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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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Now displaying: June, 2017
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

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