[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from video game industry 'watcher' Simon Carless (GDC, Gamasutra co-runner), rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend.
This week's highlights include a neat Smash Brothers interview, a review of Magic Leap's reveal party, and words of wisdom from Spiderweb Software, among many others. And more articles about nose-picking in games, please!
Thanks for reading as always - until next time...
- Simon, curator.]
Google and Xbox just started the next platform war (Oli Welsh / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Game streaming is coming. It's been coming since before we all laughed at OnLive and ignored PlayStation Now, and those too-little-too-soon gambits did nothing to impede its inevitable arrival. It is the future, in the sense that a credible and widely-used iteration of game streaming technology is around the corner and is something everyone reading this will probably end up using."
The Making Of Nintendo’s Best Nose-Picking Game (Stephen Totilo / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"We sometimes hear the tales behind the making of Nintendo’s greatest games: the Zeldas, the Marios and the Metroids. Let us bend our ears for another tale, this time of the making of Gold Digger, a game about a finger interacting with a nose. Gold Digger was co-created by Goro Abe, a longtime developer at Nintendo who helped make the 2003 Game Boy Advance game WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames, known more simply as WarioWare."
Whither the Software Artist? (or, How Trip Hawkins Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Consoles) (Jimmy Maher / Digital Antiquarian - ARTICLE)
"And, indeed, the story of EA is often over-dramatized and over-simplified. Questions of authenticity and creativity are always fraught; to imagine that anyone is really in the arts just for the art strikes me as hopelessly naive. The EA of the early 1980s wasn’t founded by artists but rather by businessmen, backed by venture capitalists with goals of their own that had little to do with “fulfilling the potential of personal computing.”"
Meow Wolf's Magic Kingdom (Taylor Clark / California Sunday - ARTICLE)
"One afternoon this Spring, I was exploring the dim, salmon-pink kitchen inside the Meow Wolf collective’s first permanent exhibit, House of Eternal Return — a sprawling, fever-dream portrayal of a family home that had a nasty brush with the multiverse — when someone bulldozed me aside from behind."
Making cars and writing code: Production Line's refreshing dev approach (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Gamasutra reached out to Harris to talk about the work that went into turning car manufacturing into a game, how he gave players multiple means to build their dream factory, the challenges and benefits he’s found in working on something so complex on his own, and what it is that draws him to this intricate genre."
Failing to Fail: The Spiderweb Software Way (Jeff Vogel / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this GDC 2018 talk, Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel presents a retrospective on his company's history and how they've managed to stay in the game-making business since 1994. [SIMON'S NOTE: This is a seriously good talk.]"
How to choose what game to make next (Jake Birkett / Grey Alien Games - ARTICLE)
"Basically you must make sure your game has an audience that is big enough to generate the sales you need and that you can reach them (via marketing, community, virality etc. but that’s a whole other topic.) However, if you choose an oversaturated market, the audience may be huge, but it will be very hard to stand out in that market unless you make a) a game with something special about it and b) one of the best examples of games in that market."
From Kong to Kirby: Smash Bros' Masahiro Sakurai on mashing up 35 years of gaming history (Keza MacDonald / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"Masahiro Sakurai is 48 years old, but looks almost ageless. In his face, you can see the prodigious teenager he once was. Sakurai was 19 when he directed his first game, Kirby’s Dream Land, at HAL Laboratory, a Tokyo developer that made a string of excellent games for Nintendo’s consoles in the 90s. His parents were perplexed; in their generation, video games didn’t exist."
The Making of Fallout Shelter (Noclip / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Noclip goes behind the scenes at Bethesda Game Studios to tell the unlikely story behind the development of the most played game they've ever released; Fallout Shelter."
I learned about climate change by watching Fortnite on Twitch (Angela Watercutter / Wired - ARTICLE)
"I know very little about climate change. I know even less about Fortnite. And Twitch. (Yes, I know; I should be fired.) I'm aware that they’re all real things that exist, but videogames and global warming aren't my beat. Yet, I've been staring at this one Fortnite Twitch video for a good hour."
Magic Leap is real & it's a janky marvel (Jonathan Shieber / TechCrunch - ARTICLE)
"Setting aside the problems that Magic Leap still has with field of view and with slight glitches in the game mechanics (which could entirely have been the fault of this author), Dr. Grordbort’s lays out the Magic Leap headset as a convincing gaming device (albeit at a somewhat price-prohibitive $2,295 apiece). [SIMON'S NOTE: Gamasutra also has a number of pieces on the L.E.A.P. Conference.]"
Fallout 76 hands-on: three hours in Bethesda's online wasteland (Andrew Webster / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"But then you step outside, where a dozen people dressed in identical blue-and-yellow vault suits are all hopping around, looting the same corpse for weapons. Each one of those vault dwellers is a real person, sharing the same irradiated world as you. They wave at each other and fire guns aimlessly as they learn the controls. That’s when it hits you: Fallout 76 may look and feel like a typical 3D Fallout game, but it’s something very different."
Hellblade: Senua's Psychosis (Ninja Theory / YouTube - VIDEO)
"A 25 minute feature about how we worked with experts in the field of neuroscience and those with lived experience of voice hearing to create a truthful representation of psychosis in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. [SIMON'S NOTE: this video was put online for the first time to support a new Ninja Theory scholarship training mental health professionals.]"
The 12 best indie Metroidvania games (Jeremy Parish / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"Thankfully, we’ve had no shortage of indie developers eager to jump in and fill the double-jump-boot-shaped hole in our hearts. Metroidvania-inspired platformers rank up there with roguelike (or roguelike-like) procedural games as some of the most popular among aspiring indies."
A Long And Hopefully Interesting Conversation About Microtransactions (Jason Schreier / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Stephen [Totilo] explains how the microtransactions in Odyssey actually work, Kirk [Hamilton] elaborates on his ongoing theory of how in-game purchases poison the well because of a fundamental friction between game design and commerce, then we ask all sorts of related questions. Why do $60 games have microtransactions? What is it about ‘commerce design’ and its intersection with game design that can make us feel so ripped off? And what does this all mean for the future of gaming?"
Snap, Crackle, Pop: Crunch & self-mutilation in Swery's new puzzler The Missing (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"It's anodyne cruelty. J.J. is repeatedly beaten and broken, crying in pain as she loses limbs or snaps her spine, but there's no blood (just sprays of white) and she always heals herself back to normal at the press of a button. Swery has described it publicly as a sort of love letter to the 2D platformers and puzzlers he grew up playing, games like Out of this World and the original Prince of Persia."
Feel better about your PlayStation VR with sweet new games Astro Bot, Firewall (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"This season's biggest PSVR games, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission and Firewall: Zero Hour, are both good and bad news for anybody getting excited about the Quest's possibilities. The good news is that these games deliver great gameplay while leaning on simple, lower-powered graphics (and in Astro Bot's case, still looking gorgeous). But Oculus fans will probably never see these first-party Sony games on next year's wireless kit, and it's a reminder that sometimes, smart development (and triple-A money to fund it) can beat any futuristic tech possibility."
He said, she squirmed: The pickup artist game that is the talk of IndieCade and may help us communicate better (Todd Martens / LA Times - ARTICLE)
"A woman looks for her friends at a bar and accidentally makes eye contact with a man. The man comes over. He stands between the woman and her friends. He professes his love to the woman, but she’s never met him before. The man is a pickup artist, and his goal is simple: to use conversation to trick the woman into going home with him. He touches her arm and begs for just a moment of her time. Does she laugh? Or run?"
Clowns, Houdini, and a vanishing teenager – the Borderlands developer isn’t your regular video game studio (Kirk McKeand / VG247 - ARTICLE)
"If you didn’t know he was behind the studio that creates the Borderlands series, you would swear Pitchford was solely a magician and entertainer. All around his house there are huge tomes on magic. Even the way the home is built – every inch of it to Pitchford’s specifications – encourages exploration, full of secret compartments and hidden rooms: a clue to his video game experience, perhaps."
Tomb Raider’s grisly death animations are outdated (Mark Brown / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"These gruesome death scenes that play just before you get a “game over” have been part of the Tomb Raider DNA since 1996, when watching her rag-doll body crumple into a messy pile after a botched jump was just part of the experience. But while the franchise has changed a lot in its many sequels and reboots... these death sequences are one thing that have stayed the same."
[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every weekend at tinyletter.com/vgdeepcuts - we crosspost to Gamasutra later on Sunday, but get it first via newsletter! Story tips and comments can be emailed to [email protected] MINI-DISCLOSURE: Simon is one of the organizers of GDC and Gamasutra & an advisor to indie publisher No More Robots, so you may sometimes see links from those entities in his picks. Or not!]