This week's highlights include a piece on what happens when The Tomorrow Children goes away, a silly Everybody's Golf video, & a host of other neat articles/videos.
Well, it's hot here in the Bay Area. Hot hot hot. Hottie hottie hot. Luckily, there's a bumper set of links here to chill out with. And in the meantime, if anyone would like to help me with my plan to make a procedural Parappa The Rapper-style game - which I'm convinced would be the best thing ever - feel free to help out!
- Simon, curator.]
Amazon’s new game Breakaway is being designed with Twitch streaming in mind(Andrew Webster / The Verge)
"Patrick Gilmore, the studio head at Amazon Game Studios Orange County, has a unique view from his office. It’s not some picturesque Southern California landscape, filled with swaying trees or sandy beaches. Instead, when Gilmore peers down the hallway, he sees an e-sports broadcast booth, where once a week the studio live-streams its next game, Breakaway."
Living Worlds of Action and Adventure, Part 3: Head Over Heels, Exile, and Dizzy(Jimmy Maher / The Digital Antiquarian)
"In nerdom’s eternal tug-of-war between the cool and the cute, the former tended to get the best of it for many years in the realm of videogames. Yet there were exceptions, and one of the more notable of them from the British gaming scene of the 1980s was a lovable action-adventure called Head Over Heels— because sometimes you’ve just got to let your cute flag fly. [SIMON'S NOTE: So many great game history articles from Jimmy recently.]"
A Game You Can Control With Your Mind (Cade Metz / New York Times)
"When you pull the headset over your eyes and the game begins, you are transported to a tiny room with white walls. Your task is to break out of the room, but you cannot use your hands. There is no joystick or game pad. You must use your thoughts."
Super Mario Kart at 25: Dissecting a revolutionary game design (Jon Irwin / Gamasutra)
"Super Mario Kart is one of the most unlikely blockbuster franchises in the industry. In 2017, it is arguably Nintendo’s most bankable series; each new title is so in demand that a three-year-old port (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Switch) was the franchise’s fastest selling game in its history. But when the game first appeared on this date twenty-five years ago, Super Mario Kart for the SNES was a mere oddity."
Just How Important Are Female Protagonists? (Nick Yee / Quantic Foundry)
"The availability of female protagonists in video games and the push for more playable female characters has been a hot topic in recent years. For example, articles on the gender breakdowns at E3 or reasons that game companies provide for not having playable female characters often engender a great deal of discussion. In this blog post, we’ll use survey data from 1,266 gamers to explore just how important female protagonists are to gamers, and how this varies across gamer segments."
The Sad State of Game Preservation (BriHard / YouTube)
"Here's a 2 month old topic about what some have deemed The Sad State of Game Preservation. I've wanted to talk about it since June, but never did due to cancelling a half hour video, so here it is now."
How Everything conjures infinity with camera tricks (Alex Wiltshire / RockPaperShotgun)
"Everything is a game about everything. You can play as everything. Planets and hairs, whales and articulated buses. Pollen, spiral galaxies, tents, penguins – you get the picture. Within a few seconds, you might have moved from being a tardigrade floating on the microscopic scale all the way to being a sun hanging in a star-flecked universe."
Bungie's Luke Smith Answers Destiny Questions From Twitter (Wired / YouTube)
"Bungie's Luke Smith, design director of Destiny 2, answers Twitter's burning questions about the Destiny franchise. What if the loot cave still existed? How will characters transfer to Destiny 2? Did the wizard really come from the moon?"
Colonial Reform (Sam Kabo Ashwell / These Heterogenous Tasks)
"Two similar games came out at about the same time in 2015. Both involve a Conan Doyle or Verne-style exploration contest between members of a clubbish Royal Society-like organisation; you assemble a small team of adventurers and go on a series of expeditions to exotic lands in search of fame, knowledge and treasures, managing resources, leveling up characters and making strategic decisions about your route."
Designer Notes 31: Margaret Robertson (Designer Notes / Idle Thumbs podcast)
"In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews Margaret Robertson, Game Director at PlayDots. Margaret is known for her pioneering work at Hide & Seek and as editor-in-chief at EDGE magazine. They discuss how to make a game about death, whether a game should make you good at lying, and why making a game about dots can be rewarding."
Preparing for the end of The Tomorrow Children, a game about helping others that couldn’t help itself (Leon Hurley / GamesRadar)
"It’s always a strange event when an online world dies. People come together, make friends, form relationships and build a life of sorts in a game, sometimes over years. Then, in an instant, it’s gone. No gentle exit or release, just a brutal server error and a black screen. Everything ceases to exists."
Save Yourself: Game History is in Your Hands (Laine Nooney / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 talk, game historian Laine Nooney demystifies how historians turn everyday artifacts and documents into compelling narratives, share behind-the-scenes stories and images from her own hunt for game history, and empower industry professionals with the knowledge to begin their own practice of self-preservation."
Let's Find Out If Everybody's Golf Is Really For Everybody (Tim Rogers / Kotaku)
"There’s a new Hot Shots Golf game out for the PlayStation 4! Except now they’re calling it Everybody’s Golf. How “for everybody” is it? Watch my video to find out! [SIMON'S NOTE: Tim Rogers is doing videos of high silliness for Kotaku, and I approve.]"
From Busted Teeth to Broken TVs: The Oral History of Tony Hawk's Underground(Blake Hester / USGamer)
"Ask the people who worked on it, and they'll tell you Tony Hawk's Underground is a cult classic. It's often overshadowed by other games in the series, such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 3, which are both regarded as some of the best games of all time. They'll also tell you that despite the popularity of those other games, Underground is their personal favorite."
A Look at Graphics: Other Dimensions (Ben Chandler / AdventureGamers)
"It's a standard feature of adventure stories to show a wide range of settings over the course of a tale. Dark forests, scorching deserts, snowy mountains, gloomy castles – it's perfectly common to jump from one to the next as the hero's journey advances."
The Future of EA Sports Is Storytelling (Mike Piellucci / Waypoint)
"Like many great strategies, EA Sports' plan to take sports games into the future was born of necessity. It was 2009 and Cam Weber was working on Fight Night Champion, the fifth installment of EA's boxing franchise. It was scheduled to arrive at a volatile time."
How (and why) we ported SHENZHEN SOLITAIRE to MS-DOS (Zach Barth / Gamasutra Blogs)
"Can two programmers who are accustomed to making games for modern computers with gigabytes of RAM and high-color HD displays port one of their games to MS-DOS? Neither of us had any experience developing on such old hardware, but since working within artificially limited systems is something of a Zachtronics game design specialty, we felt compelled to try!"
Steve Gaynor on 'Tacoma,' 'Sleep No More' and What it All Means (Chris Suellentrop / Glixel)
"A few years ago, Steve Gaynor and I were in San Francisco, talking in the halls of the Moscone Center during the annual Game Developers Conference. Every time I asked him a question, it seemed like we were interrupted by a young designer or an aspiring designer who wanted to meet him, or thank him for his work, or take a picture with him."
Creating Mixed Reality Trailers and Livestreams (Kert Gartner & Colin Northway / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 VRDC at GDC session, video editor Kert Gartner and Northway Games' Colin Northway explain how they created the mixed reality livestreams and trailers for Fantastic Contraption and how they solved many VR specific post-production problems along the way."
Urban Design and the Creation of Videogame Cities (Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Medium)
"Urbanism, you see, both actual and imaginary, is incredibly complex, but I do hope that enough ground and most of the basics will get covered. Unlike the majority of artists who get to do most of the interpretation of cities for their audiences themselves, in games we can only do part of this interpretation. The rest is up to the players; it is they who get to directly experience our virtual environments, and assign value to them."
Petz wouldn’t exist without Night Trap (Simone De Rochefort / Polygon)
"I wasn’t allowed to have a tamagotchi as a kid. This was a bitter blow, but that fad blew over and I got something even better: Catz 2. Dogz and Catz technically predated tamagotchi by about a year, making them the first virtual pets."
Netcode 101 - What You Need To Know (Battle(non)sense / YouTube)
"In this video you will learn about basic computer networking, update rates, tick rates and a lot more which affects your online experience. I also tell you the reason behind "super bullets"!."
[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 & an advisor to indie publisher No More Robots, so you may sometimes see links from those entities in his picks. Or not!]