This week's highlights include a retrospective of the Diggin' In The Carts game music album, a unique video on the history of Bethesda, and many more besides.
Well, just sending this one out as E3 kicks off, and we'll have to see what pops up in Los Angeles at the 'big show' for the consumer console biz. In the meantime, here's some great writing & videos about games..
Until next time,
- Simon, curator.]
The Making of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Strafefox / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis, was one of the most important releases of the 16-bit era. Sega's future would depend for a great deal on the success of this game. [SIMON'S NOTE: a very high-end looking mini-doc for a fan creation on YouTube!"
Erica Gangsei Interview (David Wolinsky / Don't Die - ARTICLE)
"For the last 11 years, I've worked for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Most of that time has been in interpretive media. For the last three years, I've been the head of interpretive media, a department that does storytelling with mostly audio and video. We also create interpretative gallery spaces where stories about artworks are available for visitors, mostly through technology, since 2012. So, I guess for the last five years I've been running a variety of games experiments at SFMOMA."
The making of What Remains of Edith Finch (Chris Schilling / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"Like all good stories, it started with a shark in a tree. Giant Sparrow had begun developing its debut, The Unfinished Swan, with nothing more than what writer/director Ian Dallas describes as “an abstract but describable goal”. For that game, Dallas hoped to create a sense of awe and wonder; this time he was hoping to evoke “the sublime horror of nature”."
The Birth of Assassin's Creed, Sands of Time, and Legal Battles: Patrice Désilets Remembers a Decade With Ubisoft (Piotr Bajda / USGamer - ARTICLE)
"“Put 25 cents in the machine and I talk,” Patrice Désilets warns me. But I want him to talk. He’s excitable, cracks jokes and laughs a lot. He loves making games and it shows in the way he talks about them. Granted, his 21 year career has had its ups and downs."
Creative Accounting: The Sub-Subgenre of Survival Strategy (Noah Caldwell-Gervais / YouTube - VIDEO)
"This is a video critique and survey of four games in the niche subgenre of survival strategy. It begins with Outpost 1 (1994) and Outpost 2 (1997) from Sierra On-Line, before moving into the modern age with Haemimont Game's Surviving Mars and Frostpunk from 11-Bit Studios."
Unearthing the story behind Hyperdub’s celebration of video game music, Diggin’ in the Carts (Lewis Gordon / FACT - ARTICLE)
"At the end of last year, the esteemed Hyperdub label released Diggin’ in the Carts, a 36-track compilation of pioneering Japanese video game music. Lewis Gordon speaks to Kode9, Nick Dwyer and Hally who put together the compilation, and a selection of the artists responsible for the music itself to explore just how prescient the era actually was."
The Game Archaeologist: The Rebirth Of 'The Realm Online' (Justin Olivetti / Massively Overpowered - ARTICLE)
"It’s no secret that The Realm has fallen into near-obscurity, particularly with the current owners performing little in the way of development or promotion. Emerging from the emulator scene, Jordan Neville and a group of fellow IT geeks took it upon themselves to help The Realm experience the rebirth that it sorely needed."
The History of Bethesda Game Studios (Noclip / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Embark on a quest through the history of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. With insight into the development of everything from Arena to Fallout 4, Noclip takes you on a journey through the creative process of one of the most prolific RPG designers in gaming history. [SIMON'S NOTE: Bethesda can be a fairly private company, so this is coup - and a tour de force - from Danny & the rest of the Noclip crew!]"
How Subset Games made the jump from FTL to Into the Breach (John Harris & Gamasutra Staff / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"When Justin Ma & Matt Davis released FTL all the way back in 2012, they had no idea it would wind up being a bona fide blockbuster of an indie game, heralding a new age of roguelikes and leaving the world to wonder what their next title would be."
'Agony,' a Game About Dehumanizing Women, Isn't Just Bad, It's Toxic (Patrick Klepek / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"There are bad video games, and there’s Agony. In the past, I’ve argued it’s useful to play bad games so you can better appreciate the well-made ones, but not here. It’s one thing for a game to be poorly designed—which I assure you, Agony is—but it’s another to come away from the experience with a sense of disgust, wondering what the people behind the game were thinking."
Craft emotional intelligence into your game trailer (M. Joshua - ARTICLE)
"Crafting your game’s trailer requires that you become as good of a listener as you can be: discerning each interaction’s precise emotions. Fortunately, developing emotional intelligence for your game is not as hard as it sounds: it’s just a skill forged over time — and iteration."
How an ex-DreamWorks animator imbued Ghost of a Tale with character (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Created almost single-handedly by Gallat (who helped make everything from The Prince of Egypt to The Lorax while at DreamWorks and, later, Universal), Ghost of a Tale takes players on a perilous adventure with mouse minstrel hero Tilo."
Space Invaders at 40: 'I tried soldiers, but shooting people was frowned upon' (Will Freeman / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"In the 1970s, as Tomohiro Nishikado began to consider designing his next arcade game, the video game medium was in a fledgling state. With few rules to follow or break, the pioneering game developer had the creative freedom he needed to build a true cultural phenomenon."
Op-ed: Valve takes a side by not “taking sides” in curation controversy (Kyle Orland / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"Steam's new laissez-faire content guidelines—which officially allow anything short of illegal activity and "obvious trolling" in games on its store—are an untenable attempt to have it both ways. [SIMON'S NOTE: it's already unclear what Valve really means, of course, making this debate even more confusing. Sigh?]"
The first non-Valve game on Steam (People Make Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In our very first episode of People Make Games, we take a look at the bizarre story behind Rag Doll Kung Fu, the first non-Valve game on Steam. [SIMON'S NOTE: an excellent new YouTube channel from Chris Bratt - support it here via Patreon.]"
Keza MacDonald on games as culture and how discoverability impacts the press too (Seth Barton / MCV - ARTICLE)
"We talk to Keza MacDonald, The Guardian’s new video games editor, about games as culture, the changing relationship between the media and publishers and how discoverability impacts the press."
Indie hard mode: The couples making games together (Lauren Morton / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"Even more daunting is that idea of two-person teams made up not of friends or acquaintances but spouses and life partners. This special class of development team combines not only their hobby, social life, and profession, but their romantic life too. I spoke with six couples who have successfully developed a game together about how they kept their project from dominating their life or eclipsing their relationship."
Onrush game review: Sexy arcade racing in serious need of a tune-up (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"There's a lot to love about a quick glance at the arcade-combat racing of Onrush. Its blistering speed, giant-jump racetracks, and shrapnel-spewing four-wheelers impress instantly both in screenshot and hands-on modes. [SIMON'S NOTE: one of the most intriguing releases of the week, for multiple positive and negative reasons.]"
The Media vs. Death Race (Chris Chapman / Video Game History Foundation - ARTICLE & VIDEO)
"In 1976, Exidy’s Death Race was condemned by journalists and politicians and pulled from arcades; the first time a video game caused a moral panic. In this short video [& supplemental material], we take a look at what happened, and how these events laid a path that subsequent controversies would follow for decades thereafter."
Game developer pranks player after he threatens to shoot up studio (Patricia Hernandez / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"Game developers get abusive, threatening messages from players all the time, and some high-profile games have even become notorious for “toxic” communities. Recently, one studio responded to a death threat in a unique way. Instead of ignoring the comment or harshly punishing the player, the development team decided to prank him instead."
[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!]