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The Magic Behind How Video Games Were Made

An incredible YouTube mini-series uncovers the history behind how video games were designed, developed, and distributed.

Have you ever wondered how video games were made? No, I mean really wondered and asked yourself, “How did this magic even exist and why was I able to enjoy it?” Well, strafefox has created a masterful mini-series seemingly dedicated to answering these exact questions.

The first video in the Splash Wave repertoire breaks down how 16- and 8-bit video game graphics were designed and engineered to fit on the limited hardware of game cartridges. The process is shown so cleverly that it’s like you’re watching the secret of a magic trick unfold. Techniques such as line scroll, palette swap, and viewport scrolling are demonstrated with simplistic and engaging visuals.

The production process starting from conception to planning and finally to execution is covered in the second video. Groundbreaking technology such as Sega’s Digitizer System, and the evolution of programming methods and music creation are touched upon. It paints a fascinating picture of what it was like to be a game developer in the early days, flexing the barriers of the medium and finding new ways of doing things.

The final and arguably the most fascinating video is about how games were promoted and distributed. Magazines, trade shows, and in-store displays are some of the main avenues covered. Their role in engaging retailers and consumers seems to have stuck around, for example GameStop’s ongoing Game Informer magazine, the yearly E3 expo, and retailer sponsorship such as Target and Nintendo’s recent cross promotional activities.  Interesting and risky game concepts are briefly mentioned including Ecco the Dolphin, one of the strangest and most mesmerizing games at the time.

The amount of work that went into these videos is utterly impressive. An attractive retro theme and a nostalgia aesthetic fit the content exceptionally well. The editing style used to illustrate various clips and demonstrate techniques is so fluidly incorporated while the music and narration by Chase McCaskill and Steven Kelly present the history clearly and concisely. Unfortunately, the mini-series is so short and leaves you wanting more. The good news is that strafefox has many other videos, from retrospectives to developer profiles, with the same level of artful analysis and dedication to honoring the magic of video games.

A Bad Password View All

A multi-ethnic, racially confused hermaphrodite commonly referred to by his online alias "A Bad Password" - real name Kevin - slightly selfishly and completely uncreatively named the gaming news and related content website ABadPassword.com after himself.