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Video Game Deep Cuts: Nintendo Plays Owlboy

The latest Video Game Deep Cuts, picking the smartest longform video game articles and videos of the week, examines why Nintendo 'puts play first' and the decade-long odyssey to create Owlboy, among other stories.

Video Game Deep Cuts, Week of Nov 12th: Nintendo Plays Owlboy

[I'm not going to do much of an intro to Video Game Deep Cuts this time because, well - it's been a very weird, disturbing week, hasn't it? More cogent video game-related introductions next time, I promise. In the meantime, here's a whole bunch of links to great games writing - and I didn't even have a chance to go through the list of regularly featured game sites I check. So there's probably even more out there, drifting in the breeze... until next time?

Simon Carless, curator.]


Inside the Steam Marketplace's Indie Haberdashery (Eric Van Allen / Waypoint)
"It's rare to see a developer so willing to incentivize the modification of its own intellectual property. Even rarer is a publishing house and sales platform that allows its own customers to sell content back to the community. The company has molded an entire economy built on the buying and selling of community-built virtual goods, "skins" for guns and new hats for your favorite hero."

Best Video Games Books: Our Top 100+ List! (Unseen64)
"To celebrate the release of our book “Video Games You Will Never Play” (published in September 2016), we would like to suggest to you even more amazing video game books you can read while trapped at home during the upcoming cold winter or to buy as a Christmas present for your nerd cousin who loves video games."

Kazuma Kaneko x Tomomi Kobayashi – Designer Interview (Game Hihyou / Shmuplations)
"This candid, wide-ranging interview between lauded [graphic] designers Tomomi Kobayashi [SaGa series] and Kazuma Kaneko [Persona series] first appeared in Game Hihyou magazine in 1996. Although very different designers, the conversation finds common ground in their mutual influences from childhood and their ongoing love of fashion design.

Nintendo - Putting Play First | Game Maker's Toolkit (Mark Brown / YouTube)
"In this episode I talk about Nintendo's method of making games, which helps this Japanese developer stand out from most other studios."

How A Naughty Dog storyteller brought deeper narrative to Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Dean Takahashi / Venturebeat)
"Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has a better story than it has had for some time. And one of the reasons is that Activision’s Infinity Ward studio recruited a couple of veterans from Naughty Dog, the maker of narrative-driven video games such as Uncharted and The Last of Us."

Brendon Chung's Materials (Yussef Cole / Zam)
"Unlike the videogame industry's mega-studios, which are cursed to compete in a high-fidelity arms race, there is ample opportunity among smaller studios and developers to explore the infinite spectrum of visual styles from which games have barely sampled. Brendon Chung is one such developer."

Owlboy: the indie platformer that took 10 years to build (Chris Priestman / The Guardian)
"Many video games with famously protracted development times have one thing in common: they turned out to be huge disappointments... Announced back in 2007, Owlboy flirts with [other long-lived] titles in terms of development longevity – released this month, the 2D platformer only narrowly avoided a decade from conception to release. It was also hotly anticipated... But this is where the comparison with those other much hyped titles ends. Because Owlboy turned out to be magnificent, garnering hugely positive reviews."

Quantum physicist on Dishonored powers: “It’s not total nonsense” (Brodie Fogg / Finder)
"Corvo's magnificent abilities from the Dishonored universe are a sci-fi and fantasy fan's dream... We got talking with the director of Sydney's Quantum Nanoscience laboratory, Prof. David Reilly, about the possibility and probability of these abilities existing in real life. To our surprise (and amazement), Reilly doesn't think they're too far from reality."

Beta64 mini - Donkey Kong Racing / Sabreman Stampede (Beta64 / YouTube)
"Donkey Kong and Sabreman... what do these two video game characters have in common? Well, in turns out that both Donkey Kong Racing and Sabreman Stampede came from a game based around Diddy Kong Racing, which released for the Nintendo 64 back in 1997. And on this episode of Beta64 minis, I'm going link the two games together and explain what happened to both of these cancelled Rare titles in 7min 46sec."

Thumper: A Closer Look At Bio-Metal Art And Insects (Philippa Warr / RockPaperShotgun)
"Rhythm action beetle adventure-coaster Thumper is one of those elegant games with great core mechanics... To delve deeper into Thumper’s aesthetic I spoke to Brian Gibson, the man behind the game’s art about colour, speed, focal point trickery and more!"

How Valve Tricked Players into Being Less Toxic (Matthew Gault / Motherboard)
"Multiplayer online battle arenas, or MOBAs, are one of the most popular kinds of video games in the world... The publishers of these games battle this toxic behavior with mixed results. Valve, Dota 2 publisher owner of the digital storefront Steam, even tasked its in-house experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder to deal with Dota 2’s worst players. It was a challenge, but he’s had some success."

Block'hood- dev interview and GoKart ride (Bytejacker / YouTube)
"Block'Hood is an insanely rad city simulator that distinguishes itself in two ways: it focuses on specific neighborhoods and insanely space efficient vertical building. [SIMON'S NOTE: Wot, Anthony Carboni's Bytejacker - a seminal early indie game video resource - is back after 5 years? Crazy.]"

Tracking The Strange Trails Of The Adventure Game Genre (Javy Gwaltney / Game Informer)
"Once upon a time, an interactive adventure meant digging through your inventory for an item that would help you bypass a puzzle. Now, for many people, it means simulations that force them to make tough moral choices in life-and-death situations. From ancient quests in underground kingdoms to solving the disappearance of a child in a small town, we examine the genre’s twisted and unique evolution."

The Remastering of Textures in Bioshock The Collection (Ana M. Rodriguez / 80 Level)
"When I face the challenge of having to “dress” an environment, normally I start with some references, mostly real life photos (concepts sometimes). The pictures of what you want to represent are a great help to observe the details and variation, as well as the original forms of alterations and colour gradients, types and shapes of dirt, stains, etc. All that complements the image."

How VR Horror Games Mess With Your Head (Rachel Weber / Glixel / Rolling Stone)
"I'm wandering through a dark house in Resident Evil 7, waiting for the jump scare. I know it's going to happen – the signs are there. In the kitchen, fat flies buzz around rotting food and everything is covered in so much grime that it's hard to make where the the dirt meets the darkness. Mannequins topple and move like stiff corpses, a TV buzzes static. The lights are out where I need them most, and the only door is, of course, locked."

NES Classic Edition Developer Interview: Balloon Fight (Akinori Sao / Nintendo)
"I'm interviewing video game developers to commemorate the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition system. The topic for our second installment is Balloon Fight... The developer who made this game was Yoshio Sakamoto. Sakamoto-san has worked on many games, from the Metroid, WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven series to Tomodachi Life and the smartphone application Miitomo, but it was only his third year at the company when he developed Balloon Fight."

Dishonored 2 – Arkane Studios BAFTA Panel (Part 1) (Bethesda Studios / BAFTA / YouTube)
"What does it take to create a sequel to a BAFTA Game Of The Year?’ Sebastien Mitton and Christophe Carrier talk about what it was like to win the BAFTA in 2013 and the expectations that came with making a sequel. In this video they talk about creating a spirit for Dishonored 2 through building a team and the importance of quality reference materials." [Also see: Part 2Part 3.]

Inside Nintendo's Plan To Save Video Games From Congress (Patrick Klepek / Waypoint)
"The controversy around violence in games blew up around the release of Mortal Kombat and Night Trap in the '90s, prompting executives from Nintendo and Sega to arrive in Capitol Hill. These days, games are protected under the First Amendment. No matter how violent, sexual, or offensive a game might be, they're considered art. That wasn't always the case."

What People Who Make Video Games Think of Westworld (Evan Narcisse / io9)
"We talked to people who’ve written and designed Batman, Walking Dead, and Hulk video games about Westworld’s vision of a massive playable fiction, and more importantly, how the show mirrors their own experience building a world and crafting an experience."

A Critique of SOMA (Joseph Anderson / YouTube)
"Soma, like many games, can be split into two parts. There’s gameplay. And there’s story. The vast majority of games can be segmented like this. What makes Soma exceptional is which part it executes well. I can’t remember how many times I’ve said to myself “Well the story is terrible but there’s some good gameplay here.” Soma is the opposite."

The challenges of porting XCOM 2 to consoles (Alan Bradley / Gamasutra)
"Ports have a bad reputation in the games industry. From the early days of shoddy, rushed home adaptations of arcade titles (hamstrung by the move onto inferior hardware) through recent examples of games crowbarred onto unsuitable platforms (some egregious mobile-to-PC examples leap to mind), ports are often afterthoughts, hastily built with limited resources. XCOM 2's recent release on Xbox One and PS4 manages to bust this cliché with impressive style and finesse."

20 Years of Tomb Raider: Starring Lara Croft (David Craddock / Shacknews)
"In 1996, three groundbreaking games turned heads by adding a Z-axis to the field of play. Released in June, id Software's Quake evolved antecedents like Doom by mashing together a true 3D engine and online multiplayer. The September launch of Super Mario 64 alongside the Nintendo 64 dropped players into expansive worlds made from polygons and gave them total control over Mario and a camera able to be manipulated separately. That October, a small British developer did more than innovate in a three-dimensional space. It changed the way people perceived virtual characters."

The 5 Pillars & Pitfalls of Indie Games PR (Game Developers Conference / YouTube)
"In this GDC 2016 session, ICO Partners' Thomas Reisenegger shows the 5 PR pillars indie studios doing their own PR should prioritize in order to get their games in front of press, YouTubers and Twitch streamers. "


[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every Saturday 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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