[And we're back on, from a breezy back garden on an Autumn weekend, with a whole bunch more interesting video game articles and vids for the week. Interestingly, these links don't include anything on Nintendo Switch, which may seem counter-intuitive, but may not be - given the lack of detailed information on Nintendo's new console/handheld hybrid.
Of course, I do have an opinion - some of which got mind-melded into Kris Graft's Gamasutra editorial on the subject. Briefly - I believe Switch could do 20 million lifetime sales worldwide (currently, Wii U is at around 13 million, and 3DS at 60 million). And I think Nintendo diehards will absolutely care - plus the console should get somewhat better third-party support than Wii U since it's easier to convert to. Perhaps enough for Nintendo - but it's not a game changer like the Wii.
As I said on Twitter: "Nintendo Switch announce mainly has me daydreaming for a phone with Nintendo stylings/controller & higher-end games. But it works for fans!" We'll see, eh?
- Simon Carless, curator.]
What does HBO's Westworld have to teach us about game design? (Gamasutra staff / Gamasutra)
"Developers and critics immediately took to Twitter to pontificate about how familiar and game-like [Westworld] seemed. We didn't want to let them hog all of the fun. So Gamasutra staffers weighed in with our own takes on the show."
Why We Remember Bioshock's Fort Frolic (Game Maker's Toolkit / YouTube)
"The level "Fort Frolic" is often cited as one of the best parts of the original Bioshock - if not the entire Bioshock series. In this episode I return to the domain of Sander Cohen with a critical eye, to figure out what made this part of the game so interesting and beloved."
Inside Wargaming.net and Games That Conquered the World (Chris Baker / Glixel)
"When Victor Kislyi was a young boy in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus, his father took him to see a theatrical revival of the Kirk Douglas epic Spartacus... Around the same time, Kislyi's father enrolled him in chess school. He soon became the top-ranked player in his nation's capitol city of Minsk."
Interview: Localising DRAGON QUEST VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (Oli Chance / Nintendo)
"Sixteen years after it was originally released in Japan, DRAGON QUEST VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past has finally reached the shores of Europe and brings with it a brand new English language translation courtesy of UK-based localisation specialists Shloc Ltd. In an exclusive interview, Oli Chance of Shloc details the process involved in this mammoth undertaking and some of the creative choices needed to make DRAGON QUEST VII's stories stand out."
How Little Choices Make Sorcery! Feel Epic (Alex Wiltshire / RockPaperShotgun)
"Inkle’s Sorcery! series, four text-based games adapted from Fighting Fantasy co-creator Steve Jackson’s original gamebooks, capture all that made Fighting Fantasy special and add a magical extra: the dynamism of videogames."
In Search Of 'The Lost Arcade' (Kia Gregory / New Yorker)
"“The Lost Arcade,” a new documentary, is a scorned love letter to [Chinatown Fair]. It tells the story of those who found a home there, such as Anthony Cali, Jr., now thirty-three, who grew up on a crumbling Lower East Side, and who would play Street Fighter to escape the pimps and drug dealers in his neighborhood.
The game that makes drone warfare personal (Jessica Condit / Engadget)
"Killbox is a game that creates humans out of brightly colored 3D shapes, only to slaughter them in the most dehumanizing way: a drone strike. And not just any drone strike -- the game is based on the first real-life UAV mission ever carried out in an unofficial warzone."
Doom 2 modder spends 300 hours making a three-hour level (Jeffrey Matulef / Eurogamer)
"Doom modder Ben Mansell made a level for Doom 2 that is so big that it takes upwards of an hour to complete. Probably a few hours for most on a first run. Dubbed Foursite 4-in-1, this colossal stage is practically a campaign in its own right as it links four already giant levels together to one central hub."
What Do We Mean When We Say Indiepocalypse? (Game Developers Conference / YouTube)
"The Indiepocalypse. Is this a real thing? What does it mean? In this GDC 2016 panel, developers Randy Smith, Rebekah Saltsman, Armin Ibrisagic, Jeff Vogel and Jordan Thomas share objective data needed to investigate the mysterious idea of the Indiepocalypse, and help your game survive its own release."
A new game styled after “Temple Run” depicts the hard lives of Angola’s peddler women (Lynsey Chutel / QZ)
"In Angola, the peddler women known as zungueira are a feature in every city, carrying a large plastic bowl of goods on their heads, often with a baby strapped to their backs, trying to survive the country’s difficult economy. And now there is a video game that draws on their reality."
The Making Of WipEout (Edge / Kotaku UK )
"Wipeout is a central part of The PlayStation Success Story. Its licenced music and in-club promotion are held up as the keys to attracting the post-pub generation... It is somewhat ironic, then, that the origins of video-gaming’s most famous trendsetter were in the resolutely unfashionable grid-based strategy game Matrix Marauders, which featured vehicle designs uncannily similar to those in Wipeout."
My UAH talk: Digital Bards (Raph Koster / Raph Koster's website)
"The talk is indebted to Matt Worch’s GDC talk on oral and print culture, which I have showered praise on before. It takes quite a while on the history of authors pushing against the conventions of print culture (as described in my post on interactivity) before giving a brief tour of some of the ways in which games are and aren’t traditional storytelling forms."
How Game Makers Are Struggling to Make VR Fun (Chris Baker / Glixel)
"Every new art form goes through an initial awkward phase of trial and error... [so] how are VR game developers learning the vocabulary of their medium, like making the player look in a certain direction?"
People Are Making Super Mario Go Faster Than Ever (Oliver Roeder / FiveThirtyEight)
"It is entirely possible that, soon after you read this article, someone will go just a little bit faster, and topple the Mario record again. In this 31-year-old video game, there is a full-on, high-speed assault on Bowser’s castle under way right now. Witness the very shape of human progress."
Errant Signal - Oxenfree (Errant Signal / YouTube)
"Ever wanted to know what would happen if John Green decided to write a Goosebumps book? Well - stay tuned!"
Virtual War Zones & The Failure Of The Military Shooter (Dan Hill / Killscreen)
"In 2004, Full Spectrum Warrior tasked the player with moving a four-man combat team through the urbanized environs of a fictional Middle Eastern city. Rather than having direct control, the player merely directed the team to move to cover or lay down suppressing fire. Mistakes were punished, with a single bullet being capable of killing a squad member."
Why It's So Hard To Make A Video Game (Tina Amini / VICE)
"It doesn't have to be hard to make a video game. It doesn't have to take years of labor, months of overtime and a team of hundreds to make a dot on a screen move and jump towards a goal. But stacked against games like Rockstar's expansive Grand Theft Auto V and new technologies like virtual reality, that's what it usually takes to remain cutting edge, and to make something that'll keep your publishers and players happy."
Monopoly Tournament in Nigeria Mirrors Chaos of the Real-Life Property Market (Chris Stein and Dionne Searcy / New York Times)
"The clock was running out at the Lagos Under-17 Monopoly Championship, and the pace of play was becoming so frantic it was hard to decipher the true holder of Banana Island, Tiamiyu Savage Street and other properties on the board. “I am the owner of this house!” shouted Ibrahim Mubarak, 14, a student from Isale Eko Junior Grammar School, his finger jabbing the property on the board."
Inside PlayStation 4 Pro: How Sony made the first 4K games console (Richard Leadbetter / Eurogamer)
"Six weeks on from the unveiling of the Sony's latest console and I'm in a conference room in Sony's new San Mateo HQ... accompanied by system architect Mark Cerny... this is where we find out how Sony has managed to accomplish this achievement - how it has deployed a relatively slight 4.2 teraflops of GPU power in such a way that makes PS4 Pro a viable console for an ultra HD display."
Step into This Soviet Arcade Time Machine (Great Big Story / YouTube)
"While American teens in the '80s were obsessing over Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, their Soviet counterparts were playing arcade games meant to prepare them for war... St. Petersburg resident Alexander Stakhanov remembers those games fondly. So he did what any nostalgic gamer would do—he opened the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines."
The Surprising Success of ‘Mystic Messenger,’ a Game About Texting Cute Boys (Heidi Kemps / Motherboard)
"My phone’s constantly abuzz with activity. Texts from friends, emails about freelance work, Twitter notifications, alerts from games I play… but in-between all of them is a unique little application. It buzzes as I’m about to go to sleep to tell me someone’s opened a new chat... This is my life in the world of Mystic Messenger, a iOS and Android app that’s been taking internet fandom by storm."
The game they play together: Two game devs get engaged in Destiny (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"Game developer Adriel Wallick proposed to longtime partner (and fellow game maker) Rami Ismail today while they were playing Destiny together... What makes this especially interesting is that Wallick appears to have called in help from folks on the Destiny team to set her up with a custom "proposal" emote and a "ring of eternity" artifact."
[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every Saturday 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, so you may sometimes see links from those entities in his picks. Or not!]