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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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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
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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

Anathema

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

DevGameClub@gmail.com

 

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
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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:
R&D
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: http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/676/doug-church/

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
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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