[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 week's highlights include innumerable 'best of the year' countdowns - from VR games to mobile titles to, uh, Eric Wolpaw's vegan juice cuts, and loads more besides.
Well, we made it to the end, folks. The end of the year, that is. I'm reliably informed there's another one starting soon, though - and may have even got here by the time you read this, depending on how good you're being about staying away from email.
Anyhow, this was my first full year of Video Game Deep Cuts, and I wanted to thank all of you for opening, reading, and recommending. The newsletter is a great clarifying of the week's 'cool things about video games' for me, and hopefully it does a similar groovy number on your textual-visual cortex, like. Om....
Happy New Year!
- Simon, curator.]
Yoko Taro's Top 10 Games of 2017 (Yoko Taro / GiantBomb - ARTICLE)
"NieR:Automata's creator has a few thoughts about the games he loved most in 2017. [SIMON'S NOTE: This is part of a GIGANTIC set of Top 10s from the GiantBomb crew & guests that I highly recommend you check out - I may feature one or two others below.]"
Replay All: #105 At World's End (Reply All / Gimlet Media - PODCAST)
"Well okay. So three months ago, I got an email from one of our listeners. And she was writing because she’d lost something on the internet and she really wanted help finding it... And there’s this one Flash game that Kris remembers playing that she says was the best game that they played. It’s called, “Bunni: How We First Met.”"
'PUBG' Creator Talks Game Launch, eSports, IP Protection (Steve T. Wright / Glixel - ARTICLE)
"“It has absolutely nothing to do with PUBG or my work. I just feel that games don’t have the same IP protection as literature or music or movies, and I think that’s a shame. It makes it very difficult for developers to protect their intellectual property, and they have to act a certain way because of that.”"
Open Production With Sunless Sea: Kickstarter, Early Access and After (Alexis Kennedy / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2016 GDC session, Failbetter Studios' Alexis Kennedy explains how the company used open publishing techniques to bootstrap from being a moribund studio months from bankruptcy to a successful, cash-flow positive company with their first Unity game."
Nintendo's Switch Brings Some Magic Back (Simon Parkin / New York Times - ARTICLE)
"Jake Kazdal, an American video game developer who lives in Kyoto, Japan, spent a night in early March refreshing the website of GameStop, the video game retail chain in the United States. He wanted to buy Nintendo’s just-released console, the Switch. But the device had already sold out in Japan, forcing him to look elsewhere."
Virtual reality’s best experiences and biggest (teleportation) steps in 2017 (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"In the end, the best VR content stands out for delivering experiences that are altogether impossible on flat screens, and that rule guides my picks for the best VR content in 2017. Games dominate this year's list, if only because last year saw so many incredible applications that have yet to be topped. But this list contains a couple of exceptions. [SIMON'S NOTE: rare to see someone with multiplatform VR knowledge, so this article is very useful for 'the state of the art'.]"
Akira Nishitani / Katsuhiro Harada Interview (Ikko / Denfaminicogamer / #JPFGC - ARTICLE)
"For Nishitani, who is returning to world of fighting games, what thought process gave birth to [Street Fighter 2], and how does he view the fighting games that came after? What kind of thoughts and ideas is he putting into the game he is currently developing? Along with Harada, who asserts that Nishitani is a “genius,” we decided to ask about the circumstances surrounding SF2 as well as his new game from Nishitani himself."
Erik Wolpaw's Top 10 Games of 2017 (Erik Wolpaw / GiantBomb - ARTICLE)
"Former Valve writer and current vegan juice salesman Erik Wolpaw would like you to know that he enjoyed these ten video games in 2017. [SIMON'S NOTE: please read this. No really, please do.]"
A life in game journalism (Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat - ARTICLE)
"Merry Christmas and happy holidays. I thought I would do something different for a holiday message this year. It’s based on a talk I gave to a game journalism class at Stanford University recently. It’s about my life in game journalism, and how I got to where I am today. I hope you enjoy it."
TouchArcade Game of the Year 2017: 'Death Road to Canada' (Eli Hodapp / TouchArcade - ARTICLE)
"This has been a truly incredible year for iOS gaming. We started with a list of hundreds of fantastic titles, whittled that down to a Top 100 Best Games list, and then started the day off with a short list of eight games in consideration for TouchArcade Game of the Year... [SIMON'S NOTE: TouchArcade picks up a LOT of mobile titles that others miss - also see: Jared's 10 Best Games of 2017 - Some of the Biggest Releases of the Year and a Few Hidden Gems, Eli's 10 Best Games of 2017 - These Games Need to Be Listed SOMEWHERE, Mikhail's 10 Best Games of 2017 - Best iOS Gaming Year Ever, Shaun's 10 Best Games of 2017 - A Year Full of Truly Unique Mobile Games, Rob's 10 Best Games of 2017 - A Purrfect Year for Mobile Gaming, Tasos' 10 Best Games of 2017 - 'Arena of Valor', 'Gorogoa', and More Made the List.]"
Made in Brazil: A Game Development Snapshot (Cloth Map / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Brazil's 200 million people love video games, so why haven’t we heard more about games FROM Brazil? [SIMON'S NOTE: also see Pumped To Be Here: Brazil's Game Fans from the same video series.]"
Top 2017 Games That Waste Your Time Properly (Paolo Pedercini / Molleindustria - ARTICLE)
"This best-of-the-year list is devoted to the idealists who organize the players’ time according to their expressive goals, and not to the perceived market demand. If games are machines for wasting time, they may as well waste it in an artful way."
Kansas Man Killed In ‘SWATting’ Attack (Brian Krebs / Krebs On Security - ARTICLE)
"A 28-year-old Kansas man was shot and killed by police officers on the evening of Dec. 28 after someone fraudulently reported a hostage situation ongoing at his home... This particular swatting reportedly originated over a $1.50 wagered match in the online game Call of Duty. Compounding the tragedy is that the man killed was an innocent party who had no part in the dispute. [SIMON'S NOTE: don't generally link straight news, but this is notable.]"
Chasing Innovation Inside the Company Behind D&D, Magic and Avalon Hill (Brian Crecente / Glixel - ARTICLE)
"Dungeons & Dragons, Axis & Allies, Magic: The Gathering, Duel Masters and, soon, Transformers: Chances are that if you’ve played a board game, a card game, a tabletop game, you’ve played a Wizards of the Coast game. With a 27 year history of success under its belt and a back-library that spans nearly 50 years, Wizards of the Coast is in many ways the face of tabletop gaming."
Game Over (Emily Short & voice cast / BBC - RADIO PLAY)
"Building a video game that works, where the player understands the goals and enjoys the experience is one thing, but Chelsea wants her new game to change the world. She's calling it Glacier and it will tell the story of an Alaskan village eroded by global warming. [SIMON'S NOTE: Insider-ish in scarily accurate ways, kicks off with IGF-aping, mucho recommendo.]"
How Bomber Crew's devs found outsized success with a permadeath flight crew sim (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"That unexpected success was something the developers wanted to capitalize on, both financially and to reward all of the players who had so kindly supported them. Still, what were they to do for all of these players who were enjoying their game, and how to do it?"
The most surprising games of 2017 (Tom Chick / Quarter To Three - ARTICLE)
"So if the most disappointing category is a list of games that should have been better, the most surprising category is the opposite. These are games that were better than they should have been. Just as disappointing is about falling short of expectations, these surprising games exceeded expectations and, in some cases, were among the best games of the year. [SIMON'S NOTE: always controversial but with lots of depth - Tom Chick plays a LOT of games - also see most overrated for special controversy, haha.]"
That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You’re Watching on TV (Sapna Maheshwari / New York Times - ARTICLE)
"At first glance, the gaming apps — with names like “Pool 3D,” “Beer Pong: Trickshot” and “Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin” — seem innocuous. One called “Honey Quest” features Jumbo, an animated bear. Yet these apps, once downloaded onto a smartphone, have the ability to keep tabs on the viewing habits of their users — some of whom may be children — even when the games aren’t being played."
How ScummVM is keeping adventure games alive, one old game at a time (Richard Cobbett / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"There are many revival projects out there, from DOSBox to single-game engines like Exult for Ultima VII. One of the biggest and oldest is ScummVM, launched in 2001 and named for the classic SCUMM engine—Script Creation Utility For Maniac Mansion—which gave us all of Lucasarts’ classic adventure games."
The Best Video Games Of 2017 (Simon Parkin / The New Yorker - ARTICLE)
"These are tough times for the thoughtful fan of video games. Adult play, typically viewed with suspicion away from the golf course (where it’s justified by networking), the sports arena (where it’s justified by money), or the bedroom (where it’s justified by, uh, wine?) seems especially frivolous in our put-upon world."
Brandon Sheffield's all-time top 10 games hidden in other games (Brandon Sheffield / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Hidden games are among my favorite things. I’m talking about games tucked away within published games. Specifically I’m interested in games that have little to nothing to do with the games they’re hidden in, and as a result cause the player to speculate. How did these games get in here?"
Alice Maz on Minecraft (Alice Maz - ARTICLE)
"After sinking 10-20k hours into a single MMO and accomplishing a lot of unbelievable things within the confines of its gargantuan ruleset, it is generally pretty easy for me to pick up another game and figure out what makes it tick. I'll tell the story about that whole experience sometime, but it's a long tale to tell. This is about one of those other games: Minecraft. [SIMON'S NOTE: This is an excellent/weird story.]"
[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!]