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Video Game Deep Cuts: The God Of Portal Is Mario's Face

This week's highlights include multiple God Of War interviews, how Budget Cuts moves in VR via portals, and an interview with Super Mario 64's facial sculptor, among others.

Simon Carless, Blogger

April 29, 2018

9 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 multiple God Of War interviews, how Budget Cuts moves in VR via portals, and an interview with Super Mario 64's facial sculptor, among others.

So what else is new this week? This round-up has a ton of neat stuff in it - especially on the video end of things, spend some time watching them!

Until next time,
Simon, curator.]


'God of War's Kratos was an angry lump of muscle. I made him a struggling father' (Keza MacDonald / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"Seeing God of War get such high praise from critics when it was released was emotional for Cory. He recorded a video of himself as reviews started rolling in that has been watched more than a million times, in which he quickly dissolves into tears of relief and happiness."

The unlikely origin of StreetPass and a Mario DS game you never knew about (Robert Purchese / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Yutaka "Yoot" Saito had a special relationship with Nintendo. He, the creator of SimTower, Seaman and Odama, considered Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto friends, and he would regularly meet them for tea around the turn of the Millennium. It was during one of these rendezvous Saito told Miyamoto and Iwata a story."

Inside Microsoft’s Quest To Turn Minecraft Content Into A Business (Jared Newman / Fast Company - ARTICLE)
"While the Marketplace has already been life changing for a small number of creators, it’s yet to become a meaningful business to Microsoft, which spent $2.5 billion to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang in 2013. With roughly 74 million people actively playing Minecraft as of last December, and lots more creators clamoring to sell their work, the Marketplace could someday become as big a phenomenon as Minecraft itself."

The Awkward Depiction of Children in Video Games (BriHard / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Are children in video games handled well? After years of playing games like The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Persona 5, and God of War, I can't say they match the likes of their film counterparts, so let's take a moment to discuss why."

Gender, Income & Education: Who Plays Video Games? (Earnest / Priceonomics - ARTICLE)
"To find out who’s playing, we analyzed the age, income, education, and gender of video gamers based on anonymized data from tens of thousands of applications for student loan refinancing from Priceonomics customer Earnest, a loan provider. Earnest’s data is based on our applicant pool and does not represent the national picture, but rather a subset of people with student loans. [SIMON'S NOTE: this is who's paying at college level in the U.S., not necessarily who's playing, but is SUPER interesting.]"

Creating a fake OS that feels like home in Secret Little Haven (Joel Couture / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
""Computers are magical," says Victoria Dominowski, developer of Secret Little Haven, a game of personal discovery through chat rooms, the internet, and operating systems."

Recalling the Leviathan Axe (Vince Napoli / Combat Recall - ARTICLE)
"After spending the last several years working on God of War, I was trying to figure out what to do with a sudden surge of free time... With that said, the first mechanic I wanted to talk about was something that ended up being a pretty unique and well regarded mechanic - recalling the Leviathan Axe after throwing it."

The Portal Locomotion of Budget Cuts (Joachim Holmer / GDC / YouTube - ARTICLE)
"In this 2018 VRDC @ GDC talk, Neat Corporation's Joachim Holmer discusses the ins and outs of the design behind Budget Cuts' portal translocator device, and offers practical insight into the technical implementation of the system, as well as his team's solutions to making it perform well."

God Of God Of War (Giant Bomb - PODCAST)
"Sony Santa Monica's Cory Barlog stops by to talk about father-son dynamics, his years away from Kratos, and hanging out with George Lucas."

Far Cry 5 Offers No Insight into Christian Fundamentalism (Holly Green / Paste - ARTICLE)
"When creative director Dan Hay explained his narrative vision for Far Cry 5, he described a story that would address what he perceived to be the return of the “us vs. them” mentality in the United States. By his observation, in the last decade or so of American politics, a deep division had resurfaced to create an atmosphere of fear, or as he puts it, pressure. And he wanted to make a game about it."

How Rare designed Sea of Thieves' infinite pirate generator (Jack Yarwood / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"But Rare was concerned about consistency in Sea of Thieves... To counteract this, Rare devised the “infinite pirate generator” – a character creator that lets players generate new pirates endlessly at the press of a button, to find the one that’s right for them. This required a lot of fine tuning to get right and was a cross-disciplinary effort, combining the work of tech artist Dan Chalk, engineer Remi Gillig, and the character and outsource art teams."

Tales from inside 90s Nintendo - from the man who made Mario's face (Martin Robinson / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"Goddard's the only one who stayed on at Nintendo, in the process becoming the first western employee at Nintendo EAD. Although he left the company near the turn of the century he's remained in Kyoto ever since. Goddard and I found a spot on the banks of the Kamo river, worked through a couple of beers and chatted through what life was like inside Nintendo in the 90s."

Understanding Warframe (Raycevick / YouTube - VIDEO)
"[SIMON'S NOTE: despite being one of the most popular F2P games on console, Warframe still gets - relatively speaking - a small amount of non-fan writing or videos trying to grok it, so this is rather useful.]"

Nintendo Labo: Does it hold any potential for music-makers? (Scott Wilson / FACT - ARTICLE)
"Even in terms of mobile music-making it’s nowhere near as powerful as Groovebox, Auxy, ROLI’s Noise or any one of the many all-in-one music studio apps available for iOS. But go deeper into the Labo software and there’s a component that could prove very exciting: Toy-Con Garage."

How many wishlists should you have when launching on Steam? (Jake Birkett / Gamasutra Blogs - ARTICLE)
"Well of course the answer is: As many as possible! I recently spoke to a bunch of devs and asked them to share their wishlist-related data because I wanted to know the relationship between wishlists at launch and sales at launch. I figured that this would help me to calculate the approximate amount of wishlists required at launch for a “decent” launch."

Getting Over It: Humanising Game Design (What's So Great About That? / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Getting Over It (With Bennett Foddy) is about more than just failure or frustration. From its collaged design to its use of narration, the game seems just as engaged in exploring the relationship between developer, player and gaming culture."

Sega Arcade History: The Formative Years (Sega Arcade History / Shmuplations - ARTICLE)
"This interview with former Sega director Akira Nagai was originally featured in the excellent 2001 book “Sega Arcade History”. It examines the very early history of Sega and tracks the development of the arcade in Japan, from “gun corner” to “game corner” and finally to “game center.”"

Designer Notes 38: Brian Reynolds – Part 1 (Soren Johnson / Designer Notes - PODCAST)
"In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer Brian Reynolds, best know for his work on Colonization, Civilization 2, Alpha Centauri, and Rise of Nations. They discuss how his original dream job was to write compilers, all the bad decisions he needed to make to end up as a game designer, and his true feelings about the philosophy department at UC Berkley in the state of California."

How Nintendo Labo Reflects Japanese Culture (Brian Ashcraft / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"When Labo was announced, the consensus was that it was a most unusual idea. But it’s one that especially makes sense here in Japan, where papercraft is part of the culture. Many children grow up getting packets of beautiful folding paper and detailed origami books to make increasingly complex creations. Even hopefuls aiming to become Japanese astronauts are required to fold paper cranes as part of the selection process."

Tim Schafer: 'There were so many occasions when I thought my career in games was over' (Keith Stuart / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"We went through a period in the games industry where I felt I was being shamed for doing story. It was like, all games should be Deus Ex, all games should be design-driven and systemic. Interactivity is what’s unique about games, a powerful tool that can’t be ignored, but I don’t like limited ideas about what games “should” be."

It IS Rocket Science! The Physics of Rocket League Detailed (Jared Cone / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC talk, Psyonix's Jared Cone takes viewers through an inside look at the specific game design decisions and implementation details that made the networked physics of Rocket League so successful."

When This Streamer Tried to Make Going Viral His Job It Went Horribly Wrong (Patrick Klepek / Waypoint - ARTICLE)
"At his stream’s heights, as people (like me) were writing articles and he was blowing up in the World of Warcraft community, things were good. That’s where the thousands of viewers came from... But as the challenge neared the end, the joke got less funny, and people turned their attention elsewhere."

The World Design of Dark Souls (Mark Brown / Game Maker's Tool Kit / YouTube - VIDEO)
"The world of Dark Souls is a sprawling, branching, interconnected maze-like masterpiece. In this special, mid-season, spin-off episode of Boss Keys, I break down the world of Lordran and discuss the advantages and challenges of making non-linear worlds."


[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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