Some of the highlights include more loot box opinions, the history of the ill-fated BMX XXX, what happens to your Steam account when you die, and more.
All kinds of interesting links out there this week - and I'm increasingly intrigued by this 'premium game + DLC/loot boxes' conundrum linked below. Are big developers and publishers being 'greedy' by resorting to this method, or are their sales dipping, so they are trying to get back to 'even' by getting more money off bigger fans? Some games are clearly doing it very wrong.
Also, let's not forget that many NES/Super Nintendo games cost $50, decades ago, so the cost of premium games hasn't kept pace with inflation (at all, actually, since many prime Steam Early Access games cost closer to $20-$30.)
Ultimately, I guess the end goal is clear - charge the amount of money for the game and its extras that makes the majority of your players still like you. (It's more about sentiment per game than a particular formula?) And personally, I don't have any issue with cosmetic loot boxes that bring you fun extra stuff. But YMMV - and probably does!
Until next time...
- Simon, curator.]
Behind the addictive psychology and seductive art of loot boxes (Alex Wiltshire / PC Gamer)
"Loot boxes are everywhere. They're in shooters, RPGs, card games, action games and MOBAs. They also take the form of packs, chests and crates. They're filled with voice lines, weapon skins, new pants or materials to get you more loot boxes."
A dog has turned my life into an RPG (Christian Donlan / Eurogamer)
"I met a mysterious old man this last Saturday. He told me he was 87, and I did not believe it. Then, to prove it, he lifted his huge round sunglasses and made me stare at his eyes, which were light blue and rather milky with cataracts. "Still don't believe it?" he asked. I told him that I still did not believe it, and he laughed, delighted."
Nintendo Classic Mini: SNES developer interview – Volume 4: Super Mario Kart (Akinori Sao / Nintendo)
"We began with experiments for a multiplayer F-ZERO game. In F-ZERO, you race at over 400 kilometres per hour along incredibly long straight lines, but we realised that splitting the screen into upper and lower portions for two players to do the same thing was out of the question."
Inside the development of Conan Exiles: The Frozen North (Gamasutra staff / Gamasutra)
"A few months ago, Gamasutra brought Conan Exiles creative director Joel Bylos onto our Twitch channel to discuss Funcom's hit online survival game. Recently, Gamasutra's Bryant Francis and Kris Graft had the pleasure of speaking with Bylos again about the game's launch on Xbox One's preview program, as well as the design of the game's new Frozen North expansion and what new features can be expected from it."
The inside story of the Xbox One X (James Temperton / Wired UK)
"In the former document archives of a Seattle-based insurance firm lurks the quietest room in the world. The human ear can hear down to zero decibels. Here, the sound of silence has been measured down to negative 20. [SIMON'S NOTE: this is archetypical Wired puffery, but also entertaining at the same time!]"
Designer Notes 32: Asher Vollmer (Soren Johnson / Designer Notes / Idle Thumbs)
"In this [podcast] episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Asher Vollmer, best known as the designer of Puzzlejuice and Threes. They discuss why paper prototypes don’t always translate well into video games, whether a game should take up 100% of your brain, and how he feels about the Threes clone 2048."
The Story of CD Projekt - Witcher Documentary (Noclip / YouTube)
"In the opening episode of our six-part series on The Witcher, we talk to Marcin Iwiński about life in socialist Poland, the business of games distribution and the founding of CD Projekt. [SIMON'S NOTE: a bunch of the other episodes are already up!]"
'It Made Absolutely No Sense:' The Story of 'BMX XXX' (Blake Hester / Motherboard)
"Playing BMX XXX is mostly like playing every other action sports game: You ride your bike around a level, do tricks, and score as many combos as possible. In the early 2000s, this was nothing new. Thanks to the popularity of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater,action sports games were the thing. The only difference is, in BMX XXX, game characters are not famous BMX pros, they're sometimes naked women."
'God of War' Hinges on the Bond of Its 2 New Actors (Patrick Shanley / Hollywood Reporter)
"The anticipated video game's leads, who have spent years working as Kratos and his son Atreus, can finally reveal secrets about the antihero's new direction: "He's definitely a changed person.""
How the biggest theft in EVE Online history ended in death threats (Brendan Drain / RockPaperShotgun)
"From record-breaking heists and scams to public assassinations and spy infiltrations, New Eden has been home to some incredible tales of espionage, theft, and political intrigue. This month another chapter in EVE’s long and bloody history came to an abrupt end as two players conspired to pull off the biggest political betrayal and theft of assets in the game’s history."
What happens to your Steam account when you die? (Chris Bratt / Eurogamer)
"Chris Bratt delves into what happens to your Steam account once you die, discovering that you can't easily leave a digital library to a friend or loved one even if you were to write it into your will."
A Problem With Modern DLC (Raycevick / YouTube)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: one of the better analysis video channels on YouTube delivers again.]"
The World Record History of Super Mario Sunshine any% (AverageTreyVG / YouTube)
"In this video, I explain the entire history of world record speedruns for the any% category of Super Mario Sunshine - from its release in 2002 to the current day (September 2017). This game has a rich history of trick discoveries, rivalries, movement optimizations, and dominant players that seemed unbeatable in their time. [SIMON'S NOTE: I guess there's a whole subgenre of speedrun history analysis, wow!]"
How Sony's biggest failure led to an indie renaissance (Matt Suckley / ZAM)
"The PSP Go came out when Apple's App Store had already begun to make mobile games mainstream, but had not yet given rise to the multi-million dollar free-to-play giants we recognize today. Instead, the marketplace bristled with low-priced slices of creativity from small studios that could have only dreamt of such exposure previously, and certainly weren't represented on PlayStation."
What's up with all these niche 'hardcore realism' games from Eastern Europe? (Jessica Famularo / Gamasutra)
"Over the course of the past five years or so, there’s been a rise in hardcore, realistic games coming from Eastern European developers: a shooter with military-grade tactics; a true-to-life medieval times simulator; fantasy RPGs with intricately branching dialogue trees and brutal strategic combat."
Now Ubi’s opened the door, can we have our “Skip Boss Fight” button? (John Walker / RockPaperShotgun)
"Ubisoft made a fascinating announcement this week. They revealed that the latest Assassin’s Creed is to add a “Discovery Tour” mode, removing all the combat and challenges from the game, to let players just freely experience their in-depth recreation of Ancient Egypt."
The Evolution of Rodeo in Titanfall 2 (Chin Xiang Chong / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 Game Developers Conference talk, Respawn Entertainment's Chin Xiang Chong leads viewers on a guided tour of the development of 'rodeo' gameplay in the Titanfall series, including looks at early prototypes & meditations on the lessons learned."
Games on the Mersey, Part 5: The Lemmings Effect (Jimmy Maher / Digital Antiquarian)
"It was another member of the DMA club, Russell Kay, who looked at the animations and spoke the fateful words: “There’s a game in that!” He took to calling the little men lemmings. It was something about the way they always seemed to be moving in lockstep and in great quantities across the screen whenever they showed up..."
Where Video Game Conventions Draw 300,000: Not in the U.S. (Laura Parker / New York Times)
"Next week, 300,000 video game fans, developers and publishers like Sony, Ubisoft, Activision and Microsoft plan to congregate so they can showcase their wares and participate in a cosplay zone, an e-sports tournament and a 48-hour jam. Their destination: São Paulo, Brazil. [SIMON'S NOTE: there's a reason that I popped out my monocle reading this article which I'll explain at a later date!]"
Daytona USA: why the best arcade racing game ever just won't go away (Will Freeman / The Guardian)
"Released in 1993, and available in a variety of cabinets from basic standing model to full-on deluxe recreation of the player’s 41 Hornet car, Sega’s masterpiece always pulls a crowd. And not just in this specialist coin-op den."
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