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Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Now displaying: May, 2016
May 25, 2016

In this third episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, we welcome a bunch of new listeners. We return to talking about themes, some of which are evolving, but also pacing and combat balancing. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
From Black Mage Village to Treno (Tetra Master Tournament)

Podcast breakdown:
0:28       Intro & reintroduction of hosts/podcast
11:52     First segment: themes and pacing
39:04     Break 1
39:32     Second segment: literariness, Vivi, Iifa Tree battle, pacing
1:21:48  Break 2
1:22:15  Third segment: reader mail, outro


Issues covered: host history and what the podcast is about, correction!, has Brett turned Tim into a JRPG player?, Shakespeare influences, mazes of twisty little passages, orphans, automatons becoming sentient, getting hitched in Sanctuary, written dialog vs recorded dialog, using mechanics to do something amusing (something only games do?), humor via timing vs repetition, thieves (Sanctuary, Treno, Tantalus), checking into characters' feelings in a not-overly mechanical way, pacing and surprise, pen and paper DMs, Tim throws Brett a question, well-rounded characters and the literariness of the games, Vivi as the stand-in for the player, Soulcage and the Iifa Tree, toying with human perception, level 5 death, monologuing, Eiko as Sally or Lucy, a meal in Madain Sari, appearances and how you treat people, tangent: skipping combat/unnecessary death and combat in games, the meta that explains why a person can die, Tetra Master and side games inside of JRPGs, eidolons and summoning (and introductions), disc breaks and where the movies fit in, pacing problem in Alexandria, unwieldy exposition and building again, grinding vs buying equipment and the potential for player expression, player skill and combat, best intentions and combat balancing, does anyone know about "descent" in Japanese culture?

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion, DLC podcast, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, David Letterman, Rebel Assault, LucasArts, Mysteries of the Sith, Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider, 343 Industries, Full Throttle II, Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4, System Shock 2, Halo 5, Witcher 3, RebelFM Radio podcast, David Ellis, Hitman: Blood Money, Ken Levine, Janos Flösser, IO Interactive, Tetsuya Nomura, Nobuo Uematsu, Ni No Kuni, Final Fantasy XIV and XI, Hamlet, Twin Peaks, Dickens, Blade Runner, Peter Molyneux, Gone Home, Ron Gilbert, Bioware, Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age: Origins, Dungeons and Dragons, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Patrick Sirk, The Incredibles, Peanuts, Cooking Mama, Dragon Quest VIII, Jennifer Hepler, Deus Ex, Uncharted 4, Indiana Jones, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ultima, Final Fantasy X, George Lucas, Johnson Siau, Final Fantasy XIII, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill II, Shadow of the Colossus, Kingdom Hearts.

Links:
Jason Schreier, Kotaku: A Great Thing Final Fantasy IX Did

Next time:
From Treno (Tetra Master Tournament) to Pandemonium

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

May 18, 2016

In this second episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, Tim believes he has fallen into an alternate reality where a whole different RPG genre has flourished (also known as: actual reality). Much of our discussion turns on the themes of the story and also turning to the tactical battles. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
From first battle with Beatrix to Black Mage Village

Podcast breakdown:
0:30       Intro
3:20       Segment 1: game play discussion
33:56     Break 1
34:15     Segment 2: themes and story
1:15:08  Break 2
1:15:28  Next time/outro

Issues covered: In Memoriam Clarence Johnson, overlevelling and grinding, min/maxing, JRPG vocabulary vs Western RPGs, unskippable cutscenes summoning Eidolons in FF VIII, Active Time Battling and tactics, auto battles, inventory management, how big is this game, merging of multiple modes of play, one-off moments ("taking time to dance"), economy and personality of emotes, Noh and Kabuki and paper/shadow puppets (abstraction), darker undertones, taking over the world with Eidolons, anime character focus, Cleyra design and the merging of ideas, culture shock, leveling as player choice points, Chocobo forest, overworld aging, proscenium and theater, the music, Shakespearean ties, density of stories, power and corruption, "voiceover," determining primacy of storylines, Quina's special ability and trance, "hot" culture vs "cool" culture, localization and translation challenges, Hollywood sources, slavery and duty, Beatrix changing sides and a taste of power, choosing your equipment, arithmancy and prime numbers, the ecosystem of numbers, Detect, content variety (battle arenas) and art requirements, genres growing up over time on different hardware (and format/tradition), 25-way rock-paper-scissors.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Andrew Kirmse, Starfighter, Clarence Johnson, There.com, Secret Level/Sega, Golden Axe, Iron Man, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XIII, Skyrim, The Witcher series, Hitman 2, Miyazaki, Disney, Ni No Kuni, Akira, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Frozen, Tetsuya Nomura, Hamlet, Justin Bieber, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Metal Gear series, Elite Beat Agents/Osu Tatakae Ouendan, Suda 51, No More Heroes, Deadly Premonition, Swery65, Hideo Kojima, Fallout series, Indiana Jones, Final Fantasy Tactics, Dark Cloud, Wild Arms 3, Dragon Quest VIII.

Next time:
Play up through Mt Gulug!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

May 11, 2016

Turning to our third game, Dev Game Club goes to Japan with the new remastered re-release of Final Fantasy IX on PC. We establish the context for the series both in relation to other FF titles and discuss it in context of its release year of 2000 before turning to talk about what's going on in the beginning of the game. Plus, it's Tim's first time with a JRPG, so we talk about the genre itself a bit too. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
In theory, up through the first battle with Beatrix in Burmecia.

Podcast breakdown:
0:35      Podcast intro
1:55      Intro to and context for FF9
28:31    Break
28:48    Beginning part of the game
1:14:39 Break
1:14:56 Next time

Issues covered: games context for 2000, backwards compatibility to PS1 and the IO controller, the hosts' console histories, time warp/alternate reality, Tim's preconceived notions of JRPGs, random encounters (pro and con), balancing Western RPGs, reading random creatures and world-building, subtractive vs additive content, cleric-mage-fighter-thief and testing the fringe classes, player choice in when you grind, JRPG mechanics from Brett's point of view, turn-based battles, rock-paper-scissors combat, status effects, job systems, the genre toolbox, character and story specificity, how you win writing awards with an RPG, lighter vs darker tones, character relatability, introduction straight into safe battles, localization limitations, stylized characters, 16-bit era, story construction, Shakespeare in Final Fantasy IX, equipping abilities and where do abilities come from anyway?, exploration of themes: appearance and birth station and determining your life, technical progress, the recurrence of Cid in Final Fantasy, Vivi as the soul of the game, technological weirdness - multiple programs, handcrafting, linearity, active time events, black mages and Black Waltzes, character and creature design vs the Western palette of creatures, weapon synthesis, Moogle tutorials.


Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Deus Ex, Diablo 2, Baldur's Gate 2, Reed Knight, Banjo-Tooie, Paper Mario, Majora's Mask, The Sims, PlayStation 2, Republic Commando, Xbox 360, Final Fantasy Tactics, Chrono Cross, Tomb Raider, wipEout, Atari 2600, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Apple ][+, Ultima series, Square Soft, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Chrono Trigger, XenoGears, Einhander, Mistwalker, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Dragon Quest, Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons, Gold Box series, Eye of the Beholder, Bard's Tale, Final Fantasy series, Persona series, Kingdom Hearts, Wild Arms 3, Dark Cloud series, Dragon Quest VIII, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Ni No Kuni, Witcher series, Geralt of Rivia, Hayao Miyazaki, Justin Bieber, Tidus, Tim Allen, Vagrant Story, Uncharted series, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Hitman series, Shakespeare, King Lear, Hamlet, Kafka, Fallout, LucasArts, Monkey Island, Crystal Dynamics, Day of the Tentacle, Zack McKracken, Maniac Mansion.

Apology: I totally got the voice actor for Tidus wrong. Mea culpa.

Next time:
Play up to the Black Mage Village!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

May 4, 2016

In the fifth and final installment discussing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, we talk to Janos Flösser, the founding Managing Director of IO Interactive and ultimately the Chief Creative Officer for Europe for Square Enix.

Podcast breakdown:

0:22      Intro

1:27      Interview part 1

31:52    Break

32:20    Interview part 2

1:11:24 Break

1:11:45 Next time


Issues covered: Janos's history and establishment of IO Interactive, Scandinavian demo scene, prototype investment to seek publisher and advance royalty funding, character first, "we humans mess up everything... but we keep going," cloning, tone and themes, Eastern European dictatorship, orphans, virtual revenge, iconic design in mannerisms and feel, what makes stories matter, ultimate conflict between humans, epic scope, how people play, voluntary/outside of life/fantasy, character and genre, processing power at the time, interaction between characters, MDA framework, building technology, character identification, replayable design, reflection of the player in the play style, rankings: meaning and rules, competitiveness, irony, ninja extraordinaire, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, stat collection, balancing, dopamine loop, managing dysfunctionality, adaptation, save functionality - "there's no save game in real life," budget, QAing a Hitman game, user testing/user experience, insight into the statistics driving feature development, emotional reward, different sorts of successes, open world, hub-style level organization, concluding a game, water cooler talk, angry parents, provocation, verbs and freedom of expression, cloth, foliage, rag dolls, "bullet time," tech supporting a vibrant environment, symphony orchestra, franchise iteration, staying in character, expanding the world, "people had it coming," absurdity, engine development, "no nuns," child soldiers in Africa, controversy, innovation, VR, interface challenges, looking forward.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: IO Interactive, Nordisk Film, Atari, Rasmus Kjær, Frankenstein, Hamlet, Icarus, James Bond vs John Le Carré, Ceaucescu, Dr. Ortmeyer, Coca-Cola, Tim Schafer, Day of the Tentacle, Brütal Lëgend, Jesper Vorsholt Jørgensen, MacBeth, Terminator, Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, Tomb Raider, Square Enix, Max Payne, Remedy, Lumberyard, Epic, Unreal, Unity, Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, Noah Hughes, Uncharted, Hitman (2016), Rebel FM, Hitman: Blood Money, Skyrim, Fallout 3/4, Far Cry series, Thomas Jakobsen, Jesper Kyd, Hakon Steinø, Oblivion, Xbox 360.

Next time:
Final Fantasy IX, up to battle with Beatrix

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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