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Video Game Deep Cuts: Flash The Artifact, Get The Saga

This week's highlights include an attempt to archive key Flash games, a deeper look at Valve's upcoming Artifact, and a super-deep oral history of Panzer Dragoon Saga, among others.

Simon Carless, Blogger

May 6, 2018

8 Min Read

[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from curator/video game industry 'watcher' Simon Carless, rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend.

This week's highlights include an attempt to archive key Flash games, a deeper look at Valve's upcoming Artifact, and a super-deep oral history of Panzer Dragoon Saga, among others.

Well, running a little slow, but limping to the finish line, at least. The latest Game eBook Storybundle closed this week, and I've decided the next one will be the last I curate, aw. (For why? Well, a lot of regular buyers are now 100+ video game eBooks behind in their reading, and I've bundled most of the good stuff I wanted to, so... adieu.)

Luckily, there's always another thing to move onto, so am hoping to start a small standalone project with Frank Cifaldi's excellent Video Game History Foundation in the next few weeks - watch this space!

Until next time,
Simon, curator.]


Panzer Dragoon Saga: An oral history (James Mielke / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"It was Team Andromeda — an internal R&D team at Sega of Japan — that first revealed the potential of the Sega Saturn. Its debut game was the on-rails shooter Panzer Dragoon. Part Space Harrier, part Dune, part Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Panzer Dragoon filled Sega Saturns around the globe with evocative 3D shooting action featuring a blue dragon and its rider."

Using Steam reviews to estimate sales (Jake Birkett / Gamasutra Blogs - ARTICLE)
"Back in 2014, before SteamSpy, I wrote this article about using Steam’s review count to estimate sales. Then SteamSpy came along and we all used that instead. However, now that SteamSpy is unable to show the number of owners due to Valve’s privacy policy changes, the good old review count method has become valid again!"

zine thoughts pt 2 (thecatamites / my friend pokey - ARTICLE)
"where do you sell videogames? zine fairs, children’s book stores, used record marts, from the trunk of a car like rudy ray moore, on etsy or on craiglist, with flyers on the wall of the local chip shop or library. through awkwardly hammered-together handmade electronic systems or the reverse, turning your game into a jumbled set of paper text and graphical fragments which can be sold in boardgame stores as some kind of reconstruct-the-narrative puzzle."

Zerg Rush | A History of AI Research in StarCraft (AI and Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"With Google DeepMind's StarCraft 2 research in full swing, we take a look at why AI researchers are interested in RTS games and the established body of work in this field over the past 15-20 years."

The anti-Brexit game turning controversy into opportunity (Haydn Taylor / Gamesindustry.biz - ARTICLE)
"YouTube commenters can be cruel and although this is among the more tepid responses littering the comment section below an announcement trailer for Not Tonight, it's a perfect illustration of the uphill battle faced by developer Panic Barn and publisher No More Robots. [SIMON'S NOTE: as an advisor to NMR, I'm enthusiastic about the game, but do wonder if the subject is going to overshadow quality discussions. We'll see!]"

Fizzy Brushstrokes: The Art of Knights and Bikes (Rex Crowle / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC talk, Foam Sword's Rex Crowle discusses the creation of the art style for his next game Knights and Bikes, explaining how the art doesn't just represent how its creator sees the game world, but also how the game characters perceive their own surroundings."

The spirit of Guitar Hero lives on in a bizarre community-made clone (Mike Stubbs / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Despite Guitar Hero sales slowing dramatically in its final years, there is still a dedicated community that wants to play the five fret rhythm action game. In recent years they have tried multiple solutions to keep playing, as consoles and guitars slowly start to die."

The United States Of Japan (Matt Alt / The New Yorker - ARTICLE)
"Yet when the bubble burst, in 1990, plunging Japan into its Lost Decades, this marginalized community proved a resilient incubator of trends. Chief among these was the Pokémon video-game series, whose creator, Satoshi Tajiri, is a self-proclaimed otaku. [SIMON'S NOTE: not chiefly about games, but games is certainly bundled up in there.]"

Artifact pairs the best ideas of Dota with the best parts of card games (Austin Wood / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"You’ll often see characters in sci-fi stories play seemingly incomprehensible games like multi-dimensional space chess, and that’s basically what it’s like playing Artifact, Valve’s upcoming Dota-inspired card game. It’s an ambitious hybrid of the studio’s MOBA and Magic: The Gathering, and it works shockingly well."

10 Mississippi (That's Not Fun / Bennett Foddy - ARTICLE)
"In 10 Mississippi, it's not you in the daily routine. It's (we may presume) the author, and you are inhabiting her body and her lived experience. You get more familiar with the details in the locations that give personality to the situations and the character. [SIMON'S NOTE: That's Not Fun is a new game recommendation blog from QWOP/Getting Over It maestro, and actually fills a bit of a missing niche - intelligent writing about games that need discovering. Plz read.]"

Mobile gaming cements its dominance, takes majority of worldwide sales (Kyle Orland / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"Fast-forward to the forecast for the 2018 global game market, and things could scarcely look more different. Newzoo's 2018 Global Games Market Forecast now predicts that mobile games will make up a slim majority (51 percent) of all worldwide gaming revenue this year (including smartphones and tablets, but not dedicated gaming handhelds)."

Adobe Flash’s Gaming Legacy — Thousands upon Thousands of Titles — and My Efforts To Save It (Ben Latimore / Medium - ARTICLE)
"Adobe Flash (previously Macromedia Flash) is arguably the largest treasure trove of unpreserved gaming history today. Spanning literal tens of thousands of games over a period of twenty years, the library of Flash games, breadth and depth, outlives any other game console on the market. And in two years it might all go away."

Judging Judgment: Analyzing Early Access Finances of Our First Indie Game(Tomer Barkan / Gamasutra Blogs - ARTICLE)
"In a few hours, we’ll be releasing the full version of Judgment: Apocalypse Survival Simulation after two years in Early Access and 3.5 years of development. I took this time to analyze and share our financial data in hopes that it could help other aspiring indies out there who have no idea what to expect in the long road ahead of them."

Far Cry 5 and the Art of Saying Nothing (Errant Signal / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Far Cry 5 tries very hard to not really be 'about' anything. So is it?! [SIMON'S NOTE: lots of writer/YouTube analysis on the game pulling its punches message-wise, but I'm not SURE its core audience actually... minds that much?]"

All We Want to Do Is Watch Each Other Play Video Games (Nellie Bowles / New York Times - ARTICLE)
"Video games are beginning their takeover of the real world. Across North America this year, companies are turning malls, movie theaters, storefronts and parking garages into neighborhood esports arenas. [SIMON'S NOTE: the original title of this piece was 'All We Want to Do Is Eat Junk and Watch Each Other Play Fortnite', showcasing the age & relative cultural grumpiness of the NYT's headline writers, if nothing else.]"

My accidental 36 years in video games by Jeff Minter (Llamasoft) (Codemotion / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Jeff's 36 years of experience in constantly making video games, the times, the hardware and the challenges. [SIMON'S NOTE: Minter is an inspiration to many, because he is still going and making interesting games, basically solo - amazing, and to be respected.]"

Nigh Unplayable: A Brief History of Unwieldy Controls (Alexander Chatziioannou  / Kotaku UK - ARTICLE)
"The further a game strays from these lofty ideals, the likelier it becomes that it will be criticised for being inaccurate, sloppy, or inconsistent. But what about those titles where imprecision and inconsistency are not the unhappy byproducts of a design failure, but deliberately implemented?"

Far Cry 5's Faith Seed Embodies An Evangelical Double Standard (Riley MacLeod / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"I hated fighting Faith Seed, the highest-ranking woman in Far Cry 5’s fictional cult. She was confusing, annoying, and—like all the game’s enemies—wanted to kill me. I was supposed to hate her, but I didn’t relish winning our final battle."

Building Games That Can Be Understood at a Glance (Zach Gage / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC session, developer Zach Gage (TypeShift, Really Bad Chess) explains how to make games desirable to someone looking over a player's shoulder on the subway, sitting next to a player on an airplane, or minding their own business on Twitter."

Rewilding | The Long Dark (Ewan Wilson / Heterotopias - ARTICLE)
"No matter which region you choose to trek through in Hinterland’s survival game The Long Dark, the mountains are a constant. Their black shapes threaten the horizon from every angle—shadowy warnings hanging over the landscape."


[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!]

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Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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