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The NEXT Game Gods October 24, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Game Gods.
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Some time ago, I posted an article heavily influenced by the groundwork laid out by PC Gamer Magazine fourteen years ago.  In it, they detailed a list of some of the greatest PC game developers in the world and gave them the title of “God”.  A year later it was followed it up with gaming’s newest hotshots of the time who could have become the next generation of PC game designers.  I thought it was a great list, but I felt that by just keeping track of PC game developers, it was an incomplete list.  There are so many other great game developers out there that are also worthy of the title “Game God”.  It’s been a while since that list was originally posted, and a new list of great game developers have risen to prominence.

So here are the names of who I deem to be the second generation of Game Gods, in as chronological an order as I can present them.

Yuji Hori – This man is the father of Dragon Quest, and many believe that makes him the creator of the Japanese Role Playing Game (or Console Role Playing Game if you prefer).  In Japan, his name is synonymous with video games, an honor that even Mario’s creator does not have in Japan, but he started with very humble beginnings.  Rising to prominence by creating a small independent PC title and entering it into a game development contest Enix was hosting at the time, he found himself with a job at a major publisher.  After spending many nights playing PC RPGs like Wizardry, Hori was able to adapt the complex gameplay previously only thought possible on the PC platform, and make it fun on a console.  With the launch of Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in the US), Hori cemented his reputation, and became the predominant JRPG creator in his home country.

Tom Hall – This guy was one of the world’s first true game designers.  Starting in an industry where a game’s story would be a single paragraph written on a game manual, Tom Hall could create an entire universe for his games to exist in.  One of the founding members of id Software, most people will fondly remember him from his work on Commander Keen and Wolfenstien, but I most fondly remember him as the director of the PC exclusive RPG, Anachronox.  I know he’s been hoping to do a sequel to the Commander Keen series for years now, and I really hope that he gets to do it, but really I just want him to make Anachronox 2.

Shigisatu Itoi – A copywriter by trade, many people consider him to be the Japanese version of David Berry.  This guy is just really funny.  But I don’t think anyone would forget his work writing the story of the Earthbound (Mother series) on Nintendo’s consoles.  When Earthbound (Mother 2) launched, it didn’t sell as much as Nintendo had hoped it would, and dashed hopes any other games in the Mother series would come to the US.  However, sometimes it takes a while for people to appreciate greatness and over the past few years, Earthbound quietly became one of the must play titles of the Super Nintendo’s generation.  While he has said that Mother 3 will be his final title in the Mother series, he would not rule out the possibility that he would work on future game titles.  Earthbound finally saw a rerelease on the Wii U’s Virtual Console last year, and all we can do now is hope Nintendo releases the other two games in the Mother series in the US.

Shinji Mikami – The creator of Resident Evil, and the man that many credit as the creator of the Survival Horror genre.  Since leaving Capcom, Resident Evil has grown to become one of the most well known franchises in the history of gaming, going as far as to get several live action theatrical releases, a brief theme park experience at Universal Studios, and even its own themed restaurant in Japan.  Most recently he directed The Evil Within, which took horror games to a place I never thought would be possible.  Its a fantastic title I have not been able to put down.

Jordan Weissman – One of the stars behind the ill-fated FASA Studios, most people remember his company for the Mechwarrior series but, I’ll love him for the Crimson Skies franchise.  I don’t know what it is about that series, when it launched on the PC, its style just really stood out to me.  Perhaps it was the art style that showed such a love of classic pulp serials, but when the game series was finally brought to the original Xbox console, it became an early must own title for Xbox Live players.  Since leaving Microsoft, a new series heavily inspired by Crimson Skies would find its way onto tablets and smartphones.

Jordan Mechner – Twitch would never forgive me if I didn’t include this guy.  He’s the father of Prince of Persia, a game that completely revolutionized how we viewed platformers.  When the Prince of Persia series relaunched on the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube systems, the (then) new hardware was able to bring  in an entirely new mechanic not seen before, the concept of reversing time.

Randy Pitchford – If you’re a fan of the Borderlands franchise, then you likely are familiar with the work of Gearbox.  Randy is the owner of Gearbox Software, who is responsible for games like Borderlands.  Gearbox started off by creating expansion packs for one of the greatest PC games ever made, Half-Life, and the PC port of Halo: Combat Evolved but quickly set themselves apart from the rest when they released Borderlands.  He was also responsible for saving Duke Nukem Forever.  Forget everything the critics had to say, I loved Duke Nukem Forever.  Sadly, his studio has come under fire after the botched release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, but hopefully with the Borderlands prequel on the horizon, Gearbox will be able to make up to its fans.

American McGee – American was one of the game developers chosen for PC Gamer’s list of Next Generation Game Gods along with other names like Stevie Case and Cliff Blizinski, and if you ask me he’s earned a place on this list due to his unique vision. He earned his stripes becoming one of the best level designers at id Software, but he found his voice when he directed Alice at the turn of the century.  There is just something so simplistic about taking a classic story and turning it completely insane, but his team was able to make it into a masterpiece many are still talking about all these years later.

Jason Jones – Jason Jones is one of the original founders of the game development studio Bungie and he is a very hard man to track down.  Remember that little game called Halo?  It was his creation.  He very rarely does interviews or talks about the projects that he’s working on, but his resume is long and full of prestige.  Now with Destiny’s launch and a planned ten year development cycle ahead of them, Bungie could be feeling the same excitement that they had back in the early days of Halo.

Suda51 – One of Japan’s young hotshot game creators, Suda (who prefers to be called Suda 51), has been responsible for several cult classics including Killer 7, No More Heroes, No More Heroes 2, and Lollipop Chainsaw.  I appreciated these titles because it was clear that unlike some other titles which prefer to play it safe with easily marketable stories and features, Suda’s games are unlike anything you may have seen before.  I was mesmerized by his unique style the second I started playing No More Heroes for the very first time, and I easily became hooked.  Now he’s working on a new title, Let it Die, for the Xbox One.  After seeing Let it Die’s announcement trailer, the game felt a lot like a long forgotten PS1 fighting game which, sadly, never saw a release.  Regardless of what the game is, I’m really eager to see more.

Swery65 – Another of Japan’s hotshot young game directors, this guy rose to fame (or infamy if you prefer) directing the cult classic Deadly Premonition.  Reviews may have been mixed on that title, but nobody could deny just how unique it was.  Now, with D4’s release on the Xbox One, it looks like Swery is experimenting with the controversial episodic distribution method.  Having loved every second of D4, I wish him the best of luck with that.

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