I can’t remember exactly when I first discovered Shamus Young, and his website Twenty Sided Tale, but it was sometime around 2005. I distinctly remember reading this January, 2006 piece of his, on what a modern Star Wars would be like, at the time. Many people found him through his “DM of the ring,” series, also from 2006, which used shots from the LOTR movies to satirize D&D.
Shamus was a talented and prolific writer, and you can find his most popular content here. I’d recommend that to anyone who has pretty much any time on your hands. Go ahead and read all of that, it’s almost all pure gold.
Shamus Young was a video game player, father, D&D nerd, programmer, novelist, and more. It’s hard pigeonholing his work as one thing in particular, because he wrote about, or programmed, whatever caught his fancy. Here’s a video from 2009 where he created a procedurally generated city for no particular reason.
I can’t even remember when I last played a video game, but when I was younger I had a burning desire to create video games, and Young was a big part of that. For more than a half decade between 2006 and 2013 or so, I read his blog every single day, and even most of the comments on his blog. It wasn’t all gaming related, but anything Shamus wrote was worth reading. He was a combination of prolific and insightful.
I stopped reading Shamus’ blog sometime around 2020. It was when the new Wolfenstein game was released. Shamus hadn’t said anything political, but others in the comments section were redditing it up, and I got in there and said my piece. Shamus had a pretty strict no politics rule on the site, and I was banned from commenting. I would have kept coming back to the site, but the little rat who snitched on me didn’t get banned, which left a bad taste in my mouth.
Shamus’ politics themselves were probably more libertarian-conservative than anything actually malicious. It rankled me a bit that these “muh eebil natzees,” posters didn’t get banned when I did, but I had been drifting away from videogames, and by extension his site, for many years, and it was simply the very last thing that kept me from returning to Twenty Sided. When you don’t even play video games anymore, it’s not really that interesting to read about them.
Way back in the day, Young’s content was essentially a better version of video game video essayists on YouTube nowadays, only a decade earlier. By the time he eventually got around to making video content himself he was disappointed at YouTube, and noticed that he got fewer and fewer views with each of his videos. I subscribed to his channel, and I tried liking whatever new videos he put out there to help the guy, even though I didn’t have much interest in them.
I guess because I was subscribed to him I saw the above video for his memorial service. His death was a complete shock to me. Shamus, a man who I looked up to, and only fifty one years of age, had passed away.
The full story of his death can be found here. The long and short of it is that Shamus’ health had been deteriorating for months due to complications from renal failure, itself brought on through high blood pressure. On June 15th he went into cardiac arrest, and that was the end.
I looked through his site for any posts about his health, and found this piece.
I know not everyone is here for personal-life stuff. And that’s cool! Come back tomorrow and we can dunk on some videogames. This is a bit of a downer, so I don’t blame you if you want to scroll elsewhere in your feed in your search for distraction. I kinda need to write this, but you don’t need to read it.
But if you’re curious how I’m doing, then here it is…
“End stage renal failure.”
I knew things weren’t going my way when my kidney doctor said those words to me last week. Last year I discovered that my kidneys had been severely damaged by (relatively sudden) high blood pressure. While the prognosis can vary greatly from person to person, I hoped that I could get a few more years out of what was left of my kidneys. But no such luck.
The symptoms aren’t bad yet, but it’s 100% inevitable now. I’m going to have to rely on some form of kidney dialysis to survive. That process will probably begin in the next couple of months. Barring a transplant, these treatments will need to continue for the rest of my life.
I’m already feeling the effects of my kidney damage. Most notably, I’m exhausted. All the time. I’m sleeping about 11-ish hours a day. And even when I’m awake, I can feel my brain isn’t working at 100%. I’m ridiculously anemic at this point and I get out of breath just walking up the front steps of my house…
His output had understandably slowed to a crawl in the past few months. Most of the new content on his site was either a podcast he did, or made by someone else. That was unthinkable of Shamus, but understandable in light of his kidney failure. Even still, his death came as quite a shock to me, and there’s nothing in this post to indicate that he was going to suddenly die.
I don’t know what the last thing he ever wrote was, but nine days after his death the last scheduled piece of his was published. It was part of an unfinished series on him pitching a Deus Ex reboot. I went and read the first four parts of his series, the only parts that will ever be written. It was pretty good. In fact one part was so interesting that I even felt the need to comment on it. This comes after he writes a little conversation that the player can overhear between two of the bad guys grunts.
Just to keep it weird and mysterious, maybe these guys should have two different non-American accents. Then again, mooks usually all share a common voice, and I’m not sure how reasonable it is to have two random mooks with unique voices. Also, there’s the question of what accent we should give to all the other mooks. I don’t know. I’d talk to the director and see what’s possible. We don’t want to waste a ton of money and time on a pair of no-name mooks, but the accents thing would be cool if we can do it on the cheap.
The footnote says the following:
Remember that these mooks will still need to function in combat, which means they would need their own versions of the standard AI chatter for spooked, searching, idle, attacking, giving up a search, in pain, dying, etc. We don’t want to have to record ten minutes of boilerplate chatter just so these guys can have a twenty-second conversation with unique accents.
It makes me wonder whether AI generated voices have gotten good enough that we can use them for these guys. Maybe have the bad guys all wear masks, justifying their voices sounding a bit muffled. That avoids having to hire new voice actors just to record this stuff, assuming we can get the voices working well enough.
It’s exactly the kind of thing that Shamus himself would have been interested in. But sadly, Shamus is no more.
Once again I suggest you check out his most popular content. He was a great writer, and had a big influence on me. This isn’t particularly political, I just felt that I needed to say something.