It’s fascinating to see how trends come and go across the internet. It usually just requires one person to go viral, and suddenly there’s an entire internet industry duplicating that thing. If you were on YouTube during the early 2010s, Minecraft “Let’s Plays” were everywhere- and I mean, everywhere. Gaming, in general, is popular, but other, er, let’s call them “genres” had this happen to them as well.
For example, animation had a hard time gaining traction on the platform until channels like “TheOdd1sOut” developed a style that was acceptable to YouTube’s eldritch algorithm. Like other trends, one that has exploded over the past couple of years is Game Dev vlogs, where solo developers working on various projects expound on the latest and greatest features, their technical problems, achievements, and failures. You get an actual feel for what it’s like to take on such a project. It’s not all fun and Fair Go slots, you know.
However, Video Game development is hard- a lot harder than most people realize. Finding channels that stick to their projects all the way through is difficult because actually finishing a massive project (and even “small” games are a ton of work) is immensely difficult. Nevertheless, there are those who persevere on such projects or have something unique or special that makes them stand out from the crowd. So here are the 5 Best (Subjectively) Game Dev Channels that you should be watching.
I think I would be remiss to make a list of game developers without mentioning Dani. Dani is the solo developer behind the flash hits “Muck” and “CrabGame”, which were both (unexpectedly) popular on Twitch. He’s also the lead developer behind the game “Karlson”, a parkour shooter that’s currently sitting as the eleventh most wishlisted game on all of Steam. His development videos are high-energy and heavily edited, which is a style that you’ll either love or hate. However, Dani has also admitted over on his second channel that he hasn’t actually worked much on Karlson, because of the immense pressure of living up to the expectations (that he admits was caused by his own hype). So the lack of activity, and the overall style means that I can’t put Dani any higher than number five. However, his success is not something to be ignored either. Read more about Best Steps and Guidelines for YouTube Channel Promotion.
On the complete opposite end of the energy spectrum, we have ThinMatrix. His style is very low energy and “chill”, which intermixes a “lifestyle” vlog with game development, with breaks so that you can enjoy some B-Roll of plants getting watered. ThinMatrix is the developer behind the released game Equinox, a relaxing nature simulation in which you can create and nurture your own ecosystems. For the longest time, ThinMatrix was working on a city-builder game, however, due to health problems that involved several surgeries, that project was dragged out and meandered to a halt. Nevertheless, ThinMatrix has made a full recovery (as far as I know), and is back with a new farming game. If you’re looking for a relaxing ten minutes of game development content, this is the channel for you.
First-person shooters are not a genre I like very much. I was never into any of the big ones, like “Call of Duty”, “Battlefield”, “Halo”, “Counter-Strike” or “Payday”. I have nothing against them, really, they just never appealed to me. Nevertheless, I like game development as a hobby and stumbled across this channel in the middle of making his own First Person Shooter. While development logs about the game itself have slowed, Garbaj regularly releases short, 3 – 5 minute videos detailing various design elements of shooters and how large studios have solved these problems. For example, when you look down the scope of a rifle in a game, how do you show the player things far away? Do you render a second viewport within the scope, sacrificing performance for realism? Do you zoom in the entire screen, sacrificing realism for simplicity and performance? When it comes to the design of shooters, Garbaj is the go-to stop for answers to questions you didn’t know you wanted to ask.
2) Let’s Talk Game Design
What helps push LTGD to second place on my list is the fact that he’s one of the only developers on this list who has actually released a commercial game (the other being ThinMatrix. Everyone else has only released free projects). LTGD is a smarmy bri’ish fellow with a penchant for sarcasm, whose development style tries to teach something meaningful with every video. He’s also a fan of retro games, and his recently released title “ReIterate” is built on a retro-style aesthetic with modern platforming sensibilities. LTGD is witty, informative, and a wellspring of knowledge on obscure video game history that you have never heard of before.
1) Sebastsian Lague
Sebastian Lague stands out from other channels on this list in a couple of significant ways. First, he doesn’t have a single long-term “game” that he works on. Second, he only uploads once every two to three months. Yet in spite of that, he still comes in at number one on this list. Why?
The answer is because, while every video is produced at a snail’s pace, each video is a fascinating delve into a project or rabbit hole. He takes immensely complex subjects and explores them in a very approachable way. You don’t so much learn with every video, as join him on this technical journey.
For instance, his most recent project was a geography game where you fly a plane around the globe, dropping off packages in the delivery country. It wasn’t enough, however, to simply have a representation of the globe. No, you small-minded plebian. Instead, Sebastian took multiple 4K topographical maps of the real Earth and combined them into a single, accurate mesh of the planet. Then, he layered on top of those accurate city locations, country lines, oceans, atmosphere, sunrise and sets, and accurate constellations in space when you look up. It’s nuts, and each video is incredible. The sheer technical prowess, put together in consistently high-quality videos, with his relaxing voice, more than makes up for the lacking upload schedule.