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: April, 2017
Apr 26, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Infinity Engine classic Planescape: Torment. We talk a bit about franchise fatigue, turning tropes on their heads, turning back historical design choices, and discuss some of what we saw as we played. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Undercity

Podcast breakdown:
0:37     Segment 1: PST Talk
49:53   Break
50:26   Segment 2: Feedback, next time
(51:28 Aw Jeez)

Issues covered: Tim's bachelor party (really!), franchise fatigue, turning tropes on their heads, unexpected games, opportunities to unbalance a game, level curves, the meanings of systems, combat complexity, interface opacity, inability to die, shedding the arcade design sensibilities, finding a wider audience, matters of taste, finding ways to improve usability and recovering from mistakes, deliberate design choices for aesthetics, first microtransactions, winking at the player, breaking out of patterns, accreted design in D&D, stats mean more than level, more adventure game than RPG, overwhelming Hive area, map markers and POIs, seeing more of Hive than intended, Brett's many Hive quests, Tim getting killed and awaking underground, playing by different rules, deflating a quest, player distress and tension, sifting for what's important, portals everywhere and everything a key, creating a secret with every fact, working with the same tech and toolset again and again, hardware generations and changing expectations, user feedback and reviews, GDC, the connections between Ueda's games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: D&D, Rich Davis, Geoff Jones, Haden Blackman, Star Wars, Mysteries of the Sith, Tomb Raider, Halo (series), Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Final Fantasy (series), Infinity Engine, Diablo, Soul Reaver, Republic Commando, TIE Fighter, Ultima (series), Ms Pacman, Spelunky, Stefan Schmidt, Fallout, Tolkien, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling (obliquely), Black Isle, LucasArts, SCUMM, Chris Suellentrop, Shall We Play A Game?, degreekelvin, Jonny Whitlam, MacDork, knowitman, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Link to the Past, Harper Hadley, TeeJay, Fumito Ueda, 3D Monster Maze, Sinclair Timex ZX81, The Last Guardian, Glixel, Rolling Stone, John Davison, Shigeru Miyamoto, Robert Gunardi, Super Metroid, Chris Avellone, Gothic, Piranha Bytes, Elder Scrolls (series), Witcher (series), Reed Knight, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father, Day of the Tentacle, Maniac Mansion, King's Quest, Sierra, Wizard and the Princess, Shin Megami Tensei, Persona (series), Chrono Trigger.

Next time:
Through Ravel's maze

Fumito Ueda on Glixel

The Wizard and the Princess on the Internet Archive

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

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

"That One Time It's Different" blog post 

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

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

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!

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

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