Bluwords of the Week

bluwords week 2

This week’s highlights include the making of a Hearthstone card, a couple of neat Horizon: Zero Dawn video pieces, and behind the scenes on seminal 2D fighting game Samurai Shodown. The rise of ‘creators making interesting content about their own games, especially in video form’ is something I’m really starting to note and enjoy. (This week – Hearthstone, Runescape, Horizon: Zero Dawn, & more.)

This makes sense, especially since some of these games make a lot of money and third-party options for making money covering those titles are way trickier. Obviously, there’s mixed feelings about this – is the only way you can cover games in-depth in the future as part of an embedded team funded by the game’s creators? But there are also counter-examples like the excellent Spelunky making-of video posted by Danny O’Dwyer’s Noclip below. So maybe a mix of sources will be just fine, absolutists out there!

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With Scorpio rising, Phil Spencer looks to the future of Xbox

Alex Wawro / Gamasutra

“Here then is a rundown (edited for clarity) of our conversation with Spencer about everything from Microsoft’s VR plans to the future of the game console business, and how Project Scorpio represents an attempt at “learning from some of our PC heritage.””

The Runescape Documentary – 15 Years Of Runescape

Jagex / Runescape / YouTube

“[good to see companies documenting their own history, even with the inherent rose-tinted glasses that might bring in – we still get SOME good historical context.]”

Tim Schafer Talks Shyness, Comebacks and Being Asked Not to Touch George Lucas

Chris Suellentrop / Glixel

“During an hourlong conversation, Schafer talked to Glixel about his reputation as a project manager at LucasArts, his career-long fight for creative independence, and the troubled development of Psychonauts, followed by the game’s remarkable staying power.”

A Chat With a Live Streamer is Yours, For A Price

Laura Parker / New York Times

“Andre Rebelo, a 24-year-old YouTube streamer from Vancouver, British Columbia, live-streamed himself playing the game Grand Theft Auto V on his YouTube channel, Typical Gamer, in mid-January. This time, he added something different for his audience.”

Building Non-Linear Narratives in Horizon: Zero Dawn

Leszek Szczepanski / GDC / YouTube

“In this 2017 session, Guerrilla Games’ Leszek Szczepanski explains how Guerrilla Games tackled sidequests and open-world activities in Horizon: Zero Dawn, by creating a quest system which has non-linearity at its base.”

From GoldenEye To Yooka-Laylee: Grant Kirkhope Reflects On His Career

Zak Wojnar / Game Informer

“If you’ve been a gamer for any length of time, Grant Kirkhope’s tunes have probably been stuck in your head at some point. His music defined some of the Nintendo 64’s greatest games, such as GoldenEye and Banjo-Kazooie – the latter being the direct inspiration for his latest project, Playtonic’s Yooka-Laylee.”

The Making of Samurai Shodown

James Mielke / Polygon

“With SNK in a bit of a revival at the moment, we went on a quest to track down some of the original Samurai gumi team members and learn more about the origins of the Samurai Shodown series. A chance conversation at Tokyo Game Show 2016 put us in touch with Yasushi Adachi, the original series creator.”

Ironsights: A Big Buck Hunter Mini-Documentary

Twitch Creative / Twitch

“The 22-minute story follows Sara Erlandson, Wisconsin bar owner turned Big Buck phenom and Twitch streamer, as she travels from her hometown of Beldenville to the World Championship in Austin, Texas.”

The Socialist Surrealist Oikospiel Has a Wild Vision for the Future of Videogame Labor

Daniel Fries / Paste

“Oikospiel, the new experimental game from David Kanaga and Ferdinand Ramallo, wants to make sure you’re paying attention. It doesn’t want you to get wrapped up in its story or relax and have fun playing a game. It’s constantly trying to jar you out of any trance or flow state.”

Everything I Said Was Wrong: Why Indie Is Different Now

Liz England, Lisa Brown, Rami Ismail / GDC / YouTube

“In this 2017 GDC session, Ubisoft’s Liz England, indie designer Lisa Brown, and Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail break down why some of their older advice for starting indie developers hasn’t held up, how they’d update that advice, and how developers can better think about giving advice to each other and interpret advice.”

Snake Pass and the unexplored territory of the game controller

Philippa Warr / RockPaperShotgun

“The way the input feels is intended to be a part of the whole experience – to the point where Liese was lobbying to ship without a mouse and keyboard option at one point because they hadn’t found one which adequately expressed the same physical elements of playing.”

Clark Tank plays: Northgard!

Brace Yourself Games / YouTube

“I’m veteran indie game developer Ryan Clark, and this is the Clark Tank! Every second Friday at 1pm Pacific time we stay on top of the latest game industry trends by examining the Steam top 50, scrutinizing the latest Kickstarted games, and by playing the most prominent recent releases. [Love Ryan’s Twitch stream, and this is an experimental edited-down version of a recent stream, xposted to YouTube.]”

Doom (2016): To Hell and Back

David Craddock / Shacknews

“Marty Stratton knew a good sound when he heard it. He had studied commercial music composition at University of Denver and, with bachelor degree in hand, had headed out west in 1995 determined to land a job in the entertainment industry. [this is a GIGANTIC, almost book-length piece, and very well done.]”

The stray dogs of The Silver Case

Gareth Damian Martin / Eurogamer

“For Goichi Suda, those murders would begin a fascination with grotesque crimes that would reappear throughout his career. He was still at developer Human Entertainment at the time, but only a year later, Suda, eager to pursue new ideas, set up his own studio: Grasshopper Manufacture.”

Behind the Card | Amara: Warden of Hope

Blizzard / YouTube

“Peek behind the curtains to see what went into creating the cards Awaken the Makers and Amara, Warden of Hope. [more deep dive content created by the team making the game – in this case Hearthstone!]”

The first decade of augmented reality

Ben Evans / Ben-Evans.com

“In February 2006, Jeff Han gave a demo of an experimental ‘multitouch’ interface, as a ‘TED’ talk. I’ve embedded the video below. Watching this today, the things he shows seems pretty banal – every $50 Android phone does this! – and yet the audience, mostly relatively sophisticated and tech-focused people, gasps and applauds.”

How emergent AI encounters can be beautiful in The Signal from Tolva

Bryant Francis / Gamasutra

“The Signal from Tolva, which comes from the creators of Sir, You Are Being Hunted, is yet another game about science-fiction robots from UK developer Big Robot. And while creative director Jim Rossignol told us yesterday on the Gamasutra Twitch Channel that’s partly because it’s easier to animate beings that don’t have facial animations, he also said it’s because there’s something beautiful about what happens when you program groups of A.I to have their own missions. [they’re doing a lot more live Twitch chats with devs recently on Gamasutra – here’s a good example!]

From hacker to Valve and back again

Brian Crecente / Polygon

“Before co-founding her own augmented reality headset company, Jeri Ellsworth was a technology chameleon, finding niches in electronics and mechanics, mastering them and helping redefine how they worked.”

Horizon Zero Dawn – Neil Druckmann Interviews Hermen Hulst

PlayStation / YouTube

“Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann sat down with Guerrilla Games managing director Hermen Hulst to discuss the studio’s shift away from Killzone, and the long process of bringing Horizon Zero Dawn to life.”

Gaming under socialism

Paolo Pedercini / Molleindustria

“But the question of what gaming would look like in a socialist world has haunted me for days. Not only because I’m a leftist and I care about games, but because of how it relates to many crucial issues of 21st century radicalism. [so Ivory Tower it hurts, but thought-provoking, fo sho.]”

How Steam brought shmups out of arcades and into a new PC renaissance

Matt Paprocki / PC Gamer

“How Steam and passionate fans pulled shoot-em-ups out of exile in Japanese arcades and back into the limelight.”

How Ninja Theory’s Canceled Co-op Game Led To Hellblade’s Bold Future

Ben Hanson / Game Informer

“With our new cover story on Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, we’ve shown off plenty of gameplay footage from Ninja Theory’s game. Today, the game’s creative director Tameem Antoniades explains more about how the talented studio arrived where they are today. [good honest video interview with Antoniades here on ‘the space between AAA and indie’.]”

Searching for the truth of a fake world at EVE Fanfest

Adam Smith / RockPaperShotgun

“Like many EVE players, he’d come to Fanfest, a gathering of hundreds of players, devs and press in Iceland, to represent his in-game character. People wear the insignia of their corporations and alliances, and chant those same names at presentations and pubs. As a spectacle, it’s fascinating, but it’s also confusing.”

Spelunky – Noclip Documentary

Danny O’Dwyer / Noclip / YouTube

“For almost a decade players have gleefully explored Spelunky’s refined brand of player discovery and emergent gameplay. In this documentary, we talk to the game’s creators about building the rules of its procedurally generated worlds.”

Our Picks

our-picks-2

This week’s writing allowed me to reflect on the way that gaming and life affect one another as well as how we look at games through time and space. I hope you enjoy what we’ve curated for you this week!

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From the Inside Out…

Just like any other form of media, video games help us parse our navigation through life.

Yoko Taro: Weird feelings for weird people

ZEAL – Medium

Ruben Ferdinand examines Yoko Taro’s execution of affect in the Drakenguard and Nier series.

Torment Tides of Numenera: Bastard Simulator

Gamechurch

Joshua Cauller uses the YOLO-esque nature of Torment Tides of Numenera to temporarily escape the major stressors in his life.

Shutting Off vs Shutting Out: On Lenses and Complacency (Trigger warning for sexual violence)

Not Your Mama’s Gamer

Jynx Boyne distinguishes setting aside a work’s harmful implications (shutting off) and completely denying them (shutting out).

Wicked Game

Real Life

Zach Budgor contemplates the concept of suffering in the artistic indie game Den vänstra handens stig.

Getting Good: An Introduction to the Becoming Machine Series

First Person Scholar

I promise this isn’t about the classic Internet insult; rather, Nick Taylor argues that “getting good” at video games transforms both the mind and body.

That said, proficiency with games does not just modify how and what we know about them. Proficiency is also an embodied process that works to shape our sensory abilities, our capacities for attention, and our propensities for proprioception – our awareness of our bodies’ internal workings. In other words, the process of getting good is one which alters not just our knowledge of the game — it transforms our bodies.

…To the Outside In

Economic and social structures and the infinite potential of technology have a major impact on our conceptualization of games.

It’s Time For YouTubers And Twitch Streamers To Organize

Kotaku

Cecilia D’Anastasio overviews the issues that online video content creators currently face and suggests how they can resolve them.

Don’t Use the Force, Luke—Use the Targeting Computer

The Atlantic

James Somers muses on the power of predictive programming, such as that used for chess, and speculates on its impact for the future.

Mercy Markets

Real Life

Alana Massey compares the competitive nature of crowdfunding for charity to the mechanics behind games in our daily lives.

Code of Conduct

Real Life

Daniel Joseph examines the growing importance of platforms for capitalism’s success as well as the expression of class struggle and control via code.

Spooky Action

Real Life

Linda Besner explores the distinction between magic and technology as well as how much of a distinction there actually is.

The fact that technology continues to feel like magic, even when we acknowledge its earthly origins, seems to suggest that the rational veneer over this aspect of our lives conceals a deep well of uncertainty — a fear that the hierarchy between ourselves and our devices may be less immutable than it appears.

Ghosts of the Living…

These pieces explore the concept of death in both real and fictional contexts.

“Breaking the Cycle in Nier: Automata,” by Reid McCarter

Bullet Points Monthly

(Major spoilers for Nier: Automata and the Ghost in the Shell manga/anime) Reid McCarter compares the plot of Nier: Automata to the Buddhist concepts of samsara and nirvana.

Exploring Death in ‘Nier‘ with Procedurally Generated Elegies

Waypoint

Janine Hawkins reports on the NierDeathExperience Twitter bot, which collects and generates Nier’s enigmatic death messages.

‘Sad When a Game Outlives a Player’: Memorials and Monuments in MMO Gaming

Play The Past

Josh Howard discusses memorials in MMO gaming and how game historians can record them.

Normally, if someone experiences loss in the “real world,” then most often family and friends will band together in the mourning process. In contrast, once a digital world closes then most outlets for healing are closed off excepting message boards and chat rooms, most of which offer a poor substitute. When a company closes a digital world it rips away the digital places of memory, memorial, and commemoration.

…and Ghosts of Nostalgia

Now that we have so many years separating us from our favorite classic games, we can look at them in a completely different light.

Yooka-Laylee Is Nostalgia Gone Wrong (Video)

Kotaku

Heather Alexandra argues that Yooka-Laylee’s downfall is its attachment to the negative features of the nostalgic games that influenced it.

‘PaRappa‘ is a Rhythm Game Relic Next to Newer Competition

Waypoint

In light of the recent remaster, Mike Diver reevaluates PaRappa the Rapper in the context of newer rhythm games.

Meet The Devs Who Made Indie Games on the Original Playstation

Waypoint

Jake Tucker interviews three developers who participated in the Playstation-era Net Yaroze indie development community.

Griffin

Something in the Direction of Exhibition

Vincent K. plays the 1991 shooter Griffin and ruminates on its portrayal of war and violence.

Abstraction, meanwhile, is something Griffin readily embraces. I never once remember the game giving me any context for my actions. I never found out who the enemy was, who I was, why we were fighting each other, the state of affairs prior to my entering the fray, etc.

Back to the Here and Now

After switching through all of these paradigms, let’s fall back to bare bones analysis of specific design elements in games.

Rock, Paper, Guard Breaks: a Mechanics Deep Dive Into For Honor

Gamasutra

Wesley Rockholz explains how For Honor’s mechanics both promote and obstruct a fair and balanced gameplay experience.

Color in Video Games: How to Choose a Palette

Gamasutra

Exactly what it says on the tin–Doug Stewart gives some tips and examples to help guide one’s choice of color for game design.

Architectural enemies and making the player blame themselves: the level design of Dead Mans Trail

Gamasutra

Chris Totten describes the thought processes behind level design in his game Dead Man’s Trail.

Conversation, Games, and You!

Gamasutra

Florencia Minuzzi stresses the importance of good dialogue in video games and provides some food for thought for designers creating their own.

Player Two: An Interview with Bela Messex

Invalid Memory

Miguel Penabella interviews Bela Messex about the influences behind his game Little Bug.

Light Souls — Why Zelda: Breath of the Wild Gets Open-World Design the Way Few Games Do

Outside Your Heaven

Matthew “Sajon” Weise relates The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s design to the series’ origins and the Japanese viewpoint on open world design.

Zelda 1 was meant to be a simulation of having a big backyard for kids who didn’t have one. And backyards don’t come with maps or tutorials. Life doesn’t either, which is what backyards are supposed to teach you.

7 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Playing Clash Royale

In a year, Clash Royale became one of the most famous mobile games in the world. In this article, the Deconstructor of Fun’s Michail Katkoff thoroughly explains through 7 points how Supercell managed to create a game compiling fun, addictiveness and frustration, and seduced such a big community of players.

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Since the launch in early 2016 Clash Royale has been downloaded close 200 million times and the game has generated around one billion dollars in in-app purchases alone. What’s also unique about Clash Royale is that it will likely bring more revenue than Clash of Clans over time. Just compare this to all of the King’s franchise games, which tend perform dramatically worse than their predecessors.

As I’ve said before, in my opinion, Clash Royale is the best game ever made for touchscreen devices. Sure, I’ve quit and uninstalled it more times than I can count. But I’ve also installed it more times than I’ve deleted it. This post is derived out of my addiction to the game and it analyzes in details the elements that keep us hooked to this masterpiece.

  1. The Updates

Just when you think you had enough of this pocket-sized emotional rollercoaster also known as Clash Royale, they come up with a new update that introduces new cards. Cards that for sure will take you over the current trophy hump. At least that’s what you make yourself believe.

Barring the infamous Tournaments update back in July 2016, which saw Clash Royale plummet to its all-time low revenue, the bi-monthly updates of the game have ranged from good to extraordinary.

The goal of an update from the product perspective is quite simple: spend as little as possible time to increase engagement and monetization. To achieve this goal the game team analyzes both qualitative and quantitative data in addition to employing good old gut feeling. All this information is then used to create a sprint(s) that delivers additional content, new features, fixes, tweaks, and polishes to the game.

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by Michail Katkoff

Continue reading

Our Picks

Bluword picks 1

Think back to games of the late 1990s; what did they teach you about games that you now take for granted? This week, critics reflected on how genres from the past affect the work they do today.

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Abandoned theme parks

The release of Yooka-Laylee, an homage to early 3D platformers, has some critics reflecting on a genre that was formative for writers and designers alike.

The strange, timeless appeal of early 3D platformers

Eurogamer.net

Keith Stuart manages to highlight a lot about what made a fleeting genre formative, not just in terms of style or nostalgia, but in terms of its practical application as a starting point for designers.

‘Yooka-Laylee’ is Breaking My Damned Heart

Waypoint

Danielle Riendeau finds the recent spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie lacking, for example, the original’s imaginative use of verticality.

“Walking into say, Freezeazy Peak in Banjo-Kazooie, I was dazzled by scale. The disparate zones in Tooie‘s WitchyWorld all felt like parts of a shitty (intentionally so) theme park. The same game’s Gruntilda Industries feels massive and dense by the standards of any 3D platformer. I’ve yet to find a world in Yooka-Laylee that conveys half of the sense of wonder or depth I got from the earlier games.”

Strata

Cross-cultural landscapes and spatial manifestations of market capitalism are explored here by some intrepid critics.

Scoring Video Games at the Flea Market

Waypoint

Yussef Cole shares a memory about childhood innocence meeting market economics.

The Empty Lot | Yakuza Zero

Heterotopias

Zach Budgor examines the objectifying spatial regimes of a red light district.

Symbols and Strata | Rain World

Heterotopias

Chris Priestman finds something beyond orientalism in one game’s use of cyberpunk imagery and East Asian motifs.

“What we get to see, in these dioramas, are conquered civilizations becoming the physical foundations for others. It’s a place built from accretion, with cities not only being built adjacent to each other, but also on top of another. What Rain World envisions is a world made from strata”

Bodies are the medium

Nier: Automata is provoking some dramatically diverse responses. Here I’ve coupled two pieces on the game with a more general article about the nature of subjectivity.

Waxing Nostalgic

Problem Machine

Problem Machine troubles the notion of objectivity from another angle: the act of (self-)observation itself changes the nature of what is being observed.

“Glory to Mankind,” by Ed Smith

Bullet Points Monthly

Ed Smith argues that Nier: Automata is misanthropic, nihilistic, and misses opportunities to embrace humanity’s complexities.

The Trouble with Bodies

First Person Scholar

Cayla Coats makes a compelling argument for reading Nier: Automata as a transgender narrative.

“The entire conflict of the game is one of problematic bodies. The Gestalts’ inability to control their corresponding Replicants signifies a collective anxiety and mistrust of anatomy—the fear of the physical self rebelling against the mental self. In this battle between Replicants and Gestalts, bodies are the medium of power. They are what’s at stake for either side.”

Appropriation machines

Two new perspectives on the treatment of marginalized voices in gaming demonstrate how little certain things have changed, but also how significant that lack of change is in light of technological and demographic transformations.

Precious Moments, Hype and High School: A Conversation with ‘Persona 5’ Director Katsura Hashino

Waypoint

Sayem Ahmed’s skillfully-handled interview highlighted problematic issues regarding gender in the latest cosmic high school melodrama.

“If you walk in someone else’s shoes, then you’ve taken their shoes”: empathy machines as appropriation machines

Radiator Blog

Robert Yang argues that chasing the sensation of empathy is not particularly virtuous, least of all in the venture-capital-funded playgrounds of virtual reality.

“The rhetoric of the empathy machine asks us to endorse technology without questioning the politics of its construction or who profits from it. Empathy is good, and VR facilitates empathy, so therefore VR is good — no questions please.”

Bluwords of the Week

bluwords week 1

This week’s highlights include the art behind Thimbleweed Park, the rise of RimWorld, and much, much more. So much good stuff out there – and I really enjoyed some of the more esoteric stories in this week’s set, including the piece on Tamagotchi collectors and the visually impaired Roguelike players. There are all kinds of unique, wonderful video game nerds under the sun, aren’t there?

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The Stress of Game Development – Tips for Survival

Extra Credits / YouTube

“Making games is hard. You need all kinds of technical and creative skills, but most importantly, you need to know how to manage the many kinds of stress that come with it.”

Game Design Deep Dive: Watch Dogs 2’s Invasion of Privacy missions

Christopher Dragert / Gamasutra

“In this article, I will describe some of the technical challenges and design decisions that drove development of the Invasion of Privacy feature in Watch Dogs 2. Areas of focus will include managing branching scenarios, motion capture challenges, controlling NPC state, maintaining dialog flow, and NPC coordination.”

Video Games Aren’t Addictive

Christopher J Ferguson & Patrick Markey / New York Times

“Is video game addiction a real thing? It’s certainly common to hear parents complain that their children are “addicted” to video games. Some researchers even claim that these games are comparable to illegal drugs in terms of their influence on the brain — that they are “digital heroin” (the neuroscientist Peter C. Whybrow) or “digital pharmakeia” (the neuroscientist Andrew Doan).”

The Job Simulator Postmortem

Alex Schwartz & Devin Reimer / GDC / YouTube

“In this 2017 postmortem, Owlchemy Labs’ Alexander Schwartz and Devin Reimer analyze the challenges of building, sharing, shipping, and sustaining Job Simulator on multiple platforms with examples showing both successful and less-than-successful design prototypes and how iteration led to the final product.”

The Underground World of Tamagotchi Collectors

Alyssa Bereznak / The Ringer

“On October 26 of last year, a user named “psychotama” made his first entry in what would become a detailed online diary, otherwise known as a “Tama log.” “I’m not quite sure how to begin,” he wrote in purple Comic Sans. “My journey with Tamagotchi began about 13 years ago.””

‘Make me think, make me move’: New Doom’s deceptively simple design

Kris Graft / Gamasutra

“Doom is known for its speed and straightforwardness – move fast, shoot demons. It’s a seemingly simple combination that, at the franchise’s best, evokes an ultraviolent cognitive flow. But Doom’s apparent simplicity belies a core design that is difficult to achieve.”

From ‘Zelda’ to ‘Witcher 3’: Why We’re Still Talking About ‘Skyrim’

Alex Kane / Glixel

“How Bethesda’s 2011 masterpiece – and the colossal online culture of fan art, memes, and music surrounding it – forever changed the game for fantasy RPGs.”

Precious Moments, Hype and High School: A Conversation with ‘Persona 5’ Director Katsura Hashino

Sayem Ahmed / Waypoint

“Hashino tells me that seeing the anticipation for the game build, as previously announced street dates passed and more information on the game crept out via the press, was both “encouraging and scary.””

How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons

Noam Scheiber / New York Times

“The company has undertaken an extraordinary experiment in behavioral science to subtly entice an independent work force to maximize its growth. [you may have seen this, but thought it particularly interesting that GDC board member Chelsea Howe was also quoted in here re: F2P-style coercive psychology evils.]”

Why games like ‘Super Mario 64’ had terrible cameras

Mike Rougeau / Mashable

“The camera is the interactive window through which we experience video games; the term describes not just our perspective and view of a digital space, but the freedom of or restrictions on how we as players control that viewpoint.”

A Year after Firewatch

Colin Campbell / Polygon

“With sales of more than a million copies, developer Campo Santo is now working on its next project: unannounced as yet. I sat down with writer Sean Vanaman to talk about the direction he wants to go in next, and how he feels about Firewatch one year after its launch.”

Kevin Horton Is a Cryogenics Engineer Turned Retro Gaming Savior

Nicholas DeLeon / Motherboard

“By day Horton, 43, is an engineer at a cryogenics company (he’s worked at the same company since high school). But online, he’s better known online as Kevtris (in reference to a Tetris clone he developed in the mid-1990s), where he is the brains behind a series of critical technological breakthroughs that allow gamers to play classic video games like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid on modern televisions.”

Interactive Fiction Appears at the Whitney Biennial

Chris Klimas / Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation

“The 2017 Whitney Biennial has something curious to offer fans of interactive fiction. Among the works shown this year are With Those We Love Alive and howling dogs, Twine works written by Charity Heartscape Porpentine. [short article, but great news, & the linked interview is also notable.]”

From Rational to Emotional: Designs that Increase Player Retention

Jim Brown / GDC / YouTube

“In this 2017 session, Epic’s Jim Brown provides specific examples of design techniques that encourage the formation of enduring emotional ties that could enhance both retention and enjoyment for players in game design.”

A Brief History Of Speedrunning

Kat Brewster / ReadOnlyMemory

“A good speedrun is hypnotising to watch – this goes for ones showcased at GDQ, or the ones which get circulated around the internet for their insane jumps or cutscene skips or lightning fast movement. They’re a dizzying show of hard won skill and palpable effort. The video of a world record time which knocks an hours-long campaign into minutes can be jaw-dropping.”

In Their War With The Wall Street Journal, Top YouTubers Just Played Themselves

Patricia Hernandez / Kotaku

“Over the last couple of weeks, anger has been bubbling on YouTube over the news that major brands pulled advertisements on the platform in an effort to avoid being matched with objectionable content. The reports, which were published by the Wall Street Journal, were met with such skepticism that they sparked scandalous conspiracy theories among YouTube’s top creators.”

After tragedy strikes, a dev’s friends strive to complete his game

Chris Priestman / Gamasutra

“Former Harmonix programmer Roger Morash had been working on his passion project, a co-op platformer called Shard, for years before he died in January of this year. ”

Inside the Shady World of PlayStation Network Account Resellers

Patrick Klepek / Waypoint

“A few weeks ago, Mic Fok got a weird email. The person writing it claimed they’d been playing Overwatch on a PlayStation Network account for more than six months, but the password had changed recently. But why would Fok know anything about this random dude’s account?”

(Not) a Thimbleweed Park review

Matej Jan / Retronator

“Thimbleweed Park started as a spiritual successor to Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. “It’s like opening a dusty old desk drawer and finding an undiscovered LucasArts adventure game you’ve never played before.” [mainly linking this for the amaaazing vintage Mark Ferrari art linked within, tho the whole thing is cute!]”

Playing roguelikes when you can’t see

Kent Sutherland / RockPaperShotgun

“For most of us, traditional roguelikes are intrinsically inaccessible. They’re notoriously difficult, their design is complicated and often opaque, they can have more hotkeys than there are keys on the keyboard, and their ASCII-based visuals mean that it’s often unclear what’s happening on the screen. It’s these exact qualities, however, that ironically make roguelikes accessible and even appealing to blind or low-sight players.”

The Game Beat Weekly: Digital Foundry and Microsoft make it “exclusive”

Kyle Orland / Tinyletter

“That kind of server-melting traffic shows why it would have been somewhat crazy for Eurogamer to turn down Microsoft’s invitation to see Scorpio up close at their Redmond headquarters last week. But agreeing to an exclusive of this magnitude also risks coming across as a mere mouthpiece for a company you’re supposed to be covering with a kind of detached objectivity.”

The Witness – Noclip Documentary

NoClip / YouTube

“What lies at the heart of Jonathan Blow’s island of mystery? We talk to the famed indie designer about how one of his earliest design ideas blossomed into The Witness.”

A Pioneer Story: How MECC Blazed New Trails

Joe Juba / Game Informer

“Decades ago, as computing migrated from research labs and universities and into the mainstream, one company in Minnesota was instrumental in bringing technology into classrooms. Thanks to its focused mission and talented staff, the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) used exceptional software like The Oregon Trail to engage and educate a generation of students – and establish an unforgettable legacy.”

Inside ‘RimWorld’, the Cult Sci-Fi Hit That Just Keeps Growing

Chris Priestman / Glixel

“Since its earliest public release on Steam Early Access in July, RimWorld – a sci-fi space colony sim – has amassed more than 600,000 players, and it’s not even a finished project.”

How to Create an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy

gaming marketing influencers

It’s not the first time we take a look to influencers, but they’re representing an important part of today’s marketing strategy. This article is purely marketing oriented, but many of the insights explained in the article can easily be transcript on gaming.

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In this overcrowded online world, you know it’s not easy to get your product in front of raving fans.

Sure, you can push a boulder up a hill. Marketers can brute force just about anything with enough resources behind them.

But is it worth the cost? Not money costs, but time costs too.

What if you could connect with someone who already has access to your customers? And what if access to those raving fans was a simple email away from a new world of opportunity?

Even better, this person has more than access to your customers. They’ve also built up the necessary trust to drive sales, fast.

These people are “influencers.” The art of growing your business by working with influencers is called influencer marketing.

Influencers are incredible people who have spent a lot of time building up a tribe based on connection and trust.

At the end of the day, she is a human, like you and me. But what she can do to grow your business is breathtakingly magical.

Consider this:

An ROI of 6.5:1On average, for every $1 invested in influencer marketing, businesses receive $6.50 in return.5.2x Purchase IntentTwitter reported a 5.2x increase in purchase intent when people were exposed to content from a brand and an influencer.49% Rely on Influencers49% of Twitter users say they rely on recommendations from Twitter influencers when making a buying decision.

In this guide, first you will discover if influencer marketing is right for your business. Then, you will learn how to align influencer marketing with your goals. Finally, you will learn how to find, qualify, and connect with influencers to scale your business.

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by Jason Quey

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Color in Video Games: How to Choose a Palette

color palette video games

This is no news, colors are a crucial point in video games. The author of this article, Doug Stewart who’s part of Kongregate’s design team as a front-end developer teach us how to use colors, when to use a particular palette, their meaning, etc… A complete and very interesting article.

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Color is one of the most powerful tools you have when you’re designing a game. Colors can be engaging, helping to direct your players to whatever you think is most important. It can also be used to give subtle clues about the characters and their world. When used properly, color sets the tone of a game, tells you where you are, and where you need to go.

But knowing where to start when creating a color palette can be difficult, so let’s break it down and go through this step by step.

A brief overview of color theory

Whether you intend it or not, the colors you choose have meaning and that meaning changes with context. The study of colors and how they are perceived goes back a very long time. Much of modern color theory comes from historical context and deep cultural significance. Being aware of this allows you to use colors to your advantage or to subvert your player’s biases entirely in new and creative ways.

Red: Strong emotions like love, lust, anger, as well as warmth.
Orange: Joy and enthusiasm as well as frustration or freshness.
Yellow: Happiness or cowardice.
Green: Nature, envy, sickness, or greed.
Blue: Calm, cold and corporate, or masculine.
Purple: Royal nobility, quality, and luxury.
Black: Mystery, evil, or grief.
White: Sincerity, good, cleanliness, holy, purity, or mourning.

Choosing a color scheme

Your game’s color scheme is a great way to set the tone and ambiance of the world your players will interact with. Which color scheme is right for your game really depends on what kind of experience you’re making and the story you’re trying to tell.

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by Doug Stewart

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Making Indie Game Art Without A Great Artist

good game art without artist

Being a small studio can be great to work while having fun, but it also can be tough if you don’t have all the resources you actually need, such as a good artist. In this article, the author explains how to make a good game art without necessarily having an artistic designer in the team through two case studies.

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My small 3-person company Nevercenter is pretty unusual – we make both games and the tools to make games (and have been doing so for over 13 years now!). We started out making a dedicated low-cost 3D modeler called Silo, which arose out of frustration in bigger 3D software packages at things as simple as how to select components on a 3D model or customize your mouse settings. On a whim, after having worked on Silo for a few years, we made the world’s first vintage photo app, which reached #1 on the iOS App Store when it first came out and gave us some time and money to finally try making our own games. This led to Shibuya, a puzzle arcade game we made that won a PAX 10 selection from Penny Arcade and an IGF Honorable Mention for Best Mobile Game. You could equally say our company lacks focus OR that we’re adventurous in trying different things!

The fact of the matter is, in terms of training and expertise we’re much better programmers and tool designers than we are artists, which puts us in a bind when making games ourselves. But this has made us think a lot about the following question: “How can non-artists like us make great art for games?” I’d like to show a couple of the methods we’ve used in our recent games (one of which motivated our latest tool, Pixelmash).

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by Thomas Plewe

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What the best games know that the rest don’t

games analytics player insights maximize monetization

Let’s have look to Isaac Roseboom presentation, Head of Insight at deltaDNA. Isaac highlights how successful games use analytics and player insights to maximize their monetization performances. You will find many hints here that will help you develop a successful economy for your game.

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Isaac Roseboom, Head of Insight at deltaDNA – Why do games struggle to monetize and how can analytics be utilized to drastically increase revenues and avoid common monetization pitfalls? In this talk, Isaac Roseboom, Head of Insight at deltaDNA, will demonstrate how successful games use analytics and player insights to best effect. He’ll look at the how they approach onboarding, drive first time purchase, and balance their game economy to maximize KPI performance. You will learn exactly what you need to do to successfully monetize a game and drive repeat spend.

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by Isaac Roseboom

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We’re thinking about games wrong

creating game knowing audience

This is an article from Nicholas Laborde, CEO of Raconteur Games, about why it’s important to know your audience when creating a game. Right after the release of a game he developed following a family loss, he received lots of positive reviews without expecting it at all. As a result, he explains that having a target audience is crucial to make a success.

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My name is Nicholas Laborde, and I believe that games can change the world.

I’m an indie “business guy” in Lafayette, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun culture. Here, we look at the world a little differently; whereas much of American culture can be defined as “live to work,” we in Lafayette are far more of a “work to live” culture.

But don’t let that dissuade you – we know that work is important. We simply look at things from the lens of what’s most important. Simply put, the Cajuns believe in devoting their lives to work worth doing, if and only if that work doesn’t compromise who we are (whether that means our values, our family lives, etc.).

I mention this cultural viewpoint because it has a genuinely profound influence on the way I run my company, on the way I do business, and of course, on the way that I make games – and it has led me to the conclusion that we’re designing games wrong.

In 2016, almost a year to the date of this article’s publication, I lost my grandfather. It hit me like a train that I had only truly just gotten to the age where I could maturely appreciate my loved ones, only for it to be too late to practice that appreciation. In my grieving, I decided to create Evangeline, a 20-minute experience designed for players to reach out to loved ones by the conclusion.

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by Nicholas Laborde

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