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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: Category: games
Jul 11, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have finally turned our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our third episode in the series, we talk about the RPG aspects as far as story goes as well as some obvious influences. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Paris Cathedral

Issues covered: mispronouncing the title of the game, bringing in all the story as you get to Hong Kong, level geometry in Hong Kong and getting lost the first time you played it, hearing the proper nouns, the gigantic conspiracy smoothie, pushing conspiracy theories 75 years forward, not being sure who you can trust, can you even trust Tracer Tong, hitting all the technology paranoia (clones, nanomachines, viruses and cures), having time still running while you're hacking/lockpicking, the final destiny of Maggie Chow, cutscenes and enemy AI, mini-games in hacking and lockpicking, player vs character skill in mini-games in BGS games, when mini-games pull you out of the game and when they don't, making hard decisions thematic resonance with hacking/lockpicking, "knucklehead stealth," giving the player lots of options even just to hack and player agency, getting captured by MJ12 in Brett's version and in Tim's, Anna Navarre and "I can see you," forced greets, procedural camera placement, dialog cutscenes in Mass Effect, revealing that you've been in the UNATCO base the whole time, forking level assets, how Alex and Jaime join back up with you if you choose to have them, finding killswitch codes for others, avoiding lethality, reuse of space, having to propagate fixes to multiple spaces, placing your RPG in the real world, connecting the world, globalization and fear and paranoia, naming post-apocalyptic cities, Tim outs my film choices on the podcast, contextualizing the make-up of the world, replaying games and length, engaging with backstory, what we're on about here.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Harry Truman, The X-Files, Millennium, Deus Ex (rest of series), Assassin's Creed (series), Leonardo da Vinci, The Matrix, Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, Thief, Bioshock, Fallout 3/4, Skyrim, Dark Souls, Pipe Dream, LucasArts, Anthony Gallegos, RebelFM, Mass Effect, Anachronox, ION Storm, Eidos, Dishonored 2, Tomb Raider, Fallout 1 & 2, Lord of the Rings (films), Obsidian Entertainment, Alpha Protocol, Metal Gear Solid 2, Darren, Konrad the Canadian.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Jul 4, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have finally turned our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our second episode in the series, we discuss difficulty levels for different styles of play vs augmentation hard choices and some level systems specifics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Hong Kong (in theory)

Issues covered: trying to get out of the level when you've been in it a while, difficulty levels and combat vs stealth, the paths not chosen, the interaction of augmentations and difficulty, not being a great shooter, motivated level design, stealth and the tranq dart, balancing weapons, the ghost or non-lethal run, the emergent quality vs achievements for ghosting, player choice in play goals, trying to remove all the TNT from a room, punishing particular play styles, how you reflect player choices in the world vs the character, forking paths and the small bugs therefrom, the crowbar vs the baton, making hard binary choices, all active augmentation and resource usage, minimal resources, bioelectric batteries vs colas and chocolate bars, forgetting the skill points, point-based skills vs discrete augmentation levels, not playing completionist, getting rewards for different solutions, Tim's weird way of dealing with the hostage situation, failing for purposes of discovery, visual language, ladders in games, cutscenes and what systems get turned off or not, Tim goes backwards, the difficulty of getting through a door, using a heavy box as a defense, save-anywhere as a critical play system.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Starfighter (series), Halo, Thief, Dishonored, Harvey Smith, Julius Caesar, Warren Spector, Infamous (series), Fable (series), Far Cry (series), Dungeons & Dragons, LoZ: Link to the Past, Mark of the Ninja, Hitman 2.

Next time:
Up through Paris Cathedral

Links:
Ben Abraham Plays Far Cry 2 with Permadeath

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

Jun 27, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finally turning our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our first episode in the series, we set the game in its time but also talk about its many connections to other games we've played here on the 'cast. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the Airfield

Issues covered: ten hours of driving, convergent point in games, early indie dev mentality, formative early career game, a game that became a verb, commitment to multiple paths, merging RPG and action and other systems, branching skill trees, lack of classes, connecting to a more grokkable understanding, creating a subgenre, listening to E3 recaps, setting the game in time, a bunch of engine discussion, multi-route play and accommodating play styles, narrative beats that you can influence, supporting player choice, going super-lethal and being disincentivized, RPGs not tying choices together/mere mechanics, knucklehead stealth, linear tutorial, putting all the plants in the tutorial rooms, bulletproofing a level, blowing off your legs, supporting all the various possibilities, GDC post-Deus Ex, emergent gameplay, supporting a wide variety of player stories in emergent design, engineering around sources generally instead of specific things.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ion Storm, Ultima (series), Irrational Games, Looking Glass Studios, Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, Anachronox, System Shock, Arkane Studios, Ricardo Bare, Prey, Dishonored II, Austin Grossman, Reed Knight, System Shock 2, Mass Effect (series), Junction Point, Origin Systems, Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher, CD Project Red, Diablo II, Baldur's Gate II, Infinity Engine, Icewind Dale, The Sims, Hitman: Codename 47, Final Fantasy IX, Rainbow Six, Quake III Arena (DreamCast), Daikatana, PS2, Dark Cloud, SSX, Nintendo 64, Perfect Dark, Majora's Mask, Shenmue, Timesplitters, Soldier of Fortune, Elite Force, Bioshock, Escape from Monkey Island, Thief II, Unreal, Half-Life, id Software, Eidos, other Deus Ex titles, GO series, Planescape: Torment, Chris Avellone, Grand Theft Auto 3, Breath of the Wild, Oblivion, Dabominic, The2ndQuest, Link to the Past, Super Mario 64.

Next time:
Check Twitter for details

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

Jun 20, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club for a second Dark Forces special bonus interview edition. We speak with Matt Tateishi, a level designer on the game, talking about the environment around the building of Dark Forces, process, and leaping into the new. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39       Interview
1:03:31  Break
1:04:01  Feedback

Issues covered: a brief history of Matt, architecture department at Berkeley, starting as art techs, hourly wages, having your Star Wars bedsheets, Master Chief body pillow, thinking about the use of a space, trying to outdo one another, abstract spaces vs real-feeling one, geeking out over the Dark Trooper intro, simulating screen shake, just getting the thing to run, how big should levels be, figuring out production, difficulty spikes and weapon (mis-)balancing, dreaming of work, skill-based challenges, losing sight of your work, some doubt about doing Dark Forces, "puzzles are how we're going to be different from DOOM," throwing everything at the player, saving state mid-level, the pie tin mine, motivating the space, being brought in to be an artist (rather than the technical specifics), being near ILM at the time, everyone coming together to make cool stuff, Brett sings terribly again, an argument for Jabba's Palace, going from high concept to design, productivity and scheduling, Pomodoro, meeting-driven, Brett walks down memory lane, discussion of Mac vs PC in the 90s.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Shadows of the Empire, Jedi Knight, Lucas Learning, Droid Works, Infinite Machine, Nihilistic Software, The Force Unleashed, Dante's Inferno, EA, Visceral, 1313 (RIP), WETA Digital, Impulse Gear, Farpoint, Daron Stinnett, Ingar Shu, Jim Current, Kilani Striker, Ralph Gerth, Winston Wolff, Ray Gresko, Rob Huebner, Brett Tosti, Republic Commando, Troy Mashburn, Skyrim, X-Wing, DOOM, Peter Tsacle, Full Throttle, Double Fine, George Lucas, Tom Payne, Ben Burtt, Dungeons & Dragons, Colette Michaud, Peter Chan, Day of the Tentacle, Forrest Gump, Steve Dauterman, A Knight of Ren, Dire Straits, Zachary Crownover, Zimmy Finger, Quake, Mysteries of the Sith, Marathon, Philip Kramer, Apple, Myth, Kevin Steven.

Next time:
Deus Ex; up to the airfield

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

Jun 15, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club for a special bonus bonus interview edition. Justin Stinnett turns the microphones on hosts Brett Douville and Tim Longo, in addition to Daron Stinnett, to talk Republic Commando. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: making a squad seem smart, how to deal with the squad AI, keeping the squad in view, how to control the squad on a console, squad positioning, seeing the sniper, Sev's sense of humor, Fixer's uptight nature, Scorch childishness, making the squad feel even smarter and more connected, markers/maneuvers, more freedom and options for maneuver use, regretting cutting co-op, Delta Squad animated, Republic Commandos as canon, obeying or disobeying Order 66, what we're up to now,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Rainbow Six, Nathan Martz, Mike Stemmle, Ryan Kaufman, The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni, Star Wars Legends, 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim, Fallout 3 & 4.

Next time:
Another interview OR Deus Ex, up to the Airfield

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

Jun 13, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club for a special bonus interview edition. We speak with Daron Stinnett, lead programmer and project lead on Dark Forces, looking at the beginnings of his career before turning to specifics about the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview segment
1:04:45  Break
1:05:17  Feedback segment

Issues covered: Daron intro, the Stinnett origin story, making houses on computers, Radio Shack, buying a first car, transitioning to having a regular development job, porting Thexder, moving to Spectrum Holobyte, existential threat to the company, becoming a project lead, team lead and lead tester, multiplayer and the 600 baud modem, a Las Vegas con FalCon, modeled cockpit, high-fidelity simulations that didn't exist in the real world, "I knew I had to make Star Wars games," eating lunch at Skywalker Ranch, a room full of prop, Kerner complex, looking out at ILM, crashing a plane in a parking lot, "I want to do a Star Wars Wolfenstein game," the challenge of making Dark Forces, getting a leg up from the DOOM alpha, subtracting from the world rather than adding to it, performance challenge, having a vision of walking around a hangar, expecting to work with Luke Skywalker, Luke belonged to George, adding Ray Gresko as a rendering engineer and Justin Chin as lead designer/story guy, mixing level design and architecture, adding to the palette, specific areas of wish fulfillment, not just a game about shooting things, LucasArts as a place to create new stories, showing the game to George the first time, shooting non-humans in the films, putting together teams to make something no one knows how to build, bringing the conversation around to the car, following up on the interview, getting interviewed ourselves, targeting just one hardware, console exclusivity.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Thexder, Republic Commando, Spectrum Holobyte, Falcon 3.0, LucasArts, Outlaws, Starfighter (series), Star Wars Episode III, Perpetual Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising, PlayGrid, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rick Lamont, Synergistic Software, Sierra, Microprose, Chuck Yeager, Nintendo, FalCon, X-Wing, Dean Sharpe, Jon Knoles, Taito, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Toshi Morita, Steve Dauterman, Alive, DOOM, Wolfenstein 3D, Faceball 2000, Ray Gresko, Justin Chin, Doug Smith, Lode Runner, Broderbund, Justin Stinnett, Dan Hunter, Terminator: Future Shock, Bethesda Game Studios, Danny O'Dwyer, Gamespot, noclip, Unity, Sony, Sega.

Next time:
We... think, another interview

Links:
Space Race

Daron's interview on Computer Chronicles

NoClip video about BGS

Making of Fallout 76

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

Jun 6, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finishing 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces. We talk a bit about the final levels of the game while punching dragons and then turn to our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
We finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:44     DF Discussion
59:08   Break
59:38   Takeaways

Issues covered: the Kell dragon, entirely too much discussion of dragon types, being unsure what to do, not matching up with the fantasy, puzzle elements in fighting, having a role-playing moment in an action game that you don't often have in an RPG, starting as a Luke Skywalker game, lacking a hook for why it's Jabba's ship, enemy types, cuts later in games, the iso chamber maze puzzle, making the level itself into an interesting space, bending constraints to your will, not having anyone to tell you you can't do a thing, lowering risk, shifting towards production realities, the cost of a pivot raising aversion to risk, distinctions between studios (tech-driven vs design-driven vs art-driven), having to compete on all three, "you are fighting Boba Fett, so that's pretty cool," player skill puzzles, executing on a plan that's working, minimal story telling, television vs films, build up and implication, filling in a lot yourself, leaning on the films, the only source of Phrik in the galaxy, unmotivated space, the conveyor belt action bits, gaminess of a level, placing obstacle courses at the end of games, denouement and falling action, climax and the lack of remaining action, remaking the game, level design high water mark, being evolutionary rather than revolutionary, elevating through design and Star Wars bits, gadgetry and secondary mechanics, introduction of the Dark Trooper, high quality music, using Jedi in games, what you choose to build into your design, cornering the market in the Auction House, picking a setting that supports the fantasies, the MDA framework.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Force Awakens, Return of the Jedi, TIE Fighter, Jon Knoles, Mysteries of the Sith, Final Fantasy IX, The Witcher, Baldur's Gate, Rebel Assault, Republic Commando, Ingar Shu, Kevin Schmitt, Reed Knight, Duke Nukem 3D, Steve Chen, Starfighter (series), John Drake, id Software, Epic MegaGames, Half-Life, Unreal, Quake, Outlaws, Jedi Knight, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Fallout, Leonard Boyarsky, Tim Cain, Obsidian, Chris Avellone, Planescape: Torment, Justin Chin, Mario, Ratchet & Clank, Battlefront II, Clint Bajakian, John Williams, @notmyviews, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Everquest, Ultima Online, Raph Koster, Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax, Knights of the Old Republic, Bioware, Tomb Raider, Wolfenstein.

Next time:
Bonus interview!

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

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 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

Apr 25, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are lucky this week to be able to interview Mark Crowe, one of the original "Guys from Andromeda" who were the creative force behind Space Quest, as well as working on many other Sierra titles. We talk about those old days, the flexibility of working with a parser, and all the constraints on game development in the early days. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: Mark's history, having a dream job, walking in the door, the hippie environment, local inspiration, first exposure to computers, size of company, meeting Scott and teaming up, developing a core idea and prototyping it, having the split-up environments in the first screens made, getting a picture on the box, taking a pseudonym in fear, dabbling in prosthetics, vacationing from Mars, learning on the job, doing everything at once, adding some humor, a cinematic approach, cinematic inspirations, cramming in references, pushing technology further, side-scrolling environments, not knowing what's possible vs "staying in your lane," the origin of Roger Wilco, stand-in for the player and trying to be in the player's head, the point-and-click innovation, parser as another layer of interaction, additional entertainment value, death and missing things and frustration, signature negative, making the games more player friendly, the needs of your existing audience vs the needs of a growing audience, playing the game pre-release, layoffs and the "cart debacle," throwing pencils at the ceiling, quick prototyping, primitive tools, time lapse rendering, Space Venture development.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, Scott Murphy, Space Quest 1, Ken and Roberta Williams, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Dynamix, Star Siege, The Black Cauldron, Chris Pope, Greg Steffen, Wizard and the Princess, Softporn, Mission: Asteroid, Frogger, Sega, Ultima, Two Guys from Andromeda, King's Quest, Two Guys from Italy, Star Wars, Star Trek, Bernard Kliban, Lifeline, Space Venture.

Links:

Bernard Kliban's Original Roger Wilco

Space Quest III Timelapse

Guys from Andromeda

Guys from Andromeda YouTube Channel

Next time:
Next week we return to God of War to discuss everything up through the Challenges

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

Apr 18, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning our series on 2005's God of War. We set the game in its time, an interesting time at the end of a console lifecycle as new machines loomed on the horizon, and then turn to the game itself before hitting feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the desert / through Athens

Podcast breakdown:
0:44     Segment 1: God of War
50:35   Break
51:06   Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: the console lifecycle, PS2 install base, the new console generation, learning the hardware over the lifecycle, exclusives, squeezing the hardware over the series, optimizing instructions, iterating on a franchise, juvenile tone, the influence of the underlying mythology, being edgy or over the top, Greek tragedy and the fatal flaw, opening with a bang, narrative device of setting up how the character got to the big moment, setting up mysteries of character and fate, tension between player and character, pacing and balancing on a beam, perfecting the quick time event, the first level as a microcosm of the whole game, the influences of this game, skimming the top of a bunch of genres, adventure games drawing from every verb, explicit vs implicit tutorialization, great mythological moments, a series of yeses.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Broderbund Software, Red Storm Entertainment, Red Orb Entertainment, Riven, Prince of Persia 3D, The Journeyman Project, Santa Monica Studio, Shadow of the Colossus, Dragon Quest VIII, Resident Evil 4, F.E.A.R., Republic Commando, Metal Gear Solid 2, Sly Cooper 3, Guitar Hero, GTA: San Andreas, Japan Studio, Starfighter/Jedi Starfighter, Devil May Cry 3, Gran Turismo 4, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Lego Star Wars, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Tomb Raider (2013), Clash of the Titans, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Richard Wagner, Uncharted 2, Shenmue, Crystal Dynamics, Soul Reaver, Castlevania, Maximo: Ghosts and Goblins, MediEvil, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, System Shock 2, Sid Meier, Half-Life, Dario Casali, Sierra Games, Sebastian Pellegrino, Tim Schafer, LucasArts, Telltale Games, Amanita Design, Wadjet Eye, Daedelic, Edna and Harvey, Deponia saga, The Dark Eye, The Whispered World, Hal Barwood, Bill Tiller, Curse of Monkey Island, Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler, A Vampyre's Tale, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Dig, Kyle Vermaes, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Link to the Past, Manhunter (series), Rules of Play, Eric Zimmerman, Katie Salen, Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman, GamaSutra, Brenda Romero, Challenges for Game Designers, Will Wright, The Sims, SimCity, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander, RadiatorYang, Ryan, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku Splitscreen, Giant Bomb, Giant Beastcast, DLC, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, RebelFM, Waypoint Radio, Patrick Klepek, Danielle Riendeau, Austin Walker, Steve Gaynor, Tone Control, Gone Home, Tacoma, Idle Thumbs, Important If True, Shall We Play A Game, Chris Suellentrop, JJ Sutherland, Slate Culture Gabfest, Filmspotting, Filmspotting: SVU, The Next Picture Show, Maximum Fun, April Wolfe, Switchblade Sisters.

Next time:
Up through the Three Challenges

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

Apr 11, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we complete our discussion of a pair of very early Sierra adventure games with Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter. We finally hear Tim's story about getting stuck on a game so long it drove him to drink and also get to our takeaways before hitting feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished SQ1

Podcast breakdown:
0:43   Segment 1: SQ1
35:35 Break
36:08 Segment 2: Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: music theft, the Do Not Press button and a return to Daventry, talking to the guards, cross promotion, learning to use your seat belt, the influence of the real world, making jokes out of the topical, Tim's inadvertent hint, inventory objects inside other objects, the importance of looking at things at the right time, getting a hint from the parser, the origin of the pizza orgy, killing Orat with a spider droid, random walk mechanics, hating on the skimmer, Brett gives Tim a pro tip, critical path gambling mini-game, adding in new mechanics, Brett's early skiing game, game play variety, using money in adventure game puzzles, Tim gets stuck, Tim doesn't get a fart joke, being driven to drink, the new verb with the grate, player perspective and the sense of exploration, dramatic/cinematic moments, ignoring the first offer for the skimmer, looking everywhere for a coupon, gadgets and copy protection in the box, story arc and adventure and fantasy fulfillment, aligning the player and the character as far as world knowledge, cognitive dissonance vs ludonarrative dissonance, cinematic presentation, buckazoids in the Longo family, splitting screen spaces as a push for exploration and sense of adventure, where could adventure games go, visual novels and systemic depth, underserved genres, what game would you claim for yourself, games that are hard to get and their influence, buying consoles, has something been lost in change of difficulty, opacity and discovery, finding players who won't look on the Internet, on-demand culture and chasing the next thing, putting the onus back on the game (to keep you enthralled and not searching for answers), creators asking you to not get hints, supporting the right team size.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: ZZ Top/Sharp Dressed Man, Styx, Peter Gunn/The Blues Brothers, Madonna, King's Quest 1, Ken Williams, LucasArts, Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Grim Fandango, Curse of Monkey Island, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, George Lucas, Anachronox, Star Trek, The Corbomite Maneuver, Sierra, Police Quest, Star Wars, Grimm Fairy Tales, Skyrim, StarGate, The City on the Edge of Forever, Joan Collins, Jar-Jar Binks, Derek Achoy, Broken Age, Thimbleweed Park, Machinarium, Ron Gilbert, Telltale Games, Samorost, Amanita Design, Chuchl, X-Files, Wadjet Eye Games, Dave Gilbert, Year Walk, Simogo, Device 6, Sailor's Dream, Aaron Evers, Souls series, Tom Hall, Ultima, Civilization, Zork, Pitfall, Adventure, Atari 2600, Half-Life, Dark Forces, Daron Stinnett, Jeff Buttaccio, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Sega Saturn, Ico, Mario 64, NOLF, Warcraft, Steinar Nedreboe, Jonathan Blow, Braid, The Witness, GDC, Jeff Vogel.

Links:
Sierra Death Generator

Space Quest 3 Promo

Space Quest 1 VGA Remake Commercial

SQ Docucomedy

Panzer Dragoon Saga

Next time:
Keep an eye on our Twitter as we figure it out!

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

Apr 4, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we continue to discuss a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, now turning to Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter. We talk a little bit more about adventure games and general and talk about some specific ways this game differs from King's Quest, including its use of space. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Planet Kerona

Podcast breakdown:
0:45   Segment 1: SQ1
37:19 Break
37:43 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: humor in adventure games, obvious influences, nostalgia for Tim, playing adventure games as a shared experience, getting stuck, linear vs open structure/points of no return, not getting the cartridge, stealth game play, fearing death and rushing through the game, quick beginning to the game, how you measure play time, designing around player death, embracing shorter game length, frustration points, inability to predict puzzle pain points, prodding the edges out of frustration, how you QA or player test a game like this, how to innovate or adjust in light of success, knowing whether you can fail, the market at the time, extending a specific audience rather than trying to grow the whole audience, attention to detail and commitment to a consistency of the world, requiring less knowledge from the player, discovery at the same pace as the character, Guybrush Threepwood, from Space Zero to Space Hero, characters who change or that don't, character development over a series, humor, fish out of water, Tim gives Brett a hint (survival kit), use of screen space, explorable spaces, payoff on finding nothing vs keycard, using splitscreen, economical screen use, text adventure structure, dramatic tension, having fun with death and exploring that, double whammy of enemies you can't kill and a timer, the daily chase of the most recent releases, learning as much if not more from an old game, doing a lot with a small team, legendary games we missed out on, picking between systems, classic strategy wargames, getting a survey vs playing in depth, games history and film history, playing the history at LucasArts, the tip line, ickiness of 1-900 numbers.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, LucasArts, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Wars, Tacoma, The Walking Dead, Telltale, Deadline, Republic Commando, Monkey Island, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, Phantasmagoria, Quest for Glory, Al Lowe, Anachronox, Tom Hall, Outlaws, Daron Stinnett, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Super Metroid, Out of this World/Another World, Planescape: Torment, Dan Hunter, Guernsey College, Fallout, Skyrim, Zachary Crownover, Unity, Unreal, Derek Achoy, Aaron Evers, Raphael Cornford, Mikkel Lodahl, Dungeons and Dragons, Temple of Elemental Evil, Keep on the Borderlands, Ultima Underworld, M.U.L.E., Commodore 64, Mario (series), Megaman, Bomberman, NES/SNES, Sega Genesis, Flashback, PS2, Atari, IntelliVision, Vectrex, Chuck E. Cheese, Avalon Hill, Art of War, Panzer (series), Larry Holland, HMS Pegasus, Will Wright, Raid on Bungeling Bay, SimCity, SimEarth, SimAnt, Guy Morgan, XCOM, Soul Reaver, Game Boy Pocket, Link's Awakening, Discworld, Psygnosis, Activision, Infocom, Vivendi.

Next time:
Finish Space Quest!

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

Mar 28, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we continue to discuss a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, beginning with 1984's King's Quest: Quest for the Crown. Having finished the game, we discuss the ways in which different puzzles work and what aspects are frustrating and how it might all have gotten that way. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finish King's Quest 1

Issues covered: getting through without hints, remembering puzzles and forgetting stuff, rule-breaking and rocks, leaning into fairy tales, thinking about the game away from it, the better manual, verbs with rare usages or no usages, the Rumplestiltskin puzzle, good for streaming or not, dying from the rock, timing and waiting, the difficulty of the game Deadline, things not appearing on screens, characters that don't appear all the time, not knowing what you're not seeing, the well and figuring out what to do there through dying, dealing with the dragon, solving puzzles multiple ways, timing your throw at the dragon, using water in the pail all over, supporting lots of weird choices, finding the use of the bucket and not experimenting further, verbs you use only once, looking at objects in your inventory, XYZZY, piecing together a series of steps, the Leprechaun puzzle, multiple solutions as a usability issue, losing the goat, giving treasure to the troll, fallback solutions, being able to ignore various obstacles, encouraging exploration, no RPG-style combat, the Fairy Godmother spell, dealing with the witch, lack of mapping between manual and game, eating the witch's house, the fullness of the world, climbing the beanstalk and being high on the foliage, fighting the parser, thinking the pebbles might be for the wolf, sick fairy tales, a sleeping giant, navigating the beanstalk, differences in world structure between different adventure games, proving out the capabilities of a new engine, showstopping spots in an adventure that's more linear, playing a game together, ARGs and the appeal of playing with a crowd, breaking Tim Sr with Space Quest, giving away carrots, goat eating your carrots, top-down design vs bottom-up design, 500K copies sold, relegislating the sexism, The Boss, aspiring to be Solid Snake, getting interested in real world topics via games, creators who are drawn to real-world issues, not fully embracing a difficult topic, having a hard time getting that stuff funded, various examples, escapism in entertainment, fun MGS bits.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Roberta and Ken Williams, Deadline, Infocom, LucasArts, Ron Gilbert, Edge of Tomorrow, Wizard of Oz, Advent, Grimm Fairy Tales, Space Quest, Day of the Tentacle, Zork, Two Guys from Andromeda, Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, Reed Knight, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Metroid, Quest for Glory (series), Manhunter, Betrayal at Krondor, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Blarg42, Final Fantasy IX, Metal Gear (series), Bioshock, Tom Clancy, Far Cry 2, Hideo Kojima, This War of Mine, Papers Please, Cart Life, Valiant Hearts, UbiSoft, Far Cry 5, Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin, Firewatch, Gone Home, Wolfenstein, Star Wars, Yoji Shinkawa.

Next time:
Play until you reach the first planet in Space Quest

Links/Notes:
Note - the XYZZY Awards still exist!

Dialog with Campbell et al about your mono TV

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

Mar 21, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, beginning with 1984's King's Quest: Quest for the Crown. We talk a bit about Sierra and its early contributions to games as a whole and the specific form of the adventure game, setting it in context and discussing taste. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
"About half" of King's Quest

Issues covered: crossing a drawbridge, being top of the game food chain, the rise and fall and rise of adventure games, establishing a formula early on, being unable to get games, hint lines, IBM funding, sweet development deal, four-color video cards, reusable engines, general-purpose machines vs custom machines, leveraging programming work, local-ish company, building a string of franchises, first developers whose names you know, typing in directions, diving into the manual, how to make an adventure game map, the need to restart, lack of direction, number pad, playing with a parser, getting source code for text adventures, verb usability in LucasArts vs Sierra, finding parser edges and the sense of discovery, one-use verbs, having visual feedback in addition to the parser, open world exploration in the parser, different taste in adventures and animation, a brainy game, experimentation, engineers vs pure designers, character mechanics, timing element, hint books, using friends like a hint line, pen and paper similarity, willing suspension of disbelief, blocking off inaccessible areas via art, the wrap-around map, connected world, usability decision?, multi-use puzzles and inventory items, waiting for things, relying on fairy tale lore.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Apple ][, Infocom, Wizard and the Princess, Roberta and Ken Williams, Egghead Software, IBM, Out of this World/Another World, Karateka, Dynamix, Vivendi, CUC International, Havas, Andromeda, Zork, ADVENT/Colossal Cave Adventure, Ultima, Tetris, ExciteBike, Marble Madness, Montezuma's Revenge, Commodore 64, Ancient Art of War, Ballblazer, Archon, Lode Runner, Disney, Pixar, Ubisoft, Dark Souls, Felix the Cat, Warner Bros, Ralph Bakshi, Mystery House, Manhole, HyperCard, Cyan, Myst, Enchanter, Lost Treasures of Infocom, Activision, Dungeons and Dragons, Greensleeves, Ultima Underworld, Pac-Man, Lucas Rizoli, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Daryl Gates.

Note:
It might have been more accurate to say source might have been "assembled" rather than "interpreted"

Links:
Duncan Fyfe on PQ4, writing for Waypoint

Next time:
Finish King's Quest

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

Mar 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We talk about how the game comes together at the end and the interconnectedness of it all before we turn to our pillars and takeaways. 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 Segment 1: finishing the game
44:23 Break
44:59 Segment 2: Takeways and feedback

Issues covered: serviceable weapons, Tim realizes he never beat the game before, reuniting pieces of key, going in between levels, breaking down a door, getting a little help from your friends, cup talisman, the taper being a different piece of art, the writ of Lorne, killing all the trolls, Tim finds nine talismans, the crux ansata, Tom and Judy quest, themes of loss throughout the game, the lost world of Cabirus, thematic storytelling here vs larger open worlds, usability issues and keeping track, missing clues and having to scour levels, having an unbreakable sword, worrying about the final room, anticlimactic final room, the final maze and its length, hallucinatory images while running away, dream sequences in Max Payne, wearing the special crown, the moonstone room, Brett ends with a ton of scrolls, wondering about other skill possibilities, finishing at level 15/16, clip of the ending screen, interconnected quests and dungeon, being nervous about a game being broken, QAing this game and finding workarounds, hinting at how to move around the dungeon space, getting frustrated to the point of exploring the non-obvious, the game that justifies the inclusion of quest journals, the wane that proceeds the RPG renaissance, full commitment to simulation, simulating the staleness of food, leaving bloodspots, pushing forward to any idea you could think of, supporting the core fantasy of being in this place, interconnecting systems, focusing on one dungeon, committing to a motivating idea, balance, interconnected levels, pen and paper games, fallen utopia, old rotten and seasoned, choosing enemy types, borrowing from the main games, using archetypes, picking characters based on their abilities and lore, orthogonal design in enemies, varieties of damage types, top-down vs bottom-up approach, potentially bad tropes to take into here, lack of random monster encounters, balancing for different sorts of characters, separating systems, iterating on numbers, leaning on QA, changing enemy behaviors based on weapons, putting the onus on the player, cheating on behalf of the player, GDC and planned interview, parser games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ultima (series), Mark Eldridge, Max Payne, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Origin, Baldur's Gate, Gold Box games, Martian Dreams Ultima Adventure, Wolfenstein, Doom, The Elder Scrolls: Arena, H. P. Lovecraft, Icewind Dale, The Witcher (series), Bard's Tale, Eye of the Beholder, Dungeons & Dragons, Underworld: Ascendant, Mark *Sean* Garcia, Tader Chip, Maas Neotek Proto/Keane, Republic Commando, Halo, Diablo, Brian Taylor, Metal Gear Solid, Skyrim, Deus Ex, Sierra Games, LucasArts, King's Quest, Space Quest, Day of the Tentacle, GOG.com, Wizard and the Princess.

Next time:
King's Quest I, "About half"

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

Mar 7, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We take a deeper dive into the leveling system and the magic system and talk about the intersection of RPGs and immersive sims and the various analog elements of this game in particular. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 4-6

Issues covered: rotworm stew, taking notes and having too much to sort through, keeping track using the map, space for a legend, cartography, how the leveling system works vs other games, strengths and weakness of a leveling system, ceding control of the player experience to the RNG, rewarding the finding of mantras and pushing you to search for them, awarding of XP, pushing you to other skills via randomness, sticking with the Sword of Justice because it doesn't break, the intersection of two very difficult genres in terms of balancing, encouraging you to fully explore the map, finding an angry ghost and a talking door, mixing runes to come up with spells, the consistency of 8 virtues and 8 races and 8 talismans, role-playing your decisions, embracing the pen and paper origins, combat pacing and space with magic and weapon timing, swinging a weapon and hitting a wall, weapon mechanics, the tale of Sir Rodrick, essential objects and the possibility of losing the game, sources of weird rendering artifacts, potential optimizations to avoid clipping, Longo Rooms, low fidelity games, using the silver seed for resurrection -- Tim teaches Brett a trick, tracking ownership of objects, identifying AI state using the look button, analog fidelity of systems, inter-level connections of quests and objects, adventure game elements, finding a moonstone and other favorite moments, Tim confesses his hacker past.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Warren Spector, Planescape: Torment, Gold Box games, Eye of the Beholder, GURPS/Steve Jackson Games, Wolfenstein 3D, Mark Eldridge.

Next time:
Finish the game! (Levels 7 & 8)

@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 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

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 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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