This week's highlights include a discussion on 'asset flips' and store-bought assets for games, an emotive postmortem of canned arcade game Primal Rage II, and lots more besides.
A few leftover E3 tidbits in this week's round-up, but largely speaking we're on to new things - and it's nice to see some good eSports coverage in here from Maddy Myers & Area5. There are definitely important newer areas of video games - especially free-to-play games & eSports - that are not so well covered journalistically.
But that's largely because only core fans of that game want to read about them. Yet it's some of the most fascinating stuff out there! A paradox. So more of it, please...
Until next time,
- Simon, curator.]
'It can never be that simple': Designing the quests of Cyberpunk 2077 (Bryant Francis / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"For CD Projekt Red, that not only means delivering on the promises of freedom made in their E3 marketing push, it also means channeling that freedom into bespoke stories that reward (and prod) the player based on the choices they've made. After we checked out the colorful demo last week, quest designer Patrick Mills was able to sit down with Gamasutra and discuss the process of making quests that stick with the player after they're gone."
PUBG developer debunks accusation maps are "asset flips" (Wesley Yin-Poole / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"The developer of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has debunked what it calls "misinformation" and "oversimplified tales" about the way the game is developed. The criticism here revolves around the re-use of certain assets across PUBG's maps, and the buying of pre-made assets from the Unreal marketplace. [SIMON'S NOTE: rare to see store assets in a 'AAA' game, but I don't see why it's an issue as long as the game is actually, uh, good.]"
E3 2018 Media Coverage Analysis – aka “E3 Battle Royale results” (Thomas Bidaux / ICO Partners - ARTICLE)
"As you can see, 2018 was a decline year in terms of total volume of media articles mentioning the event. I am not sure this should be particularly worrying, or even surprising. While there were great games revealed during the week, it was also particularly light on industry-changing announcements."
The Classic Adventurer - Issue #2 (Mark Hardisty & friends / Classic Adventurer - PDF 'BOOKAZINE')
"[SIMON'S NOTE: you need to pay if you want the physical version (please do!), but there's two free PDF issues of this excellent UK zine 'dedicated to the golden era of text adventures' - lots of good profiles, interviews, and more.]
With Twitch, Amazon Tightens Grip on Live Streams of Video Games (John Herrman / New York Times - ARTICLE)
"Late on a recent night, more than 600,000 people watched one of the most popular video game players, Tyler Blevins, engage in Fortnite Battle Royale with a celebrity guest: Drake. Mr. Blevins streams his near-daily video game sessions live on Twitch, a website acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $1.1 billion."
If Ubisoft wants to cling on to Clancy, it's time to talk politics (Edwin Evans-Thirlwell / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"How do you duck a question about the politics of a game which pits a citizen militia against a corrupt government in modern-day Washington DC? Well, you could start by talking about the weather."
From Fallout to Half-Life, urban planning is crucial for game design (K.G. Orphanides / Wired UK - ARTICLE)
"From the decaying plazas of City 17 to the wide expanses of Hyrule, the virtual spaces we inhabit in games come to feel as familiar as our own neighbourhoods. A new book sets out to map, explore and unearth the history and design details of urban spaces in video games, including Fallout’s New Vegas, Yakuza’s Kamurocho and the fog-shrouded streets of Silent Hill."
The Tour - Episode #1 (Hearthstone eSports / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Follow tom60229 from his HCT World Championship victory through to casting at HCT Taipei, where he reunited with Asia-Pacific caster Jia. [SIMON'S NOTE: this is a REALLY well done documentary series from the Area5 crew, of Outerlands fame - may even be interesting to those who don't play Hearthstone!]"
Confessions of a Disk Cracker: the secrets of 4am (Paleotronic - ARTICLE)
"Why did you choose to start aggressively de-protecting, archiving and re-distributing Apple II software? It’s tempting to rewrite history and give myself some noble purpose for starting this hobby, but in this case the truth makes for a better story."
The Wait For Next-Gen Consoles Started Last Week (Arthur Gies / Variety - ARTICLE)
"If you felt a barely perceptible rumble beneath the surface of this year’s E3, there’s a good reason for it: a new generation is on the way... taking a closer look, there are other major indications that a new console generation is probably set for 2020 – or, perhaps, even sooner."
Updating the ACMI Games Lab with a new selection of videogames (Jim Fishwick / Medium - ARTICLE)
"The Games Lab is part of our permanent free exhibition Screen Worlds. It has a selection of fifteen playable videogames from around Australia and the world. The last suite of games was installed in 2016, and while some of them were clear audience and staff favourites (I’m looking at you, Mario Kart and Pro Evolution Soccer), the Games Lab was in need of a refresh. A team reshuffle meant I was given a shot at looking after that refresh."
How Avalanche and id are working together to build a new Rage (Kris Graft / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"In that interview... Nedfors shed some light on how Avalanche works with id, what the studio has learned about designing interesting open-world games, and why the studio places such a premium on systems-driven, physics-rich game design."
How a troubled game starring Bruce Willis led to the skateboarding revolution (Daniel Lipscombe / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"In the late 90s, Activision wasn't the powerhouse it is now. Bobby Kotick's baby was on unsteady ground; the company wasn't sure just how successful the console industry would truly be, and having seen success in PC gaming and bought up big-name licences left, right and centre, it looked on at the burgeoning PlayStation and struggling Saturn with concern."
The Legend Of Nintendo (Felix Gillette / Bloomberg - ARTICLE)
"For anyone who’s ever marveled at Nintendo’s vivid, phantasmagoric, zoologically ornate video games, visiting the company’s understated home in Kyoto, Japan, can be disorienting at first. That such an outpouring of kaleidoscopic products comes from a place so devoid of color can be momentarily hard to fathom."
How Pro Gamers Live Now: Curfews, Personal Chefs, And All Of It On Camera (Maddy Myers / Kotaku Compete - ARTICLE)
"Every day is Christmas at the Philadelphia Fusion esports mansion. The team’s marketing and content director Hung Tran gestured to the towering decorated pine tree to the right of the front door by way of explaining the joke: the pro gamers who live here get whatever they want and do whatever they want. But Christmas wouldn’t seem as exciting if it happened every day."
Communities Are Individuals (Raycevick / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: some good points here - it's easy to look at outliers and extrapolate them to suggest a certain 'fanbase' thinks a certain thing, but how/why do companies work out what elements to put in games?]
How Do You Make a Game?: A Look at Design Documents Throughout History (Ethan Johnson / The History Of How We Play - ARTICLE)
"Throughout history, game creators have left valuable insights into their inspiration through these pieces that we collectively call ‘design documents’. From visualizations to project planning, from code to creativity, these paper and digital works are an art in and of themselves. Let’s take a look at how games were made through the decades via our scarce, but always fascinating remnants."
Editor roundtable: What did E3 2018 mean for game developers? (Gamasutra staff / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Every year, without fail, E3 consumes our lives. Even for the Gamasutra staffers not burning in the LA sun, it's a week of monitoring livestreams, rushing to post important news, and just tangentially participating in the hubbub that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo."
Primal Rage II from Heartbreak to Resurrection: The Journey After Cancellation (Chris Tang / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC session, Hitsparks Games' Chris Tang talks about the death and rebirth of Primal Rage II, an arcade sequel that seemed doomed to obscurity, but found redemption in the hands of dedicated fans."
Why are game companies so afraid of the politics in their games? (Colin Campbell / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"Game publishers are lathering their productions with the stark imagery of modern political divisions, while at the same time denying any topical intent. Their strategy, according to industry sources ranging from developers to publicists, is to profit from emotive societal divisions, while ducking difficult conversations about what their works might signify."
[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!]