[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from video game industry 'watcher' Simon Carless (GDC, Gamasutra co-runner, No More Robots advisor), rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend.
This week's roundup includes excellent pieces on the PlayStation's 25th anniversary, multiple new 2019 'best of' game lists, and great articles on Katana Zero, Shovel Knight, Knights Of The Old Republic modders, Mario Maker 2, and lots more.
Until next time...
- Simon, curator.]
PlayStation: The First 25 Years (Jeff Cork / Game Informer - ARTICLE)
"The path from the PlayStation 1 to the upcoming PlayStation 5 lines up neatly, but only if you’re looking at it numerically. In actuality, for more than 25 years the PlayStation team has had to navigate some of the industry’s most difficult terrain."
Paradox Interactive is Not Immune to Propaganda: Leftist Politics in Grand Strategy (Huntress X Thompson / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[The video is] about Paradox Interactive's Victoria 2 & Hearts of Iron 4, and how they both include anti-anarchist and anti-communist messages that are suspiciously consistent with propaganda."
How Katana Zero brought action into cutscenes (Alex Wiltshire / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"When this action game halts its razor-fine combat to tell you its story, I sit forward. That’s down to its interrupt system, which lets me choose whether I want to hear NPCs out, or whether I want to tell them to shut up. “I honestly hope more games adopt the interrupt system, if nothing else because it just feels like a much better way to tell stories,” developer Justin Stander tells me. “It’s less reading and more doing.”
The 10 best video games of 2019 (Christopher Byrd / Washington Post - ARTICLE)
"In assembling this year’s top 10 list, I leaned toward the titles that surprised me with their forward-thinking aesthetics, challenges to convention or sheer ability to dazzle."
What happens when you try to recycle a video game? (People Make Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"We take a look at what happens when you try to recycle a video game, plastic box and all."
How “randomizers” are breathing new life into old games (Scott White / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"After playing a classic game to the point of memorization, how do you recapture the sense of adventure and discovery you experienced the first time you played it? A small but growing community in the retro emulation scene is aiming to answer those questions with a class of mods and hacks called "randomizers.""
What a YouTube Copyright Strike From 2015 Has to do With 'Mario Maker 2' in 2019 (Patrick Klepek / VICE - ARTICLE)
"One of the coolest features coming to Super Mario Maker 2 is what Nintendo’s calling Ninji Speedruns, where you try to complete Nintendo-designed levels while racing against the scattered ghosts of other players. What makes the connection between McClure and Nintendo curious is the video Nintendo directed a copyright strike at on McClure’s channel."
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare... 12 Years Later (Raycevick / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: feedback from a dev in the comments on this excellent video: 'Ex IW dev, current Respawn dev here. Thank you for this. It was a lovely trip down memory lane. <3'.]"
The 30 Best Videogames of 2019 (Garrett Martin & Paste Games writers - ARTICLE)
"Did you know that a certain number of games this year shared some similarities, either incidental or fundamental, that are in no way unique to this year or each other, and that that’s enough for me to draw a tenuous and surface level connection between them? Rad. 2019: what a year for games and the people who have to hit word counts about ‘em!"
How Sony bought - and squandered - the future of gaming (Sean Hollister / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a video game platform that lets you play games with the press of a button, no need for discs or downloads. Tap on a YouTube ad for a game, and you’re instantly playing in your web browser. [SIMON'S NOTE: part of a gigantic PlayStation 25th Anniversary set of articles.]"
Classic Postmortem: GoldenEye 007 (Martin Hollis / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2012 GDC Europe Talk, Martin Hollis shares how his team created Goldeneye 007, the biggest release for the N64 without Mario in its title, and how what started as a Virtua Cop-style on-rails project became the legendary FPS that paved the way for console shooters like Halo and countless others."
51 top games in soft launch: From Marvel Super War and Disney Sorcerer’s Arena to Minecraft Earth and Tetris Royale (Matthew Forde / PocketGamer.biz - ARTICLE)
"An important part of the shift to a games-as-a-service approach, the soft launch process enables developers to fine-tune their game, particularly in relation to meta-game mechanics such as time gates, in-game resources and psychological components. [SIMON'S NOTE: this constantly updated list is interesting because these iOS/Android games are often pretty high-profile/interesting & sometimes never even make it out of a regional iOS 'soft launch'...]"
Clark Tank: Analyzing Steam Top 50 and Playing Automation Empire! (Ryan Clark / Brace Yourself Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Every third Friday at 1pm Pacific time we stay on top of the latest game industry trends by examining the Steam top 50, scrutinizing the latest Kickstarted games, and by playing the most prominent recent releases. [SIMON'S NOTE: loooots of good stuff in here as normal - look at the date stamps.]"
Marathon man: A Twitch streamer spent nearly the entire month of November live on camera (Gene Park / Washington Post - ARTICLE)
"Last century, George Mallory tackled Mount Everest “because it’s there.” In 2019, GiantWaffle spent 80 percent of November live on camera for similar reasons... On Nov. 30, Andrew Bodine, a popular variety Twitch entertainer who live streams under the handle of GiantWaffle completed a 573-hour streaming marathon on Twitch, sleeping no more than four hours a night while spending between 19 to 20 hours a day on camera."
The modders who spent 15 years fixing Knights of the Old Republic 2 (Austin Taylor / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"Originally, Staniewicz and his team planned to fix one planet at a time and release them accordingly as they were completed. Once the team finished working on Nar Shaddaa, however, they decided to keep going and release their work as one large mod encompassing all the cut content."
The Making of Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, Part 3: Our Favorite Secrets and More (Yacht Club Games / USGamer - ARTICLE)
"It's at this point that the team really starts scrutinizing the level as an organic unit, then revisiting everything one sequence at a time as we block in more final placements and smooth out rough parts. The result should be a 'done' level where only final touches remain! [SIMON'S NOTE: this whole series is great behind the scenes dev stuff!]"
The Tekken Hero Putting America on His Back (TheScore eSports / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Anakin has been around forever. He’s played in dozens of tournaments, repping Jack and America in even the hardest times. He’s a fan favourite, but right now? He’s North America’s greatest hope."
Razer CEO Berated And Threatened His Staff, Former Employees Say (Cecilia D'Anastasio / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Min-Liang Tan was “officially pissed off,” he wrote in an email to members of Razer’s marketing team in February of 2014. The gaming hardware company hadn’t made the business website Fast Company’s 2014 list of “Most Innovative Companies,” and in his email, part of an exchange obtained by Kotaku, Tan asked of his marketing employees, “Are you guys fucking off?”"
No Blood for Imulsion: Gears of War and the Military-Industrial Complex (Michael Goroff / EGM Now - ARTICLE)
"Early on in Gears 5’s campaign, an aging, gray-bearded Marcus Fenix says something that sounds like it was torn out of the pages of a Second Amendment rights pamphlet: “It’s not the weapons I don’t trust, First Minister,” he tells Jinn after she expresses concerns about resurrecting the Hammer of Dawn weapon system. “It’s the people who use them.” In other words, satellite-powered superweapons don’t kill people; people kill people."
How the PlayStation changed video games forever (Polygon w/Archipel / YouTube - VIDEO)
"We sat down with four key former developers and businessmen from Sony to reflect on the original PlayStation, its creation and launch, and how the video game industry has changed over the past 25 years. [SIMON'S NOTE: the wonderful Archipel YouTube channel teamed up with Polygon for this one!]"
[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!]