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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: May, 2018
May 30, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our second episode about 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces. We delve much deeper into the level design and themes, talk about fulfilling the Star Wars fantasy, and talk about the tease of future technologies. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Death Mark"

Podcast breakdown:
0:46    DF Segment
57:09  Break
57:40  Feedback

Issues covered: beating the parsec to death, a favorite moment in games, going down deep through into the mine level, playing the game on different difficulties, how lives and checkpoints work, the ice cleats, taking a break due to frustration, tension-filled obstacle courses, Star Wars fantasy fulfillment, making the places feel like Star Wars, good texture work, puzzling out the level geometry, the balance of combat vs level traversal, getting lost and leaning on the map, atmospheric, pushing the technical boundaries, bleeding through of new technologies, the "golden path," finding secrets, more ornate secrets, extra steps to use your inventory, RPG-elements, a sense of high adventure, Darth Vader says your name, Boba Fett, tools that are unique to a space, Dark Trooper introductions, seeing the enemy side, building the story up a piece at a time, Vader overseeing other enemies, battle droids, motion sickness in games, speedrunning and leaving glitches in, singing reviews.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Terminator, GalaxyQuest, The Rock, Republic Commando, Half-Life, God of War, Pinocchio, Bambi, Jedi Knight, Fable, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Solo: A Star Wars Story, No One Lives Forever, TIE Fighter, Halo, 343 Industries, The Witness, Maas Neotek Proto, David Sullivan, Bethesda Game Studios, Jeff Brown, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

May 23, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a new series about 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces. We situate the game in its time a bit and then turn to the first three levels of the game, specifically talking about its level design and a bit about squeezing Star Wars into games. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through The Subterranean Hideout

Podcast breakdown:
0:46    Segment 1: Dark Forces
49:50  Break
50:25  Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: Star Wars character class, Bothan spies, Tim as Dark Forces tester, PlayStation version, credits up front, lots of adventure games in 1995, fond memories of DF, faking co-op by phone, project leader Daron Stinnett, prior Star Wars games, level design, not a discipline, innovating beyond DOOM, grounding the level design in architecture, creating a sense of place, increased complexity, verticality, auto-aim, ducking and jumping, lighting, scale of rooms and levels, grounded vs abstract levels, Star Wars economics, using more detail in rooms being visited multiple times, characters and story lines fitting into Star Wars, hunger for new Star Wars stories, loving and respecting Star Wars, building characters on Star Wars archetypes, bringing in Star Wars elements and fitting them into the game, Crix Madine, flexibility with using a new character, mechanics, vertex lighting, enemies who aren't facing your way, reimagining the Williams aesthetic, seeing Star Wars a bunch of times, controls, differences between GOG and Steam versions, Brett's weird keyboard configuration, sliding movement, pace of play, cover shooters, seeing canonical characters in mission briefings, seeing the hive of scum and villainy side of things, leaning on the existing world-building of Star Wars, polygonal Moldy Crow, fixed point and floating point math, seeing a thing in a cutscene and then in-game, levels getting bigger, resources carrying between levels, Brett delivers a punk serenade to the audience, Tim mispronounces "proliferation," pitch docs, DVD-style commentary on Jedi Starfighter, surfacing unreleased content, lack of bang for buck, not showing things that aren't complete, saving stuff for a sequel.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: George Lucas, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Sierra, The Dig, Phantasmagoria, The Beast Within, The 11th Hour, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Warcraft 2, Blizzard Entertainment, TIE Fighter, Command and Conquer, Flight Unlimited, Looking Glass Studios, Chrono Trigger, Square, Enix, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, Descent, Marathon 2, Hexen, DOOM, Daron Stinnett, Starfighter (series), Republic Commando, Outlaws, Jedi Knight, Bioforge, D, Super Star Wars, Rebel Assault I & II, Myst, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Kevin Schmidt, Ingar Shu, Matt Tateishi, Ultima Underworld, Anachronox, Mysteries of the Sith, Empire Strikes Back, Clint Bajakian, Half-Life, Amy Hennig, DOOM 3, Wolfenstein, Quake, id Software, Unreal, Descent, Brian Taylor, Buttercup Scratchnsniff, The Ramones, The Platters, Bing Crosby, God of War, Daniel C, Andrew Kirmse, Nathan Martz, Doug Modie, Troy Mashburn, Rich Davis, Halo 5, Arkham (series), Fallout 3.

Next time:
Through The Death Mark

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

May 16, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing the newly released return to God of War. We talk about the way the game has been modernized for current tastes, and how it maintains the feel of the series. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
First few hours

Issues covered: modern design elements, combat feel, level linearity with bits of side secrets, combat/explore, chests, pushing technology, ways you can cheat for performance, pixel density, which GoW games we've played, elaborate progression system, camera commitment, camera in combat, thinner combos, epic feel of original from camera, older and more sympathetic anti-hero, more deliberate pace of combat, more psychologically dense mythology, making a character relatable again, more vulnerable heroes, the character of the mother, small story, enriching a character after her death, developing the relationship with the boy through animation and writing, animation-forwardness, craftsmanship, Tim digresses into television, geographic and cultural origins of mythology, toxic masculinity, the jock and the theater kid, high stakes and having to survive, the dad games and the dad feelings, having another character to relate to, having colors and level information on enemies, loot systems and not knowing what sort of player you're going to be, the axe and its economy of design, giving clear direction, more grounded violence, intimate violence, digging into the design problem with the one room, camera having to work with level design, fork in the road level design choices, not doing enough usability testing, wanting more information based on what you're given in a story game, non-verbal communication, difficulty balancing at the end of God of War for explorers vs combo kings, how to deal with balancing, rubber-banding.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Skyrim, Devil May Cry, DOOM (2016), Tomb Raider (2013), Resident Evil 4, PS3, Xbox 360, Cory Barlog, The Vikings, The Road, The Last of Us, Starfighter series, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Gilmore Girls, Diablo, Borderlands, Assassin's Creed, Republic Commando, They Live, Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven, Fight Club, Rocky, Dolph Lundgren, Metal Gear Solid (series), Gothic Chocobo, Zimmy Finger, Ico, Silent Hill, Ratchet and Clank, Mark Garcia, Sony Santa Monica, Spider-Man 2, Jamie Fristrom, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Nintendo, Metroid (series), Mario Kart.

Next time:
TBA!

Links:
Ratchet and Clank Level Design

The Muse Keys

 

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

May 9, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finishing our series on 2005's God of War. We talk about when the game leans into the things it's not great at, the sense of epic scale, as well as turning to our traditional takeaways as we end a series. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 God of War discussion
54:45 Break
55:11 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: dying 20 - 60 times, the downward spiral rage, compounding challenge, adding elements at a good rate, enumerating the elements of a challenge, not earning the challenge, shelf-level events/wall mission, not knowing you're near the end of the game, being stubborn and maybe putting a game away for a while, representing Hades accurately as a Sisyphean task, leaning into disempowerment sections as a mistake, potential for usability testing issues, variant gameplay needs to be easier, getting bored as developers, it's a sorbet not a bowl of hot sauce, positive vs negative feedback loops, rich getting richer syndrome, strategies for dealing with small numbers of orbs, arguing with QA, rationalizing your poor choices, a combo game for the masses, difficulty levels as a Band-Aid (TM), a strategy for spending orbs, adjusting orbs for difficulty, puzzle scale, puzzles for pacing, merging of genres, enjoying geometry puzzle, macro puzzle, puzzles that fit or don't, physics puzzles (buoyancy, momentum), tests of the gods, Tim and Brett forget ballistas, Greek tragedy themes, melodrama being appropriate here, having to work for a more minimal story, overly simplistic motivations, conflating player and character motivations, finding revenge against Ares, never getting to care for Kratos, an unsympathetic hero, tragedy as a character issue vs a plot issue, evolving Kratos and his world, sequence saving the family, Brett confuses who the brothers are, music as the MVP, exotic and seductive soundtrack, pushing Pandora's Box to no soundtrack, full commitment to camera, a technical pinnacle on the platform, embracing spectacle, combo flow, Raiden: the best MGS hero, empowering games, assertion through domination vs self-expression, the opportunity to be clever, using tactics effectively.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Mark Garcia, Nintendo, Jamie Fristrom, Jak & Daxter, Devil May Cry, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, King Tutenkhamen, Noah Hughes, TR: Legend, Ray Harryhausen, The Bacchae, Shadow of the Colossus, Faustus, Oedipus, 300, Frank Miller, Conan, Medal of Honor, Michael Giacchino, Clint Bajakian, LucasArts, Outlaws, Gerard Marino, Michael Reagan, Ron Fish, Winifred Phillips, Winnie Waldron, Cris Velasco, Marcello de Francisi, Lawrence of Arabia, DarkSiders, Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, Platinum Games, Metroid: Other M, Metal Gear: Rising, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mikkel Lodahl, Sierra, Mark Crowe, Jordan Mechner, Karateka, Prince of Persia, Republic Commando, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Everything: The Game, Minecraft, Fallout 3, X-COM, Toy Story 3: Toy Box Mode, Disney Infinity, Project: Spark, else heart:break, The Magic Circle, Kim Kardashian's Hollywood.

Next time:
We'll figure it out soon! (Almost certainly more God of War-related content)

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

May 2, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are on to the second of our series on 2005's God of War. We talk about what a fully scripted camera allows you to do, where it breaks down in implementation, as well as touching on the over-the-top nature of the game and its light RPG elements. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the Challenges

Podcast breakdown:
0:43 Segment 1: God of War
51:40 Break
52:20 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: Birthdays, Sierra interview, the academic/theoretic side of making games, the early days, the Yosemite photograph, cameras and third-person action-adventure, level design and the camera, scripting the camera throughout the game, conceptually 2D in some ways, freeing up the right thumb, flicking to roll, managing the space well for the camera in combat, sewer camera problem, "God of War Camera," altitude in combat, telegraphing the camera through player control vs designer control, exploring a space from multiple directions, being clear about what space you're in and whether you've been there before, not knowing where you can go, were levels and camera being designed at the same time?, lack of telegraphing of direction to follow, not having supporting mechanics to know you've missed things, possibility of thinking you have to do something local to solve a puzzle, sense of scale, having to trust the game, using the camera to hide secrets, gigantic sense of scale, capturing sense of scale with a closer third person, over-the-top violence, combining scale and animation and camera cohesively, pairing button mashes to animation speed, herky-jerky and stop-motion animation, sacrificing a soldier, pushing Kratos's inhumanity, toxic masculinity, toxic masculinity/anti-heroes and pop culture, wanting to play as a hero, lack of choice, light RPG elements, stringing combos together, leveling the Artemis sword, balancing weapons with XP, liking to power up the base weapon, just using the cutting laser in Dead Space, the ranged blades of chaos, compelling weapon design due to flexibility, combo-based games, watching skilled players, playing for stream, power escalation and enemy introductions, adding multiple enemies of a newly introduced type, foreshadowing the moment of Kratos's jump, whiskey-fueled voices, looking at your user experience to support tutorialization, taking the easy way out at the end of production, implicit tutorials and learning, real-time and turn-based tutorials, implicit tutorials and iteration, not hand-holding for experienced players, players don't read, also: podcast listeners don't read show notes, prove me wrong, send us an email :)

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, King's Quest/Space Quest, Mark Crowe, John Romero, Larry Holland, Julian Gollop, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Soul Reaver, Super Mario 64, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Prince of Persia (2008), Devil May Cry, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Republic Commando, Super Metroid, Ray Harryhausen, Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, DOOM, Cory Barlog, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Dead Space, Bioshock, Rygar, Bayonetta, Resident Evil, Plasticman, Mr. Fantastic, Ninja Gaiden Black, Boy.Pockets, Tom Waits, Gilmore Girls, Zachary Crownover, Chevy Chase, SpaceChem, FTL, Detention, Red Candle Games, The Last Door, Nintendo, Civilization, Fallout.

Next time:
Finish God of War (2005)!

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

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