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Video Game Deep Cuts: You Don't Know Jack Bandicoot

This week's longform article/video highlights include a history of the You Don't Know Jack developers, two pieces about Crash Bandicoot - both original and remaster - and lots more.

[ 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 history of the You Don't Know Jack developers, two pieces about Crash Bandicoot - both original and remaster - and lots more.

Another bumper set of links this week, and it's got a mix of all the things I like - game history, game design, smart developer Q&As, trends pieces, more experimental games, and a lot more besides. By the way, Tinyletter says that our newsletter readers collectively had more than 1,000 clickthroughs to articles/videos on this list last week! (And that's not even counting clickthroughs from this Gamasutra crosspost.)

Good job, and keep spreading the word if you like the 'high-quality content' linked below...

Simon, curator.]


Inside the Rise, Fall and Triumphant Rebirth of a Beloved Chicago Game Studio (David Griner / AdWeek)
"The year was 1995. Coolio and Alanis Morissette ruled the charts. Friends was at its peak (this isn’t a debate; Season 2 was the peak). And one of the weirdest, most revolutionary video games was born: You Don’t Know Jack."

Developer Q&A: The blessing and the curse of early buzz for Rime (Jessica Famularo / Gamasutra)
"Gamasutra sat down with Raúl Rubio, CEO and Creative Director at Tequila Softworks, to talk about Rime’s development cycle, the uncertainty that can plague developers in the early stages of a game’s life, and the lessons the team learned in handling the pressure that comes with developing games in this age of transparency."

Life is Strange: Before the Storm dev on Ashly Burch's absence, season pass kerfuffle and more (Tom Phillips / Eurogamer)
"Life is Strange: Before the Storm is being made by a different developer - the unproven US-based Deck Nine Games - compared to the original's team at Dontnod in Paris. Dontnod is now working on an entirely new Life is Strange 2, and many fans considered the studio's original tale completely wrapped up."

FINAL FANTASY XIV Documentary Part #1 - "One Point O" (Noclip  / YouTube)
"In the first video in our three-part series, we tell the story of how the 1.0 version of FINAL FANTASY 14 came to be. How FINAL FANTASY 11 inspired its design, the ways in which the game fell short and how Square-Enix and the development team reacted to its failure."

Why is virtual reality taking so long to take off? (Hayley Tsukayama / Washington Post)
"At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, all seemed right for virtual reality... Yet adoption of VR among consumers hasn’t really taken off in the three years since it captured buzz in the wider world. An estimated 6.3 million headsets have sold worldwide — indicating that, even among the world’s 2.6 billion gamers, few have picked one up."

The key to making experimental controls work (Aron Garst / Zam)
"There is a reason why controllers haven’t changed much over the years. Nearly every new game developed for consoles has to build a control scheme to suit that console’s controller design, so industry standardization makes a lot of sense. However, because of this, many games’ controls feel similar to each other."

Storytelling Tools to Boost Your Indie Game's Narrative and Gameplay (Mata Haggis / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 GDC talk, NHTV University professor Mata Haggis shares his practical tips for creating compelling drama in your indie game and how those tips can bring new life to your overall game design."

Interview With Game Designer Porpentine Charity Heartscape (Alexander Iadarola / Mask)
"Because my connection to the book was so personal... I wasn’t sure how Porpentine’s work would translate in the context of the Whitney Biennial, where she has installed a net cafe-style space featuring seven of her interactive hypertext games. But playing her choose-your-own-adventure game With Those We Love Alive (2014) for a standing audience – it’s the only piece in her exhibit projected onto a wall – facilitated a complex process of emotional excavation."

Environment art isn't about 'making pretty things', what's it about? (Jason Hickey / Gamasutra)
"Environment art, I'll say it one more time, is not about making pretty things. It is about making fun games that people can play — just like every other part of game development. The only possible difference is that you have to make it fun and beautiful. [SIMON'S NOTE: neat thinkpiece from the lead environment artist on Insomniac's upcoming - & very nice looking - Spider-Man game.]"

Designer Notes, Episode 28: George Fan (Soren Johnson / Designer Notes / Idle Thumbs)
"In this episode, Soren interviews independent game designer George Fan, who is best known as the creator of Insaniquarium and Plants vs Zombies. They discuss why he learned to program instead of just focusing on art, how most Diablo monster design is a variation of kill-me-first, and why Plants vs. Zombies wasn’t Fish vs. Aliens."

Movement, Memory and the Performance of ‘Bushido Blade’ (Robert Florence / Waypoint)
"I am going to die 100 Deaths. In Japanese Noh theater, stillness is essential. The performers are trained to make the slightest movement reverberate like thunder. They are dressed in robes that hide their shape, so that as joints bend and rotate, the effect is lessened. Their faces are obscured by masks that are animated purely by theatrical light."

Yuzo Koshiro: Legendary game composer, family business owner (Jeremy Parish / Polygon)
"Among those avid game music fanatics, though, few names carry as much weight as Yuzo Koshiro's. Though he rarely works on gaming's biggest franchises, his games tend to become cult classics — a status they enjoy largely on the strength of his music. Would Falcom's Ys games have been nearly so well-loved without Koshiro's energetic rock scores to propel their simplistic RPG-lite action?"

The State & Future of Board Game Design (Various / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2017 GDC session, developers Rob Daviau, Geoffrey Engelstein and Eric Lang are joined by Shut Up and Sit Down curator Paul Dean as they discuss the most prominent design trends in board game design, and what the future may hold for making tabletop games."

'Only Girl Syndrome' Pits Gamer Girls Against One Another (Cecilia D'Anastasio / Kotaku)
"Last week, footage of two women fighting in Overwatch went viral.“You’re one of the worst Mercys I’ve ever played with,” one told her team’s Mercy player. “Me? You’re the Mercy who’s rezzing one person and feel like they’re really good,” the second player, Bailee, shot back."

A remaster with no old code: Crash Bandicoot was rebuilt nearly from scratch (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica)
"Activision invited Ars to check out the near-final game one more time ahead of its June 30 launch... But after hammering developer Vicarious Visions with question after question, I got something more interesting out of the team: the amount of from-scratch work that was required to make this remaster."

Fixing Gran Trak 10 (Ed Fries)
"Among the haul was a game I really wanted to work on next: Atari’s “Gran Trak 10” which released in March of 1974. This game has so many firsts it’s hard to list them all: First car racing video game. First video game with a steering wheel, gearshift and gas/brake pedals. First video game using a ROM (read only memory) chip. First video game using “hybrid” security chips. And, probably the first video game with a true 60hz interlaced display. [SIMON'S NOTE: Ed Fries, who was a key evangelist of Xbox to developers while at Microsoft, is doing amazing work in game restoration & history - and this is a spectacular example.]"

A Circle and a Line | The Witness (Devin Raposo / Heterotopias)
"It’s natural, as human beings, for us to only breezily consider how we will engage with objects at the moment of proximity. Far less often do we take the time to think on the granular aspects of the object."

Game Cities: The Urbanism of Thimbleweed Park (Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Medium)
"Setting an adventure game in a town or a city is far from a revolutionary concept. It is also something that can be successfully realized with the combination of a well-drawn map, a few panoramic views, and some wisely selected and properly fleshed out locations."

Latest Zelda’s making process & “Ocarina of Time” proposal disclosed (Staff / Denfaminicogamer)
"Yes, we are in the Nintendo headquarters located in Kyoto. Originally, we were scheduled to conduct an interview about “The Legend of Zelda” series. However, we were given a chance to play the game, which would be released to the public a month later. It was a total surprise. [SIMON'S NOTE: this is the other looongform translated interview so far from the excellent Japanese game site - translation not perfect, but level of access amazing!]"

Selling ASCII: Pre-Steam Sales Data for a Traditional Roguelike (Josh Ge / Gamasutra)
"Cogmind recently made it through a second whole year of its pre-Steam early access program, and as this period comes to an end I'd like to take the opportunity to, like the first year, share some data and pretty graphs :) This is an interesting milestone because it more or less coincides with the completion of Cogmind's primary content, represented by the Beta release just last month, meaning it took around two years of work to bring the game from Alpha 1 to Beta 1. "

Crash Bandicoot: An oral history (Blake Hester / Polygon)
"The first time Taylor Kurosaki and Bob Rafei saw a running PlayStation, they were in a Las Vegas hotel room. It was the 1995 Consumer Electronics Show. They, along with the company they worked for, Naughty Dog, were being given a behind-closed-doors look at Sony's first foray into the game console industry."


[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, so you may sometimes see links from those entities in his picks. Or not!]

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