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: August, 2016
Aug 31, 2016

Welcome to our second episode in our series examining Super Metroid. We talk a bit about what we might do with the series if it were handed to us, and delve deeply into the way Samus fits into the world completely. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until the Ice Beam

Podcast breakdown:
0:33    Segment 1: innovating Metroid and character context
48:13  Break 1
48:45  Segment 2: Skill-based play, bits and bobs, and reader mail!

Issues covered: what do you do with this franchise if they hand it to you, destructability, history of Samus Aran as a potential exploration angle, the game hitting its stride, are most of the weapons missable?, getting stuck (or are you), not reading the f'ing manual again (running), a nearly perfect game design, abilities you can disable, the big gold statue and Ridley, scanning and lore and collection, what the manual reveals, players skip everything, economy of character design, building to human scale, player focus, when the stars align and you are the hero, the demise of poor Chester Copperpot, building a hero, biodiversity in Star Trek vs Star Wars, "it's a video game *first*," overdoing context, wanting to make all the puzzle pieces fit, nerd desire for in-references and coherence, Brett hasn't seen the Lord of the Rings movies, shortcutting back in loops vs weaker backtracking, punishing Norfair, skill-based games and pushing through to being good at it, the pleasure of physical stuff, what turns one off from a thing, player ownership of mistakes, games getting in the way, opening doors for good, enemy mix and variance, enemy ecology, map issues and future work in that area, reader mail about speedrunning, wall jump, speedrunning against programming, reprogramming console games with a controller.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Metroid Prime series, Tomb Raider, Metroid: Other M, This American Life, Fez, Paper Mario series, Shadow Complex, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Star Trek, Super Mario series, Legend of Zelda, The Goonies, Star Wars, Daron Stinnett, Indiana Jones, Starfighter series, Suicide Squad, Shadows of Mordor, The Silmarillion, Lord of the Rings movies, Harry Potter movies, Super Mario Galaxy, Superman, Guacamelee, Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, WarCraft.

Next time:
Up through boss Draygon

Zora, the superhero featured on This American Life

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Aug 24, 2016

Welcome to our first episode in our series examining Super Metroid, our first foray into playing something that is exclusively on console. We first situate the game and the series in importance and discuss the influence of Japanese design before turning to the first couple of hours of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until the Charge Beam

Podcast breakdown:
0:31      Segment 1: Relevance/Impact
26:47    Break 1
27:23    Segment 2: First part
1:10:30 Break 2
1:10:54 Segment 3: Outro/Next time

Issues covered: how one pronounces "Douville," synchronization bugs, impact of Japanese, mix of skill-based play and environmental puzzles and exploration and tactical decisions, concurrent original development of multiple storied franchises, the time constraints on adult players, open world games and growing the space, narrative and the environment, foreshadowing in the main menu, narrative tone, stylized minimalistic music, opening cutscene, pixel art, character design, weapon and damage types, weapons and macro/micro design, less economical design at AAA, depth vs breadth, constraining the player to drive creativity, testing what you've learned, "mode 7" rendering, parallax and storytelling, reverse blood-locking, RTFM, tiny lessons and reinforcements, forcing you to learn, map limitations, giving you the things that you need, the need for elevators, conveying information in tile art, playing with player expectations.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: DLC podcast, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, Bill Roper, Blizzard, WarCraft, Patrick Wyatt, Nathan Martz, Brütal Lëgënd, Nintendo R&D, Yoshi Sakamoto, Castlevania, Mario series, Legend of Zelda series, No Man's Sky, Metroid Prime series, Starfighter, Tomb Raider (2013), Firewatch, Alien, Aliens, Boba Fett, Star Wars, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime Federation Force, Shovel Knight, Axiom Verge, Halo, Mode7 Games, Paul Kilduff-Taylor, Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, Randy Smith, Dishonored, Doom (2016), Metal Gear Solid series, Final Fantasy VII/IX, Outlaws, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Headlander.

Next time:
Up until the Ice Beam

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Aug 18, 2016

Welcome to our final episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, where we welcome guest Bill Roper! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Quick show note: We had some technical difficulties with Bill's mic, so he's a little quiet. Apologies. It is worth boosting your headphones to hear him.

Podcast breakdown:
0:38      Bill Roper Interview
1:12:41 Break 1
1:13:06 Outro, next game

Issues covered: Blizzard pre-Warcraft, how Bill got in, voice over, joining up to do anything, having empathy for orcs, manual symmetry, making investments in quality, notepads add heft, guerrilla marketing, "Growing up Blizzard," inclusivity and the "Mom test," getting into the RTS market, raising the bar back and forth with Westwood, SVGA resolution, LAN multiplayer, desynchronization bugs, pushing the capabilities of the engine, stringing missions together into a story, constant iteration of game writing, ebb and flow of mission types, longer development time for 1993, everything going right for Warcraft 2, emergence of the multiple click voice lines, letting the team find a new feature, AAA production focus vs indie innovation ability, planning for innovation and leadership buy-in, great ideas come from everywhere, Blizzard culture and design credited to the team, flip-side: killing your babies, everybody playing the game, the quote board, the world's most expensive QA team, meritocracy, Blizzard's influence on the industry and its inclusivity, simple to learn/difficult to master, supporting approachability with humor and aesthetics, grognard capture, free multiplayer clients with the single-player game, genesis of Battle.Net, pay-to-play multiplayer services, the influences that led to the orcs, the origins of Medivh's name, exiling the wolf riders, characterizing units through voice and portraiture, embedding character into the gameplay, telling side stories because you don't know what the player looks like, audio cues as feedback system, economical design, micro-management, building on roads, mini-map choices: essentially just an alert, no playing the game off the mini-map, trolling pro players, avoiding mini-map distraction, design discipline.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Warcraft series, Starcraft series, Diablo series, Champions, Star Trek Online, Blizzard, Silicon & Synapse, Justice League Task Force, Lost Vikings, Rock n' Roll Racing, Dune 2, Herzog Zwei, Blackthorne, Mars: Bringer of War (Hölst), Glenn Stafford, Allen Adham, Mike Morhaime, Magic: The Gathering, Jeopardy, MAD magazine, Davidson & Associates, Bethesda Game Studios, Oblivion, Command & Conquer, Westwood Studios, Ron Millar, id Software, Epic Megagames, Starfighter games, Bob Fitch, Republic Commando, Daron Stinnett, Dave Brevik, Erich and Max Schaefer, Farmville, Mafia Wars, Mario Kart, Hearthstone, Chris Metzen, Wing Commander, Skyrim, Myth series, Stu Venable, GURPS, Happy Jacks, Poxy Boggards.

You should follow @BillRoper on Twitter!

Check out his podcast, Happy Jacks RPG Podcast! Or their website!

Bliss out to the RennFaire strains of the Poxy Boggards!

Next time:
Super Metroid! Play until you get the charge beam (save around that)

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Aug 17, 2016

A sudden emergency made recording our guest interview with Bill Roper impossible, so we postponed. Brett hops on the mic to quickly brief you on that, and to announce our next game!

Next time:

Still Bill Roper!


@brett_douville, @timlongojr, @devgameclub

Aug 10, 2016

Welcome to our fourth episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. We finish off our discussion of the game, discussing the last few missions and turning to our takeways and pillars. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Humans 10-12 and Orcs 10-12

Podcast breakdown:
0:36     Segment 1: Last four missions
32:35   Break 1
33:12   Segment 2: Takeaways, pillars, and next time

Issues covered: big army missions, Brett's final strategy: wizards and warlocks FTW!, demons and elementals as hero units, level design as scheduling, cheating AI, Brett the programmer nerd: using a unit as a counter variable, constraints inspire creativity, finding the fun, player-centric design, mission customization in later RTSes, unique locations at the end of the game (Stormwind Castle and Blackrock Spire), limiting need for upgrades at end of game, "more" instead of "different," turning drama into tedium, Warcraft nerd-out time, Warcraft radio drama, embracing micromanagement, focusing a challenge due to street-to-street fighting, stationed units, variety in mission types, light narrative elements as motivating force, DOS technical limitations, ending cinematics, whole team as design credit, scoring ranks, rhythm and timing and time as a currency, tension in real-time vs turn-based, RNG vs determinism.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Cary Grant, The Bachelor and the Bobby-soxer, Labyrinth, Chess, Dawn of War II, Company of Heroes, Starcraft II, Dark Forces, Sid Meier, Civilization, Doom, ARMA, Starfighter, Star Wars, Daron Stinnett, Rogue Squadron, Rogue Leader, Warcraft III, Starcraft: Brood War, DotA, Relic Entertainment, Reed Knight, World of Warcraft: Legion, Cataclysm, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, The Trouble with Tribbles, Chris Metzen, Samwise Didier, Dune 2, Diablo, Bungie, Myth series, Command & Conquer, Tetris, Drop 7, Conan, Warcraft II, XCOM, Gold Box series, Bill Roper, Disney, Hellgate: London, Flagship Studios.

Next time:
Special guest BILL ROPER!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Aug 3, 2016

Welcome to our third episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. We specifically discuss micro management, real-time strategy as a genre, and a bit of the Warcraft lore, though not to excess. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Humans 7-9 and Orcs 7-9, interleaved

Podcast breakdown:
0:37 One long take this time!

Issues covered: dealing with spellcasters, MOBAs, target-focused management of time and resources vs spatial, conjurers as generators of free units, balancing against Rain of Fire, spellcasters turning into hero units, automating unit production in later games, reducing clicks to manage greater complexity (but further abstract the game), defeating micromanagement, micromanagement pros and cons, street by street combat, catapults, "My Garona," mission variety and RPG influences, tactical turn-based combat, fewer decisions which mean more vs lots of decisions which mean less, evolving back towards wargames, real-time unshackling the player, management of capital investment, managing composition of your army, battles turning on a dime, the quickly evolving space around games, procedurality, pushing individual features to find new gaming territory, Tim's cheating heart, different approaches to killing Medivh, Garona's impact on the stories, dealing with lore, Boba/Jango Fett and dealing with fan reaction, deleting your expanded universe, Elder Scrolls and the Dragon Break, trying to fit all the pieces together, zooming in and focusing on one area of lore, overthinking your lore, Suparna Galaxy, how much lore do you need, building lore second, the role of story in games in the early 90s, deep dive on Medivh, the absurdity of Fett family history.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: World of Warcraft, Starcraft series, Diablo, Command & Conquer, Baldur's Gate, Fallout, Ultima series, Gold Box series of RPGs, chess, Eye of the Beholder series, Dominion, Nethack, Rogue, No Man's Sky, Republic Commando, Starfighter, Elder Scrolls series, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Haden Blackman, Ryan Kaufman, Insider's Guide, Tomb Raider (2013), John Carmack, Hearthstone.

Next time:
Finish the game!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub