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Worth Reading: 11/30/12

A big ol' installment of Worth Reading after a one-week break that includes the most realistic toilet simulator you've ever played, butts, stories to make you cry, thoughtful pieces on #1reasonwhy, and an assortment of other nonsense.

I will try to convince myself it's okay that I'm playing this at 20 frames-per-second or whatever. Argh. Shut up. I know. I know. I know.

Thanksgiving came went without a big ol’ purchase of PC parts, but it’ll be soon, promise. I know, I said that before, but but but. I'm just waiting on something to clear up before I can hit buy, and I finally learn what a headache it is to own and maintain a PC. Plus, watching Far Cry 3 on a PC versus an Xbox 360 has been...painful.

Then again, I’ve gotten used to dealing with the minimum. My Xbox 360 is launch era machine, makes noise the equivalent of a space shuttle, and only has 20GB of space to work with. I do not go back to old games often, though, so I don’t have a problem with having a single game installed to the hard drive at a time, with only a handful of Xbox Live Arcade games. Memory management is just a quirk I’ve gotten used to, though I wouldn’t exactly get upset if that Xbox 360 finally bit the dust and I was forced to upgrade. I might as well deal with it and wait for the next console. (If you feel like red ringing, though, it's okay!)

That’s all just part of my cheapish nature, which both works for and against me. I would probably be happier with a quieter Xbox 360, but I’m usually playing with headphones on, so...eh.

Worth Reading is bigger than normal this week because I was actually collecting material for one during the Thanksgiving break, even if I knew I would ultimately have no time to put it together. I’m starting to feel like this feature needs a bit of a shake up, only because it feels a bit routine at this point, so if you have any suggestions...

Hey, You Should Play These

Another situation where the less said the better. Just make sure to follow the developer’s instructions and have the appropriate spaces noises (which I converted into an MP3 and now have on my phone--seems great for naps on flights) while playing through The Message. It won’t take you more than a few minutes, start to finish, and you’ll want to immediately go back and see the other options when it’s all over. The Message does a terrific job of setting a grim, disturbing mood for the state of the emotional state of planet Earth, and by the end, well, you’ll understand why.

(The Message was part of Fuck This Jam, which leads me to...)

The above three are selections from the recent Fuck This Jam game jam, where participants made games in genres they hated. I don’t know if that’s actually what happened in most instances (though the enormous amount of faux football games in the database does suggest otherwise for some people), but it doesn’t really matter, since Fuck This Jam resulted in a whole lotta awesome nonsense. Rather than just including one, I plucked three from a quick overview of the submissions, but if you have some favorites, send 'em over with a link, and I’ll highlight another set.

(And, yes, that’s really all there is to Totally Accurate Toilet Simulator. What, you wanted more?)

And You Should Read This, Too

Simon Parkin files what might as well be (for now) the definitive piece on the Hot Coffee scandal that nearly brought down Rockstar Games, even if Rockstar itself chose not to comment. (Sam Houser did talk about with author Harold Goldberg for a book--read his comments at Wired.) Parkin dug up a series of incredible emails from within Rockstar through legal filings, and it paints a very detailed picture of the reasons why sex mini-games became a thing in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, what prompted the company to remove them, and how they were discovered.

But the commercial imperative was clear: fail to make the cuts and the potential audience for GTA: San Andreas' could be restricted by the ratings board. The question now was how to extract the explicit material without breaking the wider game's functionality so close to release. An emergency meeting was called so that the senior managers could discuss a solution. During the meeting Houser explained: “You can't always take a thing out of a game."

When I finished reading Jenn Frank’s piece about her mother’s recent death, I cried for two reasons. One, it’s a heartbreaking story told with such vivid and breathless detail that one cannot help vut feel crushed. Two, I haven’t found the will to write something about my own father. Writers have an itch, and there’s something about being a writer that compels you to write about your experiences. Maybe you think you can help others by talking about what most people will not, maybe it’s an ego thing related to talking about yourself, or maybe it’s just a form of catharsis that comes very natural. Whatever the case, I don’t know when I’ll end up doing the same for my own experience, but Jenn’s story is special, sad, and soul-crushing. We all have to say goodbye, even if we don’t really mean it.

My game ended quickly. “Well, okay, that’s that,” I said, putting the phone down and fumbling for something else. “Remember my story? My story came out in the magazine. Um, in August.”

I opened a chapbook in front of her, and she touched its pages, and then she took the magazine from me and shut it and kind of massaged its cover with her thumb. Then she dropped the magazine into the folds of the bed and reached for my hand, and she took my hand and squeezed it.

And squeezed it again. And then I cried, and she squeezed my hand another time, and I looked up and right into her eyes, which were wet and meaningful and so clear, and her face was obscured by the breathing mask but her eyebrows were furrowed the way they always are when I cry, and I apologized to her for hurting her and for being so sad, and I looked down again at our clasped hands, and then I folded myself in half and cried into both our hands.

Some Thoughtful Words From Others About This Week’s #1reasonwhy Hashtag

If You Click It, It Will Play

I Don’t Know About This Kickstarter Thing, But These Projects Seem Pretty Cool

Valve Just Launched Greenlight, So Here’s Some Games That Don’t Look Terrible

  • Famaze isn't promising much more than what it's selling as a retro puzzle adventure, but it works.
  • Point Perfect tries to think of some more inventive uses of the mouse as an input device.
  • People keep convincing me zombies are okay. Zombies does that. (Also, the soundtrack is baller.)

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
111 Comments
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Posted by Asmo917

I made the mistake of reading Allow Natural Death at work one morning after seeing Justin McElroy rave about it. Thankfully I was in early enough there was no one else around and I could compose myself.

"We all have to say goodbye, even if we don’t really mean it" may be one of the more beautiful, accurate, and cutting sentiments I've read about loss. Nice phrase, Patrick.

Posted by sebmal

Dude, Fist of Awesome looks like total garbage. What is wrong with you.

Posted by Luck702

I always look forward to Worth Reading. Oh, and butts.

Posted by liako21

They say you learn more from what you dont have than what you do have!

Posted by PillClinton

I really do always get a lot of time well spent out of these WRs. And with the sheer amount of stuff he compiles, I shudder to think what Patrick's RSS aggregator looks like.

Posted by sungahymn

I'm with Patrick on Far Cry 3.

Posted by Sidoran

@cmblasko: I was pretty bummed when I looked at their quota, where they are now, and how many days are left. :(

Edited by goreyfantod

"One, it’s a heartbreaking story told with such vivid and breathless detail that one cannot feel crushed by the end."

That should be, "...cannot help but feel crushed...," or something similar. As it is, it means the opposite of what I think you intended.

Posted by TheSouthernDandy

Jen Franks story was really something. I'd be lying if I said it didn't get to me a little. Can't imagine what going through that must be like.

Posted by Landon

@Soapy86 said:

Well, The Message was a total waste of six minutes.

It took you 6 minutes to read all that? It took me around 3.

Posted by FunkasaurasRex

Oh man that Family Guy review is fucking fantastic.

Posted by michaelfossbakk

Just got done reading the #1reasonwhy and #1reasontobe stories. It's almost 3 a.m. I'll return to this tomorrow, Patrick.

Posted by VisariLoyalist

Can I just comment that the worth reading feature is significantly less interesting given it's a list of links of random stuff. I mean I guess it doesn't hurt to add it as content but I'm just not interested in it at all personally.

Posted by npa189

Launch era 360? what are you twelve? not trying to be a dick here, but what self-respectin' video game playin' man is rocking a xbox with a 20gb hard drive? Build a PC already.

Edited by cmblasko

@Sidoran said:

@cmblasko: I was pretty bummed when I looked at their quota, where they are now, and how many days are left. :(

Yeah, I'm right there with you. $75,000 was simply an unrealistic amount; I had a bad feeling about the lofty goal the moment that they announced it. PWX/Wishbone don't have the name recognition or buzz words (Classic RPG! Stats! Roguelike!) needed to generate that amount of interest. Not to mention that they are pitching a non-WWE-licensed pro wrestling game during a time when pro wrestling is not very cool or popular.

What are the rules on reapplying for Kickstarter after a failed attempt? I think they could hit maybe around $30-35k if they gave it another go, and that is certainly better than nothing.

Posted by RPGee

Well, Jenn Frank is now officially my favourite video-game related journalist. Tom Bissell was there, and is second, but just doesn't release enough to keep him in mind.

Although now Jon Blyth ranks a good third.

Seriously, the faith and courage that Jenn Frank undertook cannot be overstated, especially in such a public place as the Internet. It's, in many ways, encouraging. That there has been such an positive reaction is perhaps indicative of how the community surrounding games is improving.

Posted by Crunchman

This week's stuff is great, keep it up.

Posted by SirOptimusPrime

There's so much to chunk into here... hopefully we get to see the PC build before the end of the year, but that's more so because you cannot keep playing shit like ~20FPS Far Cry 3 anymore. When you come back to 60, even 30 or 40, FPS it'll be so jarring at first, but damn worth it.

Posted by ThePantheon

Sure was a big pain and headache to pay a computer business to build my specced out PC for me, give me a 3 year warranty on all parts and labour, and pick it up from the store. Yep, that's really been a big ole pain in the ass. COME ON PATTY GET INTO THE PC MASTER RACE!!

Edited by Cheebahh

Seriously?

Posted by MooseyMcMan

For whatever reason, I thought The Message was the game with the toilet at first.

Posted by dropabombonit

Forgot how I much I missed this feature when it wasn't here last week, great to have some Scoops back

Posted by quartox

I know it was mentioned above but I agree with the above user about including user questions in the feature. I also think it might be interesting in weeks like this past one to have a debate between users who are willing to represent different sides of an argument, possibly moderated by by Patrick, or having Patrick take one side and debate with one or two users. I would have loved to dive into the discussion on women in gaming but was intimidated by the number of comments by the time I read the article (both to read the discussion and join in it). A concise representation of the best arguments would be interesting, though you might have to use something besides the comments section to get the best ideas gathered.

Edited by Graham_Nix

Hey Patrick

Sorry for this unrelated question, but I just watched the previous TNT that and heard you guys talking about games you wanted to complete before the GOTY's. I don't know how much pressure you've had from other people, so I hope I'm not obnoxious, but I noticed you didn't mention Virtue's Last Reward. Do you have any plans to finish that before the end of the year?

I feel 2012 has been a very strong year for stories in games, seeing as even several non-indie games had meaningful tales to tell (The Walking Dead, Virtue's Last Reward, Spec-Ops: the Line, etc.) and a GOTY 'best story' discussion would be incomplete without VLR.

Article was great BTW, I have the exact same situation with my 20GB Xbox :V

EDIT: Oh and here are two suggestions for my favorite part of WR, the short games. They both sound like commercials, but the suprising part is that they're both staggeringly good and funny (for pseudo-commercials that is). You'll immediatly see what I mean.

http://www.oldspicesavestheworld.com/

http://www.skrillexquest.com/

Posted by GioVANNI

butts

Edited by LegendaryChopChop

Great to read a positive story about Mass Effect and I'm glad you linked it here.

Posted by trolipo3

@Landon said:

@Soapy86 said:

Well, The Message was a total waste of six minutes.

It took you 6 minutes to read all that? It took me around 3.

it took me around 2.

Posted by Fattony12000
Posted by deano546

Thanks for the link to the binding of Isaac postmortem Scoops, I found it fascinating.

Posted by Glottery

Had to give Zombies a go, since it didn't cost much. Few of the songs are a bit "meh" but most are a good enough reason to replay certain levels again and again. The game itself isn't bad either, a good timewaster if something.

Posted by Brendan

@trolipo3 said:

@Landon said:

@Soapy86 said:

Well, The Message was a total waste of six minutes.

It took you 6 minutes to read all that? It took me around 3.

it took me around 2.

Took me 30 seconds. No wait! 20. Now wait! 5. It took me zero seconds to read that Message.

I win.

Posted by procrasturbate

Thanks for this Mr. Patrick. This is some excellent reading material.

Posted by vickydog

Ya!

Posted by TandooriCactus

Great stuff as always Mr Klepek. Looking forward to a full compliment of the Bomb crew on the cast this week.

Posted by TomCostello

Stop mentioning #1reason why you attention seeking asshole.

Posted by Sammo21

Wait? You think its a pain to build and "maintain" a PC? Lol, Patrick...that's cute.

Posted by Astiaks

Well, as long as the xbox works it shouldn't be replaced. Also, if you are running games like Far Cry 3 on 20 fps, then your rig probably makes alot of noise too. But just as you mentioned, headphones always save the day in such situations.

Posted by Nekroskop

Just get the guys from Tested to build a PC for you, Patrick.

Posted by PhilipDuck

Far Cry 3 has been running fine on my 360.. When you install and run it doesn't seem to have a problem holding up the FPS, i probably dropped once when I was in a shop but apart from that hasn't locked up and has been a treat! :p

Posted by MrDowntempo

Wolfire's Desperate Gods from the Fuck this jam is pretty interesting too.

Posted by jaybelevee

:)

Edited by ebe
Posted by EquitasInvictus

That was a really good article on the whole Hot Coffee incident; I was never aware of the entire story behind it until now, so I definitely thought it was well-done.

Edited by yeah_write
Posted by jasondesante

I love the glass is half empty mentality "heres some games that dont look terrible" :D brighten up trick

Posted by DEFE

Aw, the Jenn Frank article had me tearing up a bit. Great piece of writing. Very touching.

Posted by alexparham

i agree, that was one of the best reviews i have ever read, haha

Posted by BBQBram

@FengShuiGod said:

It's nice to see the merits of a poem judged by everything except its aesthetics and intelligence.

The Allen Ginsberg reference is wasted on crass rambling of anecdotes. Like someone using beat to lend power to their agenda without grasping anything about beat. Beat is cadence and true expression of the moment first, here it is statement first in a contrived form.

Didn't expect to vent about poetry on giantbomb today!

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Posted by jasonefmonk

The Hot Coffee read was excellent, thanks Patrick. It's the one of biggest social problems in North America, and it's sad to see it holding games back from their potential.

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