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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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Oct 12, 2016

Welcome to our fourth episode examining 1997's classic RPG Fallout. We finish off the game, discussing our various choices, and then turn to the various pillars we draw from it. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
The base and the Cathedral

Podcast breakdown:
0:35    Segment 1: Finishing Fallout
45:12  Break 1
45:50  Segment 2: Pillars and Feedback

Issues covered: going back to the Glow, voice acting, sharing assets between various animated characters, criminal underworld quests, the liberation of playing and letting the chips fall where they may, missing out on content, growing an audience by offering multiple play styles, murderous Tim Longo, blowing up the base, satisfying cinematic resolution, getting stuck on the force fields, obscure solutions to big problems, the many uses of the radio, close quarters rocketry, stealthy super mutants, inventory loophole and managing weight limits, hardened power armor, carrying useless items until the end of the game, stopping in empty tiles (including the ocean), UFO, multiple ways to resolve the Master, holodisks and the Pipboy, accounting for followers and not, tying off storylines with little snippets, character consistency and leaving the Vault for good, melancholy, fascist Vaults, selfishness and survival, unintended consequences that matter and hard decisions, the RPG renaissance, permitting risk in RPG settings, mature themes and elements, Senate hearings on violence in videogames, filling a story-telling vacuum, avoiding the good/evil binary, giving characters meaningful motivations, getting XP for non-violent actions, reader feedback, Bonus Content: Wasteland 1 & 2,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Keith David, Dishonored, Bioshock, Fallout 2, Citizen Kane (obliquely), Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta, Final Fantasy X, Super Metroid, Star Wars (obliquely), Mad Max, JRR Tolkien, Bioware, Icewind Dale, Black Isle, D&D, Arcanum, Troika Games, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Jason Anderson, Temple of Elemental Evil, Vampire: Bloodlines, Mass Effect, Ultima series, Ultima VIII/IX, Lionheart, Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate, Bard's Tale series, Wayne Cline, LucasArts, ESA, Mortal Kombat, War and Peace, Brian Luzietti, sixty second shooter prime, Jamie Fristrom, Day of the Tentacle, Telltale Games, Double Fine Productions, Fallout: New Vegas, System Shock 2, The Witcher series, GURPS, Stefan Schmidt, Neo_Ouija, Cat-charlie, Mikael Danielsson, MrFutile, Swinlo44, Resident Evil, Kitty Horrorshow, Chyrza.

Next time:
For our next series, we will be playing Resident Evil! Looking for an interview for next week.

Links:
Brett's Twitch channel
Brett's YouTube channel
Brett's Streaming Horror from a couple years back


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

Oct 5, 2016

Welcome to our third episode examining 1997's classic RPG Fallout. We examine tactical combat, leveling strategies, encumbrance as a specific mechanic, and also a lot of what we saw and did. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Everything before the base and Cathedral

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Segment 1 -- all of the above
58:07 Break
58:38 Segment 2: Feedback, next time, and teasers

Issues covered: weapon offerings, Power Fist empowerment, late leveling, Ian meets his maker, knowing when the kills are coming, feeding memory from the CD, Tim's last followers, tactical combat numbers, twitch tension, fantasy fulfillment, thoughtful decisions, sound design supporting mechanics, narrative moments in combat, stimpack use, encumbrance and survival, mechanics that force you to reload when you get lost, return to town loop, forcing choices through encumbrance, building tension through limits, making tactical decisions for a large party, combat occurring over two dozen entities, fine line of authorial direction, Easter eggs in "tell me about," broken quest lines, addiction and radiation mechanics, apparently random damage, fixing barter and making interesting choices, how we got the power armor.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Hamlet, FF 9, Lawrence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, Mel Gibson, Ralph Fiennes, X-Com modern reboots, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ultima series, Waking Mars, Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams, Resident Evil, Temple of Elemental Evil, King's Quest series, Wasteland 1, System Shock 2, Necrogeist, Split Screen, Idle Thumbs, Chris Remo, Jake Rodkin, Nick Breckon, Sean Vanaman, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, World of Warcraft.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Sep 28, 2016

Welcome to our second episode examining 1997's classic RPG Fallout. We talk about the lack of the hand-holding in the game, discuss our character builds a bit and talk about the choices we've made so far. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Note: Brett keeps mixing up Junktown with Hub. He blames illness. Our apologies.

Sections played:
Up until you resolve the Water Chip

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    Intro/Segment 1
43:42  Break 1
44:22  What next and Feedback

Issues covered: following different threads, Brotherhood of Steel, power armor, Death Claws, having less fun when there are fewer barriers, making your follower into your donkey, open world structure and directionlessness, paying to extend the life of the Vault, playing against type, having Dogmeat as a follower, living with consequences, playing morally ambiguous characters, the meaningfulness of followers, narrative depth of followers, JRPGs, how we dealt with Gizmo, Brett's hotel encounter, Brett gets political, Tenpenny Tower/Megaton, town restrictions on weapon use, Thieves' Guild, stealthing around Necropolis, Tim's torture session, Tim stealths past mutants while Brett talks circles around them, more "pixel-hunty" game, simulated skills and mechanical depth.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ultima series, Bard's Tale, Baldur's Gate, Halo 6, Bioware, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Neverwinter Nights, Final Fantasy IX, Bethesda Game Studios, Metal Gear Solid, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, Pat Holleman, Stefan Schmidt, Kevin Watters, Super Metroid, Castlevania, Dark Souls, Guacamelee, Ori and the Blind Forest, Axiom Verge, MaasNeotekProto.

Next time:
Everything but the Military Base and the Cathedral

Links:
Beating Fallout in 5 minutes

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

Sep 21, 2016

Welcome to our first episode in our series examining 1997's Fallout. We talk a bit about the RPG renaissance it seemed to kick off and then delve into the first few hours. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until you reach Junktown

Podcast breakdown:
0:37      Segment 1: Relevance
32:11    Break
32:36    Segment 2: Towards Junktown
1:08:46 Break
1:09:17 Segment 3: Listener feedback, next time

Issues covered: Brett's workshopping and quotes collection, RPG resurgence in the late '90s, Interplay and other RPG-maker troubles, a new direction for Western RPGs, getting away from the high fantasy setting, accessible turn-based combat, supporting text, return to apocalypse, enabling a variety of settings, tabletop RPGs, hexagonal and rectilinear grids, maturity, relatability, gruesome deaths, archetypes, humor, RPGs vs RPG elements, numerical traits and skill systems, player agency over character destiny, filling out the trees, flexible specialization, progression vs role-playing, character creation anxieties, watercooler talk, grim humor in the introduction, bravery and commitment in world-building, licensed titles, 1950s optimism taken forward, the pleasantly clicky UI, encountering Shady Sands en route to Vault 15, two-headed cows, the emergence of voice, the little pocket DM, finding ropes, feedforward loops, barter is broken, Tim's uphill battle, speedrunning Super Metroid, secrets.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Star Wars, Mortimer and the Riddle of the Medallion, Ultima series, JRPGs, Gold Box series, Interplay, Wasteland, Tim Cain, Stonekeep, Eye of the Beholder, Troika Interactive, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magic Obscura, Atari, Sierra, Gathering of Developers, Leonard Boyarsky, Jason Anderson, Mad Max, Diablo series, Bard's Tale, Dungeonmaster, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Brian Fargo, The Walking Dead, Fury Road, Baldur's Gate series, Fallout 2, Icewind Dale series, Planescape: Torment, Lionheart, Temple of Elemental Evil, Vampire: Bloodlines, Dungeons and Dragons, GURPS, J. R. R. Tolkien, Call of Duty series, Bethesda Game Studios, DOOM, Skyrim, Assassin's Creed series, Far Cry 3/4, World of Warcraft, Batman: Arkham series, Prototype 2, LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, Ken Rolston, Elder Scrolls series, Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Super Metroid, Jeremy Fischer, Phil Rosehill, Doug Thorpe, BattleTankBob, Daniel Johansson, Chase Chamberlain.

Next time:
Play until you have resolved the water chip quest

Links:
Tim Cain in the GDC Vault (how appropriate!) 

Super Metroid Speed Runs:
Super Metroid - 100% run in under 80 minutes

Super Metroid - any% race (4 runners - ~44 minutes)

Super Metroid - any% - 2 players, 1 controller

Super Metroid - any% - Reverse Boss Order

Another 100% run

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

Sep 14, 2016

Welcome to our final episode in our series examining Super Metroid. We delve specifically into the last couple of boss battles and the concomitant storytelling, and spend some time thinking about our favorite areas. We also talk about the pillars and takeaways of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
End of the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:47    Section 1: Final bosses, storytelling, and Zebes's areas
42:12  Break 1
42:55  Section 2: Takeaways, listener feedback, next game

Issues covered: Tim wants to be a pill bug, Samus's backstory and narrative wrappers, feedback/feed-forward loop, player skill, being stuck near Ridley, difficulty curves, developer blindness to difficulty, earning the end vs other Nintendo titles, Space Pirates, map problems and telling the player what they can find, controls difficulty, storytelling in the endgame, Christian the lion, getting to know the world, difficulty adjustment, creature design in Maridia, scale and creature design of Wrecked Ship, broken glass in Maridia, quicksand physics, genre creation through exploration structure, moments of discovery, "quarters aesthetic," attract mode, digital vs analog gating, feedback to the player, teaching NPCs, content that only some people see, knowing what you get with other media, progression in mechanics vs in numbers, time investment, iTunes review, miniature play in tabletop RPGs, character builds (broken and otherwise).

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Daniel Johansson, Nintendo Power, Jungle Book, Metroid Prime series, Final Fantasy IX, Starfighter series, Legend of Zelda series, Mario series, Assassin's Creed III, Shadows of Mordor, Siegfried and Roy, Deus Ex, Warren Spector, Halo, System Shock 2, Shigeru Miyamoto, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, The Witness, Idle Thumbs, Chris Remo, Ori and the Blind Forest, Stephen King, Elana Ferrante, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rydrum2112, Fallout, Ultima series, Might and Magic series, Wizardry Series, Gold Box series, Baldur's Gate, Infinity Engine, Black Isle, Interplay, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Fallout 4, Bethesda Game Studios.

Links:
Christian the lion!

Next time:
Fallout, up until but not including Junktown

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

Sep 7, 2016

Welcome to the third episode in our series examining Super Metroid. We delve specifically into the boss battles we've played thus far and spend some time talking about player skill and both positive and negative feedback loops in its play. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the boss "Draygon"

Podcast breakdown:
0:29      Segment 1: Intro and boss battles
36:57    Break 1
37:22    Segment 2: Player empowerment, feedback
1:05:54 Break 2

Issues covered: choosing the Chozo suit, boss design, back history, negative reinforcement, not reading the manual, telegraphing, reappearance of Crocomire (and others), Kraid two-step shooting, skill-based bosses, experimentation and nearby save points, using lesser monsters as foreshadowing, robots that activate, 1950s robots, art directing towards technical limitations, wanting more meaning from the holes Botwoon disappears into, working within constraints, chasing fidelity, choosing constraints, player skill for boss battles, teaching you (or not) to use the grapple beam as a weapon, helpless states in boss battles, "three great scenes and no bad ones," outsmarting a bigger foe, player empowerment, getting a weapon just as you start to feel a need for it, creating artificial wishes to fulfill, multi-use grapple beam, discovering play as a game developer, missiles vs super missiles and bombs vs super bombs, blowing the glass to get to Maridia, super dash power fantasy, wall jump, positive feedback loop in player skill, negative feedback loop in scouring the map, the other half of the empowerment equation, circular level design, learning jump heights and distances, staying in the moment, watercooler talk -- different playthroughs, playground chatter, discussing levels next time, statue room, reader feedback.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The 39 Steps, Andy Mindler, Boba Fett, Lara Croft, other games in the Metroid series, Jedi Starfighter, Godzilla, The Terminator, Alien series, R2-D2, Forbidden Planet, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian, WoW: Legion, Bionic Commando, Capcom, Bastion, FF VI, Bethesda Game Studios, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Dishonored, AL_Roman.

Next time:
Finish the game!

Links:
Rolling Stone article on Super Metroid

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

Aug 31, 2016

Welcome to our second episode in our series examining Super Metroid. We talk a bit about what we might do with the series if it were handed to us, and delve deeply into the way Samus fits into the world completely. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until the Ice Beam

Podcast breakdown:
0:33    Segment 1: innovating Metroid and character context
48:13  Break 1
48:45  Segment 2: Skill-based play, bits and bobs, and reader mail!

Issues covered: what do you do with this franchise if they hand it to you, destructability, history of Samus Aran as a potential exploration angle, the game hitting its stride, are most of the weapons missable?, getting stuck (or are you), not reading the f'ing manual again (running), a nearly perfect game design, abilities you can disable, the big gold statue and Ridley, scanning and lore and collection, what the manual reveals, players skip everything, economy of character design, building to human scale, player focus, when the stars align and you are the hero, the demise of poor Chester Copperpot, building a hero, biodiversity in Star Trek vs Star Wars, "it's a video game *first*," overdoing context, wanting to make all the puzzle pieces fit, nerd desire for in-references and coherence, Brett hasn't seen the Lord of the Rings movies, shortcutting back in loops vs weaker backtracking, punishing Norfair, skill-based games and pushing through to being good at it, the pleasure of physical stuff, what turns one off from a thing, player ownership of mistakes, games getting in the way, opening doors for good, enemy mix and variance, enemy ecology, map issues and future work in that area, reader mail about speedrunning, wall jump, speedrunning against programming, reprogramming console games with a controller.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Metroid Prime series, Tomb Raider, Metroid: Other M, This American Life, Fez, Paper Mario series, Shadow Complex, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Star Trek, Super Mario series, Legend of Zelda, The Goonies, Star Wars, Daron Stinnett, Indiana Jones, Starfighter series, Suicide Squad, Shadows of Mordor, The Silmarillion, Lord of the Rings movies, Harry Potter movies, Super Mario Galaxy, Superman, Guacamelee, Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, WarCraft.

Next time:
Up through boss Draygon

Links:
Zora, the superhero featured on This American Life


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

Aug 24, 2016

Welcome to our first episode in our series examining Super Metroid, our first foray into playing something that is exclusively on console. We first situate the game and the series in importance and discuss the influence of Japanese design before turning to the first couple of hours of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until the Charge Beam

Podcast breakdown:
0:31      Segment 1: Relevance/Impact
26:47    Break 1
27:23    Segment 2: First part
1:10:30 Break 2
1:10:54 Segment 3: Outro/Next time


Issues covered: how one pronounces "Douville," synchronization bugs, impact of Japanese, mix of skill-based play and environmental puzzles and exploration and tactical decisions, concurrent original development of multiple storied franchises, the time constraints on adult players, open world games and growing the space, narrative and the environment, foreshadowing in the main menu, narrative tone, stylized minimalistic music, opening cutscene, pixel art, character design, weapon and damage types, weapons and macro/micro design, less economical design at AAA, depth vs breadth, constraining the player to drive creativity, testing what you've learned, "mode 7" rendering, parallax and storytelling, reverse blood-locking, RTFM, tiny lessons and reinforcements, forcing you to learn, map limitations, giving you the things that you need, the need for elevators, conveying information in tile art, playing with player expectations.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: DLC podcast, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, Bill Roper, Blizzard, WarCraft, Patrick Wyatt, Nathan Martz, Brütal Lëgënd, Nintendo R&D, Yoshi Sakamoto, Castlevania, Mario series, Legend of Zelda series, No Man's Sky, Metroid Prime series, Starfighter, Tomb Raider (2013), Firewatch, Alien, Aliens, Boba Fett, Star Wars, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime Federation Force, Shovel Knight, Axiom Verge, Halo, Mode7 Games, Paul Kilduff-Taylor, Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, Randy Smith, Dishonored, Doom (2016), Metal Gear Solid series, Final Fantasy VII/IX, Outlaws, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Headlander.

Next time:
Up until the Ice Beam

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

Aug 18, 2016

Welcome to our final episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, where we welcome guest Bill Roper! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Quick show note: We had some technical difficulties with Bill's mic, so he's a little quiet. Apologies. It is worth boosting your headphones to hear him.

Podcast breakdown:
0:38      Bill Roper Interview
1:12:41 Break 1
1:13:06 Outro, next game

Issues covered: Blizzard pre-Warcraft, how Bill got in, voice over, joining up to do anything, having empathy for orcs, manual symmetry, making investments in quality, notepads add heft, guerrilla marketing, "Growing up Blizzard," inclusivity and the "Mom test," getting into the RTS market, raising the bar back and forth with Westwood, SVGA resolution, LAN multiplayer, desynchronization bugs, pushing the capabilities of the engine, stringing missions together into a story, constant iteration of game writing, ebb and flow of mission types, longer development time for 1993, everything going right for Warcraft 2, emergence of the multiple click voice lines, letting the team find a new feature, AAA production focus vs indie innovation ability, planning for innovation and leadership buy-in, great ideas come from everywhere, Blizzard culture and design credited to the team, flip-side: killing your babies, everybody playing the game, the quote board, the world's most expensive QA team, meritocracy, Blizzard's influence on the industry and its inclusivity, simple to learn/difficult to master, supporting approachability with humor and aesthetics, grognard capture, free multiplayer clients with the single-player game, genesis of Battle.Net, pay-to-play multiplayer services, the influences that led to the orcs, the origins of Medivh's name, exiling the wolf riders, characterizing units through voice and portraiture, embedding character into the gameplay, telling side stories because you don't know what the player looks like, audio cues as feedback system, economical design, micro-management, building on roads, mini-map choices: essentially just an alert, no playing the game off the mini-map, trolling pro players, avoiding mini-map distraction, design discipline.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Warcraft series, Starcraft series, Diablo series, Champions, Star Trek Online, Blizzard, Silicon & Synapse, Justice League Task Force, Lost Vikings, Rock n' Roll Racing, Dune 2, Herzog Zwei, Blackthorne, Mars: Bringer of War (Hölst), Glenn Stafford, Allen Adham, Mike Morhaime, Magic: The Gathering, Jeopardy, MAD magazine, Davidson & Associates, Bethesda Game Studios, Oblivion, Command & Conquer, Westwood Studios, Ron Millar, id Software, Epic Megagames, Starfighter games, Bob Fitch, Republic Commando, Daron Stinnett, Dave Brevik, Erich and Max Schaefer, Farmville, Mafia Wars, Mario Kart, Hearthstone, Chris Metzen, Wing Commander, Skyrim, Myth series, Stu Venable, GURPS, Happy Jacks, Poxy Boggards.

Links:
You should follow @BillRoper on Twitter!

Check out his podcast, Happy Jacks RPG Podcast! Or their website!

Bliss out to the RennFaire strains of the Poxy Boggards!

Next time:
Super Metroid! Play until you get the charge beam (save around that)


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

Aug 17, 2016

A sudden emergency made recording our guest interview with Bill Roper impossible, so we postponed. Brett hops on the mic to quickly brief you on that, and to announce our next game!

Next time:

Still Bill Roper!

 

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, @devgameclub

www.devgameclub.com

devgameclub@gmail.com

Aug 10, 2016

Welcome to our fourth episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. We finish off our discussion of the game, discussing the last few missions and turning to our takeways and pillars. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Humans 10-12 and Orcs 10-12

Podcast breakdown:
0:36     Segment 1: Last four missions
32:35   Break 1
33:12   Segment 2: Takeaways, pillars, and next time

Issues covered: big army missions, Brett's final strategy: wizards and warlocks FTW!, demons and elementals as hero units, level design as scheduling, cheating AI, Brett the programmer nerd: using a unit as a counter variable, constraints inspire creativity, finding the fun, player-centric design, mission customization in later RTSes, unique locations at the end of the game (Stormwind Castle and Blackrock Spire), limiting need for upgrades at end of game, "more" instead of "different," turning drama into tedium, Warcraft nerd-out time, Warcraft radio drama, embracing micromanagement, focusing a challenge due to street-to-street fighting, stationed units, variety in mission types, light narrative elements as motivating force, DOS technical limitations, ending cinematics, whole team as design credit, scoring ranks, rhythm and timing and time as a currency, tension in real-time vs turn-based, RNG vs determinism.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Cary Grant, The Bachelor and the Bobby-soxer, Labyrinth, Chess, Dawn of War II, Company of Heroes, Starcraft II, Dark Forces, Sid Meier, Civilization, Doom, ARMA, Starfighter, Star Wars, Daron Stinnett, Rogue Squadron, Rogue Leader, Warcraft III, Starcraft: Brood War, DotA, Relic Entertainment, Reed Knight, World of Warcraft: Legion, Cataclysm, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, The Trouble with Tribbles, Chris Metzen, Samwise Didier, Dune 2, Diablo, Bungie, Myth series, Command & Conquer, Tetris, Drop 7, Conan, Warcraft II, XCOM, Gold Box series, Bill Roper, Disney, Hellgate: London, Flagship Studios.

Next time:
Special guest BILL ROPER!

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

Aug 3, 2016

Welcome to our third episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. We specifically discuss micro management, real-time strategy as a genre, and a bit of the Warcraft lore, though not to excess. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Humans 7-9 and Orcs 7-9, interleaved

Podcast breakdown:
0:37 One long take this time!

Issues covered: dealing with spellcasters, MOBAs, target-focused management of time and resources vs spatial, conjurers as generators of free units, balancing against Rain of Fire, spellcasters turning into hero units, automating unit production in later games, reducing clicks to manage greater complexity (but further abstract the game), defeating micromanagement, micromanagement pros and cons, street by street combat, catapults, "My Garona," mission variety and RPG influences, tactical turn-based combat, fewer decisions which mean more vs lots of decisions which mean less, evolving back towards wargames, real-time unshackling the player, management of capital investment, managing composition of your army, battles turning on a dime, the quickly evolving space around games, procedurality, pushing individual features to find new gaming territory, Tim's cheating heart, different approaches to killing Medivh, Garona's impact on the stories, dealing with lore, Boba/Jango Fett and dealing with fan reaction, deleting your expanded universe, Elder Scrolls and the Dragon Break, trying to fit all the pieces together, zooming in and focusing on one area of lore, overthinking your lore, Suparna Galaxy, how much lore do you need, building lore second, the role of story in games in the early 90s, deep dive on Medivh, the absurdity of Fett family history.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: World of Warcraft, Starcraft series, Diablo, Command & Conquer, Baldur's Gate, Fallout, Ultima series, Gold Box series of RPGs, chess, Eye of the Beholder series, Dominion, Nethack, Rogue, No Man's Sky, Republic Commando, Starfighter, Elder Scrolls series, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Haden Blackman, Ryan Kaufman, Insider's Guide, Tomb Raider (2013), John Carmack, Hearthstone.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Jul 27, 2016

Welcome to our second episode in our series examining Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. We specifically discuss unit introduction and the evolution of the genre and how it does and doesn't parallel tabletop wargaming. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Four more of each campaign -- Human 3-6, Orc 3-6

Podcast breakdown:
0:31       Intro and segment 1
37:11     Break 1
37:31     Segment 2
1:05:08  Break 2
1:05:34  Next time

Issues covered: destroying bases, unit introduction as enemies and as friendlies, unit costs as a bar to trying out new types, usability issues, Tim's difficulties with having to restart, preconceived notions, seeding towns with units for difficulty, ranged strategy and pull radii, abusing pathfinding, similarity to tower defense, playing orcs differently from the humans, Tim's changing style of play, micromanaging formations, tuning difficulty for different speeds of play, archers vs catapults, Brett thinking about how to actually build games like these, scripted pathing in Starfighter, interface challenges vs the AI player, inner workings of the Starfighter AI, dungeon levels, influence of dungeon levels here on later Blizzard games, parallels between RTSes and wargaming and early tabletop role-playing, story in Blizzard games, National Conventions and Lothar 2016, purification of genres, friction between mechanics and dungeon levels, multiplayer and game masters and playing like a machine, WarCraft 2 arriving so soon after, Blizzard development model, Blizzard maintaining corporate identity under Activision, alternating levels, playing campaigns one after the other.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Pokémon Go, Geocaching, Command and Conquer, StarCraft, Final Fantasy IX, System Shock, WarCraft 2, Bungie, Myth, Hitman 2, Hitman (2016), Starfighter, World of WarCraft, WarCraft III, WarCraft (2016 film), Samwise Didier, Chris Metzer, Michael Morhaime, Bill Roper, Disney, EverQuest, Overwatch, Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Falling, Activision, EA, Origin, Bullfrog, Lionhead, Treyarch, Bobby Kotick.

Next time:
Play three more of each campaign (if you'd like): Human 7-9, Orc 7-9

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

Jul 20, 2016

In this first episode of our series discussing Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, we examine the relevance of the original game to the series as a whole and its genre in particular and begin delving into the mechanics on display in the first few levels of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
First two levels of each campaign: H1, O1, H2, O2

Podcast breakdown:
0:32        Intro and segment 1 (relevance, personal and industry wise)
33:55      Break 1
34:23      Dev and mechanics talk
1:07:05   Break 2
1:07:32   Quick additional topic and next time

Issues covered: committing to the division of Orcs and Humans, reading the freaking manual, what went into manuals and not, training the player and avoiding the manual, credits in the PS2 era, what did you need a manual for, the Indie Box, tooltips and in-game instruction, story development inside of Blizzard games vis a vis Westwood, CD-ROM and FMV, mission type variety, mods as aid to development, unit grouping count, small squads vs large armies, moving towards hero focus, MOBAs born from heroes, prioritizing even derivative lore and the potential benefits, reading 8 to 10 Warcraft novels, beneficial aesthetics, humor, self-seriousness and camp, playing with your toys, discovering games on shared computers, multiplayer culture in RTSes and FPSes, using multiplayer for develop, pathfinding and the Dining Philosophers problem, lack of formation, micromanagement for tactical gain, counting frames and managing combat closely, unsignaled progress, energy and efficiency, levels of fog of war and the Eye of Kilrogg, the weight of individual units, build speeds, deliberate pacing (lack of click-to-move), contextualization and automation debates in the mid-90s, "the game playing itself," automating those things which are not the focus, stylization and exaggeration in visual design, minimum spec.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Uncharted 4, Day of the Tentacle, LucasArts, Starfighter, Dark Souls, Gone Home, Dune 2, XCOM, Westwood, Command & Conquer, Starcraft, Wing Commander, The 7th Guest, Rebel Assault, Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3, Sid Meier, Dawn of War II, Company of Heroes, Relic Entertainment, Defense of the Ancients, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gary Gygax, Bill Roper, Chris Metzen, Samwise Didier, Michael Morhaime, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Games Workshop, Dungeons and Dragons, Patrick Stewart, Dark Forces, DOOM (original and 2016), Castle Wolfenstein, Prince of Persia, Myth: The Forgotten Lords, Bungie, Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Starship Troopers, Little King's Story, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Wayne Cline, Ultima IX, Tomb Raider, Super Mario 64, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Hal Barwood, Overwatch, Diablo III, Disney, Nintendo, Pokemon Go.

Next time:
Play four more from each campaign, still alternating Humans and Orcs!

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

Jul 13, 2016

In this final interview episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we welcome two guests, DOTT co-leads Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer! We had a fascinating time talking with the two of them and getting their insights on what they were trying to do and where some of the decisions came from. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Production note:
Some of Brett's voice cut out during recording, and so there are a couple places where that is patched up.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39 Interview with Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer
1:01:55 Segment 2: Next time on DevGameClub!

Issues covered: long introductions of our interviewees, holding your breath for ten minutes, the puzzles you remember when you revisit a game, openness in adventure game design, the lessons of inexperience, three- and four-act structures, puzzle miasma, non-linearity and agency, "Why Adventure Games Suck," backwards puzzles, "how's the player supposed to figure this out?," pizza orgies, playtesting, usability, origin of the time travel motif and mechanic, Kerner buildings and ILM and the paradise of Skywalker Ranch, the turtle sweater puzzle and bitter tears, interface puzzles, low execution barrier, Monkey Island 2 air tube and available interface vocabulary, tiny cutthroat pool, dialogue puzzle, when a puzzle is broken, what's allowed when you use something only once vs ten times, branches and offshoots of adventure games, the adventure game headspace and how things aren't necessarily represented on the screen but in the player's head, having time to play, making systems vs crafting a few minutes at a time, sweet spot for puzzle difficulty, prequels and business realities, "I love this fucking game!," pacing in Telltale Games, "hero rooms," procedural narrative, computer-written Mozart, levels of narrative, macro vs micro, injecting the player into the story, red herrings, the obvious solution never works, guiding the player back, the mummy as helpdesk, what these gentlemen are up to today.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Monkey Island series, LucasArts, Humongous Games, Hulabee, Telltale Games, Earplay, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brütal Lëgënd, Broken Age, Tim Delacruz, Jonathan Ackley, Ron Gilbert, Noah Falstein, Gary Winnick, Die Hard 2, Gwen Musengwa, Gone Home, Infocom, Zork, Hitchhiker's Guide, Star Wars, Sierra, Republic Commando, Uncharted 4, Left 4 Dead, Chris Crawford, Clint Hocking, Hal Barwood, Peter Chan, Larry Ahern, Pete McConnell, Clint Bajakian, Jory Prum (RIP), Codename Cygnus, Pokemon, Futurama: Game of Drones.

Links:
Tim Schafer mentions a Hamlet text adventure that's web-based
Tim and Dave refer a couple times to them playing the game, and you can watch that on YouTube
Codename Cygnus 
Futurama Game of Drones
Day of the Tentacle iOS

Next time:
Warcraft, the RTS that launched a whole universe!
Play the first four episodes, playing Human 1, Orc 1, then Human 2, Orc 2.

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

Jun 29, 2016

In this third episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we finally move on to talk about specific puzzles -- this is a spoilery podcast. Plus, Tim has a moment of psychological devastation as Brett unveils the implications of his approach. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Last third of the game! Finish it off.

Podcast breakdown:
0:30 Specific puzzles where we got stuck
38:20 Break 1
38:53 History and its discontents (okay, grab bag)


Issues covered: puzzle games and programming/debugging, Ron Gilbert's Rules of Adventure Game Design, getting to a point where a game is unsolvable (and not knowing), squeaky bed puzzle, when objects are decomposed and not, interface differences between PC and console, spatial relations in adventure games, the right time to cut away from a scene (what to show and what not to -- production solutions), fixating on the bowling ball, Rosebud, "Meanwhile..." cutscenes, the Rule of Three, the rules of the mummy (as a hint or a reminder), giving players options, the risk of doing puzzles out of order, intentional red herrings, narrative trade-off vs getting stuck in linear adventure games (to which DoTT is contrary), procedural adventure games, mowing the lawn while acting as a hint line, comparing LucasArts adventure games to other adventure games, "A" bugs then and now (LucasArts ahead of its time), the producer army, leaving interesting "bugs" in and those becoming a core part of the game, turns as a fuse, early adventure games' mechanics, labors of game love, indie games' freedom, "default" game choices, choices better fitting a setting or idea, "make it bushy," Tim's soft noodle he'd like to be hard, Tim's psychological self-insight into competition, podcast metagaming, Tim compliments Brett (this never happens, so I am remarking on it), fiddling with the mummy, doing just enough for some players to get a gag, returning to the headspace of the adventure game, the origin of narratives and puzzles in the adventure game and hybridization, dialog tree puzzle, Silly Putty, getting stuck (reader mail), week off (week of the 4th of July).

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tom Mathews, "The Website Is Down," Ron Gilbert, Sierra On-Line Games, System Shock 2, Indiana Jones, Citizen Kane, Sean Clark, Mike Stemmle, Monkey Island series, The Longest Journey, Humongous Games, Pajama Sam, Dave Grossman, Bethesda Game Studios, Halo series (obliquely), Tribes, Dynamix, Starfighter, Witness, Deadline, Infocom, DOOM (2016), Cthulhu, Planescape: Torment, Final Fantasy IX, Baldur's Gate, Noah Falstein, Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, The Last Express, COD: Modern Warfare, Link's Awakening, The Witness, The Stanley Parable, Jonathan Blow, Professor Layton, Myst.

Links:
Ron Gilbert on Why Adventure Games Suck
Puzzle by Puzzle Analysis of DoTT
GDC talk about DoTT Puzzle Design by same author


Next time:
We think an interview! Depends on schedules. We're working on it!

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

Jun 22, 2016

In this second episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we talk about how to move on when you get stuck and speculate about how these games were constructed. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Hard to say; approximately another third of the game (~3 hours)

Podcast breakdown:

0:24       Segment 1: How you get unstuck
34:03     Break
34:30     Segment 2: puzzle development, reader mail
1:15:19  Outro


Issues covered: Gabe Newell's non-joining of Twitter, what you do when you get stuck, stepping away from the game, re-walking the whole space, training you away from the straightforward solution, moving all the inventory to one person, squirting disappearing ink on everyone, discovering clues via what's allowed to move back and forth in time, holding yourself back from looking it up on the Internet, inventory item combination, getting clues about what to do next, Tim getting stuck on Space Quest 1 for six months, the high cost of adventure gaming, ludo-narrative consonance, the difference between consulting a walkthrough and figuring out a puzzle on your own, interface differences and difficulty, controller vs mouse and keyboard, first use of voice acting, lore bombs and voice acting, casting and directing voiceover, the excellence of the LucasArts voice department, Broken Age documentary, local talent, the rules and boundaries of an adventure game world, writer's room, having a shared history between designer and player, setting up the rules for what's allowed, differences between characters' puzzles, adopting a character worldview, how do the writers split the work, intentional red herrings and crossover meanings, predicting player actions, usability and children, experimenting on the world, the affordances of a space and status effects, when being a game developer gets in the way of puzzle-solving, l'esprit d'escalier, Chron-o-Johns and object time travel transfers, seasonal games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Half-Life 3, Sierra On-Line, Monkey Island series, Grim Fandango, Double Fine Productions, Broken Age, Telltale Games, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy IX, Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Larry Ahern, Space Quest, Starfighter, Secret of Monkey Island, Thurston Howell III, Woody Allen, Final Fantasy XIII, Les Nessman, WKRP, Darragh O'Farrell, Khris Brown, Bethesda Game Studios, *Wes* Johnson (not Stephen), Star Wars, Curse of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert, Thimbleweed Park, Humongous Entertainment, Firewatch, Full Throttle, Jonathan Ackley, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Dark Souls, Demons' Souls, Super Mario Bros., Ryan Johnson, Gian Ciammariconi, Richard Bussey, World of Warcraft, Persona series, Far Cry 2, Idle Thumbs.

Links:
Thimbleweed Park
Thimbleweed Park Podcast

Next time:
Finish Day of the Tentacle! Final episode will be spoiler-ific.
Send us email about where you got stuck!

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

Jun 15, 2016

In this first episode discussing recently remastered LucasArts classic Day of the Tentacle, we talk about the influence of adventure games generally and the reputed mis-reporting of games being dead, as well as talking about the format of this game in particular. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Note: Brett keeps referring to Monkey Island 2 and Secret of Monkey Island kind of interchangeably. We regret the error.

Sections played:
Hard to say! But we both tried to get to where Laverne drapes herself in the flag, about three hours of play.

Podcast breakdown:
0:33      Intro and segment 1
41:50    Break 1
42:17    Segment 2: intro to game, usability, format
1:24:10 Break 2
1:24:41 Segment 3: next time, FF9 follow-up, Hitman follow-up, outro

 

Issues covered: Hosts' early history with adventure games, playing text adventures on a 200 baud modem, calling hint lines, how to get hired at LucasArts, "death of the adventure game," exploring new directions for the genre, nostalgia factor and moving on from adventure games in 1993, usability issues in adventure games, grognard capture (and the audience base), exploration and getting into the head of the designer, player vs simulation, keeping the adventure game alive and evolving it this millennium, user-facing features and a request for reader input, wish fulfillment in your adventure games, immediacy of power fantasy in 1993, enthusiast press and what they focus on, Gold Guy animations, opening credits, building on existing technology vs building new technology (and the 3D revolution), no Star Wars games at LucasArts, art style for DoTT to preserve a look rather than lose it through low resolution, sparseness of initial playable environment -- tutorialization? or just lucky..., expanding the possibility space, puzzle threads, repetitive dialog as hints and lack of that in the inventory items, puzzles as quests but without a supporting journal or log, clarity or consistency of object or puzzle state, figuring out the weird constraints of time travel, level design thoughtfulness, a mechanical misstep that induces a lot of repetitive play, fighting the game, a jigsaw puzzle where you're not sure you have all the puzzle pieces, film references, choice of language and what's important to reinforce themes, maintaining consistent vision and the difficulties that team size present.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Double Fine Productions, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Defenders of Dynatron City, Tim Schafer, Zork, Sierra On-Line, King's Quest, Space Quest, Infocom, Advent.exe, The Wizard and the Princess, On-Line Systems, Mystery House, King's Quest, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Daron Stinnett, Aric Wilmunder, Ray Gresko, Steve Dautermann, Starfighter, Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island, Jonathan Ackley, Larry Ahern, Final Fantasy IX, Resident Evil, Myst, The 7th Guest, Phantasmagoria, Gabriel Knight series, Police Quest series, Manhunter series, Doom, Ultima Underworld, Ultima IX Ascension, Sean Clark, The Dig, Mike Stemmle, Minecraft, Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Humongous Entertainment, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam, Putt-Putt, Spy Fox, Wadjet Eye, Emerald City Confidential, Blackwell series, Sam and Max Freelance Police, Kevin Bruner, Telltale Games, Dan Connors, Obi-Wan, The Walking Dead, Wallace and Gromit, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Brütal Lëgend, Psychonauts, Dead Space, Pixar, Metal Gear Solid, Wayne Cline, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Haden Blackman, Vince Lee, Rebel Assault, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Larry Holland, Fractalus, Habitat, Peter Chan, Broken Age, Minecraft: Story Mode, Majora's Mask, Daniel Johanson, Josh Arman, Jon Hassan, Doctor Who, Jason Schreier, Hitman (2016), Echochrome, Remember Me, Don't Nod, Life Is Strange, David Cage, Mirror's Edge.

Next time:
Another 3 hours or so of the game! Look on Twitter to see what's what.

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

Jun 8, 2016

In this fifth and final episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, we explore Tim's difficulty finishing the game on time, the ending of the game, and the things we take away from it. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Pandemonium to end of game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:32    Segment 1: Finishing the game
35:03  Break 1
35:35  Segment 2: What we take away

Issues covered: the difficulty in the final area, sharing a save file, the difficulty of the endings of more than one game, preconceived notions (including button use on controllers), level as a measure, Chaos Lords, forced puzzling (Reflect), Tim the total cheater, ability leveling, subverting player goals with random battles, negative reinforcement to movement, eating your JRPG vegetables, thoughtful endings (and their rarity in games), world state changes, Zidane winning Tim over, the shape of Zidane's character arc, one-off vs reusable moments, minimal interactivity maintaining your focus, status system discovery, "mixed experiences"/multiple modes of play vs cohesive experiences, conventions of form, epic themes and effects, creating one's life for oneself vs destruction and death, reader mail: design choices to promote new business interests, strategy guides as crutch, Bobby Corwin.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy VIII, Star Wars Republic Commando, Halo, Full Throttle II, World of Warcraft, Andrew Kirmse, Ni No Kuni, Gabriel Garza, other FFs, SNES, Xbox 360/Xbox, Justin Bieber, Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, Final Fantasy XIII, Witcher III (drink), Wild Arms 3, Reed Knight, Monster Hunter, Ultima, Might & Magic, Metal Gear Solid series, Nintendo, Sly Cooper series, Bard's Tale, Eye of the Beholder, Ultima Underworld, Planescape: Torment, Sakaguchi, Bob Chesser, Zelda 2, Kevin Schmitt, LucasArts, Troy Mashburn, Half-Life 2, Dead Space 2.

Next time:
Keep your eyes on @devgameclub, because we are still figuring it out!

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

Jun 1, 2016

In this fourth episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, we turn to the latter half of the game and Brett loses his mind over six hours riding chocobos. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
From Treno/Tetra Master Tournament to Pandemonium

Podcast breakdown:
0:30      Podcast intro
1:02      Segment 1: Chocobos and World Changes
37:35    Break 1
38:03    Segment 2: Character arcs
1:10:28 Break 2
1:10:53 Reader mail, outro

Issues covered: Chocobo Dreams and the whole enormous Chocobo side quest, Kupo Nuts side quest (referenced; mentioning here because I never got back to the email), side quests in Western RPGs and FOMO, Final Fantasy IX strategy guide, the Stellazio side quests, side locations and the overworld pay-off, "curing" Cid, state changes in locations as the world progresses, getting to know a place, setting and character, Blue Narciss and overworld travel escalation, the Oeilvert Maguffin (which is the name of Brett's new all-synth band), Black Mage moral quandaries, character arcs, Quan's cave, world on the brink, comparing the Final Fantasies, the dark side of varying mechanics, mentally modeling an environment and camera changes, adventure games, merging two characters into a monster, Cid mini-game, adding two and two and making four, adulterous Cid, localization, narrative compression, Tim's dislike of Zidane, the four temples, lack of preparation time for gear, ability equipping, conflicting gear, Terra and Gaia, the human level of motivation, art direction correlations between Terra and Iifa, ties between Zidane and Vivi, Garland and Darth Vader, souls and identity themes, meeting your maker, Zidane's original sin, Soulcage reader feedback, descent in Japanese myth (Yomi/Hell/Hades, and Izanami and Izanagi), reviews and the setting of expectations.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy XIII, Jason Schreier, Witcher series, BioWare, Tomb Raider (2013), other Final Fantasies, Billy Connell, Sakaguchi, Secret of Monkey Island (obliquely), Total Recall, Ernst Lubitsch, Justin Bieber, Legend of Zelda, Starcraft, Halo, Star Wars, Jon Hassan, Daniel Johannson, Enslaved: A Journey to the West, Benjamin Lauser, Barrington Case, Zach Kuschel, Metal Gear Solid V, Filmspotting, Adam Kempenaar, Reed Knight, Trespasser, Deadly Premonition, Skyrim.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

May 25, 2016

In this third episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, we welcome a bunch of new listeners. We return to talking about themes, some of which are evolving, but also pacing and combat balancing. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
From Black Mage Village to Treno (Tetra Master Tournament)

Podcast breakdown:
0:28       Intro & reintroduction of hosts/podcast
11:52     First segment: themes and pacing
39:04     Break 1
39:32     Second segment: literariness, Vivi, Iifa Tree battle, pacing
1:21:48  Break 2
1:22:15  Third segment: reader mail, outro


Issues covered: host history and what the podcast is about, correction!, has Brett turned Tim into a JRPG player?, Shakespeare influences, mazes of twisty little passages, orphans, automatons becoming sentient, getting hitched in Sanctuary, written dialog vs recorded dialog, using mechanics to do something amusing (something only games do?), humor via timing vs repetition, thieves (Sanctuary, Treno, Tantalus), checking into characters' feelings in a not-overly mechanical way, pacing and surprise, pen and paper DMs, Tim throws Brett a question, well-rounded characters and the literariness of the games, Vivi as the stand-in for the player, Soulcage and the Iifa Tree, toying with human perception, level 5 death, monologuing, Eiko as Sally or Lucy, a meal in Madain Sari, appearances and how you treat people, tangent: skipping combat/unnecessary death and combat in games, the meta that explains why a person can die, Tetra Master and side games inside of JRPGs, eidolons and summoning (and introductions), disc breaks and where the movies fit in, pacing problem in Alexandria, unwieldy exposition and building again, grinding vs buying equipment and the potential for player expression, player skill and combat, best intentions and combat balancing, does anyone know about "descent" in Japanese culture?

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion, DLC podcast, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, David Letterman, Rebel Assault, LucasArts, Mysteries of the Sith, Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider, 343 Industries, Full Throttle II, Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4, System Shock 2, Halo 5, Witcher 3, RebelFM Radio podcast, David Ellis, Hitman: Blood Money, Ken Levine, Janos Flösser, IO Interactive, Tetsuya Nomura, Nobuo Uematsu, Ni No Kuni, Final Fantasy XIV and XI, Hamlet, Twin Peaks, Dickens, Blade Runner, Peter Molyneux, Gone Home, Ron Gilbert, Bioware, Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age: Origins, Dungeons and Dragons, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Patrick Sirk, The Incredibles, Peanuts, Cooking Mama, Dragon Quest VIII, Jennifer Hepler, Deus Ex, Uncharted 4, Indiana Jones, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ultima, Final Fantasy X, George Lucas, Johnson Siau, Final Fantasy XIII, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill II, Shadow of the Colossus, Kingdom Hearts.

Links:
Jason Schreier, Kotaku: A Great Thing Final Fantasy IX Did

Next time:
From Treno (Tetra Master Tournament) to Pandemonium

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

May 18, 2016

In this second episode discussing Final Fantasy IX, Tim believes he has fallen into an alternate reality where a whole different RPG genre has flourished (also known as: actual reality). Much of our discussion turns on the themes of the story and also turning to the tactical battles. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
From first battle with Beatrix to Black Mage Village

Podcast breakdown:
0:30       Intro
3:20       Segment 1: game play discussion
33:56     Break 1
34:15     Segment 2: themes and story
1:15:08  Break 2
1:15:28  Next time/outro

Issues covered: In Memoriam Clarence Johnson, overlevelling and grinding, min/maxing, JRPG vocabulary vs Western RPGs, unskippable cutscenes summoning Eidolons in FF VIII, Active Time Battling and tactics, auto battles, inventory management, how big is this game, merging of multiple modes of play, one-off moments ("taking time to dance"), economy and personality of emotes, Noh and Kabuki and paper/shadow puppets (abstraction), darker undertones, taking over the world with Eidolons, anime character focus, Cleyra design and the merging of ideas, culture shock, leveling as player choice points, Chocobo forest, overworld aging, proscenium and theater, the music, Shakespearean ties, density of stories, power and corruption, "voiceover," determining primacy of storylines, Quina's special ability and trance, "hot" culture vs "cool" culture, localization and translation challenges, Hollywood sources, slavery and duty, Beatrix changing sides and a taste of power, choosing your equipment, arithmancy and prime numbers, the ecosystem of numbers, Detect, content variety (battle arenas) and art requirements, genres growing up over time on different hardware (and format/tradition), 25-way rock-paper-scissors.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Andrew Kirmse, Starfighter, Clarence Johnson, There.com, Secret Level/Sega, Golden Axe, Iron Man, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XIII, Skyrim, The Witcher series, Hitman 2, Miyazaki, Disney, Ni No Kuni, Akira, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Frozen, Tetsuya Nomura, Hamlet, Justin Bieber, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Metal Gear series, Elite Beat Agents/Osu Tatakae Ouendan, Suda 51, No More Heroes, Deadly Premonition, Swery65, Hideo Kojima, Fallout series, Indiana Jones, Final Fantasy Tactics, Dark Cloud, Wild Arms 3, Dragon Quest VIII.

Next time:
Play up through Mt Gulug!

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

May 11, 2016

Turning to our third game, Dev Game Club goes to Japan with the new remastered re-release of Final Fantasy IX on PC. We establish the context for the series both in relation to other FF titles and discuss it in context of its release year of 2000 before turning to talk about what's going on in the beginning of the game. Plus, it's Tim's first time with a JRPG, so we talk about the genre itself a bit too. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
In theory, up through the first battle with Beatrix in Burmecia.

Podcast breakdown:
0:35      Podcast intro
1:55      Intro to and context for FF9
28:31    Break
28:48    Beginning part of the game
1:14:39 Break
1:14:56 Next time

Issues covered: games context for 2000, backwards compatibility to PS1 and the IO controller, the hosts' console histories, time warp/alternate reality, Tim's preconceived notions of JRPGs, random encounters (pro and con), balancing Western RPGs, reading random creatures and world-building, subtractive vs additive content, cleric-mage-fighter-thief and testing the fringe classes, player choice in when you grind, JRPG mechanics from Brett's point of view, turn-based battles, rock-paper-scissors combat, status effects, job systems, the genre toolbox, character and story specificity, how you win writing awards with an RPG, lighter vs darker tones, character relatability, introduction straight into safe battles, localization limitations, stylized characters, 16-bit era, story construction, Shakespeare in Final Fantasy IX, equipping abilities and where do abilities come from anyway?, exploration of themes: appearance and birth station and determining your life, technical progress, the recurrence of Cid in Final Fantasy, Vivi as the soul of the game, technological weirdness - multiple programs, handcrafting, linearity, active time events, black mages and Black Waltzes, character and creature design vs the Western palette of creatures, weapon synthesis, Moogle tutorials.


Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Deus Ex, Diablo 2, Baldur's Gate 2, Reed Knight, Banjo-Tooie, Paper Mario, Majora's Mask, The Sims, PlayStation 2, Republic Commando, Xbox 360, Final Fantasy Tactics, Chrono Cross, Tomb Raider, wipEout, Atari 2600, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Apple ][+, Ultima series, Square Soft, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Chrono Trigger, XenoGears, Einhander, Mistwalker, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Dragon Quest, Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons, Gold Box series, Eye of the Beholder, Bard's Tale, Final Fantasy series, Persona series, Kingdom Hearts, Wild Arms 3, Dark Cloud series, Dragon Quest VIII, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Ni No Kuni, Witcher series, Geralt of Rivia, Hayao Miyazaki, Justin Bieber, Tidus, Tim Allen, Vagrant Story, Uncharted series, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Hitman series, Shakespeare, King Lear, Hamlet, Kafka, Fallout, LucasArts, Monkey Island, Crystal Dynamics, Day of the Tentacle, Zack McKracken, Maniac Mansion.

Apology: I totally got the voice actor for Tidus wrong. Mea culpa.

Next time:
Play up to the Black Mage Village!

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

May 4, 2016

In the fifth and final installment discussing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, we talk to Janos Flösser, the founding Managing Director of IO Interactive and ultimately the Chief Creative Officer for Europe for Square Enix.

Podcast breakdown:

0:22      Intro

1:27      Interview part 1

31:52    Break

32:20    Interview part 2

1:11:24 Break

1:11:45 Next time


Issues covered: Janos's history and establishment of IO Interactive, Scandinavian demo scene, prototype investment to seek publisher and advance royalty funding, character first, "we humans mess up everything... but we keep going," cloning, tone and themes, Eastern European dictatorship, orphans, virtual revenge, iconic design in mannerisms and feel, what makes stories matter, ultimate conflict between humans, epic scope, how people play, voluntary/outside of life/fantasy, character and genre, processing power at the time, interaction between characters, MDA framework, building technology, character identification, replayable design, reflection of the player in the play style, rankings: meaning and rules, competitiveness, irony, ninja extraordinaire, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, stat collection, balancing, dopamine loop, managing dysfunctionality, adaptation, save functionality - "there's no save game in real life," budget, QAing a Hitman game, user testing/user experience, insight into the statistics driving feature development, emotional reward, different sorts of successes, open world, hub-style level organization, concluding a game, water cooler talk, angry parents, provocation, verbs and freedom of expression, cloth, foliage, rag dolls, "bullet time," tech supporting a vibrant environment, symphony orchestra, franchise iteration, staying in character, expanding the world, "people had it coming," absurdity, engine development, "no nuns," child soldiers in Africa, controversy, innovation, VR, interface challenges, looking forward.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: IO Interactive, Nordisk Film, Atari, Rasmus Kjær, Frankenstein, Hamlet, Icarus, James Bond vs John Le Carré, Ceaucescu, Dr. Ortmeyer, Coca-Cola, Tim Schafer, Day of the Tentacle, Brütal Lëgend, Jesper Vorsholt Jørgensen, MacBeth, Terminator, Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, Tomb Raider, Square Enix, Max Payne, Remedy, Lumberyard, Epic, Unreal, Unity, Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, Noah Hughes, Uncharted, Hitman (2016), Rebel FM, Hitman: Blood Money, Skyrim, Fallout 3/4, Far Cry series, Thomas Jakobsen, Jesper Kyd, Hakon Steinø, Oblivion, Xbox 360.

Next time:
Final Fantasy IX, up to battle with Beatrix

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

Apr 27, 2016

In this fourth episode of discussing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on Dev Game Club, we wrap up our play-through, and then turn to a discussion of what we feel are the game's pillars, discuss iterating on a series, and announce both a guest and our next game! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Temple City Ambush
Death Of Hannelore
Terminal Hospitality
St. Petersburg Revisited
Redemption At Gontranno

Podcast breakdown:
0:24        Intro
4:38        Segment 1: Discussion of final five levels
1:00:45   Break
1:01:26   Segment 2: Pillars, series iteration, guest, next game


Issues covered: professional vs silent assassin rating, level clockwork vs more open plans, limitations on character models, padding for length and content, voice acting and the strength of the LucasArts voice department, voice talent in European vs Japanese games, evolution of localization, Brett's personal story arc with Hitman 2, cinematic set-up and production scheduling, when timing looks like scripting, reading designer intent, when the series really shines, competence wish fulfillment, heist planning, planning out how to pace missions over the course of a game, story arc construction and story influences, "Hitmen don't take the bus," artistic moments vs the "bro" aesthetic, wishing for an opposite and equivalent enemy, making last level something different from the rest of the game, MDA framework, iteration on smaller scale and behind closed doors vs in public, supporting a feature fully, full support of player intent, the limitations of direct combat as a basis for games, sanding away rough edges, usability testing.

Specific links:
Philippa Warr, Rock Paper Shotgun: The Great Outdoors: The Witness

Stephen Totilo, Kotaku: What A Fan Learned About Game Development By Making His Own Star Wars Games

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Philippa Warr, The Witness, Jedi Starfighter, Charlie Rocket, Sterling James, David Cage, Ellen Page, Willem Dafoe, Beyond: Two Souls, Life Is Strange, Quantum Break, Fallout 4, FX, Bryan Brown, Brian Dennehy, Hitman: Blood Money, Clue, House of Cards, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, Starfighter, TIE Fighter, Aliens, Blade Runner, Star Wars, In the Line of Fire, Clint Eastwood, Assassin's Creed, Doom, Quake, Half-Life 2, Timothy Olyphant, Hitman (2007 film), Lara Croft, Hitman (2016), Hitman: Absolution, Project: Spark, Half-Life, Uncharted 4, Ratchet & Clank series, Republic Commando, Tomb Raider, Square Enix, Eidos, IO Interactive, Ken Levine, Final Fantasy (VII, XV, Tactics, and of course, IX), Baldur's Gate, The Witcher III, Metal Gear Solid.

Next time:
Interview with Janos Flosser
Next game: Final Fantasy IX! Play up through Beatrix and ensuing cutscene.

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

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