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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Dev Game Club


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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 29, 2016

In this third episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we finally move on to talk about specific puzzles -- this is a spoilery podcast. Plus, Tim has a moment of psychological devastation as Brett unveils the implications of his approach. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Last third of the game! Finish it off.

Podcast breakdown:
0:30 Specific puzzles where we got stuck
38:20 Break 1
38:53 History and its discontents (okay, grab bag)

Issues covered: puzzle games and programming/debugging, Ron Gilbert's Rules of Adventure Game Design, getting to a point where a game is unsolvable (and not knowing), squeaky bed puzzle, when objects are decomposed and not, interface differences between PC and console, spatial relations in adventure games, the right time to cut away from a scene (what to show and what not to -- production solutions), fixating on the bowling ball, Rosebud, "Meanwhile..." cutscenes, the Rule of Three, the rules of the mummy (as a hint or a reminder), giving players options, the risk of doing puzzles out of order, intentional red herrings, narrative trade-off vs getting stuck in linear adventure games (to which DoTT is contrary), procedural adventure games, mowing the lawn while acting as a hint line, comparing LucasArts adventure games to other adventure games, "A" bugs then and now (LucasArts ahead of its time), the producer army, leaving interesting "bugs" in and those becoming a core part of the game, turns as a fuse, early adventure games' mechanics, labors of game love, indie games' freedom, "default" game choices, choices better fitting a setting or idea, "make it bushy," Tim's soft noodle he'd like to be hard, Tim's psychological self-insight into competition, podcast metagaming, Tim compliments Brett (this never happens, so I am remarking on it), fiddling with the mummy, doing just enough for some players to get a gag, returning to the headspace of the adventure game, the origin of narratives and puzzles in the adventure game and hybridization, dialog tree puzzle, Silly Putty, getting stuck (reader mail), week off (week of the 4th of July).

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tom Mathews, "The Website Is Down," Ron Gilbert, Sierra On-Line Games, System Shock 2, Indiana Jones, Citizen Kane, Sean Clark, Mike Stemmle, Monkey Island series, The Longest Journey, Humongous Games, Pajama Sam, Dave Grossman, Bethesda Game Studios, Halo series (obliquely), Tribes, Dynamix, Starfighter, Witness, Deadline, Infocom, DOOM (2016), Cthulhu, Planescape: Torment, Final Fantasy IX, Baldur's Gate, Noah Falstein, Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, The Last Express, COD: Modern Warfare, Link's Awakening, The Witness, The Stanley Parable, Jonathan Blow, Professor Layton, Myst.

Ron Gilbert on Why Adventure Games Suck
Puzzle by Puzzle Analysis of DoTT
GDC talk about DoTT Puzzle Design by same author

Next time:
We think an interview! Depends on schedules. We're working on it!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Jun 22, 2016

In this second episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we talk about how to move on when you get stuck and speculate about how these games were constructed. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Hard to say; approximately another third of the game (~3 hours)

Podcast breakdown:

0:24       Segment 1: How you get unstuck
34:03     Break
34:30     Segment 2: puzzle development, reader mail
1:15:19  Outro

Issues covered: Gabe Newell's non-joining of Twitter, what you do when you get stuck, stepping away from the game, re-walking the whole space, training you away from the straightforward solution, moving all the inventory to one person, squirting disappearing ink on everyone, discovering clues via what's allowed to move back and forth in time, holding yourself back from looking it up on the Internet, inventory item combination, getting clues about what to do next, Tim getting stuck on Space Quest 1 for six months, the high cost of adventure gaming, ludo-narrative consonance, the difference between consulting a walkthrough and figuring out a puzzle on your own, interface differences and difficulty, controller vs mouse and keyboard, first use of voice acting, lore bombs and voice acting, casting and directing voiceover, the excellence of the LucasArts voice department, Broken Age documentary, local talent, the rules and boundaries of an adventure game world, writer's room, having a shared history between designer and player, setting up the rules for what's allowed, differences between characters' puzzles, adopting a character worldview, how do the writers split the work, intentional red herrings and crossover meanings, predicting player actions, usability and children, experimenting on the world, the affordances of a space and status effects, when being a game developer gets in the way of puzzle-solving, l'esprit d'escalier, Chron-o-Johns and object time travel transfers, seasonal games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Half-Life 3, Sierra On-Line, Monkey Island series, Grim Fandango, Double Fine Productions, Broken Age, Telltale Games, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy IX, Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Larry Ahern, Space Quest, Starfighter, Secret of Monkey Island, Thurston Howell III, Woody Allen, Final Fantasy XIII, Les Nessman, WKRP, Darragh O'Farrell, Khris Brown, Bethesda Game Studios, *Wes* Johnson (not Stephen), Star Wars, Curse of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert, Thimbleweed Park, Humongous Entertainment, Firewatch, Full Throttle, Jonathan Ackley, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Dark Souls, Demons' Souls, Super Mario Bros., Ryan Johnson, Gian Ciammariconi, Richard Bussey, World of Warcraft, Persona series, Far Cry 2, Idle Thumbs.

Thimbleweed Park
Thimbleweed Park Podcast

Next time:
Finish Day of the Tentacle! Final episode will be spoiler-ific.
Send us email about where you got stuck!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Jun 15, 2016

In this first episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we talk about the influence of adventure games generally and the reputed mis-reporting of games being dead, as well as talking about the format of this game in particular. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Note: Brett keeps referring to Monkey Island 2 and Secret of Monkey Island kind of interchangeably. We regret the error.

Sections played:
Hard to say! But we both tried to get to where Laverne drapes herself in the flag, about three hours of play.

Podcast breakdown:
0:33      Intro and segment 1
41:50    Break 1
42:17    Segment 2: intro to game, usability, format
1:24:10 Break 2
1:24:41 Segment 3: next time, FF9 follow-up, Hitman follow-up, outro


Issues covered: Hosts' early history with adventure games, playing text adventures on a 200 baud modem, calling hint lines, how to get hired at LucasArts, "death of the adventure game," exploring new directions for the genre, nostalgia factor and moving on from adventure games in 1993, usability issues in adventure games, grognard capture (and the audience base), exploration and getting into the head of the designer, player vs simulation, keeping the adventure game alive and evolving it this millennium, user-facing features and a request for reader input, wish fulfillment in your adventure games, immediacy of power fantasy in 1993, enthusiast press and what they focus on, Gold Guy animations, opening credits, building on existing technology vs building new technology (and the 3D revolution), no Star Wars games at LucasArts, art style for DoTT to preserve a look rather than lose it through low resolution, sparseness of initial playable environment -- tutorialization? or just lucky..., expanding the possibility space, puzzle threads, repetitive dialog as hints and lack of that in the inventory items, puzzles as quests but without a supporting journal or log, clarity or consistency of object or puzzle state, figuring out the weird constraints of time travel, level design thoughtfulness, a mechanical misstep that induces a lot of repetitive play, fighting the game, a jigsaw puzzle where you're not sure you have all the puzzle pieces, film references, choice of language and what's important to reinforce themes, maintaining consistent vision and the difficulties that team size present.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Double Fine Productions, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Defenders of Dynatron City, Tim Schafer, Zork, Sierra On-Line, King's Quest, Space Quest, Infocom, Advent.exe, The Wizard and the Princess, On-Line Systems, Mystery House, King's Quest, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Daron Stinnett, Aric Wilmunder, Ray Gresko, Steve Dautermann, Starfighter, Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island, Jonathan Ackley, Larry Ahern, Final Fantasy IX, Resident Evil, Myst, The 7th Guest, Phantasmagoria, Gabriel Knight series, Police Quest series, Manhunter series, Doom, Ultima Underworld, Ultima IX Ascension, Sean Clark, The Dig, Mike Stemmle, Minecraft, Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Humongous Entertainment, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam, Putt-Putt, Spy Fox, Wadjet Eye, Emerald City Confidential, Blackwell series, Sam and Max Freelance Police, Kevin Bruner, Telltale Games, Dan Connors, Obi-Wan, The Walking Dead, Wallace and Gromit, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Brütal Lëgend, Psychonauts, Dead Space, Pixar, Metal Gear Solid, Wayne Cline, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Haden Blackman, Vince Lee, Rebel Assault, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Larry Holland, Fractalus, Habitat, Peter Chan, Broken Age, Minecraft: Story Mode, Majora's Mask, Daniel Johanson, Josh Arman, Jon Hassan, Doctor Who, Jason Schreier, Hitman (2016), Echochrome, Remember Me, Don't Nod, Life Is Strange, David Cage, Mirror's Edge.

Next time:
Another 3 hours or so of the game! Look on Twitter to see what's what.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Jun 8, 2016

In this fifth and final episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, we explore Tim's difficulty finishing the game on time, the ending of the game, and the things we take away from it. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Pandemonium to end of game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:32    Segment 1: Finishing the game
35:03  Break 1
35:35  Segment 2: What we take away

Issues covered: the difficulty in the final area, sharing a save file, the difficulty of the endings of more than one game, preconceived notions (including button use on controllers), level as a measure, Chaos Lords, forced puzzling (Reflect), Tim the total cheater, ability leveling, subverting player goals with random battles, negative reinforcement to movement, eating your JRPG vegetables, thoughtful endings (and their rarity in games), world state changes, Zidane winning Tim over, the shape of Zidane's character arc, one-off vs reusable moments, minimal interactivity maintaining your focus, status system discovery, "mixed experiences"/multiple modes of play vs cohesive experiences, conventions of form, epic themes and effects, creating one's life for oneself vs destruction and death, reader mail: design choices to promote new business interests, strategy guides as crutch, Bobby Corwin.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy VIII, Star Wars Republic Commando, Halo, Full Throttle II, World of Warcraft, Andrew Kirmse, Ni No Kuni, Gabriel Garza, other FFs, SNES, Xbox 360/Xbox, Justin Bieber, Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, Final Fantasy XIII, Witcher III (drink), Wild Arms 3, Reed Knight, Monster Hunter, Ultima, Might & Magic, Metal Gear Solid series, Nintendo, Sly Cooper series, Bard's Tale, Eye of the Beholder, Ultima Underworld, Planescape: Torment, Sakaguchi, Bob Chesser, Zelda 2, Kevin Schmitt, LucasArts, Troy Mashburn, Half-Life 2, Dead Space 2.

Next time:
Keep your eyes on @devgameclub, because we are still figuring it out!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Jun 1, 2016

In this fourth episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, we turn to the latter half of the game and Brett loses his mind over six hours riding chocobos. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
From Treno/Tetra Master Tournament to Pandemonium

Podcast breakdown:
0:30      Podcast intro
1:02      Segment 1: Chocobos and World Changes
37:35    Break 1
38:03    Segment 2: Character arcs
1:10:28 Break 2
1:10:53 Reader mail, outro

Issues covered: Chocobo Dreams and the whole enormous Chocobo side quest, Kupo Nuts side quest (referenced; mentioning here because I never got back to the email), side quests in Western RPGs and FOMO, Final Fantasy IX strategy guide, the Stellazio side quests, side locations and the overworld pay-off, "curing" Cid, state changes in locations as the world progresses, getting to know a place, setting and character, Blue Narciss and overworld travel escalation, the Oeilvert Maguffin (which is the name of Brett's new all-synth band), Black Mage moral quandaries, character arcs, Quan's cave, world on the brink, comparing the Final Fantasies, the dark side of varying mechanics, mentally modeling an environment and camera changes, adventure games, merging two characters into a monster, Cid mini-game, adding two and two and making four, adulterous Cid, localization, narrative compression, Tim's dislike of Zidane, the four temples, lack of preparation time for gear, ability equipping, conflicting gear, Terra and Gaia, the human level of motivation, art direction correlations between Terra and Iifa, ties between Zidane and Vivi, Garland and Darth Vader, souls and identity themes, meeting your maker, Zidane's original sin, Soulcage reader feedback, descent in Japanese myth (Yomi/Hell/Hades, and Izanami and Izanagi), reviews and the setting of expectations.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy XIII, Jason Schreier, Witcher series, BioWare, Tomb Raider (2013), other Final Fantasies, Billy Connell, Sakaguchi, Secret of Monkey Island (obliquely), Total Recall, Ernst Lubitsch, Justin Bieber, Legend of Zelda, Starcraft, Halo, Star Wars, Jon Hassan, Daniel Johannson, Enslaved: A Journey to the West, Benjamin Lauser, Barrington Case, Zach Kuschel, Metal Gear Solid V, Filmspotting, Adam Kempenaar, Reed Knight, Trespasser, Deadly Premonition, Skyrim.

Next time:
Finish the game!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub