FOR A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF GAME DESIGN
Blisters on your fingers and controllers worn out? Then it’s time to take a breather from our indie game recommendations. This is the occasion to get behind the scenes of the video game and see how they work, with the following selection for budding gamers and designers.
Game Developers Conference
Held annually in San Francisco, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) has been a key industry event for the past 30 years, bringing together developers from all over the world. For professionals only, the event includes independent studios – notably at the Independent Games Festival – but also prestigious and exciting guest speakers such as Hideo Kojima, Yoko Taro and Cory Barlog. Many of their talks, which combine tech expertise, craftsmanship and game design – gold mines for better understanding game development – are available on GDC’s YouTube channel.
If so many amateur critics have chosen YouTube as their platform (Dailymotion for the older crowd) – it is probably because video is the best format for illustrating and expressing their experience as players. They inject a great variety of reasonably knowledgeable opinions into the game networks, but among these, the voice of PsEuDoLeSs, a hidden brain child of the dismantled Nolife channel, stands out. An uncontested expert on Japanese games, he excels at examining them in new contexts and his critical approach to the most recent has revealed flaws in their systems.
Member of our Indie Game Contest jury in 2018, Doc Géraud is one of the most influential figures of the French indie-game industry. His Un pas fragile took home the Pégases award for Best First Game and he’s documented its creation and editing process from A to Z on his YouTube channel. Doc Géraud has also launched Game Anatomy, a collection of videos that analyses the mechanisms of a video game (level design, the notion of fun, how to guide the player). He’s currently working on a new game, Buissons, and at the same time documenting each phase of its development, tacking the inherent issues of designing a game alone, without the benefit of a team.
Game Maker’s Toolkit
For the last six years, Mark Brown has come up with some fascinating studies on his YouTube channel, Game Maker’s Toolkit. Aimed at both industry professionals and amateurs, the former journalist focuses on specific points of game design, such as what makes good AI, randomness in games of chance or the difficulties of placing a virtual camera. Then, using concrete examples he examines how these have been applied in recent works. He’s also created Boss Keys, a series of video studies of the dungeons in The Legend of Zelda games. His brilliant infographics renders the complexity of a level designer’s work accessible to beginners.
To close on a lighter note, let’s take a look at Bobdunga. In a retro-nostalgia trip of the 1990s, Bobdunga explores the forgotten features that describe the game world back then. PC games pulled out of cereal boxes, extravagant TV commercials and playing games in the waiting room at the doctors. Although amateurish in some respects, the Bobdunga channel is a breath of fresh air that exudes authenticity, enthusiasm and fun.