June was a great month for me personally, as I finally launched the Studio Tectorum website as part of finishing up the commercial version of Anoxic Depths.
Andreas Papathanasis's The Tech Arms Race in AAA revisits the question of what makes a digital game a game, concluding that it's not the incremental development of technology that's easy to quantify (photorealistic 3D rendering, high fidelity audio and animation) and instead the harder to qualify aspects of design. I find myself fighting the temptation to go down this technical path everytime I start a new project, in part because programming is fun and there's so much to learn, but also because I remember how important it was for the games I played to use 100% of the hardware years ago. Jonathan Blow's talk Programming Aesthetics Learned from Making Independent Games nicely complements this article.
Miya Tokumitsu's explanation of Why we Should Listen to Frank Lloyd Wright is relevant for developers who consider themselves artisans and strive for a hand-crafted feel in their work. When I heard that Braid used eight different sprites for its main creature and that Blow had originally wanted each creature to be unique, I suddenly understood why Braid's art took so long and debated whether or not such detail actually improved the game.
Jeff Vogel's Age, Pleasing Apple, and Trying to Climb Out of the Hole was worth reading especially as a much-less-accomplished and aging game developer.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Hidden Treasures investigates how genre readers stopped being well read. Previously, Rusch has discussed how authors in general disappear from a publishing perspective; here, she provides context on how library funding, bookstores, and distributors contribute.
Blake Reynold's Indie Artist Struggles with Branding so you Don't Have To was worth reading as someone with little background in graphic design or branding and shows how Reynolds moved to turn Auro into a brand.
Gamasutra's article on Quantic Foundry's recent survey of 1,127 players stated that "the majority of players surveyed (66%) agreed or strongly agreed that video games need to be more inclusive in terms of both gender and ethnicity". Quantic Foundry's original report breaks this down, with 58% of men and 81% of women agreeing or strongly agreeing. The standard deviation for the question is tied for the third highest (1.20) with "the quality of video games has been declining over the past decade" and "video games nowadays are too dumbed down and casual". It's also the question with the biggest difference between men and women, and there's almost no correlation between age and holding the opinion.
I've recently started Alchemist Atelier Marie (マリーのアトリエ) GB. I haven't played any of the Atelier series of games, but I'm enjoying its approach to character development, crafting, and growth. Marie is tasked with teaching alchemy to a fairy over four years. Within the city, you directly control Marie and interact with the townspeople, craft, and accept jobs; you then indirectly control the sprite's adventuring beyond the city walls to fight and gather reagents. It's nice not to be saving the world or trying to fetch a MacGuffin, at least not yet.