[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 a great longform piece on game asset outsourcing, the creator of A Mortician's Tale on overcoming her death anxiety, and lots more.
Have just about bundled this round-up out of the door in one piece - slowed down thanks to losing my appendix on Friday (to carefully planned surgical intervention, but it ain't the most fun!)
And while I was getting snipped, my buddies at Ragesquid and No More Robots put out Descenders into Steam Early Access on Friday, so go check it out if you haven't! More fluent intro service will return next week..
Until next time,
- Simon, curator.]
Why the founder of Traveller's Tales released a director's cut of an old Sonic game 25 years later (Steve T. Wright / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"By any conventional definition, Jon Burton has lived at least three careers: first, a multi-hyphenate founder-programmer-director at Traveller's Tales, best known as the scrappy studio behind a wide variety of licensed movie-games; second, a producer and director of films, primarily in the inescapable Lego mondo-franchise; and, now, a burgeoning YouTuber with nearly a hundred-thousand subscribers to his channel, Gamehut."
toco toco - Akira “Akiman” Yasuda, Illustrator (toco toco TV / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Akira Yasuda is a renowned illustrator and character design, known under the pen name “Akiman”, standing on a 30-year career working in the game and animation industry and as a freelance illustrator. He is known as the father of iconic characters such as Chun-Li, Guile or Cammy from the Street Fighter series and his work on other classic Capcom titles such as Final Fight or Darkstalkers."
Fan Nonfiction (Michael Thomsen / The New Inquiry - ARTICLE)
"Video games are haunted by the unseen. Fans lose themselves wondering what’s going on behind the tinted windows of offices in Bellevue, Washington, or Kyoto, Japan. The answer to how video games are made is never a match for the fantasy—oftentimes it’s a simple matter of déjà vu."
Steam Week 1 Vs. Year 1 Revenue (Jake Birkett / Grey Alien Games - ARTICLE)
"Recently I asked a bunch of devs how their week 1 (gross) revenue on Steam compared to their year 1 revenue (including week 1). I wanted to know because we had just launched Shadowhand on Steam and I was interested to see if the first week could in any way be a decent predictor of longer term sales. I got about 30 data points and you can see the resulting graph above."
The question of fidelity and Shadow of the Colossus (Gareth Damian Martin - ARTICLE)
"As someone who spends much of their time with games thinking about and photographing their spaces, architecture and worlds, I often forget that these are spaces we never truly enter. While our minds might seem to wander past the screen, it's a hard border for us, one we can never pass."
Night in the Woods' co-creator explains improv game design (Bryant Francis / Gamasutra - ARTICLE / VIDEO)
"Since we didn't get to chat with Benson last year (he told us he needed to take a long nap after the game shipped), we were excited to discuss the personal touches and weird inspirations that make Night in the Woods so unique. In particular, we had a lot of fun talking about 'improv' game design, where pre-planned, thought out moments would be tossed aside in favor of spur-of-the-moment ideas that came to the game's development team."
Bringing Hell to Life: AI and Full Body Animation in DOOM (Jake Campbell / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this GDC 2017 talk, id Software's Jake Campbell explains some of the techniques that were used to make the unique animations of DOOM in a modern game environment."
How to Play Cinco Paus (Frank Lantz / Game Design Advance - ARTICLE)
"First of all, why should you? Why should you learn how to play Michael Brough’s new game Cinco Paus? After all, you’re busy, you have important things to do. This game looks weird and doesn’t seem to care whether you figure it out or not. Ok, I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that. I know it’s not your fault, you don’t know any better."
Learning the Level Design Secrets of 'BioShock' (Danielle Riendeau / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"This afternoon, NYU Game Center Professor and game designer Robert Yang streamed another episode of his "Level With Me" series, where he takes a look at level design and art assets in popular games. Today, that game was the original BioShock, in the Hephaustus stage just before Andrew Ryan's office."
The Universe Has Been Outsourced (Michael Thomsen / The Outline - ARTICLE)
"End credits for video games used to be simple affairs. The closing credits of Super Mario 64, released in 1996, took about three minutes to list 32 people. Now, the credits for most major video games are interminable."
'Dangerous gaming': is the WHO right to class excessive video game play as a health disorder? (Jordan Erica Webber / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"The World Health Organization (WHO) has included “gaming disorder” in its draft for the next edition of its diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which is due for final release this year... Games industry bodies the US Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) have expressed doubts about the classification."
Road To The IGF Interview Series (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: there's so many good games in the Independent Games Festival this year - here's interviews with just a few of them.]"
Shall We Show: 2017’s All-Star GOTY Spectacular (Chris Suellentrop & JJ Sutherland / Shall We Show - PODCAST)
"Better late than never: We asked 25 of the smartest people we know–game developers, critics, professors of theater and history, comedy writers, political journalists, podcasters–for their favorite video game of 2017, and got 20 answers. Counting Chris and JJ, that’s 27 people and 20 video games (21 if you count an honorable mention)."
Road to GDC: The Game That Helped Me Overcome Death Anxiety (Gabby DaRienzo / Glixel - ARTICLE)
"When I was 9 or 10 years old, a girl in my class and her mother both died in a very horrific car accident. I remember overhearing our gossipy neighbor next door telling my mom the gruesome details of their deaths over hushed tones."
Always Be Pitching: How to find and talk to publishers to survive as an indie(Brandon Sheffield / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Well here I am, talking to publishers again. I thought that time was over, because as I’ve said before, I believe most publishers aren’t that helpful for indies past the money they provide. I still think this is mostly true. But guess what – that money has to come from somewhere, and these days it sure isn’t coming from selling indie games."
This Hit Game Was Created by a 26-Year-Old Who Doesn't Code (by Lisa Du, Yuki Furukawa, and Yuji Nakamura / Bloomberg - ARTICLE)
"Japanese frogs are proliferating across Asia. The good news is, they’re not an invasive species, nor are they real. Tabi Kaeru, or Travel Frog, became the No. 1 downloaded smartphone app in China for almost two weeks after its debut, and is still hovering at the top of the charts in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan."
Coding without a keystroke: The hands-free creation of a full video game (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"I liked Dig Dog enough when I stumbled upon it at last year's Fantastic Arcade event in Austin, Texas. But my interest in the game spiked when its creator reached out ahead of this week's launch to confirm something I'm not sure any other video game creator has done: coding an entire game by himself... without using his hands."
Q&A: Translating the humor & tone of Yakuza games for the West (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"That writing is translated and localized for the West by Atlus (alongside longtime series translator Inbound) starting with Yakuza 0 and continuing on through Yakuza Kiwami (a remake of the original 2005 game) and Yakuza 6. The localization of all three games has been overseen by Atlus' Scott Strichart, who recently sat down to chat about the ins and outs of adapting these games' humor and gravity for Western players."
[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!]