2017 was a wild and busy time for the games industry. While triple-A games broke new ground and showed us the value of large teams, independent developers also continued to rise even amidst growing challenges for releasing games into a crowded market. Over these last few months, we've done our best to talk to as many game-makers as we can over on the Gamasutra Twitch channel, and archive as much actionable insight for other game developers.
It wasn't easy to narrow down all our streams, since we talked to so many great and thoughtful devs, but in the end we tried to pick some of the highlights from the many topics broached on our Twitch channel over the course of the year. If you're settling in for a quiet winter break and need some game development video to study, be sure to check out our selections below.
Our interview with Prey lead designer Ricardo Bare
As one of this year's standout immersive simulations, Prey wasn't just a game we urged developers to study closely, it's one we wanted to pry open and poke at its innards as best we could. Thankfully Arkane Studios lead designer Ricardo Bare was kind enough to join us on the Gamasutra Twitch channel earlier this year to dig through the game's innards for us and share some observations from the development process.
One of our big takeaways from this chat was the knowledge that Prey has no anonymous NPCs---they all have quarters, a tagged location (living or dead), and narrative presence within the ruins of Talos I. If that design choice intrigues you, you shouldn't hesitate to jump into our full interview with Bare for more helpful nuggets:
Our panel on single-player accessibility
We talk a lot about accessibility in games as a question of interface and controls, but how often do we discuss difficulty and price? That train of thought led us to invite some developers and advocates onto our Twitch channel over the summer to discuss the implementation of "casual mode" and other ways to make interesting games more widely accessible.
And while we can't claim any credit (seriously, we can't), it was interesting to see both Horizon Zero Dawn and Assassin's Creed Origins make plans to patch in more casual game modes after we had this discussion. If you're going into 2018 thinking about how to open up your game to players, don't miss this chat:
Our chat with Tacoma level designer Nina Freeman
Throughout 2017, we did our best to let you talk to those who could speak most broadly to the development of this year's titles. But when Tacoma rolled around toward the end of August, we were happy to invite level designer Nina Freeman onto our show to discuss not only her work on the game, but her personal work as an indie creator, and how she balanced the two.
While it was fun to learn about all the literary references snuck into the game, if you're a developer balancing a day job with personal work, we highly recommend you check out our full chat with Freeman, seen here:
Our look back at Oblivion with Ken Rolston
How much do RPG designers owe to the old guard of Bethesda Studios? Quite a lot---many developers cite Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim as their personal inspirations, and with a little bit of work we got the rare opportunity this year to talk with Ken Rolston, who led the design process on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and previously had a hand in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
If you like your game design war stories with a side of tabletop handbooks and sassy in-jokes, you should be sure to watch our full conversation with Rolston here:
Our video critique of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus' first hour
At Gamasutra, we try to spend as much time as we can bringing you perspectives and insight from game developers across the globe. But when Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus landed, we wanted to explore the game's early hours from our own point of view, and have a conversation about pushing through risky topics in games.
It was...a lot of fun! And surprisingly heavy. This game is really intense. You should see how intense right here:
And of course, for more developer interviews, editor roundtables and gameplay commentary, be sure to follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel.
Want to read more about the best of 2017? Don't miss our picks for the Top 5 Developers of 2017, the Top 5 Trends of 2017, and Top 5 Events that shaped the year. Gamasutra contributors also each wrote up a personal list of their top games, and you can read them here: Kris Graft, Alissa McAloon, Chris Kerr, Phill Cameron, and Bryant Francis.