This week's highlights include a podcast with Jason Rohrer on One Hour One Life, as well as analysis of the acclaimed Frostpunk and lots more besides.
Not a lot to add this week - besides the fact that there's a massive amount of great writing & videos about games out there still. Heck, most weeks, I don't even get around to checking major game sites - this is just material I've picked up from aggregators and social media. Which is 'a good thing' but not, because this isn't all the top stuff out there. But it's the top stuff that I saw, so that's all you're getting?
Until next time,
- Simon, curator.]
'Frostpunk' Treats People With Disabilities As Complex Humans, Not Gimmicks(Kevin Snow / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"On Day 41, in the middle of a snowstorm that drops the temperature below -110°C, the mines on the outskirts of New London almost collapse from the cold. Thirty volunteers offer to descend into the lower levels and replace the hydraulic roof supports that keep the tunnels open."
You're Not Broken: Finding Your Creative Way Through Difficult Times (Laralyn McWilliams / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC talk, game designer Laralyn McWilliams provides tools to recognize when you're deep in the well of darkness and methods to help reclaim your creativity, discussing her experience going through multiple rounds of cancer treatment."
7 great examples of foreshadowing in games that devs should study (Richard Moss / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Great foreshadowing is a win-win — it makes players feel smart and developers seem smart. It adds depth without any painful exposition, and it can add impact to big moments or lend a hidden helping hand to players using new mechanics in pressure-filled situations without explicit tutorializing."
How blockbuster games are written (Alex Wiltshire / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"Working alongside artists and designers and every team, they help to build a game's world, stitching all its often divergent parts together into a form that makes sense to you, the player. To put it succinctly, writers make the glue that holds a game together."
toco toco - Jiro Ishii, Game Creator (Archipel / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Jiro Ishii is a game creator, known for 428: Shibuya Scramble, a unique visual novel adventure game using live action sequences. His work extends beyond games as he is also an author and scenario writer, working on both anime, film and theater projects... We will learn more about his career and his views on creative storytelling while exploring the city."
The Curious Case Of The Fortnite Cheater (Sarah Jeong / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"Epic Games v. Rogers is a little different from the rest of the cases that were filed alongside it. In fact, it’s different from every other video game cheating lawsuit before it, partly because it dives into a legal gray area that usually passes as normal, allowable conduct (when you’re not being a flagrant jerk about it, anyway)."
Interview With Chris Klimas (Rob Parker / First Person Scholar - ARTICLE)
"Chris Klimas created Twine, the extremely popular and accessible interactive fiction development platform. He’s also involved with the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation, as well as Unmapped Path, a company that builds narrative experiences for mobile and desktop. His work within the Interactive Fiction and game design spaces has had an incredible impact on the IF community as well as the games industry at large."
Jason Rohrer of One Hour One Life on not being the main character in life (Humans Of Gaming - PODCAST)
"This week, we talk to Jason Rohrer, developer behind games such as Transcend, Diamond Trust of London, and One Hour One Life. Drew and Chris talk to Jason about his thoughts on the role of death in the role of civilization’s laws, moral designs in his own games, and the nature of having kids with only one name."
The death of an indie store (Damien McFerran / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"In a tumultuous time for games retailers, one store has clung on for longer than most. You'll find Extreme Gamez ensconced down a jitty (Leicestershire lingo for an alleyway between buildings, in case you were wondering) against the picturesque backdrop of Ashby-de-la-Zouch."
Interview: Campo Santo talk to us about moving to Valve (John Walker / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"Campo Santo, creators of Firewatch and the forthcoming In The Valley Of Gods, announced last month that all twelve members of their studio were packing their bags and moving to Valve. The team are all currently in the process of relocating to Seattle, where Valley Of The Gods will be finished in Valve’s Bellevue tower as a Valve game. So we caught up with studio heads Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin to find out much more."
The 2018 Failure Workshop (Hugh Monahan & Tanya X Short / GDC - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC workshop, developers Hugh Monahan & Tanya X. Short share stories about failures in their work, giving space for you to celebrate and learn from both the ups and the downs of independent game development."
As Esports Grows, So Does Need for Esports Doctors (John Gaudiosi / Variety - ARTICLE)
"Los Angeles doctor Levi Harrison specializes in sports-related upper extremity and shoulder injuries as well as hand rehabilitation. The orthopedic surgeon treats athletes across traditional sports like tennis, golf, and baseball, but he’s also established the country’s first esports-focused practice. In fact, he coined (and two years ago trademarked) the term “esports doctor.”"
Sorry, nerds: Video games are not sport (Matthew Walther / The Week - ARTICLE)
"The amount of revenue generated by advertising and sponsorships from "esports" is soon expected to reach $1 billion annually. Treating video games as sports is a civilizational rather than a semantic problem. Enjoyed in moderation, they are probably a harmless pastime like anything else."
Ebb and Flow - Conversations on the recent momentum of Japanese games(Archipel / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Starting end 2016, we saw the release of a succession of Japanese games that were critically acclaimed both in Japan and overseas. We met with some of their directors to discuss their views on this period and on the state of the Japanese game industry."
Making every procedurally-generated playthrough feel unique in Swords of Ditto(Jack Yarwood / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"It’s easy to stuff a game full of content if you have the time and the budget. What’s harder is making everything feel purposeful and, in the case of procedural games and especially roguelikes, to make random permutations feel intentional and designed."
'Asset Flip Simulator' Highlights a Huge Problem on Steam (Matthew Gault / Motherboard - ARTICLE)
"Asset Flip Simulator highlights a huge problem with Steam. Its quality control sucks and it's full of shovelware and asset flips, meaning games that buy ready made 3D models and other assets from game development marketplaces like Unreal or Unity."
Battle Chasers: Nightwar Documentary (Gameumentary / YouTube - VIDEO)
"The story of Vigil Games continues in our Battle Chasers: Nightwar Documentary. Featuring interviews with Joe Maduriera, Ryan Stefanelli and more, we explore their time at Crytek USA, the beginnings of Airship Syndicate and the development of Battle Chasers: Nightwar."
I Played Fortnite and Figured Out the Universe (Robin Sloan / The Atlantic - ARTICLE)
"Fortnite’s island is big. Even with 100 players, it’s not unusual to find yourself crossing a wide-open field or exploring an abandoned house with no one else in sight. These sequences often last several minutes—a veritable Vipassanā retreat in game time. But then, inevitably, your solitude is broken, and it’s those breaks that constitute, for me, most of the game’s appeal."
The making of Undertale (Chris Schilling / Edge / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"The ironic twist is that the first seeds of Undertale were sown from conflict, growing from a battle system Fox had programmed in GameMaker Studio. In fact, his initial inspiration for this early experiment came while he was casually browsing Wikipedia."
Q&A: Building and balancing Battletech's procedurally-generated missions (Alan Bradley / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Fitting procedurally-generated elements into an RPG means walking a tightrope of careful balancing and tuning, a task that’s made even more challenging when the RPG in question is as nuanced and complex as Battletech."
[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!]