Marginalia is an eclectic compilation of links tailored for game developers. Links contributed by Doug Wilson, Amanda Lange and Robert Yang. The cost of high-end game art, AAA development as R&D and how to transform noughts and crosses into an interesting game.

Our Suggestions

Amanda Lange suggests “Cubes vs Space Marines: Making a Great Game in Your Basement” by Jeff Berry. Amanda adds, “I’d love to get more exposure for this insightful article about the cost of high-end game art for indie devs.”

Joel Goodwin suggests “Recommended Reading” by Chris DeLeon (h/t Thomas Grip). Looking for some more book suggestions for your game development shelf?

Robert Yang suggests “The Last of Us Art Dump” by Rogelio Olguin. Robert writes, “At a popular 3D game artist forum called Polycount: a Naughty Dog environment artist who worked on The Last of Us, Rogelio Olguin, talks about their environment construction process. He discusses this shift in AAA art workflows, from focusing on individual art assets to thinking more holistically about how shaders, lighting, and art direction work together. You might think that expensive photorealistic 3D doesn’t matter to indies, but it’s actually pretty relevant because AAA is our R&D division; they invest in research and technology, but use it in the most straightforward way possible… it takes indies, appropriating these workflows and tools, to actually explore and unleash what this stuff can do.”

Joel Goodwin suggests “The Red Herring of Real-Life Landmarks” by Ben Serviss (h/t Adrian Chmielarz). Each week, Serviss serves up an interesting snippet on game design. In this piece, he explains the emotional resonance promised by utilising real-life landmarks is unlikely to be realised in practice.

Amanda Lange suggests “Mike Bithell Talks Thomas Was Alone at Dev Night” from Cipher Prime’s Dev Night interview series. From the interview: “Originally I was thinking that the story would be told by text overlaying a world, perhaps projections of text on a wall. This turned out to be much harder than I expected, and I realized that I was either editing the text to fit the level, or the level to fit the text. So I decided to do a voice-over instead.”

Doug Wilson suggests “Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe” by Ben Orlin. An example of taking a boring, well-known game to create something far more complex and interesting.

Amanda Lange suggests “How can I make my games more inclusive?” by Daniel Cook. From the article: “One of my favorite class of systems that encourage the growth of sub-cultures is the authoring tool. If you look at Game Maker, RPG Maker and Twine, they are all systems that give smaller groups the power to make the play space their own. How do you turn your game into an authoring tool in the broadest possible sense of the term?”

Joel Goodwin suggests “Infidel” by Jimmy Maher. Yet another of Maher’s extensively researched trips down memory lane, this one captures an interesting moment in 1983 when Infocom faced a minor player revolt over the ending of their title Infidel. The conflict of player agency vs authored narrative was identified much earlier in the development of videogames than you might have realised.

The Saturday Paper

Michael Cook writes The Saturday Paper, which explores academic papers related to game development.

  • Words, Sounds and Pegasi This entry covers three papers which are pretty awesome. One creates metaphors, another creates “computer generated soundscape composition” from text input and the last looks at generating new fictional concepts.

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