This week's highlights include a piece on Zelda & ambient video games, the role of parents in games like God Of War, and a NBA Jam making-of video.
Firing off the 85th weekly Video Game Deep Cuts from holiday, so it's maybe not QUITE as deep as normal - but there's still plenty of good links out there for you video game lovin' freaks. (Still haven't missed an installment, not even when I got my appendix out! Is this good? Wait, don't answer that.)
Oh, and watch that NBA Jam GDC 'classic postmortem' if you have a chance - one of the highest rated postmortem talks of all time, featuring lots of detailed custom research from Mark Turmell & the rest of the crew he brought to showcase maybe (!) the best sports video game of all time?
Until next time,
- Simon, curator.]
Has Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds been improved by its updates? (Rich McCormick / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"“Golf is a good walk spoiled,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said. If he was writing about videogames in 2018 (and not, you know, dead for the last century), I think old Twainy boy would have said the same about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. [SIMON'S NOTE: interesting idea for a regular column, this.]"
Reality Fever (TheCatamites / My Friend Pokey - ARTICLE)
"Awkwardness of realism in videogames as result of their highly mediated form - so should we not “be real” (spins around chair quickly and sits on it backwards, facing teens) about these same annoying mediated qualities as well? [SIMON'S NOTE: heady/complex stuff, & if you have not played 50 Short Games by TheCatamites - shame on you. Please remediate immediately.]
Marketing on Zero Budget (Mike Rose / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 Game Career Seminar session, No More Robots' Mike Rose shares exactly how he got press, streamers, YouTubers, deals, and sales for the procedurally generated biking game Descenders while spending the bare minimum on marketing."
Tricky Translations #1: Maou & Daimaou (Clyde Mandelin / Legends Of Localization - ARTICLE)
"In this new article series, I plan to showcase common terms and phrases that appear in Japanese entertainment that don’t have solid equivalents in English. This time, we’ll be looking at the words maō and daimaō. We’ll see what the words mean, why they’re a problem for translators, and how they’ve been handled in games since the 1980s."
Defector Represents The Evolution of VR Gaming (VR Conduit / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Defector is a spy action VR game from the Wilson's Heart developers (Twisted Pixel Games), but what really makes it special is that it feels like a second generation VR game. The premise is that you're the ultimate super spy. [SIMON'S NOTE: interesting new VR-focused YouTube channel here.]"
The Rise Of The Ambient Video Game (Lewis Gordon / The Outline - ARTICLE)
"In February 1986, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda, the original game in the series, to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. It was developed at the company’s studio in Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, amidst a period of rapid economic growth. [SIMON'S NOTE: there's some pretty big 'cultural context' leaps in this piece, but I love a lot of the music and games the author talks about, so I'm going to, uh, wave it through?]"
Procedurally generating enemies, places, and loot in State of Decay 2 (Alan Bradley / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"One of the trickiest challenges of building an open world game is populating it. Defining the boundaries and laying out terrain is the easy bit — the real work begins when you need to fill all that vast, empty terrain with life and loot and interesting things to do and see."
The horror of Vault 11 (Wesley Yin-Poole / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Like most vaults in Bethesda's Fallout games, Vault 11 is a maze of decaying corridors and stairways. Everything from the toilets to the clinic looks worse for wear, as if the walls and ceilings were dripping with entropy. [SIMON'S NOTE: the interview with the level designer at the bottom of the article is the best bit, for me.]"
Two Guys Making New Sega CD Jewel Cases Are In An Accidental War (Chris Kohler / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"It’s taken decades for anyone to offer a solution. What’s surprising is that now there are two. One is coming from the publisher Limited Run Games; the other is from a collector in Alaska. After personally fretting for years about the lack of Sega CD game cases, both parties thought they’d corner the market on these obscure supplies. Then they found out that, against all odds, they had competition."
After Six Hours With Labo, Here’s What We Think (Kyle Hilliard / Game Informer - ARTICLE/VIDEO)
"Labo, Nintendo's strange hybrid that merges complicated cardboard creations with the Switch is in our office. It's equal parts Lego-style toy and video game you have to build yourself. [SIMON'S NOTE: The Verge review is possibly more comprehensive.]"
The Young & The Reckless (Brendan I. Koerner / Wired - ARTICLE)
"Pokora had long been aware that his misdeeds had angered some powerful interests, and not just within the gaming industry; in the course of seeking out all things Xbox, he and his associates had wormed into American military networks too. But in those early hours after his arrest, Pokora had no clue just how much legal wrath he’d brought upon his head. [SIMON'S NOTE: story of the week, hands down - read it all.]"
Can you discover games for yourself in the algorithmic age? (Alex Wiltshire / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"That's when I realised that I haven't felt like this about a game for a long time... To visit Steam's store front page is to be bombarded by an infinitely scrolling list of recommendations based on previous purchases, what friends are playing, and what's new and on sale. [SIMON'S NOTE: very relevant - 'Have Algorithms Destroyed Personal Taste?' We should all try to push back a little - I still try to browse music by label, but the streaming platforms make it sadly difficult.]"
Classic Game Postmortem: NBA Jam (Mark Turmell & friends / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC session, NBA Jam lead designer and programmer Mark Turmell explains the vision behind the game, its role during the '90s arcade boom, and how the first ridiculously huge dunk changed the course of the game's design."
The problem with building a car in Jalopy (Alex Wiltshire / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"”A lot of people have made the correlation between game development being a janky mess and the car in the game being a janky mess,” says Greg Pryjmachuk, the sole developer of Jalopy, a game about driving a Laika 601 Deluxe through the countries of the former Soviet bloc with your uncle. “It does seem quite apt.”"
Reversing the sunk cost fallacy: Devs recount what shouldn't have been cut(Richard Moss / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"A short time after the [sunk cost fallacy] article went live, we got a suggestion from Axiom Verge developer Tom Happ to do a follow-up piece looking at the issue from the opposite direction: what about good games or game features that got cut when perhaps they shouldn't have been? Like sunk cost fallacy, this is an easy blunder to make."
The Story of Tetris World Champion Steve "The Woz" Wozniak! (Gazillionaire / YouTube - VIDEO)
"GTV 53 "Evets Kainzow" The Story of Tetris World Champion Steve "The Woz" Wozniak. The co-founder of Apple is a Tetris master! Did you know? Learn all about it!! [SIMON'S NOTE: this is cute though maybe a little thin, but the Gazillionaire YouTube channel has some neat videos overall.]"
Harsh Lessons for Sponsors in Wake of BullyHunters Controversy (Ferguson Mitchell / eSports Observer - ARTICLE)
"The BullyHunters controversy is all but over following the shutdown of the campaign and its related website and social media pages. However, in its wake lies harsh lessons for the campaign’s sponsors, all of whom have issued full-throated apologies in an effort to distance themselves from the group’s ultimately misguided message."
A 90-Hour Work Week Is Believable Because Game Development Is Toxic (Patrick Klepek / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"Even if we take Neocore’s statement at face value and presume it was a joke, what does it say about an industry when the initial response is believing it’s true? It suggests decades of successful exploitation, grinding passion into dust, has resulted in accepting the most extreme of conditions."
God of War and Yakuza 6 show how games can tell great stories about parents(Andrew Webster / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"There are plenty of games that have used parenting as a core part of their story. The first season of The Walking Dead game was particularly tense because of the adopted father-daughter relationship of Lee and Clementine, and there are countless action games where dads go on a rampage to avenge or save their kids. But Yakuza 6 and this week’s God of War take this idea a step further than most."
Q&A: Being OK with being lost in Capy's Below (Kris Graft / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"But one game was particularly intriguing: Capy Games' "roguelike-like" Below. A mix of Diablo, Don't Starve, and Dark Souls, Below was originally announced back during E3 2013. Other games have been in development as long or longer, but deeper scrutiny is paid to Below considering Capy's admirable track record of top-notch indie games."
Game Developers Are Showcasing Their Inspirations in the Twitter Trend #GameStruck4 (Caty McCarthy / USGamer - ARTICLE)
"It's been an enlightening day on that end. Seeing developers' core inspirations is always a treat, and on a personal note, is one of my favorite things to talk to developers about in interviews. We decided to round up some of our favorite #GameStruck4 posts that we've seen over the past 24 hours."
[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!]