The video games I appreciate the most are ones that feel well designed, with gameplay loops and interactions that the creator curated intentionally.

Then when I find a good game like this, I really want to know what the influences were that inspired it. What kept the creators up playing at night? What game could they not put down? What frustrated them by not going far enough?

I want to try follow their thought process in reverse and learn something from it. Plus the influences revealed are likely to be great games or stories as well.

Sometimes though, this information is hidden. So we are given only glimpses during interviews when creators act as fans or let slip their favorite things.

PS. This was written in September 2020, so the games reflects that.

I wanted to write about way more but never did.

So sending this in a mostly unfinished state into the void felt okay in 2022.

So here are a few that I looked for and found - two are obvious and the rest are neat games:

Into the Breach

  • XCOM, Hoplite, Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars & Fire Emblem 1, 2

World of Warcraft

  • Ultima Online, Lineage and EverQuest 3, 4


  • Infiniminer & Dwarf Fortress plus a little Wurm Online 5, 6, 7
  • GTA Chinatown Wars, Dungeon Keeper & Roller Coaster Tycoon 6, 7

Out There / Mi-clos

“pulp” comics of the 1960s and the golden age stories of SF such as Asimov, Heinlein or Clarke. 8

I proposed a type of game that would not be Dune but rather something that would recall the voyage of the Normandy from planet to planet in Mass Effect 2, with a game dynamic akin to Oregon Trail – Star Control without the action, or Deuteros with a meditative twist. 9

This song that I’ve been listening in loop while imagining how the game [Out there: Oceans of Time] would look and play. 10

  • Extase by Cryo/Virgin 9

Davey Wreden

  • Favourite games: Yoshi’s island, Majora’s mask, Mario Galaxy, Braid, Spelunky 11
  • Movies: Adaptation, American Beauty, Children of Men, Godfather, Memento, Fight Club 12
  • Games with twists: Bioshock, Braid, Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid, Portal, Half Life 2, Robert Yang’s Radiator 12

The Beginner’s Guide

  • If on a winter’s night a traveller 13
  • Potentially Gravity Bone & Thirty Flights of Loving 14

Stanley Parable

  • Dear Esther, Radiator 14
  • Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Inception 15

Show me more

I would really love to see more lists like this published, either by fans or by the developers themselves. Notch did a really fantastic job of that.

Send me some and I’ll link to them here.

The games I would really love to see matching lists for are:

  • Neverwinter Nights
  • Firewatch
  • A Hat in Time
  • Runescape
  • Dark Souls
  • Breath of the Wild
  • Overcooked
  • Warioware Smooth Moves
  • Shadow of the Colossus