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[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from curator/video game industry veteran Simon Carless, rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend. This week's highlights include Gnog's quirky gameplay, Second Life bunny tragedy, and Snipperclips' surprising third-party story, among others.
Making our Dreams: Kareem at the VFX Festival (Kareem Ettouney / Media Molecule Blog)
Slightly abridged roundup this week since am on holiday - due to which I missed the GDC group trip to see Alien: Covenant, in favor of wandering around a lava-y island. Votes welcome on whether this was a bad or good thing? Heh.
Otherwise, I'm just vainly trying to keep up with the _ridiculous_ amount of great new video games released - and media coverage thereof. It's a bit of a Golden Age for games, but it comes with the same issues TV has right now in just working out what to play/watch, when, and... why. (Let's all play games that we want to play, for the amount of hours that we want to, not solely ones we feel socially obligated to play, huh?)
- Simon, curator.]
Wonder Boy: Omar Cornut Is Building His Own Miracle World (Mike Williams / USGamer)
"Omar Cornut is a founding member of LizardCube, the studio behind the remaster of the Sega Master System classic Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap. Together with animator and artist Ben Fiquet and a host of independent developers, Cornut brought back a lost classic on modern platforms."
The history of RPGs (Richard Cobbett / PC Gamer)
"Computers and RPGs have always gone hand-in-hand. Even when the best adventurers could hope for visually was a few letters and numbers on a screen, what better way could there be to handle stats, die-rolls and complex calculations? Soon enough, though, computer RPGs were capable of doing much more. [SIMON'S NOTE: a big, excellently researched 4-part history of PC RPGs here!]"
"Our Art Director, Kareem took to the stage at the VFX Festival in London earlier this year, to give a talk called 'Making our Dreams': a talk exploring the principle of expressive UGC and world design."
How Scanner Sombre immerses players in a pitch-black cave: sound and lasers(Jack Yarwood / Gamasutra)
"When making a video game, you can rely on certain techniques to guide the player. These include spotlighting specific items and pathways to direct their gaze. But what happens when your game doesn’t have a conventional lighting system? Or even an organic color palette? The cave exploration game Scanner Sombre, developed by Introversion Software (the creators of Prison Architect), has the answers to these questions."
'Destiny 2' Game Director Luke Smith: "We Want to Unhide the Fun of 'Destiny'"(John Davison / Glixel)
"Ahead of the studio's big livestreamed gameplay reveal on May 18 I had the opportunity to talk to him about how his team has approached the sequel, how story and characters play a far more important role, and whether we're finally going to get matchmaking for raids. He also shared that Bungie will be partnering with Blizzard for the PC release of Destiny 2."
One Player Is Holding a 12-Year Video Game Secret Hostage (Patrick Klepek / Waypoint)
"Fans of the online MMO Tibia have been waiting 12 years for the answer to a question: what's behind the mysterious door that only opens to someone who's level 999? "You see a gate of expertise for level 999," the door started taunting in 2005. "Only the worthy may pass.""
Miniature Mansions | Gnog (Zach Budgor / Heterotopias)
"Gnog bundles the puzzle game into a series of discrete pocket universes. Blocky, pastel containers float in starry voids, or humming laboratories, or amid cramped cityscapes. The player can examine them from any angle she likes. Some of the contraptions resemble anthropomorphic lunchboxes, with wide facial features and flip-top lids; a few take organic form, like a tree stump filled with baby birds."
How AbleGamers Turned an Old Coast Guard Facility to a Hub for Disabled Gamers(Ozzie Mejia / Shacknews)
"The AbleGamers Charity has opened a new facility in West Virginia called the AbleGamers Center for Inclusive Play, which will grant the charity new resources and new ways to reach out to the disabled. Shacknews reached out to COO Steven Spohn and CEO Mark Barlet to learn more about how the charity made this happen."
toco toco ep. 52: Kazutoshi Iida, Game Creator (toco toco TV / YouTube)
"In this episode, we follow Kazutoshi Iida, the creator of the Aquanaut’s Holiday, Tail of the Sun and Doshin the Giant games, and lecturer at Ritsumeikan university, located in Kyoto. Our first stop will be at Rissei Cinema Project, a former elementary school built in 1928 reconverted in a cultural center, currently hosting various events."
Sony's Richard Marks Talks What Works, What's Next for PSVR (Simon Cox / Glixel)
"With the Aim Controller and playroom demos out of the way, Marks takes time to answer some more general questions about his Magic Lab, PSVR and what's next for virtual reality."
Secret Hitler: Designing Conflict & High-Tension Moments (Mike Boxleiter / GDC / YouTube)
"This 2017 GDC design postmortem from 'Secret Hitler' co-designer Mike Boxleiter goes over the initial design process, pitfalls and dead ends which were overcome in the iteration process and the final marketing push that helped the game succeed on Kickstarter. [SIMON'S NOTE: this was part of the GDC Board Game Design Day that kicked off this year - hoping we'll do more of 'em!]"
Britsoft Focus: Bak to the Future (Rich Stanton / Kotaku UK)
"Misfortune can be a blessing in disguise. “When I was four or five years old my dad worked as a miner down the pit,” begins Philip Bak, the developer behind Bezier. “And he had an accident with his finger, lost the top half, and he got five hundred pounds compensation, which was a lot in the seventies." [SIMON'S NOTE: this interview series has been super-quirky but also very personal/humanizing, which is precisely why I recommend them.]"
The latest and greatest trend in vintage vinyl? Video game music (Randall Roberts / LA Times)
"What used to be called “digging in the crates” for unheralded sounds, however, has recently shifted to less tangible realms, as archivists, devoted fans and boutique vinyl labels such as Ship to Shore PhonoCo., Data Discs and the L.A.-based Iam8bit aim their flashlights at more virtual worlds."
Cuba: Where underground arcades, secret networks and piracy are a way of life(Brian Crecente / Polygon)
"Over one week in March, I visited Havana, spending my days meeting with professors, game makers, journalists and players to try and capture a sense of what it is to be a Cuban in the age of gaming. [SIMON'S NOTE: pretty impressive set of articles from a rarely reported-from country here!]"
The Primary Motivations of Board Gamers: 7 Takeaways (Nick Yee / Quantic Foundry)
"We finally had time to dive into our board game data. As some of you know, we created a Board Game Motivation Profile from the ground up (using the same method as the Gamer Motivation Profile), and over 90,000 board gamers have taken part in it. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the primary motivations of board gamers—the motivation that each gamer scores highest on (and is most important to them), and slice those findings by age and gender."
Thousands of 'Second Life' Bunnies Are Going to Starve to Death This Saturday(Janine Hawkins / Waypoint)
"Here's a grim little curiosity for you; a story about what can happen at the intersection of DRM and virtual pets, straight from the reaches of Second Life. One of the biggest markets in this unfairly sensationalized virtual world is in so-called "breedables.""
We Failed at Publishing Competitive Games so You Don't Have to (Dave Lang / GDC / YouTube)
"This 2017 GDC talk from Iron Galaxy Studios' Dave Lang get into the core takeaways from the failings his studio learned trying to enter the eSports market, sharing what they learned about marketing games to a competitive crowd, and even what to look for in the games you want to put out."
Snipperclips Afterwords – What It's Like To Create A Launch Title For A New Nintendo Console (Kyle Hillliard / Game Informer)
"As of April, the game has sold over 350,000 copies. We spoke with technical director Tom Vian and creative director Adam Vian of developer SFB Games about the development of the game, if they mind that people assume the game was made entirely by Nintendo, and what is going on with the game's fiction."
Why Did a Chinese Peroxide Company Pay $1 Billion for a Talking Cat? (Adam Satariano / Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
"According to CODE Advisors LLC, an investment bank that specializes in media and technology deals, 70 percent of all acquisitions of game companies since 2015 have been by Chinese buyers. Samo, for one, isn’t stopping to ask questions. A vegan, he’s using his windfall to start a food-sustainability foundation. “It’s not easy,” he says, “to find buyers for a $1 billion company.”"
The obsessive Steam collectors who own more than 10,000 games (Matt Sayer / PC Gamer)
"Like all the best origin stories, Hyptronic's began with Half-Life 2. After receiving a Steam key for Half-Life 2 with his graphics card, Hyptronic found he had to install Valve's clunky new software to play the most-anticipated PC game of all time. He had no idea what he was getting himself into when he registered his first game on Valve's nascent platform."
[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!]