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The latest Video Game Deep Cuts, picking the smartest longform video game articles and videos of the week, examines The Last Guardian's launch, Oni 2's prototype, & much more.

Simon Carless, Blogger

December 11, 2016

9 Min Read

[Welcome to another Video Game Deep Cuts! Before we get to the links, two notable things to discuss this weekend - firstly, my Twitter feed has been, uhh, slightly on fire this week, after I posted this link to Spry Fox's Daniel Cook & his Gamasutra comments about No Man's Sky & the hype curve.

There are a bunch of SUPER interesting questions about how Hello Games constructed and promoted No Man's Sky, & I'm hoping they will talk about it at some point - there's no doubt there were mistakes made. But in the mean time, feel free to follow my Twitter thread's replies to see how heated opinions still are, wow.

Also, still working on GDC 2017 announcements, and a couple this week that I wanted to highlight to y'all. Firstly, we have a Classic Postmortem (making-of) for The Oregon Trail from its co-creator Don Rawitsch. Did you know The Oregon Trail's first version was in 1971? I didn't, and its 45 year+ history should be fascinating to explore. And also, we announced our inaugural GDC Movie Nights, which are peripherally video game related, an excuse for a chillout evening, and even more specifically an excuse for us to show Clue!, haha. Hope some of you can make it!

Simon Carless, curator.]


Fumito Ueda's Slow Route To Perfection (Simon Parkin / New Yorker)
"In 1994, long before the celebrated video-game designer Fumito Ueda went to work for Sony, he took part in a competition that the company sponsored for young artists. Having made it through the opening rounds, Ueda, then a recent graduate of the Osaka University of Arts, used the thousand-dollar allowance Sony gave him to create an installation in a shopping complex in Yokohama. He set up a small cage, the kind a pet owner might buy for a parakeet, and filled it with mounds of soil."

Because Games Matter - A Better Vision (Extra Credits / YouTube)
"Sara Winters, born with ocular albinism, was legally blind for most of her early life. Game therapy helped her brain learn to make sense of the images processed by her eyes: it helped her to read, to find friends and community, and to build a life helping others. She shares her story with us Because Games Matter."

A Chat With Shigeru Miyamoto (Andrew Webster / The Verge)
"“I feel like Mario was what introduced millions of people to video games and interactive entertainment, and I think that Mario will continue to serve that role,” says legendary designer and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. “And I think with Super Mario Run that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”"

From Overwatch to Firewatch: the best video games of 2016 - chosen by developers (Jordan Erica Webber & Keith Stuart / The Guardian)
"It may have been a difficult year for the wider world, but 2016 did at least see a lot of excellent video games, from the glossy action movie thrills of Uncharted 4 to the agenda-setting multiplayer fun of Overwatch and the solemn dystopian vision of Inside. But we wanted to know what the industry itself thinks were the best games to come out in the past 12 months. To find out, we asked 50 of our favourite developers, including 30-year veterans, Bafta award winners and rising indie stars. Here’s what they decided."

Blake Harris Looks Back on the 16 Bit Console Wars (Bryan Cashman / Gamasutra Blogs)
"Harris has plenty to say, and in this lost interview from after [Console Wars'] release, Harris talks in-depth about the personalities and challenges of gaming in this era. We cover everything from the differences between Sega and Nintendo, whether Michael Jackson’s music is in Sonic 3, and the challenges of being a subsidiary to a Japanese gaming company."

Treadmills to endless hallways, tech has some sick solutions for VR nausea (Alice Bonasio / Ars Technica)
"I first met Dr. Charles King at his "graduation" from Richard Branson’s Virgin Media Techstars accelerator. The pitch he delivered to a packed audience in London described how ROVR—the company he started in 2012 with co-founder Julian Williams—was addressing a fundamental problem with the much-touted Virtual Reality boom: No matter how fun your content is, if it makes people throw up, it’s probably an experience they can do without."

Oni 2 : Angel Studios' Lost Sequel to Bungie's Cult Classic (PtoPOnline / YouTube)
"While Bungie West would cease to exist after the original Oni, Angel Studios was tasked with creating the followup. [SIMON'S NOTE: PtoPOnline has been digging out some fascinating canned games/prototypes from the recent console eras of late, including this Metallica car combat game that actually looks pretty decent!]

The Last Guardian’s Creator On Subtlety And His Bedtime Rituals (Kyle Hilliard / Game Informer)
"We haven’t been able to play the full adventure yet, but we did get a chance to speak with the game’s venerated creator about his upcoming post-Last Guardian life, some of his favorite recent games, and what time of the day he gets his creative work done."

The Death and Rebirth of 'The Matrix Online' (Matt Sayer / Waypoint)
"When 'The Matrix Online' announced it was shutting down in 2009, a modder named Rajko decided to save it. Seven years later, he's still working on it."

The Problems With Games Media & Why I Started Noclip (Danny O'Dwyer / NoClip / YouTube)
"Look, let's be honest - I'm having trouble finding the time to make a new episode of The P*int. So here's what as wanted to talk about - some thoughts about the future of games coverage, advertising, click-bait and why I started Noclip."

Prepped for Launch, the EVE: Valkyrie Development Story (Andrew Willans / GDC / YouTube)
"In this 2016 VRDC talk, CCP Games' Andrew Willans shares and discusses the best VR practices CCP learned during the development of Eve Valkyrie, with examples from various stages in production as the hardware and vision for the game evolved."

Generation Tony Hawk (Hannah Nicklin / Read Only Memories)
"It’s late summer 1999, I’m 15 years old and I’m hearing punk music for the first time. Eventually I’ll find my way through the genre amongst mislabelled Napster downloads, a 13-track capacity mp3 player, the tape-to-stereo jack in my older friend’s car, and Fat Wreck and Vagrant samplers handily filed under ‘P’ at HMV."

Ghost Recon Wildlands: Building Bolivia By Brick and Biome (Mike Williams / USGamer)
"Ubisoft is very good at building worlds. Since the beginning of the last generation of consoles and the company's increasing focus on open-world gaming, Ubisoft has become adept at establishing a setting. The company has taken players from Renaissance Italy to modern day San Francisco. From the Caribbean in the time of pirates, to the mountains of the Alps, and even to Pangaea."

The 25 Best Videogames of 2016 (Garrett Martin & Editors / Paste Magazine)
"The best games of 2016 took us to the Shoshone National Forest, a magic-filled pseudo-Victorian society, a stark dystopia where children are hunted by faceless adults, countless barren planets with awesome music, a future Earth still dealing with fallout from the Omnic Crisis, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the throbbing depths of rhythm hell, and a multitude of other destinations both real and imagined."

A Working-Class Hero, Part 4: A Hero’s Legacy (Jimmy Maher / The Digital Antiquarian)
"At the crack of dawn on July 26, 1918, two S.E.5a scout planes of 85 Squadron took off from Saint-Omer aerodrome and flew east over the trenches. The pilots of the two aircraft could hardly have been more dissimilar in terms of experience. [SIMON'S NOTE: This is the final part of a series about Cinemaware's poignant WWI game Wings, in the form of an extended biography of its inspiration.]"

How One YouTuber Exposed The Unpoliced Shadow Economy of 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive' (Chris Baker / Glixel)
"On June 27th, a bombshell of an investigative report rocked theCounter-Strike: Global Offensive community. Using irrefutable facts and public documents, it tore the lid off of a case in which several high profile professional YouTubers were illicitly profiting from the bizarre shadow economy that has sprouted up around the popular online shooter."

The Hard Truth about Virtual Reality Development (Dean Hall / Reddit)
"Reading through this subreddit has, over the past six months, become difficult for me. Time and again people are ferociously attacking developers who have made strategic partnerships, and you hear phrases like "they took Oculus / facebook money", "they sold-out for a time exclusive", "anti-consumer behavior". There are some terrible assumptions that are constantly perpetuated here, and frankly, it's made developing for virtual reality tiresome for me. [SIMON'S NOTE: For context, Dean Hall created Day-Z - & also summited Mount Everest, if that helps!]"

Analysis: How the Hadouken Reinvented 2D Fighting (Core-A Gaming / YouTube)
"As annoying as fireballs can be, they're responsible for the kind of fighting games we see today. [SIMON'S NOTE: Have only just been made aware of this YouTube channel, but Core-A Gaming has a big range of fighting game analysis videos, almost all of them excellent.]"

Building a better shovel: depth in competitive videogames (Justin Groot / TheMeta)
"For a term that gets thrown around so much in videogame criticism, it sure is hard to come up with a clear definition for “depth.” What makes a competitive game deep? It’s not raw complexity: you can make a real-time strategy game with 400 complicated soldier units to choose from, but if one is superior, players will only build that one."

Video games bring out the best and worst of pop culture’s hacker obsession (Clayton Purdom / AV Club)
"Hacking games have existed for almost as long as video games themselves, dating back to 1984’s System 15000 for Commodore 64... But releases in the past few years have found new ways to mechanize our pop-culture version of hacking while also coercing the player to actually write code.

AdventureX 2016: Charles Cecil - The Past, Present and Future of Adventure Games (AdventureX / YouTube)
"After lunch we’re joined by adventure games legend Charles Cecil (Revolution Software, Broken Sword, Beneath a Steel Sky) as he returns to AdventureX for the first time since 2013."


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