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: November, 2016
Nov 30, 2016

Welcome to our first episode examining 1994's Star Wars classic TIE Fighter. We talk a lot about the Star Wars presentation, simulation depth and choices, and touch a bit on the story. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Battles 1-3

Podcast breakdown:
0:29      Segment 1, Felis Interruptus
20:35    Quick Break
20:40    Segment 2

Issues covered: six degrees of Bill Bixby, Holland's WWII series, alternate histories, showing the perspective of the bad guys, multiplayer and technical feasibility, Star Wars presentation, cockpits in the films, cookie-cutter bureaucracy of the Empire, linear narratives driving things forward in other games, simulating a military career, voice work, Star Wars melodrama and narrative glue, leaning on the films' fiction, secret society of the Emperor, bonus objectives, naming your pilot, save structure, opening cinematic, propaganda, paralleling the films, the Thrawn trilogy, color choices in the HUD, key confusion, level of difficulty, playing like a puzzle game, flight simulation dead ends, genre lulls, flight sims as technical showcases, grognard capture, flying the F-22, moving to flight action, Warthog sims, simulators everywhere, bridging to more accessible games, configuring the complex flight stick, roll and pull configs, guiding the mouse, pulling you back to Star Wars, flying a variety of craft, basis of the Assault Gunboat and the Tydirium Shuttle, introducing the TIE Advanced, vulnerability in the popcorn ship, managing difficulty, energy management, "where's my lasers?", flight model, player skill payoff of deep simulation, roguelikes and punishment, mission length, finishing the primary objectives and moving on, player agency with extra content.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: That Darn Cat, Disney, Bill Bixby, Incredible Hulk, Marvel, Star Wars, Larry Holland, LucasArts, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Day of the Tentacle, Chuck Yeager, Falcon series, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Battlezone, Indiana Jones series, Battlehawks 1942, Their Finest Hour, Wing Commander, X-Wing, Totally Games, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Rogue One, Dark Forces, Starfighter, James Taylor, Yoda, Deus Ex, Bob Page, Republic Commando, Timothy Zahn, Heir to the Empire, Reed Knight, Star Citizen, Descent, ARMA, F-16, Daron Stinnett, Spectrum Holobyte, Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Call of Duty, Starcraft, Return of the Jedi, Battlestar Galactica, Souls series, Bioshock, System Shock 2.

Next time:
Battles 4 through 7

"That Darn Cat" featured Dean Jones, not Bill Bixby. DevGameClub regrets the error.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Nov 23, 2016

Welcome to Dev Game Club Bonus Content. We've both played a little bit of The Evil Within and here we lovingly render our verdict in stunning HD. Usually, Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary, but here in Bonus Content we just chat about something descended from one of our main games and talk about the directions it's gone.

Podcast breakdown:
0:35    Bonus Content: Evil Within and Feedback
58:27  Bonus Bonus Content from Brett

Issues covered: action horror vs slower-paced, text description, gore overload, stealth elements, using fire to your advantage, putting carts before horses, the agony crossbow, Mikami's tropes, story scale/scope, the Japanese factor in melodramatic amp-up, the hospital hub, empathy work in horror games and slasher films, keys to the lockers, fictionalizing all the game mechanics, expensive progression system, getting all the progress, brief encounters with chainsaws, tight level design, look of specific technology (idTech 5, Unreal), character design, NPC companions, PS1 controls, film and Resident Evil, New Years Resolutions.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill series, Tomb Raider, Rage, DOOM (2016), Uncharted series, Far Cry series, Assassin's Creed series, Hitman, Alien Isolation, Bethesda Game Studios, Shinji Mikami, Capcom, Bioshock, Quentin Tarantino, Halloween I and II, Destiny, Republic Commando, Chris Williams, Wolfenstein: The New Order, BattleTankBob, Final Fantasy VII & IX, Robin Sakai, Metal Gear Solid, Hideo Kojima, Greg Naughton, Fallout, UnderTale, Underrail, Troika Games, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Kill Screen, TIE Fighter, Mortimer and the Riddle of the Medallion, XvT, X-Wing, Chris Suellentrop, JJ Sutherland, Shall We Play A Game podcast, Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment, The Instance podcast.

Next time:
TIE Fighter, the first three battles

The early "ARG" Brett refers to from the 1980s was called "Treasure: In Search of the Golden Horse."

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Nov 16, 2016

Welcome to our fourth and final episode examining 1996's survival horror classic Resident Evil. We discuss the major story beats of the section, the nonsensical mess of the ending, the tyrant, and talk about some pillars and takeaways from the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finishing the game! In the labs.

Podcast breakdown:
0:29 Segment 1: The end and takeaways
52:03 Segment 2: Reviews and what's next

Issues covered: current events, RE story beats, the thin hand-waving at a conspiracy involving Wesker, multiple endings, filling out the map and finding the three computers, faking urgency, new game+ stuff, credits sequence, commitment to melodrama, Wesker and Revolver Ocelot, famous villains, asymmetry and symmetry in monsters, foreshadowing and suspense, lack of feedback fighting the tyrant, poor telegraphing, teaching is important, custom coding vs systemic work, frustrated filmmakers, disempowerment/anti-wish fulfillment, genre reinforcing well with mechanics, self-contained/holistic spaces, better puzzles at the end, resource management, cinematic cameras and techniques.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, Metal Gear Solid series, LOST, Chrono Cross, Silent Hill 2, Siri, Starfighter, 343 Industries, Hideo Kojima, Shinji Mikami, Capcom, Warren Spector, Firewatch, Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin, The Evil Within, DOOM (1993), Quake, Tomb Raider (2013), The Descent, Soma, Amnesia, Frictional Games, Penumbra, Alien: Isolation, Dead Space, Event Horizon, Rage, DOOM (2016), Yarkie, ChadBarth, TIE Fighter, Rogue One.

Next time:
Join us next week for a little bonus content for Thanksgiving week!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Nov 9, 2016

Welcome to our third episode examining 1996's survival horror classic 3. We discuss the major story beats of the section, delve into the puzzles, discuss how spaces like these are made, enemies, a whole cornucopia of topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Tunnels

Podcast breakdown:
0:32      Segment 1: Story beats, Puzzles
54:30    Break
54:54    Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: C.O.L.D., story beats and "wacky Japanese stuff," meeting Lisa more than once, military industrial complex, Barry's story and splitting up, puzzle battle with Lisa, knowing what to do and be unable to do it, weaknesses of the camera and controls, bending the verbs to do a different thing, thinking things won't work as a game developer, examination puzzles, sham object puzzles, spider reveal, Lisa creature design, Brett's former fear of spiders and how it differs from Tim's, bringing your own history to a game, using simplest collision detection, carrying the Zippo, walk boxes to restrain character movement, abstracting the space, enemy choices and design, shark fears, monsters out of place, diving in and trusting the game's save system, not every game is for every person, audio and its unique way to cut into us because it has no frame, use of silence to accentuate environmental sounds and build tension, use of windows in the game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Starfighter, Metal Gear Solid, Back to the Future, rest of Resident Evil series, Ken Levine, System Shock 2, Skyrim, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, The Evil Within, SOMA, Amnesia, Neverwinter Nights, Lord of the Rings (obliquely), Day of the Tentacle, Dave Grossman, Grim Fandango, Thimbleweed Park, Ron Gilbert, Killzone 2, Final Fantasy IX, Assassin's Creed, The Shallows, The Muppet Movie, Jaws, Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Nathan Martz, Dark Souls, Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, Robin Sakai, Michael Lewis, Republic Commando, Dave Collins, Jesse Harlin, TimmyMcCoy, Fastpaced350, Cameron Potter.

Next time:
Finish the game!

Walk boxes in Thimbleweed Park

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Nov 2, 2016

Welcome to our second episode examining 1996's survival horror classic Resident Evil. We discuss the tight resource management of the game and the spatial logic of the place, amongst other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the tunnels (in theory)

Podcast breakdown:
0:33    Segment 1: Resources (saves) and Spaces
50:27  Break
51:00  Segment 2: Feedback, next time, links

Issues covered: save system, Tim and min-maxing OCD, clearing the map, differences between easy and normal, difficulty settings in games then and now, difficulty for developers and QA, punishing the player, controller difficulty, memorizing spaces, frustration and fighting the controls, fear response on lower difficulty, popping heads, running into other characters and having the space stop making sense, story choices, lack of story logic, "gaminess" of the design, crate teleportation, inventory systems in RE, realism fighting sensibility, localization, house structure as a real place not holding up, finding the balance of game needs and realism in level design, deliberately breaking spatial sense, surreal spatial design, Aetherium design, negative-space editing, exploiting engines, piecing together bits of story in journals, the wrong Moonlight Sonata, referring to the lighter, passive storytelling, VATS and more tactical options for added depth.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Batman, Justice League, Alone in the Dark, Apple ][, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, SNES, Metroid series, Fear Effect series, Dead Rising series, Hideo Kojima, Resident Evil 4, GameCube, Biohazard, Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within, Psycho Break, Silent Hill 2, Winchester Mystery House, Robert Venturi, This American Life, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Starfighter, Hal Barwood, N64, Reed Knight, Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim, GamaSutra, Troy Mashburn, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Beric Holt, Fallout series, Soldier of Fortune, Oblivion.

Next time:
Really play up and into the tunnels. No, really this time.

Brett on GamaSutra playing and talking Skyrim

Brett on recognizing a designer's work

Old post in which I mention The Aetherium from Infernal Machine

Old post about difficulty settings

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub