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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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Oct 18, 2017

Welcome to this special bonus interview episode of Dev Game Club, where we welcome Julian Gollop into X-COM Base Provolone for a chat. We delve into the genesis of the game, how a publisher saved the game and itself, and many other topics surrounding the development of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:41       Gollop Interview
1:05:20  Break
1:05:50  Next time

Issues covered: Julian's ludography, genesis of X-COM, adding isometric rendering, Microprose's demands of the Gollops, interceptions, bolting on a strategic layer atop the tactical model, having more intelligent aliens and reverse engineering, men in black not making it in, intrapublisher competition, tabletop boardgaming and influence, miniature wargaming, simultaneous movement games, division of labor, geoscape rendering, going to the pub with the producer, getting canceled and not knowing about it, being developed under the radar, QA standing up for the game, working in-house, seeing through the cruft, advancing the alien agenda (mission counts), scaling difficulty, game not being played through before ship, small QA team, adding a difficulty scaling system last-minute, the save game bug, enjoying a simulation of intelligence (of an alien nature), how the alien tech tree works, deployment tables for mission types, save-scumming, theorizing about the difficulty curve, difficulty as draw and happy accidents, "When gamers were gamers," QA as a critical team element, explicit research goals, research as storytelling, procedural generation of level tile placement, descriptions of Phoenix Point, 4X with a declining population, explicit story, the Phoenix Project.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: 2010, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mythos Games, X-COM (series), Laser Squad, Lords of Chaos, RebelStar (series), Codo Technologies, Laser Squad Nemesis, UbiSoft, Snapshot Games, Microprose UK, Stephen Hand, Civilization, Gerry Anderson, UFO (TV series), Thunderbirds, Space: 1999, Alien Liaison, Timothy Good, Bob Lazar, Squad Leader, Sniper, SPI, RoboRally, John Reitze, Martin Smiley, Spectrum Holobyte, Chris Blohm, Final Fantasy IX, X-COM: Apocalypse, Phoenix Point, Dark Souls, John Broomhall, HP Lovecraft, Cthulhu, FIG, Fallout, Tim Cain, EA, Sid Meier, John Carpenter, The Thing, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Link Between Worlds, Wasteland II, The Evil Within.

BrettYK: 0
TimYK: 43

Links:
Phoenix Point

UFO television series


Next time:
Silent Hill 2 - check Twitter for how far we'll go

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

Oct 11, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are quickly going over the beginning of X-COM: Enemy Unknown. Surprisingly, although we both liked it, we preferred the original. Stockholm Syndrome? Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
The first couple hours

Podcast breakdown:
0:39    Discussion of Enemy Unknown
35:53  Break
36:24  Feedback and reviews

Issues covered: Firaxis's recent history, preferring the original, investment bias, hitting a stride in the original, usability improvements, holding your hand a bit, flowchart for learning stuff, complete hand-holding, constant camera cutting, a lot of loss of drama, dynamic cameras, camera cutting and immersion, base management, playing the original right next to the remake, playing chess, the rules you make up for yourself, reducing squad size, increasing depth, subclassing characters, ability trees, how do you determine what class a guy should be, tactical improvements due to classing, reducing the time unit complexity, more intuitive opportunity fire and movement, streamlining and removing the jazz improvisation, how far do you streamline?, discrete time units, making a game more shallow to broaden the audience, being explicit about the geopolitical game, board game nature of panic monitor, you can see interesting decisions coming from the geopolitical game, interesting and hard choices, having to pick one or the other, puzzle aspect of balancing choices and rewards and panic, panic and DEFCON, abstracting time management, hitting a stride with the original, Metal Gear naming, Big Boss on the Memorial Wall, getting into game development, a bit of horror discussion, games not existing in a vacuum, loss of context for the creation of art.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Star Wars (obliquely), Julian Gollop, Nick Gollop, Firaxis Games, Silent Hill 2, X-Com 2, Mario + Rabbids, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy XII, Dragon Magazine, Republic Commando, Civilization, Drake Gens, Reed Knight, TIE Fighter, Unity, Unreal, Brendan Keough, J K/Justin, RebelFM, Anthony Gallegos, Eternal Darkness, WeyounNumber6, LucasArts, Fallout, Kwakerjak, Jak & Daxter, Mozart, Lpkid641, Jason Schreier, Kotaku, Jordan Staley, Nier Automata.

BrettYK: 0
TimYK: 51

Links:
X-COM Art Direction Postmortem 

Next time:
Interview, or start Silent Hill 2? Keep an eye on the Twitter feed.

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

Oct 4, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our third in a series of episodes about 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense. We wrap up our discussion of the game, covering save-scumming and difficulty, and talk about some pillars and takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Just as much as we could fit in

Podcast breakdown:
0:39     Segment 1: X-Com finale
41:51   Break
42:24   Segment 2: Pillars and feedback

Issues covered: the terror mission that kicked Tim's butt, getting under your skin, "super-gratifying," difficulty curve a bit too steep, quitting the game early, interceptor trouble, plasma clips, the United States pulling out, powered armor, aliens I have seen, experimentation and determining enemy behavior rules, negative connotation of save-scumming, fairness, save-scumming to survive, aggressive play, discovery and save-scumming, setting up the second playthrough, smoke inhalation, planning around the 88% shot, forcing improvisation, figuring out elevations and other rules for line of sight, pacing and rhythm and controls, waiting on research and manufacture, endless learning curve, sending out the rookies to die, how medkits work, motion scanner use, the first two turns, flanking more, chain reactions, multilayered interdependent systems at the tactical level, having to deliver on the tactical combat, alien autopsies, player-driven stories, escalation of the game, invasion story to counter-invasion story, wish fulfillment of being a government bureaucrat, "they said yes to a lot of things," generosity in game design, scaling generosity because it's a sim, why games didn't incorporate time in calculations, Bad Designer No Twinkie, modding in games, unique ability of games to mod, why Vagrant Story is so good, restoring Brett's blog, horror games,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Alien, Metal Gear, Casablanca, Blade Runner*, Laser Squad, Temple of Elemental Evil**, Troika, Arcanum, Final Fantasy Tactics, Mario + Rabbids, Far Cry 2, Rogue Spear, Rainbox Six, Zelda: Link Between Worlds, Ghostbusters, Rube Goldberg, Republic Commando, V: The Miniseries, Morgan Gray, Super Mario World, Nick Faulhaber, Dungeon Keeper, Ernest Adams, GamaSutra, Joao Vitor Bispo Galvao, Planescape: Torment, OpenXCOM, System Shock 2, Firaxis, Just Cause 2, Skyrim, Thomas the Tank Engine, Patrick Holleman, Losstarot, Kotaku: Splitscreen, Final Fantasy XII, Vagrant Story, Yasumi Matsuno, Dark Souls, Devil May Cry, JQ (yes, that's my real name), Resident Evil, Don Delillo, Zero K, Emily Ruskovich, Idaho, Hideo Kojima, Drop 7, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Silent Hill 2, Clock Tower, Fatal Frame, Crimson Butterfly, Amnesia, Condemned: Criminal Origins, SOMA, Cthulhu.

*Yes, I flubbed the quote, it has been quite some time.
**It was 2003 (not 2004) and I was close: it was D&D 3.5.

BrettYK: 4
TimYK: 79

Links:
OpenXCOM: https://openxcom.org/

Kickstarter for Reverse Design, Volume II: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/144457690/reverse-design-volume-two

Next time:

Guest?

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

Sep 27, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our third in a series of episodes about 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense. We talk about our plans of attack for the game, whether the game is reacting to our plans, and how sim games make an argument. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Who even knows anymore?

Podcast breakdown:
0:31 Game discussion
39:19 Break
39:45 Feedback/email

Issues covered: Tim's death of dysentery, Tim's approach and Brett's approach, reserving time for opportunity fire, how time units scale, ranking soldiers and hierarchy, mastery of sims, taking down a much larger UFO, is it dynamically scaling?, algorithms and tables, board game systems, complexity from simplicity, how a simulation makes an argument, visibility of rules and systems, how X-COM promotes anxiety, lack of telegraphing, wasting a player's time, the RNG and drama, strategy and planning and percentages, entertainment vs anxiety, do aliens panic?, flocking/herding/schooling behaviors, learning the AI's rules, looking forward to a modern version, exploits vs learning behaviors, empowerment of setting a trap, naming your troops and telling stories about them, streaming's impacts on games development, increasing player customization as a means of authoring, MOBAs as streaming games, shooters having difficulty crossing over, randomness in games, rewarding success because of the possibility of failure, RNG and the level layout, accessibility vs complexity and depth, transparency and mystery, over-indexing on accessibility working against aesthetics, diving deeper into games, thinking ahead to making a sim game of my own.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Oregon Trail, Ken Levine, Pandemic, Sim City, Mario vs Rabbids, Sid Meier, Randy Quaid, Johan Huizinga, Pac-Man, Clint Hocking, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Ubisoft, Super Mario World, Final Fantasy IX, Dan Hunter, The X-Files, Julian Gollop, RebelStar Raiders, Laser Squad, Dark Souls, Guernsey College (of Further Education), No One Lives Forever, Warcraft, Edge of Tomorrow, Player Unknown's BattleGrounds, Minecraft, Nuclear Throne, Vlambeer, Forza, Overwatch, Lucas Rizoli, D&D, Invisible Inc, World of Warcraft, Spelunky, Bjorn Johannson, Firaxis, GTA III, Recettar, Receiver, Surgeon Simulator, Reed Knight, Trespasser, Jurassic Park, Far Cry, Civilization, Michael Sew, Hitman 2, Hitman 2016.

BrettYK: 1
TimYK: 45

Next time:
Finish the game? (Narrator: They will not finish the game.)

Links:
https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/07/05/no-one-will-sell-no-one-lives-forever-so-lets-download-it/

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

Sep 20, 2017

That week, the Dev Game Club podcast welcomes special guest Ken Levine, founder of Irrational Games and designer/writer of System Shock 2! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:33     Intro
1:50      Early days of SS2 and Irrational
31:33    Break 1
31:57    SS2 World-building, design, future
1:17:16   Break 2
1:17:29  Quick note about next episode

Issues covered: "Shock" prototype, Looking Glass relationship and Ken's early career there, Irrational Games beginning, business structure, imagining your audience and what you'd like to make, fingering .plan files, emergence and immersion, simulation, persistent world, personal ownership of experience, engine strengths and weaknesses, making fish stew, the benefits of constraints and happy accidents, polish, sense of place, naturalism in a science fiction setting, making the most of minimalism, turning a weakness into a strength, economical design, race track design/nooks and crannies, lack of time for level review, "spreading the butter thinner over the bread," elevator as storage chest, balancing, player skill vs. character skill, the "genius of the novice," story influences and groundedness, leaning on the audio space, writing towards the voices you have, bringing everything you have to the party, single-player squad shooters, letting people figure things out, crunchier design, the pendulum of accessibility, dealing with player frustration as a resource, what next

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Paul Neurath, Looking Glass, Jon Chey, Rob Fermier, Apocalypse Now, Dark Engine, Thief, EA, Origin, Se7en, Doug Church, The Magnificent Seven, Star Trek: Voyager, Hideo Kojima, Eric Brosius, Dorian Hart, Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, Star Wars, System Shock 1, John Carmack, Ultima Underworld, Choplifter, Defender, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Might and Magic series, Doom, Warren Spector, Bethesda Game Studios, Quake, Todd Howard, Fallout 3, Skyrim, The Division, Republic Commando, GTA series, Starfighter, Terra Nova, Roberta Williams, Alien/Aliens, Kemal Amarasingham, Stephen Russell, Terry Brosius, Courtnee Draper, Sean Vanaman/Jake Rodkin, Firewatch/Campo Santo, Bioshock, Freedom Force, SWAT 4, Tribes Ascend, The Lost, Firaxis Games, Minecraft, Dark Souls, Don't Starve, Fallout 4, Left 4 Dead, Battlezone, Austin Grossman.

Next time:
Hitman 2: Beginning through level 4

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

Sep 13, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our third in a series of episodes about 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense. We talk about the ways in which procedural generation and written generation interact a bit, as well as detailing our playthrought a bit. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
In theory, 6 months

Podcast breakdown:
0:38 X-COM segment
35:05 Break
35:35 Feedback segment

Issues covered: opportunity fire cost, reserve time units, how much things cost, how we did on our goals, Brett starting over and why, researching yourself into a whole, games are a a series of interesting decisions, what are we willing to live with, difficulty knowing how you're doing, failure conditions, Tim's rocket launcher opener, alien mental effects, tile generation algorithm for terror attacks vs downed UFOs, procedural generation at its best, an engine for wonderful moments, tuning procedural generation, multiple states for tiles, persisted state of tiles, telling a story via your swath of destruction, screaming deaths of civilians, center of the UFOs, determining when to reload a save, procedural vs written content (e.g. tech trees), Brett's base management, how does science and research work, Monty Haul problem, providing two ways of thinking about/explaining a problem, psychology in game design, tricks in game design, board game popularity.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sid Meier, Civilization (series), X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Darius Kazemi, Superman (obliquely), Ryan, Giant BeastCast, Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahnemann, Bobby Oster, PlaneScape Torment, Final Fantasy Tactics, Super Mario World, Bloodborne, Warcraft, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Amy Hennig, Half-Life, Uncharted, Ogre Battle 64, Advance Wars, Tomb Raider, Eric Shields, Kotaku, X-COM: The Bureau, 2K Marin, Republic Commando, Jennifer Scheurle, Starfighter, Nathan Martz, Halo (obliquely), Andrew, Mario + Rabbids, Hearthstone, Pit People, Transistor, Armello, Antihero, Hare & Tortoise, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Qwirkle, Susan McKinley Ross, Chris Ross, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Pandemic: Legacy, JackBox Party Pack, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples, You Don't Know Jack.

BrettYK: 0
TimYK: 44

Links:
Kotaku article: http://kotaku.com/game-developers-explain-some-of-their-favorite-ways-to-1798749279
Board game stuff:
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/25/board-games-internet-playstation-xbox
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/crowdfunding-is-driving-a-196-million-board-game-renaissance/
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9bkj7z/rise-of-board-games
https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/38121/tabletop-games-driving-2017-kickstarter-growth

Next time:
In theory, a year?

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

Sep 6, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a series of episodes about 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense. This week, we talk about terror attacks, game tension, gratification, and a bit of base management. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
A few hours past the first ground mission

Podcast breakdown:
0:38 Segment 1
41:18 Break
41:47 Feedback

Issues covered: managing the clock speed, difficulty of the game and having to get better, failure screens, terror attacks, meeting different alien types, starting over again and getting more ground missions, learning the dynamics of covering one another, being unable to understand line of sight, infiltrating an UFO, contributions to tension, researching tech tracks, being unable to capture an alien alive, the use of radar dishes, recruiting scientists and soldiers, base building, the research loop and discovering what's out there, weapon lists, no storage of time units, energy costs, soldier stats, deep management, saving mid-ground mission, AI difficulty balance towards fairness, developing difficulty more towards numbers changes than behavioral ones, real-time flight combat, finance game, QAing a game like this, QA and developer skill and having trouble identifying how difficult to make your game, gratification of mastery or partial mastery, pin and fork moves in chess, fire propagation, learning how to use grenades, losing bodies and artifacts to grenades, alien deployment curve, tutorials, incorporating lessons without folks knowing they're being taught, underestimating tutorial building time, taking your time to build skills over multiple small levels, layering in simulation.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Twilight Zone: To Serve Man, The Naked Gun, TIE Fighter, Fallout, Cryptosporidium-137, Destroy All Humans!, Nintendo, Ultima, Super Mario World, Julian and Nick Gollop, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, John Yorke, Half-Life, Halo, Republic Commando, Starfighter, System Shock 2, charles F. george, minatorrent, Final Fantasy IX, Nickname_Placeholder, Aaron Evers, Ducky Shirt.

BrettYK: 1
TimYK: 73

Next time:
Play six months

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

Aug 30, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a series of episodes about 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense. This week, we set the game in its historical context and discuss the beginning of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through first ground mission

Podcast breakdown:
0:38       X-Com Segment
1:06:28  Break
1:06:51  Feedback segment

Issues covered: business model of early Wizardry, DOS Box, perils of the back catalog, 1994 in games, turn-based games history, war gaming, X-Com as shorthand and a genre definer, tutorial in the manual, pure sim, "Suit up son, you're going to Mars," tracking your first UFO, placing your first base, destroying your base and losing the money, simulation depth, usability issues, getting outrun by UFOs, don't shoot it down over water, placing your base in Australia, air combat, time units as primary resource, line of sight, random number generation and probability, managing player expectations, switching from math to psychology, how we've used probability over time in design, nailbiting moments when the RNG goes your way, end of month ratings, Tim loses, high skill and exploration.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Wizardry, The Witcher (series), Mass Effect, Ultima, Bard's Tale, Night Dive Studios, Meridian 59, No One Loves Forever, Julian Gollop, Super Metroid, TIE Fighter, Warcraft, Final Fantasy VI, Doom ][, Earthbound, Earthworm Jim, System Shock, Heretic, Megaman X2, Jazz Jackrabbit, Master of Magic, Beneath a Steel Sky, Burn Cycle, Richard LeMarchand, Fallout, D&D, Avalon Hill, Axis & Allies, Chris Crawford, Eastern Front, TankTics, Koei, SSI, Panzer Strike, Laser Squad, Mario vs Rabbids, Firaxis Games, Jake Solomon, Klei, Invisible Inc, Oxygen Not Required, LucasArts, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Chess, Nintendo, Famicom Wars, Gameboy Wars, Advance Wars, Jagged Alliance, Panzer Generals, Final Fantasy Tactics, Castlevania, Chainmail, Gary Gygax, Star Trek, Morgan Gray, Ron Gilbert, Ken Shoemake, Civ II, Dunkirk, Sid Meier, Oblivion, Skyrim, Ross Hadden, Super Mario (series: World/Sunshine/64/Galaxy), Ben Zaugg, Jason Schreier, SNES Classic, Redwunder, Idle Thumbs, Important If True, ChrisLaBs, scootermm, Micus_Ficus, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ausy19, Kotaku Splitscreen, Spirit Tracks, Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds.

BrettYK: 5
TimYK: 60

Next time:
A few hours more

Correction: I believe the "Suit up, son, you're going to Mars" quote actually came from a Mark LeBlanc talk. DGC regrets the error.

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

Aug 23, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we currently playing 1991's Super Mario World. This week, we finish Super Mario World and talk about our takeaways, including some deep dives into modern design sensibilities and constraints. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To End of Super Mario World!

Podcast breakdown:
0:37    SMW Discussion
44:19  Break
44:57  Feedback/Next time


Issues covered: Bowser's Castle, introducing mechanics in a critical path way, picking up the mecha-Koopas and tossing them onto Bowser's head, relentless pace of new stuff, player-motivated triggering of boss state, boss patterns, using Yoshi (or not), timer platforms, setting your own goals then and now, speedrunning origins, milking more out of levels by choices, keeping people interested via new level design tricks, expense limiting new gimmicks and reinforcing reuse, abandoning the lessons of the past, production realities, combinatorial depth, great base rule set where adding single elements extend in surprising ways, virtuous cycle of exploration and mechanical depth, RPG-ification of games, achievements, intrinsic vs extrinsic rewards, turning off notifications, notification and FOMO, achievements and the platform ecosystem, trading cards, Switch voip weirdness, focusing on the games, collecting every category in Breath of the Wild, tension-based enemy design, finding the rhythm in jumps, playing off up vs down, Eastern design sensibilities, yin/yang, opposition in Eastern design, subtractive vs additive design, punishing mechanics, save states against learning/mastery, apocalypse in Hyrule, lock/key vs player expression in Breath of the Wild, Mario as theater, variance among early Mario games, Luigi through the years, theater and games, comics, VHS of Legend of Zelda, cyclical nature of games, web of games, text adventures and scores.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Justin Timberlake, Sonic Mania, SEGA, Legend of Zelda (series), Shadow of the Colossus, Starcraft II, Half-Life, Warcraft, Mario (3D games), Giant Bomb, Breath of the Wild, Chris Hecker, Sony, Microsoft, Steam, Origin, UbiSoft, GOG, Switch, Ratchet and Clank, Pikmin, Shigeru Miyamoto, Jonathan DeLuca, Game Informer, Tacoma, Halo, Bjorn Johansson, Star Wars (obliquely), Inception, Mario RPGs, Mike Vogt, Super Mario All-Stars, Cameron Daxon, Sleep No More, True West, Sam Shepard, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Real Thing, Tom Stoppard, Gone Home, The Scottish Play, Punch Drunk, The Antenna Theater, Kublai Khan, The Dark Knight Returns, Vertigo Comics, Wonder Woman, Nick Tapalansky, Skyrim, Ultima, Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Final Fantasy IX.

BrettYK: 3
TimYK: 67

Interstitial Music from OCRemix.org, artist N4L4

Links:
Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!

Next time:
Ultima III, Wizardry III, Bard's Tale "Introductions"

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

Aug 16, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we currently playing 1991's Super Mario World. This week, we talk about how the difficulty of the game more and how it interacts with the exploration of the space. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.


Sections played:
Through the Forest of Illusion

Podcast breakdown:
0:33 Segment 1 (SMW Discussion)
34:35 Break
35:11 Feedback

Issues covered: finding a key, picking things up mechanic, directing the player, repeating use of mechanics, picking up and placing objects, difficulty controlling the cape, progression of mechanical complexity, building on fundamentals, doing new things with hardware, similarity of modern consoles and PCs, meta infrastructure, controller changes over time, what do you add and remove with sequels, serving old fans vs serving new fans, helping you to be a completist, incentive to explore, discouraging exploration, exploration and requirement for high skill, lag in the Wii and switching to emulation, mastery as a design choice, user experience of difficulty, joy of playing as an incentive, "every level you find is a gift," precision of Mario play, lack of collectibles as proof of mastery, seeing other games in Nintendo games, the picture of Brett in Nintendo World HQ, taking Yoshi or the cape through every level, getting corrected on lore, retconning the lore, trying to make sense of long series, films and world-building, disconnected ("title-related") series, paying down the Wii points, alternate reality games, adventure games being dead, archiving server-based games, appreciating the fleeting experience, Jen's Majestic experience, reflecting on the podcast through a review, eavesdropping mission in Thief II, user experience in literature/theater/film/comics/etc, different every time, role-playing vs boss battles.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Star Wars Starfighter, Prey, Dark Souls, Breath of the Wild, Assassin's Creed, Shadow of the Colossus, Metroid (series), Tomb Raider, Halo, Super Meat Boy, Wolfenstein 3D, Skyrim, New Super Mario Bros 2, Link Between Worlds, Ben Zaugg, Mighty Joe Young, King Kong, The Giant BeastCast, Skyward Sword, Marvel Cinematic Universe, John Wick 2, James Bond, Casino Royale, Final Fantasy (series), Wizardry (series), Ultima (series), The Witcher (series), Metal Gear (series), C. J. Zimmerman, Super Princess Peach, Chrono Trigger, In Memorium, mym1nd, Blade Runner, Eternal Darkness, Discworld (series), Reed Knight, Majestic, The Black Watchmen, The Secret World, Antioch Scarlet Bay, Republic Commando, Computer Gaming World, Andrew Kirmse, Meridian 59, Chris Kirmse, 3D0, Star Wars Galaxy, The Matrix Online, Giant Bomb, KaiN - if that's my real name, Half-Life, mjwaz, AddictArts, DocBrutals, Soul Reaver, DreamCast, Thief II: The Metal Age, Looking Glass, System Shock 2, Ken Levine, Ultima Underworld, Origin Systems, Deus Ex, Warren Spector, Dishonored, Raph - some artist guy, Diablo II, Final Fantasy IX, True West, Daron Stinnett, Hitman 2, Tacoma, @giant_rat/Ficus.

BrettYK: 6
TimYK: 52

Side note: What the heck is a "pedi-stool"?

Correction: Super Princess Peach was a Nintendo DS title.

Links:
Bananas and Gigantism

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Aug 9, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are taking a quick break from our Super Mario World series. This week, we talk in person about the first couple of hours of Breath of the Wild. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
First couple of hours of Breath of the Wild

Podcast breakdown:
0:39     Seg1: BotW
34:10   Break
34:42   Seg2: Feedback

Issues covered: setting up mics, how Zelda is it?, influence from other games, Shrine "modules" and puzzle rooms, pinning spots on the map vs being shown on a map as space is uncovered, lack of metagame (cheevos), checklist approach to design, world design problems with line of sight, ordering of challenges/dungeons, running into different Zelda elements, do things relate to the macro quest, tackling Ganon immediately, tilting towards exploration, materiality of the world, climbing perfection, masters of contextual animation, player engagement via many inputs, player skills, designing to the controller, mapping the N64 controller, influences, the difficult of mixing ideas, technology vs magic, Guardians in prior Zelda games, a new generation of Nintendo designers, lighting things on fire, speedrunning report, number of exits in SMW levels, jailbreaking SMW, Cheese Bridge, save state, identity politics in Mario games, damsel in distress trope, video game characters being defined by what they do or can't do, getting into game development, game jam to meet people, make a thing all the way through, difficulty with just the jump button, reaching for higher level mechanics to adapt to difficulty, choosing hardware to support game design, making things too difficult because you could load, save states changing psychology, streaming data changing design, bigger and lazier games with save everywhere.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Twilight Zone, Jennifer Lopez, Tacoma, Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds, Wind Waker, Minecraft, Portal, Assassin's Creed, Miasmata, Bethesda Game Studios, UbiSoft, PS3/Xbox 360, The Witcher 3, Disneyland, Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, Wayne Cline, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Nick Pavis, Soul Reaver, Tomb Raider, Ultima (series), Patrick Hollemann, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Super Mario 64, Ray Gresko, Firefox, Clint Eastwood, DLC podcast, Jeremy Fisher, SNES Classic, Shadow of the Colossus, Halo (series), Alien, The Last Guardian, DarkSiders, Prey, Desmond Miles, Star Trek, Hayao Miyazaki, Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Odyssey, Phil Rosehill, Andy Laso, Patty/pcull44444, James Roberts, Jason Schreier, Michael Sew, SethBling, Red Dead Redemption, Sleeping Dogs, Rob ot, King Kong, Chris Suellentrop, New York Times, Mario Run, Super Mario Galaxy, Mickey Mouse, Stefan Soc, Unreal Engine, TIGSource, iOS, Steam, Space Invaders, Edwin Crump, Dark Souls, Super Mario Bros 3, Brian Taylor, Myst, Shadows of the Empire, Half-Life 2, NES Classic, God of War, Super Meat Boy, The Game Informer Show, Ben Hanson.

Next time:
Through the Forest of Illusion!

Links:
Swordless Zelda : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSkrK0-EIVY
96 Exit Race : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajPjBaG3p5c
Super Mario World - Credits Warp in 5:59.6 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14wqBA5Q1yc
Jailbreaking Super Mario World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixu8tn__91E
Sullentrop article: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/opinion/super-mario-runs-not-so-super-gender-politics.html?_r=0


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

Aug 2, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we currently playing 1991's Super Mario World. This week, we talk in more depth about the level design and the ways in which its open nature influences difficulty. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Vanilla Dome

Podcast breakdown:
0:29     Game discussion
48:10   Break
48:50   Feedback

Issues covered: In-depth discussion of saxophones, respecting the game as a work of art, potential tech issues, character momentum, ways in which 3D platformers might be different, preparing for a run, mental state for play and muscle memory, player physics, going back and forth in a level, the ghost levels, how Brett preps for a run, Brett learns thing that Tim doesn't, having levels you can't get past and then the next one being easy, frustration with reaction time, Nintendo design pillars, combining elements for complexity and depth, introduction of mechanics in Donut 3, onboarding players/teaching without them knowing, what is the Nintendo practice to tune these levels?, being prepared for a level rather than coming in fresh, learning through failure and accident, imitating Nintendo but not doing it well, visual fidelity, learning through failure as a trope, our decisions should make the players' lives easy (regardless of the cost to us), "fun does not mean challenge," no room for error, "digital failure," high-lethality shooters and skill, blaming yourself and getting frustrated, overworld, making certain things necessary to prepare for because of the overworld, balancing the game around an ability, getting your money's worth, multiple paths and having your mind blown, hint lines, not being a phone person, help line as crunch, ROM hacks, why not a 3D platformer.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Edward Herrmann, The Lost Boys, Koji Kondo, Link to the Past, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Super Mario Bros, Super Mario World 2, Rayman Legends, Half-Life, Cave Story, New Super Mario Bros, Super Metroid, Breath of the Wild, Shigeru Miyamoto, Valve, Blizzard, Demons's Souls, Tomb Raider, Todd Howard, Bethesda Game Studios, Rogue Spear, LEC-Quake, Patrick Holleman, Anthony Halderman, GTA series, James Roberts, LucasArts, Alexander Graham Bell, Wizard and the Princess, Sierra, Apple ][, Mario Maker, Eric Anderson, Mario 64, Mario Odyssey, System Shock.

BrettYK: 8
TimYK: 37

Interstitial Music by djpretzel, find him at OCRemix.org
Outgoing music by Ficus/@giant_rat

Links:
Patrick Holleman's link 1 and link 2
Super Panga World 

Next time:
Through the Forest of Illusion!

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

Jul 26, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are kicking off a new series on 1991's Super Mario World, a SNES pack-in title. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Yoshi's Island

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    SMW Discussion
48:36  Break
49:18  Feedback

Issues covered: Tanooki suits, the ubiquity of Mario, the console versions of the game, Tim's history with 2D platforming, recognizable characters, overworld presentation, confusion, choosing right rather than left, being able to trust the level progression or not, starting over with each level, making a poor choice, having all the skills from the very beginning, ability set, replaying things to gain skill, game over, time limits, Brett's strategy, ways to get extra lives, mastery, the many rules and abilities you learn in just this first world, tutorial blocks, enemy hints, power ups, being unforgiving, game over screen, game value and arcades, tolerating different aesthetics of play, Tim's preferences in play, speculation about a Half-Life 3, small universe problem, AI challenges, Ico and Yorda, Super Games Done Quick, motion sickness, games that didn't get their due, HL2 crowbar moment.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tomb Raider, Square, Donkey Kong, Nintendo, Doki Doki Panic, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Civilization, Monkey Island 2, Wing Commander 2, Another World, Mega Man 4, Final Fantasy IV, Super Castlevania, ToeJam and Earl, Super Ghosts and Ghouls, Alex Neuse, Mickey Mouse, Tetris, Mortal Kombat, Candy Crush, Halo, Daniel Craig, James Bond, Dungeons and Dragons, System Shock 2, Half Life, Counterstrike, Nintendo Power, DLC, Crash Bandicoot, GTA V, Dark Souls, Shigeru Miyamoto, Koji Kondo, nambulous, Portal, Chewbacca, Yoda, Star Wars: Episode III, Empire Strikes Back, Marc Laidlaw, Mark of Kri, Rise of the Kasai, Ico, Valve Software, Jonathan DeLuca, Ross Hadden, LucasArts, Jedi Outcast, Ratchet & Clank, Earthbound, Undertale, Super Meat Boy, Christian Spicer, Jeff Cannata, RebelFM, Raven Software, Quake III, The Witness, Aaron Evers, Shogo: Mobile Division, LithTech, No One Lives Forever, Loom, The Dig, Rise of the Dragon, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Realms of the Haunting, Anachronox, MDK, Hexen, Heretic, Reed Knight, Daikatana, Deus Ex, David Perry, Shiny, Earthworm Jim, Sacrifice, Planet Moon Studios, Sly Cooper, Commandos, Eidos, Tribes, Majestic, EA, Neil Young, John Riccitello, LMNO, ngmoco, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Vagrant Story, Sean Donovan, Mr. Merlin, TakLocke, BattleTech, MechWarrior, TIE Fighter, Zone of the Enders, Kojima, MechAssault.

BrettYK: 35
TimYK: 54

Links:
Swordless Link to the Past run
Jedi Outcast speedrun

Next time:
Donut Plains
Vanilla Dome

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

Jul 19, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we do a little bonus work and turn to its sequel, Half-Life 2, released at the end of 2004. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Water Hazard

Podcast breakdown:
0:36   HL2 Discussion
40:05 Break
40:35 Feedback

Issues covered: the airboat: digital input/analogue output, E3 demo, face technology, glossing over the interlude between the two games, characters as connective tissue, establishment of setting, building of tension, commitment to first person as production concern in HL1/creative commitment in HL2, waiting in line for food dispenser, art direction, the oppressor vs the oppressed, masks in Antonov's art direction, disempowering the player, physics technology, influence of 1984 on City 17 (the proles), multiple instantiations of characters in HL, playing on nostalgia, domesticated head crab Lamarr, everything goes haywire, Alex's introduction, fully realized space (HL1) vs fully realized characters (HL2), being unable to break the scene, humor in the scenes, humor for exposition, humor as humanity, interaction of all the physics systems, real world rules, buoyancy puzzles, inspiring Tomb Raider design, linearity and looping back on goals, pacing working against non-linearity/goal puzzling, lack of ability to return to places, the Vortigant member of the resistance, reintroducing the HEV suit, self-awareness, audio for Combine, EKG death sound, the audio equivalent of screenshake, Marin County Fair, licensed engines and internal engines, avoiding dependency, amortizing development cost, what a game engine provides, changes we made to Unreal to support Republic Commando, additions to Source engine in HL2, making your game not look like other games made with an engine, having access to source code, prototyping vs making things perform well, evaluating pros and cons, economic reasons, changing engines mid-stream, remastering and rewriting renderers, marketing reasons for sequels and leveraging existing technology and knowledge base, design documentation, game design documents (GDDs) vs scrum, documenting for your own sake, documenting tech features, producers as living documents, using a document as a tool for yourself, visual tools, on-screen is king.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Marc Laidlaw, Dario Casali, The Last Guardian, Halo, Daron Stinnett, Republic Commando, Soylent Green, Carl Wattenberg, Viktor Antonov, Dishonored (series), Arkane Studios, 1984, William Shakespeare, Tomb Raider, Batman, Kelly Bailey, Alex Farr, Rebel Assault II, X-Wing, Quake, Unreal, Frostbite Engine, EA, Battlefield, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefront, Mass Effect, iD Software, Ubisoft, Snowdrop engine, Rayman Legends, Michel Ancel, Activision, UbiArt Framework, Gears of War, Sea of Thieves, Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, Bethesda Softworks, Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, Unity, Tacoma, Bethesda Game Studios, Starfighter (series), Full Throttle II, Mysteries of the Sith, Chris Klie, LEIA engine, LucasArts, Jedi Knight, Crystal Dynamics, Bungie, Duke Nuke'em Forever, Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank (series), Fallout 3, Skyrim, Goldeneye, N64, Rare Replay, Dan Hunter, TIE Fighter, Troy Mashburn, Stone Librande, SimCity, SNES Classic, Nintendo, Super Metroid, Link to the Past, Alex Neuse, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo New 3DS, Wii, Yoshi's Island.

Stats:
BrettYK: 23
TimYK: 40

Next time:
Super Mario World: Play through Yoshi's Island

Link:
Stone Librande on One-Page Game Designs

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

Jul 12, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we welcome Dario Casali, a level designer who worked on Half-Life and is still with the company all these years later. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39       Interview with Dario Casali
1:04:41  Break
1:05:03  Feedback segment

Issues covered: current status of Tacoma, games in 1993, connecting with a serial cable, newsgroups and Usenet, bundling up levels to sell, connecting over the early Internet, getting into Valve, the magic of Seattle weather, describing how your levels work as part of the interview, an interview between peers, having only the pieces and pulling them together, technology coming online and throwing away a lot of levels beforehand, creating structure by drawing with charcoal on big pieces of paper, having a central focus for a level because designers came up with their own ideas, unifying the design, setting core hours starting from 11am, integrating a new mechanic, competing with one another's levels and with other companies, not wanting long stretches without something new, paranoia and passion and terror, Quake Engine Licensee Cold War, level transition technology, hokey conventions, maintaining complete control of the character, having doors to begin and end the level, having to implement your own stuff even up to save and load, mixing and matching mechanics, not confusing the player: show them a puzzle clearly and then layer complexity for them to figure out, not stopping the player, playtesting was number one, creative autonomy, single-player vs multi-player design effort per second of play, level design and programming interactions, corrupting the Borg-like purity of programmers' work, how level design has changed in two decades, the products should change but the people shouldn't have to, maintaining the culture, doing a thing every day, getting less terrible day by day, finding the thing that undergirds a new Half-Life, having access to the source, analysis paralysis, constraints in engines, Hackathon weeks, bending engines, you can't shut him up.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tacoma, Starcraft (obliquely), Milo Casali, Quake, Doom, LucasArts, Chris Klie, Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield, id Software, Shawn Green, American McGee, Ted Backman, Marc Laidlaw, code name Quiver, Kelly Bailey, John Guthrie, Fallout, Sin, Daikatana, Jay Stelly, Unreal, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, 343 Industries, Microsoft, Gabe Newell, Bethesda Game Studios, Brian Robb, John Webb, DotA 2, IceFrog, Narbacular Drop, DigiPen, Counterstrike, Forge, Halo, June, Jonathan DeLuca, SuperGiant Games, Greg Kasavin, Bastion, Transistor, Amir Rao, Zelda, Metroid, Shovel Knight, Brian Taylor, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Skyrim, Starfighter, Rich Davis, Jedi Starfighter, Andrew Kirmse, lucasrizoli, TakLocke, BattleTech, MechWarrior, MechAssault, TIE Fighter, Steel Battalion, Trent Polack, Steel Hunters, Joy Machine Games, FASA, Shadowrun, Jordan Weisman, Haden Blackman, Crossbones, Bachs, Fernandez, Chad Barth, Shibby Train, Fallout 3, The Last Guardian.

Next time:
We will play and discuss a bit of Half-Life 2

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

Jul 5, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we welcome Marc Laidlaw, long-time Valve employee and writer of Half-Life. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview with Marc Laidlaw
1:04:50  Break
1:05:16  Feedback/Questions

Issues covered: getting started at Valve, looking at story in first person games, unshipped game at Valve, getting Quake community people to work on Half-Life, the early plan for the company, finding features by building lots of tests, randomly discussing features with press, making outrageous promises to spur on the team, the development of a fully realized place, totality of effect, designing from the bottom-up and fitting stuff together later, having employees who were used to working alone, going back to the drawing board, hinting at other levels and wanting the glory, non-physical spaces, lone wolves, needing an overall director to enforce co-authorship, using the Cabal to fulfill that role, being in the trenches and etching into your brain, living Half-Life for two years, avoiding the space marine trope, making the gimmick "science," doing science experiments in game development, intricacy of clockwork levels/Chinese puzzle boxes, the technology of magic, working to get a reaction, characters emerging from setting, bridging to Half-Life 2, magic tricks being even more impressive when you know how they're done, user testing, knowing what questions to ask, players not getting to the ends of games, trying to avoid having to teach the player, expecting a literate player, keeping it clean and transparent, having no model for the main character generating a constraint, reacting to player experiences of the demo, working out of a corner/desperation, creating within constraints, having too much freedom (analysis paralysis), Marc's work available on Kindle, taking breaks, writing in the early days of video games, always in the helmet, E3 memories/discussion.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Day of the Tentacle, Half-Life 2, Portal, Counterstrike: Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, DotA 2, Eric Wolpaw, Jay Pinkerton, id Software, Quake, Michael Abrash, Mike Harrington, Gabe Newell, WIRED Magazine, Worldcraft, Ben Morris, Prospero, John Guthrie (Choryoth), Steve Bond (Wedge), Blues News, Harry Teasley, Peter Molyneux, Edgar Allan Poe, Thieves' World anthologies, Randy Lundeen, Shigeru Miyamoto, Kelly Bailey, Dave Riller, Ken Birdwell, Dario Casali, Alfred Hitchcock, Microsoft, Uncharted 4, Duke Nuke'em, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Prey (2017), Nioh, Breath of the Wild, Bill Roper, Janos Flosser, Starfighter, Wayne Cline, Republic Commando, Ryan Kaufman, Mike Stemmle, Hal Barwood, Sean Clark, Jonathan Ackley, Larry Ahern, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, RebelFM, Phil Rosehill, Link to the Past, Super Metroid, ToeJam & Earl, LucasArts, Alexander Farr, Kotaku, Final Fantasy 9, Jason Schreier, Tacoma, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian, Halo 5, 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, Unreal, Nintendo Wii, Evil Avatar, Phil Kollar, Polygon, Sony, Metal Gear (series), Witcher III, Anthem, No Man's Sky, Hello Games, Joe Danger, Assassin's Creed (series), Red Dead (series), PAX, Ficus/@giant_rat.

Next time:
Another Interview!

Links:
Marc's website

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

Jun 28, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. We talk about the much-maligned final levels and understand where they came from and then turn to a few pillars. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:35     End of the game
51:40   Break
52:10   Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: weather and climate change, teleportation and level connectivity, landmarks, teleporting all over the level, unfair design, planning and execution, competence and player empowerment, obsession with permutation, explaining teleportation through visuals, good teleportation design in Portal, bigger payback for more work, limitations in AI make sense and reinforce the story/space, minimal use of character lending importance, G-man as hook character for HL2, bleedthrough of Xen into Black Mesa, control precision (or lack thereof), upping the ante at the end of a game, elite players and first-person navigation, relearning a lot of rules, trying to create recognizable spaces in alien world, throwing lots of spaghetti at the wall, knowing your limitations, sunk cost fallacy, having faith in your vision, the thing that brings nothingness, incorporating teleportation into baby battle, brute forcing a boss, false choice, bridge story from Half-Life to Half-Life 2, fully realized sense of place, connected level design, sensible spaces and narrative ties, making AI look smart and interesting and motivated, direct relation of place to gameplay, accuracy of hours played, interview guest, feedback.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tacoma, Portal, Left 4 Dead, DigiPen, Kim Swift, Half-Life 2, Twin Peaks, X-Files, Starfighter, Troy Mashburn, Doom, Quake, System Shock 2, Republic Commando, Eraserhead, Rayman 3D, June, Planescape, Final Fantasy IX, Valve, Marc Laidlaw, Gamer Lawyer, Firewatch, Breath of the Wild, Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, The Crew, Ghost Recon, Resident Evil, The Evil Within, Wasteland, The Last Guardian, lucasrizoli, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Diplomacy, Dan Connors, Telltale, briAnderson66(maybe), Doc16109, ToeJam and Earl.

Next time:
Interview episode

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

Jun 21, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. We especially focus on level design but touch also on weapon design and a bit of reuse of weapon progression. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Lambda Core

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Discussion segment
1:05:03  Break
1:05:28  Feedback

Issues covered: the Russians, level design variety, designer control over geometry, blocking out levels and then beautifying, binary space partition, realistic spaces vs non-realistic spaces, lack of training, amusement park design and enticing users, willing suspension of disbelief and spectacle/distraction, expectation of a real place, tension between realism and play, Blast Pit and memories, all the things that will kill you, reminding the player of goals, sense of completion, cost of making mechanics, speed of building a rough level, sense of scale, Brett defeats a puzzle by accident, taking weapons away from the player, resetting the power curve, forcing choices between two single-shot weapons, enemy design towards risk/reward, having a fallback position for being out of ammo, problems with finite health, Surface Tension, moment in "Questionable Ethics" that makes you feel smart but doesn't make tons of sense, one shot helicopter kill, holding the paint on a rocket target, alien grenade grubs, the legend of Gordon Freeman.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Winston Churchill, Joe Pesci, JFK, Oliver Stone, Doom, Quake, Republic Commando, System Shock 2, Unreal, Galaxy Quest, Mysteries of the Sith, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, John Romero, The Empire Strikes Back, Clint Eastwood, Halo, Tribes, Michaelsamiller, Kotaku Splitscreen, Super Mario 64, Resident Evil, Danferno, Brehvin!, Lackrin, Planescape, Legacy of Kain, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, @giant_rat.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Jun 14, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. We talk about what works in both the design of the military you fight and about enemy design in the game generally. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Apprehension (up to Residue Processing)

Podcast breakdown:
0:35    Soldier AI and Enemy Design
53:12  Break
53:39  Feedback

Issues covered: a bit of the history of game console licensing and certification, why Brett is behind on his homework, where the demo ended, special ops military, demo effectiveness, good general rules for AI in games, AI who communicate their state, postures for aiming, addressing the problem of AI who have perfect aim, alien telegraphing, use of grenades, line of sight, throwing a grenade to where you are, limiting the space in which an AI needs to work, world reacting to the soldiers with the same rules, enemy telegraphing and learning rules, orthogonal design, zombies and dread, long wind-ups, similarity between imp fireballs and head crabs, audio cueing, outsmarting the level designer, dying to learn the environment, not telegraphing the rules of the environment itself, making the perfect jump, pacing, memorable levels, distinguishing Valve games through their level explorations, approaches to innovate in games, making first person shooters is really hard, trigger to death, per-level mechanics, Japanese games, Japanese lenses on Western film genres, music in games, getting into a production role.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Xbox One X, Route 66, Tacoma, Nintendo, Atari, Star Wars (obliquely), Nathan Martz, Star Wars: Starfighter, Republic Commando, Alien, Doom, Quake, Cthulhu, Chaosium, Sandy Petersen, Dark Forces, Valve, Deus Ex, Thief, Bethesda Game Studios, Jenny Huang, id Software, Starcraft 2, Jordan Staley, Final Fantasy IX, Kotaku, Super Metroid, Nier: Automata, Platinum Games, Clover Studios, Capcom, Devil May Cry, Vagrant Story, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Fumito Ueda, Link to the Past, Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Dark Cloud, Kojima Productions, Halo, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, iMuse, Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, Loom, Shadow of the Colossus, Cory Potomis, Ori and the Blind Forest, Microsoft, Campo Santo, Jake Rodkin, Sean Vanaman, Pauly P0p, KurkPeterman, The San Francisco Kid, Mr. Eric Anderson, Haden Blackman, The Force Unleashed, Mafia III, Fallout 3, Steven Spielberg, Ficus/@giant_rat.


Next time:
Residue Processing through Lambda Core


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

Jun 7, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. We talk about what a year 1998 was, and a good deal about the restrained opening to the game and its provenance. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to "We've Got Hostiles"

Podcast breakdown:
0:34 Segment 1: History and Half-Life beginning
1:00:57 Break
1:01:30 Segment 2: Feedback, Next Time

Issues covered: 1998 as a year, engine licensing and 3D engines, Radiant level editor, Steam's launch, diving back into the FPS, "Doom clones," raising the bar for shooters, fully committing to the introduction, discipline and pacing, mundanity and attention to detail, "the world's slowest rollercoaster," the mundane hero vs the military hero, the everyman, genesis of the "walking simulator," leaning on a license, making the environment more responsive, unlikely hero, standing out in a sea of shooters, "immersive world rather than shooting gallery," stark contrast, teleporting between worlds, the in-fiction tutorial, learning verbs through achieving goals, mantling, NPCs who will follow you a ways, usability testing, momentum in player movement, contiguous space and level loads, console/PC hardware differences, points of no return, topics for the future, particularly enjoyable moments, indies taking risks to push boundaries out, giving players what they don't know what they want, avoiding calcification, students and game analysis, when you introduce your kids to games, innocence lost, reviews.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo 3, Gabe Newell, Valve Software, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Starcraft, Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, Unreal, Ocarina of Time, Grim Fandango, Rogue Squadron, Rainbow Six, Pokemon: Red and Blue, Thief, Descent: Freespace, Dune 2000, Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Quake, NOLF 1 & 2, Tron 2.0, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Steam, Final Fantasy Tactics, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Chris Avellone, Jeff Morris, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom 2, Dark Forces, Duke Nukem 3D, Starfighter, Obi-Wan, System Shock, Chris Corry, System Shock 2, Halo, Marathon, Rise of the Triad, Heretic, Alien vs. Predator, Michael Biehn, Team Fortress, Mark Laidlaw, The Mist, Stephen King, The Outer Limits: The Borderland, "Area 51," id Software, Nintendo, Tribes, Mario, John Romero, Jazz Jackrabbit, Ultima Underworld, Republic Commando, Chris Suellentrop, JJ Sutherland, Shall We Play A Game, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Tyranny, Johnson "Blue" Siau, Ian Milham, League of Legends, Overwatch, Troy Mashburn, Jordan Innerarity, Kye Harris, Putt-Putt, Pyjama Sam, Freddi Fish, Nintendo DS, Nintendogs, Animal Crossing, Minecraft, Disney Infinity, Lego series, Mario Kart Double Dash, Raiders of the Lost Ark, LesserOfFour, Zelda: A Link to the Past, KRL360, ChiliDogJr, GoodJobMr2Percent, RebelFM.

Next time:
Play up through "Apprehension" (stop at "Residue Processing")

Links:
Thoughts about Violence in Video Games and when to expose kids to stuff

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

May 31, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk with Chris Avellone about the genesis of the game and its development and themes, and he drops lots of lovely design gems. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:43       Segment 1: Avellone interview
1:03:45  Break
1:04:20  Segment 2: Taste test, Next time

Issues covered: how the opening areas were designed, Hive as playground, leveling up along with the city, building an engine and Black Isle lacking skills to do so, licensing engine from Bioware, Interplay's financial woes, The Birth of Avellone, interview, the forehead of Zeus, turning tropes on their heads, having the franchise before you had an idea for a game, crafting a vision document, players being smarter than publishers give them credit, Fargo having faith in his developers, Fallout dev issues and Fargo's support, recording FF effects and using that to help, changing the death mechanic because it makes you stop playing, death as a tool, flexibility of alignment shifts, what kind of player are you?, not judging the answers, Chosen One vs Broken One, causing problems across the Multiverse, story/adventure/puzzle heaviness, IWD as a cash-in attempt, writing a story in a weekend, IWD a step back rather than a step forward, "an unconscious bad choice," working around the combat if you want, unbalanced combat system, gratification from dialog choices, using experience points as systemic reinforcement of story importance, chunky dialog options, balancing, building your own Fortress of Regrets, fearing for the end of your career, localization costs, Fargo sticking up for the writing, expensive localization because of all the writing, possible loss of the companion dialog, New Vegas companions not being tied to storyline, lost opportunities, attempt to trade versatility, conveying the spine of a story via companion commentary, doing more vs doing quality, allowing polish to shine through, memorable stories, trying to do one thing really well, System Shock 2, Avellone freelancing, XP on its head, how it came to be, companions wrapped in story, number of 2D companions vs 3D companions, taste test.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Interplay, Conquest of the New World, Starfleet Academy, Fallout 2, Descent to Undermountain, Planescape: Torment, Black Isle, Icewind Dale, Feargus Urquhart, Obsidian Entertainment, Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol, KotOR II, Prey, Divinity: Original Sin II, BioWare, Infinity Engine, Unity, Unreal, Baldur's Gate III, Throne of Baal, Dungeons & Dragons, Marco Green, Brian Fargo, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Final Fantasy, Wasteland 2 & 3, GURPS, Steve Jackson, Jason Anderson, Chris Taylor, Ken Lee, Robert Holloway, Gold Box series, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout: New Vegas, The Walking Dead: Season 1, Halo 6, Prey, Arkane Studios, Rafael Colantonio, Swen Vincke, Night Dive Studios, System Shock (reboot), Shodan, Ken Levine, Ricardo Bare, Jason Schreier, Nick Hadsel-Mares, Blue Bandana Chocolate, Operation Neptune, Ancient Empires, Super Maze Wars, Half-Life, Mr. Eric Anderson, The San Francisco Kid.

Links:

Blue Bandana Chocolate

Next time:
Half-Life! Up to: "We've Got Hostiles"

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

May 24, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about the end of the game and some of its pillars. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.


Sections played:
Finishing the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:37        Segment 1: End of the game
1:00:58   Break
1:01:23   Segment 2: Quick pillars, next time

Issues covered: trapped Trias, the Pillar of Skulls, how XP is dispersed, splitting between characters as a natural difficulty modifier, Tim sacrifices Morte... like some kind of monster, gibbering mouthers, returning to Curst, the Fallout vibe, fighting Trias by kiting, under-leveling for combat, possibility of being unable to finish your game, why doesn't Trias have a dialog option when his ideas are wrong-headed, Brett and Tim describe how they go through the battles, the excitement of finding the right dialog option, coming full circle, getting into the Siege Tower and creating the Entropy Blade, being overwhelmed anew, quests in the Foundry, murder mystery tour, mazes and disorientation, why Ignus if he's not in your party?, waking up with three incarnations, alignment changing, quieting the madness of the paranoid, the practical incarnation, the game as exploration of fundamental D&D tropes, how to build up your ultimate villain, return to the Blood War, all stories of the Nameless One returning to one place, branching storylines, how many endings are enough?, commitment to themes, diluting themes, attaching to particular themes vs making an argument, challenge RPG tropes, puzzles and dialog, using voice acting to establish character, voice as instrument, editing down lines, discussing the choice of next game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: No Exit, Sartre, Encounter at Farpoint, Star Trek: TNG, Cthulhu, Fallout, The Seventh Seal (obliquely), Reed Knight, Jason Schreier, Iain M. Banks, Culture novels, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, BioShock, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher, deathsausage q, Tony Jay, Rob Paulson, Animaniacs, Mitch Pileggi, The X-Files, Sheena Easton, Jennifer Hale, Keith David, John DeLancie, Dan Castanelleta, Charles Adler, Escape from Monkey Island, Chris Avellone, Half-Life, Starcraft, Metal Gear Solid, Jeff Morris, Doom (series), Dark Forces, Valve.

Next time:
Interview with Chris Avellone

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

May 17, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about broad story beats, themes of identity and mazes, and the role of side quests, among other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Until you return to Sigil

Podcast breakdown:
0:39      PST Discussion
1:03:18 Break
1:03:51 Feedback and giveaway

Issues covered: character customization, a little chat about the big beats of the story, the weird conversation with Ravel, Brett is revealed to be a Night Hag, party configuration, character creation throughout play, the modron dungeon, the role of side quests, Deionnarra and her father, commitment to dialog and puzzles, side quests in JRPGs, wading into the lore, what strings multiple games together, the usability challenge of lore, playing rogue classes, the hybrid combat style, getting mazed by the Lady of Pain, a random encounter with a shade, how we pick games for the podcast, what we play vs what we develop, using strategy guides, shelf-level events, how you apply lessons from what you play, drawing.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Metal Gear Solid (series), Mega 64, Soul Reaver, Tony Jay, Darksiders 2, Dungeons & Dragons, Marvel, The Witcher 3, Final Fantasy (series), Baldur's Gate, World of Warcraft, LucasArts, Fallout, Tim Denton, Deus Ex, Kotaku Splitscreen, Hitman 2, Resident Evil, Fumito Ueda, The Last Guardian, TIE Fighter, Rogue One, System Shock, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2, Warcraft, BioWare, Secret World, Lord of the Rings Online, Daron Stinnett, Joint Strike Fighter, F-22, Tomb Raider, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Jamie Fristrom, Link's Awakening, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, Reed Knight, SOMA, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional Games, Chris Suellentrop, Tacoma, Spider-Man 2, Huizinga, Andrew-- if that is their real name, Aiemain, Bethesda Game Studios, Artorius01, Anthony Gallegos, RebelFM, Gazillion, The San Francisco Kid, Mr. Eric Anderson, Dark Horse Comics, Haden Blackman, The Force Unleashed, Mafia III, Hangar 13, 2K Games, Batwoman, Charlie Rocket.

Next time:
Finish the game

Links:
Tell everyone you're Adahn

Jason Schreier's book

Drawing:
If you are "Andrew-- if that is their name," "The San Francisco Kid," or "Mr. Eric Anderson" shoot us an email.

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

May 10, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about the usefulness of tropes (which this game mostly overturns), keeping your bearings when so much is available to you, and the uses of story and narrative to prop up underwhelming mechanics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Ravel's Maze

Podcast breakdown:
0:39 Segment 1
57:45 Break
58:17 Segment 2: Feedback/Questions

Issues covered: permutations and open maps at the Clerk's Ward, open world games, quest UIs, tuning out the journal entries, Tim second-guessing himself, Lothar stealing Morte, alphabet soup names, Brett messes up Soego's name five different ways, how tropes give you a handhold, how The Witcher uses tropes and lore, culture: you're soaking in it!, anything can open a portal, evolution of usability, the game as maze, leaning on the journal, buying up all the items in the Curiosity Shop, tedium of fetch quests, lack of mechanical interest, being enthralled to the material, designing a puzzle platformer, marrying elements together to make something stronger, object-oriented ontology, diving deep into a thing and its mechanics and limits, the audience will decide, mainly an adventure game, thin mechanics, DA:I companion quests, Fallout as a better marriage of mechanics and story, playing as a character vs playing as a player avatar, "it's barely an RPG," combat difficulty, missing hack-and-slash, PST diverging from other Infinity Engine games, more combat and more combat difficulty in IE games, Heart of Winter mode, development divergence, finding a balance of narrative people can hang on to or not, the Brothel of Intellectual Lusts, discussing high points, whose head did you get?, Soego the wererat spy, multiple needles vs multiple haystacks, getting mazed, the zombie in the Coffinmaker's shop, the Alley of Lingering Sighs, metaphorical meaning, passion in game development, programming challenges in videogame development, moving to games from applications programming, waterfall vs iterative development, opportunities in 3D art, crossover with film, designers and passion, communicating through code, seeing branching vs taking branches, story vs systems in reader feedback.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Infinity Engine, The Witcher 3, Star Trek, Memento, Baldur's Gate (series), Andrzej Sapkowski, Beauty and the Beast, Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber, Anthony Halderman, Ian Bogost, Georgia Tech, The Atlantic, soccer, Tetris, Chess, Go, What Remains of Edith Finch, Giant Sparrow, The Unfinished Swan, Naughty Dog, Nate Wells (obliquely), Portal, Thomas Was Alone, Play Anything, Icewind Dale (series), Bioware, Interplay, Fallout, Dungeons & Dragons, Darksiders, Zelda (series), Diablo, Halo (obliquely), João Vitor Bispo Galvão, Aaron Evers, John Carmack, Fargo, Starfighter, Chris Corry, Andrew Kirmse, Unreal, idTech, Timothy Homan, Final Fantasy IX, Dragon Age: Origins, Bethesda Game Studios, Kurt Strock, Chris Mead, Deus Ex, System Shock 2.

Point of Information:
Nate Wells was the Naughty Dog Lead Artist (of The Last of Us) who went to Giant Sparrow that Tim and I were trying to remember.

Next time:
Until we return to Sigil

Links:
Video Games Are Better Without Stories, Ian Bogost 

The Exceptional Beauty of Doom 3's Source Code

 

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

May 3, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about how the overwhelming nature of the beginning acts might have come about (again), Brett hits a game-breaking bug, and needles are sought in haystacks. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Ravel's Maze

Podcast breakdown:
0:43 Segment 1: PST
(2:21 Aw Jeez)
1:08:00 Break
1:08:28 Segment 2: Feedback
(1:10:10 Aw Jeez)

Issues covered: May Day, how the breadth of quests of Hive might have come about, setting a bar for development, vertical slices, tutorial levels, taking a Starfighter level to alpha, trickle-down videogame economics, proving things to the money men, playing the high intelligence character, wererats and Brett's crash bug, Brett starts over with the Enhanced Edition, the Dead Nations and the Silent King, people of interest vs points of interest, needles in haystacks, intrinsic reward vs the extrinsic reward, quest items and characters, items being forced out of inventory, "what's in the box," how much do you let players explore, usability problems, missable trophies, making a developer's life easier vs a player's life easier, dangling quests, living with consequences, wanting a grey area vs clearly telegraphing to the player, watercooler talk, Nameless as a cipher for a player, being immortal, four factions in Fallout 4 and the end game, pen and paper vs computer RPG, "it's just text," systemic and forgettable vs specific and memorable, focusing on the macro at the expense of the micro, gif/jif, specificity of character, art direction, music composition.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin, nambulous, Chris Avellone, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Beamdog Entertainment, Interplay, Obsidian, Fallout: New Vegas, Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim, Republic Commando, Troy Mashburn, Starfighter, Harley Baldwin/White-Wiedow, Tomb Raider, Factor 5, Totally Games, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, Fallout, It Follows, Soul Reaver, Breath of the Wild, Darksiders, Fallout 3, Mass Effect (series), Dragon Age (series), The Witcher (series), Reed Knight, Star Trek: The Next Generation (obliquely), Fallout 4, Far Cry 2, Final Fantasy (series), Jade Empire, marcus, Jesse - if that is my real name, Rorytheperson, James Taylor, Henry and June, Jen and Lia Longo, Dave Collins, Jesse Harlin, Arrrrrrjay, Fargo, Kotaku Splitscreen, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, LucasArts, Eric Johnston, Mark Blattel.

Next time:
Through Ravel's Maze

Links:
Brett appears on Kotaku/Splitscreen

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

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