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Legolas_Katarn

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About Legolas_Katarn

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  • Birthday 09/09/1990

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    Learning about video game industry and design history, translation, and effects and influences on different countries and culture. Sleeping, Tabletop RPGs (Pathfinder, Numenera, Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars Fantasy Flight, Pendragon, D&D 5th, etc), spicy food/hot sauce, sleeping, intersectional feminism, history in general, sleeping, cats, and not going outside when the sun is out.

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  1. Welcome to the AJSA.
  2. Completed: Record of Agarest War 2 Platform: PS3 Changes the series to a battle system more similar to Valkyrie Profile than the Tactics style battles of the previous games. Character art now moves (hair sways, eye blink, and, of course, boobs jiggle), not that impressive years into the PS3 life but better than nothing (maybe). Decent battle system with less complexities than previous games in character stats. Only three generations instead of four like the previous two games. Game is long and the story tends to drag with good or amusing moments being more rare, characters are worse than previous games. True end requirements hard to find. I wouldn't have finished this and I've owned it for over 7 years but it was the last game I owned on the PS3 that I hadn't finished. Starting my year of with about 8 games that should all take over 60 hours to finish.
  3. Welcome to the AJSA
  4. Best Videos and Video Series of 2017

    Included in this article are some of the best and most interesting game related videos that I've seen throughout 2017. Put together with the goal of highlighting some of the best content creators and videos that can enhance your knowledge of the industry, developers, events that happened this year, or of individual games. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles. Each section might include a single video, a single video series, or videos that might be from different people but focus on a similar idea or subject. The ordering does not signify better or worse quality. All mentioned creators are worth following and all of them were likely to have produced other content worth viewing on their channel this year. Some videos are from older channels with a large number of followers and supporters, while some are new and could use more support. Many of them are able to work due to the donations of their Patreon supporters, if you enjoy the content and would like to donate this can usually be found in their Youtube video description or linked social media profile. The Best Writing of 2017 article can be found here. Previous Best Video and Video Series Articles 2016 Storytelling "Max gives up her perfect ending and goes back to the studio in one last effort to save Chloe, while the game stares down the player and says, “How dare you think this was a coming-of-age story. How dare you think time travel was a neat way to work through your indecision. How could you think a power this great could ever be used responsibly? How could you think the consequences for your mistakes would be borne by you and you alone?” This sets up an arc where Max will have to do what superhero movies almost never do: truly reckon with how dangerous real power can be." Superposition: The Genre of Life is Strange (By Innuendo Studios) Ian Danskin on the genre of Life Is Strange. How it starts as a more resonant coming of age story only to shift to something darker and more ambitious, how your ability to travel through time effects the feel of the narrative, and how the game's final choices each seem to fit with only one of two competing genres. "What Remains of Edith Finch isn't the kind of story you expect to have a villain and yet, to me, it has one of the most insidious and yet sympathetic character I've seen in recent memory." The Villain of Edith Finch (By Joseph Anderson) Joseph Anderson on the story of What Remains of Edith Finch, his idea of the villain of the story, and the ability of older generations and family traditions to influence newer ones. "By the end of the game Ashe passed the mantle of leadership to me willingly, not because I had convinced him to rebel, but because I had become molded into the shape that the Disfavored had wanted me to be. I was able to lead the Disfavored because I had become the Disfavored. What had happened to Ashe had happened to me, slowly, incrementally, with me not wanting to admit that it was happening, holding on to a fantasy of dissension that had never come to pass." Tyranny and the Language of Power [Spoilers] (By Noah Gervais) Noah Caldwell-Gervais talks about the world and factions of Tyranny. A game that will likely have you compromising your own principles while waiting for the heroic option that that never comes, as you slowly become corrupted by the same ideas and way of doing things as the faction leaders who were originally corrupted in the same way. "This was not a technological limitation. The game is already full of so many impressive moments of transition that this pause, where Wander stands and is inspected by the being he will soon kill, is a conscious decision. They had the power to do almost anything they imagined, and they chose this." The Morality of Shadow of the Colossus (By Folding Ideas) Dan Olson on the morality of Shadow of the Colossus and how the colossi are presented to tell a story from the feet to the face, one that goes from fear and intimidation to empathy and sadness. "In a word, and I didn't think I'd be saying this about a Wolfenstein game, it's dreamlike." Wolfenstein: The New Order Is About More Than Defeating the Nazis (By Writing On Games) Writing On Games on the unwinnable apocalyptic feel and framing of Wolfenstein, characters dealing with and living in a world full of an enemy they can't defeat, and how the game subverts genre and cinematic norms. "Seeing all this makes me interpret Nier Automata as a complicated confused, and a little but angry, collection of his thoughts about life. They're presented under this heavy veil of video game kitsch and sappy melodramatic anime cliches but that kitsch defined Yoko Taro's life and that's part of the art of it." Nier: Automata's Uplifting Existentialism (Story Discussion) (By Super Bunnyhop) Super Bunnyhop gives his interpretation of the story and characters of Nier Automata and its connections to Japanese culture and the people character's names were based on. "It is an imaginative and compelling game. These two moments are the best, taking game systems and turning them sideways for dramatic effect. A fitting case study for the greatest game of all time." The Two Moments That Make Planescape: Torment A Masterpiece (By Heather Alexandra) Heather Alexandra talks about two moments of Planescape Torment that, from a design and storytelling perspective, show why it is considered one of the best games and best stories of all time. "There are many games out there that deal with grief as a theme. But it's often portrayed as an obstacle to overcome, something to get over. The main character goes through an arc and comes out the other side with a sense of accomplishment, catharsis, closure. And while I don't want to call games out for being too unrealistic, that has simply not been my experience with grief. Which is why Life is Strange: Before the Storm is such a special game to me, as it's approach to grief is far more familiar." Dealing with Grief - Life is Strange: Before the Storm (By Cagey Videos) Cagey Videos on the more realistic portrayal of grief in Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Interviews and Documentaries "Where once stood a game that threatened to sink the Final Fantasy band forever now stands the second most popular subscription MMO in the world. And as the years pass us the myth of that original version and its incredible redemption story are at risk of disappearing. How did it all happen, how did the same studio that shipped a broken mess turn it all around in two years? Why did they make the decision to keep the old version still alive while secretly working on a brand new game. And how did they manage to make all of this, the redesign and rebirth part of the game's lore. We knew this was a story worth telling, not only for those who were there to see it all go down, but for the millions of you who never heard about this, who never knew the extraordinary lengths the development team went to to save this game." The Death & Rebirth of FINAL FANTASY XIV (By Noclip/Danny O'Dwyer/Jeremy Jayne) Noclip tells the story of the development and the developers of Final Fantasy XIV, how they turned a failure into a success, and how you rebuild an MMO while people are still playing it. An excellent documentary with candid interviews with the developers, localizers, and CEO of Square. The playlist includes the two trailers and the three part documentary. "I think there's something sad but beautiful about Rick Dyer and his dreams of Halcyon. He calls himself and his team pioneers in this news broadcast and the truth is, he's right. Pioneer isn't an inherently positive term, it just means you were among the first to explore something and that doesn't mean you were successful or right. A lot of early pioneers didn't make it back and a lot of people, a lot of us, are going to end up more like Rich Dyer than we'd hope to be." Halcyon Dreams: The Legacy of Dragon's Lair (By hbomberguy) hbomberguy looks at the work of the designer of Dragon's Lair, Rick Dyer, his $2500 voice input home console that represented the direction he thought the industry would go in after the crash of '83, the game that was being created to expand on the style of Dragon's Lair, who we remember in history, and what gets forgotten. "So what would happen is... pirated disks are cheap, it was just DVD-Rs, but consoles are not. Usually raids would happen on Monday, so Sunday night we would pack backpacks full of PS2s, this was like in '04, and pack them full and go to cars in the parking garage and just hide them in the trunk." Brazil's Video Game Gray Markets (By Cloth Map/Drew Scanlon) Drew Scanlon recently left Giant Bomb to start Cloth Map, you might have seen him produce similar content in the past when he traveled to Iceland or Korea, you may also know him after he became a popular meme this year. In this series he travels to Brazil to learn about the game industry's past and present, the fans, and the country's developers and artists. This playlist includes five videos, with the fourth being a vlog after his return and the fifth being the trailer. "Today, both products can be found laying around thrift stores for a measly dollar, but their legacy lives on in the form of legal precedent." From Shady to Legal: How 2 Emulators Battled Sony - Bleem! & VGS | Gaming Historian (By The Gaming Historian) The Gaming Historian on the products, people, companies, and legal battles behind early emulation. "It was really a magical experience and it made me realize there's a whole audience out there who can enjoy this type of game with a few tweaks." Failure to Fame: How Dishonored Saved Arkane Studios (By: Mike Mahardy. Jake Dekker. and Jean-Luc Seipke) A three part documentary by Mike Mahardy, Jake Dekker, and Jean-Luc Seipke covering Arkane Studios, the immersive sim genre, developer inspirations, and interviews with creators, Richard Garriott and Warren Spector, who helped define the genre. "Beneath its perceived b-grade movie schlock, grainy graphics, and silly theme song is a game that made a lasting impact on the video game industry. This is the story of Night Trap. How it was made, its legacy, and how more than 25 years later we're finally able to see it as it was meant to be seen." Night Trap: 25 Years Later :: Documentary - MY LIFE IN GAMING (By My Life In Gaming) My Life In Gaming looks at one of the most controversial video games ever made. Covering the games that lead to the idea behind it, the pitches, difficulties of production, congressional hearings, and the remaster that would come 25 years later. "The original "Witcher" PC game was released ten years ago. We present our humble summary of Geralt's long journey from the pages of his books to computer screens. Today "The Witcher" is a world famous series. But at the time no one expected it to have such a great impact on the Polish video game market as well as worldwide." The Witcher's video game history | The Witcher 1 Documentary (English Subtitles) (By arhn.eu) arhn.eu's documentary on the creation of the first PC Witcher title. Multiple team members are interviewed on topics covering the problems with early concepts for a cancelled Witcher game in the 90s, early ideas on a later project that would lead to their first Witcher title, how team members used to work at their old studio Metropolis Software and at CD Projekt Red when it was just started, the Polish game industry, the first mobile text based Witcher game, work translating Interplay games, the game's script, and more. Systems, Level, and World Design "Where does that put you as a player, well it puts you, here. Just here. Look at that, beautiful. Barely anything shown on screen here but barely anything missing. You can turn these bits off at the bottom right too, if you want to. I don't mind, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. They don't distract me from the game, they don't distract me to the point of changing what truly matters. The game resides here, it resides in a sea of grass, on the cliffs of a mountain, and the rivers, lakes, and hidden caves." Breath of the Wild: The Best Game Ever (By Cool Ghosts/Matt Lees) Matt Lees talks about the map and interface design of Breath of the Wild, the tone and feel it creates, how it invites you to adventure, and how it allows you to appreciate the beauty of the game at your own pace without rushing you or making you feel like you need to complete everything. "But one thing most gamers can agree on is that this game does a pretty stellar job of depicting a bond between the boy, and Trico. And in this video, I want to show how Ueda and his team at genDESIGN, achieved this relationship. Not through lengthy cutscenes or dialogue but, instead, through the unique language of video games." The Last Guardian and the Language of Games | Game Maker's Toolkit (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown examines how The Last Guardian uses mechanics to build a bond between characters and how those mechanics show you the evolution of that bond. "Further than merely working better as a game than a film, for example, Yoko Taro's latest creation simply would not work in any other medium." Why NieR: Automata Could Only Work as a Game (Spoiler Analysis) - Writing on Games (By Writing On Games) Writing On Games uses NieR Automata as an example of a game that uses everything about the medium to tell its story and how the developer is creating stories about humanity through gameplay and viewer culpability. "Retro took the level design pattern that had served Nintendo so well, for so long, and then evolved it to the next step. By thinking about themes as well as mechanics Retro managed to form an incredible set of levels that all modern 2D platformers should be judged against." Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Mario's Level Design, Evolved | Game Maker's Toolkit (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown looks at the level design of Tropical Freeze and how it expands on the style Nintendo is known for. His series that I highlighted last year on the dungeon designs of the Zelda games also continues and can be found on his channel. "Despite how marketable the concept is, a game that truly makes your choices matter is one of the rarest types of experiences in the medium today. It's that Holy Grail that goal so many strive for but few have attained, but with that rarity comes immeasurable value. A game that can make your actions bear weight is one of the most powerful statements that the medium can possibly hold." Pyre and Responsibility | PostMesmeric (By PostMesmeric) PostMesmeric on player choice and responsibility, and how Pyre uses its gameplay to give weight and consequence to your actions. "I don't want to play it again; contrary to what you might believe the function of a game to be, it was most certainly not "fun". But that doesn't matter. That is a good thing. What Hellblade is, is necessary." Hellblade's Mechanics Tell a Deeper Story Than You Might Think (By Writing On Games) Writing on Games on how Hellblade forces you to work through mundane mechanics in order to better understand the main character's state of mind. Life and Games "When you make minimum wage your struggle is to put a roof over your head and put food on the table, there is no time, no money, no opportunity for adventure or for significance. To me, this makes the simulated adventure that video games provide the furthest possible thing from frivolity. It scratches an itch that would otherwise grow and grow and grow until its unpleasantness overwhelmed us." Playtesting Adventure (By Noah Gervais) Noah Caldwell-Gervais talks about how his video game criticism has allowed him to travel America in a Volkswagen Bus, his life, the appeal of travel, the appeal of watching Let's Plays, about games that allow you to travel a large world or universe, and how until now he had filled his longing for adventure with the help of video games. "Night In the Woods, is a game that didn't pander to any demographic or show us "hey look at me, this is a game about depression and how it affects people." It had us do the actions. The game's mechanics are walking and talking. And when you're limited to just dialogue options, it feels honest within its limitations and true to its fleshed out cast of characters." Depression and Video Games | Sidcourse (By Leonardo Da Sidci) Leonardo Da Sidci on how games can help people suffering from depression. He talks about his own experiences with depression and those of people he has spoken to or read about, games that focus on coming of age stories and depression such as Night In the Woods, and how video games and their immersive elements can provide a cathartic experience. "Video games aren't an integral part of daily life, but as a form of entertainment, they're one of the most incredible mediums for storytelling, mechanical engagement and interactive technology. Growing Older comes with commitments, whether they come in the form of work, family or relationships, and as a hobby, enjoying games is no longer a priority." Growing Older With Video Games | Sidcourse (By Leonardo Da Sidci) Leonardo Da Sidci on growing older with games and finding games that can be enjoyed when you have other commitments. Leonardo has a relatively new channel but his varied content has already reached a level of quality that most never will. Music "The orchestra represents purpose, and so introducing the orchestra at this moment is Journey's way of saying this is the purpose of life. To return from your journey in life, whatever that may be, and use the knowledge you gained along the way to be a blessing to other people." Journey: The Story in the Score | Game Score Fanfare (By Game Score Fanfare) A look into the music of Journey as a crucial part of the game's story, how it represents characters and places, what each of the five used solo instruments represent, and how the soundtrack alludes to the Hero's Journey. By an excellent newer Youtube channel, Game Score Fanfare, which is focused on the music of games. Journey's composer, Austin Wintory, called it the most detailed and accurate analysis of the score that he has seen. "It's unusual to have a composer working on a game so early in development, but Darren is in this position because Supergiant value music in their games, just as much as they do the art or the writing. As a result, they're using music in ways that many other studios aren't even thinking about." Making History with the Music of Pyre | Game Score Fanfare (By Game Score Fanfare) Game Score Fanfare on the music of Pyre and how it is used to tell the character's stories and the story that you create through your choices. "Now, each Zelda game has a very different vibe, and Nintendo has always reflected this in the choice of music. Ocarina of Time is heroic. Wind Waker is optimistic. And Majora's Mask is foreboding. So what about Breath of the Wild?" Bonus: The music of Breath of the Wild | Downloadable Comment (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown talks about the strength of Zelda Breath of the Wild's soundtrack and how each Zelda's soundtrack has a different vibe to it. He also responds to a comment where he mentions the composers of famous games that have mostly been overlooked. Game Design "The issues we see in Andromeda might actually have nothing to do with the animators. The animation team will have built all of the animations, and the face expressions, and all of the animated pieces that are meant to fit into this system, true, but they aren't actually the people that put all of these pieces together or direct the scenes." What Happened to Mass Effect Andromeda's Animation? - Extra Frames (By Extra Credits/Daniel Floyd) Daniel Floyd talks about animating different kinds of games and the systems and work behind them, using Bioware, CD Projekt, and Naughty Dog as examples. "A lot of these are strictly functional in terms of animation but they serve to create further contrast between these characters, to make them each feel all the more different to inhabit as a player." How Overwatch Animation Conveys Character in First Person - Extra Frames (By Extra Credits/Daniel Floyd)) Daniel talks about the hand and body movements of Overwatch characters and how it helps you learn about and feel like them. "We had to take a step back and say that the goal of these NPCs searching for the player isn't to find the player. It's to present interesting gameplay." What Makes Good AI? | Game Maker's Toolkit (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown talks about what makes the AI in games good and what gameplay features and behavior patterns lead players to think that AI is good or bad. "Today, on this week's episode of Here's A Thing, we're going to tell a story about how three people disobeyed direct instructions to scrap what is one of the best games ever made and somehow kept its development going in secret." The original X-COM was cancelled, but development continued in secret - Here's A Thing (By Chris Bratt) How Firaxis saved XCOM from complete disaster - Here's A Thing Chris Bratt on how the original X-COM was supposed to have been cancelled and how the current XCOM was saved from disaster due to the teams approach to game design. Chris later had Jake Solomon on stage at EGX with him to discuss this further with new footage of the game in development, that video can be found here. Long Form Analysis "It explores themes that can be quite difficult to talk about and which plenty of people, quite justifiably, don't want to and the game is too good at focusing on what it wants to be about that you can't ignore it and just focus on something else." Lisa: The Analysis (By hbomberguy) hbomberguy examines the three Lisa games, looks at the influence from Yume Nikki, at how the mechanics and story exist to give off the same ideas and create an emotional experience through their execution, learning about characters through their actions while also learning about the people that made them that way, and why he believes that a future hit game will likely be made by someone that Lisa has left an impression on. "I landed in an oasis in the heart of the infestation. There was a bench, which is the game's checkpoint system, and I used it without thinking what I had just done. Because now I was stuck in the Deepnest with my raggedy nail and no lantern. With no way out because I couldn't climb back up the long fall that got me there. And so began one of the best gaming experiences I've had all year." Hollow Knight Critique (By Joseph Anderson) Joseph Anderson on the differences between review and critique, differences in gameplay focus between Hollow Knight and games from the same genre like Ori and the Blind Forest and Super Metroid, upgrade placement and progression effects on boss fights and exploration, and how he had one of the best gaming experiences of the year after a checkpoint trapped him in an area he wasn't meant to be in yet. "This was a particularly funny situation, particularly because it didn't feel scripted in any way. It felt like I totally outsmarted a ridiculously complex AI system in the dumbest way possible." Analysing Every Episode of Hitman's First Season (By Writing On Games) Writing On Games look at the level design of each mission in the first Season of Hitman (2016). How the opening level teaches you, the absurd situations it puts you in, making each area of the map feel important, the way the AI works and responds to you, and finding the comedy inherent to the system design. "The game's point isn't that we the gamer are Walker. Typically in games we save the day, help people in the world. SpecOp's point is that we the gamer have far too much in common with Walker." Spec Ops The Line... 5 Years Later (By Raycevick) Raycevick goes over a brief history of the Spec Ops series and The Line's development before getting into the gameplay, the story of the game, how the plot holes reveal another potential layer to the game's story, and the multiplayer the developer didn't want. There has been a lot of writing and videos on the game over the years but Raycevick manage to frequently say something new. "Would more mechanics make this a better game? Yes. But they might make it a worse movie. To take a more active role would be to give up on some of this sensation of helplessness, and helpless is how the game wants you." Outlast 1 & 2: Gamifying Found Footage Horror (By Noah Gervais) Noah Gervais on the Outlast games and DLC. Why you would want to include ideas from found footage media into video games, making entire games with limited mechanics and linearity, being a game about making a movie, antagonists working more due to their acceptance of their environments or attitudes mirroring real world personalities rather than their outrageous aspects, use of body and sexual horror, the terror of helplessness, and how the sequel falls victim to the most common film cliche of all. "Another thing both series share is a real self-consciousness about the themes and tropes of horror media and a kind of deliberate engagement with the cliches of the genre." Imaginary Monsters: Alan Wake vs. The Evil Within [Franchise Spoilers] (By Noah Gervais) Noah Gervais on the subject of horror media and the ways that two series compare to each other through the ways that they engage with horror tropes. Found In Translation "It's been 20 years since Final Fantasy 7 came out, I have more than a decade and a half of Japanese speaking experience behind me so I'm replaying Final Fantasy 7 in Japanese and English at the same time all the while analyzing the nuanced little differences." Final Fantasy VII: English v Japanese: Cloud Introduces Himself (By Tim Rogers) Tim Rogers compares the scripts of the English and Japanese release of Final Fantasy VII by going over meanings and subtext that can become lost, tonal changes, character differences and how and why these differences likely occurred by giving some information about the Japanese language and the history of the translation. This is a playlist that currently includes nine videos. He has also made a video on Xenoblade Chronicles 2's translation which is not included in this playlist. Summer of 0451 "Really, 0451 games on the whole tend to be about how we think about ideologies more than the ideologies themselves. Bioshock for example isn't a nuanced critique of Randian objectivism so much as it is a look at taking an unstable world-view to its most extreme logical conclusion." 0451 (Errant Signal) "I'm really genuinely excited to talk about a game that's so near and dear to my heart, on the other hand, a lot has happened in the past 17 years and the context in which I view it now as a 32 year old adult is sort of fundamentally different than the way I played the game as a 15 year old kid." Deus Ex (Spoilers) "The twists in 0451 games usually recontextualizes your relationship with established characters. Those who were friends may become enemies, those who were enemies might become friends. In Tacoma the twist recontextualizes your relationship with yourself" Tacoma (Spoilers) "The opening of Prey is frankly an amazing setup thematically, suggesting that games, particularly 0451 games, and likely this very game, are inherently untrustworthy and designed to test you in ways that search for a truth, but whose truth? What truth can be found in pretend worlds and what truths have these games been after all along?" Prey (Spoilers) Errant Signal talks about the origins of the Easter egg 0451 in Immersive Sims, how the meaning changed over time, and what kind of themes the games that include the numbers tend to explore in his 0451 video. His followup videos looked at multiple immersive sims and how they handled their narrative, world building, if they were successful at examining the ideas they presented, and the ways that they might have differed from or expanded on the systems from previous 0451 titles. The Game Industry and Connected Industries Videos looking into different aspects of the game industry, important companies associated with it, Youtube, funding, hiring practices, etc. "Me being the masochist that I am, I was super into experiencing that chaos first hand. Little did I know, however, that what would greet us would be something this bad." The First Public E3: A Goddamn Mess (By Writing On Games) A look at the experience of attending 2017's E3 and the problems that they weren't equipped to handle. "So Cuphead is the hot topic to argue about, so we keep talking about it until it doesn't get us attention anymore and that's how Youtube works folks. And not to skip ahead too much, but if nobody is actually saying anything worthwhile creating a ranty response, for example if nobody is calling Cuphead racist, you can just pretend they are and your audience will believe you anyway." Cuphead: The Fake Outrage (By Shaun) Shaun on Cuphead and the Youtube/clickbait outrage culture surrounding it, how reactionaries work up their audience with fake information, misleading screenshots, and imaginary enemies. Useful video to see the kind of Youtubers and internet personalities that make money off of creating fake controversies for gullible followers, the importance of actually finding and properly reading and looking into the things that they will typically never link to, and the need to learn about the world outside of gaming. (Incidentally, most of the people mentioned here aren't allowed to have their content posted to the AJSA due to their constantly abusive behavior) "This is why I'm deeply suspicious of the "just pals" help the site grow mentality. We're "just pals," until we're not. Any platform that doesn't codify their relationship with content creators, that positions the relationship as "just pals" and "all on the same team" without any structural commitment to that relationship is ultimately lying." VidMe or Why Platforms Aren't Your Friends (By Folding Ideas) Folding Ideas on video platforms, business models, creator and platform relationships, competing with a monolith, getting the audience you build for, and how companies like Maker Studios or the platform the Fine Brothers were going to launch back in early 2016 are designed to draw in and take advantage of content creators with vague promises. This video was from June, Vidme has very recently closed in December, but it is still a good look at platforms and his Twitter posts over the year, collected in a thread, predicted Vidme's closure back in August. "Bioshock Infinite, for example, only exists because Ken Levine watched a PBS documentary called America 1900. When Team Bondi sent artists to get photo references for L.A. Noire, two of the archives they used were NEH grant recipients. When we talk about arts funding we are discussing the resources and future of our creative economy." Arts Funding - Helping Games that Help Us - Extra Credits (By Extra Credits/Daniel Floyd/Robert Rath) Extra Credits, with writing from Robert Rath, looks at the importance of arts funding for the game industry. "One scene sees him strung up by a group of Uruks and Lamarr recalls being asked to shoot that scene, which would require the actor himself to be strung up, without any stunt safety professionals." The voice actor who didn't know he was in Fallout 4 - Here's A Thing (By Chris Bratt) Chris Bratt talks about video game voice acting, the voice actor strike, and how some actors aren't always told what they are working on.
  5. Included in this article are some of the best and most interesting game related videos that I've seen throughout 2017. Put together with the goal of highlighting some of the best content creators and videos that can enhance your knowledge of the industry, developers, events that happened this year, or of individual games. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles. Each section might include a single video, a single video series, or videos that might be from different people but focus on a similar idea or subject. The ordering does not signify better or worse quality. All mentioned creators are worth following and all of them were likely to have produced other content worth viewing on their channel this year. Some videos are from older channels with a large number of followers and supporters, while some are new and could use more support. Many of them are able to work due to the donations of their Patreon supporters, if you enjoy the content and would like to donate this can usually be found in their Youtube video description or linked social media profile. The Best Writing of 2017 article can be found here. Previous Best Video and Video Series Articles 2016 Storytelling "Max gives up her perfect ending and goes back to the studio in one last effort to save Chloe, while the game stares down the player and says, “How dare you think this was a coming-of-age story. How dare you think time travel was a neat way to work through your indecision. How could you think a power this great could ever be used responsibly? How could you think the consequences for your mistakes would be borne by you and you alone?” This sets up an arc where Max will have to do what superhero movies almost never do: truly reckon with how dangerous real power can be." Superposition: The Genre of Life is Strange (By Innuendo Studios) Ian Danskin on the genre of Life Is Strange. How it starts as a more resonant coming of age story only to shift to something darker and more ambitious, how your ability to travel through time effects the feel of the narrative, and how the game's final choices each seem to fit with only one of two competing genres. "What Remains of Edith Finch isn't the kind of story you expect to have a villain and yet, to me, it has one of the most insidious and yet sympathetic character I've seen in recent memory." The Villain of Edith Finch (By Joseph Anderson) Joseph Anderson on the story of What Remains of Edith Finch, his idea of the villain of the story, and the ability of older generations and family traditions to influence newer ones. "By the end of the game Ashe passed the mantle of leadership to me willingly, not because I had convinced him to rebel, but because I had become molded into the shape that the Disfavored had wanted me to be. I was able to lead the Disfavored because I had become the Disfavored. What had happened to Ashe had happened to me, slowly, incrementally, with me not wanting to admit that it was happening, holding on to a fantasy of dissension that had never come to pass." Tyranny and the Language of Power [Spoilers] (By Noah Gervais) Noah Caldwell-Gervais talks about the world and factions of Tyranny. A game that will likely have you compromising your own principles while waiting for the heroic option that that never comes, as you slowly become corrupted by the same ideas and way of doing things as the faction leaders who were originally corrupted in the same way. "This was not a technological limitation. The game is already full of so many impressive moments of transition that this pause, where Wander stands and is inspected by the being he will soon kill, is a conscious decision. They had the power to do almost anything they imagined, and they chose this." The Morality of Shadow of the Colossus (By Folding Ideas) Dan Olson on the morality of Shadow of the Colossus and how the colossi are presented to tell a story from the feet to the face, one that goes from fear and intimidation to empathy and sadness. "In a word, and I didn't think I'd be saying this about a Wolfenstein game, it's dreamlike." Wolfenstein: The New Order Is About More Than Defeating the Nazis (By Writing On Games) Writing On Games on the unwinnable apocalyptic feel and framing of Wolfenstein, characters dealing with and living in a world full of an enemy they can't defeat, and how the game subverts genre and cinematic norms. "Seeing all this makes me interpret Nier Automata as a complicated confused, and a little but angry, collection of his thoughts about life. They're presented under this heavy veil of video game kitsch and sappy melodramatic anime cliches but that kitsch defined Yoko Taro's life and that's part of the art of it." Nier: Automata's Uplifting Existentialism (Story Discussion) (By Super Bunnyhop) Super Bunnyhop gives his interpretation of the story and characters of Nier Automata and its connections to Japanese culture and the people character's names were based on. "It is an imaginative and compelling game. These two moments are the best, taking game systems and turning them sideways for dramatic effect. A fitting case study for the greatest game of all time." The Two Moments That Make Planescape: Torment A Masterpiece (By Heather Alexandra) Heather Alexandra talks about two moments of Planescape Torment that, from a design and storytelling perspective, show why it is considered one of the best games and best stories of all time. "There are many games out there that deal with grief as a theme. But it's often portrayed as an obstacle to overcome, something to get over. The main character goes through an arc and comes out the other side with a sense of accomplishment, catharsis, closure. And while I don't want to call games out for being too unrealistic, that has simply not been my experience with grief. Which is why Life is Strange: Before the Storm is such a special game to me, as it's approach to grief is far more familiar." Dealing with Grief - Life is Strange: Before the Storm (By Cagey Videos) Cagey Videos on the more realistic portrayal of grief in Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Interviews and Documentaries "Where once stood a game that threatened to sink the Final Fantasy band forever now stands the second most popular subscription MMO in the world. And as the years pass us the myth of that original version and its incredible redemption story are at risk of disappearing. How did it all happen, how did the same studio that shipped a broken mess turn it all around in two years? Why did they make the decision to keep the old version still alive while secretly working on a brand new game. And how did they manage to make all of this, the redesign and rebirth part of the game's lore. We knew this was a story worth telling, not only for those who were there to see it all go down, but for the millions of you who never heard about this, who never knew the extraordinary lengths the development team went to to save this game." The Death & Rebirth of FINAL FANTASY XIV (By Noclip/Danny O'Dwyer/Jeremy Jayne) Noclip tells the story of the development and the developers of Final Fantasy XIV, how they turned a failure into a success, and how you rebuild an MMO while people are still playing it. An excellent documentary with candid interviews with the developers, localizers, and CEO of Square. The playlist includes the two trailers and the three part documentary. "I think there's something sad but beautiful about Rick Dyer and his dreams of Halcyon. He calls himself and his team pioneers in this news broadcast and the truth is, he's right. Pioneer isn't an inherently positive term, it just means you were among the first to explore something and that doesn't mean you were successful or right. A lot of early pioneers didn't make it back and a lot of people, a lot of us, are going to end up more like Rich Dyer than we'd hope to be." Halcyon Dreams: The Legacy of Dragon's Lair (By hbomberguy) hbomberguy looks at the work of the designer of Dragon's Lair, Rick Dyer, his $2500 voice input home console that represented the direction he thought the industry would go in after the crash of '83, the game that was being created to expand on the style of Dragon's Lair, who we remember in history, and what gets forgotten. "So what would happen is... pirated disks are cheap, it was just DVD-Rs, but consoles are not. Usually raids would happen on Monday, so Sunday night we would pack backpacks full of PS2s, this was like in '04, and pack them full and go to cars in the parking garage and just hide them in the trunk." Brazil's Video Game Gray Markets (By Cloth Map/Drew Scanlon) Drew Scanlon recently left Giant Bomb to start Cloth Map, you might have seen him produce similar content in the past when he traveled to Iceland or Korea, you may also know him after he became a popular meme this year. In this series he travels to Brazil to learn about the game industry's past and present, the fans, and the country's developers and artists. This playlist includes five videos, with the fourth being a vlog after his return and the fifth being the trailer. "Today, both products can be found laying around thrift stores for a measly dollar, but their legacy lives on in the form of legal precedent." From Shady to Legal: How 2 Emulators Battled Sony - Bleem! & VGS | Gaming Historian (By The Gaming Historian) The Gaming Historian on the products, people, companies, and legal battles behind early emulation. "It was really a magical experience and it made me realize there's a whole audience out there who can enjoy this type of game with a few tweaks." Failure to Fame: How Dishonored Saved Arkane Studios (By: Mike Mahardy. Jake Dekker. and Jean-Luc Seipke) A three part documentary by Mike Mahardy, Jake Dekker, and Jean-Luc Seipke covering Arkane Studios, the immersive sim genre, developer inspirations, and interviews with creators, Richard Garriott and Warren Spector, who helped define the genre. "Beneath its perceived b-grade movie schlock, grainy graphics, and silly theme song is a game that made a lasting impact on the video game industry. This is the story of Night Trap. How it was made, its legacy, and how more than 25 years later we're finally able to see it as it was meant to be seen." Night Trap: 25 Years Later :: Documentary - MY LIFE IN GAMING (By My Life In Gaming) My Life In Gaming looks at one of the most controversial video games ever made. Covering the games that lead to the idea behind it, the pitches, difficulties of production, congressional hearings, and the remaster that would come 25 years later. "The original "Witcher" PC game was released ten years ago. We present our humble summary of Geralt's long journey from the pages of his books to computer screens. Today "The Witcher" is a world famous series. But at the time no one expected it to have such a great impact on the Polish video game market as well as worldwide." The Witcher's video game history | The Witcher 1 Documentary (English Subtitles) (By arhn.eu) arhn.eu's documentary on the creation of the first PC Witcher title. Multiple team members are interviewed on topics covering the problems with early concepts for a cancelled Witcher game in the 90s, early ideas on a later project that would lead to their first Witcher title, how team members used to work at their old studio Metropolis Software and at CD Projekt Red when it was just started, the Polish game industry, the first mobile text based Witcher game, work translating Interplay games, the game's script, and more. Systems, Level, and World Design "Where does that put you as a player, well it puts you, here. Just here. Look at that, beautiful. Barely anything shown on screen here but barely anything missing. You can turn these bits off at the bottom right too, if you want to. I don't mind, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. They don't distract me from the game, they don't distract me to the point of changing what truly matters. The game resides here, it resides in a sea of grass, on the cliffs of a mountain, and the rivers, lakes, and hidden caves." Breath of the Wild: The Best Game Ever (By Cool Ghosts/Matt Lees) Matt Lees talks about the map and interface design of Breath of the Wild, the tone and feel it creates, how it invites you to adventure, and how it allows you to appreciate the beauty of the game at your own pace without rushing you or making you feel like you need to complete everything. "But one thing most gamers can agree on is that this game does a pretty stellar job of depicting a bond between the boy, and Trico. And in this video, I want to show how Ueda and his team at genDESIGN, achieved this relationship. Not through lengthy cutscenes or dialogue but, instead, through the unique language of video games." The Last Guardian and the Language of Games | Game Maker's Toolkit (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown examines how The Last Guardian uses mechanics to build a bond between characters and how those mechanics show you the evolution of that bond. "Further than merely working better as a game than a film, for example, Yoko Taro's latest creation simply would not work in any other medium." Why NieR: Automata Could Only Work as a Game (Spoiler Analysis) - Writing on Games (By Writing On Games) Writing On Games uses NieR Automata as an example of a game that uses everything about the medium to tell its story and how the developer is creating stories about humanity through gameplay and viewer culpability. "Retro took the level design pattern that had served Nintendo so well, for so long, and then evolved it to the next step. By thinking about themes as well as mechanics Retro managed to form an incredible set of levels that all modern 2D platformers should be judged against." Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Mario's Level Design, Evolved | Game Maker's Toolkit (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown looks at the level design of Tropical Freeze and how it expands on the style Nintendo is known for. His series that I highlighted last year on the dungeon designs of the Zelda games also continues and can be found on his channel. "Despite how marketable the concept is, a game that truly makes your choices matter is one of the rarest types of experiences in the medium today. It's that Holy Grail that goal so many strive for but few have attained, but with that rarity comes immeasurable value. A game that can make your actions bear weight is one of the most powerful statements that the medium can possibly hold." Pyre and Responsibility | PostMesmeric (By PostMesmeric) PostMesmeric on player choice and responsibility, and how Pyre uses its gameplay to give weight and consequence to your actions. "I don't want to play it again; contrary to what you might believe the function of a game to be, it was most certainly not "fun". But that doesn't matter. That is a good thing. What Hellblade is, is necessary." Hellblade's Mechanics Tell a Deeper Story Than You Might Think (By Writing On Games) Writing on Games on how Hellblade forces you to work through mundane mechanics in order to better understand the main character's state of mind. Life and Games "When you make minimum wage your struggle is to put a roof over your head and put food on the table, there is no time, no money, no opportunity for adventure or for significance. To me, this makes the simulated adventure that video games provide the furthest possible thing from frivolity. It scratches an itch that would otherwise grow and grow and grow until its unpleasantness overwhelmed us." Playtesting Adventure (By Noah Gervais) Noah Caldwell-Gervais talks about how his video game criticism has allowed him to travel America in a Volkswagen Bus, his life, the appeal of travel, the appeal of watching Let's Plays, about games that allow you to travel a large world or universe, and how until now he had filled his longing for adventure with the help of video games. "Night In the Woods, is a game that didn't pander to any demographic or show us "hey look at me, this is a game about depression and how it affects people." It had us do the actions. The game's mechanics are walking and talking. And when you're limited to just dialogue options, it feels honest within its limitations and true to its fleshed out cast of characters." Depression and Video Games | Sidcourse (By Leonardo Da Sidci) Leonardo Da Sidci on how games can help people suffering from depression. He talks about his own experiences with depression and those of people he has spoken to or read about, games that focus on coming of age stories and depression such as Night In the Woods, and how video games and their immersive elements can provide a cathartic experience. "Video games aren't an integral part of daily life, but as a form of entertainment, they're one of the most incredible mediums for storytelling, mechanical engagement and interactive technology. Growing Older comes with commitments, whether they come in the form of work, family or relationships, and as a hobby, enjoying games is no longer a priority." Growing Older With Video Games | Sidcourse (By Leonardo Da Sidci) Leonardo Da Sidci on growing older with games and finding games that can be enjoyed when you have other commitments. Leonardo has a relatively new channel but his varied content has already reached a level of quality that most never will. Music "The orchestra represents purpose, and so introducing the orchestra at this moment is Journey's way of saying this is the purpose of life. To return from your journey in life, whatever that may be, and use the knowledge you gained along the way to be a blessing to other people." Journey: The Story in the Score | Game Score Fanfare (By Game Score Fanfare) A look into the music of Journey as a crucial part of the game's story, how it represents characters and places, what each of the five used solo instruments represent, and how the soundtrack alludes to the Hero's Journey. By an excellent newer Youtube channel, Game Score Fanfare, which is focused on the music of games. Journey's composer, Austin Wintory, called it the most detailed and accurate analysis of the score that he has seen. "It's unusual to have a composer working on a game so early in development, but Darren is in this position because Supergiant value music in their games, just as much as they do the art or the writing. As a result, they're using music in ways that many other studios aren't even thinking about." Making History with the Music of Pyre | Game Score Fanfare (By Game Score Fanfare) Game Score Fanfare on the music of Pyre and how it is used to tell the character's stories and the story that you create through your choices. "Now, each Zelda game has a very different vibe, and Nintendo has always reflected this in the choice of music. Ocarina of Time is heroic. Wind Waker is optimistic. And Majora's Mask is foreboding. So what about Breath of the Wild?" Bonus: The music of Breath of the Wild | Downloadable Comment (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown talks about the strength of Zelda Breath of the Wild's soundtrack and how each Zelda's soundtrack has a different vibe to it. He also responds to a comment where he mentions the composers of famous games that have mostly been overlooked. Game Design "The issues we see in Andromeda might actually have nothing to do with the animators. The animation team will have built all of the animations, and the face expressions, and all of the animated pieces that are meant to fit into this system, true, but they aren't actually the people that put all of these pieces together or direct the scenes." What Happened to Mass Effect Andromeda's Animation? - Extra Frames (By Extra Credits/Daniel Floyd) Daniel Floyd talks about animating different kinds of games and the systems and work behind them, using Bioware, CD Projekt, and Naughty Dog as examples. "A lot of these are strictly functional in terms of animation but they serve to create further contrast between these characters, to make them each feel all the more different to inhabit as a player." How Overwatch Animation Conveys Character in First Person - Extra Frames (By Extra Credits/Daniel Floyd)) Daniel talks about the hand and body movements of Overwatch characters and how it helps you learn about and feel like them. "We had to take a step back and say that the goal of these NPCs searching for the player isn't to find the player. It's to present interesting gameplay." What Makes Good AI? | Game Maker's Toolkit (By Mark Brown) Mark Brown talks about what makes the AI in games good and what gameplay features and behavior patterns lead players to think that AI is good or bad. "Today, on this week's episode of Here's A Thing, we're going to tell a story about how three people disobeyed direct instructions to scrap what is one of the best games ever made and somehow kept its development going in secret." The original X-COM was cancelled, but development continued in secret - Here's A Thing (By Chris Bratt) How Firaxis saved XCOM from complete disaster - Here's A Thing Chris Bratt on how the original X-COM was supposed to have been cancelled and how the current XCOM was saved from disaster due to the teams approach to game design. Chris later had Jake Solomon on stage at EGX with him to discuss this further with new footage of the game in development, that video can be found here. Long Form Analysis "It explores themes that can be quite difficult to talk about and which plenty of people, quite justifiably, don't want to and the game is too good at focusing on what it wants to be about that you can't ignore it and just focus on something else." Lisa: The Analysis (By hbomberguy) hbomberguy examines the three Lisa games, looks at the influence from Yume Nikki, at how the mechanics and story exist to give off the same ideas and create an emotional experience through their execution, learning about characters through their actions while also learning about the people that made them that way, and why he believes that a future hit game will likely be made by someone that Lisa has left an impression on. "I landed in an oasis in the heart of the infestation. There was a bench, which is the game's checkpoint system, and I used it without thinking what I had just done. Because now I was stuck in the Deepnest with my raggedy nail and no lantern. With no way out because I couldn't climb back up the long fall that got me there. And so began one of the best gaming experiences I've had all year." Hollow Knight Critique (By Joseph Anderson) Joseph Anderson on the differences between review and critique, differences in gameplay focus between Hollow Knight and games from the same genre like Ori and the Blind Forest and Super Metroid, upgrade placement and progression effects on boss fights and exploration, and how he had one of the best gaming experiences of the year after a checkpoint trapped him in an area he wasn't meant to be in yet. "This was a particularly funny situation, particularly because it didn't feel scripted in any way. It felt like I totally outsmarted a ridiculously complex AI system in the dumbest way possible." Analysing Every Episode of Hitman's First Season (By Writing On Games) Writing On Games look at the level design of each mission in the first Season of Hitman (2016). How the opening level teaches you, the absurd situations it puts you in, making each area of the map feel important, the way the AI works and responds to you, and finding the comedy inherent to the system design. "The game's point isn't that we the gamer are Walker. Typically in games we save the day, help people in the world. SpecOp's point is that we the gamer have far too much in common with Walker." Spec Ops The Line... 5 Years Later (By Raycevick) Raycevick goes over a brief history of the Spec Ops series and The Line's development before getting into the gameplay, the story of the game, how the plot holes reveal another potential layer to the game's story, and the multiplayer the developer didn't want. There has been a lot of writing and videos on the game over the years but Raycevick manage to frequently say something new. "Would more mechanics make this a better game? Yes. But they might make it a worse movie. To take a more active role would be to give up on some of this sensation of helplessness, and helpless is how the game wants you." Outlast 1 & 2: Gamifying Found Footage Horror (By Noah Gervais) Noah Gervais on the Outlast games and DLC. Why you would want to include ideas from found footage media into video games, making entire games with limited mechanics and linearity, being a game about making a movie, antagonists working more due to their acceptance of their environments or attitudes mirroring real world personalities rather than their outrageous aspects, use of body and sexual horror, the terror of helplessness, and how the sequel falls victim to the most common film cliche of all. "Another thing both series share is a real self-consciousness about the themes and tropes of horror media and a kind of deliberate engagement with the cliches of the genre." Imaginary Monsters: Alan Wake vs. The Evil Within [Franchise Spoilers] (By Noah Gervais) Noah Gervais on the subject of horror media and the ways that two series compare to each other through the ways that they engage with horror tropes. Found In Translation "It's been 20 years since Final Fantasy 7 came out, I have more than a decade and a half of Japanese speaking experience behind me so I'm replaying Final Fantasy 7 in Japanese and English at the same time all the while analyzing the nuanced little differences." Final Fantasy VII: English v Japanese: Cloud Introduces Himself (By Tim Rogers) Tim Rogers compares the scripts of the English and Japanese release of Final Fantasy VII by going over meanings and subtext that can become lost, tonal changes, character differences and how and why these differences likely occurred by giving some information about the Japanese language and the history of the translation. This is a playlist that currently includes nine videos. He has also made a video on Xenoblade Chronicles 2's translation which is not included in this playlist. Summer of 0451 "Really, 0451 games on the whole tend to be about how we think about ideologies more than the ideologies themselves. Bioshock for example isn't a nuanced critique of Randian objectivism so much as it is a look at taking an unstable world-view to its most extreme logical conclusion." 0451 (Errant Signal) "I'm really genuinely excited to talk about a game that's so near and dear to my heart, on the other hand, a lot has happened in the past 17 years and the context in which I view it now as a 32 year old adult is sort of fundamentally different than the way I played the game as a 15 year old kid." Deus Ex (Spoilers) "The twists in 0451 games usually recontextualizes your relationship with established characters. Those who were friends may become enemies, those who were enemies might become friends. In Tacoma the twist recontextualizes your relationship with yourself" Tacoma (Spoilers) "The opening of Prey is frankly an amazing setup thematically, suggesting that games, particularly 0451 games, and likely this very game, are inherently untrustworthy and designed to test you in ways that search for a truth, but whose truth? What truth can be found in pretend worlds and what truths have these games been after all along?" Prey (Spoilers) Errant Signal talks about the origins of the Easter egg 0451 in Immersive Sims, how the meaning changed over time, and what kind of themes the games that include the numbers tend to explore in his 0451 video. His followup videos looked at multiple immersive sims and how they handled their narrative, world building, if they were successful at examining the ideas they presented, and the ways that they might have differed from or expanded on the systems from previous 0451 titles. The Game Industry and Connected Industries Videos looking into different aspects of the game industry, important companies associated with it, Youtube, funding, hiring practices, etc. "Me being the masochist that I am, I was super into experiencing that chaos first hand. Little did I know, however, that what would greet us would be something this bad." The First Public E3: A Goddamn Mess (By Writing On Games) A look at the experience of attending 2017's E3 and the problems that they weren't equipped to handle. "So Cuphead is the hot topic to argue about, so we keep talking about it until it doesn't get us attention anymore and that's how Youtube works folks. And not to skip ahead too much, but if nobody is actually saying anything worthwhile creating a ranty response, for example if nobody is calling Cuphead racist, you can just pretend they are and your audience will believe you anyway." Cuphead: The Fake Outrage (By Shaun) Shaun on Cuphead and the Youtube/clickbait outrage culture surrounding it, how reactionaries work up their audience with fake information, misleading screenshots, and imaginary enemies. Useful video to see the kind of Youtubers and internet personalities that make money off of creating fake controversies for gullible followers, the importance of actually finding and properly reading and looking into the things that they will typically never link to, and the need to learn about the world outside of gaming. (Incidentally, most of the people mentioned here aren't allowed to have their content posted to the AJSA due to their constantly abusive behavior) "This is why I'm deeply suspicious of the "just pals" help the site grow mentality. We're "just pals," until we're not. Any platform that doesn't codify their relationship with content creators, that positions the relationship as "just pals" and "all on the same team" without any structural commitment to that relationship is ultimately lying." VidMe or Why Platforms Aren't Your Friends (By Folding Ideas) Folding Ideas on video platforms, business models, creator and platform relationships, competing with a monolith, getting the audience you build for, and how companies like Maker Studios or the platform the Fine Brothers were going to launch back in early 2016 are designed to draw in and take advantage of content creators with vague promises. This video was from June, Vidme has very recently closed in December, but it is still a good look at platforms and his Twitter posts over the year, collected in a thread, predicted Vidme's closure back in August. "Bioshock Infinite, for example, only exists because Ken Levine watched a PBS documentary called America 1900. When Team Bondi sent artists to get photo references for L.A. Noire, two of the archives they used were NEH grant recipients. When we talk about arts funding we are discussing the resources and future of our creative economy." Arts Funding - Helping Games that Help Us - Extra Credits (By Extra Credits/Daniel Floyd/Robert Rath) Extra Credits, with writing from Robert Rath, looks at the importance of arts funding for the game industry. "One scene sees him strung up by a group of Uruks and Lamarr recalls being asked to shoot that scene, which would require the actor himself to be strung up, without any stunt safety professionals." The voice actor who didn't know he was in Fallout 4 - Here's A Thing (By Chris Bratt) Chris Bratt talks about video game voice acting, the voice actor strike, and how some actors aren't always told what they are working on.
  6. Welcome to the AJSA
  7. This Week In Gaming 1-16-18

    Allegations of hostile and unhealthy studio culture at Quantic Dream, the pitch that convinced Miyamoto to back Mario Rabbids, Awesome Games Done Quick charity sets new record, Total War Three Kingdoms announced, In Search of the First Video Game Commercial, Yume Nikki added to steam and first footage of developer's next project, Breath of the Wild’s life lessons for kids, the topic every game dev is talking about behind closed doors, mass Twitch spammer faces criminal charges, Examining the Spectacle of Video Games and Swatting, Sea of Thieves closed beta starting soon, game designers discuss the games of 2017 and talk about the ones that were overlooked, and more. Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods) Horizon Zero Dawn leads with ten nominations for the 21st DICE Awards Nintendo Direct Mini 1.11.2018 Nintendo Direct Mini January 2018: The 5 biggest announcements Total War: Three Kingdoms heads to ancient China later this year Former Police frontman Sting will star in Where the Water Tastes Like Wine Dream Diary, 'the next Yume Nikki project,' gets a teaser trailer and countdown site The Horror Game Developer Who Disappeared For A Decade With new enemies, new loot and mod support, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is your next big co-op game Consortium: The Tower's blend of Die Hard and Deus Ex lets you sweet talk terrorists Battalion 1944's lead explains why they're making a competitive FPS set in WW2 The World Ends With You: Final Remix Coming To Switch This Year The Aserai clans rule Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord's southern deserts Seedy vampire RPG Vampyr is getting a deep-dive video series BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle launches May 31 in Japan and Asia, June 5 in North America; adds DLC character Blake Belladonna Two Point Hospital is Theme Hospital's spiritual successor, and it's out this autumn How Kratos' Axe Changes God Of War's Combat Anamorphine is a heavy adventure game about mental illness Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor—Martyr adds new map, class, single player chapter The Lord of the Rings card game will scratch your itch for more Dungeon Runs Square Enix Announces Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition Dynasty Warriors 9 teases combat, horses, scroll system in new in-game footage Dynasty Warriors 9’s English Trailer Charges Through What’s New In This Open World Sequel Scribblenauts Showdown - Announcement Trailer New Gundam Breaker Builds Its Way Westward In 2018 For PS4 New Trailer for Q.U.B.E. 2 Shows Off Some of The Game’s Environments and Puzzle Gameplay Dark Souls: Remastered confirmed for PC, release date set "There is no discount" on Dark Souls Remastered for owners of the original game Dark Souls Remastered won’t have cross-play Take a hike through Monster Hunter: World’s gorgeous, alien Coral Highlands Monster Hunter World - Rotten Vale Gameplay Monster Hunter: World producer explains PC delay Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana will come to PC at the end of the month Being a nobody is better than saving the day in historical RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance Masters of Anima Will Be Fighting Evil on Switch This Spring Death Trash is a post-apocalyptic RPG filled with profanity, gore, and puke Mario Tennis Aces arrives on Switch this spring Sea of Thieves team talk improved skeleton AI in latest developer diary Rare’s Sea Of Thieves’ Closed Beta Begins January 24, 2018 CULT HORROR GAME YUME NIKKI HITS STEAM, NEW PROJECT TEASED New SNK fighting game focuses just on the heroines The Raven Remastered release date set for March Stellaris: Apocalypse - First Look Endless Space 2 teases new content, and it looks like the return of the Vaulters faction Assassin's Creed Origins patch lands tomorrow, adds new quest and map regions RimWorld’s next version will be 1.0, creator wants to close five years of development Firaxis detail Civilization 6: Rise and Fall’s ages, loyalty, governors, and more Battlefront 2 adds new Blast map and Hero ship in latest update Battlefront II Patch Nerfs Overpowered Wookiee Warriors You can try Battlefield 1’s DLC free this week, and Prise de Tahure will be free for good PUBG Devs Publish Drop Rates For New Loot Boxes Robot Cache wants to compete with Steam - using blockchains What Is Blockchain? All this time I thought that this was the blockchain. For The First Time In 11 Years, The Japanese Console Game Market Has Grown The "Don't Forgive Nintendo" Hashtag Has Turned Into Shitposting David Cage and Quantic Dream "shocked" by allegations of unhealthy studio culture Having played all of his games to see his depictions of black people, Native Americans, women, and Chinese people in them and his interviews on his new game, Cage saying, "judge me by my work" is a really bad defense even without the rest of the quote. Update: Journalist Reportedly Blacklisted Over Quantic Dream Story Prince of Persia creator wants to bring the series back, but Ubisoft say it’s “on pause” Hideki Kamiya Imagines Devil May Cry 5 with a Full Style Change Like God of War Fortnite has over 40 million players, and has achieved 2 million concurrent users "We could be the biggest game in the western world" Report: YouTube may introduce stricter vetting process for top-tier ad channels Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 finishes with more than $2.25 million raised for charity The Best Speedruns From AGDQ 2018 Canadian Man Accused Of Mass Twitch Spamming Faces Criminal Charges The dinosaur that will save children from sexual abuse Spanish government approves $7.8 million grant for indie devs AUSTRALIAN GAME DEVELOPERS MARCH ON, GENERATING $118.5M IN SPITE OF LIMITED RECOGNITION AND SUPPORT Switch emulator announced, made by team behind Citra 3DS emulator Esports News Over 400,000 viewers tuned into the Overwatch League on its first day No Overwatch League Team Signed The Game's Most Notable Female Pro To Their Roster 'No Girls Allowed': Dissecting The Gender Divide in Overwatch League Overwatch Player Uses Doomfist To Obliterate Pharah And Mercy From Orbit My Hunt For The Mysterious Man Or Machine Controlling The Blizzard Arena's Light-Up Halo Last Night's Dallas-Seoul Game Showed How Fun Overwatch League Can Be ESL announce $50,000 PUBG Invitational at IEM Katowice Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc) Breath of the Wild’s fantastic life lessons for kids We Should Take the World Health Organisation's Classification Of Gaming Disorder Seriously Keiichi Tanaka explores the history behind Nintendo’s now-legendary “MOTHER”—a tapestry woven from the words of Shigesato Itoi and the ingenuity of Satoru Iwata. Polygon’s 2017 Year in Review: video game essays from designers, authors and critics Ken Levine on Zelda and the terrifying need to demolish the old to make way for the new Playing BioShock Infinite in the age of Trump is unsettling, but not for the obvious reasons Mario + Rabbids inspired the creative director of XCOM to reevaluate the genre PUBG helped me learn to meditate Wolfenstein raises the question: When did punching Nazis become controversial? What big publishers can learn about representation from small games The minds behind Uncharted and Firewatch talk candidly about surviving in the games industry Devs answer: What were the overlooked gems of 2017? Indie developers on the trials and triumphs of making Switch games Walking Heavy is a stealth game about English gangsters that's flown under the radar The alchemy of Remedy The topic every game dev is talking about behind closed doors : The cost of doing business The 10-year making of Iconoclasts Shattered Realms Developers Talk About Bringing Fighting Game Complexity To Brawlers How InnerSpace's creators made their disorienting flying game playable Are arcade shooters really dead? In Search of the First Video Game Commercial Examining the Spectacle of Video Games and Swatting Shadowhand's creators discuss their position at the crossroad of 'core' and 'casual' games Classic Tools Retrospective: Tim Sweeney on the first version of the Unreal Editor How well does Assassin's Creed Origins capture history? We asked an Egyptologist Invisible limbs and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - the gruesome secrets of Dead Space 'Suckin Dick While My Man Plays 2K': When Video Games Meet Sex How One Of Horizon Zero Dawn’s Most Powerful Scenes Connects Aloy's Childhood With Her Future Ultima Underworld and the freedom to make bad choices Floor Kids - Rhythm and Creativity | PostMesmeric Super Mario Odyssey - It's No Masterpiece The pitch that convinced Miyamoto to back Mario Rabbids - Here's A Thing John Gonzalez on Writing Horizon Zero Dawn - Extended Interview
  8. Allegations of hostile and unhealthy studio culture at Quantic Dream, the pitch that convinced Miyamoto to back Mario Rabbids, Awesome Games Done Quick charity sets new record, Total War Three Kingdoms announced, In Search of the First Video Game Commercial, Yume Nikki added to steam with date for potential follow up project, Breath of the Wild’s life lessons for kids, first footage of Yume Nikki follow up, the topic every game dev is talking about behind closed doors, mass Twitch spammer faces criminal charges, Examining the Spectacle of Video Games and Swatting, Sea of Thieves closed beta starting soon, game designers discuss the games of 2017 and talk about the ones that were overlooked, and more. Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods) Horizon Zero Dawn leads with ten nominations for the 21st DICE Awards Nintendo Direct Mini 1.11.2018 Nintendo Direct Mini January 2018: The 5 biggest announcements Total War: Three Kingdoms heads to ancient China later this year Former Police frontman Sting will star in Where the Water Tastes Like Wine Dream Diary, 'the next Yume Nikki project,' gets a teaser trailer and countdown site The Horror Game Developer Who Disappeared For A Decade With new enemies, new loot and mod support, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is your next big co-op game Consortium: The Tower's blend of Die Hard and Deus Ex lets you sweet talk terrorists Battalion 1944's lead explains why they're making a competitive FPS set in WW2 The World Ends With You: Final Remix Coming To Switch This Year The Aserai clans rule Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord's southern deserts Seedy vampire RPG Vampyr is getting a deep-dive video series BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle launches May 31 in Japan and Asia, June 5 in North America; adds DLC character Blake Belladonna Two Point Hospital is Theme Hospital's spiritual successor, and it's out this autumn How Kratos' Axe Changes God Of War's Combat Anamorphine is a heavy adventure game about mental illness Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor—Martyr adds new map, class, single player chapter The Lord of the Rings card game will scratch your itch for more Dungeon Runs Square Enix Announces Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition Dynasty Warriors 9 teases combat, horses, scroll system in new in-game footage Dynasty Warriors 9’s English Trailer Charges Through What’s New In This Open World Sequel Scribblenauts Showdown - Announcement Trailer New Gundam Breaker Builds Its Way Westward In 2018 For PS4 New Trailer for Q.U.B.E. 2 Shows Off Some of The Game’s Environments and Puzzle Gameplay Dark Souls: Remastered confirmed for PC, release date set "There is no discount" on Dark Souls Remastered for owners of the original game Dark Souls Remastered won’t have cross-play Take a hike through Monster Hunter: World’s gorgeous, alien Coral Highlands Monster Hunter World - Rotten Vale Gameplay Monster Hunter: World producer explains PC delay Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana will come to PC at the end of the month Being a nobody is better than saving the day in historical RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance Masters of Anima Will Be Fighting Evil on Switch This Spring Death Trash is a post-apocalyptic RPG filled with profanity, gore, and puke Mario Tennis Aces arrives on Switch this spring Sea of Thieves team talk improved skeleton AI in latest developer diary Rare’s Sea Of Thieves’ Closed Beta Begins January 24, 2018 CULT HORROR GAME YUME NIKKI HITS STEAM, NEW PROJECT TEASED New SNK fighting game focuses just on the heroines The Raven Remastered release date set for March Stellaris: Apocalypse - First Look Endless Space 2 teases new content, and it looks like the return of the Vaulters faction Assassin's Creed Origins patch lands tomorrow, adds new quest and map regions RimWorld’s next version will be 1.0, creator wants to close five years of development Firaxis detail Civilization 6: Rise and Fall’s ages, loyalty, governors, and more Battlefront 2 adds new Blast map and Hero ship in latest update Battlefront II Patch Nerfs Overpowered Wookiee Warriors You can try Battlefield 1’s DLC free this week, and Prise de Tahure will be free for good PUBG Devs Publish Drop Rates For New Loot Boxes Robot Cache wants to compete with Steam - using blockchains What Is Blockchain? All this time I thought that this was the blockchain. For The First Time In 11 Years, The Japanese Console Game Market Has Grown The "Don't Forgive Nintendo" Hashtag Has Turned Into Shitposting David Cage and Quantic Dream "shocked" by allegations of unhealthy studio culture Having played all of his games to see his depictions of black people, Native Americans, women, and Chinese people in them and his interviews on his new game, Cage saying, "judge me by my work" is a really bad defense even without the rest of the quote. Update: Journalist Reportedly Blacklisted Over Quantic Dream Story Prince of Persia creator wants to bring the series back, but Ubisoft say it’s “on pause” Hideki Kamiya Imagines Devil May Cry 5 with a Full Style Change Like God of War Fortnite has over 40 million players, and has achieved 2 million concurrent users "We could be the biggest game in the western world" Report: YouTube may introduce stricter vetting process for top-tier ad channels Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 finishes with more than $2.25 million raised for charity The Best Speedruns From AGDQ 2018 Canadian Man Accused Of Mass Twitch Spamming Faces Criminal Charges The dinosaur that will save children from sexual abuse Spanish government approves $7.8 million grant for indie devs AUSTRALIAN GAME DEVELOPERS MARCH ON, GENERATING $118.5M IN SPITE OF LIMITED RECOGNITION AND SUPPORT Switch emulator announced, made by team behind Citra 3DS emulator Esports News Over 400,000 viewers tuned into the Overwatch League on its first day No Overwatch League Team Signed The Game's Most Notable Female Pro To Their Roster 'No Girls Allowed': Dissecting The Gender Divide in Overwatch League Overwatch Player Uses Doomfist To Obliterate Pharah And Mercy From Orbit My Hunt For The Mysterious Man Or Machine Controlling The Blizzard Arena's Light-Up Halo Last Night's Dallas-Seoul Game Showed How Fun Overwatch League Can Be ESL announce $50,000 PUBG Invitational at IEM Katowice Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc) Breath of the Wild’s fantastic life lessons for kids We Should Take the World Health Organisation's Classification Of Gaming Disorder Seriously Keiichi Tanaka explores the history behind Nintendo’s now-legendary “MOTHER”—a tapestry woven from the words of Shigesato Itoi and the ingenuity of Satoru Iwata. Polygon’s 2017 Year in Review: video game essays from designers, authors and critics Ken Levine on Zelda and the terrifying need to demolish the old to make way for the new Playing BioShock Infinite in the age of Trump is unsettling, but not for the obvious reasons Mario + Rabbids inspired the creative director of XCOM to reevaluate the genre PUBG helped me learn to meditate Wolfenstein raises the question: When did punching Nazis become controversial? What big publishers can learn about representation from small games The minds behind Uncharted and Firewatch talk candidly about surviving in the games industry Devs answer: What were the overlooked gems of 2017? Indie developers on the trials and triumphs of making Switch games Walking Heavy is a stealth game about English gangsters that's flown under the radar The alchemy of Remedy The topic every game dev is talking about behind closed doors : The cost of doing business The 10-year making of Iconoclasts Shattered Realms Developers Talk About Bringing Fighting Game Complexity To Brawlers How InnerSpace's creators made their disorienting flying game playable Are arcade shooters really dead? In Search of the First Video Game Commercial Examining the Spectacle of Video Games and Swatting Shadowhand's creators discuss their position at the crossroad of 'core' and 'casual' games Classic Tools Retrospective: Tim Sweeney on the first version of the Unreal Editor How well does Assassin's Creed Origins capture history? We asked an Egyptologist Invisible limbs and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - the gruesome secrets of Dead Space 'Suckin Dick While My Man Plays 2K': When Video Games Meet Sex How One Of Horizon Zero Dawn’s Most Powerful Scenes Connects Aloy's Childhood With Her Future Ultima Underworld and the freedom to make bad choices Floor Kids - Rhythm and Creativity | PostMesmeric Super Mario Odyssey - It's No Masterpiece The pitch that convinced Miyamoto to back Mario Rabbids - Here's A Thing John Gonzalez on Writing Horizon Zero Dawn - Extended Interview
  9. Though it was pretty great, very every few AAA game that didn't do well there were a large number of well done indie and surprise titles to make up for it. Very strong year for PS4 and Switch owners. I'm looking forward to Where the Water Tastes Like Wine Warhammer Vermintide 2 Super Robot Wars X Ace Combat 7 Left Alive Battletech Yakuza 6 Frozen Synapse 2 Wargroove Total War Three Kingdoms Pillars of Eternity II Cultist Simulator The Bard’s Tale IV Mount and Blade Bannerlord The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game Dead Cells No Truce With The Furies Pathfinder Kingmaker Freedom Planet 2 State of Decay 2 A Case of Distrust Frostpunk Phantom Doctrine Hoping we get more Hitman as well and Banner Saga III and Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
  10. The Red Solstice is free on Humble Bundle
  11. Best Games Writing of 2017

    2017 is now behind us and I've put together a list of some of the best writing I saw throughout the year. Created with the goal of highlighting the work of some of the best writers and journalists in the industry and to share topics that can enhance understanding of the game industry, events of the previous year, and of the games themselves. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles. These articles might focus on developer and game history, what working in the industry is like, what games make us think and feel, things that have effected the industry this year, the effects of games on people and culture, entertaining stories, lessons learned and connections established through games, and articles that can give you a greater understanding of game development. Links are included to author's social media account and it is worth following them and their work if you are interested in games and the industry. The Best Videos of 2017 list can be found here. Previous Best Games Writing Articles 2016 History of the Industry, Developers, and Games Articles and interview that examine the life and work of developers and studios and the games and franchises that they created or worked on. "OK, so maybe I did kill Aerith. But if I hadn’t stopped you, in the second half of the game, you were planning to kill everyone off but the final three characters the player chooses!" Final Fantasy 7 An Oral History (By Matt Leone) "Bamberger stayed calm. Years of prep and planning, countless conversations with the marketing gurus at TBWA\Chiat\Day, packaging and posters and commercials and magazines branded with the game’s release date—everything he had worked for hinged on this moment. “How do you get a game to sell through a million units at the time we were trying to do it?” he asked me. “A lot of that is, you build your case slowly over time, like a drumbeat.” How Final Fantasy 7 Revolutionized Videogame Marketing and Helped Sony Tackle Nintendo (By David L. Craddock) Matt Leone gives us a look at the creation of Final Fantasy VII, told by those that worked on it, while David Craddock looks at how the game was marketed and the team behind it. "So, the sun was shining, with the lens flare, and Steve sort of stopped the demo right there and said: “Yeah, but you know, at Pixar, we can render dozens of suns.” Jason’s immediate reply to him was: “Yeah, but can you do it in real time?” There was this pregnant pause and Steve’s says: “Okay, you’re in.” And he picked up his Fudgsicle and walked back into his office, and that was it. So that’s how we got in, a little bit of chutzpah and an OpenGL tech demo running on what was soon to be the Mac." The Complete, Untold History of Halo (By Steve Haske and and edited by Mike Diver and Austin Walker) Steve Haske gives us the history of the Halo franchise, as told by the people that created it. "[What] I remember being a huge problem was [on] Episode One, like literally three days before we weren’t allowed to touch the project anymore, Pierre comes to me — I think Guardians of the Galaxy had just come out. There’s a moment in the first episode where your friend Loader Bot can explode, and it’s based on a player choice. Pierre comes to me and says, “I don’t think we should let Loader Bot die.” I’m just like, “Well, okay. We’re 36, 48 hours away from this thing going live, what are you talking about? That choice is there.” And he said, “I think we might be blowing up our Groot.” Tales from the Borderlands: The Oral History (By Duncan Fyfe) Duncan Fyfe tells the story of how Tales From the Borderlands came to be from his interviews with Telltale and Gearbox staff members. "We would send renderings of Superman, and we would get images back from Warner Bros. with his crotch area circled, 'Make this part bigger; make this part smaller.' This went on for months." Superman Returns: What went wrong (By Matt Paprocki) Matt Paprocki learns what the development of a failed Superman Returns game was like. "Mass Effect: Andromeda was in development for five years, but by most accounts, BioWare built the bulk of the game in less than 18 months. This is the story of what happened." The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda's Troubled Five-Year Development (By Jason Schreier) Jason Schreier looks into the troubled development of Mass Effect Andromeda, the original ideas behind the game, cut elements, a team spread across the world, and how most of the game was made in 18 months despite the five year development. "While there are dozens of perspectives on whether or not EA’s decision to axe the studio was justified, many who worked at the studio say they couldn’t see this ending any other way. “Honestly, it was a mercy killing,” said one former Visceral employee. “It had nothing to do with whether it was gonna be single player. I don’t think it had anything to do with that. That game never could’ve been good and come out.” The Collapse Of Visceral's Ambitious Star Wars Game (By Jason Schreier) Schreier looks into the closing of Visceral studio by talking to former Visceral developers and looking at studio responses, industry trends, issues with Star Wars being owned by another company, Amy Hennig’s role in the company, embracing poor decisions to impress fans and executives, problems with adapting the game engine for a new genre, problems with studio size and division, the immense scope of the project seeming more like a fever dream to some, the history of Visceral's recent projects, and how their Star Wars game partly began life as an open world pirate game. If you liked his articles looking into studio and game development, Jason also released an excellent book this year looking into the development of 10 different games Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. "Infocom believed that what Meretzky had created was more than just a game – it was a piece of interactive literature. To stress the seriousness of its ambitions, they held a press conference for A Mind Forever Voyaging's release at the New York Public Library. Meretzky himself desperately wanted to see the game's pointed message spark some real controversy. "I was hoping I'd get dragged in front of a congressional committee," he says." Flashback: How 'A Mind Forever Voyaging' Took Aim at Right-Wing Politics (By Chris Baker) Chris Baker writes about the development of 80s text adventures, focusing on a classic 1985 game that offered social commentary at a time when games weren't thought to be capable of that, and on how the game inspired the writers of stories like Rogue One, Book of Eli, Telltale's The Walking Dead, and Her Story. "Big Bang Bar's creation is a story of pinball's near death, of one man's attempt to become a piece of pinball history, of bankruptcy, of obsession, of short-lived redemption and personal disaster." When pigs flew: The strange history of Capcom's Big Bang Bar (By Brian Crecente) Brian Crecente writes about the history of Capcom with pinball machines and attempts to find a long lost table and the man behind its creation. "So, when it came to games that weren’t Ultima Origin had had to content themselves with projects one notch down from the top tier — projects which, whether because they weren’t flashy enough or were just too nichey, weren’t of huge interest to the bigger publishers. Those brought in enough revenue to justify their existence but not much more, and thus Robert Garriott continued to bet the company every two years on his brother’s latest Ultima. It was a nerve-wracking way to live. And then, in 1990, all that changed practically overnight. This article and the one that follows will tell the story of how the house that Ultima built found itself with an even bigger franchise on its hands." From Squadron to Wingleader and From Wingleader to Wing Commander (By Jimmy Maher) Jimmy Maher looks at some of the history of Origin Systems, the hiring and early work of Chris Roberts, and the people and ideas behind the creation of the game that would rival Ultima, Wing Commander. "At one point he said: 'I hope you appreciate that this is the last time any of you will be able to work on games in this way. The industry is changing.'" Death or Glory: How 1997 Changed Video Games Forever (By Keith Stuart) Keith Stuart looks at the way the game industry changed in 1997, the games that were released, the changes made by companies and developers, and losing old habits and freedoms in order to embrace the future. "There was a lot of internal criticism about deducting so much life gauge with one attack. SNK management said this design had to be changed, but I thought it was very interesting to have players fight under the risk and fear of fighting with weapons and feel the destructive force of the sword, so I ignored them and kept it in the game." The making of Samurai Shodown (By James Mielke) James Mielke interviews three of the developers of Samurai Shodown and talks about how the game came to be and the ideas behind it. "They didn't know it at the time, but the members of Naughty Dog in that room — Kurosaki, Rafei and co-founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin — were looking at the system that would host the team's next game: Crash Bandicoot. They were seeing the console their company would eventually create the unofficial mascot for — the console they would develop Naughty Dog's first smash hit for. It was Kurosaki and Rafei's second day with the company." Crash Bandicoot: An oral history (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester speaks to creators of Crash Bandicoot, a game that helped redefine platformers and that helped to turn Naughty Dog into the studio they are today. "My mandate to re-envision and redesign The Oregon Trail was almost overwhelming at first—the possibilities were endless, yet I had to get it absolutely right on the first release. For 13 years, from 1971 to 1984, the OREGON game had remained essentially unchanged. A few small details had been tweaked along the way, but never had the product been completely re-imagined and redesigned. Never had the underlying models been changed—the structures, algorithms, and assumptions upon which the game is based. For the very first time, we were going to throw out everything—including all of the existing software programming, which dated back to 1971—and start completely from scratch." I Designed The Oregon Trail, You Have Died of Dysentery (By R. Philip Bouchard) R. Philip Bouchard on the history of The Oregon Trail, the original text 1971 version, and changes that were made and that weren't able to be included in the newer version that would be designed for a home market instead of a school market. "Sadly, it's here the story takes a darker turn and we come to the crux of why Whittaker's achievements have gone unsung for so long. "There were issues with my name, because my christened name is Jane," he explains. "I was asked to use a male name on titles, because at the time if you were doing a macho shooting game it was thought that a female name would downgrade the brand. My dad came up with the idea of using Andrew - I think he got as far as A in a book of names and got bored. So most of my games went out as Andrew Whittaker to avoid advertising these gender issues to the outside world." Threats, fake names and philanthropy: The untold story of Jane Whittaker (By James Batchelor) James Batchelor tells the history of developer Jane Whittaker, who moved to America to work with Atari at 16, and why he was told to use a fake name for most of his career as he worked on a large number of popular and influential games. "I remember when I left [the company, right before Underground was released], I sent [Joel an] email and was like, "Hey, Joel. Can we have a chat?" He said, "Yeah, come to the office." So I went to the office and I walked in. He had both feet on the table. He had a revolver in his hand and he spun the barrel, like flicked it in, pointed the gun at me and then said, "So you're quitting, huh?" …I had this speech worked out in my head, but how do you get over that?" From Busted Teeth to Broken TVs: The Oral History of Tony Hawk's Underground (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester talks to the development team behind Tony Hawk's Underground covering topics that include the ideas behind the game's creation, the culture of the studio, working with pro skateboarders, Activision forgoing their normal greenlight process, and how they did it in under a year. Writing On Games Articles on the games themselves, effects they had on the industry, the stories they tell, how gameplay is used, deeper meanings of titles, etc. "The point is, the moment is scripted in such a way that you can’t get past the officer, and the only way to progress is to hit him. But players don’t spend time to figure out what to do next, they just do it. Because the level made players go past their breaking point just like the whole situation made Emile go past breaking point." How Valiant Hearts drives you to the breaking point (By Stanislav Costiuc) Stanislav Costiuc writes about one of the most memorable levels and moments in Valiant Hearts and how the mechanics put you in the mindset of the protagonist. "The true evil in Night in the Woods is both rampant capitalism itself and the hate that is so easily fueled when people become disenfranchised as infrastructures collapse and jobs dry up. And Night in the Woods is so fiercely, justifiably angry at these things." What Lies Beneath: On the Love and Anger of Night in the Woods (By Carolyn Petit) "Infinite Fall’s Night in the Woods poignantly and sympathetically captures the human scale of the widening millennial vs baby boomer gap. Setting aside stats and diatribes, it explores the messy, awkward nature of a paradigm shift that lives under the same roof, shares the same blood, and harbors the same deep familial love and frustration for one another." The Human Cost of the Millennial Generation Gap in Night in the Woods (By Jess Joho) "Because its too soft to say I disagree with the notion that the last acts of NitW are out of place: the truth is I think the supernaturalism of the game is as crucial as any moment in the narrative. It cements the message of the game by prefacing the structurally crucial epilogue with this severe moment of politically charged unreality, a moment that ultimately leads the reader to conclude with Mae that as long as nothing is real or rational or fair, the best we can manage is to hang on to individual moments of social connectivity." The Monster at the End of Capitalism (By Trevor Strunk) I've probably read more articles on Night in the Woods than on any other game this year, some of the best pieces I've seen have been Carolyn Petit's on the fierce and justifiable anger of the game, Jess Joho's on the generational themes of Night in the Woods, and Trevor Strunk's on the supernatural elements that appeared in the late game and why they work. "NieR, and its strange mom Drakengard, are series that accomplish this a lot: affect physical feeling in some way. Their mastermind is a masked man named Yoko Taro who loves beer and who wants Square-Enix to hire him. Mainly, he wants to surprise us players with our own feelings by reminding us they’re still in there, somewhere." Yoko Taro: Weird feelings for weird people (By Ruben Ferdinand) Ruben Ferdinand looks at the characters and themes of Yoko Taro's games and how the main thing we learn from them are the roles of violence and silence. "As S.R. Holiwell explains in A Maze of Muderscapes, Metroid II is ultimately a game about genocide. It’s a singular minded push into the territory of an indigenous species to wipe out a lifeform that has been designated a threat to the galaxy, despite their inability to escape their native planet. Everything about the game contributes to that: the hostile, painful soundscapes, the restrictive corridors, and the counter that makes a permanent space on your HUD, counting down the number of Metroids left alive on the planet. AM2R retains none of that, replacing every aspect with elements that imitate the blueprint of Super Metroid." Picture in a Frame (By Amr Al-Aaser) Amr Al-Aaser on how we talk about games, how we frame and describe them in ways that can cause us to fail to understand what an individual game says and does on its own terms. Amr uses the recent fan remake of Metroid 2 as an example for how the game completely changed the tone and narrative of the original, if you are interested in the topic of tonal changes that AM2R and Metroid Returns made to Metroid 2, Mark Brown did a video looking at all three games. "That’s where the extraordinary Nier: Automata comes in. This is a game that, in its own way, takes a long, hard look at the same forces of hatred, prejudice and fear that Geralt speaks about in The Witcher 3, and grimly acknowledges how tragically destructive they are. And then, in the end, when everything seems to be lost and it appears as if ignorance, fear, and hatred have all but devoured every last glimmer of hope and life and love, the game does something truly extraordinary." Contained in Our Moments: Ignorance and Love in Nier: Automata and The Witcher 3 (By Carolyn Petit) Carolyn Petit on the expressions of emotion in The Witcher 3 and Nier Automata and Nier's more hopeful tone compared to Geralt's world weary cynicism in combating violence and ignorance. "Horizon is inspiring because it doesn’t boast about humanity being worth saving, it doesn’t put hope on a pedestal. Instead it deals with reality, it says mortality is coming and we’ve fucked up." Horizon: Zero Dawn and the beauty of annihilation (By Tauriq Moosa) Tauriq Moosa on how Horizon Zero Dawn was inspiring to him and how, in dealing with reality, it makes him want to be a better person. "But she definitely helps, and I’m glad she’s here, because if Breath of the Wild fills me with hope and excitement for the worlds that action-adventure games may create in years to come, then Horizon Zero Dawn makes me a little more optimistic about who might populate those worlds, and the heroes who may rise to save them." Children of the Earth: The Limits of Link and the Promise of Aloy (By Carolyn Petit) Carolyn Petit looks at what games in the future can learn from the world of Breath of the Wild and the characters of Horizon Zero Dawn. "Quadrilateral Cowboy is built on relationships that are recognizable, that can be mapped to real life, even though the setting is in many ways fantastical. It's based on an idea of closeness not as a sudden thing or as an object of extreme drama, but as a slowly germinating process in which people's lives and spaces blur into one another. And in portraying friendship so effectively, it highlights how rare those relationships are in game narratives." 'Quadrilateral Cowboy' Points to a Different Kind of Intimacy in Games (By Bruno Dias) Bruno Dias writes about game's struggle with intimacy and how Quadrilateral Cowboy's story is built on recognizable relationships. "While the situations are often overblown and bizarre, there's something at their core that still feels grounded in the era's reality: furors over hot new game releases and technology, youthful rebellion against boring corporate life, and the excitement that celebrities and media would create." 'Yakuza 0' is A Postcard from Another Time (By Heidi Kemps) Heidi Kemps explores how Yakuza 0 acts as a postcard from 1980s Japan. "That’s the thing with fictional violence—it’s never actually representative of real violence, but instead serves as a dramatic and thematic tool to convey a feeling or idea. This plays a large part into what makes the recent video game Yakuza 0 so compelling—it takes the traditional violence of crime fiction and repurposes that into this wider idea of constructive resistance." The Transformative Violence of Yakuza 0 (By Patrick Larose) Patrick Larose on the framing of violence in Yakuza 0 and how it can be channeled into a reconstructive force. "This is how these games convey the purpose of taverns as interstitial spaces between the mundane and fantastic. In the Torment games, bars mean finding reflection and escapism amidst confusing worlds so vastly different than our own, yet with characters so strikingly resonant when given the chance to unwind. Speaking with characters, learning about their pasts and their cultures, what this place means to them, is valued alongside the protagonists’ player guided self-discovery." Hold my Beer — Why the Torment Games Have the Best Video Game Bars (By Dakota Joyce) Dakota Joyce on how simple taverns end up having some of the more interesting moments in two games with the most fantastical settings. "Especially in these dark days, the warmth and humanity of Sareh’s depiction is a much needed point of light. As a protagonist-like figure, she neatly expresses a theme endemic to all of Tacoma: that even in a grim, dystopian future, there is always hope to be found in the way people manage to simply survive." Opinion: In praise of Tacoma's character Sareh Hasmadi (By Katherine Cross) Katherine Cross on the portrayal and humanity of Tacoma's character Sareh Hasmadi. "If a game about Egypt's history, released in 2017, is to say anything about its setting, taking aim at the abuses of power that have oppressed its population for millennia seems more than appropriate." How Assassin's Creed Origins Captures the Politics, Colonialism, and Betrayal of the Real Ancient Egypt (By Reid McCarter) Reid McCarter on how, by diving into the past, Origin shows insight on the history of Egypt and the modern world. "The men are forced to deal with the bodies that society would typically let them ignore, watching them break down around them." Wolfenstein 2 and Mending Broken Things (By Brendan Keogh) Brendan Keogh on how Wolfenstein is about the fragility of two types of bodies that underpin Western values, what it takes for them to fall apart, and giving form to emotions that capture the current atmosphere. "Whatever we may spend our time doing, who doesn’t want to do that? And when it comes to a medium like video games, where developers are crafting interactive future visions that can sell to millions, which creators don’t have a touch of the obsessive about them?" Gore as Art in The Evil Within 2 (By Richard Stanton) Richard Stanton on The Evil Within 2 antagonists Stefano Valentini. "It’s an odd, ill-fitting note in a game that filled me with a strange sort of grief, because it is the moment I could feel a culture’s connection to the recent past growing weaker and fainter. The grim, driven men of this story have a coldly distant, heroic quality to them that belongs more to myth than history. It reminded me that my grandfathers with all their flaws and frailties are both gone, and so is my grandmother with her shoebox full of small, fading Victory Mail letters, a War Department telegram, and photos of her one trip outside the United States, to a military cemetery in France." Watching History Fade Away in 'Call of Duty: WWII' (By Rob Zacny) Rob Zacny on the fading memory of WWII and the portrayal of the war in Call of Duty WWII and other media that have helped us replace the truth of the past with myth. Game Design Articles that focus on game design and the ideas and process behind them "Game designers work with and for the human mind; we have to consider human experience, perception and our mindset when we are at play. Whenever you choose to play, you likely want the game to feel internally consistent enough that you can buy into the experience. You're able to go along for the ride if the game feels like it makes sense." Games aren’t always fair, the magic lies in making you think they are (By Jennifer Scheurle) Jennifer Scheurle's article on her twitter thread where she asked developers to talk about game mechanics that are hidden from players, reading this can help you understand the kinds of things developers have to do and think about in order to create an enjoyable game. "For Robert Yang, a game designer and professor at NYU Game Center, this prioritization is a natural outcome of the unchecked biases that lie behind the 3D technology that powers modern gaming. "When 3D artists test their new skin shaders, they often use a 3D head scan of a white guy named Lee Perry-Smith," he notes. "What does it mean if we're all judging the quality of our skin shader solutions by seeing who can make the best rendered white guy?" Black Skin Is Still A Radical Concept in Video Games (By Yussef Cole and Tanya DePass) Yussef Cole And Tanya DePass on how the technology behind film and games were never created with darker skin tones in mind. "That’s where glitches come in. The competitive community has always had a strained relationship with them, preferring to rely on skill instead of exploit a mistake. But they’re often the best way to push a game to its limits. Sometimes, these discoveries even have the potential to make the game more balanced." Finding Beauty in the Weirdest Fighting Game Glitches (By Ian Walker) Ian Walker writes about fighting game glitches, how some ended up helping to balance games, how they lead to popular mechanics, and how they have impacted the course of the entire genre. "If you work on [a] game that includes a little bit of yourself — in [the] form of an Easter egg — you treat it more personally, and you care more. It becomes your game, not only a game that you happen to be working on," says Katarzyna Tarnacka, a concept artist at Polish developer Techland. "And I think a similar thing applies to the players. When I find Easter eggs in other games, then those games become special. It's a real human touch that I can sense." The costs of developing Easter eggs (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester looks at the work that goes into adding easter eggs in games and the situations that can lead to their creation. "I have a firmly-held belief that to honor a medium, and for it to grow, you have to do what it does that no other media can do. When I look at what games can do that other media can't, I instantly go right to the immersive sim. That sort of real-time you are there, nothing stands between you and belief that you're in an alternate world, that is something that I guess LARPing gets a little close to, and D&D gets pretty darn close to, but we're the first mainstream medium that can actually do that. And the immersive sim is the perfect way to do it." Working In the Game Industry Articles focused on what it is like to work in the game industry or in fields connected to the game industry. "Along with my friend and photographer, Levi Ryman, I spent a month between February and March of this year in my Ford Escape traveling 9,000 miles across the United States and back, visiting families, communities and developers in an effort to create a scrapbook of sorts, full of stories and profiles showing what it's like for developers across the United States to create games. What I learned is that, just as no two people are the same, no two games are made the same way. Everyone we visited had a different story about how their location and the people around them has influenced the way they work and the games they put out." A month on the road: My indie developer road trip (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester spent a month traveling around the United States to learn the stories of developers and how their lives and games are influenced by where they live. "I wrote one of the first stories about Blizzard Entertainment, when they were known as Chaos Studios. They sold their company for a very small amount of money these days, $7 million or something, to Davidson and Associates, but went on to be very successful. The president of Blizzard recently said to me, “Thank you for 25 years of good coverage.” It’s this guy, Mike Morhaime. I covered Brian Fargo of Interplay, and still cover him today. He’s about to retire. I’m not quite ready to do that." A life in game journalism (By Dean Takahashi) Dean Takahashi writes about his life and experiences as a game journalist and the events that got him to where he is today. "There can be a conflict when talking about what it’s like to be a woman in the industry, and how to balance being honest with how bad it can be, but also wanting to be encouraging. Most of the women I spoke to had their eyes firmly forward, looking toward the future." Women in Video Game Development in 2017: A Snapshot (By Lucy O'Brien) Lucy O'Brien interviewed 55 developers about the moments that influenced their career paths, educational institutions and the way games are marketed turning people away from development or not informing them about the kind of careers available, social stigmas and workplace conduct that prevent people from joining the industry or that causes veterans to leave it, and communities that help support and offer new opportunists. "A living legend was talking about what a great job that Soliani did, and in response, his eyes welled up with tears. He stood up, waved awkwardly, and tried not to completely break down in front of the theater of people." This E3 Was All About Men Crying Onstage, And That Is Wonderful (By Cameron Kunzelman) Cameron Kunzelman covers how game development can be an emotional experience and how that was shown at this year's E3. "Jason Brassard, owner of Trade N Games in Fenton, Mo., gives the same five-to-10-year timeframe. "I don't think this industry, in retail, is left in 10 years," he says. "… No, not in the least bit. I mean, there will be some collectibles, but paying two employees who work full time and paying a few thousand in rent, nah. No way. Not a chance." What it costs to run an independent video game store (By Matt Leone) Matt Leone looks at the costs of running independent game stores by talking to people who have done it through the 80s to modern times and talks to them about adapting to changing times, store policies and how they did and do business, and the future of retail gaming stores. "It's not farfetched to suggest that the implementation of the ACA in 2010 played a large role in the 'boom' of independent game studios." Game Developers Speak Up in the Face of Obamacare Repeal and More Stories of How Obamacare Has Affected Game Developers (By Joseph Knoop) Joseph Knoop talks to developers about the negative effects the ACA repeal can have on the industry, getting stories from those that needed to be hospitalized, hearing about the ways the repeal can end the careers of women, and how developers can be prevented from leaving larger studios to pursue their own passion projects. "As an independent video game developer, The Chinese Room lives by the seat of its pants. It is the same for so many across the video game world. If money's not coming in, you can't pay the bills. That's why developers often spend as much time pitching projects as they do building games. If there's nothing coming next, it could be hard to keep the lights on - possibly impossible." The doors close on The Chinese Room - for now (By Wesley Yin-Poole) Wesley Yin-Poole on the closure of the studio The Chinese Room and the struggles faced by independent developers. "I did a public talk a couple weeks ago to a room full of all ages kids, and afterwards, a kid came up to me and was talking about stuff. And I shit you not, this kid (somewhere between 13-16 I'd guess) starts talking about how bad devs are because of a youtuber he watches. He nailed all the points, "bad engines", "being greedy", you name it. I was appalled. I did my best to tell him that all those things people freak out about are normal and have justifications. I hope I got through a bit. But I expect he went back to consuming toxic culture via youtube personalities, and one day he'll probably harass a dev over nonsense." Game Designer Says Developers Would Be More Candid If Gamer Culture Wasn't So Toxic (Twitter thread by Charles Randall and write up by ‏Jason Schreier) Charles Randall‏ writes a thread on Twitter about what keeps developers from being more candid about the way games are made. "In that same vein, if I didn’t want to be banned from Steam, I shouldn’t have made You Must be 18 or Older to Enter. The logic follows. If the game had monsters, or violence, or death, or used other traditional horror aspects over childhood curiosity, it probably wouldn’t have been banned from Steam." The Fun is Over, We Have to Get Serious about Games (By James Cox) James Cox talks about the need to stop treating certain subjects in games as jokes, his game being wrongly classified as porn and removed from Steam, and the cycle created by distribution platforms, streamers, and Youtubers that influence gaming culture and makes developing or even having the language to talk about new and unique experiences difficult. Life and Games Articles on the meaning that games can have for people, connections they help create, and why they matter. "I grinned, and halfway through my amusement I suddenly realised that while my mother could read up on the games news, there was another language that my mother did not speak: the language of games. For all her enthusiasm and knowledge of the medium, she had never once held a controller, or booted up a video game. We had been talking about games, the business, the people, and the stories and moments that impacted me for almost a decade, and my mother had nodded along understanding everything but the heart of it: the games themselves." Mom, 'Final Fantasy' and the Language of Gaming (Rami Ismail) Rami Ismail on teaching the language of gaming and a year spent gaming with his mom. "With his beloved science fiction novels to the right of the desk and a view of the garden stretching from behind his computer screen, Stephen would become enveloped first in The Flame In The Flood and then in Firewatch. At the age of 63, Stephen, recently retired, rekindled a passion that had been with him since the early '80s." The 63-Year-Old Retiree Who Broke A Game Looking for The End of the World (By Lewis Gordon) Lewis Gordon writes about how The Flame In the Flood and Firewatch helped a man rekindle an old passion. "It’s hard to say exactly how many women feel burdened by the responsibilities of motherhood, but from anecdotal experience I’d say it’s not uncommon. And yet we don’t feel comfortable expressing it, as if somehow, by admitting our infallibility, we’re no longer capable at all. Life is messy, yet nothing short of perfection is enough. To be a mother is to agonize over every decision, to accuse yourself of selfishness for having basic needs. Every second spent on anything other than your child comes with an extra side of shame. “If only I’d been more attentive” becomes the answer to every perceived failure. It always seems as though the second you look away, that’s when everything will go wrong. For Karen, it did." How I Finally Found A Mom I Can Identify With—In A Videogame (By Holly Green) Holly Green writes about motherhood and finding a mother she can identify with in the game Through the Woods. "Everyone I talked to for this story had one thing in common: games. Sometimes video games, sometimes tabletop games. But what bound them together was a sense of being thrust into the shadows of society, forced to hide themselves, and finding solace, hope, and even careers in games. While they waited for the world to change, they embraced games." Undocumented Immigrants Describe Life Under DACA, and How Games Helped Them (By Patrick Klepek) Patrick Klepek talks to DACA immigrants about how games helped them and their desire to work in and their current contributions to the game industry. "History has a habit of repeating itself when people forget, you see, but are videogames the right place to remind us? They’re bigger than any other entertainment medium, after all, but often the medium with the least to say." Videogames’ portrayal of the Holocaust does a disservice to both players and victims (By Kirk McKeand) Kirk McKeand talks to Jewish game industry veterans on the portrayal of Nazis and the holocaust in video games, covering topics such as how pop culture influences the appearance of Nazis in media, the way games ignore certain topics, and the portrayal of similar topics in indie and lesser known titles. "The hero’s own voice may be crafting a narrative to be used against them, via events and recordings that they don’t remember or maybe never made in the first place. While trapped in this location, surrounded by infinite void on all sides, the main character must either reject the horrific mistakes of their past as outright lies or accept their sins, making amends or choosing to lean into the power and freedom of their new role as the villain. This is also how it feels to be bipolar. I know that now, because I was diagnosed while I was playing the game." When the Void Stares Back: Prey, Post-Humanism and Mental Illness (By Brock Wilbur) Brock Wilbur writes about playing as an unreliable narrator in Prey and the ability to be one in your own life. "In part, Neo Japan Games has become a mini-power plant. A generator which Robles has been running daily since re-opening the store 14 days after the storm makes it an oasis of sorts." In Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico, This Used Game Store Is A Welcome Escape (By Ethan Gach) Ethan Gach on how a used game store serves as a refuge as the population attempts to rebuild. Game Industry Abroad Articles covering the game industry of different countries, mostly focused on the ones that we don't often associate with video games, or covering how the industry is growing and effecting people and places worldwide. "Secret gaming networks entwine utility lines, broadcast from rooftops and piggy-back phone cables over highways. Speakeasy arcades can be found in many Havana neighborhoods, locked away behind closed doors. Blocked by two governments, U.S. video games — normally priced in the U.S. at more than a Cuban makes in a month — are as inexpensive as they are ubiquitous in Cuba’s thriving black market. And the people who play these games are just as passionate about making them, writing about them, competing in them. This is a new generation of Cubans; raised on illicit video gaming, born to love everything those games offer from the ability to create interactive, moving art, to gaming’s deep social roots and frenetic sense of play." Cuba: Where underground arcades, secret networks and piracy are a way of life (By Brian Crecente) Brian Crecente gives a detailed look at gaming culture in Cuba in a series of 12 articles covering piracy, esports, development, secret networks and arcades, and more. "And yet, innovation within China is not dead. Thanks to the recent success of digital marketplaces like Steam and itch.io which sit outside the Chinese government’s scrutiny, in combination with the increasing accessibility of game-making tools like Unity and RPG Maker, local developers are pushing back against the stereotypical depictions of China in video games. By telling personal, human stories, these developers want to show the world that Chinese culture is so much more than Kung Fu and red dragons." Why It's So Hard To Make Games In China (By Matt Sayer) Matt Sayer on the game industry of China and difficulty of developing games there. "Clearly, no one pays for content in Pakistan; everything is pirated," he says. "So I looked at the biggest spenders in the space, and one of the bigger spenders in Pakistani cricket is Pepsi. So I contacted the marketing company who handles their account." What it’s like making games in Pakistan (By Basim Usmani) Basim Usamani looks at the game industry of Pakistan and how a small team of developers turned there game into a financial success when most things are pirated. "According to Overwatch lore, D.va is a pro gamer who serves and inspires her country. In real life, D.va’s role is starting to mirror her in-game persona, as she becomes a symbol of hope for women in South Korea." D.va From Overwatch Has Become A Symbol of Hope In Real Life (By Nico Deyo) Nico Deyo talks about how Overwatch's pro Korean gamer D.Va is used as a symbol for female gamers in Korea. "In Seoul, where corporate-sponsored teams live in gaming houses and play in front of packed arenas, the top players are all men. The scandal swirling around Geguri felt like a tipping point. She was a unicorn, and people didn't believe she was real." Game: Interrupted (By Mina Kimes) Mina Kimes writes about the culture and esports scene of Korea and interviews a player that became a reluctant icon for other female gamers after her talent got her accused of cheating. “A huge chunk of the world gets disqualified over factors they can’t control, and this game company didn’t take the effort to think about how their supposed attempts at diversity actually backfired. If they’re already fucking up this way, how do you expect them to respond to the travel ban? Preemptively ban people from applying for jobs there? Closing down offices elsewhere? Only taking in super local people? Options that are actually legal and viable get thrown by the wayside.” How Trump's Travel Ban Impacts the Games Industry (By Holly Green and Creatrix Tiara) Holly Green writes about how immigration, passports, and travel bans have impacted the life of one developer. "The first obstacle to PC gaming's growth is a simple one: very few people own PCs in Japan. But there's much more to it than that. There's the challenge of using Steam in Japanese. There's the frequent need for a champion—sometimes a single person in a huge company—to boldly fight for a PC port. There's the long history of 'doujin' fan games in Japan and a struggling indie scene finally beginning to find its footing. There's a genetic predisposition to motion sickness that turns Japanese gamers away from first-person games. And there's 7-Eleven." How Japan learned to love PC gaming again (By Wes Fenlon) Wes Fenlon on how PC gaming has started to make a comeback in Japan. "July 2017 marked the first annual Tehran Game Convention. It felt like an event that had been refined over years. It was strikingly well organized, hosted 2300 attendees, and featured speakers from 14 countries covering a range of topics from scalable game servers (Ashkan Saeedi Mazdeh), to expanding existing universes (Rayna Anderson), to meaning and ethics in games (Wolfgang Walk), to applying game design techniques to understanding mental illness (David Baron). The games industry in Iran is well-established and sophisticated." Making Games in Tehran: A massive market, disconnected (By Brie Code) Brie Code attends the first game convention in Tehran and gives details about their growing game industry. Game Archiving “If it’s preserved, and if it’s accessible to the public, I hope writers, researchers, and historians will find those little gems, talk about it, and rewrite history,” he said. The history of games that’s commonly spread around—in the beginning, there was Space Invaders, which begat Pac-Man, which begat Mario—might be the history of the most successful products, but it’s not the history of the most influential art. “When you’re talking about art, you forget that it sold one million copies,” he says. “The history of video games that I’m reading every day on the internet everywhere is not the history I know. And is not the history as it was back in time.” Saving Japan's Games (By Chris Kohler) Chris Kohler writes about the Game Preservation Society, which is dedicated to the research and preservation of Japanese games. Chris covers why games and their associated materials is important to preserve, the history of the man who started the organization, how preservation is handled, the history of older computers, and the culture and laws of Japan that can make preservation efforts difficult. Localization "Released that May in North America, Vagrant Story was a significant step forward for English localization. A taut, lean story of dark medieval intrigue and magic, it was a game with a depth of language still uncommonly used to this day. I recently had the opportunity to interview localization editor Richard Amtower and famous translator Alexander O. Smith over email on their breakthrough early work in the field and to reflect on the rise of localization as a craft that truly mattered." "Make it Biblical:" How Vagrant Story Changed Game Localization (By John Learned) "One day in the late 1990s, Myria walked into the Irvine High School computer room and spotted a boy playing Final Fantasy V. There were two unusual things about this. The first was that Final Fantasy V had not actually come out in the United States. To play the 1992 Japanese game in English, you’d have to download a ROM, then install the unofficial fan translation patch that had recently begun circulating the internet. Myria knew about this patch because of the other unusual thing: she helped make it." How Three Kids With No Experience Beat Square And Translated Final Fantasy V Into English (By Jason Schreier) Jason Schreier tells the story of the kids that translated Final Fantasy V before Square and did a better job of it. He looks at how they got started, the influence of the translation, and at how the work was done. "Why do fans of JRPG giants assume Japanese writers can't write?" Persona 5: Phantoms of Translation and Persona 5's translation is a black mark on a brilliant game (By Connor Krammer) Connor Krammer created a website to explain some of the translations issues with Persona 5, give examples of a variety of problems, and to answer questions about localization and possible critiques of his observations. This was followed that up with a freelance article on Eurogamer where he talks about Persona 5 and localization. Krammer later wrote two threads on Twitter about some accusations and harassment that he had received after creating his site, which can be read here and here. Stories From Games Apart from the stories told by games there are the stories players create with them “Samantha Myth has shown me the dangers of trust, but also the power of friendship,” Tikktokk writes in a Reddit post updating everyone on the situation. “Long term friends can stab you in the back at any moment without reason or consequences. At the same time, those who have the opportunity to, but choose not, have proven [themselves] to be true friends who I hope to keep in contact with long after EVE Online shuts down.” How a scam in EVE Online turned into its greatest rescue mission Meet the most honest man in EVE Online How an EVE Online con artist tricked a ruthless pirate into giving him his priceless ship How one mistake turned EVE Online's deadliest hunters into corpses (By Steven Messner) Steven Messner has been keeping PCGamer readers updated with some of the stories from EVE Online over the last two years and these are some of the most entertaining ones from 2017. "I was there, embedded within an armada of more than 1,000 ships known as the Premonition Allied Coalition, or the PAC. They were there to defend a fictional character named Salomé, the invention of a science fiction author. Arrayed against them were the most deadly player-controlled fleets in the entire Milky Way galaxy." Elite: Dangerous' 3,000-player battle royale (By Charlie Hall) Charlie Hall covers the story of how Harry Potter's betrayal would influence the future of Elite Dangerous. "As Allison's corpse sank, so too did my chance at finding love." I was drugged, forced to sing, and accused of murder in one night on an Ark roleplaying server (By Steven Messner) Steven Messner sings, tries to find love, and causes a dinosaur stampede on an Ark roleplay server
  12. 2017 is now behind us and I've put together a list of some of the best writing I saw throughout the year. Created with the goal of highlighting the work of some of the best writers and journalists in the industry and to share topics that can enhance understanding of the game industry, events of the previous year, and of the games themselves. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles. These articles might focus on developer and game history, what working in the industry is like, what games make us think and feel, things that have effected the industry this year, the effects of games on people and culture, entertaining stories, lessons learned and connections established through games, and articles that can give you a greater understanding of game development. Links are included to author's social media account and it is worth following them and their work if you are interested in games and the industry. Previous Best Games Writing Articles 2016 History of the Industry, Developers, and Games Articles and interview that examine the life and work of developers and studios and the games and franchises that they created or worked on. "OK, so maybe I did kill Aerith. But if I hadn’t stopped you, in the second half of the game, you were planning to kill everyone off but the final three characters the player chooses!" Final Fantasy 7 An Oral History (By Matt Leone) "Bamberger stayed calm. Years of prep and planning, countless conversations with the marketing gurus at TBWA\Chiat\Day, packaging and posters and commercials and magazines branded with the game’s release date—everything he had worked for hinged on this moment. “How do you get a game to sell through a million units at the time we were trying to do it?” he asked me. “A lot of that is, you build your case slowly over time, like a drumbeat.” How Final Fantasy 7 Revolutionized Videogame Marketing and Helped Sony Tackle Nintendo (By David L. Craddock) Matt Leone gives us a look at the creation of Final Fantasy VII, told by those that worked on it, while David Craddock looks at how the game was marketed and the team behind it. "So, the sun was shining, with the lens flare, and Steve sort of stopped the demo right there and said: “Yeah, but you know, at Pixar, we can render dozens of suns.” Jason’s immediate reply to him was: “Yeah, but can you do it in real time?” There was this pregnant pause and Steve’s says: “Okay, you’re in.” And he picked up his Fudgsicle and walked back into his office, and that was it. So that’s how we got in, a little bit of chutzpah and an OpenGL tech demo running on what was soon to be the Mac." The Complete, Untold History of Halo (By Steve Haske and and edited by Mike Diver and Austin Walker) Steve Haske gives us the history of the Halo franchise, as told by the people that created it. "[What] I remember being a huge problem was [on] Episode One, like literally three days before we weren’t allowed to touch the project anymore, Pierre comes to me — I think Guardians of the Galaxy had just come out. There’s a moment in the first episode where your friend Loader Bot can explode, and it’s based on a player choice. Pierre comes to me and says, “I don’t think we should let Loader Bot die.” I’m just like, “Well, okay. We’re 36, 48 hours away from this thing going live, what are you talking about? That choice is there.” And he said, “I think we might be blowing up our Groot.” Tales from the Borderlands: The Oral History (By Duncan Fyfe) Duncan Fyfe tells the story of how Tales From the Borderlands came to be from his interviews with Telltale and Gearbox staff members. "We would send renderings of Superman, and we would get images back from Warner Bros. with his crotch area circled, 'Make this part bigger; make this part smaller.' This went on for months." Superman Returns: What went wrong (By Matt Paprocki) Matt Paprocki learns what the development of a failed Superman Returns game was like. "Mass Effect: Andromeda was in development for five years, but by most accounts, BioWare built the bulk of the game in less than 18 months. This is the story of what happened." The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda's Troubled Five-Year Development (By Jason Schreier) Jason Schreier looks into the troubled development of Mass Effect Andromeda, the original ideas behind the game, cut elements, a team spread across the world, and how most of the game was made in 18 months despite the five year development. "While there are dozens of perspectives on whether or not EA’s decision to axe the studio was justified, many who worked at the studio say they couldn’t see this ending any other way. “Honestly, it was a mercy killing,” said one former Visceral employee. “It had nothing to do with whether it was gonna be single player. I don’t think it had anything to do with that. That game never could’ve been good and come out.” The Collapse Of Visceral's Ambitious Star Wars Game (By Jason Schreier) Schreier looks into the closing of Visceral studio by talking to former Visceral developers and looking at studio responses, industry trends, issues with Star Wars being owned by another company, Amy Hennig’s role in the company, embracing poor decisions to impress fans and executives, problems with adapting the game engine for a new genre, problems with studio size and division, the immense scope of the project seeming more like a fever dream to some, the history of Visceral's recent projects, and how their Star Wars game partly began life as an open world pirate game. If you liked his articles looking into studio and game development, Jason also released an excellent book this year looking into the development of 10 different games Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. "Infocom believed that what Meretzky had created was more than just a game – it was a piece of interactive literature. To stress the seriousness of its ambitions, they held a press conference for A Mind Forever Voyaging's release at the New York Public Library. Meretzky himself desperately wanted to see the game's pointed message spark some real controversy. "I was hoping I'd get dragged in front of a congressional committee," he says." Flashback: How 'A Mind Forever Voyaging' Took Aim at Right-Wing Politics (By Chris Baker) Chris Baker writes about the development of 80s text adventures, focusing on a classic 1985 game that offered social commentary at a time when games weren't thought to be capable of that, and on how the game inspired the writers of stories like Rogue One, Book of Eli, Telltale's The Walking Dead, and Her Story. "Big Bang Bar's creation is a story of pinball's near death, of one man's attempt to become a piece of pinball history, of bankruptcy, of obsession, of short-lived redemption and personal disaster." When pigs flew: The strange history of Capcom's Big Bang Bar (By Brian Crecente) Brian Crecente writes about the history of Capcom with pinball machines and attempts to find a long lost table and the man behind its creation. "So, when it came to games that weren’t Ultima Origin had had to content themselves with projects one notch down from the top tier — projects which, whether because they weren’t flashy enough or were just too nichey, weren’t of huge interest to the bigger publishers. Those brought in enough revenue to justify their existence but not much more, and thus Robert Garriott continued to bet the company every two years on his brother’s latest Ultima. It was a nerve-wracking way to live. And then, in 1990, all that changed practically overnight. This article and the one that follows will tell the story of how the house that Ultima built found itself with an even bigger franchise on its hands." From Squadron to Wingleader and From Wingleader to Wing Commander (By Jimmy Maher) Jimmy Maher looks at some of the history of Origin Systems, the hiring and early work of Chris Roberts, and the people and ideas behind the creation of the game that would rival Ultima, Wing Commander. "At one point he said: 'I hope you appreciate that this is the last time any of you will be able to work on games in this way. The industry is changing.'" Death or Glory: How 1997 Changed Video Games Forever (By Keith Stuart) Keith Stuart looks at the way the game industry changed in 1997, the games that were released, the changes made by companies and developers, and losing old habits and freedoms in order to embrace the future. "There was a lot of internal criticism about deducting so much life gauge with one attack. SNK management said this design had to be changed, but I thought it was very interesting to have players fight under the risk and fear of fighting with weapons and feel the destructive force of the sword, so I ignored them and kept it in the game." The making of Samurai Shodown (By James Mielke) James Mielke interviews three of the developers of Samurai Shodown and talks about how the game came to be and the ideas behind it. "They didn't know it at the time, but the members of Naughty Dog in that room — Kurosaki, Rafei and co-founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin — were looking at the system that would host the team's next game: Crash Bandicoot. They were seeing the console their company would eventually create the unofficial mascot for — the console they would develop Naughty Dog's first smash hit for. It was Kurosaki and Rafei's second day with the company." Crash Bandicoot: An oral history (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester speaks to creators of Crash Bandicoot, a game that helped redefine platformers and that helped to turn Naughty Dog into the studio they are today. "My mandate to re-envision and redesign The Oregon Trail was almost overwhelming at first—the possibilities were endless, yet I had to get it absolutely right on the first release. For 13 years, from 1971 to 1984, the OREGON game had remained essentially unchanged. A few small details had been tweaked along the way, but never had the product been completely re-imagined and redesigned. Never had the underlying models been changed—the structures, algorithms, and assumptions upon which the game is based. For the very first time, we were going to throw out everything—including all of the existing software programming, which dated back to 1971—and start completely from scratch." I Designed The Oregon Trail, You Have Died of Dysentery (By R. Philip Bouchard) R. Philip Bouchard on the history of The Oregon Trail, the original text 1971 version, and changes that were made and that weren't able to be included in the newer version that would be designed for a home market instead of a school market. "Sadly, it's here the story takes a darker turn and we come to the crux of why Whittaker's achievements have gone unsung for so long. "There were issues with my name, because my christened name is Jane," he explains. "I was asked to use a male name on titles, because at the time if you were doing a macho shooting game it was thought that a female name would downgrade the brand. My dad came up with the idea of using Andrew - I think he got as far as A in a book of names and got bored. So most of my games went out as Andrew Whittaker to avoid advertising these gender issues to the outside world." Threats, fake names and philanthropy: The untold story of Jane Whittaker (By James Batchelor) James Batchelor tells the history of developer Jane Whittaker, who moved to America to work with Atari at 16, and why he was told to use a fake name for most of his career as he worked on a large number of popular and influential games. "I remember when I left [the company, right before Underground was released], I sent [Joel an] email and was like, "Hey, Joel. Can we have a chat?" He said, "Yeah, come to the office." So I went to the office and I walked in. He had both feet on the table. He had a revolver in his hand and he spun the barrel, like flicked it in, pointed the gun at me and then said, "So you're quitting, huh?" …I had this speech worked out in my head, but how do you get over that?" From Busted Teeth to Broken TVs: The Oral History of Tony Hawk's Underground (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester talks to the development team behind Tony Hawk's Underground covering topics that include the ideas behind the game's creation, the culture of the studio, working with pro skateboarders, Activision forgoing their normal greenlight process, and how they did it in under a year. Writing On Games Articles on the games themselves, effects they had on the industry, the stories they tell, how gameplay is used, deeper meanings of titles, etc. "The point is, the moment is scripted in such a way that you can’t get past the officer, and the only way to progress is to hit him. But players don’t spend time to figure out what to do next, they just do it. Because the level made players go past their breaking point just like the whole situation made Emile go past breaking point." How Valiant Hearts drives you to the breaking point (By Stanislav Costiuc) Stanislav Costiuc writes about one of the most memorable levels and moments in Valiant Hearts and how the mechanics put you in the mindset of the protagonist. "The true evil in Night in the Woods is both rampant capitalism itself and the hate that is so easily fueled when people become disenfranchised as infrastructures collapse and jobs dry up. And Night in the Woods is so fiercely, justifiably angry at these things." What Lies Beneath: On the Love and Anger of Night in the Woods (By Carolyn Petit) "Infinite Fall’s Night in the Woods poignantly and sympathetically captures the human scale of the widening millennial vs baby boomer gap. Setting aside stats and diatribes, it explores the messy, awkward nature of a paradigm shift that lives under the same roof, shares the same blood, and harbors the same deep familial love and frustration for one another." The Human Cost of the Millennial Generation Gap in Night in the Woods (By Jess Joho) "Because its too soft to say I disagree with the notion that the last acts of NitW are out of place: the truth is I think the supernaturalism of the game is as crucial as any moment in the narrative. It cements the message of the game by prefacing the structurally crucial epilogue with this severe moment of politically charged unreality, a moment that ultimately leads the reader to conclude with Mae that as long as nothing is real or rational or fair, the best we can manage is to hang on to individual moments of social connectivity." The Monster at the End of Capitalism (By Trevor Strunk) I've probably read more articles on Night in the Woods than on any other game this year, some of the best pieces I've seen have been Carolyn Petit's on the fierce and justifiable anger of the game, Jess Joho's on the generational themes of Night in the Woods, and Trevor Strunk's on the supernatural elements that appeared in the late game and why they work. "NieR, and its strange mom Drakengard, are series that accomplish this a lot: affect physical feeling in some way. Their mastermind is a masked man named Yoko Taro who loves beer and who wants Square-Enix to hire him. Mainly, he wants to surprise us players with our own feelings by reminding us they’re still in there, somewhere." Yoko Taro: Weird feelings for weird people (By Ruben Ferdinand) Ruben Ferdinand looks at the characters and themes of Yoko Taro's games and how the main thing we learn from them are the roles of violence and silence. "As S.R. Holiwell explains in A Maze of Muderscapes, Metroid II is ultimately a game about genocide. It’s a singular minded push into the territory of an indigenous species to wipe out a lifeform that has been designated a threat to the galaxy, despite their inability to escape their native planet. Everything about the game contributes to that: the hostile, painful soundscapes, the restrictive corridors, and the counter that makes a permanent space on your HUD, counting down the number of Metroids left alive on the planet. AM2R retains none of that, replacing every aspect with elements that imitate the blueprint of Super Metroid." Picture in a Frame (By Amr Al-Aaser) Amr Al-Aaser on how we talk about games, how we frame and describe them in ways that can cause us to fail to understand what an individual game says and does on its own terms. Amr uses the recent fan remake of Metroid 2 as an example for how the game completely changed the tone and narrative of the original, if you are interested in the topic of tonal changes that AM2R and Metroid Returns made to Metroid 2, Mark Brown did a video looking at all three games. "That’s where the extraordinary Nier: Automata comes in. This is a game that, in its own way, takes a long, hard look at the same forces of hatred, prejudice and fear that Geralt speaks about in The Witcher 3, and grimly acknowledges how tragically destructive they are. And then, in the end, when everything seems to be lost and it appears as if ignorance, fear, and hatred have all but devoured every last glimmer of hope and life and love, the game does something truly extraordinary." Contained in Our Moments: Ignorance and Love in Nier: Automata and The Witcher 3 (By Carolyn Petit) Carolyn Petit on the expressions of emotion in The Witcher 3 and Nier Automata and Nier's more hopeful tone compared to Geralt's world weary cynicism in combating violence and ignorance. "Horizon is inspiring because it doesn’t boast about humanity being worth saving, it doesn’t put hope on a pedestal. Instead it deals with reality, it says mortality is coming and we’ve fucked up." Horizon: Zero Dawn and the beauty of annihilation (By Tauriq Moosa) Tauriq Moosa on how Horizon Zero Dawn was inspiring to him and how, in dealing with reality, it makes him want to be a better person. "But she definitely helps, and I’m glad she’s here, because if Breath of the Wild fills me with hope and excitement for the worlds that action-adventure games may create in years to come, then Horizon Zero Dawn makes me a little more optimistic about who might populate those worlds, and the heroes who may rise to save them." Children of the Earth: The Limits of Link and the Promise of Aloy (By Carolyn Petit) Carolyn Petit looks at what games in the future can learn from the world of Breath of the Wild and the characters of Horizon Zero Dawn. "Quadrilateral Cowboy is built on relationships that are recognizable, that can be mapped to real life, even though the setting is in many ways fantastical. It's based on an idea of closeness not as a sudden thing or as an object of extreme drama, but as a slowly germinating process in which people's lives and spaces blur into one another. And in portraying friendship so effectively, it highlights how rare those relationships are in game narratives." 'Quadrilateral Cowboy' Points to a Different Kind of Intimacy in Games (By Bruno Dias) Bruno Dias writes about game's struggle with intimacy and how Quadrilateral Cowboy's story is built on recognizable relationships. "While the situations are often overblown and bizarre, there's something at their core that still feels grounded in the era's reality: furors over hot new game releases and technology, youthful rebellion against boring corporate life, and the excitement that celebrities and media would create." 'Yakuza 0' is A Postcard from Another Time (By Heidi Kemps) Heidi Kemps explores how Yakuza 0 acts as a postcard from 1980s Japan. "That’s the thing with fictional violence—it’s never actually representative of real violence, but instead serves as a dramatic and thematic tool to convey a feeling or idea. This plays a large part into what makes the recent video game Yakuza 0 so compelling—it takes the traditional violence of crime fiction and repurposes that into this wider idea of constructive resistance." The Transformative Violence of Yakuza 0 (By Patrick Larose) Patrick Larose on the framing of violence in Yakuza 0 and how it can be channeled into a reconstructive force. "This is how these games convey the purpose of taverns as interstitial spaces between the mundane and fantastic. In the Torment games, bars mean finding reflection and escapism amidst confusing worlds so vastly different than our own, yet with characters so strikingly resonant when given the chance to unwind. Speaking with characters, learning about their pasts and their cultures, what this place means to them, is valued alongside the protagonists’ player guided self-discovery." Hold my Beer — Why the Torment Games Have the Best Video Game Bars (By Dakota Joyce) Dakota Joyce on how simple taverns end up having some of the more interesting moments in two games with the most fantastical settings. "Especially in these dark days, the warmth and humanity of Sareh’s depiction is a much needed point of light. As a protagonist-like figure, she neatly expresses a theme endemic to all of Tacoma: that even in a grim, dystopian future, there is always hope to be found in the way people manage to simply survive." Opinion: In praise of Tacoma's character Sareh Hasmadi (By Katherine Cross) Katherine Cross on the portrayal and humanity of Tacoma's character Sareh Hasmadi. "If a game about Egypt's history, released in 2017, is to say anything about its setting, taking aim at the abuses of power that have oppressed its population for millennia seems more than appropriate." How Assassin's Creed Origins Captures the Politics, Colonialism, and Betrayal of the Real Ancient Egypt (By Reid McCarter) Reid McCarter on how, by diving into the past, Origin shows insight on the history of Egypt and the modern world. "The men are forced to deal with the bodies that society would typically let them ignore, watching them break down around them." Wolfenstein 2 and Mending Broken Things (By Brendan Keogh) Brendan Keogh on how Wolfenstein is about the fragility of two types of bodies that underpin Western values, what it takes for them to fall apart, and giving form to emotions that capture the current atmosphere. "Whatever we may spend our time doing, who doesn’t want to do that? And when it comes to a medium like video games, where developers are crafting interactive future visions that can sell to millions, which creators don’t have a touch of the obsessive about them?" Gore as Art in The Evil Within 2 (By Richard Stanton) Richard Stanton on The Evil Within 2 antagonists Stefano Valentini. "It’s an odd, ill-fitting note in a game that filled me with a strange sort of grief, because it is the moment I could feel a culture’s connection to the recent past growing weaker and fainter. The grim, driven men of this story have a coldly distant, heroic quality to them that belongs more to myth than history. It reminded me that my grandfathers with all their flaws and frailties are both gone, and so is my grandmother with her shoebox full of small, fading Victory Mail letters, a War Department telegram, and photos of her one trip outside the United States, to a military cemetery in France." Watching History Fade Away in 'Call of Duty: WWII' (By Rob Zacny) Rob Zacny on the fading memory of WWII and the portrayal of the war in Call of Duty WWII and other media that have helped us replace the truth of the past with myth. Game Design Articles that focus on game design and the ideas and process behind them "Game designers work with and for the human mind; we have to consider human experience, perception and our mindset when we are at play. Whenever you choose to play, you likely want the game to feel internally consistent enough that you can buy into the experience. You're able to go along for the ride if the game feels like it makes sense." Games aren’t always fair, the magic lies in making you think they are (By Jennifer Scheurle) Jennifer Scheurle's article on her twitter thread where she asked developers to talk about game mechanics that are hidden from players, reading this can help you understand the kinds of things developers have to do and think about in order to create an enjoyable game. "For Robert Yang, a game designer and professor at NYU Game Center, this prioritization is a natural outcome of the unchecked biases that lie behind the 3D technology that powers modern gaming. "When 3D artists test their new skin shaders, they often use a 3D head scan of a white guy named Lee Perry-Smith," he notes. "What does it mean if we're all judging the quality of our skin shader solutions by seeing who can make the best rendered white guy?" Black Skin Is Still A Radical Concept in Video Games (By Yussef Cole and Tanya DePass) Yussef Cole And Tanya DePass on how the technology behind film and games were never created with darker skin tones in mind. "That’s where glitches come in. The competitive community has always had a strained relationship with them, preferring to rely on skill instead of exploit a mistake. But they’re often the best way to push a game to its limits. Sometimes, these discoveries even have the potential to make the game more balanced." Finding Beauty in the Weirdest Fighting Game Glitches (By Ian Walker) Ian Walker writes about fighting game glitches, how some ended up helping to balance games, how they lead to popular mechanics, and how they have impacted the course of the entire genre. "If you work on [a] game that includes a little bit of yourself — in [the] form of an Easter egg — you treat it more personally, and you care more. It becomes your game, not only a game that you happen to be working on," says Katarzyna Tarnacka, a concept artist at Polish developer Techland. "And I think a similar thing applies to the players. When I find Easter eggs in other games, then those games become special. It's a real human touch that I can sense." The costs of developing Easter eggs (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester looks at the work that goes into adding easter eggs in games and the situations that can lead to their creation. "I have a firmly-held belief that to honor a medium, and for it to grow, you have to do what it does that no other media can do. When I look at what games can do that other media can't, I instantly go right to the immersive sim. That sort of real-time you are there, nothing stands between you and belief that you're in an alternate world, that is something that I guess LARPing gets a little close to, and D&D gets pretty darn close to, but we're the first mainstream medium that can actually do that. And the immersive sim is the perfect way to do it." Working In the Game Industry Articles focused on what it is like to work in the game industry or in fields connected to the game industry. "Along with my friend and photographer, Levi Ryman, I spent a month between February and March of this year in my Ford Escape traveling 9,000 miles across the United States and back, visiting families, communities and developers in an effort to create a scrapbook of sorts, full of stories and profiles showing what it's like for developers across the United States to create games. What I learned is that, just as no two people are the same, no two games are made the same way. Everyone we visited had a different story about how their location and the people around them has influenced the way they work and the games they put out." A month on the road: My indie developer road trip (By Blake Hester) Blake Hester spent a month traveling around the United States to learn the stories of developers and how their lives and games are influenced by where they live. "I wrote one of the first stories about Blizzard Entertainment, when they were known as Chaos Studios. They sold their company for a very small amount of money these days, $7 million or something, to Davidson and Associates, but went on to be very successful. The president of Blizzard recently said to me, “Thank you for 25 years of good coverage.” It’s this guy, Mike Morhaime. I covered Brian Fargo of Interplay, and still cover him today. He’s about to retire. I’m not quite ready to do that." A life in game journalism (By Dean Takahashi) Dean Takahashi writes about his life and experiences as a game journalist and the events that got him to where he is today. "There can be a conflict when talking about what it’s like to be a woman in the industry, and how to balance being honest with how bad it can be, but also wanting to be encouraging. Most of the women I spoke to had their eyes firmly forward, looking toward the future." Women in Video Game Development in 2017: A Snapshot (By Lucy O'Brien) Lucy O'Brien interviewed 55 developers about the moments that influenced their career paths, educational institutions and the way games are marketed turning people away from development or not informing them about the kind of careers available, social stigmas and workplace conduct that prevent people from joining the industry or that causes veterans to leave it, and communities that help support and offer new opportunists. "A living legend was talking about what a great job that Soliani did, and in response, his eyes welled up with tears. He stood up, waved awkwardly, and tried not to completely break down in front of the theater of people." This E3 Was All About Men Crying Onstage, And That Is Wonderful (By Cameron Kunzelman) Cameron Kunzelman covers how game development can be an emotional experience and how that was shown at this year's E3. "Jason Brassard, owner of Trade N Games in Fenton, Mo., gives the same five-to-10-year timeframe. "I don't think this industry, in retail, is left in 10 years," he says. "… No, not in the least bit. I mean, there will be some collectibles, but paying two employees who work full time and paying a few thousand in rent, nah. No way. Not a chance." What it costs to run an independent video game store (By Matt Leone) Matt Leone looks at the costs of running independent game stores by talking to people who have done it through the 80s to modern times and talks to them about adapting to changing times, store policies and how they did and do business, and the future of retail gaming stores. "It's not farfetched to suggest that the implementation of the ACA in 2010 played a large role in the 'boom' of independent game studios." Game Developers Speak Up in the Face of Obamacare Repeal and More Stories of How Obamacare Has Affected Game Developers (By Joseph Knoop) Joseph Knoop talks to developers about the negative effects the ACA repeal can have on the industry, getting stories from those that needed to be hospitalized, hearing about the ways the repeal can end the careers of women, and how developers can be prevented from leaving larger studios to pursue their own passion projects. "As an independent video game developer, The Chinese Room lives by the seat of its pants. It is the same for so many across the video game world. If money's not coming in, you can't pay the bills. That's why developers often spend as much time pitching projects as they do building games. If there's nothing coming next, it could be hard to keep the lights on - possibly impossible." The doors close on The Chinese Room - for now (By Wesley Yin-Poole) Wesley Yin-Poole on the closure of the studio The Chinese Room and the struggles faced by independent developers. "I did a public talk a couple weeks ago to a room full of all ages kids, and afterwards, a kid came up to me and was talking about stuff. And I shit you not, this kid (somewhere between 13-16 I'd guess) starts talking about how bad devs are because of a youtuber he watches. He nailed all the points, "bad engines", "being greedy", you name it. I was appalled. I did my best to tell him that all those things people freak out about are normal and have justifications. I hope I got through a bit. But I expect he went back to consuming toxic culture via youtube personalities, and one day he'll probably harass a dev over nonsense." Game Designer Says Developers Would Be More Candid If Gamer Culture Wasn't So Toxic (Twitter thread by Charles Randall and write up by ‏Jason Schreier) Charles Randall‏ writes a thread on Twitter about what keeps developers from being more candid about the way games are made. "In that same vein, if I didn’t want to be banned from Steam, I shouldn’t have made You Must be 18 or Older to Enter. The logic follows. If the game had monsters, or violence, or death, or used other traditional horror aspects over childhood curiosity, it probably wouldn’t have been banned from Steam." The Fun is Over, We Have to Get Serious about Games (By James Cox) James Cox talks about the need to stop treating certain subjects in games as jokes, his game being wrongly classified as porn and removed from Steam, and the cycle created by distribution platforms, streamers, and Youtubers that influence gaming culture and makes developing or even having the language to talk about new and unique experiences difficult. Life and Games Articles on the meaning that games can have for people, connections they help create, and why they matter. "I grinned, and halfway through my amusement I suddenly realised that while my mother could read up on the games news, there was another language that my mother did not speak: the language of games. For all her enthusiasm and knowledge of the medium, she had never once held a controller, or booted up a video game. We had been talking about games, the business, the people, and the stories and moments that impacted me for almost a decade, and my mother had nodded along understanding everything but the heart of it: the games themselves." Mom, 'Final Fantasy' and the Language of Gaming (Rami Ismail) Rami Ismail on teaching the language of gaming and a year spent gaming with his mom. "With his beloved science fiction novels to the right of the desk and a view of the garden stretching from behind his computer screen, Stephen would become enveloped first in The Flame In The Flood and then in Firewatch. At the age of 63, Stephen, recently retired, rekindled a passion that had been with him since the early '80s." The 63-Year-Old Retiree Who Broke A Game Looking for The End of the World (By Lewis Gordon) Lewis Gordon writes about how The Flame In the Flood and Firewatch helped a man rekindle an old passion. "It’s hard to say exactly how many women feel burdened by the responsibilities of motherhood, but from anecdotal experience I’d say it’s not uncommon. And yet we don’t feel comfortable expressing it, as if somehow, by admitting our infallibility, we’re no longer capable at all. Life is messy, yet nothing short of perfection is enough. To be a mother is to agonize over every decision, to accuse yourself of selfishness for having basic needs. Every second spent on anything other than your child comes with an extra side of shame. “If only I’d been more attentive” becomes the answer to every perceived failure. It always seems as though the second you look away, that’s when everything will go wrong. For Karen, it did." How I Finally Found A Mom I Can Identify With—In A Videogame (By Holly Green) Holly Green writes about motherhood and finding a mother she can identify with in the game Through the Woods. "Everyone I talked to for this story had one thing in common: games. Sometimes video games, sometimes tabletop games. But what bound them together was a sense of being thrust into the shadows of society, forced to hide themselves, and finding solace, hope, and even careers in games. While they waited for the world to change, they embraced games." Undocumented Immigrants Describe Life Under DACA, and How Games Helped Them (By Patrick Klepek) Patrick Klepek talks to DACA immigrants about how games helped them and their desire to work in and their current contributions to the game industry. "History has a habit of repeating itself when people forget, you see, but are videogames the right place to remind us? They’re bigger than any other entertainment medium, after all, but often the medium with the least to say." Videogames’ portrayal of the Holocaust does a disservice to both players and victims (By Kirk McKeand) Kirk McKeand talks to Jewish game industry veterans on the portrayal of Nazis and the holocaust in video games, covering topics such as how pop culture influences the appearance of Nazis in media, the way games ignore certain topics, and the portrayal of similar topics in indie and lesser known titles. "The hero’s own voice may be crafting a narrative to be used against them, via events and recordings that they don’t remember or maybe never made in the first place. While trapped in this location, surrounded by infinite void on all sides, the main character must either reject the horrific mistakes of their past as outright lies or accept their sins, making amends or choosing to lean into the power and freedom of their new role as the villain. This is also how it feels to be bipolar. I know that now, because I was diagnosed while I was playing the game." When the Void Stares Back: Prey, Post-Humanism and Mental Illness (By Brock Wilbur) Brock Wilbur writes about playing as an unreliable narrator in Prey and the ability to be one in your own life. "In part, Neo Japan Games has become a mini-power plant. A generator which Robles has been running daily since re-opening the store 14 days after the storm makes it an oasis of sorts." In Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico, This Used Game Store Is A Welcome Escape (By Ethan Gach) Ethan Gach on how a used game store serves as a refuge as the population attempts to rebuild. Game Industry Abroad Articles covering the game industry of different countries, mostly focused on the ones that we don't often associate with video games, or covering how the industry is growing and effecting people and places worldwide. "Secret gaming networks entwine utility lines, broadcast from rooftops and piggy-back phone cables over highways. Speakeasy arcades can be found in many Havana neighborhoods, locked away behind closed doors. Blocked by two governments, U.S. video games — normally priced in the U.S. at more than a Cuban makes in a month — are as inexpensive as they are ubiquitous in Cuba’s thriving black market. And the people who play these games are just as passionate about making them, writing about them, competing in them. This is a new generation of Cubans; raised on illicit video gaming, born to love everything those games offer from the ability to create interactive, moving art, to gaming’s deep social roots and frenetic sense of play." Cuba: Where underground arcades, secret networks and piracy are a way of life (By Brian Crecente) Brian Crecente gives a detailed look at gaming culture in Cuba in a series of 12 articles covering piracy, esports, development, secret networks and arcades, and more. "And yet, innovation within China is not dead. Thanks to the recent success of digital marketplaces like Steam and itch.io which sit outside the Chinese government’s scrutiny, in combination with the increasing accessibility of game-making tools like Unity and RPG Maker, local developers are pushing back against the stereotypical depictions of China in video games. By telling personal, human stories, these developers want to show the world that Chinese culture is so much more than Kung Fu and red dragons." Why It's So Hard To Make Games In China (By Matt Sayer) Matt Sayer on the game industry of China and difficulty of developing games there. "Clearly, no one pays for content in Pakistan; everything is pirated," he says. "So I looked at the biggest spenders in the space, and one of the bigger spenders in Pakistani cricket is Pepsi. So I contacted the marketing company who handles their account." What it’s like making games in Pakistan (By Basim Usmani) Basim Usamani looks at the game industry of Pakistan and how a small team of developers turned there game into a financial success when most things are pirated. "According to Overwatch lore, D.va is a pro gamer who serves and inspires her country. In real life, D.va’s role is starting to mirror her in-game persona, as she becomes a symbol of hope for women in South Korea." D.va From Overwatch Has Become A Symbol of Hope In Real Life (By Nico Deyo) Nico Deyo talks about how Overwatch's pro Korean gamer D.Va is used as a symbol for female gamers in Korea. "In Seoul, where corporate-sponsored teams live in gaming houses and play in front of packed arenas, the top players are all men. The scandal swirling around Geguri felt like a tipping point. She was a unicorn, and people didn't believe she was real." Game: Interrupted (By Mina Kimes) Mina Kimes writes about the culture and esports scene of Korea and interviews a player that became a reluctant icon for other female gamers after her talent got her accused of cheating. “A huge chunk of the world gets disqualified over factors they can’t control, and this game company didn’t take the effort to think about how their supposed attempts at diversity actually backfired. If they’re already fucking up this way, how do you expect them to respond to the travel ban? Preemptively ban people from applying for jobs there? Closing down offices elsewhere? Only taking in super local people? Options that are actually legal and viable get thrown by the wayside.” How Trump's Travel Ban Impacts the Games Industry (By Holly Green and Creatrix Tiara) Holly Green writes about how immigration, passports, and travel bans have impacted the life of one developer. "The first obstacle to PC gaming's growth is a simple one: very few people own PCs in Japan. But there's much more to it than that. There's the challenge of using Steam in Japanese. There's the frequent need for a champion—sometimes a single person in a huge company—to boldly fight for a PC port. There's the long history of 'doujin' fan games in Japan and a struggling indie scene finally beginning to find its footing. There's a genetic predisposition to motion sickness that turns Japanese gamers away from first-person games. And there's 7-Eleven." How Japan learned to love PC gaming again (By Wes Fenlon) Wes Fenlon on how PC gaming has started to make a comeback in Japan. "July 2017 marked the first annual Tehran Game Convention. It felt like an event that had been refined over years. It was strikingly well organized, hosted 2300 attendees, and featured speakers from 14 countries covering a range of topics from scalable game servers (Ashkan Saeedi Mazdeh), to expanding existing universes (Rayna Anderson), to meaning and ethics in games (Wolfgang Walk), to applying game design techniques to understanding mental illness (David Baron). The games industry in Iran is well-established and sophisticated." Making Games in Tehran: A massive market, disconnected (By Brie Code) Brie Code attends the first game convention in Tehran and gives details about their growing game industry. Game Archiving “If it’s preserved, and if it’s accessible to the public, I hope writers, researchers, and historians will find those little gems, talk about it, and rewrite history,” he said. The history of games that’s commonly spread around—in the beginning, there was Space Invaders, which begat Pac-Man, which begat Mario—might be the history of the most successful products, but it’s not the history of the most influential art. “When you’re talking about art, you forget that it sold one million copies,” he says. “The history of video games that I’m reading every day on the internet everywhere is not the history I know. And is not the history as it was back in time.” Saving Japan's Games (By Chris Kohler) Chris Kohler writes about the Game Preservation Society, which is dedicated to the research and preservation of Japanese games. Chris covers why games and their associated materials is important to preserve, the history of the man who started the organization, how preservation is handled, the history of older computers, and the culture and laws of Japan that can make preservation efforts difficult. Localization "Released that May in North America, Vagrant Story was a significant step forward for English localization. A taut, lean story of dark medieval intrigue and magic, it was a game with a depth of language still uncommonly used to this day. I recently had the opportunity to interview localization editor Richard Amtower and famous translator Alexander O. Smith over email on their breakthrough early work in the field and to reflect on the rise of localization as a craft that truly mattered." "Make it Biblical:" How Vagrant Story Changed Game Localization (By John Learned) "One day in the late 1990s, Myria walked into the Irvine High School computer room and spotted a boy playing Final Fantasy V. There were two unusual things about this. The first was that Final Fantasy V had not actually come out in the United States. To play the 1992 Japanese game in English, you’d have to download a ROM, then install the unofficial fan translation patch that had recently begun circulating the internet. Myria knew about this patch because of the other unusual thing: she helped make it." How Three Kids With No Experience Beat Square And Translated Final Fantasy V Into English (By Jason Schreier) Jason Schreier tells the story of the kids that translated Final Fantasy V before Square and did a better job of it. He looks at how they got started, the influence of the translation, and at how the work was done. "Why do fans of JRPG giants assume Japanese writers can't write?" Persona 5: Phantoms of Translation and Persona 5's translation is a black mark on a brilliant game (By Connor Krammer) Connor Krammer created a website to explain some of the translations issues with Persona 5, give examples of a variety of problems, and to answer questions about localization and possible critiques of his observations. This was followed that up with a freelance article on Eurogamer where he talks about Persona 5 and localization. Krammer later wrote two threads on Twitter about some accusations and harassment that he had received after creating his site, which can be read here and here. Stories From Games Apart from the stories told by games there are the stories players create with them “Samantha Myth has shown me the dangers of trust, but also the power of friendship,” Tikktokk writes in a Reddit post updating everyone on the situation. “Long term friends can stab you in the back at any moment without reason or consequences. At the same time, those who have the opportunity to, but choose not, have proven [themselves] to be true friends who I hope to keep in contact with long after EVE Online shuts down.” How a scam in EVE Online turned into its greatest rescue mission Meet the most honest man in EVE Online How an EVE Online con artist tricked a ruthless pirate into giving him his priceless ship How one mistake turned EVE Online's deadliest hunters into corpses (By Steven Messner) Steven Messner has been keeping PCGamer readers updated with some of the stories from EVE Online over the last two years and these are some of the most entertaining ones from 2017. "I was there, embedded within an armada of more than 1,000 ships known as the Premonition Allied Coalition, or the PAC. They were there to defend a fictional character named Salomé, the invention of a science fiction author. Arrayed against them were the most deadly player-controlled fleets in the entire Milky Way galaxy." Elite: Dangerous' 3,000-player battle royale (By Charlie Hall) Charlie Hall covers the story of how Harry Potter's betrayal would influence the future of Elite Dangerous. "As Allison's corpse sank, so too did my chance at finding love." I was drugged, forced to sing, and accused of murder in one night on an Ark roleplaying server (By Steven Messner) Steven Messner sings, tries to find love, and causes a dinosaur stampede on an Ark roleplay server.
  13. Completed: Yakuza 0 Platform: PS4 Good story that makes the antagonist of the first Yakuza more meaningful and gives backstory for the creation of a major landmark in future titles. Two of the best characters in gaming as main characters badass, entertaining, funny, and often two of the best depictions of positive masculinity in media. Good depiction of the time with entertaining references. Two of the best scenes I've seen in a game. Both characters have four different combat styles to switch between. Good variety of side activities. Good side missions with some introducing future characters. Time wasting elements that cause you to walk back and forth between areas, cause you to wait around for money, and some actives like Majima's cabaret can take up too much time.
  14. This Week In Gaming 1-9-18

    Leonardo Da Sidci on Hellblade and Living with Psychosis, developers and writers reflect on games from 2017, IGN fires Editor-In-Chief for misconduct, Intel responds to security issue as their CEO sells 40 million in shares before disclosure, gameplay of Ni No Kuni 2, Noclip interviews Harvey Smith about Dishonored and Prey devs on the difficulty of creating immersive sims, Laura Dale on the way Finding Paradise explores childhood trauma, why Insomniac blew up the moon, original design ideas for the first Age of Empires, preview of Pillars of Eternity 2, preview of the Tomb King DLC for Total War Warhammer 2, how Detention uses its historical foundation as its source of horror, Total War Thrones of Britannia footage, and more. Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods) Ni No Kuni 2 shows off its new RTS skirmishes and traditional role-playing The Messenger takes Ninja Gaiden on a cross-generational journey Hellbound horror game Agony teases ghastly Red Goddess Tackling an ancient curse and an angry titan in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Metal Gear Survive: 5 Minutes of Single-Player Gameplay Looks like what would happen if MGSV had actually made any use of its mechanics. Science is messy and cloning's unlimited in twin-stick shooter Beacon Hands on with Phantom Doctrine The strategy games of 2018 STRATEGY GAMER'S GUIDE TO 2018 Monster Hunter: World trailer introduces the Elder Dragons Rogue Legacy Creator's Next Game Is A Co-op Brawler Celeste is a mountain-climbing platformer from the makers of TowerFall The Mercury Man looks like Blade Runner with Russian health nuts Omensight is a time-looping action game about solving a murder 2D post-apocalyptic adventure Skytorn will return, dev says Take a first look at asymmetrical PvP zombie shooter Dead Dozen in action Total War: Thrones of Britannia presents Alfred the Great in new footage and screens The Red Strings Club is a cyberpunk game about underdogs and weirdos Binding of Isaac dev delays turn-based puzzle RPG Legend of Bum-bo Why Warhammer 2's Tomb Kings are Total War's strangest faction yet Total War: Warhammer 2 Tomb Kings guide: Dynasties, the Mortuary Cult, and free units Injustice 2 adds Enchantress next week, watch her magic destroy opponents in new trailer Smite unveils new Conquest map, Cerberus god, incoming pantheons Georgia are coming to Civilization 6, and their Golden Ages are twice as strong PUBG to let players report cheaters directly from replay mode, new crate system on test servers Lawbreakers' publishers have written it off, and they blame PUBG Gravity Rush 2 Players Race To Unlock Items Ahead Of Server Shutdown Intel responds to security research bug, says no cause for concern Intel CEO sold $39 million in company shares prior to disclosure of CPU security flaws IGN Fires Editor-In-Chief For 'Alleged Misconduct' YouTube is playing favorites, and it all comes down to advertisers YouTuber Leaves Smosh Games After Sexual Assault Allegations Popular puzzle game from Zachtronics rejected by digital store but developer unable to share details Star Citizen devs file motion to dismiss Crytek lawsuit Rebellion acquires SkySaga: Infinite Isles studio Radiant Worlds Why Insomniac blew up the moon 5.9 million PS4 consoles sold during 2017 Christmas period Yogscast's Humble Jingle Jam Bundle raises $5.2 million for charity Poundmaker Cree Nation leader criticizes Cree portrayal in Civilization 6 Spain cuts €2M in indie game funding Esports News Valve Removes Tournament's Major Status Because It Will Require Drug Testing StarCraft Players Forced To Re-Do Matches After Tournament Gets Seeded Wrong A Pocket Of Passionate Players Is The Only Thing Keeping Competitive ARMS Alive Every Overwatch League match is coming to Twitch Spanish Political Party Registers an Esports Legislation Proposal in Congress Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc) Polygon’s Year in Review: here’s how it works The warning of Edith Finch: what we love is killing us Super Mario Odyssey is fun to learn and pointless to master What future artificial intelligence will think of our puny human video games A video game that doesn’t click until you let go of the controller — and your need to win Nier: Automata’s robots remind us that being human isn’t as great as it’s cracked up to be “The least-worst idea we had”—The creation of the Age of Empires empire How zombie plague RTS They Are Billions went viral How killing permadeath in Darkwood led deeper into the forest How the Endless series reimagined the 4X strategy genre How devs and fans are coming together to rebuild Neverwinter Nights What goes into creating a memorable soundtrack? 10 of the best PC game mechanics from 2017 Even the Bleakest Horror Games End More Hopefully than 'Detention' Does How Yakuza's City Changes From Game To Game Finding Paradise Explores How Childhood Trauma Can Echo Through Our Lives 'Assassin's Creed' Would Be a Better Series Without The Sci-Fi Garbage Hellblade and Living with Psychosis | Sidcourse Deus Ex to Dishonored (Harvey Smith) - Noclip Sessions Prey & Immersive Sim Design (Ricardo Bare & Raphael Colantonio) - Noclip Sessions How Games Use Feedback Loops | Game Maker’s Toolkit Off Camera Secrets | Metal Gear Solid - Boundary Break Featuring David Hayter Things I found entertaining throughout the week relating to the game industry Crypt of the Necrodancer artist gets engaged through his own game This Aliens-themed Planet Coaster ride is incredible Things I Missed From Previous Weeks “I’d like PUBG to become a universal media franchise,” CH Kim, the CEO of PUBG Corp.