[Happy New Year to you all! As partially predicted last week, this is the first 2017 Video Game Deep Cuts, as opposed to the last 2016 one - but it's filled with a LOT more 'best of 2016' lists, naturally, including some neat/less conventional ones. Oh, and another neat thing to round out 2016 - 'the jig was up' for Frog Fractions 2, and there's a couple of pieces below - read the full game ARG write-up for some complete insanity!
Re: 'best of', as we're ramping up to GDC 2017, 'best things' are on my mind too - especially since we drop both Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards finalists in the next 7 days. Also we have the deadline for the new Art Boss showcase, we just picked the alt.ctrl.GDC alternative controller games that'll be on display, and.. I should probably write a blog post about all this stuff I'm hyped about, right? Next time...
- Simon Carless, curator.]
Steve Gaynor's Top 10 Games of 2016 (Steve Gaynor / GiantBomb)
"Fullbright's Steve Gaynor is here to rap with you kids about assassination, open world jank, and the bonds of friendship. [SIMON'S NOTE: My favorite 'best of year' lists for joyous, personal writing from devs/writers are at GiantBomb this year -check 'em all out or try Nick Capozzoli's, Nina Freeman's, Brendon Chung's (with cute Doom illustrations!), Rami Ismail's, Christopher Grant's and like a billion others.)
Game in-app purchases are warping kids’ understanding of basic economic ideas(James Ledbetter / Quartz)
"It is nighttime and my young son is asleep; I am awake and trying to help him. If he were a little older I might be gluing something onto a science project or baking cupcakes for a school event. Instead, I am drawing my finger over lines of imaginary fruit on an iPad, trying to rack up points so he can better enjoy a game called Fruit Pop, a matching game similar to the wildly popular Candy Crush."
The 20 Games You Shouldn't Miss In 2016 (Brandon Boyer / BoingBoing)
"Since I last presented a year-end videogame wrap-up for Boing Boing readers, it's become an exponentially harder task. The number of games released per day has - even just since 2014! - risen a few times over, so narrowing a list down means leaving amazing and creative work behind. That's not even to mention the herculean task of staying on top of the pile of games still unplayed."
The Best Video Game Music Of 2016 (Kirk Hamilton / Kotaku)
"2016 was a great year for video games, and an even better year for video game music. It was also a diverse year, with a mix of Norse folk music, spy movie histrionics, ambient soundscapes and extremely heavy metal."
Inside the Development of Gaming's Biggest Mystery, 'Frog Fractions 2' (Patrick Klepek / Waypoint)
"For several years, designer Jim Crawford has been promising a sequel his bizarre (and beloved) 2012 game. It's finally here."
Thanks for Nothing, Videogames: The 2016 Vaporware Awards (Chris Kohler / Wired)
"Over the Past month, two of the videogame industry’s Longest Development Time award contenders were actually released within days of each other: Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian, originally announced in 2006 and 2009 respectively. And to decent reviews, too! But that doesn’t mean our vaporware journey is over. Indeed, it may be just beginning. [SIMON'S NOTE: Sounds like Chris is stopping writing for Wired in January - end of an era, folks, and a shame - looking forward to where he ends up next!]"
50 Best Games of 2016 (Glixel Staff / Glixel)
"From 'Overwatch' and 'Stardew Valley' to 'Mario' and 'Pokémon', the best of a truly excellent year for games."
Why Alan Wake's creators want to make you the storyteller (Brian Crecente / Polygon)
"Remedy now has two teams and uses its own technology, like an in-house game engine, to build its creations. At first blush, the company also seems to be moving away from what has always powered its many successes: games deeply rooted in stories which lean heavily on often flawed, often interesting characters."
Molleindustria's Highlights from 2016 (Paolo Pedercini / Molleindustria)
"Here are some of my highlights from 2016, with the usual emphasis on politically-aware, underrated, experimental works... [SIMON'S NOTE: Paolo, who teaches at CMU and makes agitprop games, is essentially a professional provocateur, but that's precisely why his list is interesting.]"
4Gamer interviews Japanese creators on 2017 ambitions (Sal Romano / Gematsu)
"4Gamer.net has gone up with its end-of-year creator interviews. The website interviewed 146 creators, many of which shared teases for their ambitions in 2017. Get the roundup of newsworthy bits below."
The Ongoing Voice Actor's Strike Is More Than Just a Little Drama (Ian Williams / Waypoint)
"Reporter Ian Williams digs into the intricacies of the 2016 SAG-AFTRA strike, and offers a look ahead at what's to come."
Why lower video game sales don’t always mean a flop (Nick Statt / The Verge)
"For years, there was a rhythm to the annual release of the world’s best-selling video game series. Publisher Activision would announce the latest Call of Duty with a trailer in the commercial break of a big sporting event..."
High Scores: The Best Videogames Of 2016 (Kill Screen Staff / Kill Screen)
"Darkest Dungeon will punish you. The “dungeon,” a dusty and generic RPG fixture, is twisted into a locus of psychological torment and trauma. Relentlessly grim voiceover and inky Mike Mignola-esque art drive home the game’s hammer-blunt central message: violence takes its toll."
The Jig Is Up: Let's Talk Frog Fractions 2 With Jim Crawford (Jeff Gerstmann / GiantBomb)
"Jeff sits down with Jim Crawford [in this podcast] to talk about the follow-up to Frog Fractions, the ARG that got us here, and everything in-between. (There are things in here that you'd probably consider a spoiler.)"
The Year In Video Game Paintings (Riley MacLeod / Kotaku)
"Paintings in video games are like toilets: they don’t do much, but you notice if they aren’t there. They make a space seem lived in and real. They’re often unintentionally hilarious, and they’re one of my favorite things in games."
Game on! The best board games of 2016 (Ars Staff / Ars Technica)
"Do you get unhealthy levels of enjoyment from unwrapping decks of cards, punching out cardboard tiles, and evaluating the heft and finish of wooden cubes? We do, too—we're gamers, after all—and 2016 was a tremendous year for tabletop gaming. The tireless members of the Ars Cardboard crew spent a lot of time playing, replaying, and dissecting the year's new titles, and we're ready to tell you what we enjoyed most."
Ars Technica's Best Video Games Of 2016 (Ars Staff / Ars Technica)
"Much like 2015 before it, 2016 was jam-packed with enough quality titles to make narrowing down a top 20 list quite a chore. But the Ars gaming brain trust was up to the task, arguing late into the night here on the Orbiting HQ about which games should make the cut and which (ahem) should not. In the end, after multiple bouts of arm-wrestling, we all agreed that total gaming domination in 2016 belonged to..."
10 amazing games you may have missed this year (Andrew Webster / The Verge)
"2016 was a great year for big games. There were fantastic sequels like Uncharted 4 and Final Fantasy XV, long-awaited adventures like The Witness and The Last Guardian, along with fantastic indie gems like Firewatch and Inside. But amidst all of the big names, the year was also filled with many smaller, yet equally enticing experiences that you may have missed. There’s everything from cute horror games to futuristic puzzle boxes to heartbreaking true stories. Here are 10 of my favorite hidden gems from 2016."
[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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!]