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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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Apr 19, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, which this week begins a new series exploring 1999 Infinity Engine classic Planescape: Torment. We situate it in time both against other games and the D&D license but also especially as the pinnacle of Interplay's Infinity Engine games, and then dive into the first section of play. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the Mortuary

Podcast breakdown:
0:41   Segment 1: History and discussion of play
53:20 Break
53:54 Feedback

Issues covered: situating game in time, D&D licensing, rendered 3D backgrounds, 2nd Edition D&D rules, licensed settings, boiling down ADnD, D&D rules implementation as selling point, the Planescape license as a setting with various realms all tied together, veering away from Tolkien, what computers are good at and what DMs are good at, storytelling settings yesterday and today, looking for variety as a creator, hybrid combat system, preferring full real-time or full turn-based, huge map sizes, non-gridded play area, being confused by the opening cutscene, waking up from the dead with Morte, sense you've been in this situation before, avoiding the problem of the Chosen One, flexible stories, simple character creation, attribute choices, establishing the character as important but not knowing why, slowly introducing the setting, dialog options, making amnesia work (and being in concert with the setting), great story hook, setting up your first quest, the missing journal, bouncing off the game, Brett looks for a good metaphor (and fails), tons of descriptive text, subverting player expectations, making Morte humorous, not liking Morte, less use of voice, Brooklyn cabbie, Minsc, subverting character expectations, fluid alignment system, getting your experience from dialog options, having to look at everything, finding a key vs Tim taking a portal, analyzing games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Black Isle, Infinity Engine, System Shock 2, Soul Reaver, Unreal Tournament, Quake III Arena, Longest Journey, C&C Tiberian Sun, Homeworld, BioWare, Baldur's Gate, Gold Box Games, SSI, Dungeons and Dragons, Final Fantasy (series), Day of the Tentacle, Icewind Dale, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, JRR Tolkien, Monster Hearts, Friends at the Table, Chris Avellone, Archie Comics, Shadowrun, The Chronicles of Amber, Roger Zelazny, Saga system, Diablo, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Kenneth Lee, Ultima, Memento, Link's Awakening, Reed Knight, Fallout 1/2, Obsidian, The Witcher, mathboxers, Mr. Eric Anderson, Kotaku, Matva_88, Call of Duty, This War of Mine, Darksiders, David from Houston, Mike D/TBC Generation 0, Fallout New Vegas, Tales of Zestaria, Beamdog, Jeffool, Breath of the Wild, Link Between Worlds.

Next time:
Through the Undercity

Links:
"That One Time It's Different" blog post 

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

Apr 13, 2017

Welcome to the fourth and final episode in our series exploring SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. We discuss the end of the game, finding nooks and crannies, various difficulties, and then quickly cover our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the end of the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:35      Segment 1: Finishing Zelda
46:48    Break
47:22    Segment 2: Takeaways, Feedback
1:10:28 Aw Jeez

Issues covered: Brett's loop, using a walkthrough to find the pieces of heart, Tim playing less cautiously due to save state style, Brett fills in Tim on bottle locations, lack of systems, sprite and processing limitations, credits sequence, Brett's dungeon strategy, visual language problems, low cost of failure and encouraging exploration, finding multiple solutions, Brett wonders how you build a thing like Zelda, GDC talk on BotW, taking space to iterate on a game and add moments, planning and serendipity, critical path and not, usability costs, "it's a sword game," boss descriptions, finding the super bomb, aesthetic cracks, opt-in hints from the Sage, "It's.... Zelda...", overworld, progression structure and lenses, exploration and discovery, differences with Metroid progression, powering up, Swiss Army knife, learning rule sets, playground banter, taking sea changes seriously, differences with Western action-adventure, skill-based gameplay with adventure vs exploration, timelines vs legends, making it hard and OCD, remembering why you got into it in the first place, finishing a project.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy IX, Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time, Mario series, The Witcher, Nintendo, Shadow of the Colossus, Super Metroid, Nintendo Power, Metroid Prime, Twilight Princess, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Beyond Good and Evil, Darksiders (series), Soul Reaver, Tomb Raider, GTA, Spirit Tracks, Link Between Worlds, Ben Zaugg, That Alex Guy, cam_dax, Kotaku Splitscreen, Republic Commando, Spider-Man 2, segosa, blarg9538, Barbie's First Surgeon, James Taylor, Beamdog, inXile, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Brian Fargo, Fallout.

Next time:
Planescape: Torment - through the mortuary!

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

Apr 5, 2017

Welcome to the third episode in our series exploring SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. We discuss what storytelling there is, several of the bosses we fought, the analog nature of combat and also the difficulty curve before turning to some player questions. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Ice Palace

Podcast breakdown:
0:33 Segment 1: LttP discussion
25:50 "Aw, jeez"
45:44 Break
46:10 Segment 2: Feedback/email discussion


Issues covered: overview of the bosses we fought, story-telling as reward, intrinsic vs extrinsic awards, storytelling in other games at the time, entering the Dark World and mechanical differences, navigating the environment, visual tells, making notes, dungeon variety, Skull Woods integration of the overworld and the dungeon, using the map as spatial awareness, the place where you get stuck and put a Zelda game down, preferring the overworld, ancillary mechanics that support overworld exploration, multiplying options for interacting with the world, elemental stuff, resource usage and magic, magic measurement vs hearts, recharging magic mechanic in later game, fast travel, combat and player affordances, z-targeting as a good advance and iteration on the mechanic, Brett's circuit from fairy fountain to shop to fountain to dungeon, gearing up for a run, the water effects in the swamp dungeon, the Hyrule Historia and the LoZ timeline, creativity in the AAA space, making art direction choices, risk tolerance in games and Hollywood, indie games on the margins, the cost of change, delaying making decisions, shining a light on what works, making tradeoffs for innovation, speedrunning Link to the Past.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy series, Super Metroid, Breath of the Wild, Link Between Worlds, Halo, Joust, Dungeons and Dragons, Dark Souls, Jonathan DeLuca, Nick Tapalansky, System Shock 2, Michael Keane, Horizon: New Dawn, Minecraft, Uncharted 2, Proteus, Dear Esther, Richard Lemarchand, Bethesda Game Studios, Todd Howard, Skyrim, Ubisoft, irreverentQ, Phil Rosehill, Beyond Good and Evil, Michel Ancel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Pickled Stick, Final Fantasy IX.

Next time:
Finish the Game!

Links:
This week's Remix of the Dark World Dungeon theme is by Pokerus, check out his work on OCRemix.org

Jonathan DeLuca's podcast, "Play and Listen

100% Speedrun

4-way any% race (no major glitches), featuring the 2nd fastest time ever recorded

Reverse Boss Order any% race

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

Mar 29, 2017

Welcome to the second episode in our series exploring SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. We talk a lot about how it's difficult even to analyze a game that casts such a long shadow and open worlds as a genre. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Agahnim battle

Podcast breakdown:
0:30    Segment 1: LttP Discussion
52:05  Break
52:25  Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: hardware features, the series long shadow, how do you look at it with fresh eyes, the vocabulary that comes up every day, the underlying structure, discovery and exploration, "the Zelda game I always wanted," Nintendo establishing structures for several genres, what the legend means, multiple hands touching a series, the template, building up a set of skills to tackle each new challenge, stamina system in the new Zelda and how it's set aside in Skyrim, challenge vs expression, a wild goose chase, side quests to the ice rod and the flippers, taking notes, digression into Nintendo hardware quality, balancing discovery and usability, the bunny rabbit moment, the Moon Pearl, review drive, Game Theory Club, reimagining games, revisiting a game with series improvements, Link to the Past Randomizer, extending the life of a game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Spirit Tracks, Super Metroid, Dungeons and Dragons, Atari 2600, Adventure, Breath of the Wild, Soul Reaver, Assassin's Creed (series), Mario (series), Castlevania, 1001 Nights, Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki, Shigeru Miyamoto, Metroid Prime (series), Retro Studios, Metroid: Other M, Team Ninja, CapCom, Eiji Aonuma, James Bond, Casino Royale, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, Todd Howard, UbiSoft, Far Cry (series), OC Remix, Zapturk, dedalusdivine, seaofmorgan, John Feil, Harley Baldwin, Mr.Rintrah, World of Warcraft, AreEyeSeaKay, Daron Stinnett, Starfighter, Ratchet & Clank, Doom (2016), Timothy McAleer, James R., Spelunky.

Next time:
Play up to and through the Ice Palace

Links:
Link to the Past Randomizer

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

Mar 22, 2017

Welcome to the first episode in our series exploring SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. We situate the game in time and talk about its long shadow in game development before tucking into the game proper. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the end of the Eastern Palace

Podcast breakdown:
0:30 Segment 1: LoZ
49:38 Break
50:09 Eastern Palace & Feedback

Issues covered: Zelda's long history and which of them Brett and Tim played, action adventure with overworld, each identify their favorite, differences between entries, overworld flow vs Metroidvania skills and re-traversal, visual telegraphing of skill usage, getting lost, marking the map, lack of direction or quest log, goals and gating, the misleading fortune teller, setting of context, dream sequence, the role of Zelda, Agahnim trying to break the seal, initial experience, learning combat mechanics (hit locations sometimes mattering and sometimes not), initial dungeon mechanics, cost of death in dungeons, leaving through the sewers, light simulation elements, two levels of tiles, layered dungeon spaces, getting bombs earlier, off the beaten path, combat difficulty, how we fill in our roles, team size and diversity of roles, specialization, knowing about business and marketing, Brett reveals Master Chief's secrets, reviews, licensed titles, interviews, unionization and standardization and film.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry, Back to the Future, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy IV, Civilization, Another World, Battletoads, Monkey Island 2, Legend of Zelda (series), Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Hideki Kamiya, Platinum Games, Okami, Clover Studio, Fumito Ueda, Hidetaka Miyazaki, Souls (series), Jedi Starfighter, Skyrim, Final Fantasy IX, Michael Keane, Starfighter, Wayne Cline, Ultima, Richard Garriott, Daron Stinnett, David Lee Swenson, Shibby Train, Peter_randomnumbers, Kevin Kauffman, Ben from Iowa, Kotaku Splitscreen, Aladdin, Lion King, Shadows of Mordor, Arkham series, MrSean2k, Ken Levine.

Next time:
Play up through (first?) battle with Agahnim

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

 

Mar 15, 2017

Welcome to the final episode in our series exploring PS1 and PC 3rd person action-adventure game Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. We delve into the last bits of the game including pluses and minuses surrounding its environmental navigation and puzzles, its voice acting, and then turn to our takeaways and 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:
0:36 Soul Reaver discussion
55:55 Break
56:35 Pillars/Takeaways and feedback

Issues covered: controls and directional awareness, a visit to the human city, Brett's memory problems and the human city, number of pizza wedges, realizing you're in the wrong place, order in which you see new navigable challenges, visual language when you don't read it yet, over-subtlety, macro design, wishing for a key, the tradeoffs of a connected world, wanting to revisit the world, world connectivity, mapping of interdepencies, level design role in late 90s, gray boxing, seven deadly sins, tough block puzzles, working well within constraints, trailblazing and ambition, trying new things in grognard-captured genres, Dumah battle, gas and flame puzzle, rules, Dumah returning to his throne room, fighting camera and the boss at the same time, good final puzzles, symbol language, opening up a puzzle possibility set by adding a simple element, teaching the right thing, voice acting, efficiency of writing, delving into Serafan lore, Moebius, the point of no return, cohesive narrative and mechanics, the spectral realm and inherent gameplay, camera-control-environment holism, adult theme and mature story, economy of storytelling, interviews, marketing influence, what game do you think is worth revisiting?

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Metroid (series), Conan the Barbarian, John Milius, Tomb Raider, Ico, Riley Cooper, Legend of Zelda, Ultima (series), Mario 64, Jonathan DeLuca, Metal Gear Solid, Tony Jay, Amy Hennig, Naughty Dog, Otello, Shadow of the Colossus, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, MegaMan, HeadLander, Call of Duty, The San Francisco Kid, Karen, The Last of Us, John Caboose, Natewhs152, Nintendo systems, Breath of the Wild.

Next time:
Either Interview or Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, through the first dungeon.

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

Mar 8, 2017

Welcome to the third episode in our series exploring PS1 and PC 3rd person action-adventure game Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. We pick apart the jumping madness that is the Drowned Cathedral, talk animation priority and interruption, and hit up some development thinking to boot. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Rahab

Podcast breakdown:
0:40   Soul Reaver discussion
55:48 Break
56:25 Feedback and next time

Issues covered: continental philosophy, Morlock the ramming boss, substituting in a boss as an enemy, jumping through the environment, gaining projectile from the boss, jumping section followed by jumping section, analog vs digital controls, lack of cueing for the jump physics, camera not helping you, level design working against the grain, convergence of level design camera jump physics and checkpointing, never dying and wasting time, skill-based jumping, dramatic choices vs mechanical choices, the analog nature of the glide with the mantle, jack of all trades/master of none, lack of specialization, putting story and character first, team size and time equals budget, stakeholders, dependencies, a flying cheat during development, animation priority (i.e. when you can break out of an animation), technical limitations on animation, "the player has to win," directorial choices to add drama or hide flaws, ownership of jump arc, air steering, leaning on your non-realistic visuals, glyphs, seeing the lack of glyphs in the game but feeling like I don't need them, did glyphs play a bigger role, was it a development mistake, portals being hidden from the player rather than being critical path, Tim loses progress while reading the manual, feedback.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Richard Wagner, Mario (series), Prince of Persia (series), Little Big Planet, Tomb Raider (series), Rayman 3D, Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, Zelda (series), System Shock 2, Ken Levine, Amy Hennig, Dark Souls, Vlambeer, Naughty Dog, Crystal Dynamics, Final Fantasy IX, Brian Taylor, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mega Man, Wii Music, Bjorn Johansson, Hitman 2, DLC Podcast, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, Tim Schafer, Mega 64.

Next time:
Finish Soul Reaver!

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

Mar 1, 2017

Welcome to the second episode in our series exploring PS1 and PC 3rd person action-adventure game Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. We delve into character design and how it is supported by character art and animation and pick a bone with lack of environmental direction. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Zephon

TTAG: 49:28

Podcast breakdown:
0:42   Segment 1: Soul Reaver discussion
56:32 Break
57:00 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: year anniversary, gothic horror elements, color choices, silhouette, mechanics reinforcing narrative, animation reinforcing character, economic character design, ludonarrative consonance and dissonance, navigation and puzzles rather than combat, pacing strengths and problems, death mechanic elegance, getting away from "lives," rivalry between vampires, character design of bosses, gaining your first power, boss fight with Kain, revenge fantasy propulsion, having nothing to fear, enabling player experimentation, lack of directionality or map, having to scour the map, missing portals, giant organ design meeting, lack of Cathedral organ payoff, Brett finds a bug, bad dungeon mastering, solving the three pipes puzzle, unfounded architecture, broke-not-Baroque, stumbling on a solution, Zephon character design, Zephon boss hint and point of interest, inconsistent use of torch, visual design of doors and belly, free look mode, unfinished game, clues for free look, reaching to the toolkit, surprise Halo info, Christian literary influence, maturity of writing and narrative.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Paradise Lost, Darkman, Phantom of the Opera, Jak and Daxter, Crash Bandicoot, Mario (series), Uncharted, Arkham Asylum, Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, Medi-Evil, Ghosts and Goblins, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Assassin's Creed (series), Divine Comedy (obliquely), Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dungeons and Dragons, Aliens, Dan Cabuco, Ultima Underworld, Scott Nebel, FF IX, Shadow of the Colossus, Zelda (series), Game Developer (RIP), Chris Corry, Star Wars: Starfighter, Jonathan DeLuca, 343 Industries, Halo, Yanni, Guillermo del Toro, Richard Wagner, Faustus, "Twivver."

Next time:
Two more bosses/ up to Rahab

Links:
Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds

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

Feb 22, 2017

Welcome to the first episode in our series exploring PS1 and PC 3rd person action-adventure game Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. We situate the game in time a bit and then turn to its storytelling style, its early game, and its primary mechanics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until the first boss

Podcast breakdown:
0:37 Segment 1: Intro to Soul Reaver
55:45 Break
56:07 Segment 2: Feedback and next time

Issues covered: horror influences and origins, historical context, light touch of the storytelling, IP ownership, character motivations, additional powers as rewards rather than as keys or enablers, worldbuilding of Nosgoth as a feature, Kain as twisted god and reflecting Paradise Lost, moving past tank controls and grids, differentiating the two realms visually, reaving souls, two ways to view the world/environment, mechanical consonance of reaving with walking between the realms, revenge and propulsion/being driven, relating character motivations to mechanics, an era of increasing production values but risk-taking, material world interactions and losing them in the spectral realm, combat depth, using the environment to grapple and dispose of enemies, camera difficulties, warp gates as fast travel, warp gates as save mechanic and persistent objects/replenished enemies, Brett explains what 'oracular' means, Tim gets lost through the warp gates, building a level that works with your camera, camera development, PC configuration, expecting the camera to help you, using landmarks to navigate the world, camera confusion in boss battle, blaming the camera for usability, going to first-person camera mode, mantling and character collision, Foley support, figuring out influences of a modern game, keeping current, being careful of being too critical of peers.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: HP Lovecraft, Amy Hennig, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Marvel, Naughty Dog, Evan Wells, Richard Lemarchand, Uncharted, Silicon Knights, Eternal Darkness, Dennis Dyack, Eidos Interactive, Max Payne, George Broussard, 3DRealms, Cthulhu, Legend of Zelda, Super Metroid, Siri, Darksiders, Vigil Entertainment, THQ, Kill Bill, Diablo, Paradise Lost, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Metroid Prime series, John Wick, Fumito Ueda, Shadow of the Colossus, Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Republic Commando, Mario series, Metal Gear Solid, MediEvil series, Nick Tapalansky, The Last Guardian, Evil Within, Oxenfree, Bethesda Game Studios, Luke Thériault, Final Fantasy IX.

Links:
Ico novel in English

Next time:
Up until the boss "Zephod"

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

Feb 15, 2017

Welcome to the final episode in our series examining the first two works of Fumito Ueda: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus and turning to the present with some bonus content surrounding The Last Guardian. We talk about the games' pillars and our personal takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
A bit of The Last Guardian

Podcast breakdown:
0:34 Segment: Pillars/Takeaways/The Last Guardian

Issues covered: getting all the tails and fruits and making one's way to the top of the temple, meaningful companion characters, making a boss the level, set pieces vs mechanical depth or integration, grip meter convergence, holistic integration of space/camera/mechanics, trying the outlandish, the discipline of simplicity, console lifecycle and buyer influence, credits padding for publishing, storytelling and mystery and curiosity, repeated themes, mechanical depth and replayability, unpredictability, description of Trico, art direction, sense of scale, design of Trico, narrative setup, onboarding in The Last Guardian, understanding how a thing works and still finding it magical, degree of difficulty, quibbling over controls seems to miss the point, charm in character control, world design and camera missing wonderful moments, holism misfire, could does not equal should, competing goals, changing the approach to play.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Phil Rosehill, Super Metroid, Naughty Dog, The Last of Us, Darksiders, Dark Souls, God of War, The Last Guardian, Journey, Flower, Republic Commando, The Incredibles, Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, Mario series, James Taylor, Team Ico, gen Design, Conan the Barbarian, Mako, Rygar, Jurassic Park, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Crystal Dynamics, Amy Hennig, Uncharted, Indiana Jones, Visceral Games, Tomb Raider, Tim Cain.

Next time:
First couple of hours of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

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

Feb 8, 2017

Welcome to the third episode in our series examining the first two works of Fumito Ueda: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. We discuss Colossus's mysterious world, talk about Agro, the camera, delve into the story, and also recap the eight Colossi that make up the second half of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Final 8 Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus

Podcast breakdown:
0:41 Segment 1: SotC discussion
1:03:34 Break
1:04:22 Segment 2: Final Colossi, Feedback

Issues covered: visiting areas ahead of fighting Colossi, stripping away the filler combat, a Cursed land: justifying its emptiness, the Zen garden, beauty is a purpose, a meditative space, no support to the completionist or progress on the map, altar icons on the map, getting the platinum, less is more, openended-ness as a hinge to mystery, filling in details by yourself, archaeology as jigsaw puzzle, being memorable and provocative, being left wanting more, PS2-era quality, the end of Agro, dependence on Agro in fighting Colossi, characterization of the horse, less accessible controls (vs driving like a car), the joyfulness of a slow trot, criticizing the controls, justifying turning heavy things on a dime in AAA games, the dynamism of a camera in an open world, beautifully framed shots, using the rule of thirds dynamically for framing, camera designers, open space as an aid to framing, AAA camera design and implementation, topography to accentuate shots, tradeoffs, story spacing, visual aging and greying of Wander to reflect the cost of his quest, Mono's voice reaching through the void, opening the sealed gate, Agro jumping gaps, Agro's sacrifice, replaying to try and save her, interactive crossing the bridge, should it be a cutscene?, being more generous with the player, echoes in the end between Wander and the Colossi, splitting a god into multiple pieces as a parallel myth, the sword as my instrument and the instrument of my demise, Dormin resisting being pulled into the pool, Mono and Agro and the baby and the garden, the soundtrack, the music of horse riding, the Tim Horse Surprise, wall of sound vs silence, scoring to tell you what to feel, the final eight colossi, frustration of character-relative bow aiming, showing the limits and warts of mechanics, New Game+ mechanics and goals, hidden depths in Ueda's work.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Shadows of Mordor, Diablo, Titan Quest, Baldur's Gate, Souls series, PlaystationTrophies.org, Uncharted series, Bioshock (obliquely), The Last Guardian, Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, Remi Lacoste, Ubisoft, Prince of Persia, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Assassin's Creed, Fable, Peter Molyneux, Eadweard Muybridge, Final Fantasy IX, GCMSHPLC, shabby329, Jedi Starfighter.

Next time:
Bonus! A little The Last Guardian and talking about Ueda's pillars.

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

Feb 1, 2017

Welcome to the third episode in our series examining the first two works of Fumito Ueda: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. We discuss Colossus's form, intro, animation, and a number of design elements, including brief recaps of the first eight Colossus battles. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
The first 8 Colossi

Podcast breakdown:
0:40 Discussion

Issues covered: brief history, high-level structure (boss battles), boss battle-centricity, bosses as story arcs and reward structures in other games, pacing benefits, higher peaks and deeper valleys, puzzle bosses and the puzzle-y aspects of each Colossus, presentation of the first Colossus, description of the opening scenes, organic design, story setup, narrators, shadowy figures, echoes of the sarcophagi, Brett teaches Tim the name of the horse, Agro as companion, horse as primer for environment/Colossus navigation, inverse kinematics, introduction to all the mechanics, slow animation of the Colossus, first impressions, Colossi as levels, sense of majesty, giant/automaton/golem, Dormin telling you what to do on occasion, fur and scampering, large wind-ups as tells, deep dive on the grip meter, description of Colossus death, particular order of attacks and payoff, avoiding backtracking, the mournful weight of lore and echoes, making the Colossi suffer and the descent of the player, original co-op design, talking quickly about each battle, additive mechanics and puzzles, kofun tombs, a moment that remains with you forever, audio-visual support for the bird fight, deeper dive on the electrified eel, Trico qua Colossus, building relationships rather than puzzles, puzzles as friction or obstacles, beams of light from Colossi corpses, golem construction materials, reminders of how bad you should feel.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash, Team Ico, genDesign, LucasArts, Republic Commando, Halo, The Last Guardian, Titan Souls, Cuphead, Super Metroid, MegaMan, Antonio Gaudi, Indiana Jones, Ico, Star Wars, God of War, Demon's Souls, Wizard of Oz (obliquely), Monster Hunter, Jeffool, Gothic_Chocobo.

Next time:
Finish Shadow of the Colossus!

Links:
NICO online co-op prototype
Game Maker's Toolkit on Ico is pretty great
Extra Frames (from Extra Credits) on Shadow of the Colossus


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

Jan 25, 2017

Welcome to the second episode in our series examining the first two works of Fumito Ueda: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. We discuss bits of Ico's narrative, the holistic and economic aspects of the design, the build-up of tension and mutual support between the characters, the combat, and a host of other issues. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Second half of Ico!

Podcast breakdown:
0:33     Ico

Issues covered: the source of all future quotes, camera/yorda/scale holism and reinforcement, taking copious notes, the "b" word, spots where the camera doesn't work, setting down the controller, pushing through player skill games, visual language in encounter design, maintaining the connection with Yorda in combat, story act structure, the arc of combat encounters, castle cohesion, castle as a character, being able to see from title screen where you'll go, points of interest, story bits with the Queen at the gate, the castle as a real place, Yorda's leaps, building relationship and trust and tension, establishing reciprocal feeling, Yorda's powers, opening the other door, cutting ropes around the reflectors, puzzles where the platforming is pushed a bit too far, camera control, depleting Yorda to open the gates, the expanding dark circle with the sickly green rim, clever environmental object design, a touching moment, fighting the shadows from the sarcophagi, character art of the Queen, Queen Himiko and art/textiles of ancient Japan, the boss battle, losing Ico's horns, Yorda freeing Ico from the castle, recovery of humanity and rebirth, credits nostalgia, the beach scene and reunion, HDR/bloom effects, watermelon alternate ending, a little bit about how Yorda's AI might work, Brett's new Emo band, potentially scripted, Yorda's personality vs Trico's, favorite bits, "Are they really going to let me do this?," common emotional tones in Ueda's games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Metal Gear Solid 4, Resident Evil, Day of the Tentacle, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian, Super Mario Galaxy, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Prince of Persia, Brothers, The Last of Us, Stranger Things/Eleven, Shodan, Okami, Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (obliquely), The Sims, Republic Commando, Cameron Hass, Myst, Riven.

Next time:
First 8 Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus

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

Jan 18, 2017

Welcome to the first episode in our series examining the first two works of Fumito Ueda: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. We situate it in time a bit, and then turn to the opening few rooms and the design, technical, and narrative departures already visible. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the windmill

TTAJ: ??!

Podcast breakdown:
0:38     Segment 1: Ico
59:33   Break 1
59:58   Segment 2: Themes for next time, feedback

Issues covered: situating Ico's release in 2001, other games focusing on character control and repetition, passion for or against, focusing on different elements, feeling like a young boy, introduction to the game, the spice shop of little boys, economical storytelling, recognizability, space occupied by the character, environment as character, lack of player agency in the camera, showing the player the environment, what does the camera want me to know, camera as drama/emotion rather than mechanic, spiraling up and down, dream sequence, greasy oily shadows, language barrier between them and to the user, usability issues, lack of instruction on the controls, contextual R1, press and hold, tenderness and humaneness, mechanical connection, assuming responsibility, inverse kinematics, animating the character to IK to solve problems, balancing fidelity and responsiveness, impact of the game on game developers, giving permission to try different things, game dev economics, separating Yorda from the inanimate, press R1 to feel emotion, set dressing plausibility and mystery, non-interactable stuff, passive interactions, consistency in interactability, overtelling and lore, moral questions, trophy hunting, soaking it in, robot testing, various automated tests in AAA dev, that one time* we blew it, why we blew it, breakout success of Myst.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mafia III, The Last Guardian, Fumito Ueda, Shadow of the Colossus, Devil May Cry, Halo, Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, MGS 4, Pikmin, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, Luigi's Mansion, Hideki Kamiya, Platinum Games, Capcom, Konami, Max Payne, Hitman 2, System Shock 2, King Kong, Jessica Lange, The Arrival, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy IX, Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider series, Journey, Velvet Underground, Prince of Persia, Sony, Jesse Harlin, Don DeLillo, Zero K, @TheHanna, TIE Fighter, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Bethesda Game Studios, Starfighter, Microsoft, Noel Llopis, Cameron Hass, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, Myst series, Riven, Uru, Obduction, LucasArts, Sierra, The 7th Guest, Curse of Monkey Island**, The Room, The Witness, Cthulhu.

Links:
Noel Llopis, Monkey Testing

Next time:
Finish Ico!

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

* not one time
** I said Monkey 4, but this is the game I actually meant.

Jan 11, 2017

Welcome to a special interview episode examining 1994's Star Wars classic TIE Fighter. We welcome Larry Holland and discuss the overall arc of his career building games for LucasArts and specifically TIE Fighter. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

TTAJ:

Podcast breakdown:
0:31       Interview with Larry Holland
1:05:53  Break
1:06:21  Outro/Next time

Issues covered: early career, educational background and focus in anthropology, love of history, military simulation, World War II trilogy, shift to IBM PC, CGA->EGA graphics, reliving history from both sides and controversy, life and death struggles, manuals to support games, combat focus vs flight/avionics focus, switching to a fictional history, quiet around the Star Wars property, moving to 3D from rotating and scaling sprites, adding a 2D cinematic engine, film "history," reflecting the environment as an attempt to be immersive, WWII air combat speeds and gun camera footage vs BVR fighting, life-and-death and pilot knowledge, craft systems management, challenging players with choices, situational awareness, adding mission complexity driving specialized targeting commands, managing franchise complexity, site targeting, multi-level goals and showing players what they were, completion fanatics, origin of the level editor, "beware of the designer's second game," sleeping at Kerner, turning QA into mission designers, learning how to build games while building games, building behaviors, orders and choreography, the agent of the Emperor, a secret society, moral grayness vs the stark black and white, partisan politics and points of view, discussion of what's next and focus.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Totally Games, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Super Zaxxon, HESWare, Noah Falstein, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, PHM Pegasus, Strike Fleet, Battlehawks 1942, Their Finest Hour ("BoB"), Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe ("SWotL"), Falcon series, Spectrum Holobyte, F-16, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Timothy Zahn, Peter Lincroft, Ed Kilham, John Glenn, Halo, David Wessman, David Maxwell, Rogue One, The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt, SW Republic Commando, Phil Rosehill, Super Metroid at AGDQ, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Fumito Uedo, The Last Guardian, Team Ico/genDesign, Japan Studio, Loco Roco, Patapon, From Software, Demons's Souls, Echochrome, Gravity Rush, Tokyo Jungle, Puppeteer, Knack.

Next time:
We begin Ico! Play up until you have passed the Windmill.

Links:
Awesome Games Done Quick

Shall We Play A Game? GOTY episode

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

Jan 4, 2017

Welcome to a bonus episode examining 1994's Star Wars classic TIE Fighter. We welcome two guests, Reed Knight and Darren Johnson, who worked in QA on the original titles and co-led the QA team on the Collector's Edition. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

TTAJ: 14:24

Podcast breakdown:
0:29        Interview segment
1:10:00   Break
1:10:22   Outro, Next time

Issues covered: Tim introduces QA as a discipline, Reed self-introduction, QA being in start credits of Full Throttle, Tim's interviews, Darren self-introduction, early history of Reed and Darren in QA, games that are fun to test months in, score competition, day in the life of a tester, bug entry process, having only one computer for entering bugs, "anti-speed runs," thinking in terms of triggers or events, gluing events together, getting the editor and looking for bugs, finding voice lines that had never fired in original TIE Fighter, finding bugs that weren't literally visible in-game, non-crash "A" bugs, Reed disputes Brett's account of an "A" bug, Darren defeating Darth Vader, best gaming moments, the lengths you go to to break a game, "SUM PIN TO DO," missing a bug because you haven't gone far enough, fighting for bugs on behalf of the player, suggesting technical solutions from QA, healthy tension between departments, "upstairs," Kerner Blvd, adversarial advocacy vs. regulatory capture, maintaining objectivity, balancing games from test, lead tester importance as ship date looms, maintaining loyalty to the QA team, turning to the Dark Side, getting QA consensus, "once a tester always a tester," humility vs arrogance, direct discussion with testers, every 1000th bug, golden age, free range testing, working on a platform title (due to license holder requirements), compatibility, quantity of bugs in modern day, playing console manufacturers off against one another, day one patches, usability issues, playing XvT co-op as former QA, TuneIn and Amazon Echo.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Rogue One, Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear, Emperor Zurg, Dark Forces, Full Throttle, Tim Schafer, Metal Warriors, Big Sky Trooper, Jedi Knight, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Stormfront Studios, Eragon, Don Daglow, Smithsonian, Leap Frog, Duke Grabowski, Bill Tiller, Gene Mocsy, Hal Barwood, Zelda, Indiana Jones Desktop Adventures, Yoda Stories, Afterlife, Day of the Tentacle, Dave Grossman, Mad Otter Games, Disney, Brian Kemp, Larry Holland, Totally Games, Dan Connors, Mark Cartwright, The Last Starfighter, Fallout 3, Todd Howard, Daron Stinnett, Starfighter, Brett Tosti, Galactic Battlegrounds, Battle for Naboo, Obi-Wan, Bill Roper, Tim Cain, Bethesda Game Studios, Nintendo 64, Shadows of the Empire, Livia Knight, Telltale Games, Sean Clark, Tabitha Tosti, Battlehawks 1942, Their Finest Hour, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Ico, Fumito Ueda, BlueTieCasual.

Next time: Interview with Larry Holland!


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

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