Recommended Reading: Of Vanille and Pinball

It’s that time again, time for another Recommended Reading; where we compile a bunch of interesting articles about the industry that are, in our opinion, definitely worth your time. These could be interesting developer blogs, or articles from independent, industry or corporate blogs, you’ll just have to read on to find out.

Well, here we are, the transitional day at the end of the week. It”s been a busy one, with both CES, and the Mass Effect news it wrought, and -of course- Nintendo’s Switch. Both of those will definitely be echoing through the news what with the implications of the hardware on show, and the impending March releases for the Switch and Mass Effect.

But, that’s not what RR is about, so lets crack on with the good stuff.

Georgia Van Cuylenburg -FFXIII’s Vanille- On Abuse Following the Role and more (Stevivor)

I found this interview to be a really interesting read because I wasn’t aware of some of the negative reactions that some people involved in voice acting had received. We hear about producers, directors, and PR teams being targeted by fans who feel disappointed with the product, however to target somebody who simply -well, not, but you know what I mean- lent their voice to a pre-written script seems absolutely bizarre.

There’s also a really interesting part late in the interview where Georgia talks about Australians in the job role, as well as touching on the rise of Twitch-proven voice actors.

Accidental Crowdmarketing by Mark Media on Shuyan Saga (IndieDB)

MarkMedia, the developer’s behind Shuyan, spent some time discussing the effect of adding native Chinese as a language to their Greenlight title. Their title actually jumped from 1000~ yes votes from 2000~ viewers up to 2400~ votes from 4000~ viewers in two days following the addition of the language and the subsequent media spread the game saw as a result.

I, personally, find this fascinating because Greenlight campaigns are regularly pocked with calls for Brazillian, Portuguese, Chinese and Russian translations, as well as Linux ports. While we know that Linux OS only make up for 0.8% of Steam client installations surveyed, we don’t know the language spread – and, frankly, even 0.8% of the massive Steam community is enough to deem a game a success or a failure.

Todd Harris, COO of Hi-Rez Studios on Community (WWG)

More of a watch than a read, but definitely worth a watch. The team over at WWG caught up with Hi-Rez’ COO at their Expo, and had a little chat about the future of the company, as well as the community surrounding the title.

It’s definitely that latter part that sticks out, Todd states that he was earlier speaking to a fan who had travelled over from Israel just to see the event following enjoying it last year.

Moments like that are important in games, it’s easy to look at the industry and laugh as it regularly tears itself apart, but really it only exists because people play those games, and the fact that people are willing to travel half the world for something they believe in is -when it all comes down to it- indicative of the positive power it can have.

VR Success with Job Simulator from Owlchemy Labs – (Owlchemy Blog)

VR is a very young market, and while Sony have managed to bring it into the front room for some of their audience, it’s still far too early to call it a success or failure.

This Owlchemy Labs press release -yeah, sorry, we do try and filter those out here- details that the Texas studio has made three million dollars in sales since the game launched, which can certainly be taken as a good sign for the technology.

That said, the technology is fast moving, just because the hardware is validated doesn’t mean that it’s anything like what we’ll be using in five years. In addition to this, the technology won’t go widespread within gaming until it is intrinsically tied into AAA development – and three million bucks doesn’t come close to the budget of the games we are talking about here.

Still, it’s moving, albeit not as fast as some others might have hoped. Crytek, who shifted to free-to-play and VR development projects some time back, have been waning of late; if the audience was larger for VR they might not have been in this predicament.

“We set out to make this trilogy. We can’t leave the story unfinished.” John Watson of Stoic on finishing up the Banner Saga (

This is an amazing read on the subject of ambition, with the game originally being intended as one, but being split into three; as well as marketing, with the developers accidentally retreating too far during the development of the second; and on dividing up a title, with the boss at the end of the first title intended to be climatic in-fact being so hard that a mass of players (half) didn’t actually finish the final fight.

How Designers Engineer Luck Into Video Games – Simon Parkin (

While I’m sure most of us have read plenty into the machinations of manipulative gaming, and that we’re all well aware of MMO, FPS, and match-three game’s habits of rapid-firing quick wins at us so that we stay incentivised – because who doesn’t want to be a winner? However, I think this is the best discussion on the actual mechanics of adapting what should be luck based games to the players favour.

Game difficulty is always a hot topic, with Roguelikes, colony builders, and titles like Dark Souls, priding themselves on the journey to getting better at the game; on the other hand you have the eternal struggle of the tutorial, a humble idea to bring players up to at least entry level so that you can start beating them up.

What really made me feature this on the list however, was the fact that pinball came into the discussion. I occasionally fall victim to pinball’s lures, specifically computer based ones which can handle advanced stories/quests/missions, and am fascinated at the strange combination of physics, luck, and player-timing that can lead to high scores.

That’s all for this time on Recommended Reading, but we’ll be back, same time, same place, for some more in a week’s time.

In the meantime, if there’s any good reading (or viewing) you think we’ve missed, why not share it in the comments below?

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