for an avalanche of bullshit. Topics covered include: prounouns, “is God really a bearded man in the sky?”, government corruption, why maybe enduring President Trump is better than the realistic alternative, and delicious authentic Belgian Ale.
So listen in and learn how to get along with each other, in-spite of all our differences. Try to find the humor in it, and you’ll make it out okay, so long as this podcast is not illegal where you live.
After a refreshing 6 month break, the dunces are back and as bad as ever! In this installment, our intrepid heroes tackle such difficult topics as: nigori sake, A Perfect Circle’s new album, incest, marriage, a spontaneous adventure, and future Twin Peaks concerns.
I decided to dig into the archives to salvage this short but forgotten episode of the dunceCast. It was recorded several months ago, but was deemed unpublishable at the time without severe editing. We were all very VERY drunk, and the audio quality is pretty sub-par, even for us, so I apologize for any tin sounding voices or the meandering nature of our conversation. Still, we do talk a bit about Matthew’s current game, Taiji, we also pontificate on pornography, and opine wildly about a Zelda game we haven’t played (and which had just come out at the time of this recording).
In this special podcast, Matthew talks with Kknewkles (from the internet) about how much he (Kknewkles) is enraged by Dark Souls (a game). Is it the most overrated game ever? Is it the most oversold podcast ever? Find out here on this click-baity edition of “dunceCast Presents”
If you haven’t played Dark Souls, we do spoil some things in the game, but to be honest, you probably won’t understand half of what we’re talking about anyway.
After taking a month-long nap, the dunces are not sure if they’re awake or dreaming. But they still convene to record a new episode of the dunceCast. And Matthew, despite being too drunk to pronounce his own name, leads Jamie through the plot of a Christopher Nolan film called INCEPTION as they discuss the details of her first viewing of the film.
Obviously there are spoilers for INCEPTION in the podcast.
About a year ago I started working on an adventure puzzle-solving game. Progress was going good on that for four or five months until I hit a major stumbling block with the design. Because of that, I decided to take a break and work on some video essays.
Sadly, because of my high standards, I had not released much in the prior year as far as videos had gone, so I decided to lower the bar in order to perhaps release more frequently. The results of this decision, a rambling loosely-edited monologue about Dark Souls’ world design, were quite disappointing to me and so I set out to do much better on the next video.
Unfortunately, for my next topic, I chose non-verbal communication in The Witness. This proved to be a challenging topic to pin down, and progress was very slow. Although I had hoped to finish the essay in one month, as of now, it is nearly 9 months later and it remains incomplete.
Around December of 2016, I went on a layoff from my day job and managed to get back to seriously working on the Witness essay. I was making some good progress, the video grew from 2 to nearly 6 minutes in about a month of work. I felt like I was getting close to being able to finally release something of quality.
But when I sat down and watched through all of what I had put together, something became very apparent: I had gotten completely lost in the weeds. I had hoped that by talking about some very low-level design aspects of the game, I could build upon that to speak about how the game’s design works at a high level. But much like quantum physics fails to explain general relativity, what I had was two different types of analysis videos that were cut together, and it felt very disjointed.
This left me with a couple options. I could either move ahead, knowing that the final video was going to be disappointing to me and spotty in its quality. Or I could cut what I had done over the last month.
I opted for the latter. (It may perhaps appear as some deleted scene extra, but it is not a proper part of the full essay anymore.)
This was, needless to say, a huge setback for me. Furthermore, I didn’t have any really great ideas on where I should be going with the essay instead. This meant I was in a major creative quandary, much like I was on the game that I had taken a break from nearly 6 months earlier…
So, I’ve decided to set aside the video essay for the time being, and instead have been working quite well on that other project, which is a game called Taiji.
So, What is Taiji?
Taiji is a puzzle-solving exploration game, focused on player freedom and discovery. As a player, you are free to explore and solve puzzles.
All of the puzzles in the game are solved using a consistent interface: a grid of tiles which may be either on or off. Inputting a solution to a puzzle in the game requires the player to put the tiles in the right configuration.
Although having all the puzzles be this way might seem like it would be dull, this is really just the interface to solving the puzzles. The puzzles themselves might be about all kinds of different things. The puzzles are free to increase in subtlety and complexity, but unlike a traditional adventure game, where the rules change on a whim, in Taiji the player knows from very early on that in order to solve puzzles, they need to interact with these panels.