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[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from video game industry 'watcher' Simon Carless (GDC, Gamasutra co-runner), rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend.
This week's roundup includes a history in progress of Grand Theft Auto Online's near-infinitely trailed casino addition, multiple cloud gaming analyses, articles looking at 198X's debut and The Division 2's latest updates, & lots more besides.
But most importantly, you're used to me saying not much at all in these link round-ups. And that will continue, but you can also now subscribe to Game Discoverability Weekly, a new weekly newsletter I'm putting together - the concept behind which is explained in the intro to its first installment. (The articles will also be crossposted onto Gamasutra, of course, in case you don't want to sub!)
Until next time...
- Simon, curator.]
The one thing you SHOULD care about when launching your game. (Simon Carless / Game Discoverability Weekly / Substack - ARTICLE)
"But I have good news for you. There’s already a way to work out if your premium, non-F2P game launching on Steam is going to be a success or not. And I really feel like many people don’t understand this."
The Division 2’s Big New Update Is As Promising As It Confusing (Stephen Totilo / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Ubisoft’s sprawling loot shooter The Division 2 just received its biggest free update since its March launch...except most of it isn’t really free until next week, except for two parts that won’t even be free then, but some of the free stuff won’t be out until the week after next, and one promised part is on ice and…Shall we start this over?"
The bizarre, true story of Metal Gear Solid’s English translation (Jeremy Blaustein / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"Back in Massachusetts, I was faced with the daunting task of translating Metal Gear Solid’s huge script. The first thing that was obvious to me was the massive amount of research Kojima did before building this world."
As many video games tiptoe around politics, Ubisoft's Watch Dogs Legion drops players into post-Brexit London (CBC Radio / CBC - RADIO SEGMENT / ARTICLE)
"According to Clint Hocking, creative director at Ubisoft Toronto, the company started working on the game about a year before the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. "At that point, you know, Brexit was a distant, 'Ah, that's never going to happen,' and then suddenly it became real," he told Day 6 host Brent Bambury."
The six-year story of GTA Online's long-vacant casino (Jordan Oloman / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"For Grand Theft Auto Online diehards, there is nothing more infamous than the Vinewood Casino. A rumoured playable location since players first got their hands on the game in 2013, I remember parking my busted Sultan on Mirror Park Boulevard and seeing the 'Opening Soon' banner for the first time - a beacon of hope back then for an ambitious multiplayer game that hadn't quite found its feet."
Chief Gates Comes to Oakhurst: A Cop Drama (Jimmy Maher / Digital Antiquarian - ARTICLE)
"One day in late 1992, a trim older man with a rigid military bearing visited Sierra Online’s headquarters in Oakhurst, California. From his appearance, and from the way that Sierra’s head Ken Williams fawned over him, one might have assumed him to be just another wealthy member of the investment class..."
Trailer Made: What Makes a Successful and Memorable Game Trailer (Derek Lieu / GDC - YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2019 GDC session, trailer editor Derek Lieu teaches you what makes a successful game trailer and the key questions to ask during production. Lieu also sketches out a list of the easily fixable, but extremely common pitfalls many game trailers fall into."
From 50 Cent: Bulletproof to Oxenfree, indie Sean Krankel has wild stories from making licensed games (Luke Winkie / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"Sean Krankel was sitting across from famous music producer Jimmy Iovine, on the exceptionally debaucherous set of 50 Cent's "P.I.M.P." music video, pitching G-Unit his vision. His goal was to create a video game with a fluid, dynamic combat system that would take the player through interior and exterior environments, as 50 tracks down the assailants who famously shot him nine times."
Make Them Want. Delay. Fulfill. Repeat. (Jeff Vogel / The Bottom Feeder - ARTICLE)
"Last week, I began my discourse on how video games can warp your brain chemistry to bring you pleasure in order to make lots of money and how difficult, delicate, and awesome that process is. I have eight observations about how video games cause your brain to secrete delicious dopamine. Here are the last four."
The Mirage of Cloud Gaming (And How to Reach the Oasis) (Matthew Hall / REDEF - ARTICLE)
"Which is to say that the enthusiasm around cloud gaming isn’t just technical, nor about share gains or moving up/down the value chain – it’s also anchored around the belief it can drive a massive expansion in how many people play video games and how valuable the sector will become. [SIMON'S NOTE: This is a GREAT longform piece, with input from former Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada, who tried his own cloud gaming business a while back - don't miss!]"
198X is about the transformational escapism of 80’s arcades (Michael Moore / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"198X is the story of Kid, an androgynous high school student who lives in the suburbs of the City called Suburbia. Kid sees themselves as something of an outcast, and somewhat stuck and purposeless at this point in their life."
Sam Barlow (Her Story, Telling Lies) – Part 1 (Ingmar Boke / AdventureGamers - ARTICLE)
"Eager to learn more, I got hold of Sam on Skype recently and we thoroughly discussed Her Story, Telling Lies and other topics related to interactive storytelling. In fact, our conversation got so extensive that we have decided to split the article in two halves. [SIMON'S NOTE: and here's Part 2 - lots of good stuff in here!]"
Inside Black Mirror Bandersnatch (Tracy King / Custom PC - ARTICLE)
"Black Mirror, co-produced by Brooker and Annabel Jones, launched in 2011 on Channel 4, then moved to Netflix in 2015 where it found a huge international audience. And so we come to Bandersnatch, a standalone episode of Black Mirror that uses Netflix’s experimental interactive capabilities. Originally, Brooker tells me, there wasn’t much enthusiasm from him and Jones making an interactive episode."
Game Mode: Work Hard, Play Hard (1A / NPR - AUDIO + TEXT)
"Recently, there has been a growing movement among game workers to unionize. Will that finally address these long-standing workplace issues? Has the industry reached a tipping point? We’ll discuss on the latest installment of 1A: Game Mode."
Shigeru Miyamoto Opens Up in New Book about Missing Late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata (Esra Krabbe / IGN - ARTICLE)
"Miyamoto still remembers one of their first meals together. Iwata, who was running Kirby and Smash Bros developer HAL Lab at the time, was in Kyoto to work on a project. Late at night, they went for a bowl of ramen. “Nintendo doesn’t pay for social expenses, so we had to go Dutch on the bill,” says Miyamoto."
*Press A* ~ 2019’s Best Videogame Soundtracks So Far (Captain Freakout / A Closer Listen - ARTICLE)
"There’s outstanding music to be heard in all genres, so whether you’re a modern composition or retro fanatic, there’s something here for you. Also, most soundtracks are now being officially published one way or another, be it in digital or physical format; add that to recent remasters of classics from decades past (Mother 2, Shadow of the Beast), and it’s a pretty good time to be a listener."
This infamous Counter-Strike team helped pave the way for women in eSports(Nicole Carpenter / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"Les Seules means “the outsiders.” Sofi Byström, a founding member of the e-sports team who went by “Sophie” online, said as much in an interview with The Associated Press in 2004. “We all knew each other online,” Byström said. “There was a big competition coming up. We were kind of the leftovers, so we just sort of came together.”
A Bloodstained Q&A with Koji 'Iga' Igarashi (Kris Graft / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Igarashi makes no claims that Bloodstained is some kind of innovative twist on the game that inspired so many of today's sprawling exploration games. Bloodstained is a direct, unabashed throwback to the Castlevania of the late 90s, and it's excellent. Here, Igarashi answers our questions about independent game development, and designing an "Igavania.""
Google tries to reassure gamers it’s behind Stadia for the long haul (Kyle Orland / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"Focusing on individual purchases rather than subscriptions is a fine direction for Google to choose, though it seems a little conservative for a service being billed as revolutionary. More to the point, though, asking people to buy individual units of entertainment in a form they can't even download to a local machine is something of a new frontier for a mass market, cloud-based service."
[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every weekend at tinyletter.com/vgdeepcuts - we crosspost to Gamasutra later, 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!]