Michael's Monthly Recommendations (February 2018)

Michael Fairley

28 Feb 2018

I’m constantly reading, watching, listening to, playing, and using a million different things, and I’m going to start recommending some of my favorites on a monthly basis.

Who Started The Wildfire  Planet Money
Interesting look into how wildfires can often be traced back to a specific starting point, how that leads to legal consequences and financial penalties for the folks found liable, and the industry of investigators and lawyers involved in this process.

Embarrassingly, it’s taken me until now to start using a password manager. My experiences with older password managers in the past had me thinking of them as horribly inconvenient to use, but LastPass is actually way nicer than even Chrome’s built in password storage. A bunch of my online life is now both more secure and more convenient. (Yay!)

Gorogoa  Jason Roberts
I played an early build of this back in 2014 and have been anticipating its recent release ever since. It’s a reimagining of the point-and-click adventure game, packed with beautiful, hand drawn art, set in a mysterious world where you solve puzzles embedded in the environment. If you can swipe and tap on an iPad, you’re completely capable of enjoying this game.

Game Engine Black Book: Wolfenstein 3D  Fabien Sanglard
This is a fantastic deep dive into the programming behind the original Wolfenstein 3D. It focuses on how computers at the time were a horrible platform for 3D games and on all the clever things id had to do to make Wolfenstein a reality anyway. The book also provides tons of non-programming context around the game’s development, with an entire chapter focused on the team, including details about their prior games, the software they used for making art for the game, and even a map of id’s office layout while they worked on Wolfenstein 3D. If you have any interest in the intersection of computer history, computer architecture, and game development, this is absolutely worth picking up.

Altered Carbon
One of my favorite books from a few years back got made into a show. It’s got a great atmosphere, some really fun characters, and enough plot holes to drive a bus through. This show ain’t perfect, but it’s among the better sci-fi shows I’ve seen. (Oh, and there’s lots of violence and sex, so maybe pass on it if those aren’t your cup of tea.)

The Gun Man  Planet Money
This is a super thought provoking podcast about 3D the printing of guns (and some of the fun legal trouble that’s come to those involved), which is an interesting wrinkle in the future of gun control.

Coziness in Games  Project Horseshoe
If you have any interest in game design, you’ll enjoy this. This report is an incredibly in depth look at how games can be “cozy”, in terms of gameplay, aesthetics, systems, narrative, social interactions, and even how they are developed. While focused on obviously cozy games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing, it touches on how non-inherently cozy games (including things like first-person shooters and Dark Souls) can incorporate coziness to their advantage. This is something I’ll definitely be thinking about for all my future games.

Deep Work  Cal Newport
The subtitle says it all: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This covers the why and the how of maintaining focus while engaged in knowledge work. I’ve been putting some of it into practice for the past few weeks, and I’ve definitely been getting more done.

Thumper  Drool
2001 meets Lovecraft meets Guitar Hero. Intense, challenging rythym action that requires every ounce of your focus, surrounded by bizarre, haunting, psychadelic imagery.

Wahl Stainless Steel Lithium Ion +
You might not think a beard trimmer could be great enough to make it on my favorite things list, but you’d be wrong.

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