[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 look at some great community events - from the fighting game scene's Combo Breaker to Japanese indie dev scene's BitSummit, as well as a peek at the first ever E3 Expo, kids apps, D&D in 2019, Devolver, DOOM on the SNES, and much, much more.
Incidentally, this week the Game Developers Conference YouTube channel hit 250,000 subscribers (and over 27 million total views!) As one of the folks who helped to set it up, I'm proud that so much excellent insight and education from GDC speakers is beamed directly to a worldwide audience - many of whom might not be able to attend the physical GDC events.
Until next time...
- Simon, curator.]
Preservationists Are Racing to Save Ouya's Games Before They Disappear (Nicole Carpenter / VICE - ARTICLE)
"Self-described amateur video game historian VojtÄ›ch Straka of the Czech Republic, who runs a preservation effort called Game History Association, is leading the efforts to preserve Ouya’s games before the system shuts off. “It’s a perfect example—a cautionary tale—about the modern gaming landscape and how ephemeral it is,” Straka said."
Celeste's Movement (Mix & Jam / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: another one of the clever YouTube channel's projects to replicate a certain gameplay mechanic from a notable game, from scratch, and document it in a video. This requires a lot of skill!]"
Q&A: Dissecting the development of Dwarf Fortress with creator Tarn Adams (John Harris / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"One of the best uses of a high-powered processor out there for entertainment purposes has long been Dwarf Fortress, the game that makes an entire world out of ASCII characters, and will happily consume a gigabyte of your RAM and a good chunk of your processor cycles to bring it to life."
Anti-loot box bill poses a real threat to sports video games (Owen S. Good / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"If passed in anything close to its proposed form, Sen. Josh Hawley’s anti-microtransaction legislation will punish, if not obliterate, a staple genre of video gaming for offenses it never really committed. That may be fine with you. You may not like sports or their games, you may hate Electronic Arts because everyone else does."
Clark Tank: Epic Store in China, Steam Top 50, & Islanders! (Brace Yourself Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"This week, we take a look at why Islanders is doing so well, take a look at why Epic is now open in China, how Valve deals with positive review bombing, the Steam Top 50, and we play and analyze Islanders!"
The Kids App Market – A Strategic Overview (Bjorn Jeffery / BjornJeffery.com - ARTICLE)
"How do you take on a market where the user isn’t your customer? A market that overlaps and competes with four major industries, but doesn’t belong to any of them? These are questions I have been working with for the past nine years. [SIMON'S NOTE: co-founder of Toca Boca - which my kid is a big fan of - on why the kids app game market just hasn't really ever taken off properly, at least not revenue-wise compared to F2P.]"
Playing with Magic: Interactive Worlds and Walt Disney Imagineering (GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2019 GDC talk, Walt Disney Imagineering's Brent D. Strong and Sara Thacher talk about the opportunities and challenges of building physical, interactive worlds and explore the overlap between designing theme parks and video games. [SIMON'S NOTE: also notable from GDC on YouTube this week - '[Prey] Mooncrash: Resetting the Immersive Simulation'.]"
Learning The Shape Of Dungeons & Dragons in 2019 at A Livestream Event (Cameron Kunzelman / Paste - ARTICLE)
"There are two ways of playing Dungeons & Dragons. This is not something that I had really considered or thought through before my trip to the livestreamed announcement and fan gathering D&D Live 2019: The Descent that took place May 17 through 19, but it became clear as I sat and talked and interviewed and watched and listened and played in the full immersion of the Dungeons & Dragons community for a few days."
Inside Combo Breaker - Games, Culture, and the Midwest (Hold Back To Block / YouTube - VIDEO)
"We speak to Rick Thiher, event director of Combo Breaker, to get a look inside of what it takes to put together one of the biggest fighting game events of the year."
The magnificent reappearing act of Richard Hofmeier (Jessica Conditt / Engadget - ARTICLE)
"It's been seven years since the release of Cart Life, and six years since Hofmeier became a household name among indie-game fans. In March, he published a game called Type Dreams on indie-distribution hub Itch, his first major release since Cart Life. It's still in development, but the game is rich, witty and played entirely with the keyboard."
Day Of The Tentacle (Jimmy Maher / The Digital Antiquarian - ARTICLE)
"Although they didn’t know one another at the time, Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer both found themselves at a similar place in life in the summer of 1989: just out of university and uncertain what to do next. Both saw the same unusual advertisement in the newspaper: an advertisement for programmers who could also write."
Fan Fix For 13-Year-Old Far Cry Bug Officially Added To The Game (Nathan Grayson / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"The original Far Cry is a, ahem, distant weep from what the series has become under Ubisoft’s influence, but the 2004 jungle-faring adventure starring a grown man with the fashion sense of a late-1990s middle-schooler still has its fans. Since 2006, those fans have been struggling with a peculiar issue: Enemies can see and fire through tents. Now, 13 years later, that issue has been fixed in the official GOG version of the game—thanks to a fan."
Carpal tunnel, back pain and social anxiety: Inside the injury-plagued world of professional gaming. (Peter Holley / Washington Post - ARTICLE)
"They train for up to 10 hours a day, practicing new moves, quickening reaction times and building chemistry with teammates for the chance to earn millions. And while the professional, six-player team known as Magic Gaming — members of the NBA 2K esports league — will never set foot on an actual basketball court, that doesn’t mean their bodies aren’t being pushed to the limit, according to Dr. Todd Sontag, who was recently unveiled as the team’s official doctor."
How Subnautica Succeeded Without Weapons (Ars Technica / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Charlie Cleveland, design director for Subnautica, goes behind the scenes of the game's development and explains how they crafted an exciting and dangerous experience without allowing the player to fight back."
The story of the first E3 (Colin Campbell / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"Pat Ferrell almost blew his chance to launch E3. At the moment he was supposed to be pitching his new idea for a game industry show, he was sitting in an Italian restaurant enjoying a lunchtime plate of pasta. It was a Thursday in the summer of 1994. Ferrell, the man in charge of GamePro magazine, was oblivious to the impending disaster."
Smarter Than I: How Spirit Ally aims to tackle toxicity (Matt Cox / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"The worst part of games are the asshats who play them. I don’t mean you, I’m sure you’re lovely. I mean the racists who swamped my Mordhau server last night with anti-semitic gibberish. I mean the Dota players who’ve wished cancer on my mother, and the Overwatch teammates who’ve wished me worse. Toxicity in multiplayer games is near universal, and designers have a responsibility to manage their communities. Fortunately, Spirit AI is developing a tool that might help."
Why gaming’s most influential indie label has stayed small for a decade (Andrew Webster / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"When the duo behind Hotline Miami signed on with game publisher Devolver Digital, they thought the company was a lot bigger than it actually was. “For a long time, I think almost two years or something, we thought that Devolver had an office with a receptionist and a big Devolver sign on a 10 story building,” says Dennis Wedin, one half of the Swedish group behind the stylish and super violent game. Not only was Devolver a team of just six people, but they didn’t even have an office. [SIMON'S NOTE: and their latest title, Gato Roboto, is being pretty well-received & having its animation analyzed even now!]"
Dance Dance Revolution 2019 (Zackary Canepari / New York Times - ARTICLE WITH VIDEOS)
"“And this guy gets on and plays an 18, and he full combos the whole thing. I saw like a thousand — 1,500 notes just fly by, and I’m like, ‘Wow. That looks like so much fun.’ [SIMON'S NOTE: Love the New York Times' experimentation with visual essays like this.]”
Inside the work to get Doom on the Super Nintendo (Fabien Sanglard / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"The following excerpt is a chapter of "Game Engine Black Book: DOOM", a comprehensive look at the inner workings of one of id Software's most influential games. This chapter examines the trials and triumphs of porting DOOM to the Super Nintendo, and the pivotal role played by Star Foxdeveloper Argonaut Games."
The Best Games Of Japan's Biggest Indie Expo (Adam Bolton / Video Games Chronicle - ARTICLE)
"VGC got to walk the floor [of BitSummit] and check out the many wonderfully unique experiences that both local talent and international exhibitors had to offer. Each year sees a selection of these games pick up awards for particular categories – and this year’s winners highlighted some real potential indie gems of the future. [SIMON'S NOTE: also see coverage from NintendoLife of this excellent indie event.]"
[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!]