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Worth Reading: 10/12/12

An updated Shocktober 2012 list with impressions, alongside your regular dosage of games you should play, stories you should read, and much more.

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If you tuned into the first episode of Spookin’ With Scoops last night, where I played some Penumbra: Black Plague in the dark of night, you realized why we have Vinny and Drew around. Getting a proper livestream up and running is, no surprise, a rather herculean task.

Besides taking in more horror flicks (scroll to the bottom for an update on Shocktober 2012), the weekend will be spent understanding XCOM. I’ve made it through most of the tutorial, and even losing someone in a scenario without consequences stressed me the hell out. Seeing how Ryan has been losing his mind over the last mission hasn’t helped matters, and it’s all strung together by my disdain for strategy games because I’m terrible at them.

The last one I really gave a shot was...Final Fantasy Tactics? Advance Wars? The latter actually hooked me for a little while, but I could never hang in multiplayer, so eventually the well ran dry. The promise of XCOM is being able to introduce a deeply complex strategy game in a deceptively simple manner, a promise the tutorial has so far made good on. Yeah, I’m stressed out, but at least it’s stress with an understanding of all my options.

I’ll still keep a vomit bucket nearby, though.

Hey, You Should Play This

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The big winner at IndieCade this year was Paolo Pedercini’s Unmanned. You might remember Pedercini for his work on Phone Story, a commentary about the realities of manufacturing the world’s most popular smartphone that was quickly booted out of Apple’s App Store. He’s followed Phone Story up with an equally weighty piece, one that bears playing and considering, given it’s an election year. Unmanned follows the daily routine of our anonymous drone operators, men and women who are quickly becoming the front line of a newer, safer, ethically questionable form of warfare. As a companion piece, I’d recommend reading a recent New York Times’ feature on drone operators.

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Guitar Hero and Rock Band resonated with me because it provided a window into a world that I’ll never know. I don’t have the time, patience or talent to go beyond a few chord strums, but games can provide an opportunity to have have a taste of what it’s like to truly understand the music you know and love. January, from Fez composer Rich Vreeland, abstracts this idea out, and plays with procedurally generated music represented by snowflakes. Everything you’re making sounds beautiful, even if you’re not doing anything more than simply moving left to right.

And You Should Read This, Too

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Windows 8 drops in a few weeks, and I haven’t heard people saying many good things about it. I’ve dismissed criticism about Microsoft’s upcoming internal marketplace, figuring it’ll end up an option for some people that wouldn’t otherwise have bought those games anyway, and everyone wins. Steam still exists, Good Old Games still exists. That said, let’s entertain the argument that it proves incredibly popular, and most users start purchasing through Microsoft’s storefront. That’s where software engineer Casey Muratori’s scathing critique comes into play, especially when pointing out how the ratings come into play. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is PEGI-18 in Europe, but Windows 8 won't accept a game above PEGI-16. It's rated Mature by the ESRB here, however, which is accepted. This type of confusion could prove even more frustrating if Microsoft's approach catches on with consumers.

If You Click It, It Will Play

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

  • Mindblown Life supposes we don't have separate education from entertainment, even in our mobile games.
  • Some people need a little extra help. This programming book for ADD students should be applauded.
  • iBeg seems to make some light of the serious problem that is homelessness, but awareness is important.

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

  • Cloudbuilt seems to bring the joy of fast, rapid 2D movement into a big 3D space.
  • Modeling software GroBoto is probably one of many non-game pitches we're going to see.
  • If today's fancy graphics are too much for you, maybe consider Enter Thy Name.

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Here's Your Official Lineup for Shocktober 2012

Every year, my wife and I try to cram in roughly 31 movies throughout October. We usually only end up making it through 20 or so, but the goal is 30, and it's fun to aspire in celebration of The Greatest Holiday. I've seen everything, which is why some stuff on here is pretty obscure. I try to strike a balance between oldies that I've either forgotten (The Shining) or somehow missed out on (The Lady in White), while also exploring the best of what other countries have to offer. I've noticed that the UK and Spain have been churning out the best horror the past few years, including Them and [rec]. If you want, here's last year's list, complete with trailers. I'll do something similar for this list soon.

Also, as with most years, other new stuff came up, resulting in an audible some nights. Those are at the bottom.

This list is not in any viewing order. Enjoy as you see fit!

  1. The Children (2008) - Doesn't reinvent the wheel of kids slaughtering adults, but it's better than the endless series of Children of the Corn movies that keep coming out, and the kills are pretty brutal. In short, don't trust kids.
  2. Pontypool - I don't want to spoil the movie's narrative underpinning, but what if a disease could intelligently adapt? Pontypool doesn't budge far from the room it starts in, which works to its advantage. Movies that choose to hole characters up in a single location and exploit that are pretty interesting. In Pontypool, it's a radio studio.
  3. Kill List
  4. The Loved Ones
  5. Angel Heart
  6. Videodrome
  7. Quarantine 2 - There's no reason Quarantine 2 should be any good, especially since Quarantine was boring and uninspired remake of the remarkable [rec], but it has a better acting and more suspense than you'd expect.
  8. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Lesile Vernon
  9. The Monster Squad
  10. The Shining
  11. Event Horizon
  12. Cabin in the Woods
  13. The Squad
  14. Tokyo Gore Police
  15. Cemetery Man
  16. The Killer Condom
  17. Human Centipede 2
  18. Pet Sematary
  19. Woman
  20. The Lady in White
  21. Mother's Day
  22. Who Can Kill a Child?
  23. Father's Day
  24. Beyond the Black Rainbow
  25. Grave Encounters - If you don't care for found footage movies, Grave Encounters won't change your mind, but if you're bothered by how found footage never shows anything, Grave Encounters is the opposite. I dug it.
  26. Lake Placid
  27. Frontiers
  28. Dead Heat
  29. Pandorum - This one came on Vinny's recommendation. Yes, the trailer looks awful, but Pandorum takes a reliable premise of saving Earth by looking for a new planet to colonize, and has a series of really fun twists. The creatures are boring, the camera hits fast forward too often, but Pandorum is the definition of dumb fun.
  30. Paranormal Activity 4
  31. Sinister
  32. The Tall Man - I didn't know Pascal Laugier's latest movie had secretly come out on demand, and now I know why I hadn't heard anything: it's terrible. Martyrs is a masterful work of mindfucking. The Tall Man is boring.
  33. [rec] 3 - The first two [rec] movies are some of the scariest flicks to come out of Europe the past few years, but [rec] 3 ditches the found footage conceit and reveals what is seemingly an amateur filmmaker at best.
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