[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 pieces about the death and rebirth of Dance Dance Revolution, the resurrection of gorgeous vector arcade game Aztarac after its creator's death, and lots more,
I'm just back from my 3-week long (!) Europe trip, and deeply, deeply jetlagged, so I'm off to collapse. But before I do, just wanted to note that this year's alt.ctrl.GDC honorees are now announced.
If you go play these 20 alternative controller games at GDC 2018, "you might play virtual golf by blowing madly into a set of sensors, or help virtual disco-loving cops save their city from a zombie invasion by slapping fake zombie heads in time to the beat." And that's just for starters!
Until next time...
- Simon, curator.]
The Endless Opulence of Destiny 2 (Astrid B / Bullet Points - ARTICLE)
"All critical writing on Bungie’s Destiny 2, no matter how inexplicable, has a common thread running through it: this game could be your life. In the three long years since Destiny initially staggered to launch, Bungie has done everything in its power to cultivate an impression of their first-person shooter as a world-beating social experience, from useless social apps to useless in-game social spaces."
Westworld VR: Combining Linear and Interactive Content to Tell Character-Centric Stories (Colin Foran / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2017 VRDC @ GDC session, HBO's Colin Foran discusses the development of WestWorld: A Delos Experience, a room-scale VR installation that tells a coherent, character-centric story using several new technologies."
Tim Stryker’s Aztarac: The Final Chapter (Tony / Arcade Blogger - ARTICLE & VIDEO)
"Talking with Tim’s family has been very humbling over the last few months. Neil Hernandez (the guy who found the machine) and I came to realize that Tim Stryker’s work on the game needed to be brought to the fore along with the cabinet. The Strykers shared a great snippet of a letter that Tim wrote to his father in May 1982."
What devs are saying about the design of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"To get a better sense of how the game is going over with devs around the industry, and what bits of Pocket Camp stand out to them (for better and for worse), Gamasutra reached out and asked: what do you think about that new, mobile Animal Crossing? [SIMON'S NOTE: That Yoko Taro qu"
Game of the Year 2017: Our top 10 (Polygon Staff / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"For Game of the Year 2017, Polygon has been counting down our top 10 throughout the month of December. On Dec. 18, we'll reveal our favorite 50 of 2017, but before that, we’ve got a look at our top 10 for the year. And throughout the month, we'll be looking back on the year with special videos, essays and surprises!"
Carol Shaw: The Game Awards Industry Icon (Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky / The Game Awards / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Carol Shaw was the recipient of The Game Awards Industry Icon in 2017. This is her story. Directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky. [SIMON'S NOTE: the directors of Indie Game: The Movie, of course...]"
Uncanny Island | Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (Daniel Fries / Heterotopias - ARTICLE)
"The first map for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is an island because it has to be. The natural restrictive bounds of an island space are good for the “Battle Royale” game genre, and good for the team of developers tasked with making a large digital space convincingly dense for players."
Artist Profile: Nina Stanley (Lisette Voytko / Video Game History Foundation - ARTICLE)
"While working as a barista at a southern California coffee shop, Nina Stanley would serve the same customer every Saturday, without fail. “This guy would come in at six in the morning with these bags under his eyes, and order an espresso,” said Stanley, in a Skype interview from her home in Albany, New York. [SIMON'S NOTE: a great profile funded by the VGHF Writing Fund, which I helped f(o)und - you should contribute if you want to see more!]"
The 10 Best Video Games of 2017 (Jake Swearingen / Vulture - ARTICLE)
"#10 - Hard-drinking criminal fixers knock around the backwaters of the galaxy, pulling off heists and settling old scores. Heat Signature is fun when everything goes according to plan, and even more fun when it doesn’t."
The rise, fall and return of Dance Dance Revolution in America (Joseph Knoop / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"For Chris Chike, Jeff Lloyd and Hudson Felker, the moment had been over a decade in the making. What started as simple hangouts with friends or family vacation diversions became a passion shared with thousands of others, one they’d dedicate their entire selves to, despite the company responsible nearly allowing it to perish."
The Puzzle Of A Lifetime (Chris Kohler / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"The first time I played Gorogoa, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’d heard about Gorogoa for years, but never tried it. Maybe it was because, even though multiple people tried to tell me about it, the game defies linguistic description."
The truth about GodMode, the "World's First Brain Booster for Gamers" (Chris Bratt / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Chris Bratt (@bratterz) investigates GodMode, the "World's First Brain Booster for Gamers", exposing its misleading marketing. [SIMON'S NOTE: wow, GodMode is from Scott Miller of ex-3D Realms fame?]"
How a dorm room Minecraft scam brought down the Internet (Garrett M. Graff / Wired - ARTICLE)
"The most dramatic cybersecurity story of 2016 came to a quiet conclusion Friday in an Anchorage courtroom, as three young American computer savants pleaded guilty to masterminding an unprecedented botnet—powered by unsecured internet-of-things devices like security cameras and wireless routers—that unleashed sweeping attacks on key internet services around the globe last fall."
The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook - Hermen Hulst (Ted Price / Game Maker's Notebook / Libsyn - PODCAST)
"Guerrilla's Hermen Hulst joins Ted Price of Insomniac Games to discuss learning from other studios, going with your gut, maintaining team passion and morale, and how their roles have changed over the years at their respective studios. Hermen Hulst is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Guerrilla Games, developer of the Killzone Series and Horizon: Zero Dawn."
Sunless Sea's dev couple on the choppy waters of working relationships (Kirk McKeand, PCGamesN - ARTICLE)
"Kennedy left Failbetter in June 2016 to pursue other projects. Since then, he’s worked with BioWare on an unannounced game (cough, Dragon Age 4, cough), and he has also worked with Telltale... Weather Factory, the company he co-founded with Bevan, was set up to make smaller narrative games, the first of which is called Cultist Simulator and is due out in May 2018."
How Snake Pass Works (Game Maker's Toolkit / YouTube - VIDEO)
"This year’s most inventive game was Snake Pass - a squirmy interactive toy that came together thanks to some smart design decisions, and a dash of good luck."
Kojima explains Death Stranding gameplay & lore (Marty Sliva / IGN - ARTICLE)
"As Kojima spoke of the way a vast majority of games treat the concepts of life, death, and mortality, it was clear that Death Stranding was aiming to eschew this tradition. “One of the themes of this game is life and death. So I want people to realize that when they die in the game, that isn’t the end.” [SIMON'S NOTE: Oh, such enjoyable nonsense.]"
Ubisoft tech UX director David Lightbown explores the history of Unreal Engine(Gamasutra staff / Gamasutra, ARTICLE/VIDEO)
"After interviewing John Romero a few months back, Lightbown talked to Epic co-founder Tim Sweeney about the history of the original Unreal Engine, and joined us to dig into several older coding tools that informed the engine's design."
The 10 best video game soundtracks of 2017 (FACT Staff / FACT - ARTICLE)
"As ever, the games were accompanied by a strong selection of musical scores. Below you’ll find FACT’s best video game soundtracks of 2017, from Horizon Zero Dawn’s innovative twist on the big-budget orchestral formula to the junk-created sounds of Rain World."
Fearful Symmetry | Echo (Toussaint Egan / Heterotopias - ARTICLE)
"It was this formative obsession and phobia that animated the singular imagination behind Borges’ prose. And it was Borges’ imagination which inspired the premise and setting of developer Ultra Ultra’s stealth-action debut, Echo."
The 15 best video games of 2017 (Verge Staff / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"A decade from now, there’s a good chance we’ll look back at 2017 as one of the best years ever for new game releases. Just think about it: some of the medium’s most iconic names — like Zelda, Mario, and Resident Evil — came roaring back to prominence, while new names like Horizon Zero Dawn and Cuphead forced their way into the spotlight."
[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@example.com. 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!]