Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Dev Game Club


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Now displaying: February, 2017
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.

Ico novel in English

Next time:
Up until the boss "Zephod"

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

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

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,, 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

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!

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