Game Discoverability Weekly – newsletter #2!

Newsletter #2 is here!

A few weeks ago, I launched my second regular video game-related newsletter, following the success of Video Game Deep Cuts. This one is hosted on Substack and called Game Discoverability Weekly. Here’s the skinny:

“Welcome to Game Discoverability Weekly by me, Simon Carless. I’m a long-time video game industry watcher and participant, and a former developer, IGF chairperson & GDC Indie Games Summit founder/co-runner.

This regular free newsletter – which will eventually be published in eBook/book form – will be covering a whole bunch of individual aspects of the biggest problem in video games right now – how people discover and buy your game.”

The newsletter already has about a third of the subscribers of Video Game Deep Cuts, which has been running for over 3 years, so I’m happy about that! Some of the more notable pieces so far in it include ‘Steam’s ‘Follower’ counts – hidden in plain sight.‘, ‘Discoverability – A ‘Hot or Not?’ Genre Guide‘, and ‘Why you may be underpricing your video game‘. Sign up if you want to check it out!

Game Developers Conference 2019 – new & fun content!

So, with Game Developers Conference 2019 rapidly approaching (it’s March 18th to 22nd, date fans!), I thought it would be good to highlight some of the interesting new conference content we’ve rolled out this year.

I’m not the person who runs the show (that’s Katie Stern, the GM, fact fans!) But I lurk in the management marshland, helping out & contributing elements to the conference, and the program in general.

In this particular blog, I wanted to highlight some of the content that I think is particularly interesting this year (some of which I was involved with a lot, and some only in passing!):

  • Game Discoverability Day: brand new, & like the description says: “One of the trickiest things about the video game industry in 2019 is simply – you’ve made your game, and it may be great, but is anybody going to notice?” Lots of smart folks (from Boyfriend Dungeon, Radiangames, Neo Cab & more) pitch in with practical case studies and strategies for PC, console and mobile game developers.
  • Machine Learning Tutorial: how are large-scale devs using machine learning/AI to improve their games? This new tutorial day shows a bunch of practical examples – finding ‘wallhacks’ in an FPS, going beyond motion matching in animation to ‘motion synthesis’. Definitely hardcore technical content, but definitely interesting.
  • Vision Track: we’ve been compiling these special featured talks that go ‘beyond’ the normal GDC technical talk for a couple of years now. This year, the 6 lectures span the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Niantic on AR gaming, the Harvard Desirability Lab (!), Disney Imagineering, Valve on brain-computer interfaces, experiential design lessons from HBO x SXSW’s Westworld installation.
  • Classic Game Postmortems: you know these are a perennial favorite, and we’re delighted with this year’s talks, featuring an original creator talking about the making of a seminal game. This time out: Atari arcade classic Paperboy, quirky puzzler Lemmings, seminal RTS Command & Conquer, Sega’s wonderful Panzer Dragoon series, and ‘swinging with Spider-Man’ – on the design of traversal mechanics from 2004’s Spider-Man 2!

Finally, if you check out the GDC 2019 news page you’ll see a whole bunch more recommendations for talks of all shapes and sizes – as well as for the community spaces with lots of playable games, the awards, and plenty of other fun stuff.

Hope to see you in San Francisco next month to watch ALL of the above!

Reminder: Video Game Deep Cuts newsletter!

It’s mainly referenced in the sidebar of this blog, but I just wanted to resurface Video Game Deep Cuts – the newsletter I spend quite a few hours on every week!

It’s published on the free Tinyletter news platform, and it’s simply “the best longread & standout articles and videos about games, every weekend”, mailed directly to your email address, and also crossposted onto Gamasutra later that weekend.

It requires a lot of information-crunching – often from eclectic sources – to put the thing together, and it’s something I’m uniquely suited to. I’m actually really happy with the kind of people who read it weekly, and if you’d like to be one of those, please subscribe now!

My 2018 Thanksgiving ‘state of the Simon’.

It’s been a little while, and it’s roughly turkey time in the U.S., so I thought it might be good to give some thanks – while going over some of the many projects I’m currently working on, circa November 2018.

(Actually, I just updated the ‘You Might Know Me From’ page with two of them, which shows I’m making a difference, right? Or just flitting from one to the other, I guess! In all seriousness, I’m trying to concentrate on doing things that add value. So this rundown should be a good test. And it has arbitrary ratings!) Continue reading

The MIDI Tiki Show: a new YouTube channel for your pleasure

So here’s an announcement – I’ve started a new YouTube channel, called ‘The MIDI Tiki Show’, that showcases high quality hardware-played MIDI files in a tiki room setting. Uh… wha? Why? Maybe I’d better explain…

The Inspiration

This all started when I checked out the excellent YouTube channel Techmoan‘s video on ‘the floppy disk boombox’, which showcased the Roland MT-80s music tutor.

This device is designed for piano/instrument tutoring & karaoke, and plays back MIDI music files on floppy 3.5 inch disks, including files that use Roland’s GS standard. Which actually sounds pretty darn good, if you can find the correct MIDI files. (More on this later!)  Continue reading

Longread: The ‘lost’ Alan Moore interview (The Telegraph Wire, 1985)

[Poking around at a Bay Area antiques fair, I came across a copy of local comic book store zine Telegraph Wire. And in it, there’s a great longform Wendi Lee interview from SDCC 1985 with Alan Moore, who was known for his Swamp Thing work & V For Vendetta at the time, and in the process of writing the seminal Watchmen!

Turns out that the Internet Archive has a copy of the zine, but nobody had cleaned up the OCR & fully republished online – so here we go! It’s a great early-ish piece on both Moore’s working style & motivation, and also his reasons for creating Watchmen.]

There’s very little need to introduce a writer like Alan Moore – already his name has become familiar to SWAMP THING fans as well as collectors of Britain’s WARRIOR, which has featured MARVELMAN (reprinted by Eclipse as MIRACLEMAN) and V FOR VENDETTA.

Alan Moore has not only proved his writing is prolific and profound, but also versatile. Since his inception of SWAMP THING, Alan has written for AMERICAN FLAGG!, MR. MONSTER and has many projects in the offing.

I was fortunate to catch Mr. Moore at the San Diego Comic-Con last August and he talked about his work on SWAMP THING as well as a very exciting project he’s working on with Dave Gibbons called WATCHMEN. Although there’s no set date, keep watching DC for more information.

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Retro Wonders Game Bundle – a bunch more great eBooks!

[Here’s the latest eBook bundle I compiled for the Storybundle crew – and it’s a particular favorite of mine because of the amount of exclusives we commissioned, and the depth of some of the writing – so much good/rare/overlooked stuff here, dig in!]

The Retro Wonders Game Bundle – Curated by Simon Carless

The first Video Game StoryBundle of 2018 is a massive one, since we have three brand new game history/analysis ebooks you can’t get anywhere else, as well as some amazing overlooked & sought-after tomes based around retro video game goodness. Continue reading

New things from me – early 2018 edition!

Since it’s definitely 2018 already (for quite a long time!), and I haven’t actually managed to update this website since 2017, thought it might be good to ACTUALLY DO SO with some notes on what I’ve been up to:

Game Developers Conference 2018 totally happened, a couple of weeks ago! We had 28,000 attendees – an all-time high – and there’s lot of pictures of them on GDC’s Flickr account. (IGF ceremony above!)

We also made hundreds of videos & slide decks free on GDC Vault, if you want to check out top talks from the show. It was the first GDC without Meggan Scavio (aw), who now runs the AIAS, but the first with my former colleague Katie Stern (whee!) here as GM, and am excited to see how we build on the experience, with her at the helm. Continue reading

The Winter Wonderland Game Storybundle is here…

[The final Storybundle of the year is here, and this one is particularly choice, I think. Really have fun compiling these eBook bundles, and with both the charity and curator cut going to Prisoners Literature Project this time around, you’ll be doing some good by picking i up, too!]

We only do 3 of these Video Game StoryBundles per year because we care about quality. Why? Have you noticed these weekly bundles on one particular subject get same-y so quickly? We don’t do that and won’t do that. We vary things up – while still bringing you books from a few regular sources that we enjoy.

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Neat things that I’m currently working on!

Just so every darn post on this blog isn’t a Game Storybundle announce (there’s another one coming up in a few weeks, haha!), here’s a few things that I’m up to and excited about, recently:

– Yep, Game Developers Conference is booting up for another cycle, and it’s taking place from March 19-23, 2018. In addition to overseeing the folks who run the event, I’m helping out with the Indie Summit, Advocacy track, and the second year of the Board Game Design Day I help to organize with Soren Johnson. Plus there’s the return of GDC Retro Play, the IGF, and one or two (cool!) new things we’ll reveal in due course!

– The whole No More Robots thing (an indie publisher I’m helping back & advising) is still going great. Our first product we’re publishing, procedural mountain bike game Descenders, has a limited public Beta coming up on October 27th. Plus, we have two other games signed that we’re excited to talk about soon. The work, naturally, is 99% Mike Rose’s, but happy to be along for the ride.

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