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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: February, 2018
Feb 28, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We discuss the specifics of levels two and three a bit, but also tackle inventory, encumbrance, taking notes on paper, and the delightful map and how those have changed over the years. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 2 and 3

Podcast breakdown:
0:43    UU Discussion
48:46  Break
49:12  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett learns some Lizardman, chatting with goblins and the many civilizations, relationships between factions, killing a she-spider, being fully engaged, the mystery of Sir Cabirus, Tim falls down a hole, leveling up quickly, Brett loses some chain mail, taking paper notes as you play, making lists of details like clues and mantras, physical keys vs logical keys and design trade-offs, imagining player stories, keeping track of key rules, attributing influences to this game vs prior games, annotating the map, drawing a dungeon as you went, automapping and writing on the map, writing a legend, player agency on the map, some map games, the shadow of the map pin, handling inventory, bags within bags, putting inventory responsibility on the player, respecting the player's intelligence, anxiety from previous play-throughs of losing objects, having help from viewers, needing encumbrance space and dropping objects to make room, asking a lot from the player, return of older styles of gameplay to support usability, jankiness of erasing, adapting map to a controller, rules that you discover along the way: leeches and spiking doors, using player tools in Bethesda games, game developer view on objects that you have, dwarf section: beginning middle and end, sense of place, the gazer shooting a beam at you, looking for Shak, repair skills, potential for overspecialization, level cap of 16, the eight virtues and corresponding classes, Joy to the Underworld, playing music on stream, being a completionist and hoarding everything in the hoard room, fixing the audio, podcasts/interviews, level design as a discipline, level design for stealth gameplay, onboarding stealth mechanics and their combination, avoiding overwhelming player (and designer), fantasy fulfillment in Thief, a little goes a long way, designing from moments and working backwards, having vignettes to implement towards, client-facing programming, merging geometry and systems and mechanics, tension in Thief II.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons and Dragons, Eye of the Beholder, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, UbiSoft, The Witcher, Far Cry 2, Miasmata, Joe and Bob Johnson, LOST, Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo, Brian Taylor, Mark Eldridge, Dark Souls, Looking Glass Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Ultima Underworld 2, System Shock 2, Ultima series and classes, Final Fantasy (series), JohnCaboose/Bjorn, Makendi, MaasNeotekProto, Tom Francis, Heat Signature, Floating Point, Gunpoint, PCGamer podcast, Crate and Crowbar, Aaron Evers, Thief, Paul Neurath, Mark Allen Garcia, Metal Gear Solid, Chris Mead, GAMBIT/MIT, Irrational Games, Bioshock, Phillip Staffetius, Final Fantasy IX, Kotaku, MSXII, Gamemaker, Game Developers Conference, Metal Gear Solid 4, John LeCarre, Mark of the Ninja, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Nels Anderson, Thief II, Alien: Isolation.

Links:
Tom Francis on emergent narrative

GOG forum link for audio care of Mark Eldridge

Paul Neurath on Thief  c/o Aaron Evers

GAMBIT/MIT on Looking Glass c/o Chris Mead

Next time:
Levels 4, 5, and 6

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

Feb 28, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We discuss the specifics of levels two and three a bit, but also tackle inventory, encumbrance, taking notes on paper, and the delightful map and how those have changed over the years. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 2 and 3

Podcast breakdown:
0:43    UU Discussion
48:46  Break
49:12  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett learns some Lizardman, chatting with goblins and the many civilizations, relationships between factions, killing a she-spider, being fully engaged, the mystery of Sir Cabirus, Tim falls down a hole, leveling up quickly, Brett loses some chain mail, taking paper notes as you play, making lists of details like clues and mantras, physical keys vs logical keys and design trade-offs, imagining player stories, keeping track of key rules, attributing influences to this game vs prior games, annotating the map, drawing a dungeon as you went, automapping and writing on the map, writing a legend, player agency on the map, some map games, the shadow of the map pin, handling inventory, bags within bags, putting inventory responsibility on the player, respecting the player's intelligence, anxiety from previous play-throughs of losing objects, having help from viewers, needing encumbrance space and dropping objects to make room, asking a lot from the player, return of older styles of gameplay to support usability, jankiness of erasing, adapting map to a controller, rules that you discover along the way: leeches and spiking doors, using player tools in Bethesda games, game developer view on objects that you have, dwarf section: beginning middle and end, sense of place, the gazer shooting a beam at you, looking for Shak, repair skills, potential for overspecialization, level cap of 16, the eight virtues and corresponding classes, Joy to the Underworld, playing music on stream, being a completionist and hoarding everything in the hoard room, fixing the audio, podcasts/interviews, level design as a discipline, level design for stealth gameplay, onboarding stealth mechanics and their combination, avoiding overwhelming player (and designer), fantasy fulfillment in Thief, a little goes a long way, designing from moments and working backwards, having vignettes to implement towards, client-facing programming, merging geometry and systems and mechanics, tension in Thief II.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons and Dragons, Eye of the Beholder, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, UbiSoft, The Witcher, Far Cry 2, Miasmata, Joe and Bob Johnson, LOST, Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo, Brian Taylor, Mark Eldridge, Dark Souls, Looking Glass Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Ultima Underworld 2, System Shock 2, Ultima series and classes, Final Fantasy (series), JohnCaboose/Bjorn, Makendi, MaasNeotekProto, Tom Francis, Heat Signature, Floating Point, Gunpoint, PCGamer podcast, Crate and Crowbar, Aaron Evers, Thief, Paul Neurath, Mark Allen Garcia, Metal Gear Solid, Chris Mead, GAMBIT/MIT, Irrational Games, Bioshock, Phillip Staffetius, Final Fantasy IX, Kotaku, MSXII, Gamemaker, Game Developers Conference, Metal Gear Solid 4, John LeCarre, Mark of the Ninja, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Nels Anderson, Thief II, Alien: Isolation.

Links:
Tom Francis on emergent narrative

GOG forum link for audio care of Mark Eldridge

Paul Neurath on Thief  c/o Aaron Evers

GAMBIT/MIT on Looking Glass c/o Chris Mead

Next time:
Levels 4, 5, and 6

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

Feb 21, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a new series on 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. As usual, we situate the game in time a bit and in the Ultima series as a whole, before delving into the first few hours of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Level 1

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    Underworld
54:54  Break
55:22  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett gets hooked, first person game and a lot of clicking, getting over the initial hump, taking a long time to finish a game, 72-hour game benders, epilepsy and flashing, firsts of their kind year, seeing the walls of the design, branching out with the Ultima series, Ultima Worlds of Adventure, adding simulation to the point of view, not being alone in the first-person space, vector wireframe rendering in the first Ultima dungeons, feeling the presence of the developer, exploration of controls, limited verbs in FPSes, free look, overdesigned mouse interface, not reading the manual, coming full circle to analog controls in the modern day, fine-tuning movement, "this will never catch on," clarity in input, instinct was right but implementation was wrong, poll rates, mechanical mice vs optical mice, Trish the Bard, 80s looking character portrait, innovating on taking a thing from world and dragging into the inventory, the Trello of inventory systems, adding too many things to a bag, UX nightmare, convergence game with systems coming together, top-down design vs bottom-up design, RPG differences between player skill and character skill, gesture-based combat, idea to implementation, fewer barriers to implementation, lack of level designers, taking more risks because of lower costs, dark side of games, using a key in a door, verbs and similarity to adventure games, where the three hours went for Brett, fearing dropping something that you'll need later, traipsing all over, jumping difficulty, factions as an underpinning of the underground society, lack of quest log/journal, does dialogue hint at actions you can take, clarity of the rules, fading fortunes of SSI, playing MGS vs remembering MGS, coloring what follows a good moment, CGI cutscenes painting in the player's impressions of fidelity, the legacy of Lara Croft's portrayal, avoiding blind spots through diverse representation in your development team, preferring Twin Snakes.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Chronicles of Narnia, Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, Origin Systems, EA, Ultima (series), Richard Garriott/Lord British, Wizardry, Dungeon Master, Gold Box, Eye of the Beholder, The Bard's Tale, Dark Corners of the Earth, Elder Scrolls (series), Looking Glass Studios, Warren Spector, Doug Church, System Shock, Marc MAHK LeBlanc, Tim Stellmach, Deus Ex, Harvey Smith, Randy Smith, Prey, Dishonoured (series), Paul Neurath, Underworld Ascendant, Dune II, Warcraft, Ultima VII, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Hal Barwood, Ecco the Dolphin, Super Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Flashback, Another World/Out of this World, Martian Dreams, Savage Empire, Quake, Wing Commander, Space Rogue, id Software, Stonekeep, Final Fantasy (series), Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest (series), Ogre, Quake, DOOM 2, Terminator, Planescape: Torment, SoundBlaster, Fallout 2, Elder Scrolls: Arena, SSI, Thief, Kupo1256, Christian Schuster, Metal Gear Solid (series), Fallout 3, Todd Howard, Jonah Lobe, Silent Hill 2, Final Fantasy VII/IX, Travis Grasser, Symphony of the Night, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Michael, Final Fantasy XV, Christianne Meister, Skyrim, Jeff Buttaccio, GameCube, MGS: Twin Snakes, Shigeru Miyamoto.

Next time:
Levels 2 and 3

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

Feb 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are are just finishing our series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We talk about the end of the game and some narrative choices there that we like and then discuss our pillars for the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:41 End of MGS
1:00:48 Break
1:01:22 Pillars and feedback

Issues covered: 100 episodes, Tim moving out, extravagant endings in the series, intercutting action scenes, turning codecs into cutscenes later, economic storytelling through codecs and audio diaries, conversational audio diaries, utilizing VO in interesting ways, Brett's new keyboard, the interesting dynamics of the Vulcan Raven battle, cat and mouse, Brett forgets the word "claymore," multiple ways of defeating Raven, using the AI's rules against them, boss/level design/camera synergy, Brett skips a cutscene and has to redo the battle, backtracking and stretching time, cool alloys, keeping a balance between being cool and usability, camera shot of Revolver noticing that Solid is outside the room (sort of a double reversal on the player), hanging out in the cold or hot rooms, Master Miller and throwing Naomi under the bus and yet still being Liquid, Tim recants his feeling that there should be a MGSVI, small universe problem, Chewbacca effect, Naomi and Gray Fox, the Ocelot effect, Ocelot and Liquid reunited, Liquid monologuing outside of Rex, going toe-to-toe with Rex, RoboCop vs ED 209, forcing you to be bold, Liquid as the boss who never dies, Gray Fox confessing his sins, hand-to-hand fighting with Liquid on top of Rex and the uncertain fate of Meryl, the reveal about FoxDie, cloning and the relationship between multiple characters, Dolly the cloned sheep, being the soldier of the century, James Bond themes, Snake Eater, The Man Who Saved The World, two more monkeys jumping on the bed, differences in the endings, jeep battle, low turn rate, tracers, having a third big battle, end-game balance for normal difficulty, Jim Harrison (the politician behind it all), Meryl and Snake riding off into the sunset on their snowmobile, wrapping up themes of love blooming on the battlefield, different endings, juxtaposing the scientific/techy stuff with the philosophical talk, Hal and Dave (joking at the end), post-credits sequence and the Iditarod, writing yourself into corners and cliffhangers, retconning to fit story stuff together, comic book writing and story structure for serialization, commitment to narrative and cinematic presentation, in-engine cutscenes, hardware-acceleration on the PS1, bilinear filtering, best B movies, letting your freak flag fly, all of ones loves and fears being in a game, being generous as an artist, committing to stealth gameplay, high lethality, voice acting, fictional context, experimentation with mechanics, bringing you back through the evolution of mechanics, adding mechanics from a competing or more recent game into a remake, upsetting the balance, new game plus mechanics, new game plus plus and a tuxedo, immersive sims.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: System Shock 2, Metal Gear (series), James Bond, Star Trek, Ron Gilbert, Star Wars, RoboCop, Halloween (Michael Myers), Spy Who Loved Me, The Last Samurai, 2001: A Space Odyssey, George Lucas, Indiana Jones (series), Empires Strikes Back, Final Fantasy VII, Voodoo hardware, Anachronox, Thief, Death Stranding, Guillermo del Toro, Silent Hills, Silent Hill 2, P.T., LeraAtwater, Michael Baker, Silicon Knights, Shigeru Miyamoto, Denis Dyack, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Christian, Travis, Michael, Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, Looking Glass, Origin Systems, Warren Spector, Doug Church, Ultima VII, Good Old Games, Prey, The Elder Scrolls: Arena.

Next time:
Ultima Underworld Level 1

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

Feb 7, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our third episode of our series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We talk about a big choice in the game and the things you're not taught, particularly considering how fourth wall breaking it can be, as well as topics like UI choices. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To Vulcan Raven (II)

Podcast breakdown:
0:41    Metal Gear Solid
58:54  Break
59:26  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett's carpal tunnel, Decoy Octopus and the DARPA Chief, animals chosen for code names, keeping Octopus in the game, submitting to the torture, big story splits and Dragon Breaks, tone variety in Eastern action cinema, weird untaught mechanics, negative vs positive reinforcement in teaching, blood tuition (learning through death) vs soft failure, gameplay telegraphing vs realistic environments, the staircase section, contextualizing rather than breaking systemic knowledge, rappelling down from the roof, having to do things too many times in boss battles, player skill vs stretching time, using vector art in various weapon UIs etc, grounding and science fiction, Otakon and the guys in the elevator with you, CQC'ing the guys around the elevator, multiple ways of dealing with Sniper Wolf, love blooming on the battlefield, respecting the soldiers, professionalism, catching a cold, Naomi's grandfather and adding layers of random research, using the codec for storytelling, a sequel for the West, Metal Yorke Solid, stealing time on the PC, lessons from Metal Gear Solid to teens, when some of the audience wants one thing and a larger audience wants something else, evolving with the industry and your player base, bands selling out vs finding a wider audience, having games find their own voice in a changing environment, changing characters with actors, Kojima's prequels, expanding the histories of characters.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: other Metal Gear games (Solid and otherwise), Elder Scrolls (obliquely), Jackie Chan, Park Chan-Wook, John Woo, Nintendo, Super Mario 64, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, James Bond, Die Hard, Hideo Kojima, John Carpenter, Tom Clancy, Linda Nagata (the Red series), The Incredibles, Bastion, Ashton Herrmann, Splinter Cell (series), MSX2, Konami, Philip Yorke, ISS Pro '98, LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Ploppy54, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, The Rock, Tomb Raider (2013), Halo (series), Fallout (series), Star Wars: Starfighter, TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Republic Commando, Rogue Squadron, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, Star Wars prequels, Gothic Chocobo, Bleem, Connectix's Virtual Game Station, Aaron Giles.

Next time:
Actually finish the game

Links:
Bleem and VGS

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

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