8 min read

Video Game Deep Cuts: Fortnite World Cup's Fire-y Youngblood 2

This week's roundup includes a couple of looks at Epic's Fortnite World Cup, analyses of Nintendo's new Fire Emblem game and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, as well as time loops in games, Candyland, Elsinore and lots more besides.

[Video Game Deep Cuts is a weekly newsletter from video game industry 'watcher' Simon Carless (GDC, Gamasutra co-runner), rounding up the best longread & standout articles & videos about games, every weekend.

This week's roundup includes a couple of looks at Epic's Fortnite World Cup, analyses of Nintendo's new Fire Emblem game and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, as well as time loops in games, Candyland, Elsinore and lots more besides.

As noted last week, my new Game Discoverability Weekly newsletter is up and running, and I'll be cross-promoting it whether you like it or not, heehee. Article #2 is linked below, with a new piece on game genres and discoverability upcoming this week. I'm having fun writing it, after having been such a linkspamming bot for the last coupla years with this newsletter.

Until next time...
Simon, curator.]


The Three Eras Of Game Discoverability (Simon Carless / Game Discoverability Weekly / Substack - ARTICLE)
"I think it’s possible to divide the eras of video game discoverability into roughly three parts - each of which bleeds messily into the other: Retail-first discoverability (1980s to 2005); Early digital discoverability (2006 to 2013); Peak digital discoverability (2014 to 2019)."

The Fortnite World Cup finals were a victory lap for Epic Games (Andrew Webster / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"The first thing I noticed when I walked into Arthur Ashe Stadium was the sound. It wasn’t the roar of thousands of fans descending into a single venue or the cacophony of dozens of people working diligently behind the scenes to make sure everything went smoothly. Instead, I was greeted with the iconic Fortnite lobby music."

Machine learning is about to revolutionize the study of ancient games (arXiv / MIT Technology Review - ARTICLE)
"In 1238, the medieval Spanish ruler Alfonso X of Castile published a tome called Libro de los Juegos,  or The Book of Games. It consisted of 97 parchment pages, many with beautiful color illustrations, and contains the earliest descriptions of games such as chess, dice, and backgammon."

Live, Die, Repeat — How Time Loops Took Over Video Games (Jordan Erica Webber / OneZero / Medium - ARTICLE)
"Video game players crave these kinds of complex simulations that offer so much choice, but they’re really only possible in games with a narrow scope. “People are sick, overall, of games that are super wide but shallow,” said Alex, pointing to the commercially successful open-world games such as the Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto series, with their exhausting to-do lists."

Why Does Celeste Feel So Good to Play? (Game Maker's Toolkit / YouTube - VIDEO)
"Celeste is one of the most satisfying platformers released in recent memory. And a big part of that is due to the tight and responsive controls of the game’s main character: Madeline. In this video, let’s look at how designers Matt Thorson and Noel Berry made the hero of Celeste feel so good to play."

'Fire Emblem: Three Houses' Is the Reinvention the Series Needed (Austin Walker / VICE - ARTICLE)
"By making combat more transparent and giving you more time with the world's characters, Nintendo has revitalized its tactical RPG franchise once again. [SIMON'S NOTE: semi-related: 'The Near Impossible 20-Year Journey to Translate 'Fire Emblem: Thracia 776'.']"

How Getting More Girls to Make Video Games Will Change the Gaming Industry (Laila Shabir / Teen Vogue - ARTICLE)
"Many believe that there’s only one primary role in game development: programming. When our campers discovered that game development involved design, storytelling, art, animation, and even music, their eyes lit up. Suddenly it’s not just coding, it’s a whole spectrum of creative expression."

Candy Land Was Invented for Polio Wards (Alexander B. Joy / The Atlantic - ARTICLE)
"If you were a child at some point in the past 70 years, odds are you played the board game Candy Land. According to the toy historian Tim Walsh, a staggering 94 percent of mothers are aware of Candy Land, and more than 60 percent of households with a 5-year-old child own a set. The game continues to sell about 1 million copies every year."

Seriously... What's In A Game? (Alex Humphreys / BBC Sounds - PODCAST)
"In this programme, Alex Humphreys speaks to leading video games designers, composers and writers from around the world about their craft, and discovers the ongoing battle to have video games recognised on a par with other creative mediums."

The Fall & Rise of Hitman (Noclip / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In the first of our four-part series on Hitman, we investigate IO Interactive's split with Square Enix and how the studio survived long enough to bring the Hitman series back from the brink. [SIMON'S NOTE: more parts incoming here.]"

Not one of the Fortnite World Cup's 100 finalists was a woman. Why? (Keith Stuart / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"Fortnite is, after all, one of the biggest entertainment brands on the planet, played by hundreds of millions. Amid all the hype and fanfare around the finals, however, one depressing fact remained unavoidable: not a single one of the 100 finalists was female."

Wolfenstein Youngblood review: In my day, we called this an expansion pack (Sam Machkovech / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"Honestly, it's a solid idea on developer MachineGames' part. If you gobbled up Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, then you can enjoy another heaping helping of the series' no-nonsense combat, weighing in at roughly 20 hours. If you skipped that sequel, you can expect the co-op twist to provide just enough new stuff to make it a worthwhile romp, alone or with a friend."

Talking Game Design with Fukio “MTJ” Mitsuji (Gamest / Shmuplations - ARTICLE)
"This 1989 feature, originally published in Gamest magazine, captures a discussion between some of Japan’s most accomplished arcade game designers, led by fellow developer and regular Gamest contributor Fukio “MTJ” Mitsuji (1960-2008). While it ostensibly broaches the general topic of game design, the discussion tends to focus on the individual and shared work histories of the interviewees and the conception of popular games like Kazutoshi Ueda’s Mr. Do! and Michishito Ishikawa’s Wonder Boy."

Twitch Streamer PaladinAmber Does Not Have Time For Your Shit, Internet Creeps (Nathan Grayson / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Make creepy comments in PaladinAmber’s Twitch chat at your own risk. “How much for a hug?” somebody asked during a stream a few days ago. In the blink of an eye, PaladinAmber switched over to an infomercial-style overlay, complete with a (fake) phone number and a list of payment options."

Did Nuclear Gandhi ever really happen in Civilization? (People Make Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"We investigate* one of gaming's most infamous bugs, Civilization's Nuclear Gandhi."

Creating terrifying, memorable 2D monsters (Diego Arguello / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Video games have always been fertile ground for experimenting with monster design. While technology has allowed developers to push their artistic limits and build out photo-realistic three-dimensional dioramas of their greatest fears, there's something striking about creative 2D monster design."

A Game Where You Try To Prevent A Shakespearean Murder In Real Time (Heather Alexandra / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"When my co-worker Nathan Grayson covered Elsinore years ago, he called it “Hamlet meets Majora’s Mask.” That’s both on the mark and not entirely right. Elsinore has less in common with Majora’s Mask than it does with Jordan Mechner’s underrated 1997 mystery game The Last Express. [SIMON'S NOTE: there's also a Gamasutra video stream with some of the devs of this super-interesting title.]"

Alex Hutchinson’s Pioneer Spirit (Samuel Horti / EGM - ARTICLE)
"Inside, he speaks candidly for the first time about his departure, about the freedom he’d been given during his seven years at the company, about why he can’t get over Assassin’s Creed III’s failings, and about—during his last few months at the studio—his growing frustration at Ubisoft executives."

From child gambling to women in Ultimate Team, EA Sports refuses to budge (Chris Tapsell / Eurogamer - ARTICLE)
"EA Sports has "no plans" to put an age limit on in-game spending, saying it's up to platform holders to manage that side of regulation. It also has "no changes" planned for FUT packs in light of increasing governmental scrutiny, "no plans to change" with regards to putting a cap on purchasing FUT packs, and said allowing progress to carry over from one to the next is "not something we've considered in the short-term"."

The New Call Of Duty's Breezy Multiplayer Feels At Odds With Its Gritty Campaign(Nathan Grayson / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"During a multiplayer reveal event this week in Los Angeles, Infinity Ward audio director Stephen Miller and art director Joel Emslie told Kotaku that the game’s single-player campaign and its multitude of multiplayer modes—while linked by shared progression systems, weapons, systems, and fictional settings—are aiming for decidedly different tones. [SIMON'S NOTE: also see impressions from the Hollywood Reporter & from IGN.]


[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every weekend at - we crosspost to Gamasutra later, 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 & an advisor to indie publisher No More Robots, so you may sometimes see links from those entities in his picks. Or not!]

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