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The Modern Game Gods December 12, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Game Gods.
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For the past year I’ve been keeping track on this site of some of the greatest game developers in the world. Developers that were so great, they had in my opinion earned the title of “God”. However, in my haste to create my first two lists I neglected to mention that a new generation of Game Gods had slowly began rising to prominence in the past few years. There’s more to games than just the Triple-A multimillion dollar budget games, some games can be deeply personal work of just a few people and still grow to reach success beyond what their peers had done.

Today, we’re going to be looking at some of these developers in an article I’m calling The Modern Game Gods.  If you would like to read any other information about the Game Gods, you can read some of our earlier articles here.

Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago – The former duo from thatgamecompany was responsible for the three titles that put the Playstation 3’s downloadable games on the map, Fl0w, Flower and JourneyFlower is without a doubt one of my favorite games on the Playstation 3’s library as the perfect controls, unique art style, and amazing music won me over when I saw it demoed at a Yale Art Discussion.  Chen directed all three games while Santiago served in a producer role for the first two titles, and finally served as President of the company until her departure in 2012.  You can’t argue with the results, as Journey alone received several Game of the Year awards in 2012, a feat nearly unheard of for a digital only title.  Sadly, the duo has seemed to split.  If you haven’t played these games, don’t worry, Sony has already ported Flower and Fl0w to the Playstation 4 in full 1080p, and Journey is coming soon.  The best part is if you already purchased the games on the PS3, you don’t need to rebuy them.

Kim Swift – In 2007, Valve Software released The Orange Box, a compilation of three Half-Life 2 titles, a long awaited multiplayer game, and an entirely new game that was unlike anything gamers had seen before, Portal.  Originally designed as a small independent project produced by Swift and her team, it was so unlike anything anyone had seen before it caught the eye of the teams at Valve Software.  Valve hired the team and got them to port their technology over to Half-Life 2’s Source Engine so it could be included in a retail release.   At launch, gamers everywhere marveled at the unique gameplay as they tried to wrap their heads around solving puzzles presented to them by placing real-time portals throughout a game world.  Seven years later, that game was the only one out of the entire Orange Box to receive a full priced retail sequel.  How different would our world be if we never got the game Portal?  Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that.

Arnt Jensen – Arnt was the Director of Limbo, a unique title originally designed for the Xbox 360.  Not satisfied with an increasingly corporate gaming industry, he set out to create something small and personal with an art style inspired by his personal drawings.  The results were a game that was just as much of a piece of art as it was a fun title.  Limbo was dark, moody and minimalistic.  After the game was released on the 360, the demand to see the game on other platforms was so high it surprised everyone, and now you can probably find it on almost every platform, including the Xbox One.  After playing Limbo, I’m really looking forward to Jensen’s next tile, Inside.

Jonathan Blow – Creator of Braid, the game that was so good it made a lot of gamers demand more independent titles come to consoles.  Braid was brilliant in how it set itself apart from other games offered on the Xbox Live Marketplace.  It offered a familiar gameplay style by appearing on its face to be a charming 2D sidescroller, but Braid offered a twist by giving players the ability to manipulate time.  This offered an entirely new dimension players would need to master to solve the game’s puzzles.  It ended up becoming one of the games that put Xbox Live Marketplace on the map and showed gamers that Xbox Live could offer more than just old arcade game ports.  His next game, The Witness, just looks amazing.

Marcus “Notch” Persson – Notch is the Creator of Minecraft, a small PC game which completely blew up in a way that few independently produced titles could ever have dreamed of.  It was more than just a game of stacking blocks, the game gave you the tools to create whatever you wanted.  Limited only by your imagination, you could create theme parks, castles in the sky, or even recreate your favorite locations from other games, and make your creations easily accessible to the entire world.  It isn’t unheard of to have a game to find that much popularity based around its modification tools, as gamers have been modifying their games since before the days of Doom, but Minecraft took player-made content to an entirely new level.  Now Minecraft can now be found on almost every platform including console and mobile platforms.  Now that his company was purchased by Microsoft, Notch is moving on.

Tasha Harris Sounart – She’s worked with studios like Pixar and Double Fine, and I’m sure most of you know her as the Director of Double Fine’s Costume Quest, but personally I loved reading through this woman’s webcomic series, appropriately titled Tasha’s Comic.  As you can see from the fact that Costume Quest’s artwork matches her comic’s art so closely, her art style has a charm all its own and it shows in her work as uniquely as a fingerprint.  As for Costume Quest itself, it had a great story, fun gameplay, and became a must download title for me.  Now, you can probably find Costume Quest and its sequel on almost every platform.

Frank Wilson – One of the brains behind the work of Twisted Pixel, a formerly independent studio responsible for some of the quirkiest titles I’ve seen on the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace. If you’ve played a Twisted Pixel Game, he’s the guy you can find in the Powered by Beard video which starts up the game.  Ever since the release of Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, I have been following this studio pretty closely.  Each of their games have offered a new twist on themes you would not think could be adapted to video games, like comic books, self-aware motorcycles, and beings made up entirely of explosions.  I was really happy to see their most recent release, LocoCycle, released day one on the Xbox One.

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