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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Dev Game Club


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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

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,, 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

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

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

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

Apr 20, 2016

In this third episode of discussing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on Dev Game Club, we talk about the next six missions in the game in-depth, spending some time talking about stereotypes and controversy surrounding the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Basement Killing
Graveyard Shift
The Jacuzzi Job
Murder At The Bazaar
Motorcade Interception
Tunnel Rat

Podcast breakdown:
0:33      Intro
1:40      Segment 1: First three levels this episode
54:28    Break 1
54:37    Segment 2: Other three levels this episode
1:31:58 Break 2
1:32:21 Final Segment: Next time, Brett's meta-story

Issues covered: stereotyping (target and gender), controversy, mission briefing videos, the uses of laundry chutes, playing the map and visualizing scripting vs emergent behaviors, map symbology, imagining the perfect playthrough, the silly potato chip maze -- the uncanny valley of the world itself, a difference between movie and game environments, games are Hawaiian shirts, realism and abstraction, VR, stylization, sneaking around a mundane environment, designer-forced experiences, audio occlusion, generic "Arab" setting, stealth interaction and action buttons, Brett's second Silent Assassin rating, controversy around Motorcade Interception, sexualized nuns with guns, othering and abstraction, Silent Assassin rewards, jump height and death, the torture victim, night vision goggles, weird story stuff at the end of the levels we played, Father Maguffin, teaser: iteration, applying a meta-narrative and visualization, the Hitman niche and evolving verb sets.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: La Femme Nikita, Superman and Lex Luthor, John Cusack/Better Off Dead, Beyond: Two Souls, David Cage, Hal Barwood, Hitman: Go, Jedi Starfighter, Tim Schafer, Emil Pagliarulo, Fallout 3/4, Oblivion, Kill Bill vol 1, Silence of the Lambs, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Thief, Alfred Hitchcock, North by Northwest, Marnie, Tippi Hedren, Orphan Black, Hitman (2016), Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Dishonoured, Jedi Knight, System Shock 2, Hitman: Absolution.

Next time:
Finish the game!
Temple City Ambush
Death Of Hannelore
Terminal Hospitality
St. Petersburg Revisited
Redemption At Gontranno

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Apr 13, 2016

In this second episode of discussing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on Dev Game Club, we talk about the next six missions in the game in-depth, touching mostly on different approaches to the same material but also discussing the ups and downs in our opinion. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Tubeway Torpedo
Invitation to a Party
Tracking Hayamoto
Hidden Valley
At the Gates
Shogun Showdown

Podcast breakdown:
0:30 Intro
1:55 Tubeway Torpedo and Invitation to a Party
42:34 Break 1
42:50 Tracking Hayamoto through Shogun Showdown
1:16:32 Break 2
1:17:05 Next time, design thoughts about procedural generation

Issues covered: The value of planted caches in the game and of definitive statements, the limits of scripting (whether or not intentional), intentional use of lighting as a mechanic, tension and inflection of musical score, the balance and appeal of the game's systems vs its scripting, the thin hotspot, presence or absence of cutscenes, systemic AI, achieving the Silent Assassin rank, HUD support and systems feedback, map as declaration of intent: pattern recognition and puzzle solving, vs. moment to moment stealth, level randomization, improvisation, the enemy agent, narrative nuggets, patience simulation, melancholy cutscene with good characterization, palate cleansing levels, line of sight and awareness, level design constraints and guiding the player, linearity and level contrast, possibility of procedural generation, user-generated content.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Jesper Kyd, Thief, Metal Gear Solid, Mark of the Ninja, Noah Hughes, No More Heroes, Jedi Starfighter, Tetris, Octopussy, Spy vs Spy, Monaco, The Swindle.

Next time:
Basement Killing
Graveyard Shift
The Jacuzzi Job
Murder At The Bazaar
Motorcade Interception
Tunnel Rat

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Apr 6, 2016

In this second series of the Dev Game Club, we talk about the relevance and place in history of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, talk a bit about its stealth contemporaries and its descendants, before diving into the first few missions of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:

Gontranno Sanctuary


St. Petersburg Stakeout

Kirov Park Meeting


Podcast breakdown:

0:33       Intro

2:11       Hitman 2: Silent Assassin relevance, history, context

32:11     Break 1

32:35     The first four missions

1:21:10  Break 2

1:21:32  Story expectations, what we’re playing, next time


Issues covered: Hitman episodic reboot, play style and discovery, stealth genre, handling of action and sandboxes in other stealth games, punishment for failure in genre, lethality and non-lethality, available rankings of playstyle, disguises, the game landscape in 2002, story stage-setting (Hitman: Codename 47 recap), technical stuff, character design (solid colors, no muddy textures), visual language for characters, character categories, torturing Brett, “patience simulators” vs. wish fulfillment, European espionage mood and tone, tutorial shallowness, Brett’s bashing up against the mailman, game pacing, aggression vs stealth, competence fantasy, lack of feedback or planning support, boiling frogs, possibility space exploration, save limitations, “murder puzzles,” clarity (or lack thereof), Tim’s pro tips, running through sewers, free guard’s uniform!, map utility, mechanics discovery, persistent AI state and information propagation, Hitman community division over usability, Brett’s story prediction.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Hitman: GO, Hitman (2016), System Shock 2, BioShock, Thief, Metal Gear Solid, Hitman: Codename 47, Leon: The Professional, IO Interactive, Eidos, Square Enix, Freedom Fighters, Republic Commando, Kane & Lynch, Mini Ninjas, Warcraft 3, Battlefield: 1942, Animal Crossing, Sly Cooper, Spyro 2, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, Jedi Starfighter, Metroid Prime, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Peter Hirschmann, Deus Ex, Morrowind, Max Payne, Rambo, Elder Scrolls series, The Darkness, Dead Space 2, Frankenstein, Hitman: Blood Money, Hitman: Contracts, NOLF 2, Final Fantasy, John Le Carré, Crystal Dynamics, Mission: Impossible, Bridge of Spies, Assassin’s Creed, Jean Reno, The Three Stooges, Far Cry series, Guacamelee, Noah Hughes, Spy Party, Idle Thumbs, Twin Peaks.

What we’ve been playing:

Brett: work, movies, and books :)

Tim: The Witcher 3, WoW

Next time:

Levels 5-10: Tubeway Torpedo through Shogun Showdown


@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub


Mar 30, 2016

This week, the Dev Game Club podcast welcomes special guest Ken Levine, founder of Irrational Games and designer/writer of System Shock 2! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:33      Intro
1:50      Early days of SS2 and Irrational
31:33    Break 1
31:57    SS2 World-building, design, future
1:17:16 Break 2
1:17:29 Quick note about next episode

Issues covered: "Shock" prototype, Looking Glass relationship and Ken's early career there, Irrational Games beginning, business structure, imagining your audience and what you'd like to make, fingering .plan files, emergence and immersion, simulation, persistent world, personal ownership of experience, engine strengths and weaknesses, making fish stew, the benefits of constraints and happy accidents, polish, sense of place, naturalism in a science fiction setting, making the most of minimalism, turning a weakness into a strength, economical design, race track design/nooks and crannies, lack of time for level review, "spreading the butter thinner over the bread," elevator as storage chest, balancing, player skill vs. character skill, the "genius of the novice," story influences and groundedness, leaning on the audio space, writing towards the voices you have, bringing everything you have to the party, single-player squad shooters, letting people figure things out, crunchier design, the pendulum of accessibility, dealing with player frustration as a resource, what next

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Paul Neurath, Looking Glass, Jon Chey, Rob Fermier, Apocalypse Now, Dark Engine, Thief, EA, Origin, Se7en, Doug Church, The Magnificent Seven, Star Trek: Voyager, Hideo Kojima, Eric Brosius, Dorian Hart, Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, Star Wars, System Shock 1, John Carmack, Ultima Underworld, Choplifter, Defender, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Might and Magic series, Doom, Warren Spector, Bethesda Game Studios, Quake, Todd Howard, Fallout 3, Skyrim, The Division, Republic Commando, GTA series, Starfighter, Terra Nova, Roberta Williams, Alien/Aliens, Kemal Amarasingham, Stephen Russell, Terry Brosius, Courtnee Draper, Sean Vanaman/Jake Rodkin, Firewatch/Campo Santo, Bioshock, Freedom Force, SWAT 4, Tribes Ascend, The Lost, Firaxis Games, Minecraft, Dark Souls, Don't Starve, Fallout 4, Left 4 Dead, Battlezone, Austin Grossman.

Next time:
Hitman 2: Beginning through level 4

@IGLevine, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Mar 23, 2016

In this fourth beta edition episode of Dev Game Club, we continue to examine System Shock 2, finishing what remains of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Note: Though this is the fourth and final episode about our playing the game, we will have a special guest for episode 5! Having already started spoiling story stuff in Episode 3, we continue to do so here. If you're playing along, you may want to finish the game first and come back to the podcast after you have.

Sections played:
Rickenbacker 1 & 2
The Body of the Many
Where Am I?

Podcast breakdown:
0:35      Intro
1:38      End of playthrough
48:06    Break 1
48:49    Pillars and takeaways
1:11:42 Break 2
1:12:12 Next time, what we're playing, next game

Issues covered: psi combos, puzzle-y nature of sections, ammo starvation, red ninjas, end-game difficulty, egg hunt, audio occlusion, lack of maps through end of game, gravity inversion, Tim's narrow escape, Shodan giveth and Shodan taketh away, persistent projections, sphincter doors and blue veins, god mode, circle-strafing, final character builds, hacking Shodan, save-scumming, economic design, orthogonality of enemy design, balancing and system design, weapon condition, forced choice, world design and level design, map and listening, storytelling and Bioshock

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sly Cooper, Thief, Cthulhu, Quake series, Halo, Republic Commando, Resident Evil, Far Cry 2, Looking Glass, Irrational Games, Dishonoured, Reed Knight, Doom, Bioshock, Ultima Underworld, Baldur's Gate, Mass Effect series, Starfighter, Freedom Force, SWAT, System Shock 3, Noah Hughes, IO Interactive.

What we've been playing:
Brett: Prune, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, Dark Souls
Tim: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Special Guest for Episode 5: Ken Levine, founder of Irrational Games!

To play for next time:
Check the Twitter account for Hitman 2 information!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

Mar 16, 2016

In this third beta edition of Dev Game Club, we continue to examine System Shock 2, moving through the rest of Hydroponics, then through Ops and Recreation (Decks 4 and 5). Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Note: This is the first episode where we'll spoil story stuff, so be warned if you're playing along. There's a big beat at the beginning of Ops that we discuss in detail in particular. I'll leave particulars out of the show notes.

Sections played:
Hydroponics A/D
Ops (Deck 4)
Recreation (Deck 5)

Podcast breakdown:
0:20 Intro
1:50 Discussion begins
58:32 Break
58:52 What next, what we're playing, production note

Issues covered: elevator directions, level play order and support for order of play, grouping of skill stations, player empowerment vs. simulated spaces, progressive strangeness of levels, spiders and bees, skill costs, psionics strategy, marines strategy, depth vs. breadth, energy weaponry, loot tables, systems interaction/recycling, the fate of Polito, story spoilers, sequel twists, getting lost/red ninjas, digital frame hunt/objectives, empty chests, streamlining game design and developer age, humor in writing/level design/systems/setting, the rising cost of commentary

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ken Levine, Bioshock, Legend of Zelda, Joe Pesci/Lethal Weapon, Grand Theft Auto series, Star Wars: Starfighter, The Witcher 3, Jonah Lobe, Dark Cloud series, Skyrim, Fallout 3/4.

Teaser for Ep 5: we have leads on a couple interviewees, so look forward to news on that.

Production note: We will talk about what's next to play, and maybe allowing folks to vote!

What we've been playing:
Brett: Uncharted 2, Prune
Tim: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

To play for next time:
Finish the game!

Mar 9, 2016

In this second beta edition of Dev Game Club, we continue to examine System Shock 2, moving through R&D and ultimately into Hydroponics B/C. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Cargo Bays
Engineering Control/Engine Core
Hydroponics B/C

Podcast breakdown:
0:36   Intro
1:15   Discussion of SS2 begins (with level persistence)
55:22 Break
55:43 What we're playing/next time

Issues covered: level data persistence, navigation cues or lack thereof, lack of clarity to certain interactions, not focusing the player, health buffs and de-buffs, inversion of RPG skill-ups, using the environment to kill your foes, the world continuing while you interact with inventory and HUD, Brett's biggest scare in games, monkey terror, enemy introductions, emergence and player agency, exploitability of AI, do sleeping robots notice you?, cargo section as stealth, quantum entanglement reconstruction tank expert use

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Half-Life, Doom, Souls series, Outlaws, Far Cry 4, Bioshock, Unreal engine, Dishonoured, Republic Commando, Dead Space, Quake, Deus Ex, Warren Spector, Elder Scrolls series, Fallout series, Skyrim, Thief, Alien: Isolation, Alien (film series), Super Mario Bros.

What we've been playing:
Brett: Uncharted (PS4 remaster), Tim: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

To play for next time:
Remainder of Hydroponics, through Ops and into the end of Recreation.

Mar 3, 2016

In this inaugural beta edition of Dev Game Club, we talk about the relevance of System Shock 2, its precedents and antecedents, and cover 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.

Show notes:

DGC Ep 1

Sections played: Opening area, tutorial, character customization area, von Braun Med/Sci and Crew Quarters.

Podcast breakdown:
0:00:33 - Reason behind 'cast
0:02:27 - History of hosts
0:05:00 - Expected 'cast layout
0:07:55 - History of System Shock 2
0:29:05 - Break 1
0:29:25 - Talk about beginning parts of SS2 in depth
1:24:14 - Break 2
1:24:34 - What we're playing, plans for next episode

Brett & Tim Common History: Star Wars Starfighter, Star Wars Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars Republic Commando.

Brett History: Fallout 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4

Tim History: X-Wing v TIE Fighter, Mysteries of the Sith, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Tomb Raider 2013, Halo 5.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: System Shock 1, Ultima Underworld, Ultima series, Doug Church, Warren Spector, Ken Levine, Thief, Starfighter games, Republic Commando, Tomb Raider 2013, BGS games, Naaughty Dog, Insomniac Games, Jonathan Chey, Freedom Force 1&2, Paul Neurath, Other Side Games, Junction Point Studios, Epic Mickey 2, Marc LeBlanc, Randy Smith, Harvey Smith, Dishonoured, Arkane Studios, Quake, Doom, Bioshock, Half-Life, Enemy Territory, Team Fortress Classic, Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Halo 5, Alien, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Mad Max, Mass Effect series, Oxenfree.

One interview in which Doug Church talks about eliminating conversations:

What we're playing: Brett discusses the similarities and differences in the beginning Firewatch, Tim talks about Metal Gear Solid V, Witcher 3, and his ten year journey on Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

To play next: R&D through the end of Hydroponics B/C.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub

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