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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: January, 2018
Jan 31, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are midway through our series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We talk about frustration, the various bosses, and a bit about one-offs. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the torture scene

Podcast breakdown:
0:40      MGS
1:03:10 Break
1:03:45 Feedback

Issues covered: the history of "snake style," sources of frustration, Brett's psychological makeup, frustration in boss battles, the point of no return, finding the mine detector, using the cardboard box, getting through the lasers, using first person, smoking to reveal beams, gadget use in espionage movies, suddenly encountering a tank, stealth mechanics and the tank, tropes and cultural appropriation, 80s movies, elevating a bad B movie into a good B movie, committing to your melodrama, geopolitical themes and the military-industrial complex, subtext about game development, difficulty and frustration with Cyber Ninja, wall boss, human-sized bosses, grounding the game even in its strangeness, bosses can be characters, breaking the fourth wall with Psycho Mantis, reading the memory card, psychological warfare, cutscene leading up to his face reveal, ridiculous backtracking for the sniper rifle, beating Sniper Wolf and getting captured anyway, limited control in the cinematic, Revolver taunting you, focusing on scenes, voice acting video (link in the notes), briefing cutscene, taking joy in our lives despite their problematic elements, assuaging our guilt, carpal tunnel issues, posture issues.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Star Wars: Starfighter, Chris McGee, Andrew Kirmse, Matty Alan Estock, Portal, Day of the Tentacle, Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Samus Returns, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, The Wrong Trousers, Nick Park, Metal Gear (NES), Hideo Kojima, James Bond, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Batman, Escape from New York, The Great Santini, Brawl in Cell Block 99, S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk, Kurt Russell, Death Stranding, Eternal Darkness, Magneto, Hellboy, Darth Vader, The Incredibles, GoldenEye, Mark Garcia, Ben Hanson, Game Informer, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Drew/Tim Homan, Jeremy Blaustein, Silent Hill 2/3, Anachronox, Björn Johansson, Peacewalker, William Rance, Bleemcast/Dreamcast, Aaron Giles, Revengeance, John Yorke, Pro Evolution Soccer, Phil Yorke, Zone of the Enders, Derek Achoy, Super Mario Odyssey, Nels Anderson, Lyndsey Gallant, Tacoma, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Xbox, COBOL, Thief.

Links:
GI The Inside Story of Recording Metal Gear Solid

MGS Briefing

Call Me Snake

Errata:

Brett was confusing Matt Zoller Seitz with S. Craig Zahler. We regret the error.

Aaron Giles was in fact involved with the Connectix software Virtual Game Station.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Jan 24, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning our new series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We first situate the game in its time, including some personal reminiscences of how we first came to the title, before turning to the stealth gameplay, the cutscenes, and other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Revolver Ocelot

Podcast breakdown:
0:48       Segment 1: MGS in time, Beginning of game
1:03:54  Break
1:04:27  Email/Feedback

Issues covered: crawling around in ducts, constantly reaching for your phone, previous games in the series, Brett's first year in the industry, good years in games, influences in American film and TV, melodrama and pulp, wholesale commitment to stealth, demo disc for the gaming, preferring systemic games, pre-rendered cutscenes vs in-engine, Carpenter influences (percussion, minimalistic, and synthy), constant camera movement in the cutscenes, choosing CGI vs in-engine (pros and cons), design considerations for streaming video, pixel density/differences in cutscene vs gameplay, being able to tweak a cutscene until right before you ship, setting mood and art direction, camera choice and having a sense of your surroundings, fitting the map to the camera, comparisons with Thief, tactical espionage and choosing the camera to fit, committing to stealth as a primary mechanic, creative risk in the commitment, high lethality and bouncing off, softening failure, unfortunate sexism, Asian influence as far as character choices, introducing the Cold War/extended peace issues, melodrama and big story choices, divisiveness of exposition, tapping walls as a mechanic, good level design choices, out-sized boss characters, solid introductions, allowing the industry to ask whether we can put ourselves forward in this way, breaking the fourth wall puzzle for the CD case, level design writing checks that your camera can't cash, nostalgia as a factor in appreciating a game, hunting through history for Brett's crazy memory, the cut worlds from Anachronox.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Die Hard, Hideo Kojima, NES, Alex Neuse, PlayStation, Half-Life, Starcraft, Fallout 2, LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Rogue Squadron, Thief: The Dark Project, Rainbow Six, Spyro the Dragon, Final Fantasy Tactics, Kotaku Splitscreen, Kirk Hamilton, Kurt Russell, Michael Biehn, Terminator, Randy Smith, Ken Levine, Daron Stinnett, Atari, Sega, Nintendo 64, Final Fantasy VII, Tomb Raider (1996), Anachronox, LucasArts, John Carpenter, The Thing, Jackie Chan, Alan Stevens, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Sunshine, Game Informer, Aaron Evers, Tom Hall, Planet Anachronox, GameSpy, Jake Hughes, Ronald Railgun, Phil Rosehill, Awesome Games Done Quick, MGS: Twin Snakes, GameCube.

Links:
Promo video for Anachronox

Speedrun description of Anachronox

Speedrun of PC MGS

Errata
The PS1 did indeed have some hardware support.

Next time:
Through the first Sniper Wolf encounter

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

Jan 17, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we present our interview with Tom Hall, Project Lead of 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk about the team, the labor of love, what got left on the cutting floor, and various other bits and bobs. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:35    Interview segment
55:28  Break
56:00  Mail/outro

Issues covered: the game's science fiction underpinnings, JRPGs and adventure games, the surprise of having the adventure game elements, the lore bible and map of the Universe, generating the background information to make characters sound consistent, creating alphabets, the black and white pirate world, PAL-18's digital home world and cel-shading, knowing what happens next, writing and cinematic direction with tools (PLANET), programming the mini-games (APE), in-depth cinematics and facial animation and mitten hands, getting a story in the bathroom (and starting with the name), talking process with Terry Gilliam, little ideas coming together to unite a concept, having a poisoned past, Nick Danger and radio plays, coming up with the most surprising things you could think of, Democratus having its origins in John Carmack's D&D campaign, a planet walks into a bar, playing with expectations, feeling episodic, making characters come first to drive those episodes, loyalty missions in Mass Effect, hidden content, having different levels for different choices, renaming characters, origin of Paco's and Rho Bowman's names, Stiletto Anyway's origins, crunching too much and team size, team cohesion, structure of ION Storm, Dream Design, doing one take of Walton Simmons, thirty years into the industry, being just a bit ahead of time for mobile, directing Gordon Ramsay, missing the big references to Hitchhiker's Guide, talking about the black and white world, talking crunch, potential achievements for Anachronox, adding achievements to remastered adventure games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tom Hall, SoftDisk, John Carmack, John Romero, id Software, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Apogee, Rise of the Triad, Terminal Velocity, ION Storm, Monkeystone Games, Hyperspace Delivery Boy, KingIsle Entertainment, Loot Drop, PlayFirst, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Monkey Island, Lee Perry, Epic, Fornite, Jet Set Radio, Borderlands, Richard Gaubert, Jake Hughes, Joey Liaw, Brian Eiserloh, Crystal Dynamics, Watchmen, Terry Gilliam, Monty Python, Brazil, Firesign Theater, Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Mass Effect, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy IX, Peter Marquardt, El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez, Band of Brothers, Eidos, Deus Ex, Murder One, Daniel Bengali, ngmoco, JAMDAT, gluMobile/PlayFirst, Cooking Dash/Restaurant Dash with Gordon Ramsay, Diner Dash, Eric Zimmerman, Jeff Green, Marc Laidlaw, Half-Life, Valve Software, Quake 2, Jedi Starfighter, MaasNeotekProto, Day of the Tentacle, Aaron Evers, Metal Gear Solid, Thief, Revolver Ocelot, PlayStation, Hideo Kojima, Peacewalker, PSP, Brandon Fernandez.

Next time:
Metal Gear Solid: Up thru Revolver Ocelot

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

Jan 10, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are having our fourth and final discussion about 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk quite a bit about the specifics of the end of the game, with a diversion into ION Storm, and then talk about our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through to the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Anachronox!

Issues covered: that final battle, splitting up the party, Rho Bowman's adventure on Democratus, Stiletto Anyway's adventure on Democratus, Tim mansplains Star Wars to Brett, we do no work in figuring out the Elementor, Paco's adventure makes a mockery of the military, locks and keys through a million variations, Paco's minigame, party variety, why have unique levels for party members, end of the credits sequence, replayability as an issue in early 2000s games, ION Storm history, splitting off to be a rebel developer, how did this get made, game development rock stardom, Brett's film nerddom, going to Limbus and getting historical and religious context for the whole Chaos/Order thing, character design on Limbus, going to talk to Rowdy, circularity in the story, facial animation system, splitting up the party, heist movie, long car chase scene and Fatima's death, Kuleshov effect, what can and should games notice about player behavior, the final battle, how the Elementor crosses over or whether it does, area effect abilities, post-battle walk out scene, letting your freak flag fly, keeping players guessing, focus on writing and characters, being more playful, humor in games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Aaron Evers, Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider, Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, Tom Hall, Quake, Warren Spector, Deus Ex, ION Storm, Daikatana, John Romero, Unreal, Image Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Todd MacFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eidos Interactive, EA, Gathering of Developers, Masters of DOOM, New York Times Magazine, id Software, Epic Megagames, Peter Lorre, M., Fritz Lang, Dark Crystal, Time Machine, Die Hard, Sly Cooper (series), Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid (series), Reservoir Dogs, Star Trek, Moby Dick, Christopher Nolan, Batman, Jeff Green, Computer Gaming World, MaasNeotekProto.

Links:
Computer Gaming World issue where Jeff Green talks about the company and game

Next time:
Interview...? (If not, see the Twitter account)

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

Jan 3, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are having our third discussion about 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk quite a bit about the specifics of this section of the game, including the combat elements and leveling, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To the surface of Democratus!

Podcast breakdown:
0:43      Anachronox pt III
1:05:15 Break
1:05:47 Feedback

Issues covered: resolutions (or lack thereof) and taking stock, flying towards the Hive and having a railgun shooter, abstracting away from player skill in RPGs, hybridization, lack of loot, finding new offensive stuff in the environment, using the Elementor, colored bugs and finding them all over, the Hive Queen, saving Democratus and having it... join your party?, tonal shifting every couple of hours, movie tone management, no shackles, could you do this today?, indie studios doing widely different games, how would you do a sequel to this game?, drug missions in Far Cry 4, optional nature of diverse gameplay lending them less force, whether a pure episodic model could work, theoretical possibility of continuing the series, choice between Hephaestus vs Red Light District, Pumping Station, broader humor, introduction of Stiletto Anyway, Stiletto's special ability, tricky design problem -- locking off areas, Rho's description of what's going on quantum physics/astrophysics/temporal physics, moving mass between universes, incorporating the game's ideas all the way down into the UI, the Hephaestus mystery, characters moving around in the environment apart from you, useless randomization, getting the elementor, Krapton comics universe and Rictus the villain, storytelling with comic panels, hologram puzzles, the weird hero capture room, committing all the way to a planet as a party member, the electoral college mockery in 2000, hyperdiegetic lore issues, content coordination, the "dragon break", content coordination and licensing, listening out of order, book club.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Aaron Evers, IrreverentQ, Matty Alan Estock, Makendi, MaasNeotekProto, Ryan (Stats_dr), Jackbox Party Pack/Drawful, Rebel Assault, Descent, Final Fantasy, Witcher III, Aliens, Soul Reaver, Star Trek, What Remains of Edith Finch?, The Unfinished Swan, Vlambeer, Year Walk, Beat Sneak Bandit, Device 6, Simogo, Far Cry 4, Far Cry Primal, Square Enix, Eidos, Outlaws, The Terminator, Ron Gilbert, Rob Howard, Grid Snaps, Star Wars Republic Commando, Ben (from Iowa) Zaugg, Al Gore, Logan Brown, Halo, Jason Schreier, Blood Sweat and Pixels, Halo Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, 343 Industries, LucasFilm, Haden Blackman, Hangar 13, Mafia III, Star Wars Encyclopedia, Ryan Kaufman, Star Wars Galaxies, Bethesda Game Studios, tshokunbi, System Shock 2.

Links:
Podcast episode about SWRC

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

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