[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 installment includes a podcast about Dream Daddies, a wonderful video profile of Million Onion Hotel creator Yoshiro Kimura, and lots more.
Still kicking it here in the UK, working hard on updating the GDC 2018 schedule with lots of excellent new talks, and thinking hard about Mike Rose's Tweet this week: 'The problem with there being *so many* game sales now, is that when I see a game on sale that I want, I've started thinking "eh, it'll be even cheaper in a month". Our industry is careering towards a crash.'
As you guys may know, I'm working with Mike (as an advisor/investor) on the publisher No More Robots, and the Steam Early Access version of our first published game, Descenders is due early in 2018. And honestly, the market has rarely been scarier for people launching games from scratch - even people who super-know what's up like Mike.
But if you can scale your dev/publishing expenses correctly for the size of of opportunity, I think things should still work out. We'll see, huh? (I'll tell you whether it does or not!)
- Simon, curator.]
Modern magic text adventure Thaumistry tries to balance puzzles and people (Emily Short / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"Thaumistry: In Charm's Way is a rare thing—a new commercially released text adventure, available on Steam. The author, Bob Bates, wrote for Infocom and Legend Entertainment in the '80s and early '90s, and successfully Kickstarted Thaumistry early in 2017."
Game Design Deep Dive: The Spinning Plates approach of Bomber Crew (Dave Miller / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"My name is Dave Miller; I’m a co-founder of Runner Duck Games, a two-person indie studio based in Brighton, UK. I handle the artwork, half the design and a tiny bit of programming. We’ve been going since the beginning of 2017, and have recently released our first title, Bomber Crew on PC."
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Spoilers) (Errant Signal / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a new videogame about shooting Nazis. It's also got some other stuff on it's mind. Also it's got a cat's head on the body of a monkey, so that's cool."
The 10 best video games of 2017 (Christopher Byrd & Michael Thomsen / Washington Post - ARTICLE)
"On the other hand, the rising costs of blockbuster video game development could result in a gathering of momentum for the microtransaction trend. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in 2018. This year was also chock full of exciting titles. Here are the games that we could not stop thinking about."
Oral History: How Marvel's Creative Head Helped Bring Nintendo To America (Jim McLauchlin / Wired - ARTICLE)
"But Joe Quesada found a way to get people to buy them. Lots of them. Yes, the guy whose name you may recognize because he’s now chief creative officer of Marvel Entertainment (he produces the Marvel TV shows, among other things) was once a clerk at FAO Schwarz in Manhattan who found himself in the rare position of being a Nintendo evangelist."
Destiny & Horizon (Raycevik / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: There's also a comment update from Raycevik, following some of the Destiny 2 level-up complaints, which weren't in the video: 'It's about expectations, and how they're set by more than just marketing, but our own biases, desires, and ideas; Destiny 2 is only used here as it's a personal and recent example for me.']"
A Last Airbender writer and Uncharted director are building a new game and show (Joseph Knoop / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"For Aaron Ehasz, Saturday mornings as an 11-year-old were defined by the mystical worlds of action heroes and giant robots, and few captured that sense of awe more than 1985’s Robotech. With a grand sense of scale and lengthy, emotional character arcs, the animated series stuck with him."
Gamers won ‘Battlefront 2’ spat with EA, but in-game purchases will probably persist (Tracy Lien / LA Times - ARTICLE)
"If you've already paid $60 for a video game, haven't you spent enough? That's the question Electronic Arts, or EA, the maker of games including the Madden NFL series, FIFA and Battlefield, has to answer after angering customers who eagerly anticipated one of its biggest holiday releases, 'Star Wars: Battlefront 2.'"
Tone Control 15: Leighton Gray (Steve Gaynor / Idle Thumbs - PODCAST)
"Kicking off Season 2 of Tone Control, Steve sits down with Leighton Gray, one of the main creative forces behind the daddy dating hit Dream Daddy! Steve discusses daddies, art school, Disneyland, the perils of sudden success, toilets, and daddies, with one of the most exciting up-and-coming creative figures in indie game development."
The sunk cost fallacy: Devs describe how it almost destroyed them (Rich Moss / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Sometimes game development goes wrong. It happens — technical problems emerge, designs can sound better on paper, early decisions can cause difficulties later on. It's just a reality of the craft that you will have failures and mistakes during development. But what if you refuse to accept that a feature or project needs to be dropped or changed?"
When Games Like Marvel Heroes Shut Down, There Are Hardly Any Happy Endings (Matt Kim / USGamer - ARTICLE)
"It happened quickly. On November 15, Marvel announced that it was severing ties with Gazillion Entertainment, the developers behind the Action RPG Marvel Heroes. Then the company announced that servers for the game would be shutting down permanently at the end of the year before changing the closing date again to the end of November. And before anyone could process what was happening, Marvel Heroes was gone."
The MMA Fighter Inspired by Video Game Cosplay (Waypoint / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Meet Angela “Overkill” Hill. Inspired by her favorite games and by cosplaying as some of her favorite characters, she found an unexpected way to redefine her identity as a fighter and make it back to the UFC after being cut."
Board Games Were Indoctrination Tools for Christ, Then Capitalism (Robert Rath / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"It’s 1843, and you twirl the spinner to find your fate. Will you succeed through industry, temperance, and chastity? Or will you wallow in drunkenness, get sent to the whipping post for breaking the sabbath, or live an almost perfect life, only to be undone by ingratitude?"
In-Game Purchases Poison The Well (Kirk Hamilton / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Video games will always manipulate us. Each challenge and scenario in a game has been carefully engineered to make us react a certain way. Most of the time, that’s what we sign up for. But the moment real money enters the equation, something changes."
The Polybius Conspiracy’s Story of an Arcade Urban Legend Is Twisty Fun. It’s Also Fake. (Jacob Brogan / Slate - ARTICLE)
"Bobby’s story sits at the heart of The Polybius Conspiracy, a compulsively listenable serialized podcast by Jon Frechette and Todd Luoto that premiered in October from Radiotopia’s Showcase. As the series proceeds, the producers try to evaluate his claims, struggling to determine whether there’s any truth to his horrifying narrative."
toco toco - Yoshiro Kimura, Game Creator (toco toco TV / YouTube - ARTICLE)
"Yoshiro Kimura is a game creator now turned indie, known for his work on moon, Chulip, Rule of Rose and more recently Dandy Dungeon and Million Onion Hotel. In this episode, Kimura will tell us about his career, a lifelong journey marked by many twists, companies and travels overseas."
Data and Insights from a Month on Steam (Josh Ge / Gamasutra Blogs - ARTICLE)
"So last month Cogmind "launched" ... for the second time :P It's now on Steam EA and doing fairly well. Not like indie smash hit amazingly well, but that's a given considering it's way too niche for that kind of attention. Still, the relatively unexciting screenshots and two-year-old alpha trailer are apparently sufficient to attract the type of player who will enjoy Cogmind, and that's all that really matters."
Why do indie developers sign with publishers? (Alex Wiltshire / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
""Indie dev is a minefield now," says Paul Kilduff-Taylor, co-founder of Mode 7 Games, the indie developer behind the Frozen Synapse series. "To have a chance at a good level of success, you basically have to nail everything. That's a really tall order, so devs are simply looking to stack the odds in their favour.""
The Gunsmiths: developing the slow-mo satisfaction of Sniper Elite 4's longshots (Kirk McKeand / PCGamesN - ARTICLE)
"This is The Gunsmiths, a PCGamesN series about videogames’ favourite interaction: shooting people directly in the face. There is no shortage of great games where gunplay is the main draw, so we wanted to dig down into these games’ inner workings... For our second feature in the series, it’s the slow-mo satisfaction of Sniper Elite 4."
The 2017 Experimental Gameplay Workshop (GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2017 GDC workshop, Matt Boch, Jonas Bohatsch, Josef Wiesner, Pauline Marliere, Hamish Todd, John Polson, Isaac Cohen, Josh Lee, Jenn Sandercock, Steven Smith, Mark Laframboise, Tim Garbos, Robin Hunicke, Kasson Crooker, Anita Tung, Bastien Gorissen, Aaron Weingarten, Tobiah Zarlez, Ian Thomson, Guillaume Cerdeira, AP Thomson, Bennett Foddy, Angelo Yazar and Daniel Benmergui showcase a selection of surprising and intriguing prototypes made by innovation-minded game developers from all over the world."
Developers share their most memorable dirty coding tricks (Brandon Sheffield / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"We’ve gathered unusual solutions to unusual problems from across the industry. Those who submitted may not all be proud of these “fixes,” but perhaps they should be. They got the game out the door, they didn’t break anything, and more importantly, nobody noticed. At least… not until now."
[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!]