18 votes

Who are your favourite game developers?

So recently I’ve started getting into the back end of games and looking at the people behind the scenes and it’s got me to research different developers and their history and the games they have produced, so I’m wondering what are your favourite game developers and why?

59 comments

  1. [2]
    TheJorro
    (edited )
    Link
    Jordan Thomas Not well known since I think he shies away from all press and PR, but do you remember the orphanage level from Thief: Deadly Shadows? Or the Sander Cohen level from Bioshock? This is...

    Jordan Thomas

    Not well known since I think he shies away from all press and PR, but do you remember the orphanage level from Thief: Deadly Shadows? Or the Sander Cohen level from Bioshock? This is the guy behind those levels. The two most memorable levels of both games, Jordan Thomas may be one of the most talented level designers in all of gaming. He was also the creative director for Bioshock 2, a game which by all rights should have been a paltry sequel to Bioshock, but wasn't. Though not as good as the original, it was much better than I expected it to be, with a better ending sequence, and DLC is arguably the best moment of the entire Bioshock franchise.

    He's with a small studio named Question these days and they've been made a couple of fascinating smaller FPS titles.

    Hideo Kojima

    I've been closely following him since 2001 when I first played Metal Gear Solid 2 and that game redefined what I thought video games were. I literally had not played a video game that didn't have levels until MGS2—I remember thinking at some point during the part where you find Ames in the room full of hostages "hm, I wonder when I get to Level 3, because this level is really long." For those of you who played MGS2, you can imagine how much of a whiplash I got about what video games could be by the end of that game when I came into it with such a naivety.

    He hasn't really disappointed, even if his games have here and there (i.e. MGS4 and major aspects of MGSV). It's hard to talk about him these days because he's caught in the meme machine so everyone seems to have a rolodex of statements about him, his work, and how it all fits together. Also the guy has a strange fascination with sexuality and titillation which can come across in many different negative ways. Though I read it more as he lives in a different world on those matters than everyone else, his work doesn't even seem to have an analogue with other Japanese media that deal in sexuality and titillation.

    But I think it's part of why he's so interesting at the same time, he's been pushing boundaries and the envelope not just for how games are played but also what the content of games can be. Looking back, MGS2 might be the first game with a bisexual lens, where men are just as gazed upon as the women, if not moreso due to volume, and with plenty of homoerotic moments, around the same time period that "booth babes" and Playboy/FHM "shoots" of video game women were still a thing and men all had to be hulking, muscular Duke Nukem badass types.

    But the real reason I look forward to his work is how he approaches the idea of actually playing a game is so different from anyone else. He's not always interested in providing a simple and easy player experience, he seems far more interested in exploring how to craft interactions together with stories. I've called him a genius in this regard, and I stand by it. In MGS2 alone, he took advantage of pressure sensitive buttons to instill the idea that a player should have good trigger discipline otherwise they could accidentally fire their weapon when they didn't mean to (i.e. you pressed the Square button in a panic and fired). He also messed around with the Game Over screen and UI during a scene when the AI is breaking down as a form of foreshadowing for the twists to come so well, it actually scared some people into turning off the console or returning the game.

    When Death Stranding was nearing release, I told people that I was excited to play it but I had no idea if I'd like it. This is what I go to Kojima games for: a unique way of interacting with the game, the world, and the themes he is interested in exploring at the moment. I don't always enjoy his games but I enjoy his execution of interaction.

    Vince Zampella / Jason West

    Yeah, the Infinity Ward and Respawn guys. But, I believe more accurately, two of the most important names in FPS gaming history. Between their work on Medal of Honor, everything they did with Call of Duty (until their last one of MW2, after which Infinity Ward nosedived), and now the Titanfall games and Apex Legends, I believe these two have cemented their place in FPS gaming history with four of the most famous series' in the genre spanning a 20+ year career.

    They seem to have great minds for what it is about FPS games, and how players can directly control and move around in that space. Beyond just fun campaigns, the actual input mechanics of their games have been the gold standard for over 15 years now. Only Bungie can compete with the smooth, acrobatic sort of FPS control these guys have put into their games. Even if I don't always end up loving the end product (screw the Modern Warfare 2 writers and their 7th grade writing skills), I'll always keep my hands on the mouse and keyboard for one of their games.

    SWERY / Swery65

    Only because of one game: Deadly Premonition. I have no idea how or why such a game got made but it's the best example of "greater than the sum of its parts" in the entire medium. Every aspect of the game, except for its story, ranges from terrible to subpar: graphics, sound, menus, combat, mechanics, etc. Everything. On top of that, the story is basically an interpretation of Twin Peaks from the perspective of someone who didn't understand English so they filled in their own plot to the visuals on-screen. And it works extremely well, given the tone and atmosphere that Twin Peaks, and now Deadly Premonition, go for. It's full of wonderful twists and turns, and is full of characters you can't help but care about for all their weird cartoonishness in the middle of a horrific murder mystery because of their charm and humour. IGN US gave it a 2/10. Jim Sterling at Destructoid gave it a 10/10. The game apparently holds a Guinness World Record for "most polarizing survival horror game".

    It's a very low budget game, full of jank, rushed assets and animations, and barebones levels of polish to pass the console licensing checks. Why I'm so fascinated by SWERY is that he turned this into a strength, peppering nods to the fourth wall throughout the game to keep you interested with its absurd humour but retaining its emotionally intense story.

    Fr example, the game only has combat because the publisher got cold feet about a game without combat, so SWERY decided to almost literally tack combat on. Your character will literally walk into another room in a building, have this horrific nightmarish combat encounter, and then come out the other side of the room to join the other characters and doesn't acknowledge the combat encounter he just experienced. It is so minimally constructed that everyone recommends setting the game to Easy and just not worrying about it at all because the combat means that little. It's only in there because the publisher got cold feet about releasing a game without combat.

    Nothing about this game should work, but it comes together so damn well in ways that people are still writing thinkpieces to out what it is about this game that works so well when it has almost nothing going for it. Here's a spoiler-free cutscene from the game just to whet your appetite for how the game uses so little to do so many strange things at once.

    Likewise, one of my favourite moments in the game is when York, the main character, and the hotel's elderly owner are sitting on opposite sides of a Mr. Burns-length dining table. There is some background music in this cutscene, as there usually is. They realize they can't hear each other, so they both have to speak louder. But then the music gets louder. So the characters speak even louder. Then the music gets louder. It's such a cartoonish gag out of nowhere that I can't help but admire it.

    SWERY's other games haven't quite grabbed me like this one, and he's currently about to release the sequel to this as a Switch exclusive. I'm hoping this game wasn't lightning in a bottle for how impactful I found it, but it remains to be seen if SWERY is a one-hit wonder. I hope he isn't.

    Lucas Pope

    Papers, Please is one of the greatest arguments for games as art I can think of, and then so was the Return of the Obra Dinn. Back to back, Lucas Pope has delivered such unorthodox games that pack so much into the interactivity for the player that you can't help but get absorbed into his works.

    Papers, Please asks that you check passports, and you do. And everything that entails, from constantly changing rules, to sob stories, to coercion, to blackmail, to survival for yourself and your family. It's not just the trolley problem, it's so many moral dilemmas thrown at you at once. And you have to play it out. This isn't a mere good/evil choice that affects the tone of the voice over at the end. If you take that bribe, then you have to live with it.

    Obra Dinn sealed my interest in his work because it was completely unlike Papers, Please. Instead of a constant state of moral dilemma, Obra Dinn instead asks for patience, observation, and thought. You are an insurance adjustor and a ghost ship just rolled into port. Time to go and figure out what happened, so your employer can adequately pay out the insurance. You have to figure out what happened based on observations, memories, and deduction. It's a wonderful puzzle game that, again, puts everything on you and how intensely you interact with the game.

    Like Kojima, Pope has a real talent for using the interactivity of the medium to reinforce the themes he not only wants the player to pick up on, but actually live out.

    16 votes
    1. culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      I tried a couple times to watch Giant Bomb's endurance runs of Deadly Premonition and just could not at all understand why people were into it. This just made it click.

      On top of that, the story is basically an interpretation of Twin Peaks from the perspective of someone who didn't understand English so they filled in their own plot to the visuals on-screen.

      I tried a couple times to watch Giant Bomb's endurance runs of Deadly Premonition and just could not at all understand why people were into it. This just made it click.

      4 votes
  2. [7]
    asoftbird
    Link
    Probably the Factorio developers. They've got the need for automation ingrained in every aspect of their process; it's not just the game, pretty much anything that can be automated is automated....

    Probably the Factorio developers. They've got the need for automation ingrained in every aspect of their process; it's not just the game, pretty much anything that can be automated is automated.

    The game runs stellarly already, but they put a lot of effort into optimizing the game even further.
    They also share in-depth information on their blog on topics like game development, how they tackle problems and generally how they do their job.
    Also, they're very open to questions; I asked how they made the ingame models and I got a very lengthy email in return + they sent some scripts the devs use to easily make icons.

    Generally just very cool people who love what they do.

    23 votes
    1. Nepenthaceae
      Link Parent
      The studio is called Wube, they really deliver. For me, the best thing they do is fix problems that aren't theirs to fix. Very frequently modders break the game and the Devs at Wube fix the...

      The studio is called Wube, they really deliver. For me, the best thing they do is fix problems that aren't theirs to fix. Very frequently modders break the game and the Devs at Wube fix the problem for that mod anyway.
      The game has been planned to release for 2 years now, but they keep delaying because they are such perfectionists ;)
      You could never tell this game is still in early access, just by playing it.

      9 votes
    2. [5]
      grungegun
      Link Parent
      Could you sell me on the game? What makes it more than just another automation game? So, compared to redstone/farming in Minecraft and the intricates of Zachtronic games, what's the pull?

      Could you sell me on the game?

      What makes it more than just another automation game? So, compared to redstone/farming in Minecraft and the intricates of Zachtronic games, what's the pull?

      1 vote
      1. TheJorro
        Link Parent
        I'm not much of a "build your own stuff" sandbox kind of player, so games like Minecraft and the Sims don't really have much lasting appeal to me. Factorio, though, hits more of an incremental...

        I'm not much of a "build your own stuff" sandbox kind of player, so games like Minecraft and the Sims don't really have much lasting appeal to me. Factorio, though, hits more of an incremental games itch instead.

        You start with just your avatar and some land. You need to mine resources like wood, iron, copper, etc. from the world and begin crafting things together. Then you realize you need more and more and more materials to build more and more and more things that let you build even more and more, and the only way to do that is to begin automating some of the low level tasks like mining for iron.

        So you build a mining rig and have it collect into a box that you can pick up from. But eventually you need more, so you start building entire groups of mining rigs that load their mined ore onto a conveyor that feeds all their output into a box. But then eventually you notice that you're spending too much of your time being an iron mule, delivering it to three or four different other constructions that build other materials you need out of that iron. So now you start planning networks of conveyor belts that split and feed the iron directly from the mining rigs into your iron processing facilities.

        And so on.

        It's simply a very addictive and satisfying game because it is a game of iteration and experimentation, with tangible and visible results that are immediate. It's not quite so abstract that you can't see at a glance what's going on but also not married to realism so that doing everything is a chore.

        Combine that with surprisingly capable multiplayer modes and a classic Soldat-feeling combat style to fight off the alien insect swarms with your constructed weaponry and vehicles, and you've got yourself a fun experience.

        Try out the demo!

        4 votes
      2. PetitPrince
        Link Parent
        As other said, compared to Zachtornic games, it's much more freeform . Let me have a similar argument to the one describe by /u/TheJorro (it's an incremental game) because I think it's a good one...

        As other said, compared to Zachtornic games, it's much more freeform . Let me have a similar argument to the one describe by /u/TheJorro (it's an incremental game) because I think it's a good one :

        Factorio is so good because most of the moment-to-moment objectives are born from your own action. By solving one problem, you end up potentially creating one or more of them later on.

        But it's part of the game, and even though your base is ugly it works and you can now reliably produce "logistic science pack" for your research center. Now, the next step would be to research some "production science pack" and... wait, since when do I need some stones to produce it ? I'll have split the stone supply line of my concrete factory to my general purpose assembly machine, but that means I need to make some tunnel because I don't have enough space for that due to the way the iron supply line is going and I don't want to mix them in the conveyor betl. Etc...

        And so it's "crack for (software) engineer" because it somewhat use the same circuits and logics that are used when software engineering work. The same trade-off between ease to build, extensibility, and scope, the same "quick fix" that gets back to you later on, the same building style / paradigm (small independent units ? big central manager ? I-don't-care-and-I-fix-as-I-go ?).

        4 votes
      3. cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Not the person you asked, but the reason why I really enjoyed Factorio was because of the tower defense element it has, which adds some nice tension that is often lacking in the other automation...

        Not the person you asked, but the reason why I really enjoyed Factorio was because of the tower defense element it has, which adds some nice tension that is often lacking in the other automation games. It also almost feels like dwarf fortress or rimworld in terms of the sheer amount of options and flexibility you have as well. The multiplayer is also a lot of fun too.

        p.s. I absolutely love Zachtronics games too BTW. But Factorio is a different beast entirely. Somewhat similar underlying goals, but totally different execution and mechanics. It's far less purely cerebral like the Zachtronic games, and a lot more freeform, and frantic feeling, which forces you to think on your feet a lot more and adapt to circumstances as they develop.

        2 votes
      4. asoftbird
        Link Parent
        Sorry, l don't quite have the energy to do so, but l'll recommend playing the free demo to see if it's your kind of thing.

        Sorry, l don't quite have the energy to do so, but l'll recommend playing the free demo to see if it's your kind of thing.

  3. [23]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    Hands down, Jonathan Blow. I haven't heard anyone else have a philosophy of game design anywhere near as complete or compelling, and he delivers on it. I will pretty much play anything he makes or...

    Hands down, Jonathan Blow. I haven't heard anyone else have a philosophy of game design anywhere near as complete or compelling, and he delivers on it. I will pretty much play anything he makes or recommends sight-unseen.

    I've actually never played any of their games, but I've always been very intrigued and appreciative of everything from Team Ico/Fumito Ueda.

    I would love to see more from Phil Fish, but, you know... there's the internet.

    13 votes
    1. [10]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      +1 for Jon Blow. He'd be the first to admit that his view isn't the only valid but of all game designers who actually publicly speak about it frequently, he has the most coherent idea of what good...

      +1 for Jon Blow. He'd be the first to admit that his view isn't the only valid but of all game designers who actually publicly speak about it frequently, he has the most coherent idea of what good game design is. Not storytelling, not technical mastery, actual gameplay (though speaking of "technical mastery", he also created his own programming language because he was fed up with C++ and actually uses it for his next game, no biggie).

      I can only recommend his talks on youtube (there's a ton). He's rather outspoken (and I'm quite afraid he'll one day say or tweet something stubborn/controversial enough to end his career) but it's mostly about how modern day game design principles tend to be manipulative and unethical. So totally expect him to take a verbal dump on one of your favorite games. He always has a point, though, and the few games he actually loves, he loves with the same level of glowing passion. It's because of him that I played through Stephen Sausage Roll, for example, and I'm so thankful for that recommendation.

      7 votes
      1. [7]
        viridian
        Link Parent
        The good news is that Blow can't really be 'cancelled' like most actors, or employees of a game studio, since his work is largely his own. If Kingdom Come and Subnautica is anything to go by, it...

        The good news is that Blow can't really be 'cancelled' like most actors, or employees of a game studio, since his work is largely his own. If Kingdom Come and Subnautica is anything to go by, it seems like markets care a lot less about people getting dragged on twitter than development leadership does.

        It's worth noting though, he's tweeted some mild stuff that got some backlash on Twitter:
        https://twitter.com/Jonathan_Blow/status/1211053162687168513
        There was another set of tweets about Journalism being low value currently that I cant find via google, but it got similar responses.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          Yea, he has some... peculiar views on work/life balance. During a stream, I once heard him say something along the lines of having decided on holding off on aspects of his social life because...

          Yea, he has some... peculiar views on work/life balance. During a stream, I once heard him say something along the lines of having decided on holding off on aspects of his social life because long-term, having made a significant contribution to his field of work (which happens to be videogames) would bring him more happiness. Which seems like a bet one could easily regret.

          He's also one of those people who like searching for capital-T "Truth" and I've seen it lead to a preference of simpler, mathematical models of explaining the world which can go into weird directions when they try to make decisions about complicated social/political issues. I'm convinced, though, that most of the stuff he posts is at least worth considering and more thought out than the average twitter rambling. But him getting into a fight with someone arguing about emotional nuance vs. cold hard facts has a lot of potential for disaster. I think he has zero tolerance for behavior he considers to be irrational.

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            viridian
            Link Parent
            Blow actually reminds me a lot of John Carmack, especially on the subject of working, and I sort of agree with both of them. I think different people are wired differently, but to me it makes all...

            Blow actually reminds me a lot of John Carmack, especially on the subject of working, and I sort of agree with both of them. I think different people are wired differently, but to me it makes all the sense in the world to use as much time as I have available to build cool stuff, help folks out, etc. Lazing around with my fiance often just feels wasteful, but I also often get cuaght up in productivity traps, like trying to improve my (ultimately low value) chess elo. The mindset can be used to benefit everyone though. I recently started taking a lot more walks outside to think, after getting a trash picker. Now I can stroll around my neighborhood in a semi-meditative state, bagging up all the trash that ends up building up over time in a dense, relatively poor urban area.

            4 votes
            1. nothis
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Well, I certainly think there's something to living your life like this, it's definitely a more rewarding strategy, long term, than just "winging it". I guess I'm just skeptical towards making it...

              Well, I certainly think there's something to living your life like this, it's definitely a more rewarding strategy, long term, than just "winging it". I guess I'm just skeptical towards making it an almost religious thing (I've seen Blow being compared to a monk more than once). It seems like you're suppressing something which doesn't feel like an honest view of your emotional state. You need outlets. I see a lot of hyper-productive people get really into meditation, which seems like a lot of effort spent on switching off work mode for an hour here and there. Also Blow regularly streams himself playing PUBG and whatnot (being quite good at it!), which he doesn't consider to be a waste of time because... well, he actually has an explanation but I believe it's more about the adrenaline rush than he would admit.

              But ultimately, I think there's value in people promoting that position. For many things to achieve, the way to do it is just focusing and putting in the work, beyond what feels comfortable. Few people actually have the persistence for it and it's certainly not en vogue to promote putting effort into such singular goals. What always gets me skeptical, though, are any claims of "people, nowadays" somehow being lazier or stupider. Through history, there's strong evidence that people actually work harder and get smarter each generation and the articles he posted about not working yourself into a burnout might be a reflection of what's considered the default, now. It's okay to relax, here and there, it helps with getting some perspective. And he actually agrees with that. He basically just disagrees with the exact wording of the headlines, which is the kind of "scientific mind" interpretation of fuzzy social issues that I don't think works for real-life politics.

              2 votes
        2. [3]
          j3n
          Link Parent
          I'm almost afraid to ask because I happen to really like both of those games, but I'm clearly out of the loop on this. Could you elaborate/link to what you're talking about?

          If Kingdom Come and Subnautica is anything to go by, it seems like markets care a lot less about people getting dragged on twitter than development leadership does.

          I'm almost afraid to ask because I happen to really like both of those games, but I'm clearly out of the loop on this. Could you elaborate/link to what you're talking about?

          1 vote
          1. viridian
            Link Parent
            Subnautica sound designer fired for multiple racist tweets (although the big one that got people heated seems like an ESL issue) https://www.pcgamesn.com/subnautica/subnautica-dev-fired Eurogamer...

            Subnautica sound designer fired for multiple racist tweets (although the big one that got people heated seems like an ESL issue)

            https://www.pcgamesn.com/subnautica/subnautica-dev-fired

            Eurogamer and Kotaku attempted to drag Kingdom Come since they were asked multiple times to include black characters by people on twitter and in industry, and they responded more or less saying `No the game takes place in medieval Bohemia", and so Eurogamer felt the need to use their review of the game to cite African kings bringing entourages to Spain, and what if when they stayed in an inn, someone got knocked up, and now you have mixed race folks living as free peoples, who could very well end up in Bohemia. It was the most galaxy-brained review I've seen of anything in a long time.

            https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-02-20-kingdom-come-deliverance-review

            My larger point however, was that all the drama and twitter warring aside though, both games did really well, and very few people actually care about Twitter mobs in reality. Hell, Chucklefish can literally not pay people, and it didn't really seem to hurt their sales in the slightest. It's like that ancient picture with the people in a steam group boycotting modern warfare two for being a cash grab and not having dedicated servers, where one week later the majority of the group is currently playing modern warfare 2.

            2 votes
          2. TheJorro
            Link Parent
            Not sure about Subnautica but the Creative Director for Kingdom Come had a few Gamergate friendly Twitter rants on matters of race and representation in medieval Bohemia.

            Not sure about Subnautica but the Creative Director for Kingdom Come had a few Gamergate friendly Twitter rants on matters of race and representation in medieval Bohemia.

      2. [2]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        Is there a specific article or video that I could consume to get a decent idea of his philosophy? Do you have any recommendations?

        he has the most coherent idea of what good game design is

        Is there a specific article or video that I could consume to get a decent idea of his philosophy? Do you have any recommendations?

        2 votes
        1. nothis
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Well, there's a few older ones that made made me a fan and I guess most of his views haven't changed since then. I just found this playlist, which should be good introduction just starting at the...

          Well, there's a few older ones that made made me a fan and I guess most of his views haven't changed since then. I just found this playlist, which should be good introduction just starting at the top. Videogames and the Human Condition has a perfectly Blow-esque title, it's from 2010 and probably still a good introduction.

          I also like this one he did with Marc Ten Bosch (the guy who's somehow still working on his 4D-puzzler Miegakure), I think it's about how games can make you explore abstract spaces in a way other media can not, which is something he always tends to come back to (I'm talking about his idea of "truth" somewhere else in this thread, so maybe this talk, literally titled "Truth in Gamedesign" is also a good introduction). For a good example of his typical rants against manipulative game design, I always liked his section at a Neuroscience conference where he talks about loot boxes and whatnot. He's always been very outspoken against the usual F2P reward mills, even before it became a bit more of a mainstream view after the Battlefront 2 lootbox controversy.

          But honestly, it's hard for me to pick one. He's doing a lot of talks, some more freeform interviews (which can get weird) and I like how open he is about criticizing very popular trends. It can become a bit cringy where he leaves videogames and he's lately giving talks titled things like (literally) "Preventing the Collapse of Civilization", but there's usually some real wisdom to be gotten out of it. For example, he recently did a 2.5 hour videostream talking about stuff like meditation techniques and the books in his bookshelf. As for a less ranty/philosophical talk, he did this play session where he only plays games he actually likes.

          Maybe that's why I tried not to link a specific video, he's doing a lot of these and it's hard for me to pick one.

          2 votes
    2. [11]
      grungegun
      Link Parent
      I loved Braid. The Witness was a bit of a step back in my opinion, but we'll see where he goes from there.

      I loved Braid. The Witness was a bit of a step back in my opinion, but we'll see where he goes from there.

      1 vote
      1. [10]
        culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        A step back? In what way?

        A step back? In what way?

        3 votes
        1. [5]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          I wouldn't put it that way, The Witness is clearly a deeper game, but I'd personally rank Braid above The Witness as well (that being said, I'd struggle to make a "top 10 favorite games of all...

          I wouldn't put it that way, The Witness is clearly a deeper game, but I'd personally rank Braid above The Witness as well (that being said, I'd struggle to make a "top 10 favorite games of all time" list but I know those two would be 1 and 2).

          The beautiful thing about Braid was how short it was. There isn't a single aspect of it that feels less relevant than any other, it's pure gameplay, all the way through. In The Witness, there are some puzzles and elements that clearly feel less important or precise. This is probably a direct result of The Witness being a larger and more ambitious game, though, so ranking either as "better" feels a bit pointless.

          5 votes
          1. [4]
            culturedleftfoot
            Link Parent
            The story, arguably. I dunno, I liked Braid and still think it's a very clever game but I feel like I'm missing why people hold it in such high esteem. I know that's ironic, because that exact...

            There isn't a single aspect of it that feels less relevant than any other

            The story, arguably.

            I dunno, I liked Braid and still think it's a very clever game but I feel like I'm missing why people hold it in such high esteem. I know that's ironic, because that exact comment is often made about The Witness, but at least for the latter I know there is that (enormous!) meta-depth that one may choose not to explore. I didn't get any similar impression from Braid, even with any potential allegory to the Manhattan Project. I don't even think comparing them is fair.

            4 votes
            1. [3]
              TheJorro
              Link Parent
              If it helps, here's Jonathan Blow's own approach to the story of Braid, especially in regards to the ending. Seems like Braid was his first adventure in metatextual storytelling.

              If it helps, here's Jonathan Blow's own approach to the story of Braid, especially in regards to the ending. Seems like Braid was his first adventure in metatextual storytelling.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                culturedleftfoot
                Link Parent
                I'll do you one better. After posting last night, I realized that while I had done some research into interpreting Braid, it wasn't nearly as much as I'd done with The Witness (partly because I...

                I'll do you one better. After posting last night, I realized that while I had done some research into interpreting Braid, it wasn't nearly as much as I'd done with The Witness (partly because I didn't realize there was more to interpret). I dug around and found this article that is maybe the least vague that I've seen Blow speak about Braid's possible meanings, or at least it connects best in giving me some idea about what the deeper ideas behind Braid might be that I missed. I can totally get how he might be exploring concepts in physics, for example, that I'm just ignorant of, in the same way that The Witness explored Buddhist concepts that many dismissive players were unfamiliar with and therefore missed, but for which I had a pre-existing frame of reference and thus thoroughly enjoyed. I don't recall seeing much to any discussion online of the stuff like that he mentions, though... which was part of his gripes in the first place, so I'm not sure how much it plays into its appreciation.

                3 votes
                1. TheJorro
                  Link Parent
                  I think I know what he's griping about. There seems to be an insistence on the One True Interpretation for many artistic works. This Folding Ideas video addresses it and its pitfalls pretty well,...

                  I think I know what he's griping about. There seems to be an insistence on the One True Interpretation for many artistic works. This Folding Ideas video addresses it and its pitfalls pretty well, especially when the work is meant to be interpretive, much as Blow's works are.

                  Ultimately, I think so much of Braid's value and reputation comes because it clearly and consistently informs you that there is more to it, much like the Witness does. But since Witness is a larger, and more involved game, it's a lot better about presenting more whereas Braid, being smaller and more focused, asks for more reflection and thought to find what that "more" is since even thinks like the allusions to physics are more conceptual and mechanical in nature than visual or exposition, as many of the gaming critics he seems to be chiding focus on.

                  3 votes
        2. [4]
          grungegun
          Link Parent
          I agree with nothis. There may be some age bias here. I got Braid when I was 12 or 13. At that point it was challenging. The Witness was less so, with a lot of the main puzzles feeling like...

          I agree with nothis.
          There may be some age bias here. I got Braid when I was 12 or 13. At that point it was challenging. The Witness was less so, with a lot of the main puzzles feeling like filler.

          I think Joseph Anderson's review sums up my opinions pretty well.

          1. [3]
            culturedleftfoot
            Link Parent
            Ahhhhhh, I see. I'm glad that there's something you can refer me to so easily that you feel represents your opinions clearly... but I'm a little disappointed that it just shows that your opinion...

            Ahhhhhh, I see. I'm glad that there's something you can refer me to so easily that you feel represents your opinions clearly... but I'm a little disappointed that it just shows that your opinion is wrong.

            OK, kidding, kidding. In all seriousness, I've watched JA's video a number of times and it is the epitome of Blow's gripe of people who criticize the game when they don't understand what it's trying to do. What makes it worse is they don't realize that they don't understand what it's trying to do, so it's like they're judging a dog harshly for not meowing. I've discussed The Witness enough online to learn that most people who don't like it or perhaps think it's overrated either had preconceived expectations and assumptions of what the game tries to do/should do, and/or they have no frame of reference for most of the concepts it explores. The first is a bigger problem than the second, because if you're curious enough the game will help you develop that frame of reference.

            I sympathize with those not 'getting' it - I mentioned having the same issue with Braid above! - because there's always the issue of whether or not the creator includes enough quality breadcrumbs to get players thinking about what lies beneath, but I think The Witness does an even better job than Braid in that regard, partly because it is so much larger and includes so much more. So, to your own point, the puzzles that probably felt like filler to you are very purposefully included, but I understand why it might seem that way if you didn't totally click on the 'language' of what was happening, so to speak.

            Anyway, Joseph Anderson fits both categories mentioned above, and there are many, many comments under his video refuting his own points. If you haven't seen it before, here's the best breakdown I've found from someone who does get it - The Unbearable Now. Anderson himself commented on it.

            1. [2]
              grungegun
              Link Parent
              I got the final credits thing by myself, apparently by cheating. I lost my save, then noticed it and ended the game as soon as it had started. I believe where we differ is that I literally play...

              I got the final credits thing by myself, apparently by cheating. I lost my save, then noticed it and ended the game as soon as it had started. I believe where we differ is that I literally play puzzle games for just the puzzles. I never read Braid's story. I never listened to The Witness's story. I have always skipped everything possible in every video game I've played.

              With The Witness, I ran around the island and solved the puzzles, did the mountain, did a bunch of environmental puzzles, and quit. The same with Braid. I solved everything, did a star puzzle, saw another one and realized it would take multiple hours to complete, then quit. This seems to be the opposite of the spirit of the video you linked, but I don't believe so. In The Unbearable Now, the author assumes that the watcher has trouble concentrating in this modern world, which is why demanding the watch through the end of the video is justified, because it is an excessive in patience. In my case, I don't need that. I tend more toward being hyper-focused than otherwise.

              Because of that, in puzzle games, anything that distracts from the puzzle usually annoys me for the same reason I can't read graphic novels. Switching between different modes of thinking breaks my line of thought. In Braid, if you subtract everything out but the puzzles, you get a fantastic sequence of puzzles that build up. In the Witness, you get a rather bloated sequence of puzzles and eye-spy situations, with some admittedly really cool tricks towards the end.

              Based on your comments, I believe you are primarily focused on the story and the atmosphere, which would possibly explain our different responses to the two different games.

              1 vote
              1. culturedleftfoot
                Link Parent
                That explains everything. No, I try to appreciate any game/film/whatever as a whole. I suppose I do have a bias towards media that engage with ideas I find interesting (or in ways I find...

                I never read Braid's story. I never listened to The Witness's story. I have always skipped everything possible in every video game I've played.

                That explains everything.

                I believe where we differ is that I literally play puzzle games for just the puzzles.

                Based on your comments, I believe you are primarily focused on the story and the atmosphere, which would possibly explain our different responses to the two different games.

                No, I try to appreciate any game/film/whatever as a whole. I suppose I do have a bias towards media that engage with ideas I find interesting (or in ways I find interesting) though, rather than stuff that might be more outright fun, exciting, etc. There isn't even any story in The Witness per se. Still, there is much, much, much more to The Witness than just the puzzles, and it's intended to be that way. Your approach is essentially the same as what I mentioned before about those who approached the game with preconceived expectations, because it limits what you experience. Ultimately, do whatever floats your boat, but you've got to admit your opinion should come with an asterisk if you're not at least attempting to engage with the entirety of the game. That's like a movie critic not telling his readers he's deaf.

                In The Unbearable Now, the author assumes that the watcher has trouble concentrating in this modern world, which is why demanding the watch through the end of the video is justified, because it is an excessive in patience.

                It's a commentary on what the game was doing more than an assumption about the viewer.

    3. culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      Oh, another dev I haven't actually played anything from but whose work is endlessly interesting is Jack King-Spooner (whose works I just found out are currently on sale). I have a lot of time for...

      Oh, another dev I haven't actually played anything from but whose work is endlessly interesting is Jack King-Spooner (whose works I just found out are currently on sale). I have a lot of time for his ideas.

      1 vote
  4. [3]
    MimicSquid
    Link
    Supergiant, for having some of the best audio and art design in the industry.

    Supergiant, for having some of the best audio and art design in the industry.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      TheJorro
      Link Parent
      And writing! Greg Kasavin is a real talent.

      And writing! Greg Kasavin is a real talent.

      4 votes
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        Seriously. I've been consistently amazed at how much story he was able to pack into Hades. You wouldn't expect a roguelike to tell a deep story, but there's some amazing threads of story in the...

        Seriously. I've been consistently amazed at how much story he was able to pack into Hades. You wouldn't expect a roguelike to tell a deep story, but there's some amazing threads of story in the small bits of conversation you get throughout your runs. The very fact that you get the various gods squabbling as they give you their boons makes the whole thing feel more alive, and the long conversations you get with the area bosses over the course of fighting them dozens of times, the conversations you can advance sometimes when you return home... each run feels worth it from a narrative perspective as well as a gameplay advancement view.

        5 votes
  5. Akir
    Link
    I would have to say that my favorite developer is Kenji Eno. His work was just so incredibly innovative; it felt almost as if he came from the future. He did so much crazy stuff that to talk about...

    I would have to say that my favorite developer is Kenji Eno. His work was just so incredibly innovative; it felt almost as if he came from the future. He did so much crazy stuff that to talk about them now sounds like legends. He created the first visual novel made for the blind. He released a game where every copy came with a free condom. He went to an event for Sony to show off the game he was making for them, only to have their logo morph into the logo for Sega since he decided to switch development for the Saturn. He swapped out the gold master for one of his games so he could get it past censorship.

    There is one game in particular which made me really fall in love with him, and that is D2. It was something of a technological marvel at the time; it had graphics that looked better than his earlier pre-rendered work and did it in real time. But the real wonder of his achievement is in the direction and storytelling. How many games have you played where the director took the time to fade the screen to black so you can listen to spoken poetry? How often do you see horror based on the real-life terror of parental abuse? How often are you put in a fight against a boss who is your mother's brain put into a computer shaped like a woman giving birth? It's a very opinionated story that goes overboard to make sure that you get all of it's many themes and messages.

    8 votes
  6. [11]
    grungegun
    Link
    Derek Yu. He made Spelunky. He's a genius. I look forward to Spelunky 2 and UFO 50. Brian Reynolds. He made two 4x games: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and Rise of Nations. These, in my own opinion...

    Derek Yu.
    He made Spelunky. He's a genius. I look forward to Spelunky 2 and UFO 50.

    Brian Reynolds.
    He made two 4x games: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and Rise of Nations. These, in my own opinion blow everything else out of the water. They do tech trees right, which can be said for very few other games. If he ever comes back to pc gaming, I'll buy whatever he makes. Right now he's into mobile gaming.

    Markus Pearson.
    He made Minecraft. From the little demos of his that I've played, everything he touches seems to be gold. If he ever climbs out of his hole to do something with his life, I'd love to play it.

    7 votes
    1. [3]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      Yu was also half of the team that made Aquaria, along with (now-disgraced?) Alec Holowka. It may be somewhat overlooked as it did not have the impact of Spelunky but it was something of an...

      Yu was also half of the team that made Aquaria, along with (now-disgraced?) Alec Holowka. It may be somewhat overlooked as it did not have the impact of Spelunky but it was something of an important step in the timeline of indie games as well as a fantastic game in its own right.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        Deimos
        Link Parent
        Just in case you didn't know, Alec Holowka committed suicide.

        Just in case you didn't know, Alec Holowka committed suicide.

        2 votes
        1. culturedleftfoot
          Link Parent
          Yeah... even years ago on the Aquaria forums Holowka had been surprisingly transparent about his struggles with mental illness, the toll it took on his relationships, and how it had basically...

          Yeah... even years ago on the Aquaria forums Holowka had been surprisingly transparent about his struggles with mental illness, the toll it took on his relationships, and how it had basically guaranteed he and Yu wouldn't work together again. The entire situation surrounding the accusations and his death was sad all the way around.

          2 votes
    2. [3]
      what
      Link Parent
      I started playing Spelunky a few days ago (only, what, 10 years too late?), and it's one of the best designed games I've ever played. I love that there's no artificial progression, it's entirely...

      I started playing Spelunky a few days ago (only, what, 10 years too late?), and it's one of the best designed games I've ever played. I love that there's no artificial progression, it's entirely based on your skills improving as you play. It feels like every mechanic has been perfectly tuned to be fair, but unforgiving. I also love how quickly you can start another run after you die, it makes this game super addicting and easy to play in short bursts. The level generation generally feels pretty spot-on, and the ghost, while a bit annoying, adds a perfect amount of urgency, and the fact that you can somewhat dodge it and drag things out adds a whole other layer to it, compared to some hard time limit.

      I've been playing on a PS Vita I got recently, and being able to have this game in my pocket at any time is amazing.

      I'm tempted to read Derek Yu's book about Spelunky, I'm really interested to hear about his ideas and process for game design, he's clearly one of the best in the industry.

      2 votes
      1. grungegun
        Link Parent
        Yeah. The thing I love about the level generation is how every couple seconds you're given a mini puzzle. Like. I used to have to climb slopes, but I now skip across frogs and bat in the jungle...

        Yeah. The thing I love about the level generation is how every couple seconds you're given a mini puzzle. Like. I used to have to climb slopes, but I now skip across frogs and bat in the jungle levels. There are a bunch of little things like that.

        2 votes
      2. Deimos
        Link Parent
        I don't think he's officially involved (despite the name), but he's also a pretty frequent guest on the podcast The Spelunky Showlike, which is a game-design podcast that's supposed to be very good.

        I don't think he's officially involved (despite the name), but he's also a pretty frequent guest on the podcast The Spelunky Showlike, which is a game-design podcast that's supposed to be very good.

        2 votes
    3. [3]
      Moonchild
      Link Parent
      Have you seen his vvvvvv level?

      Markus Persson

      Have you seen his vvvvvv level?

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        grungegun
        Link Parent
        No, I haven't. Is it good?

        No, I haven't. Is it good?

        1. Moonchild
          Link Parent
          I think it is. (VVVVVV is an excellent game overall; well worth IMO.) What made the level good was not so much any mechanical aspect as its sense of coherence. The level as a whole had a theme, a...

          I think it is. (VVVVVV is an excellent game overall; well worth IMO.) What made the level good was not so much any mechanical aspect as its sense of coherence. The level as a whole had a theme, a premise, a plot; and every aspect of it strengthened those.

    4. zptc
      Link Parent
      Good old SMAC/X. Still my favorite turn-based strategy game ever.

      Good old SMAC/X. Still my favorite turn-based strategy game ever.

  7. weystrom
    Link
    Remedy, love their story-driven world-building in Alan Wake and Control. Psyonix, they were very thoughtful with monetization for Rocket League and keep updating the game years after the release.

    Remedy, love their story-driven world-building in Alan Wake and Control.

    Psyonix, they were very thoughtful with monetization for Rocket League and keep updating the game years after the release.

    5 votes
  8. [3]
    BunnyBrown
    Link
    From Software games is my favorite developers. Bloodborne is favorite game of theirs.

    From Software games is my favorite developers. Bloodborne is favorite game of theirs.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      I know people go crazy for the games they make nowadays, but I'll always know them for their janky weird games like Evergrace and Kings Field. I say this from a place of love, of course. I love...

      I know people go crazy for the games they make nowadays, but I'll always know them for their janky weird games like Evergrace and Kings Field. I say this from a place of love, of course. I love jank. Kusoge is one of my favorite meta-genres.

      That being said, Echo Night: Beyond is an absolute hidden gem of a game, and a must-play for any horror fans. It's just a shame that it can't be emulated correctly right now.

      2 votes
      1. krg
        Link Parent
        King's Field was one of my first PS1 games (back when they still came in long boxes) and I remember being utterly confused while playing it. In a good way. And the featureless character faces,...

        King's Field was one of my first PS1 games (back when they still came in long boxes) and I remember being utterly confused while playing it. In a good way. And the featureless character faces, lack of defined narrative, and the fact that movement was slow as molasses made everything pretty mysterious and surreal. The music and sound effects are definitely imprinted in my brain.

        1 vote
  9. [2]
    rogue_cricket
    Link
    My favourite defunct developer is Clover, creators of Okami and Viewtiful Joe. They were bought and done away with by Capcom. :( My favourite current development teams is Larian Studios, who make...

    My favourite defunct developer is Clover, creators of Okami and Viewtiful Joe. They were bought and done away with by Capcom. :(

    My favourite current development teams is Larian Studios, who make the Divinity series. Divinity Original Sin 2 is one of my favourite games and I am really looking forward to Baldur's Gate 3.

    My favourite solo developer is probably Jeff Vogel. That guy is a work horse! He's released a huge amount of RPGs and works mostly alone. It's very admirable.

    4 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      Clover was owned by Capcom since inception. They closed the studio because it wasn't successful; their games just didn't sell that well. There's a reason why "better ratings than God Hand" became...

      Clover was owned by Capcom since inception. They closed the studio because it wasn't successful; their games just didn't sell that well. There's a reason why "better ratings than God Hand" became a meme.

      But if you liked them you should love Platinum games; that's where the designers and producers went off to. And since then, they've been making plenty of hits like Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101, Astral Chains, and Nier:Automata.

      4 votes
  10. braingoo
    Link
    NGE, developer of Champions of Regnum, Bunch of Heroes and the latest Quantum League. While I do appreciate innovative and smart developers such as those listed in this thread, I also appreciate...

    NGE, developer of Champions of Regnum, Bunch of Heroes and the latest Quantum League. While I do appreciate innovative and smart developers such as those listed in this thread, I also appreciate developers who support a project of their passion, and which is in itself, a brilliantly fun and solid game. That game is Champions of Regnum. While some may say it is just another RvR open pvp game, the truth is the number of such games in the entire industry which are actually good, is roughly... 3, maybe only 2. By good, i mean players stay for years and years. Regnum is probably the only RvR open pvp game where players stay for 10+ years, apart possibly from GW2. NGE as a developer has continued to support and develop this game since its inception, and the game itself continues to deliver great fun, and have great potential for even more fun, for all who enjoy RvR open pvp in a fantasy setting.

    3 votes
  11. [3]
    krg
    Link
    Artdink, cuz they made Tail of the Sun.

    Artdink, cuz they made Tail of the Sun.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      I find it somewhat amusing that you choose this game out of Artdink's huge catalog. Can I ask what makes it so appealing to you?

      I find it somewhat amusing that you choose this game out of Artdink's huge catalog. Can I ask what makes it so appealing to you?

      2 votes
      1. krg
        Link Parent
        I guess nostalgia, mostly. Got it at Funcoland (even getting a cheap used game was a rare event for me in those times (I picked ToTS because it was only $7)) with no manual and I had no idea what...

        I guess nostalgia, mostly. Got it at Funcoland (even getting a cheap used game was a rare event for me in those times (I picked ToTS because it was only $7)) with no manual and I had no idea what I was doing. Trying to make sense of game mechanics as I went along was pretty fun, as was exploration. And the style was quirky. It also spawned this playthrough series, which is hilarious.

        More games ought to stick to simple (but obscure) mechanics and ditch in-game tutorials.

        1 vote
  12. SkewedSideburn
    Link
    Lucas Pope. I liked the idea of Papers, Please, though never really got much into it. But Return of the Obra Dinn is a hands down masterpiece. And just I really like the idea of a single developer...

    Lucas Pope. I liked the idea of Papers, Please, though never really got much into it. But Return of the Obra Dinn is a hands down masterpiece. And just I really like the idea of a single developer making his game for 4-5 years to such a huge success.

    Also Subset Games: both FTL and Into The Breach are absolutely amazing

    2 votes
  13. Five
    Link
    My favourite game developer is rockstar I love their games but don’t really like their business practices. I also have a soft spot for Bungie because of halo

    My favourite game developer is rockstar I love their games but don’t really like their business practices.

    I also have a soft spot for Bungie because of halo

    1 vote