[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. Some of the highlights include a look at the new F2P Animal Crossing, Donkey Kong 64's speedrun history, and the cyberpunk horror of Observer.
Have been battling a cold this week, so no complex observations for you all, but just wanted to thank everyone again for subscribing to the newsletter or reading this on Gamasutra. Hoping to hit the 1,000 subscriber milestone (with >50% open rate still!) after a fewww more weeks. Tell your friends!
- Simon, curator.]
Wolfenstein II: a good argument for games to get political (Bryant Francis / Gamasutra)
"Remember a few years ago, when the sucess of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor had developers hoping that other developers would copy its Nemesis system? Well now that I'm about 3/4ths through Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I'm hoping developers choose to copy the way it gets political."
The Problems With Far Cry (HeavyEyed / YouTube)
"Far Cry has had a wild ride from sci-fi shooter to bland open world series, so let's talk about how Ubisoft [got their] series there, with towers, unused design from Far Cry 2, where Primal failed and the handling of story and setting."
Guide to The Overwatch League: Team Brands, Their Owners and Investors(Angelos Anastasopoulos / eSportsObserver)
"The Overwatch League was marketed as the first ‘truly global professional esports league’. Blizzard Entertainment promised a competition featuring teams from all over the world, but after the twelve franchises for the 2018 season were announced it appears to be more of an American League with a couple of…external guests. [SIMON'S NOTE: some serious money going onto eSports right now...]"
Rediscovering History’s Lost First Female Video Game Designer (Benj Edwards / Fast Company)
"One of the first video game programmers was a young woman who’d recently graduated from high school. Forty years ago, consumer electronics giant RCA released the Studio II, a programmable video game console that, along with the Fairchild Channel F, pioneered the use of ROM cartridges as interchangeable game media."
30 Things I Hate About Your Game Pitch (Brian Upton / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 GDC talk, Game On The Rails' Brian Upton describes thirty annoying or counterproductive things that you should avoid when you're pitching your game to a publisher. Learn how publishers evaluate the games that are pitched to them, what they care about and what they don't, and what you can do to present your own game in the best possible light."
The Joy of eavesdropping in Grand Theft Auto V (Alyse Stanley / RockPaperShotgun)
"I hear her before I see her. The young brunette sporting head-to-toe white Vinewood chic, her voice high as she seethes over the phone at a man I assume is her husband. He can barely get a word in through her accusations; he’s been sleeping with the nanny (again), she has proof this time, she’ll take his ass to court."
Lucas Pope on life after Papers, Please (Austin Wood / Eurogamer)
"Lucas Pope turned down Uncharted 3. He found a seat at Naughty Dog during the development of the first Uncharted and stuck around for Uncharted 2, but when Drake's third outing rocked up, he left the studio because he wanted to experiment with smaller, weirder games."
The horrifying legacy of Yume Nikki, the homebrew game that became a phenomenon (Giada Zavarise / PC Gamer)
"There is a girl in a room. She never goes out. Whatever is hidden behind her bedroom door, she doesn’t want you to know. She shakes her head, her drowsy expression unchanged, refusing to pull the handle. But in her dreams, she opens that door. Behind it, nightmares await."
How Nintendo turned Super Mario Odyssey into the ultimate vacation (Andrew Webster / The Verge)
"Most big-budget video games are structured like epic quests, but Mario’s new globe-trotting adventure, Super Mario Odyssey, feels a lot more like a vacation. “The theme was basically going on a journey,” explains director Kenta Motokura, “and searching for surprise.” Mario may be trying to save the world, but he’s still going to enjoy his time everywhere he visits. [SIMON'S NOTE: bonus link - 'How Super Mario Odyssey makes you want to explore'.]
The Ups And Downs Of Teabagging In Pro Gaming (Maddy Myers / Kotaku)
"When the clock counted down the last 100 seconds, Injustice 2 Pro Series player Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean knew he’d already won the match. His opponent’s health bar had been reduced to a sliver. All Sonic Fox had to do was kill time. So he started teabagging."
'Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp' Has Microtransactions and I'm Not Even Mad (Jed Whitaker / Motherboard)
"For the past day or so I've done essentially nothing except play Nintendo's free-to-play mobile life simulation, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which launched early in Australia and New Zealand ahead of its worldwide release scheduled for November. I'm happy to report it's pretty good, in spite of its microtransactions."
Opinion: When Big Oil attacks your game (Katherine Cross / Gamasutra)
"The game in question is Thunderbird Strike, described as "a lightning searing sidescroller," wherein you play a legendary thunderbird who gathers lightning to destroy pipeline building equipment. Aside from its strongly allegorical nature, which draws on Anishinaabe and Métis imagery, you also never target people in the game, only lifeless vehicles and constructs."
Portland Retro Gaming Expo delivers the industry’s rarest, weirdest stuff (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica)
"If you think you've seen everything there is to offer at a massive "retro gaming expo," then you're a lot like me. I went to last weekend's Portland Retro Gaming Expo with low expectations, simply hoping to have fun and play games with a few friends. But the annual show has continued its explosive growth, and this year's edition featured so much rare and weird gaming stuff from yesteryear that I couldn't help but pull out my camera."
Invent A Game, Reinvent Yourself (Jennifer Hazel & Joshua Boggs / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 GDC talk, CheckPoint's Jennifer Hazel and FRAMED creator Joshua Boggs provide evidence-based, clinically relevant tips about how to be mindful of your own mental health and what you can do if things get tough during the process of game development."
Xbox One X: A hands-on analysis of Microsoft's powerful new console (Kris Graft / Gamasutra)
"Xbox One X, formerly known as the more astrologically-inclined Project Scorpio, is arriving on November 7 for $499, and Gamasutra got to spend some up-close and personal time with the console. Let’s take a look not only the console itself, but what it means for game developers in terms of making games and the game market itself."
For the Old Men of OpTic, 'Call of Duty' Is the Tie That Binds (Alex Kane / Glixel)
"The group text goes out, and the game is on: "Roll call." The five members of the Old Men of OpTic are busy professionals, but this is the moment they look forward to all day long. This is their metagame – their chance to report in and claim a spot in tonight's action."
Stories Untold (Errant Signal / YouTube)
"Spooky Halloween episode time! This year we're looking at Stories Untold: a horror anthology text adventure. [SIMON'S NOTE: Errant Signal's analyses are always good, and this covers Stories Untold, which I've heard from more than one source is a bit of a hidden gem.]"
The original PlayStation boss (James Mielke / Polygon)
"But with a company as large as Sony, there have been many key figures who have never become public names, even at the highest levels of the company. One name you don’t hear as much is Shigeo Maruyama, the former chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment and, before that, the CEO of Sony Music Entertainment."
World Record Progression: Donkey Kong 64 (Summoning Salt / YouTube)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: the latest Summoning Salt video deconstructing the evolution of speedruns takes on Donkey Kong 64 - no idea how long it takes to put these together, but pretty sure it's a LONG time.]"
I Don’t Trust David Cage to Tackle Domestic Violence in 'Detroit' (Bruno Dias / Waypoint)
"On Monday, a new trailer for Detroit: Become Human was shown at Sony's Paris Games Week presentation. It depicts one of the subplots in the game, in which the android Kara, a playable character, is inserted (as an enslaved robot maid) into the lives of an abusive single father and his young daughter."
Dev Q&A: How Bloober Team created 'hidden horror' in Observer (Gamasutra team / Gamasutra)
"Gamasutra had the pleasure of talking to Bloober's Rafal Basaj about making the game in a recent Twitch stream. He discussed how the team wrestled with whether or not to incorporate distinctly Polish trappings and locales in the game, how they sold its unique brand of scares to the public, and how they settled on pricing."
[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 [email protected] 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!]