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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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Dev Game Club
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Jul 26, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are kicking off a new series on 1991's Super Mario World, a SNES pack-in title. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Yoshi's Island

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    SMW Discussion
48:36  Break
49:18  Feedback

Issues covered: Tanooki suits, the ubiquity of Mario, the console versions of the game, Tim's history with 2D platforming, recognizable characters, overworld presentation, confusion, choosing right rather than left, being able to trust the level progression or not, starting over with each level, making a poor choice, having all the skills from the very beginning, ability set, replaying things to gain skill, game over, time limits, Brett's strategy, ways to get extra lives, mastery, the many rules and abilities you learn in just this first world, tutorial blocks, enemy hints, power ups, being unforgiving, game over screen, game value and arcades, tolerating different aesthetics of play, Tim's preferences in play, speculation about a Half-Life 3, small universe problem, AI challenges, Ico and Yorda, Super Games Done Quick, motion sickness, games that didn't get their due, HL2 crowbar moment.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tomb Raider, Square, Donkey Kong, Nintendo, Doki Doki Panic, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Civilization, Monkey Island 2, Wing Commander 2, Another World, Mega Man 4, Final Fantasy IV, Super Castlevania, ToeJam and Earl, Super Ghosts and Ghouls, Alex Neuse, Mickey Mouse, Tetris, Mortal Kombat, Candy Crush, Halo, Daniel Craig, James Bond, Dungeons and Dragons, System Shock 2, Half Life, Counterstrike, Nintendo Power, DLC, Crash Bandicoot, GTA V, Dark Souls, Shigeru Miyamoto, Koji Kondo, nambulous, Portal, Chewbacca, Yoda, Star Wars: Episode III, Empire Strikes Back, Marc Laidlaw, Mark of Kri, Rise of the Kasai, Ico, Valve Software, Jonathan DeLuca, Ross Hadden, LucasArts, Jedi Outcast, Ratchet & Clank, Earthbound, Undertale, Super Meat Boy, Christian Spicer, Jeff Cannata, RebelFM, Raven Software, Quake III, The Witness, Aaron Evers, Shogo: Mobile Division, LithTech, No One Lives Forever, Loom, The Dig, Rise of the Dragon, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Realms of the Haunting, Anachronox, MDK, Hexen, Heretic, Reed Knight, Daikatana, Deus Ex, David Perry, Shiny, Earthworm Jim, Sacrifice, Planet Moon Studios, Sly Cooper, Commandos, Eidos, Tribes, Majestic, EA, Neil Young, John Riccitello, LMNO, ngmoco, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Vagrant Story, Sean Donovan, Mr. Merlin, TakLocke, BattleTech, MechWarrior, TIE Fighter, Zone of the Enders, Kojima, MechAssault.

BrettYK: 35
TimYK: 54

Links:
Swordless Link to the Past run
Jedi Outcast speedrun

Next time:
Donut Plains
Vanilla Dome

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

Jul 19, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we do a little bonus work and turn to its sequel, Half-Life 2, released at the end of 2004. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Water Hazard

Podcast breakdown:
0:36   HL2 Discussion
40:05 Break
40:35 Feedback

Issues covered: the airboat: digital input/analogue output, E3 demo, face technology, glossing over the interlude between the two games, characters as connective tissue, establishment of setting, building of tension, commitment to first person as production concern in HL1/creative commitment in HL2, waiting in line for food dispenser, art direction, the oppressor vs the oppressed, masks in Antonov's art direction, disempowering the player, physics technology, influence of 1984 on City 17 (the proles), multiple instantiations of characters in HL, playing on nostalgia, domesticated head crab Lamarr, everything goes haywire, Alex's introduction, fully realized space (HL1) vs fully realized characters (HL2), being unable to break the scene, humor in the scenes, humor for exposition, humor as humanity, interaction of all the physics systems, real world rules, buoyancy puzzles, inspiring Tomb Raider design, linearity and looping back on goals, pacing working against non-linearity/goal puzzling, lack of ability to return to places, the Vortigant member of the resistance, reintroducing the HEV suit, self-awareness, audio for Combine, EKG death sound, the audio equivalent of screenshake, Marin County Fair, licensed engines and internal engines, avoiding dependency, amortizing development cost, what a game engine provides, changes we made to Unreal to support Republic Commando, additions to Source engine in HL2, making your game not look like other games made with an engine, having access to source code, prototyping vs making things perform well, evaluating pros and cons, economic reasons, changing engines mid-stream, remastering and rewriting renderers, marketing reasons for sequels and leveraging existing technology and knowledge base, design documentation, game design documents (GDDs) vs scrum, documenting for your own sake, documenting tech features, producers as living documents, using a document as a tool for yourself, visual tools, on-screen is king.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Marc Laidlaw, Dario Casali, The Last Guardian, Halo, Daron Stinnett, Republic Commando, Soylent Green, Carl Wattenberg, Viktor Antonov, Dishonored (series), Arkane Studios, 1984, William Shakespeare, Tomb Raider, Batman, Kelly Bailey, Alex Farr, Rebel Assault II, X-Wing, Quake, Unreal, Frostbite Engine, EA, Battlefield, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefront, Mass Effect, iD Software, Ubisoft, Snowdrop engine, Rayman Legends, Michel Ancel, Activision, UbiArt Framework, Gears of War, Sea of Thieves, Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, Bethesda Softworks, Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, Unity, Tacoma, Bethesda Game Studios, Starfighter (series), Full Throttle II, Mysteries of the Sith, Chris Klie, LEIA engine, LucasArts, Jedi Knight, Crystal Dynamics, Bungie, Duke Nuke'em Forever, Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank (series), Fallout 3, Skyrim, Goldeneye, N64, Rare Replay, Dan Hunter, TIE Fighter, Troy Mashburn, Stone Librande, SimCity, SNES Classic, Nintendo, Super Metroid, Link to the Past, Alex Neuse, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo New 3DS, Wii, Yoshi's Island.

Stats:
BrettYK: 23
TimYK: 40

Next time:
Super Mario World: Play through Yoshi's Island

Link:
Stone Librande on One-Page Game Designs

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

Jul 12, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we welcome Dario Casali, a level designer who worked on Half-Life and is still with the company all these years later. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39       Interview with Dario Casali
1:04:41  Break
1:05:03  Feedback segment

Issues covered: current status of Tacoma, games in 1993, connecting with a serial cable, newsgroups and Usenet, bundling up levels to sell, connecting over the early Internet, getting into Valve, the magic of Seattle weather, describing how your levels work as part of the interview, an interview between peers, having only the pieces and pulling them together, technology coming online and throwing away a lot of levels beforehand, creating structure by drawing with charcoal on big pieces of paper, having a central focus for a level because designers came up with their own ideas, unifying the design, setting core hours starting from 11am, integrating a new mechanic, competing with one another's levels and with other companies, not wanting long stretches without something new, paranoia and passion and terror, Quake Engine Licensee Cold War, level transition technology, hokey conventions, maintaining complete control of the character, having doors to begin and end the level, having to implement your own stuff even up to save and load, mixing and matching mechanics, not confusing the player: show them a puzzle clearly and then layer complexity for them to figure out, not stopping the player, playtesting was number one, creative autonomy, single-player vs multi-player design effort per second of play, level design and programming interactions, corrupting the Borg-like purity of programmers' work, how level design has changed in two decades, the products should change but the people shouldn't have to, maintaining the culture, doing a thing every day, getting less terrible day by day, finding the thing that undergirds a new Half-Life, having access to the source, analysis paralysis, constraints in engines, Hackathon weeks, bending engines, you can't shut him up.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tacoma, Starcraft (obliquely), Milo Casali, Quake, Doom, LucasArts, Chris Klie, Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield, id Software, Shawn Green, American McGee, Ted Backman, Marc Laidlaw, code name Quiver, Kelly Bailey, John Guthrie, Fallout, Sin, Daikatana, Jay Stelly, Unreal, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, 343 Industries, Microsoft, Gabe Newell, Bethesda Game Studios, Brian Robb, John Webb, DotA 2, IceFrog, Narbacular Drop, DigiPen, Counterstrike, Forge, Halo, June, Jonathan DeLuca, SuperGiant Games, Greg Kasavin, Bastion, Transistor, Amir Rao, Zelda, Metroid, Shovel Knight, Brian Taylor, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Skyrim, Starfighter, Rich Davis, Jedi Starfighter, Andrew Kirmse, lucasrizoli, TakLocke, BattleTech, MechWarrior, MechAssault, TIE Fighter, Steel Battalion, Trent Polack, Steel Hunters, Joy Machine Games, FASA, Shadowrun, Jordan Weisman, Haden Blackman, Crossbones, Bachs, Fernandez, Chad Barth, Shibby Train, Fallout 3, The Last Guardian.

Next time:
We will play and discuss a bit of Half-Life 2

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

Jul 5, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we welcome Marc Laidlaw, long-time Valve employee and writer of Half-Life. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview with Marc Laidlaw
1:04:50  Break
1:05:16  Feedback/Questions

Issues covered: getting started at Valve, looking at story in first person games, unshipped game at Valve, getting Quake community people to work on Half-Life, the early plan for the company, finding features by building lots of tests, randomly discussing features with press, making outrageous promises to spur on the team, the development of a fully realized place, totality of effect, designing from the bottom-up and fitting stuff together later, having employees who were used to working alone, going back to the drawing board, hinting at other levels and wanting the glory, non-physical spaces, lone wolves, needing an overall director to enforce co-authorship, using the Cabal to fulfill that role, being in the trenches and etching into your brain, living Half-Life for two years, avoiding the space marine trope, making the gimmick "science," doing science experiments in game development, intricacy of clockwork levels/Chinese puzzle boxes, the technology of magic, working to get a reaction, characters emerging from setting, bridging to Half-Life 2, magic tricks being even more impressive when you know how they're done, user testing, knowing what questions to ask, players not getting to the ends of games, trying to avoid having to teach the player, expecting a literate player, keeping it clean and transparent, having no model for the main character generating a constraint, reacting to player experiences of the demo, working out of a corner/desperation, creating within constraints, having too much freedom (analysis paralysis), Marc's work available on Kindle, taking breaks, writing in the early days of video games, always in the helmet, E3 memories/discussion.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Day of the Tentacle, Half-Life 2, Portal, Counterstrike: Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, DotA 2, Eric Wolpaw, Jay Pinkerton, id Software, Quake, Michael Abrash, Mike Harrington, Gabe Newell, WIRED Magazine, Worldcraft, Ben Morris, Prospero, John Guthrie (Choryoth), Steve Bond (Wedge), Blues News, Harry Teasley, Peter Molyneux, Edgar Allan Poe, Thieves' World anthologies, Randy Lundeen, Shigeru Miyamoto, Kelly Bailey, Dave Riller, Ken Birdwell, Dario Casali, Alfred Hitchcock, Microsoft, Uncharted 4, Duke Nuke'em, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Prey (2017), Nioh, Breath of the Wild, Bill Roper, Janos Flosser, Starfighter, Wayne Cline, Republic Commando, Ryan Kaufman, Mike Stemmle, Hal Barwood, Sean Clark, Jonathan Ackley, Larry Ahern, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, RebelFM, Phil Rosehill, Link to the Past, Super Metroid, ToeJam & Earl, LucasArts, Alexander Farr, Kotaku, Final Fantasy 9, Jason Schreier, Tacoma, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian, Halo 5, 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, Unreal, Nintendo Wii, Evil Avatar, Phil Kollar, Polygon, Sony, Metal Gear (series), Witcher III, Anthem, No Man's Sky, Hello Games, Joe Danger, Assassin's Creed (series), Red Dead (series), PAX, Ficus/@giant_rat.

Next time:
Another Interview!

Links:
Marc's website

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

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

May 31, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk with Chris Avellone about the genesis of the game and its development and themes, and he drops lots of lovely design gems. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:43       Segment 1: Avellone interview
1:03:45  Break
1:04:20  Segment 2: Taste test, Next time

Issues covered: how the opening areas were designed, Hive as playground, leveling up along with the city, building an engine and Black Isle lacking skills to do so, licensing engine from Bioware, Interplay's financial woes, The Birth of Avellone, interview, the forehead of Zeus, turning tropes on their heads, having the franchise before you had an idea for a game, crafting a vision document, players being smarter than publishers give them credit, Fargo having faith in his developers, Fallout dev issues and Fargo's support, recording FF effects and using that to help, changing the death mechanic because it makes you stop playing, death as a tool, flexibility of alignment shifts, what kind of player are you?, not judging the answers, Chosen One vs Broken One, causing problems across the Multiverse, story/adventure/puzzle heaviness, IWD as a cash-in attempt, writing a story in a weekend, IWD a step back rather than a step forward, "an unconscious bad choice," working around the combat if you want, unbalanced combat system, gratification from dialog choices, using experience points as systemic reinforcement of story importance, chunky dialog options, balancing, building your own Fortress of Regrets, fearing for the end of your career, localization costs, Fargo sticking up for the writing, expensive localization because of all the writing, possible loss of the companion dialog, New Vegas companions not being tied to storyline, lost opportunities, attempt to trade versatility, conveying the spine of a story via companion commentary, doing more vs doing quality, allowing polish to shine through, memorable stories, trying to do one thing really well, System Shock 2, Avellone freelancing, XP on its head, how it came to be, companions wrapped in story, number of 2D companions vs 3D companions, taste test.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Interplay, Conquest of the New World, Starfleet Academy, Fallout 2, Descent to Undermountain, Planescape: Torment, Black Isle, Icewind Dale, Feargus Urquhart, Obsidian Entertainment, Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol, KotOR II, Prey, Divinity: Original Sin II, BioWare, Infinity Engine, Unity, Unreal, Baldur's Gate III, Throne of Baal, Dungeons & Dragons, Marco Green, Brian Fargo, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Final Fantasy, Wasteland 2 & 3, GURPS, Steve Jackson, Jason Anderson, Chris Taylor, Ken Lee, Robert Holloway, Gold Box series, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout: New Vegas, The Walking Dead: Season 1, Halo 6, Prey, Arkane Studios, Rafael Colantonio, Swen Vincke, Night Dive Studios, System Shock (reboot), Shodan, Ken Levine, Ricardo Bare, Jason Schreier, Nick Hadsel-Mares, Blue Bandana Chocolate, Operation Neptune, Ancient Empires, Super Maze Wars, Half-Life, Mr. Eric Anderson, The San Francisco Kid.

Links:

Blue Bandana Chocolate

Next time:
Half-Life! Up to: "We've Got Hostiles"

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

May 24, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about the end of the game and some of its 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:
0:37        Segment 1: End of the game
1:00:58   Break
1:01:23   Segment 2: Quick pillars, next time

Issues covered: trapped Trias, the Pillar of Skulls, how XP is dispersed, splitting between characters as a natural difficulty modifier, Tim sacrifices Morte... like some kind of monster, gibbering mouthers, returning to Curst, the Fallout vibe, fighting Trias by kiting, under-leveling for combat, possibility of being unable to finish your game, why doesn't Trias have a dialog option when his ideas are wrong-headed, Brett and Tim describe how they go through the battles, the excitement of finding the right dialog option, coming full circle, getting into the Siege Tower and creating the Entropy Blade, being overwhelmed anew, quests in the Foundry, murder mystery tour, mazes and disorientation, why Ignus if he's not in your party?, waking up with three incarnations, alignment changing, quieting the madness of the paranoid, the practical incarnation, the game as exploration of fundamental D&D tropes, how to build up your ultimate villain, return to the Blood War, all stories of the Nameless One returning to one place, branching storylines, how many endings are enough?, commitment to themes, diluting themes, attaching to particular themes vs making an argument, challenge RPG tropes, puzzles and dialog, using voice acting to establish character, voice as instrument, editing down lines, discussing the choice of next game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: No Exit, Sartre, Encounter at Farpoint, Star Trek: TNG, Cthulhu, Fallout, The Seventh Seal (obliquely), Reed Knight, Jason Schreier, Iain M. Banks, Culture novels, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, BioShock, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher, deathsausage q, Tony Jay, Rob Paulson, Animaniacs, Mitch Pileggi, The X-Files, Sheena Easton, Jennifer Hale, Keith David, John DeLancie, Dan Castanelleta, Charles Adler, Escape from Monkey Island, Chris Avellone, Half-Life, Starcraft, Metal Gear Solid, Jeff Morris, Doom (series), Dark Forces, Valve.

Next time:
Interview with Chris Avellone

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

May 17, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about broad story beats, themes of identity and mazes, and the role of side quests, among other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Until you return to Sigil

Podcast breakdown:
0:39      PST Discussion
1:03:18 Break
1:03:51 Feedback and giveaway

Issues covered: character customization, a little chat about the big beats of the story, the weird conversation with Ravel, Brett is revealed to be a Night Hag, party configuration, character creation throughout play, the modron dungeon, the role of side quests, Deionnarra and her father, commitment to dialog and puzzles, side quests in JRPGs, wading into the lore, what strings multiple games together, the usability challenge of lore, playing rogue classes, the hybrid combat style, getting mazed by the Lady of Pain, a random encounter with a shade, how we pick games for the podcast, what we play vs what we develop, using strategy guides, shelf-level events, how you apply lessons from what you play, drawing.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Metal Gear Solid (series), Mega 64, Soul Reaver, Tony Jay, Darksiders 2, Dungeons & Dragons, Marvel, The Witcher 3, Final Fantasy (series), Baldur's Gate, World of Warcraft, LucasArts, Fallout, Tim Denton, Deus Ex, Kotaku Splitscreen, Hitman 2, Resident Evil, Fumito Ueda, The Last Guardian, TIE Fighter, Rogue One, System Shock, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2, Warcraft, BioWare, Secret World, Lord of the Rings Online, Daron Stinnett, Joint Strike Fighter, F-22, Tomb Raider, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Jamie Fristrom, Link's Awakening, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, Reed Knight, SOMA, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional Games, Chris Suellentrop, Tacoma, Spider-Man 2, Huizinga, Andrew-- if that is their real name, Aiemain, Bethesda Game Studios, Artorius01, Anthony Gallegos, RebelFM, Gazillion, The San Francisco Kid, Mr. Eric Anderson, Dark Horse Comics, Haden Blackman, The Force Unleashed, Mafia III, Hangar 13, 2K Games, Batwoman, Charlie Rocket.

Next time:
Finish the game

Links:
Tell everyone you're Adahn

Jason Schreier's book

Drawing:
If you are "Andrew-- if that is their name," "The San Francisco Kid," or "Mr. Eric Anderson" shoot us an email.

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

May 10, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about the usefulness of tropes (which this game mostly overturns), keeping your bearings when so much is available to you, and the uses of story and narrative to prop up underwhelming mechanics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Ravel's Maze

Podcast breakdown:
0:39 Segment 1
57:45 Break
58:17 Segment 2: Feedback/Questions

Issues covered: permutations and open maps at the Clerk's Ward, open world games, quest UIs, tuning out the journal entries, Tim second-guessing himself, Lothar stealing Morte, alphabet soup names, Brett messes up Soego's name five different ways, how tropes give you a handhold, how The Witcher uses tropes and lore, culture: you're soaking in it!, anything can open a portal, evolution of usability, the game as maze, leaning on the journal, buying up all the items in the Curiosity Shop, tedium of fetch quests, lack of mechanical interest, being enthralled to the material, designing a puzzle platformer, marrying elements together to make something stronger, object-oriented ontology, diving deep into a thing and its mechanics and limits, the audience will decide, mainly an adventure game, thin mechanics, DA:I companion quests, Fallout as a better marriage of mechanics and story, playing as a character vs playing as a player avatar, "it's barely an RPG," combat difficulty, missing hack-and-slash, PST diverging from other Infinity Engine games, more combat and more combat difficulty in IE games, Heart of Winter mode, development divergence, finding a balance of narrative people can hang on to or not, the Brothel of Intellectual Lusts, discussing high points, whose head did you get?, Soego the wererat spy, multiple needles vs multiple haystacks, getting mazed, the zombie in the Coffinmaker's shop, the Alley of Lingering Sighs, metaphorical meaning, passion in game development, programming challenges in videogame development, moving to games from applications programming, waterfall vs iterative development, opportunities in 3D art, crossover with film, designers and passion, communicating through code, seeing branching vs taking branches, story vs systems in reader feedback.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Infinity Engine, The Witcher 3, Star Trek, Memento, Baldur's Gate (series), Andrzej Sapkowski, Beauty and the Beast, Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber, Anthony Halderman, Ian Bogost, Georgia Tech, The Atlantic, soccer, Tetris, Chess, Go, What Remains of Edith Finch, Giant Sparrow, The Unfinished Swan, Naughty Dog, Nate Wells (obliquely), Portal, Thomas Was Alone, Play Anything, Icewind Dale (series), Bioware, Interplay, Fallout, Dungeons & Dragons, Darksiders, Zelda (series), Diablo, Halo (obliquely), João Vitor Bispo Galvão, Aaron Evers, John Carmack, Fargo, Starfighter, Chris Corry, Andrew Kirmse, Unreal, idTech, Timothy Homan, Final Fantasy IX, Dragon Age: Origins, Bethesda Game Studios, Kurt Strock, Chris Mead, Deus Ex, System Shock 2.

Point of Information:
Nate Wells was the Naughty Dog Lead Artist (of The Last of Us) who went to Giant Sparrow that Tim and I were trying to remember.

Next time:
Until we return to Sigil

Links:
Video Games Are Better Without Stories, Ian Bogost 

The Exceptional Beauty of Doom 3's Source Code

 

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

May 3, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1999 Black Isle classic Planescape: Torment. We talk about how the overwhelming nature of the beginning acts might have come about (again), Brett hits a game-breaking bug, and needles are sought in haystacks. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Ravel's Maze

Podcast breakdown:
0:43 Segment 1: PST
(2:21 Aw Jeez)
1:08:00 Break
1:08:28 Segment 2: Feedback
(1:10:10 Aw Jeez)

Issues covered: May Day, how the breadth of quests of Hive might have come about, setting a bar for development, vertical slices, tutorial levels, taking a Starfighter level to alpha, trickle-down videogame economics, proving things to the money men, playing the high intelligence character, wererats and Brett's crash bug, Brett starts over with the Enhanced Edition, the Dead Nations and the Silent King, people of interest vs points of interest, needles in haystacks, intrinsic reward vs the extrinsic reward, quest items and characters, items being forced out of inventory, "what's in the box," how much do you let players explore, usability problems, missable trophies, making a developer's life easier vs a player's life easier, dangling quests, living with consequences, wanting a grey area vs clearly telegraphing to the player, watercooler talk, Nameless as a cipher for a player, being immortal, four factions in Fallout 4 and the end game, pen and paper vs computer RPG, "it's just text," systemic and forgettable vs specific and memorable, focusing on the macro at the expense of the micro, gif/jif, specificity of character, art direction, music composition.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin, nambulous, Chris Avellone, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Beamdog Entertainment, Interplay, Obsidian, Fallout: New Vegas, Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim, Republic Commando, Troy Mashburn, Starfighter, Harley Baldwin/White-Wiedow, Tomb Raider, Factor 5, Totally Games, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, Fallout, It Follows, Soul Reaver, Breath of the Wild, Darksiders, Fallout 3, Mass Effect (series), Dragon Age (series), The Witcher (series), Reed Knight, Star Trek: The Next Generation (obliquely), Fallout 4, Far Cry 2, Final Fantasy (series), Jade Empire, marcus, Jesse - if that is my real name, Rorytheperson, James Taylor, Henry and June, Jen and Lia Longo, Dave Collins, Jesse Harlin, Arrrrrrjay, Fargo, Kotaku Splitscreen, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, LucasArts, Eric Johnston, Mark Blattel.

Next time:
Through Ravel's Maze

Links:
Brett appears on Kotaku/Splitscreen

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

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

Links:
Fumito Ueda on Glixel

The Wizard and the Princess on the Internet Archive

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

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

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