Did you hear the news? We started streaming on Twitch this year! Not only were we excited to give developers a larger platform to talk about their work on Gamasutra, we were interested in building a space where readers and developers could have live conversations. And some of those conversations were really great!
To celebrate the last hours of 2016, we’ve gathered some of our favorite moments from this year’s streams for your perusal. Be sure to subscribe to our Twitch channel for more developer interviews and gameplay commentary, and join us in the chat every Wednesday and Friday to ask questions and talk about the state of game development.
And if you’re a game developer, we look forward to getting a chance to stream your game in 2017! We're planning some great streams with upcoming GDC speakers, and new kinds of formats to help us talk to developers from all backgrounds.
1. A ‘key’ tip
How often do you get a chance to sit down with a game’s level designer and review their decisions on a step-by-step basis? In this October interview with BioShock’s Bill Gardner, we explored the first hour of the original BioShock to learn key level design tips that could help any game developer. While entering Rapture’s medical pavilion, Gardner broke down a key part of his level design philosophy that can be seen in games ranging from BioShock to The Legend of Zelda
2. South Park helped Obsidian explore the idea of evil
Obsidian’s RPG Tyranny is filled with some dark stuff. But as we’ve explained elsewhere, it’s able to navigate that pitch-black morality with a sharply designed dialogue system, and a basic fundamental understanding of what drives people to evil.
But how did Obsidian’s developers brace themselves for tackling the game’s dark themes? It turns out that working on South Park: The Stick of Truth was the answer. Since designing that game meant relying on its designers being able to talk about some truly pitch black stuff, game director Brian Heins said it wasn’t a far leap to start talking about the dark deeds of Tyranny.
3. What it was like Programming Skyrim
In October, Bethesda launched The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Xbox One and PS4, which gave us the opportunity to chat with former lead systems programmer Brett Douville about the technical challenges of shipping the original game. As you can expect, it wasn’t an easy task! As Douville explained, everything from hardware limitations to an impossible testing regiment made bringing the open-world RPG to life a herculean challenge, but somehow, Bethesda pulled it off.
Along the way, Douville chatted with us about everything from proper physical care for programmers, and how he can identify some of his old coworkers’ work without even checking the game’s credits.
4. Our analysis of the Nintendo Switch
When Nintendo announced the Switch earlier this year, we jumped at the chance to talk about its potential impact on the world of game development with our readers. And as it turned out, our readers were just as eager to talk back to us, as aspiring Switch developer Lars Doucet was able to jump from Twitch chat to our livestream and weigh in on what Nintendo’s unique console would mean for developers like him.
Our interest in the Switch has only grown as more details have come to light in the last few months, but if you’re interested at all in an analysis of how Nintendo could carve a new niche in game development, be sure to watch the full stream above.
5. How Dunbar’s Number might affect MMO design
And finally, we were lucky enough this year to chat with Zenimax Online Studios creative director Rich Lambert about what the future might hold for MMORPGs, as we essentially transition from the age of World of Warcraft to the age of Overwatch. As we chatted with Lambert, he explained that a lot of aspiring MMO designers will need to start thinking about online games that aren’t so big on the “massive” but still big on the social element.
Since players have a firm ceiling on how many social interactions they’ll have in an online space, MMO designers can now think about the kinds of games that only rely on, say, a few hundred players on a given server, rather than hundreds of thousands.
See you all in the new year!