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Video Game Deep Cuts: Castlevania Go-es To Arms

This week's longform articles & videos of the week include the making of the Castlevania Netflix series, hardcore Pokemon Go players, and an in-depth Arms interview.

[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 the making of the Castlevania Netflix series, hardcore Pokemon Go players, and an in-depth Arms interview.

Just zooming to finish filling in this newsletter ahead of another of my responsibilities, Black Hat USA - an information security event we're helping to put on in Las Vegas this week. (Yes, I'm on a secure network right now.)

But lots to see in this week's newsletter, spanning eSports, VR, AAA, indie, retro & more - it's kinda a great time to be alive if you appreciate video games! 

Simon, curator.]


Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver - the genesis of today's open world tech? (John Linneman / Eurogamer)
"In today's video games, the open world is now commonplace - a single, continuous gameplay area that offers a vast canvas for developers to populate, to varying degrees of success. At the most fundamental level, what makes these sandbox games work is their ability to stream in world data on the fly as you play, with no loading whatsoever to disrupt the flow during traversal."

Opinion: A requiem for Mass Effect: Andromeda (Katherine Cross / Gamasutra)
"The recent news that there's no single-player DLC in the works for Mass Effect: Andromeda has all but sealed the fate of the franchise for now. In the drip-drip of bad news for the venerable sci-fi series, we were first told that the saga had been “shelved,” and no resources were being put towards developing a sequel at this time."

Stranger Playthings. Remaking a VR counterculture. (Paolo Pedercini / Molleindustria)
"This is the transcript of a talk about Virtual Reality I gave at the A MAZE festival in Berlin and at Game Happens in Genova in 2017. [SIMON'S NOTE: NSFW later in the slides, and an interesting history of VR & hope for an alternative future outside of the 'mainstream'.]"

Why The Makers of 'Tacoma' and 'Edith Finch' Love Loneliness (Rosh Kelly / Waypoint)
"With the August-due Tacoma, Fullbright is moving away from the familiar, homely environments of critically acclaimed Gone Home. Far away, as the Portland, Oregon studio is taking its newest mystery to the stars. On a seemingly abandoned space station, the player is left alone to investigate the fate of the Tacoma's crew, with help from recorded holographic memories, rendered in augmented reality."

Shigeru Miyamoto's 1999 GDC Keynote (Shigeru Miyamoto / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 1999 GDC Keynote, Nintendo creative director Shigeru Miyamoto shares some of his core thoughts about the art of game design, and provides a vision of a world where games are part of a bigger, broader world. [SIMON'S NOTE: yes, there's a call at the beginning to turn off your pager and put away your laser pointers, which is blowing the minds of younger YouTube commenters, haha.]"

'Elite' Creator on Sci-Fi, Politics and His Studio's Next Big Thing (Steven T. Wright / Glixel / Rolling Stone)
"As gaming matured from depthless blips to shimmering vectors, sci-fi enthusiasts who grew up on The Empire Strikes Back and Isaac Asimov hoped to someday jump in a spaceship and sail to distant stars. In 1984, David Braben's genre-pioneering Elite – widely considered one of the most influential games of its time – gave these would-be aces their first taste of interstellar travel, albeit powered by a pint-sized processor."

Marc Laidlaw (Valve) – Interview (ArcadeAttack)
"Half-Life is one of our favourite games. In fact, I’ve got Half Life 2 running in a window somewhere right now… The guy who helped bring this amazing story to life? Retro gaming legend Marc Laidlaw himself dropped by the AA “offices” to tell us about the glory days and why collaboration is always the best way forward."

The Oral History of EVO: The Story of the World's Largest Fighting Game Tournament (John Learned / USGamer)
"Getting to this point wasn't without its growing pains, though. As the name implies, EVO evolved from local scenes on the West Coast of the US, growing in size and scope from the Battle By The Bay in the late 90s. Now just over 20 years since those first gatherings, we spoke to the tournaments founders—Joey "MrWizard" Cuellar, Tom Channon, and Seth "S-Kill" Killian for a robust history lesson about where the event began and how it became the mountain that pro fighting game players train tirelessly to ascend. [SIMON'S NOTE: missed this, pre-EVO, but it's excellent.]"

What it costs to run an independent video game store (Matt Leone / Polygon)
"Since 1985, Joel Riplie has opened 45 video game stores. Calling each Video Game Exchange, he approaches them like a reality show — he finds a location, fixes it up, stocks it with games, gets the business running smoothly and then, when the right offer comes along, he sells it."

How developers really deal with bugs (Alex Wiltshire / Eurogamer)
"Everybody knows bugs. There are funny ones and stupid ones. There are annoying ones and actually-damaging ones. But however they manifest themselves, bugs sit right between a game's maker and its player, a sudden manifestation of mistakes that have been made, a crack in the simulation, a bump right back down to Earth."

Big in the West: Swery, Igarashi, and others discuss the Japanese game industry(Brandon Sheffield / Gamasutra Blogs)
"At the Reboot Develop conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, something unusual happened. Koji Igarashi (Castlevania series, Bloodstained), Hidetaka Suehiro, AKA Swery (Last Blade, Deadly Premonition, D4), and game journalist Masatoshi Tokuoka (4gamer) were able to sit in the same room and discuss the state of their industry. The two developers largely look outside Japan for their audience, but Tokuoka’s market is decidedly domestic."

How Checkers Was Solved (Alexis C. Madrigal / The Atlantic)
"Marion Tinsley—math professor, minister, and the best checkers player in the world—sat across a game board from a computer, dying. Tinsley had been the world’s best for 40 years, a time during which he'd lost a handful of games to humans, but never a match."

HTML5 Is Here (Anthony Pecorella / Kongregate)
"HTML5 has been hailed as the future of gaming in web browsers for years. Back in 2011, however, HTML5 was running into headwinds due to issues with performance and compatibility. There was general optimism about the technology, but few were willing to adopt it for their own games."

Inside the Hardcore 'Pokemon Go' Community (Mike Rougeau / Glixel / Rolling Stone)
"It was a little after 2 a.m. on a cool May night. Up until that point, it was just like any other night. I did what I always do before I hit the sack: I opened Pokemon Go on my phone and checked the gyms surrounding my house."

The traditional sports world is taking eSports into the mainstream (Edgar Alvarez / Engadget)
"Five years ago, you couldn't have imagined video game competitions being broadcasted on the same channel as traditional sports. TV networks have been historically obsessed with pastimes such as baseball, basketball, football and soccer, but times are changing."

The Rain World Animation Process (GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2016 Animation Bootcamp session, Rain World animators Joar Jakobsson and James Therrien break down the animation process behind their beautiful hit indie game. [SIMON'S NOTE: interesting to see the level of appreciation for this maybe underappreciated game in the comments.]"

How Castlevania producer Adi Shankar turned his own game fandom into a Netflix series (Andrew Webster / The Verge)
"The history of video game adaptations in movies and television is littered with failure, from the now-infamous 1993 Super Mario Bros. film to the more recent Assassin’s Creed, which was praised in part for not being completely terrible. One surprising success story, though, has been Netflix’s new take on Castlevania, which transforms the gothic adventure game into a dark, violent, four-part series."

Ludonarrative Dissonance (Folding Ideas / YouTube)
"When I teased this video the initial reaction was a near-unanimous slow-motion "oh no," like a comedy action hero leaping on a grenade that's revealed to be a dud or a prop or it was actually just a bagel. I'm not saying this looks like a grenade, but is really just a bagel, but I am saying that I find the tepid anti-intellectualism that has become calcified in video game circles to be exhausting."

Protect Your Steam Keys (Matthew D. White / Gamasutra Blogs)
"I reached an important milestone, lately.  I published a Kickstarter-supported indie game to Steam... Unfortunately, in nearly the same breath, I became aware of the existence of Steam-key 'reselling' websites, like Kinguin, G2A, and GameFlip.  I have a particular problem with the existence of these sites, and a few of the symptoms they seem to cause.  While I acknowledge that they're not breaking any laws, I think they do a few things that are harmful to indie devs, and honestly to devs in general."

Playing the games found behind clickbait adverts (Robert Zak / RockPaperShotgun)
"We’ve all seen them before, between the thumbnails offering an explanation why ‘millions of people’ are cancelling their Netflix accounts and the promise of a fruit that ‘scientists claim’ can reverse ageing. One is maybe at the bottom of the page you’re reading."

Arms at length: The big Nintendo interview (Martin Robinson / Eurogamer)
"Yabuki's tenure stretches back for well over a decade, beginning with a spell working under Eiji Aonuma for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess before he moved to work alongside Mario Kart creator Hideki Konno on the series, a spell that began with Mario Kart Wii before Yabuki took on the director role for Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8."


[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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