9 min read

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Devotion Of An Art Sqool Hades 2

This week's highlights include a look at smash hit Taiwanese horror game Devotion, quirky AI art tutoring game Art Sqool, and the latest behind-the-scenes video on Supergiant's Early Access title Hades.

[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 highlights include a look at smash hit Taiwanese horror game Devotion, quirky AI art tutoring game Art Sqool, and the latest behind-the-scenes video on Supergiant's Early Access title Hades, among a whole bunch of other neat articles & videos.

Well, that week flew by, didn't it? But there's plenty of content in here, inspiring & ground in equal measure, to get you through the weekend in good shape. Happy reading!

Until next time...
Simon, curator.]


Eastshade: a review (Philippa Warr / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"I, on the other hand, am playing a travelling artist. I came to Eastshade to paint pictures in tribute to my mother via a type of in-game screenshotting. It’s this art focus which sets Eastshade apart from other games which muddle about in those Euro-flavoured high fantasy settings. [SIMON'S NOTE: some interesting concepts behind this title.]"

The Best Game Design Ideas from GDC (The Game Overanalyzer / YouTube - VIDEO)
"This Video is a summary and Analysis of the best game design ideas I've seen in all the GDC talks i've watched, and I thought it would be interesting to compile all these ideas in one place for your viewing pleasure. The Video is framed as a response to Chris Crawford''s famous dragon speech, where he predicted a lot of what is transpiring in the medium today. [SIMON'S NOTE: An interesting compilation!]"

Who Says I Can't (Wayne Drehs / ESPN - ARTICLE)
"Mendez says it started with the Madden video game. His older sister, Jackie, pushed her brother to try new things and one day tucked a PlayStation controller under his chin. He learned to press the buttons with his chin and collarbone. Unlike fighting or fantasy games where he constantly had to engage, football gave him breaks."

'Sunless Skies' Tells Its Stories Slowly, But They're Worth the Trip (Rob Zacny / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"Sunless Skies disappointed me at first. The sequel to the excellent Sunless Sea, Failbetter Games’ 2015 exploration game that was set in the universe of their free-to-play hypertext adventure, Fallen London, Sunless Skies takes us to a new setting that mixes the familiar with the completely unknown. At its outset, however, it mostly felt as opaque and cloudy as the billows of smoke so often cited in its text and depicted in its art."

The Agent before Agent, a lost Rockstar San Diego project (Blake Hester / Polygon - ARTICLE)
"Before Tretton got on stage, though, a different Rockstar studio, Rockstar San Diego, had its own version of Agent. A project that was full of ambition and differing philosophies. A PlayStation 2/Xbox-generation project that some at the studio thought would be the next big release from Rockstar. A project whose parts were partially repurposed in the first Red Dead Redemption."

Talking to Just Cause 2's Game Director about Creating the Grappling Hook (Game Brain / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Avalanche Studios' Magnus Nedfors was Principal Designer on Just Cause (2006) and Game Director on Just Cause 2 (2010). Recently we spoke about the origin of the Just Cause franchise, the evolution of the grappling hook and what designing the grapple taught Magnus about game design."

When Your Favorite Streamer Turns Out To Be A Creep (Or Worse) (Cecilia D'Anastasio / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Cheung is not the only gaming personality to be accused of attempting inappropriate—and potentially illegal—interactions with young women or minors that he met online. There are no statistics describing how prevalent this predatory behavior is between Twitch streamers and fans, and Kotaku’s interviews with law enforcement focused on predation suggest that it is not a common occurrence. However, as the internet has changed with the addition of social media, influencer culture, YouTube, Twitch and a multibillion-dollar online gaming industry, so has the nature of online predation."

ESA's acting CEO stays neutral on unionization, opposes 'gaming disorder' (Kris Graft / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"In a corresponding talk he gave at DICE, he noted that the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and American Psychiatric Association all declined to classify “any level of video game use as a disorder.” Pierre-Louis said that a “gaming disorder” misdiagnosis could have negative consequences on people with physical and/or mental health issues."

Anthem review: BioWare’s sky-high gaming ambition crashes back to Earth (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"BioWare, the developer responsible for Mass Effect and Dragon Age, has returned with its first new series in over a decade, Anthem. It's a pretty big departure for the RPG-heavy studio: a jetpack-fueled, action-first online "looter-shooter." And after a disastrous demo launched weeks ago, we wondered whether we'd even get a playable game. The good news is that we did, and at its best, Anthem feels brilliant, beautiful, and thrilling. At its worst, though, this is a stuttering, confusing, heartbreaking mess of an action game. [SIMON'S NOTE: also see: "'Anthem' Could Be Great Someday. Today Is Not That Day."]"

The History of Blindfolded Punch-Out (Summoning Salt / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: Summoning Salt is known for his amazing 'speed run history' videos, and this one is a particularly weird/interesting variant.]"

The Amy Hennig Interview: On What Changed With Uncharted 4, Leaving EA, and What's Next (Caty McCarthy / USGamer - ARTICLE)
"Amy Hennig always speaks her mind. At the DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, the first thing that came to the former Uncharted and Legacy of Kain series director when asked about the development of Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City in the early '90s was that "there was a lot of cocaine at EA during that time. I wasn't indulging in any of it.""

Getting to the heart of art in the delightfully strange Art Sqool (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Gamasutra sat down with Julian Glander, creator of Art Sqool, to talk about the thoughts that went into creating a world built to draw out creativity from the player, designing prompts that would help the player get started, and giving the player fun tools that help them express the visions in their heads."

How loot boxes hooked gamers and left regulators spinning (Makena Kelly / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"A month ago, a woman known online as CadenceLikesVGs realized she had a gambling problem. She wasn’t playing blackjack or pulling slot machine levers; she was opening video game loot boxes. “I can’t do this anymore. It is a problem,” Cadence, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote in a Reddit post last month."

The Chaos of Patching Hades - Developing Hell #02 (Noclip / YouTube - VIDEO)
"We rejoin Supergiant Games as they struggle to deal with updating and patching their latest project; Hades. Filmed over the course of three months, this episode features raw insight into the planning, creative brainstorming, and pressures of working on a game in early access."

Linux gaming is on a life-support system called Steam (Jessica Conditt / Engadget - ARTICLE)
"However, the percentage of PC players that actually use Linux has remained roughly the same since 2013, and it's a tiny fraction of the gaming market -- just about 2 percent. Linux is no closer to claiming the gaming world's crown than it was six years ago, when Newell predicted the open-source, user-generated-content revolution."

How Devotion, Twitch's hottest horror game, builds on the genre's legacy (Nicole Carpenter / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"Whereas Detention takes place within a school in 1960s Taiwan, Devotionis set entirely in a 1980s Taiwanese apartment complex. Using a looping system similar to the mechanics of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s P.T., Devotion revisits a family’s empty apartment over the years. Pulling inspiration from the games that came before it, Devotion builds upon the legacy of the first-person horror mystery."

343 Industries Boss Bonnie Ross on Her Long Career at Microsoft and Avoiding Crunch on Halo Infinite (Caty McCarthy / USGamer - ARTICLE)
"Ross is very humble for someone of her experience. She started at Microsoft in 1994, at first just on operating systems. But she's come a long way from those beginnings. Today, she's corporate vice president of Microsoft and the head of 343 Industries, Microsoft's first-party studio responsible for Halo. She's a vocal champion for diversity in the industry, and was even featured in the "She Can STEM" ad campaign to encourage young women to get into technology."

The argument for playing video games with our kids (Elissa Strauss / CNN - ARTICLE)
"I went all-in. Every night for a week, during our quality time slot, we played "Minecraft" together -- his preferred digital entertainment. I entered this arrangement wholly, and willfully, ignorant about this immensely popular game. My first discovery was that my son, despite having already played for a couple of months, knew little more than I did."

Saved, But Not Forgotten (Mark Christian / Tedium - ARTICLE)
"The evolution of saving in video games, from the password to the cloud, and nearly every obscure memory card format in-between."

How one gamer relearnt how to play after a shooting left him blind (Cian Maher / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Ross realised a few things about the game that helped him progress. He realised his character made a bumping sound when running into a wall. He realised each town had a different soundtrack, which let him know which town was which. He realised each Pokemon had a unique "cry", and each attack had a different sound. And he realised a sound would play when you dealt damage to a Pokemon, and that sound would change depending on whether the attack was not very effective, normally effective or super effective."


[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every weekend at - 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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