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Game Developer’s best of 2022: Features of the year

In case you missed them: just like a serving of delicious leftovers, here are a few of our favorite features and featured blogs from 2022.

While I only stepped into the EIC role here at the very end of 2022, and thus have the keenest eye for articles we've published during my time, there have been some exceptional pieces published here at Game Developer this year. I've selected a few tasty cuts here from across our features, deep dives and featured blogs for a sort of yummy feast of leftovers. Because, really, what's better during the end of year than a hot, tasty plate of leftovers?

Playdate Launch Coverage

by Chris Kerr, News Editor | Read More

"What exactly is Playdate? I've spent the past six months chatting with developers who've been quietly creating for Panic's bright yellow handheld ahead of its upcoming launch in a bid to untangle that question, but now that I've finally gone hands-on with the device myself, the answer appears rather complex."

What lies ahead for Hinterland's long march to make The Long Dark?

by Bryant Francis, Senior Editor | Read More

"Last October The Long Dark hit a new mile marker on its long development journey that began almost a decade ago: Hinterland Studios released episode four of the game's story mode. The chapter, titled 'Fury, Then Silence' partially shifts the game's setting from the open-world survival environment to the tight confines of a prison, putting the player in direct conflict with other apocalypse survivors in a space the game hasn't directly explored before.

"When episode four released, Hinterland Games founder and creative director Raphael van Lierop called it a 'bittersweet moment' because it was one step further toward the game's final concluding chapter. The Long Dark's development saga has now spanned three Presidential elections as well as a rise and fall of Kickstarter fads for video games, not to mention that its developers were doing remote work before remote work became necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator

Deep Dive: Player choice in Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator's ruthlessly greedy world

by Xalavier Nelson Jr., Developer | Read More

"Billionaires are, despite outsized economic, environmental, cultural, and political influence, still fundamentally human beings. They feel sadness, and joy, and rage, and jealousy. They go to the bathroom. They scroll through too much social media (or have an assistant do it for them). They break their New Year's resolutions. They lie. They are bags of gristle and bone, driven by electrical signals and pulsing meat! Just like you! And like any false god, they can bleed.

"...But I digress."

The World of Wordle Variants

by Barry Levitt, Contributor | Read More

"The impact of Wordle—which gives you six attempts to deduce a five-letter word each and every day—has been significant, and has caused an influx of daily puzzle games. Various developers have used Wordle as inspiration to create their own games, taking its simple format to infinite places.

"We spoke to some of the developers behind some of Wordle's biggest variants to explore the craze, and what it all means for the future of web-based games."

What's up in a Kharkiv bomb shelter

Sharing the stories of Ukrainian citizens amid war in What's up in a Kharkiv bomb shelter

by Joel Couture, Contributor | Read More

"What's up in a Kharkiv bomb shelter is a snapshot of life within a bomb shelter during the bombing of Ukraine, letting players hear the sounds of music interspersed with explosions as they talk to the other people within the shelter, hearing stories inspired by real people and friends who shared in this experience."

-Joel Couture, Contributor

Deep Dive: How to design for impact and narrative variance with Roadwarden

by Aureus Morale, Developer | Read More

"I'm Aureus and I designed, wrote, programmed, and illustrated Roadwarden, the first successful game developed by my Moral Anxiety Studio. While I was working, I had a rare luxury in disguise. I was adding new pieces of content to the game without the need to justify myself, or to split the tasks between the crew members, nor maintain the flow of communication and documentation. And since the majority of the project is text-based, making even grand-scale changes and fixes took me no longer than a few days, and usually just a few hours.

"For teams of developers with advanced visuals, such a scenario is not replicable. I'll put aside personal examples and anecdotes, and stick to the toolbox I used as I tried to fulfill my objective: making an RPG that notices and reflects the player's role-playing."

Postmortem: Sundae Month's Pupperazzi

By Sundae Month, Developer | Read More

"Pupperazzi is a first-person dog photography game created by Sundae Month. Between 1 and 12 people worked on it and it launched this year on Steam, Epic, Itch.io, Xbox, and Windows Store via GamePass. It's the largest 3D game we've made, and a lot changed at Sundae Month during its development.

"We'd like to note that this piece doesn't necessarily speak for everyone at Sundae Month. So we can't claim this is a comprehensive postmortem, but this is an honest look at how and why we made this game the way we did. Spoilers: we wouldn't do it this way again."

Building science fiction worlds with Big Robot founder Jim Rossignol

by Cameron Kunzelman, Contributor | Read More

Jim Rossignol is a writer and game developer best known for his work with Big Robot: Sir, You Are Being Hunted, The Signal From Tölva, and The Light Keeps Us Safe. Developed by a small team, the Big Robot games all have a unique science fictional tone to them that strays away from the power fantasies of our biggest franchises and digs deeply into sneaking, strategic encounters, and the despair of wide-open spaces.

I sat down to chat with Rossignol about how he thinks about these worlds that he has had a hand in designing. This interview walks through both big science fiction ideas and the practical realities of making science fiction worlds as collaborative ventures. This interview travels from J.G. Ballard to weird England and a lot of other places in-between.

Elden Ring telescope

How Elden Ring Succeeds by Ignoring 20 Years of Open-World Design

by Josh Bycer, Blogger | Read More

"If you're one of the few people who missed the news, Elden Ring, the latest game by From Software is now out. My massive review for it should be out after this piece, but spoiler alert: the game has gotten high praise all around. In an interesting turn, there are developers throwing shade at the game and saying that it did well because of 'bad UX' or 'horrible controls.' For today's post, we're going to dissect why Elden Ring is resonating with so many people, and it did that by ignoring every convention of open-world design over the last 20 years."

Designing content for "no one" to create Tunic's vibrant and charming world

by Holly Green, Community Editorial Coordinator | Read More

"For fans of an older generation of gaming, Tunic feels like more of a spirited reprise than an original composition. With its light item-based progression barriers, classic sword and shield weaponry, and of course, the titular green tunic, its structural and visual components are familiar, if not classic.

"Yet Tunic is a game about feeling like a stranger in an unknown place: enigmatic, tentative, and a little bit dangerous. As its developers shared with me, it's also a land of secrets, designed to deliver an experience that varies depending on the player's whims."

How the "magic" of Immortality was informed, but not defined, by film technique

by Joel Couture, Contributor | Read More

"Immortality is an interactive game that captures the work of fictional actress Marissa Marcel, giving you access to three of her lost films, some behind-the-scenes footage, and multiple interviews with her and the cast of her movies. Through scrubbing through the footage, clicking on actors or props to see their connection with other works and a careful eye for detail, you'll strive to find out why Marcel has disappeared.

"Game Developer spoke with Sam Barlow, writer and director of Immortality, about what draws him to create puzzle games where there are rarely any clear answers, how he chose what editing abilities would work best for players wishing to explore Marcel's film career, and about creating the Dark Souls of watching a bunch of movies."

Here's why Dying Light 2's open world is hypnotic to navigate

by Bryant Francis, Senior Editor | Read More

"Open world level design is a weird beast, especially when developers are crafting environments meant to evoke familiar modern settings. Dying Light 2 Stay Human's city of Villedor for instance, is both meant to represent the apocalyptic wasteland of a European city and also be quickly navigable using the game's parkour-inspired traversal system.

"That means instead of prioritizing roadways and public transit, the level designers need to emphasize travel by way of rooftops, narrow streets, and more. And in a huge open world filled with zombies (that behave differently depending on time of day), there are a lot of dependencies to account for in order to make a world that's fun to navigate."

Outer Wilds

Everything but lost: Exploring the mesmerizing musical legacy of Outer Wilds

by Chris Kerr, News Editor | Read More

"The universe is a song. Life, death, rebirth. Patterns and loops repeating, evolving, and reemerging in unexpected new ways. A chaotic symphony of existence rippling across the cosmos as choices become memory, and memory becomes myth. But is anyone out there listening?

"In Mobius Digital's unexpectedly moving adventure Outer Wilds the answer is a resolute 'yes.' The title, which asks players to unravel a mystery scattered throughout a solar system on the brink of calamity, is emotive science fiction that dwells on the nature of existence around crackling campfires. Here, cliched threats and dry exposition are replaced with lost signals and forlorn melodies that hint at what came before, and what might yet be still to come."

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