Brandon Dillon modifies The Legend of Zelda's code as he is playing it

(It’s Video Game Week on the Iceberg! New posts every day this week with in-depth niche topics relating to video games!)

This is an eye opening video for anyone who wants to know more about how video games actually work. In Part 4 of this series (parts 1, 2, and 3 are spent taking apart the physical cartridge), Brandon Dillon (developer of Hack n Slash) loads the software of Legend of Zelda into an emulator and picks apart the game code, modifying it as he’s playing to do things like give himself infinite health or skip around the level.

Now, the goal isn’t just to cheat at the game — it’s to learn something about how it’s put together by reverse engineering it. And untangling that mystery is a captivating adventure in and of itself.

Jason Killingsworth details what goes through his head as he plays Drop7 in its most difficult mode

(It’s Video Game Week on the Iceberg! New posts every day this week with in-depth niche topics relating to video games!)

Drop7 is a deceptively simple mobile game. You drop numbered discs into a 7×7 grid, and the discs disappear (earning you points) if the number on the disc matches the number of contiguous discs in its row or its column. (There are also blank discs that need to be “hit” by other discs twice before they turn into numbered discs).

It’s great fun to watch a strategy video of a highly competitive game like chess, to get a play-by-play of the players’ moves and to hear the reason why they are making those decisions. It’s even wilder to do the same for a game most people just pull out of their pocket and kill time with on the subway. If you’ve never thought about how deep even the most minimal-seeming games can get, this video is seriously impressive.

For more videos of people voicing their strategies while playing video games, hit up the awesome blog playing-out-loud.tumblr.com.

A collection of resources for creating realistic grass, trees, and flowers in video games

(It’s Video Game Week on the Iceberg! New posts every day this week with in-depth niche topics relating to video games!)

This is more of a collection of things than any one thing, mainly because I couldn’t find a single link that would summarize this topic’s true depth. But while you’re checking this page out, make sure to hit up these standouts: This tutorial, which takes you through the process of creating some grass from start to finish, this art dump from an artist responsible for vegetation in the game Battlefield 4, this tutorial for creating a low-poly oak tree, and this guide to making ivy.

There’s a lot of technical terms being flung about, but even if you don’t understand what’s going on you can still appreciate the impressive levels of consideration that go into something that seems so incidental. Futurepoly’s grass tutorial sums it up nicely: “Initially, grass might not seem like a high priority asset, but when you think about how often it’ll be used, and the portion of the screen that it covers, it makes sense to treat it with the same importance you would a character or a piece of architecture.”

Oh also, there’s way more to this topic than included in this link. If you want to stay updated on things in the video game foliage community, check out the amazing blog video-game-foliage.tumblr.com.

Itay Keren goes through the various techniques used to control the camera in 2D games since the 80s.

(It’s Video Game Week on the Iceberg! New posts every day this week with in-depth niche topics relating to video games!)

This talk is just an amazing showcase of how many different ways there are to solve one problem. Itay Keren goes wide as well as deep, exploring different techniques for camera movement in a bunch of different genres of games with examples from games dating from 1980 (when computer graphics was in its infancy) to the present day, each one solving the problem in a slightly different way, depending on that game’s specific needs and gameplay. And oh, did I mention his amazing visualizations?

For an article-ized version of the talk, check out the Gamasutra article.

pannenkoek2012 beats a Super Mario 64 level by pressing the A button...0.5 times?

(It’s Video Game Week on the Iceberg! New posts every day this week with in-depth niche topics relating to video games!)

If you’re new to the world of speedrunning, prepare for a wild ride. Videogame speedrunners are people who make it their goal to beat a game in the fastest way possible, typically by some combination of incredible dexterity and clever exploitation of the game’s systems and glitches. Though this particular video doesn’t have the goal of beating it the fastest, instead its goal is to beat the game with the fewest amount of button presses.

And oh boy does it exploit the game’s systems and glitches.

I can’t explain anything as well as pannenkoek2012 does, with his incredibly detailed and clear diagrams and commentary, so I’m not going to try. But be prepared for a whirlwind tour of just how deep you can go when you decide you’re going to take a game and push it to its absolute limits. Highlight: Parallel Universes. I’ll leave it at that.

Rayman in Super Smash Bros? Nope, it's a hoax, although an extremely elaborate and convincing one

I love this video because even if you know nothing about Super Smash Bros, you can still appreciate the process of replicating something in excruciating detail. This is art forgery, but for an Internet era.

The amount of work that needs to be done to produce a shaky, low res, 20 second video of a single screen of this video game (seen at :26 in the video, or separately here) includes, but is not limited to: Creating not one, but two pieces of original digital artwork imitating the art style of the game; isolating a series of small moving elements of the user interface, pixel by pixel and frame by frame; and recreating a handful of barely noticeable graphical elements that swish onto the screen for a mere second.

Omni knows he has to do all this because he knows that skeptical forum goers will scrutinize endlessly, tearing apart every frame and zooming into every pixel, looking for the tiniest crack in the facade. And after all that, people still thought it was real. Well done, Omni. As the top YouTube comment on the video says: “this was a shit ton of work just to fuck with people”.

Most video games don't animate dogs correctly. Kevin Cancienne isn't having any of it.

You know how corgis are basically small furry motorcycles? At the very least, according to Kevin Cancienne, they both lean in to counterbalance when they make turns at high speeds. In this talk at the game design conference PRACTICE, Kevin describes the trouble he went through learning every detail about how dogs move so players could accurately feel immersed in his game.