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: March, 2017
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


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

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

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

Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub