#Blaugust 22: Four Tips for Fallout Shelter
Aug22

#Blaugust 22: Four Tips for Fallout Shelter

FalloutShelter_ScreenShot

It’s been a couple of weeks since Fallout Shelter came out for Android, and I’m still enjoying it. It’s uber-casual, which is what I look for in my mobile games. I spend five minutes a few times a day (usually on the bus to and from work, once during the day, and lying in bed at night), make sure everything’s on track, and then let my little digital vault people do their thing.

Right now I have 37 dwellers at 85% happiness and no resource issues, which I think is pretty good. Of course everyone has their own Overseer style, but here are my tips:

  1. Want new dwellers? Make your Radio Station double-wide, and upgrade it at least once. My station is manned by two high-charisma dwellers in pajamas, and I get one or two new dwellers a day. In fact, I’ve stopped having vault babies because the station is pulling in enough new faces for steady, controlled growth.
  2. Different dwellers will bring back (marginally) different things from the outside world. I made the mistake of choosing a single dweller as my outside gatherer, and while they did a great job (and leveled much faster than everyone else), a lot of the outfits and weapons were repeats. If you want a wider selection of guns and hats, try sending a variety of dwellers!
  3. Don’t bother with the vault door upgrade. I upgraded mine to the 2000 cap level early in the game thinking that it would keep raiders out, but it won’t — it just takes them longer to get in. Put some guards with good guns in the lobby once you can spare the people, and save yourself the caps.
  4. Make sure everyone in your vault trains at least one skill to 10. Start early to staff your food, water, and power rooms with people maxed out in agility, strength, and perception respectively — your rooms will produce resources at very high speeds.
#Blaugust 21: Reasons Why I May Not Finish Blaugust
Aug21

#Blaugust 21: Reasons Why I May Not Finish Blaugust

I mentioned earlier in the month that I made it to Day 15 of Blaugust last year. I have ably passed that this year and felt pretty good about it all until I looked at my calendar for this coming week.

  1. I’ve got a super busy week at work. Often I have to manage one webinar in a week, but this time I have three. One of those is with Australia, which means working late hours. (Thanks, time zones.)
  2. I’m writing two articles for MMORPG.com this week: my usual blogosphere one and a review of the new Dragon Age Inquisition DLC, The Descent.
  3. I have to play the new Dragon Age Inquisition DLC, The Descent.
  4. Cat Context records on Sunday and the subsequent 4 hours of editing will be on Tuesday or Wednesday or whenever I can fit it in.
  5. A friend of mine co-owns a Seattle puzzle room escape company, and I’m helping her beta test a new room on Sunday.
  6. We’re throwing a party for our closest friends and family in six weeks oh god what have we done. Plans are relatively on track, but there are things like this half-finished Companion Cube card box to complete. And… a million other little things.
    unfinished companion cube!

    unfinished companion cube!

  7. This coming weekend is PAX Prime! I have badges for Friday and Sunday, and I need to hurry up and organize a blogger lunch at some point.

I will do my best, brave Blaugonauts, to finish out this project as close to 31 entries as possible but man, life is kicking me into hard mode this week.

Okay seriously that’s it today, bye.

#Blaugust 20: Reviewing the “Top 21 Horror Movies of the 21st Century” List
Aug20

#Blaugust 20: Reviewing the “Top 21 Horror Movies of the 21st Century” List

Earlier this week the AV Club pointed out this list of the “Top 21 Horror Movies of the 21st Century“. It was developed from a combination of Rotten Tomatoes reviews (audience and critics), horror movie fansite reviews, Metacritic, IMDB, and a huge poll of readers.

Aside from the fact that it seems a bit silly to be declaring the best horror movie of the century when we’re not yet 15 years into it, the list is pretty solid. I take issue with their definition of horror in a few cases because.. well, let’s talk about that when we get there. On to the list!

21. Session 9 and The Devil’s Rejects (tie)
When I read the top 10 films on this this list my very first reaction was, “where the heck is Session 9?!”. Turns out it IS here, which is good because it’s a creepy, creepy work of art.

As for The Devil’s Rejects… sigh. I’m not a fan of the over the top “American depravity” Rob Zombie aesthetic, but TDR is definitely the best of his movies and I concede that the ending will legitimately make the viewer think about their life choices.

20. What We Do in the Shadows
A horror comedy about Kiwi vampires! I haven’t seen this yet but I’ve heard great things and I want to. New Zealand / Australian horror is almost always amazing.

Noroi: The Curse

Noroi: The Curse

19. Paranormal Activity
More like Paranormal INactivity, am I right?! I know this movie was the little indie that kicked off a multi-million dollar series, but it’s terrible. If you must watch one of these, watch Paranormal Activity 3. If you just want a good found footage movie, watch the 2005 Japanese film Noroi: The Curse because it is a million times better.

18. The Mist
Good, but not top-21-worthy. This movie is really only popular for the admittedly gut-wrenching final scene, in my opinion.

17. House of the Devil
I am glad that Ti West exists, and I am excited for what he and his compadres are doing for New American Horror. That being said I am just not that into his movies, this one included. Should be on this list, but I’m not a fan.

16. American Psycho
Here we are at the first entry that I think isn’t really a horror movie. It’s horrible, and horrifying, and an excellent movie. However, I feel like to truly be a horror movie you need to THINK you’re a horror movie. American Psycho is a black, black, black comedy.

VHS

VHS

15. Trick r’Treat
This movie is revered in the horror fandom, and I don’t get it. It’s a cute horror anthology in the style of old Creepshow movies. That’s great and all, but #15 of the century? Aw hell naw. You want a good horror anthology that could be on this list? Try the original VHS.

14. [Rec]
Yes, okay.

13. Martyrs
The New French Extremism isn’t really my thing, but again I respect why a representative movie is on this list. (PS Do not watch this unless you hate yourself.)

Insidious

Insidious

12. The Conjuring
James Wan has done a lot for the modern American ghost story — like, a lot a lot — and with a fraction of the budgets that most movies get. That being said I’d rate Insidious over this. Also I have found that Wan’s schtick (creepy dolls! Patrick Wilson! eerie old timey music!) gets real old, real quick.

11. The Ring (US version)
Amazing, should be in the top 10.

10. Drag Me To Hell
I haven’t seen this yet, although I know people like it a lot. Guess I should hurry up and watch it.

9. Mulholland Drive
I love David Lynch movies but sweet mother of pearl THIS IS NOT A HORROR MOVIE OKAY. Blue Velvet is more of a horror movie than Mulholland Drive, and it STILL ISN’T ONE AHH I HAVE STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.

8. Shaun of the Dead
My favorite movie of all time. I can possibly recite it by heart. SotD, ilu.

7. The Babadook (Note: Arolaide and I are scheduled to discuss this on a future podcast episode!)
I think I was ruined for this one by the hype. I was so excited to see this terrifying! new! movie! that I felt a little let down when it was all over. The Babadook isn’t a bad movie by any stretch, I’m just not sure it’s that great, not like…

6. It Follows
Unlike The Babadook, I went into this movie expecting to hate it. A dude writing and directing a movie about a teenage girl where sex equals death? Gag me with a spoon. Not only was I wrong, but the more I think about this movie the more I love it: the soundtrack, the timeless setting, the center orientation of everything, and a script that is (I think) actually a really clever attack on modern rape culture. It’s like .. Sofia Coppola made a quietly feminist horror movie.

5. Let the Right One In
Well-deserved spot in the top 5.

4. The Descent
Hey here’s an idea let’s never go into a dark cave ever as long as I live. Also very deserving of its spot.

3. 28 Days Later
I saw this in a sneak preview in the theatre way back in 2002. I went in thinking, “oh hey, here’s the new movie from the Trainspotting team” and came out exhausted by fear. (I like 28 Weeks Later too, particularly the first 20 minutes.)

2. Pan’s Labyrinth
A beautiful movie that shows the pinnacle of human imagination while also telling a very thoughtful real-life story. Also, not a horror movie at all and it totally does not belong on this list. Seriously, people, what the hell.

1. Cabin in the Woods
If you do not watch horror movies, you might enjoy this. If you do watch horror movies, you will love the stuffing out of it. I watch it at least once a year because it’s just such a delight for fans of the genre.

———————–

Attack The Block

Attack The Block

1000 words later, what’s missing from this list? Well I already suggested Noroi: The Curse. I’d probably argue for You’re Next, Frailty, and Attack the Block to appear somewhere in the 11-21 ranks. There’s also a real lack of Asian horror here, I think. Where is A Tale of Two Sisters, or The Host? Shutter? Thirst? Battle Royale?

Finally, allow me to shill for one my favorite little-known horror movies of the 21st century so far: Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (2011). It’s bleak and sometimes shockingly violent and always totally brilliant.

#Blaugust 19: Nike was right and you should just do it (life advice)

I was going to write this post earlier in the month, but when I originally sat down to start typing I thought to myself, “Self, does the world really need another autobiographical post that will probably end in generic uplifting platitudes?”. At the time I thought no.

Yesterday, however, this tweet from Sonja changed my mind:

If you (the generic you! not someone in particular) ever wish you could rework your life.. well, take it from someone with firsthand experience: Nike is right and you should just do it.

I used to describe myself as someone who felt as though they were slowly drowning. I don’t mean mental health issues, although those certainly didn’t help. But I was fundamentally unhappy with my life in ways that I could barely articulate, much less fix. I felt like a third party to my own existence.

Exactly two years ago today (wow, that was unintentional) my world changed suddenly and irrevocably. My first instinct was just to keep my head down, not rock the boat any further, get through this strange and horrible time and get back to my normal life.

It was a good short-term plan. I took a few months to regroup, reassess, and rebuild myself. I got used to being my own company. My creative output soared in my ample spare time. I bought a bike. I discovered K-pop. I learned how to can pickles. I learned a lot about who I am, when left to my own influences.

(There is a hilarious post draft somewhere that will never see the light of day that is entirely about beets and discovering after 18 years that in fact despite their routine appearance on the household menu I DON’T EVEN LIKE BEETS. Yeah, I’ve changed, man.)

After taking a few months to regain the status quo, it suddenly occurred to me that I was no longer obligated to keep any part of my life that I didn’t want. I could shave my head and move to Australia. I could call myself “Loretta” and sling coffee and hash in a small town diner.

I could.. move to America. Huh.

It took a lot of work — months and months and months of it — and it was scary as hell. While it was only a three hour move, I was giving up my very stable job and the city that I knew. I was leaving my home country and all of the delightful civil services that I had come to take for granted. For as long as I live I will never forget the weird feeling in my stomach on the morning of November 8, 2014, as all of my efforts culminated in packing everything I still owned (including two boxes full of angry cats) into a U-Haul and heading to the border.

(My employers threw a little goodbye event for me on my last day, and the CEO said in a speech, “Jessica has been with us for five years, but she’s moving on to Seattle to do.. oh, she doesn’t have a job yet? Well… I’m sure she’ll be fine.” I stood there as he talked, smiling pleasantly and thinking, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”.)

Moving was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Definitely top three. I’m in a fantastic relationship, I have awesome friends here in the city. My job is as stupid as any job, but it’s in my field and it pays well. Those hobbies that I picked up while on my own? We do them together. I am as present in my life right now as I ever have been, and that is a wonderful thing.

Now, to be fair I had a lot of privileges that helped me. Being a middle-class white cis lady helps hold open some doors that would have closed for others, particularly when dealing with U.S. Government paperwork. I had amazing support from friends, and family that never called my decisions into question.

But also it was hard work, and I had to be stubborn as hell. There were the occasional days when I just threw up my hands, and cried, and whined that nothing was ever really going to change. There were also days when a fire sparked in my eyes and I swore that I could not be stopped. The day before leaving the help that I hired to move my stuff into the truck didn’t show up, and so after packing everything myself I suddenly had a two hour window where I had to carry all of my belongings down three flights of stairs. And I did it, because screw you world, I am a force of nature.

Now is the generic uplifting platitudes part, but I really mean them, sincerely: If there are parts of your life that are dragging you down, and they are parts that are in your power to change, the effort and pain and struggle and time to change them will pay off. Start now, and make your life the way you want it, as much as you can. You’re worth it.

#Blaugust 18: Why I’m Not Watching Your Stream
Aug18

#Blaugust 18: Why I’m Not Watching Your Stream

Some days it seems like a good 30% of my Twitter feed is people advertising their Twitch streams and YouTube videos. (Myself included!) It’s neat that bloggers in particular are much more multi-media now than they used to be, often turning themselves into amateur hyphenates: blogger-podcaster, blogger-streamer, blogger-YouTuber. Hooray for easily accessible and inexpensive media options!

That being said, I’m probably not watching your stream.

twitch

Now to be fair I know I’m not exactly in the prime Twitch demographic. Middle-age ladies with a near zero tolerance for slurs are unsurprisingly not a target audience for most participants, and that’s totally fine. However I think there is an under-served, if small, niche for intelligent gaming videos. So in my opinion, here is why I may not be watching your stream:

  1. It rambles.
    Look, I know that blind streams are easy (I’ve done them myself) but they’re rarely entertaining unless you are REALLY good at small talk. Have a plan for your video or stream — know what you are going to do in the next 30 minutes and how you’re going to accomplish it.
  2. It’s too long.
    I read somewhere recently that people will watch an average of 2 minutes of your video before wandering off to something else. You don’t need to cater to an attention span quite that short, but keep in mind that anything over 20 minutes is a big chunk of my time. Even if you stream for hours, perhaps break things up with different games or different tasks.
  3. Your commentary isn’t great. This one is tough because it’s pretty subjective, but I’ll be totally honest: not everyone is cut out to play video games and be entertaining at the same time. It’s a skill like anything else! I enjoy videos or streams where the commentator is either knowledgeable about the game, or they are very funny and tell good jokes. (The latter often requires having at least one non-playing commentator present as well.) DON’T just read what is on the screen. DON’T read character conversation in stupid voices. DON’T pretend to be scared by things and scream a lot.
  4. It’s too corporate. As someone who works in marketing, sometimes a Twitch stream can feel like one of my department meetings. Stop giving your viewers cutesey collective nouns and doing the digital equivalent of ringing the sales bell every time you get a donation. If you feel like more of a brand than a person, I’m not interested.

Let me end this off with a recommendation: the only “appointment viewing” I have for a stream is Supergreatfriend’s “Games Night!” stream on Saturday night. If I’m home I’ll always put it on, and if I’m out I will watch it during the week on YouTube. Why do I enjoy it so much?

  • SGF is incredibly knowledgeable about games, and even if he hasn’t played one before he knows publication details and current gaming news.
  • His stream is two hours, but he cuts it into 30 minute segments with 4 different games — some are one-shots, and some are on-going over weeks. Some are actually good games, and some are craptacular crapfests.
  • He plans out the streams, with an outline for exactly what he hopes to accomplish in each segment.
  • He streams at the same time every week.
  • He’s a funny guy who doesn’t rage out or shout about stuff.

Do you have a favorite smart streamer? Share!

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