Directing from the sidelines

This is one of those ideas that’s hard to sell in a headline, but I think is fascinating. It’s a big look at developers who form small concept teams to generate designs and oversee projects, and then team up with other studios to see those through, rather than doing the heavy lifting internally. It’s basically an…

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Who made Metal Gear Survive

Konami’s PR campaign for Metal Gear Survive focused on the game rather than the people who made it. That silence made me curious, so after the game shipped I dug through its credits to try to find out more about the team. The story ended up with more caveats and speculation than I typically like to include,…

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Koji Igarashi: A day in the life

Recently, I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a literal day in the life series. Each story would follow someone from the game industry doing something notable, and we’d structure the text with timestamps and random details to play up the timeline. Not sure if I’ll stick with it, but here’s one of them — a…

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Polygon’s Indie Developer Science Fair

My latest weird idea, Polygon’s Indie Developer Science Fair, is a package of 17 projects that we asked developers to make to show their games in creative ways. An augmented reality app, a Twine game, screenshots that work with cardboard 3-D glasses, etc. This partly came about because I’d been building a list of developer requests that…

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Ninja Gaiden developer reunion

In the late 1980s, Hideo Yoshizawa, Masato Kato and Keiji Yamagishi worked with a small team to create action game Ninja Gaiden for the NES. As part of Polygon’s Life in Japan cover (which also features the debut of Yamagishi’s first single from his new album, and the reveal of a game he’s composing music for), when they…

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Life in Japan

For Polygon’s third cover story, I put together an online magazine about Japan’s game industry. It’s fairly common these days to see stories summing up what’s happening in Japan. So I went another direction and decided to focus on specific examples — people struggling to get funding, working with Western publishers, succeeding in mobile, going independent, etc.…

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Development hell: The video game

I tend to like stories about games that have been in development for a long time — seeing what kinds of struggles the developers ran into, what the hardest roadblocks were to overcome. So when BioShock 2 creative director Jordan Thomas co-founded an indie studio and started work on a game about crazy development issues, I…

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Mortal Kombat’s Johnny Cage, 20 years later

Lawsuits and a falling out with Midway: the story of what happens when a game becomes a phenomenon and not everyone gets paid. Huge thanks to Incredible Technologies VP of marketing Scott Morrison for digging up outtake photos from the 1994 “Daniel Pesina, who starred as Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat has switched to BloodStorm” print ad. Photo: Scott Morrison

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The man who created Street Fighter

Before Street Fighter 2 snowballed the arcade industry, Takashi Nishiyama and his team created a predecessor remembered more for awkward pressure sensitive controls than for the game itself. Nishiyama hadn’t done an interview in 12 years, so I took a shot and reached out. It ended up being extremely popular, covering Nishiyama’s career as he moved…

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1UP Presents #3: The Sketch Issue

I’ve always liked magazine theme issues — how Esquire does its Meaning of Life installments, or Vanity Fair’s and GQ’s comedy issues, or EDGE’s, EGM’s, and Hyper’s Japan issues. So when I had a chance to organize an issue of 1UP’s short-lived print magazine, I stole that idea. I had a few concepts floating around —…

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1UP’s Cross Country Game Tour

In 2010, Richard Li and I spent two weeks driving across the U.S., stopping at game developers, publishers, arcades, and whatever we could fit in. We tried to do something different at each stop — playing soccer with Frank O’Connor at 343, testing Kinect with kids at Microsoft, eating tacos with Warren Spector at Junction Point, celebrating…

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The rise, fall, and return of NBA Jam

EA’s 2010 NBA Jam revival made for a good excuse to do a history feature on the franchise, so I talked to ex-Midway developers about the original game’s development, Acclaim’s former CEO about the license confusion, and people who worked on Acclaim’s less popular series titles. Then EA showed us a bunch of modern prototype stuff to…

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Tim Schafer profile

Prior to Brutal Legend‘s release and 2 Player Productions’ excellent Double Fine documentary, I did a story noting the parallels between Double Fine head Tim Schafer and Brutal Legend star Eddie Riggs, with a bit of a Rolling Stone influence to play up the game’s music roots. Thanks to a couple timely coincidences in the form…

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