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Video Game Deep Cuts: The Dog In The Darkness

This week's highlights include a very special mocap video game dog, the making of the creepy The Church In The Darkness, and lots more besides...

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

This week's highlights include a very special mocap video game dog, the making of the creepy The Church In The Darkness, and lots more besides.

Happy weekend, everyone. Looks like it's E3 coming up in a week or so, too. And although the leaks continue (oo, Killer Queen for Switch?), there should be plenty of other interesting announcements and reveals out there as yet unspilled onto the Interweb.

Overall, the show is getting a tad fragmented as many companies do their own thing - and the ESA struggles slightly with how to qualify devs/press & the balance with consumers. But there's still some juice to the whole shebang if you need to hype a major console franchise or hardware system - which many big companies do, of course.

Until next time,
Simon, curator.]


History Shaping Design: Inequality and Player Behavior (Julia Keren Detar / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC session, Untame's Julia Keren Detar zeroes in on how both the growing inequality in the modern Western world as well as inequality within game systems can change the behavior of people and players. [SIMON'S NOTE: this is a really interesting talk on a particularly controversial subject.]"

The Two Developers Keeping Guild Wars 1 Alive (Nathan Grayson / Kotaku - ARTICLE)
"Preserving old games is a monumental challenge in endless media avalanche year 2018. Doing so for massively multiplayer games whose best days are long behind them, though? That’s an entirely different sort of undertaking—less of an autopsy and more of a series of emergency surgeries on an elderly patient."

The great video game exodus (Simon Parkin / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Just as D’Angelo’s entry into the industry is typical, so too is the story of his retreat. Thirty-two percent of respondents – the largest group -- to the 2018 GDC State of the Industry survey have worked in the industry fewer than six years, with a major drop-off in those who have stayed for longer. Only seventeen percent of the 30,000 attendees to this year’s Game Developers Conference worked in the industry for seven to ten years, and just thirteen percent for between eleven and fifteen years."

“We accommodate for every stupid thing that you wanna do” – how Disco Elysium makes detective games work (Matt Cox / RockPaperShotgun - ARTICLE)
"To find out more about Disco Elsyium’s special sauce, I sat down with design and writing lead Robert Kurvitz at Rezzed to chat about its pen and paper origins, encouraging tenacious behaviour, rewarding players who want to fail and why most other RPGs do quests wrong."

Isle of Games 001 (Jonatan Van Hove / Medium - ARTICLE)
"Last week, the first Isle of Games event took place. In this article, I would like to show you what we built, the works we exhibited and the performances that took place. [SIMON'S NOTE: Jonatan helps program the Indie Games Summit at GDC, and this great-looking Icelandic festival has some really interesting performative stuff in it - like this - which gives me some inspiration for our own shows.]

Watch out Fortnite, there’s a new kid on the block: God of War now the 3rd largest game on YouTube (Matchmade - ARTICLE)
"According to data from Matchmade (the leading influencer marketing platform that analyzes over 2.4 Million gaming-related YouTube videos and 220M videos), God of War has become the third largest game on YouTube – with viewership growing at 1402% from March to April. Since its release on April 20, YouTubers are loving the action-adventure hack-and-slash mythology-based game. [SIMON'S NOTE: some interesting stats here that more people should pay attention to.]"

How to survive in Fortnite if you're old and slow (Keith Stuart / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"Your kids are playing it, your friends are complaining about their kids playing it, and the tabloid press are telling you no one should be playing it because it’s evil. But the fact is, Fortnite is here, it’s lots of fun, and if you can’t beat its 40 million players you may as well join them. [SIMON'S NOTE: as I said on Twitter: 'A) This is great B) Can we have an entire series of 'how to play X online game if you're not 14 with the reflexes of a gazelle?']"

How the Omensight devs stay on budget: Make games quickly (Carli Velocci / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Game development can be a long, arduous process. Triple-A games can take years to produce, even with team sizes in the hundreds; with a smaller team, the development cycle can take even longer... Spearhead Games didn’t have years."

Episode 108 | Richard Rouse III of 'The Church in the Darkness' on Cults and Not Joining Groups (Humans Of Gaming / Libsyn - PODCAST)
"This week, we talk to game developer Richard Rouse III who is known for his work on Odyssey: The Legend of Nemesis, Damage, Inc., The Suffering, and most recently The Church in the Darkness. Drew and Chris talk to Richard about the stereotypes of Boston drivers, the 10 part cult checklist, and being someone who doesn't normally join groups like the Catholic church."

Steam’s capricious pornography rules hurt small game creators the most (Julie Muncy / The Verge - ARTICLE)
"Drawing clear lines and definitions around obscenity, pornographic content, and art has always been a complicated business. The current guidance from US Supreme Court on the matter of obscenity is “I know it when I see it,” a standard that relies more on intuition than specificity. For online platforms and distributors, it’s equally murky territory — and one where ambiguity can have real consequences, particularly for smaller creators."

What Makes a Good Combat System? (Mark Brown / Game Maker's Toolkit / YouTube - VIDEO)
"One of my most requested video topics is combat systems. So let’s look at everything from Bayonetta and Yakuza, to Batman and God of War, to break down the essential elements of a good melee combat system."

The story behind Remedy's viral dog mocap star (Vida Starcevic / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"We had a dog, a mocap studio, and some spare time. So we thought, why not? Let's try and see if we can capture some useable data with Uuno, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier belonging to our Junior Cinematographer, Sami Kastarinen. That's how it all started, at least."

Watch Dogs 2 made San Francisco much more than just a playground (Xalavier Nelson Jr. / PC Gamer - ARTICLE)
"For all of the money and effort invested into the open worlds where we spend so much time, it’s amazing how many ways we’re given to ignore their construction. Trained to ignore them, by the way the games they’re built around are designed."

Esports betting just got a whole lot easier. Now what? (Jessica Conditt / Engadget - ARTICLE)
"While legalized sports gambling is sure to infuse additional excitement and interest in traditional sports, the esports market is particularly poised to blast off thanks to these new state-by-state regulations. That's largely because the professional esports industry was already on the ascent."

Drives: Helping More Players Get from First-Taste to Satisfaction (Jason VandenBerghe / GDC / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this 2018 GDC session, ArenaNet's Jason VandenBerghe discusses the incentives of exploring drive simulation in the art of game design, and how designers can use psychological drives to help players get through the often-painful journey into skill development, entering a social context, and/or establishing autonomy."

Meet the modders who play GTA 5 as mild-mannered British cops (Matthew Ponsford / Wired UK - ARTICLE)
"The UK is home to a subculture of gamers who are re-building Grand Theft Auto V – the critically-acclaimed epic of mob mayhem and the most expensive game ever developed – into something much more mild-mannered, transforming the game from chaotic crime sandbox into what is effectively a law enforcement simulator, where players play as law-abiding police instead of gun-toting criminals."

How premium PC games continue to rise, surprise in China (Samuel Lee & Richie Zhu / Gamasutra - ARTICLE)
"Seemingly implausible only a few years ago, China has quickly become one of the world’s most robust markets for premium PC games. According to Steam’s Hardware & Software Survey from April 2018, 30 percent of its users have Simplified Chinese set as their default language, second only to English at 34 percent."

Detroit Become Human is Amazing, for the Wrong Reasons (Writing On Games / YouTube - VIDEO)
"In this episode of Writing on Games I review Detroit Become Human - a game I ended up enjoying immensely, for none of the reasons intended by its creator, David Cage."

Op-ed: Game companies need to cut the crap—loot boxes are obviously gambling (Peter Bright / Ars Technica - ARTICLE)
"I play games that are funded with loot boxes. My favorite game of all time, Dota 2, is funded almost exclusively through loot boxes. Regulations that tightly restrict or absolutely prohibit loot boxes will definitely hurt the gaming industry and will hurt, perhaps even fatally, games I love... But here's the thing: loot boxes are gambling."

Your Indie Game on Console: A Practical Guide to Porting (Thomas O'Connor / GDC / YouTube - ARTICLE)
"In this 2018 GDC talk, PlayEveryWare's Thomas O'Connor shines a light on the technical and administrative work that goes into getting a console game out the door. [SIMON'S NOTE: maybe a bit technical for layperson readers, but just look at the intricacy here - making AND porting games is hard!]"

'Easy trap to fall into': why video-game loot boxes need regulation (Mattha Busby / The Guardian - ARTICLE)
"“Loot boxes are like scratch-off cards: you open one out of curiosity, get a little prize, think ‘darn, maybe next time,’ and then it just turns into a habit,” says Brian. “I got a big prize with my first $20 and thought, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll get something good again,’ and spent another $5 next week, and then $5 more. It’s a disturbingly easy trap to fall into.”"

Tone Control: Derek Yu (Steve Gaynor / Idle Thumbs - PODCAST)
"Derek Yu has been making video games for almost as long as he can remember. In that time he's helped build thriving game developer communities, created more than one classic indie game, and called Jack Thompson's bluff. Now he's on to his next adventure: fatherhood, and reflecting that experience in the upcoming Spelunky 2."


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