[This week's 'best game writing/videos' line-up (subscribe to the newsletter version here!) seems to be a particularly deep one - partly due to the launch of Waypoint, but also because there's just a lot of rather good content out there. Thanks to Kris N for a couple of neat picks for this week, incidentally - feel free to hit me up if you see other articles out there that I might have missed.
Other subjects of interest this week: why is Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 so bizarro world, why is PinOut such a good idea for a mobile game, why did EA burn out the clutch on Richard Garriott's Lamborghini, why wasn't Starship Titanic available on Steam until now, how good is the Art Of Atari book, why won't everyone play Everybody's Gone To The Rapture now it's (imminently) on PlayStation+ in the U.S., why do I like getting yelled at by William Pugh, Justin Roiland & friends in Accounting for the HTC Vive, and.... some other things I probably forgot? Until next time...
- Simon Carless, curator.]
After the success of Pokémon Go!, what is the future for augmented reality? (Simon Parkin / The Guardian)
"We can conjure objects into our real world as if by magic with AR, and with Pikachu and friends earning up to $10m per day, R&D departments are searching for the next phase."
Sid Meier reflects on 25 years of Civilization (Kyle Orland / Ars Technica)
"Sid Meier is not very good at Civilization. The creator and namesake of the long-running Sid Meier's Civilization series—which just saw the launch of its sixth numbered release last week—freely admits that he's only "OK" at his own creation. It's a shortcoming that Meier, in a set of recent interviews with Ars Technica, chalked up to a fundamental difference in playstyles."
This Guy Spent 342 Hours Speedrunning a Card-Based JRPG (Patrick Klepek / Vice Gaming)
"When it comes to speedrunning, the act of playing through a video game as fast as possible, we often think in terms of seconds, minutes, or hours—not days. But in order to speedrun a complete run of Baten Kaitos, a cult classic card-based JRPG for the GameCube, it took Julien "Baffan" Jaffrès a whopping 342 hours, 19 minutes, and 56 seconds, or a little over 14 days."
What Is Game Design? Three Perspectives (Game Hihyou / Shmuplations)
"Even in the world of games, one sees the word “design” used again and again. While it is easy to imagine the meaning of that word in the narrow sense of graphic design for characters and the like, in this article we’re going to take a deeper look at the question of “what is game design?” by asking three creators - Hideo Kojima, Satoshi Tajiri, & Kouichi Nakamura - their views"
Who Plays Which Games? And What Does That Say About Our Culture? (Jordan Shapiro / John Ganz Cooney Center)
"The Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s newest Digital Games and Family Life infographic looks at the game genres and titles that kids and their families play. Not surprisingly, there seems to be a generational gap. There is also a curious gender distinction."
Lawyer by day, undead ninja by video game (Emily Donovan / Chicago Daily Law Bulleton)
"Some attorneys might put the scales of justice on the back of their business cards. Some, maybe a gavel or an architectural column. Donald H. Kiolbassa put a photo of himself wielding two katanas in a three-piece suit against the Chicago skyline. It’s a fitting image for the real estate attorney and certified public accountant who moonlights as video game characters like undead ninja Scorpion in the “Mortal Kombat” franchise and Batman in the “Injustice” series."
How Jordan Mechner Made a Different Sort of Interactive Movie - or, The Virtues of Restraint (Jim Maher / The Digital Antiquarian)
"Given the game industry’s growing fixation on the movies as the clock wound down on the 1980s, Jordan Mechner would seem the perfect man for the age. Struggling with the blessing or curse of an equally abiding love for both mediums, his professional life had already been marked by constant vacillation between movies and games."
High Scores: Disasterpeace’s Horror Soundtracks and Chiptune Masterworks (Casey Jarman / Bandcamp)
"Rich Vreeland, who composes and releases music under the moniker Disasterpeace, may just be the most beloved game music composer of his generation. He’s also one of the most prolific: the sheer breadth of game projects that Vreeland has worked on is astounding—everything from small, self-contained mobile games to some of the most ambitious projects of the last decade, Fez and Hyper Light Drifter."
Microsoft Research helped 'Gears of War 4' sound so good (Timothy J Seppala / Engadget)
"At its simplest, Triton looks at an entire video game level and calculates the reverb properties of every material. From there, it applies realistic echo/reflection effects to the soundscape. This means incoming fire passing over a wooden crate sounds different than it would a brick wall."
Finish Him: Remembering Fighting Games’ Fatalities Arms Race (William Barboza / Vice UK)
"1992's Mortal Kombat delivered the perfect insult to the injury of video game defeat with the fatality. These gory finishing moves, pioneered by the infamous fighter, were the equivalent of blacktop trash-talk for guys that couldn't dunk, the smack chatter of White Men Can't Jump adapted into a new medium, heightening the drama of the arcade scene. Rival developers were left with two options to keep their own comparably styled projects competitive: make them good, or make them bloody. Guess which they chose."
How does a game replicate the complexity of a mess like Syria? (Thomas McMullan / Alphr)
"When I talk to General Sir Mike Jackson, it is in an auditorium of the British Museum, beside a banner promoting Civilization 6. It strikes me as a surreal situation to find myself talking to the former chief of general staff and head of the British Army until 2006, and one of the most high-profile generals in the British Army since World War II."
The (Possible) End Of Nintendo's Magnificent Two-Screen Gaming Era (Stephen Totilo / Kotaku)
"The fact that Nintendo’s next video game machine, the Switch, is built for single-screen gaming is a dark lining on a silver cloud... As a successor to Wii U and possibly to the 3DS, the Switch could leave Nintendo and gamers without an actively-supported two screen gaming option. That’d be a shame."
DF Retro: Origin Systems and the Crusader Series on PC/PS1/Saturn/PSP (DigitalFoundry / YouTube)
"From Ultima to Wing Commander, Origin produced a wide variety throughout its existence but today we're going to focus on the Crusader series. Created by Tony Zurovec, Crusader is an advanced isometric shooter which delivered striking SVGA graphics in a time when most PC games were still 320x200. We also explore its semi-sequel, No Regret, along with the console iterations of the original game."
Dragons in the Department of Corrections (Elisabeth de Kleer / Waypoint)
"Sterling Correctional Facility is not the kind of place where people are known to play nice. A maximum security prison 130 miles northeast of Denver, it houses some of Colorado's most egregious offenders: murderers, bank robbers, even a few serial killers—rule-breakers of all kinds. Yet, every afternoon, half a dozen inmates gather around a table in the common room to join forces against imaginary foes in a cooperative game of Dungeons and Dragons (1974)."
Has a Black Mirror episode predicted the future of video games? (Keith Stuart / The Guardian)
"The idea of a video game that can analyse a player’s personality and change accordingly may seem like the stuff of outlandish sci-fi to some Black Mirror viewers. But it isn’t. This could well be where game design is heading."
20 years on, the Tomb Raider story told by the people who were there (Wesley Yin-Poole / Eurogamer)
"In July 2010, Lara Croft Way opened in Derby. The name for part of a new ring road was chosen from a shortlist by public vote, with a whopping 89 per cent opting for the character devised by local studio Core Design... There wasn't much of a celebration at what was left of Core, though... Core - or what was left of it - had closed down just a few months earlier, and no-one seemed to have realised."
Game Design Deep Dive: Creating an adaptive narrative in Reigns (Francois Alliot / Gamasutra)
"'As soon as we weighted the decisions of the player with consequences on the 4 dimensions of power, we gave a lot of meaning to very simple swiping gestures.' says François Alliot, creator of Reigns."
HG101: America Daitouryou Senkyo (Brian Crimmins / Hardcore Gaming 101)
"What makes a little less sense is that a Japanese video game company would be the ones to make [a game about the 1988 U.S. Presidential Election], and as the election was still happening. Enter America Daitouryou Senkyo, Hect Co.'s foray into the world of strategy/simulation games. This game was the product of a different history."
Essen 2016: Best board games from the biggest board game convention (Tom Mendelsohn / Ars Technica)
"No place on earth is better than the halls of the Essen Messe for gamers who want to shunt brightly coloured wooden bits from one part of a board to another. So Ars flew over to brave Essen’s crowds (and festival food) to bring you the definitive report on the hottest games of Spiel 2016."
Video games are more important than ever (Jessica Conditt / Engadget)
"With the growing accessibility of high-end living-room consoles and virtual reality headsets, it's easy to imagine a video game on a list of Nobel nominees in the near future. Nowhere was that more apparent than at IndieCade 2016, an annual festival celebrating independent video games held in Los Angeles, California."
Worlds Collide: Combining Story and Systems in Dragon Age: Inquisition (Kaelin Lavallee & Mark Wilson / YouTube)
"This GDC 2015 talk from Bioware's Kaelin Lavallee and Mark Wilson walks through the challenges of creating Bioware's biggest single-player game and the instances where narrative and technical teams had to work together to build a fantasy world that could scale properly in design."
The Curious Appeal of Crunch (Tanya Short / Waypoint)
"I have been working since 9:30 on a bug that I inherited from a senior colleague, who we'll call Mike. He made this creature two years ago, but I am hoping he remembers how it works. Unfortunately, he's not in the office this morning. His chair is empty; his screens are dark. Nobody mentions it at the morning meeting. After lunch, Mike trudges in."
Is being bad at games really so terrible? (Ellie Gibson / Eurogamer)
"Why do we care so much if people are terrible at playing video games? And some of us really do care, it seems. One of the most common criticisms levelled at Go 8 Bit on Twitter is that the celebrity contestants are dreadful players. This is true in some instances, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing."
Maroon 5 - Don't Wanna Know (YouTube)
"NOTE FROM SIMON: to end, yes, this is a Maroon 5 music video, but feel free to watch it to work out why I included it."
[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!]