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Video Game Deep Cuts: That GDC Biohazard Mystery

This week's 'long reads/standout game videos' highlights include a mess of GDC talk goodness, plus Resident Evil 7/Biohazard's making-of, the role of mystery in games, & lots more.

Simon Carless, Blogger

March 5, 2017

9 Min Read

[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from curator/video game industry veteran Simon Carless, rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend. This week's highlights include a mess of GDC talk goodness, plus Resident Evil 7/Biohazard's making-of, the role of mystery in games, & lots more.

So yep - Game Developers Conference is finally done & we're super happy with how it went. Thanks to any of you who made it out to San Francisco, or helped us with the event in ANY way! The good news for those who didn't is that GDC Vault recording was going on en masse, so we'll be rolling out LOTS of good content on our YouTube channel over the next few months. Now - time for a little rest?

Another reminder - if you dig Video Game Deep Cuts, please talk about it on social media and link to the sub page! That's how I get the bulk of my new subscribers, and it's much appreciated.

Simon, curator.]



Lessons learned by an 'art-house indie' who joined a F2P game studio (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"Veteran game designer Margaret Robertson opened her talk at GDC today on what she’s learned in her journey from a self-described “art-house indie” to someone who works at a free-to-play game studio."

alt.ctrl | Hands-On | GDC 2017 (Jess Conditt / Engadget)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: this is the best video overview I've seen of the alternative controller exhibit (masterminded by John Polson & aided by me) that we run at Game Developers Conference every year. So much creativity here.]"

How Prompto's AI-driven selfie system in Final Fantasy XV was built (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"Prasert “Sun” Prasertvithyakarn served as lead designer on Final Fantasy XV’s buddy system and AI; at GDC this week he took the stage to talk a bit about how the AI-driven snapshot system was designed and built."

Developing Crashlands while facing a terminal cancer diagnosis (Simon Parkin / Gamasutra)
"In 2013, the 23-year-old game artist and developer Samuel Coster hallucinated a dragon made of blood bursting from his chest. The hallucinations continued and soon increased in regularity. “I figured I was struck with a strange virus,” Coster recalled, in a session titled 'The Last Game I Make Before I Die' delivered at the Game Developers Conference this morning."

Writing Mafia 3: 'We had a lot of very uncomfortable conversations' (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"Today at GDC, Hangar 13 narrative director William Harms took the stage to break down how the studio pulled it off. Most notably, in the face of some praise for how Mafia 3’s pulpy revenge story effectively treats with themes of racism and discrimination, Harms pushed back against the notion that tackling racism was a core goal of the game’s narrative design."

Train Jam perfectly captures the magic of both traveling and game dev (Katherine Cross / Gamasutra)
"Thus it was that Adriel Wallick, doyenne and major domo of the jam for the last four years, settled on “Unexpected Anticipation” as the theme for all of this year’s games. She spoke above the cheers of a 300-strong crowd in the newly refurbished Burlington Room of Chicago’s Union Station, christened by the opening ceremonies for this unique event."

Warren Spector traces Deus Ex's development back to a game of D&D (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"Shortly after the game shipped, game director Warren Spector wrote a broad postmortem of the project. Today at GDC, he revisited the subject after 17 years to offer some fresh insight into how the groundbreaking game came to be. 'People always ask me which of my games are my favorite; don’t ever ask a game designer that,' said Spector. 'The closest I ever get to answering is saying that the game I’m most proud of is Deus Ex.'"

For Tim Sweeney, advancing Epic means racing into AR and VR (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"What does it feel like to receive an award honoring a lifetime of achievement...before you're 50? "I feel like maybe I'm an old fogey and should be shopping for a cane!" Epic chief Tim Sweeney tells Gamasutra, with a laugh."

Lessons learned from over 15 years of of teaching a VR/AR design course (Chris Baker / Gamasutra)
"Virtual reality and augmented reality may seem like new mediums, suddenly made viable by the emergence of the Rift and the Vive and Hololens. But Jesse Schell has watched hundreds of people build immersive VR and AR environments for the last several decades. And he has some general lessons to impart from his experience."

A dev's guide to ensuring studio conflict is healthy and productive (Alex Wawro / Gamasutra)
"At GDC today, Finji CEO and cofounder Rebekah Saltsman shared some advice on cultivating the former and avoiding the latter, based on her own experience shipping multiple games at Finji alongside her husband (and Finji cofounder) Adam Saltsman."

[SIMON'S NOTE: There's all kinds of other good GDC 2017 coverage out there. But I mainly stuck to Gamasutra, since we spent a lot of time on detailed talk write-ups, which are all compiled here...]

Non GDC-Related

A Fresh Narrative in Gaming (Justin Porter / New York Times)
"A mixed-race man comes home from the Vietnam War to more carnage: His adoptive father, the leader of the black mob, is betrayed and killed by the Italian mafia, the main criminal power in a fictional city based on New Orleans. So the veteran, Lincoln Clay, starts taking retribution, leaving hundreds dead in his wake. That’s the familiar revenge-as-motive storyline of the video game Mafia III, developed by Hangar 13 and published by 2K, but the twist is that Lincoln is also a victim."

Shigeru Miyamoto – 1989 Developer Interview (TV Game / Shmuplations)
"This short but insightful interview with Shigeru Miyamoto first appeared in an early seminal book of video game history, “terebi game denshi yuugi taizen” from 1989. The interview captures Miyamoto in the early limelight: not yet the legend he is today, but more of a bright star among other contemporary developers."

How SteamWorld Heist brought skill into turn-based tactics (Alex Wiltshire / RockPaperShotgun)
"SteamWorld Heist is a tactics game about boarding procedural spaceships with a squad of desperado robots and grabbing all the swag you can before they’re turned to scrap. It’s also a cross-genre oddity, a turn-based platformer, with presentation and polish that comes across a bit like a Nintendo fan fell in love with XCOM."

Rediscovering Mystery (feat. Jonathan Blow / Derek Yu / Jim Crawford) (Noclip / YouTube)
"In this special feature about video game mysteries, we talk to Jonathan Blow (The Witness / Braid), Derek Yu (Spelunky) and Jim Crawford (Frog Fractions) about the games that inspired wonder in us as children."

What the game industry thinks of Nintendo’s Switch (Matt Leone / Polygon)
"Yet more than most consoles, Switch remains a bit of a mystery at launch. Are motion controls going to be a big part of it? What type of player will Switch developers cater to? In an attempt to wrap our heads around it, we recently reached out to a group of developers and industry veterans to get a sense of where those in the game business see it going."

Eleven Essential Books that will help shape your Game City (Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Medium)
"Designing an imaginary city is not an easy thing to do. Even less so when it’s a videogame city, the construction of which will also have to take a myriad of technical and cost constraints into consideration."

toco toco ep.47, Katsura Hashino, Game Creator (toco toco TV / YouTube)
"In this episode, we follow Katsura Hashino, director of various RPG games including episodes of the world-renown Persona series, he will introduce us to philosophy and his work. Starting from Shibuya’s Center Gai, we will hop on the Den-en-Toshi line over to Sangenjaya, which was the inspiration to create the city of Yongenjaya, a key area in Hashino’s latest title: Persona 5."

Frog Fractions: inside the mind behind the world's strangest video game (Chris Priestman / The Guardian)
"Jim Crawford is a self-confessed dilettante who moves from project to project in the blink of an eye. How did he create the most anarchic video game ever made?"

BIOHAZARD 7 INSIDE REPORT File 01: The Meaning of A Moment of Silence (Toru Shiwasu / Alex Aniel)
"BIOHAZARD 7 resident evil INSIDE REPORT was included in the COMPLETE EDITION of the Japanese version of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard. It is only available officially in Japanese, and no official English translation has been announced. [SIMON'S NOTE: There's multiple parts to this translation on Alex's blog, and it's all excellent stuff.]"

A Torch in the Dark: Using Creative Direction to Light The Darkest Dungeon (Chris Bourassa / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2016 talk, Red Hook Studios' Chris Bourassa breaks down the creative philosophy of Darkest Dungeon - one that is characterized by a steadfast commitment to a clearly articulated, externalized creative core."

Populists Stage A Coup In Space (Alex Barron / Simon Parkin / New Yorker Radio Hour)
"EVE Online is a massive multiplayer online videogame set in outer space, with tens of thousands of people playing at any given time. A few years ago, a faction of upstarts within the game’s community, who thumbed their nose at the rules, went to war against the alliance of skilled players they regarded as corrupt, elitist insiders. They won, in a shocking coup precipitated by espionage. Sound familiar?"


[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, 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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