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: July, 2016
Jul 27, 2016

Welcome to our second episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. We specifically discuss unit introduction and the evolution of the genre and how it does and doesn't parallel tabletop wargaming. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Four more of each campaign -- Human 3-6, Orc 3-6

Podcast breakdown:
0:31       Intro and segment 1
37:11     Break 1
37:31     Segment 2
1:05:08  Break 2
1:05:34  Next time

Issues covered: destroying bases, unit introduction as enemies and as friendlies, unit costs as a bar to trying out new types, usability issues, Tim's difficulties with having to restart, preconceived notions, seeding towns with units for difficulty, ranged strategy and pull radii, abusing pathfinding, similarity to tower defense, playing orcs differently from the humans, Tim's changing style of play, micromanaging formations, tuning difficulty for different speeds of play, archers vs catapults, Brett thinking about how to actually build games like these, scripted pathing in Starfighter, interface challenges vs the AI player, inner workings of the Starfighter AI, dungeon levels, influence of dungeon levels here on later Blizzard games, parallels between RTSes and wargaming and early tabletop role-playing, story in Blizzard games, National Conventions and Lothar 2016, purification of genres, friction between mechanics and dungeon levels, multiplayer and game masters and playing like a machine, WarCraft 2 arriving so soon after, Blizzard development model, Blizzard maintaining corporate identity under Activision, alternating levels, playing campaigns one after the other.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Pokémon Go, Geocaching, Command and Conquer, StarCraft, Final Fantasy IX, System Shock, WarCraft 2, Bungie, Myth, Hitman 2, Hitman (2016), Starfighter, World of WarCraft, WarCraft III, WarCraft (2016 film), Samwise Didier, Chris Metzer, Michael Morhaime, Bill Roper, Disney, EverQuest, Overwatch, Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Falling, Activision, EA, Origin, Bullfrog, Lionhead, Treyarch, Bobby Kotick.

Next time:
Play three more of each campaign (if you'd like): Human 7-9, Orc 7-9

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Jul 20, 2016

In this first episode of our series discussing Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, we examine the relevance of the original game to the series as a whole and its genre in particular and begin delving into the mechanics on display in the first few levels of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
First two levels of each campaign: H1, O1, H2, O2

Podcast breakdown:
0:32        Intro and segment 1 (relevance, personal and industry wise)
33:55      Break 1
34:23      Dev and mechanics talk
1:07:05   Break 2
1:07:32   Quick additional topic and next time

Issues covered: committing to the division of Orcs and Humans, reading the freaking manual, what went into manuals and not, training the player and avoiding the manual, credits in the PS2 era, what did you need a manual for, the Indie Box, tooltips and in-game instruction, story development inside of Blizzard games vis a vis Westwood, CD-ROM and FMV, mission type variety, mods as aid to development, unit grouping count, small squads vs large armies, moving towards hero focus, MOBAs born from heroes, prioritizing even derivative lore and the potential benefits, reading 8 to 10 Warcraft novels, beneficial aesthetics, humor, self-seriousness and camp, playing with your toys, discovering games on shared computers, multiplayer culture in RTSes and FPSes, using multiplayer for develop, pathfinding and the Dining Philosophers problem, lack of formation, micromanagement for tactical gain, counting frames and managing combat closely, unsignaled progress, energy and efficiency, levels of fog of war and the Eye of Kilrogg, the weight of individual units, build speeds, deliberate pacing (lack of click-to-move), contextualization and automation debates in the mid-90s, "the game playing itself," automating those things which are not the focus, stylization and exaggeration in visual design, minimum spec.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Uncharted 4, Day of the Tentacle, LucasArts, Starfighter, Dark Souls, Gone Home, Dune 2, XCOM, Westwood, Command & Conquer, Starcraft, Wing Commander, The 7th Guest, Rebel Assault, Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3, Sid Meier, Dawn of War II, Company of Heroes, Relic Entertainment, Defense of the Ancients, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gary Gygax, Bill Roper, Chris Metzen, Samwise Didier, Michael Morhaime, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Games Workshop, Dungeons and Dragons, Patrick Stewart, Dark Forces, DOOM (original and 2016), Castle Wolfenstein, Prince of Persia, Myth: The Forgotten Lords, Bungie, Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Starship Troopers, Little King's Story, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Wayne Cline, Ultima IX, Tomb Raider, Super Mario 64, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Hal Barwood, Overwatch, Diablo III, Disney, Nintendo, Pokemon Go.

Next time:
Play four more from each campaign, still alternating Humans and Orcs!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Jul 13, 2016

In this final interview episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we welcome two guests, DOTT co-leads Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer! We had a fascinating time talking with the two of them and getting their insights on what they were trying to do and where some of the decisions came from. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Production note:
Some of Brett's voice cut out during recording, and so there are a couple places where that is patched up.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39 Interview with Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer
1:01:55 Segment 2: Next time on DevGameClub!

Issues covered: long introductions of our interviewees, holding your breath for ten minutes, the puzzles you remember when you revisit a game, openness in adventure game design, the lessons of inexperience, three- and four-act structures, puzzle miasma, non-linearity and agency, "Why Adventure Games Suck," backwards puzzles, "how's the player supposed to figure this out?," pizza orgies, playtesting, usability, origin of the time travel motif and mechanic, Kerner buildings and ILM and the paradise of Skywalker Ranch, the turtle sweater puzzle and bitter tears, interface puzzles, low execution barrier, Monkey Island 2 air tube and available interface vocabulary, tiny cutthroat pool, dialogue puzzle, when a puzzle is broken, what's allowed when you use something only once vs ten times, branches and offshoots of adventure games, the adventure game headspace and how things aren't necessarily represented on the screen but in the player's head, having time to play, making systems vs crafting a few minutes at a time, sweet spot for puzzle difficulty, prequels and business realities, "I love this fucking game!," pacing in Telltale Games, "hero rooms," procedural narrative, computer-written Mozart, levels of narrative, macro vs micro, injecting the player into the story, red herrings, the obvious solution never works, guiding the player back, the mummy as helpdesk, what these gentlemen are up to today.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Monkey Island series, LucasArts, Humongous Games, Hulabee, Telltale Games, Earplay, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brütal Lëgënd, Broken Age, Tim Delacruz, Jonathan Ackley, Ron Gilbert, Noah Falstein, Gary Winnick, Die Hard 2, Gwen Musengwa, Gone Home, Infocom, Zork, Hitchhiker's Guide, Star Wars, Sierra, Republic Commando, Uncharted 4, Left 4 Dead, Chris Crawford, Clint Hocking, Hal Barwood, Peter Chan, Larry Ahern, Pete McConnell, Clint Bajakian, Jory Prum (RIP), Codename Cygnus, Pokemon, Futurama: Game of Drones.

Tim Schafer mentions a Hamlet text adventure that's web-based
Tim and Dave refer a couple times to them playing the game, and you can watch that on YouTube
Codename Cygnus 
Futurama Game of Drones
Day of the Tentacle iOS

Next time:
Warcraft, the RTS that launched a whole universe!
Play the first four episodes, playing Human 1, Orc 1, then Human 2, Orc 2.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub