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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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Feb 6, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion of Kingdom Hearts. We talk about some memorable moments, some about character design, a bit about AI... a whole hodge-podge. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the Hollow Bastion

Issues covered: Brett playing simultaneously on PS4, televisions, being stuck on the boss, grinding and action combat, navigating in 3D, slow leveling, assigning items to party members and changing their strategies, leaning into tech points and the way the camera and enemy AI fights that, parrying the boss, games that require grinding versus those that don't, leveling via critical path in Pokémon, the Trinity symbols, character design in Atlantica, new Heartless visual and enemy design in different worlds, camera controls in the PS4 version, combination of 3D camera design and level design, difficulty navigating with few landmarks, designing one's house, logical flow colliding with geometric flow, camera relativity and movement, designing your areas and cinematography around what your camera does well, level length with Halloweentown, visual beats from the films, wishing you were the movie character, letting a moment be a moment, the Hundred Acre Wood, minigames in the Hundred Acre Wood, summons, item synthesis, pro-tips for combat and leveling, lock-on and enemy AI design, strategies for using space in combat, camera design for combat, running different programs, Game Dev Club,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Peter Pan, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, The Wrath of Khan, Final Fantasy IX, Pokémon Red/Blue, Anachronox, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Square Soft, Soul Reaver, Doom, Quake, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 4, Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, The Lion King, Aladdin, Dumbo, Dagur Danielsson, Arkham (series), Ben Zaugg, PlayStation, XBOX, ENIAC, EarthBound.

Next time:
Finish the game!

Link:
Brett talks about the end of EarthBound

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

 

Jan 30, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion of Kingdom Hearts. Tim sings a bit, Brett raps a bit, and we talk about what makes this game work or not work, as well as delving into the combat. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Monstro!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Tim sings + Kingdom Hearts
44:03 Break
44:33 Feedback + Brett Raps

Issues covered: birthday, the giant Kingdom Hearts collection, "I think this game might be bad," bizarre linearity, weird triggering, loving some films and not having connecting with others, lack of supporting systems, pushing strategy guides, lack of level logic, IP control and lack of public domain, what films they pair up with the games, being out of their design element with various choices, not connecting with FF characters, how the characters level, the lack of a moment when you level up, lack of boss requirements, zero XP, the camera is bad, paying attention to the technical points, handling the general case for graphics, why are they making this just a button mashy game, going in and out of the Bizarre Room, meeting Merlin or Jiminy Cricket, the occupation of Japan, strength/weakness collection mechanics, when we don't like a thing, enjoying analysis but respecting how hard it is to actually solve problems, applying the podcast day-to-day, designing for knucklehead stealth, embracing chaos and humor, lore in series, finding hooks that service new players, structural choices to bring in new players and opt-in to lore, how films deal with lore, play sets and toy box differences in Disney Infinity, Brett raps.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tarzan (film), Chris Corry, LucasArts, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Hercules, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Winnie the Pooh/The Hundred Acre Wood, Song of the South, Mary Poppins/Mary Poppins Returns, P. L. Travers, Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks (obliquely), Alfred Hitchcock, Big Hero 6, Frozen, Monsters Inc, Toy Story, Tangled, Disney Infinity, Final Fantasy (series), Dark Souls, Tim Rogers, Kotaku, Vagrant Story, Alice in Wonderland, Cameron Daxon, Boss Key Books, Tim Dooley, Bobby Oster, Pokémon Let's Go, Persona/Shin Megami Tensei (series), Warren Linam-Church, Thief, Dungeons & Dragons, No One Lives Forever, Hitman 1 & 2, Giant Bomb, Mikkel Lodahl, Halo, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls (series), Marvel Cinematic Universe, Saw (series), Disney Infinity, Wabash College, Project Spark, John Lasseter, Skylanders, The Incredibles, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, Tasha Robinson.

Next time:
Up to the Hollow Bastion

Links:
Kotaku's Kingdom Hearts Review

Cameron Daxon's Pokémon teams

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jan 23, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we start a new series about Kingdom Hearts, the 2002 Disney / Square crossover game that culminates in Kingdom Hearts III this week. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Wonderland!

Podcast breakdown:
0:38    Kingdom Hearts
42:01  Break
42:30  Feedback & Singing Review

Issues covered: series lore in non-console games, E3 2001, licensing starting to wane, part of the EA business model, working with a license and not making a "play the movie" game, the land grab of licensing, struggling with using licensed titles, schedules not lining up with film, a positive change in licensing, seeing movies in theaters or drive-ins on Disney's re-release schedule, the specialness of seeing one, the lack of home video, seeing cartoons on TV, relationship with the iconic characters, the return of Disney animation in the late 80s/early 90s, bringing in Broadway talent to score the new movies, Disney World and Disney Land, choice of first Disney world, the abstract start, the weird bedroom scene, Destiny Island, bringing in characters from Final Fantasy X and other Square properties, being made for someone else, merging of worlds, fearing the limits of the game, usability problems in Traverse Town, triggering steps by randomly going through a door that had previously been locked, doing one-off mechanics and adventure gamey stuff like a Final Fantasy game, Game Boy constraints and the games they inspired, the evolution of Pokémon mechanics, "constraints inspire creativity," relatability of Pokémon vs Kingdom Hearts, groundedness of mythology in Legend of Zelda vs Final Fantasy milieus, save warnings, informing the player of your mechanics, bucking trends with intent, picking your battles, Nuzlocke style, PvE and PvP in Pokémon and stats buffing and debuffing, singing review.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Jedi Starfighter, Nomura Tetsuya, Square, Final Fantasy (series), Parasite Eve, Ehrgeiz, The World Ends With You, The Bouncer, Disney, EA, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Final Fantasy XI, Metroid Prime, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Dark Cloud 2, GTA Vice City, Eternal Darkness, Sly Cooper and the Thievious Raccoonus, James Bond in 007: Nightfire, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Two Towers, The Fellowship of the Ring, Spider-man, Activision, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Warcraft III, Battlefield 1942, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Mafia, Dungeon Siege, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, SW: Republic Commando, LotR: Return of the Kings, Stormfront Studios, EA Spouse, Daron Stinnett, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Indiana Jones, Force Unleashed, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Warner Bros, Alan Menken, The Great Mouse Detective, Robin Hood, Sakaguchi Hironobu, Hashimoto Shinji, Super Mario 64, Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Hercules, Final Fantasy X, Mary Poppins, Marvel vs Capcom, Pokémon Red/Blue, John Lethbridge, Chrono Trigger, Game Boy, Link's Awakening, Metroid II, Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, Minit, Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu, Jan Willem, Vlambeer, Rami Ismail, Jesse Morgan/seaofmorgan, Pokémon Sun/Moon, Star Wars: Starfighter, Iwata Satoru, HAL Laboratories, Iwata Asks, Nintendo Wii, Legend of Zelda (series), GTA III, Ben Zaugg, Gothic Chocobo, Ryan/biostats, Dave Mason, We Just Disagree, Frozen, Pixar.

Next time:
Through Monstro!

Links:
The GameBoy Programming Manual

Iwata Saving Pokémon

Iwata Asks

 

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jan 16, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we extend our time with Pokémon by turning to recent Nintendo release Pokémon Let's Go and tons of Pokémon-related feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
First bit of Pokemon Let's Go

Podcast breakdown:
0:41      Let's Go
37:02    Break
37:23    Feedback

Issues covered: Blue showing up, playing with the Pokémon Ball controller and it making noises, playing handheld vs throwing the PokéBall, whether or not we'd have played this one, playing bonus 3DS games, the feel of a remake, the translation to 3D, positivity of the combat, lightheartedness of Nintendo vs games made in the West, the twenty-year gap of features between what we've played, more connection to the Pokémon, how well the characters come through, representing organic shapes in blocky pixel art, paying homage to the pixel versions, being able to see more of the Pokémon stats directly, improving stats with candy, being able to see all the stats, technical machines and who should use them and improvements, incorporating the type chart into the game, incorporating Pokémon Go mechanics, whether you care about collecting the Pokémon, keeping the game in the rotation, Brett's Book Recommendation, commanding fantasy creatures, not designing deeper depth into the combat, numerous picked nits and game evolution over generations, how information about the game got around, wider audience, avoiding stagnation, growing an audience, Nintendo always targeting a new audience and needing to innovate less, enjoying evolution, balancing creative fulfillment with keeping your audience, design considerations for specific hardware, what are your Pokémon OCs, Brett's monsters type and Tim's espionage and minis types, mods, cosplay in the 501st and 405th, remastering SWRC, looking forward.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Pokémon Red/Blue, Game Boy, Detective Pikachu, Game Freak, LoZ: Link Between Worlds, Metroid: Samus Returns, Studio Ghibli, Level-5, Dark Cloud, Ni No Kuni, Pokémon Go, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Micro, Super Famicom, Earthbound, S. A. Chakraborty, City of Brass, Harrison Wade, Nintendo Switch, Ben Zaugg, Gothic Chocobo, Junichi Masuda, Prima Games, War and Peace, Dark Souls, Threes, 2048, Fallout (series), The Elder Scrolls (series), Final Fantasy (series), Obsidian, inXile, Nolan Filter, irreverentQ, Universal Monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, John Lethbridge, Aaron Evers, Republic Commando, Skyrim, Fallout 3/4, Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars, Jesse Morgan, Kingdom Hearts (series), Square, Disney, Chrono Trigger.

Brett's Book Recommendation:
S. A. Chakraborty: City of Brass

Links:
Junichi Masuda on the Pokémon series getting easier

Halo Red vs Blue

Malukah's Dragonborn Cover

Republic Commando Remastered

Next time:
Kingdom Hearts: Up through Wonderland

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jan 9, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on 1996 Game Boy classic Pokémon Red/Blue. We talk about the tension of the final battles and then of course chat about our lessons and takeaways from the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finishing the Game!

Podcast breakdown:
1:15 Pokémon discussion
50:04 Break
50:35 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: renaming your rival and Professor Oak chiding him, being less precious about what things are named and such, separating out boxes and pure memory limits, the punk rival, coming full circle, naming your Pokémon, finding the legendaries, our final six, Brett's end-game, whether or not you can buy the elixirs, Tim's Frankensteined Pokémon team, how Brett leveled his top Pokémon, Tim coming down to running out of PP and items to take on the Elite Four, save states in the middle of the Elite Four battles, charging your adrenaline, four color palette, having very tight hardware limitations, squeezing more out of consoles late in hardware lifecycle, dungeons as puzzles, dungeon as palate cleanser and tuning/balancing pinch points, dungeon variety, trainers as gates and auto-grinds and tests of where you should be, map as revealing the order in which you will encounter stuff, the collection mechanics, evolution and collection, unique Pokémon, designing to your hardware constraints, music constraints, the depth of the roshambo, flexibility in supported approaches and player goals, emergent story in individual Pokémon, zany aesthetics of the Pokémon, collecting game play depth, whether playing Pokémon on release would have impacted our design or hardware thinking, most huggable Pokémon.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Metal Gear (series), Ultima Underworld, Final Fantasy IX, God of War, Anachronox, Chrono Trigger, Junichi Masuda, Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Raymond, Ester Olsen.

Next time:
Play some Pokémon Let's Go!

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jan 2, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we return to our series on 1996 Game Boy classic Pokémon Red/Blue. We talk about how widely our strategy is varying both in terms of team make-up and approach as well as marvelling over how well the game supports both, and Brett geeks out over how the hardware of the Game Boy (and in particular the Memory Bank Controller) influenced the design of its games. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to having 7 badges!

Podcast breakdown:
0:36 Pokémon discussion
59:17 Break
59:50 Feedback

Issues covered: Happy New Year, real Pokémon name or not?, our current team mixes, dominating in combat, allowing for widely different approaches, misunderstanding the depth of the game, cultural signifiers of the game, experimenting and sense of discover with Pokémon, more RPG than anticipated, the world opening up, more than just a collection landscape, fearing the end of the game, "Gotta Catch 'em All," the zaniness of the Pokémon, opacity of some of the Pokémon, Brett uses brute force, switching when things don't work, referring to the type chart, the underground tunnels, starting linear and opening up via guardposts/skills/bicycle, allowing a kid to follow his star, the differences of playing alone vs on stream, leaning on stream chat, not expecting RPG quests, efficient design of the Pokémon Flute, running away from the Snorlax, paying close attention to the abilities, layers and depth of information, designing your own Pokémon, HMs as critical path, connecting the overworld to the Pokémon, Tim and Brett playing against type, allowing so many varieties of play style, a healthy amount of slop, increasing numbers of Pokémon, commonalities of types to give you a hand-hold, Butterfree as a cornerstone of Tim's team, not doing much collecting, level cap and traded Pokémon, avoiding collecting to avoid the cap, not finding much to collect, trading in-game, using the GameLink, Game Boy technology, the Memory Bank Controller, virtual memory paging, having one program that runs on multiple sets of data that are lined up in a specific way, structure staying with the franchise afterwards, forcing particular patterns, coding in assembly, specifying how the music works via five hardware registers, timing the music, cultural differences for JRPGs, writing different programs to run on the hardware, all in on the singing reviews, is the computer having all the fun?, different kinds of fun, the appeal of different kinds of fun, the computer doing some of the work for you, not having the social engagement, losing your D&D players due to the excessive die rolling, hyper-specificity in Rolemaster, diceless RPGs, very slow evolution/conservative approach to the series.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Game Boy, Final Fantasy IX, Dark Souls, Let's Go Pikachu/Evee, A Link Between Worlds, Link to the Past, Tetris, Metroid 2, Apple ][, GamaSutra, PlayStation, Ester Olsen, Dungeons and Dragons, Bruce Shelley, Marc LeBlanc, World of Warcraft, Gold Box (series), Rolemaster, SAGA system, Ben from Iowa Zaugg, Björn Johansson, Pokémon Go, Niantic, System Shock 2.

Next time:
Finish the game by defeating the Elite Four!

Links:
Doctor Ludos on GamaSutra -- Making A GB Game in 2017

8 Kinds of Fun / Marc LeBlanc

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Dec 29, 2018

Show notes are simple this year -- we talk over the games and interviews of the year and reminisce.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a Happy New Year.

We'll see you in 2019 with our continuing series on Pokémon Red & Blue.

-Brett and Tim

 

Dec 19, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on 1996 Game Boy classic Pokémon Red/Blue. We talk quite a bit about the early game, the way it solves age-old RPG problems with random encounters, and of course, our current mix of Pokemon before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Saffron City (in theory)

Podcast breakdown:
0:45    Pokemon
55:48  Break
56:14  Feedback

Issues covered: Bonnie Ross's induction into the AIAS Hall of Fame, our current Pokémon rotation, a few specific attacks on various Pokémon, some strategy talk, domesticating animals, how the game treats the Pokémon, random encounters and the grind, randomness and the disincentive to explore, the randomness as a loot box sort of mechanic, randomness as strength in collecting, Japanese cultural conservatism, whether or not they were deliberate in their random battle approach, the television show, sweetness and innocence and getting attached to particular Pokémon, transcending as a franchise, characterization and evolution, meta-strategies, the immensity of the game and multiplicity, rock-paper-scissors and simplicity of grasping it, the periodic table, learning the type table by osmosis or by study, talking about inventory management, a game where you are rewarded if you put your Pokémon into a flow state, running out of PP, finding ether in the wild, providing items based on need, getting into the strategy, an index of the creepiest trainers, memorable characters and repetition, trainers are great for previewing Pokémon, getting pushback and inviting it, talking about the Yakuza series, game preservation, games as a business, fighting preservation, poor preservation, emulation, improving on an old game, hidden numbers in RPGs, Pokémon as loot and as units, wanting variation, being based on games with dice, figuring out exactly how many hit points a thing has, the role of the Internet, a user corrects Brett on shiny Pokémon and on what level he was.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Bonnie Ross, 343 Industries, AIAS/DICE, Bungie, Halo, Microsoft, The Game Awards, Game Developer's Choice Awards, Waypoint Radio, Final Fantasy IX, Pokémon Go, Legend of Zelda, Pokémon Let's Go, Nintendo Switch, Breath of the Wild, Miles Truss, GTA III, LA Noire, Mike Vogt, Yakuza (series), MGS V, GameBoy Pocket/Lite, Giant Beast Cast, Chris Tiemeßen, PlayStation Classic, Sega Classics, SNK 40th Anniversary, Pink Gorilla, Virtual Console, Xbox One, NES Classic/SNES Classic, Zimmy Finger, Nintendo DS, PSP (PlayStation Portable), Diablo, Dungeons and Dragons, Ben "From Iowa" Zaugg, Gothic Chocobo.

Next time:
7 Badges (after our end-of-year 'cast)

Link:
My Little Golden Book About Zogg

Note:
Although Brett said he hadn't worked on an RPG, what he meant was he hadn't worked on a JRPG. (Brett of course worked on Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Fallout 4.)

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

Dec 12, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on 1996 Game Boy classic Pokémon Red/Blue. We situate the game in time and spend a fair amount of time discussing the Game Boy itself as a handheld system, before turning to the game itself. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Pewter City's Gym Leader, Brock

Podcast breakdown:
0:40     Pokémon discussion
55:02   Break
55:35   Feedback & Review

Issues covered: the series as a whole and its stewardship and popularity, 1996 in games, Tim's start in the industry, our histories with handheld systems, the Game Boy as a movement, the convergence of handheld and console in the Switch, the Game Boy launch, a side business that exploded on them, sales of the Game Boy, iterating on the hardware then and now, mobile gaming, pacing on mobile gaming, naming your hero and adversary and Pokémon, "all boys leave home," dropping you right into the world, lack of quest, trusting the player, knowing the other's Pokémon choices, Tim bouncing off the series, limiting the player's options early, a pastoral/nostalgic feel, basing it on childhood memories, JRPG structure and games of the time, exploring JRPGs and how they differ at the time, elemental battling, leveling your critters instead of your character, managing tone, chancing into destroying Brock's rock Pokémon, anime quality of the characters, rock-paper-scissors battling, persistent effects and strategy, the Pikachu that got away, "shiny" types and rarity, gamers grinding, Tim wanting to collect everything, the cast of characters/Pokémon, the experience of having a pet, domesticating pets, generational games, a new singing review!, gamer memory, gatekeeping, growing the audience, Oral History of Republic Commando, Game Boy peripherals and licensed gear, collecting and trading Pokémon, encouraging different kinds of city simulation behavior, the memory card.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Game Freak, Nintendo, NES/SNES, Sega Genesis, Creatures, The Pokémon Company, Pokémon Let's Go, Ni No Kuni, Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, Tamagotchi, Skylanders, Super Mario 64, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Nintendo 64, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Final Doom, Marathon Infinity, Diablo, Mario Kart, Kirby's Block Ball, Donkey Land 2, Nintendo Switch, Metroid 2, Link's Awakening (+ Legend of Zelda series), Nintendo 3DS, Virtual Boy, Super Mario Land, Tetris, Game Boy Light, Game Boy Micro, Game Boy Advance, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin, Final Fantasy IX, Super Mario RPG, Dragon Quest/Warrior (series), Ultima (series), Eye of the Beholder, Phantasy Star, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Anatole France, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, DLC podcast, Dungeons and Dragons, Reed Knight, Infocom, Zork, Gilmore Girls, Where You Lead, Carole King, speakyclean, GTA III, Lucas Rizoli, Cameron Kunzelman, Republic Commando, Xbox One, Kieron Gillen, Thief, PC Gamer UK, John Williams, Kotaku, David Collins, Starfighter/Jedi Starfighter, PS2, PSNow, Ester Olsen, The2ndQuest, Pokémon Stadium, Nintendo Wii, Scott Richardson, Streets of Sim City, Maxis, EA, Crazy Taxi, Sega Dreamcast, LucasArts, Lego City Undercover, Andrew Kirmse, Ben from Iowa.

Next time:
Get into Saffron City

Links:
PLAYER/KNOWLEDGE Gamer Memory and GTAIII
Kieron Gillen on Thief, 20 Years On

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

Dec 5, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion about Grand Theft Auto III. We close out the game by picking a couple favorite moments, talk about some of the difficulty at the end, and of course, do our takeaways before turning to feedback, of which there was much. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game! (If you're Brett, anyway)

Podcast breakdown:
0:39    GTA III discussion
59:06  Break
59:46  Feedback

Issues covered: Tim gets demoralized, timing and bad luck, wall missions, time and patience running out, being indifferent to the player, one's changing taste, getting better at the driving (and falling into the ocean), 'cast being non-conducive to this style of game, being okay with not finishing it, feeling comfortable in some areas of the game, imagining giggling devs, timing missions pushing you to let go of stuff and learn the city well, lower mission density, running off the drawbridge, doing the coffee carts the second time (and rubbing it in), getting the bulletproof Patriot, everyone shooting at you around the world, stuff in the disc case (RTFM) including a good map, heist mentality, planning and executing your heist, cheating, moments of grace, fiero, triggering a stunt at the end of a mission, movie moment, side missions Brett tried, the cost of adding more on top of the simulation, other ways to scale the timing missions, making a big commitment to the story, likely low completion rate, wanting to care more about the characters and being pushed against the stereotypes, the high quality of the radio stations, adding flavor and life through radio, car damage model, running to the Pay and Spray, juking the police cars at high wanted level, punishing system countering the player's goals, inner turmoil, considering the game's impact, the freedom of this open world, loading times on PS2, opening up open world games and establishing the possibility of many franchises, committing to style, fantasy fulfillment of crime, media influences, realistic setting (as opposed to fantasy), pushing towards transgression, pushing the player into just getting things done and letting things go, expert frustration, running over pedestrians, running around the streets and bumping into people, dehumanizing pedestrians, Brett's favorite moment, the chaos engine, getting into the cartel area to go after the "oriental gentleman," switching into game development later, whether to get into QA, having useful skills, buying a developer lunch or a beer, company sizes, getting into game jams, what's punk rock (Brett has no idea), calling something virtue signaling and what that means, taking a risk in talking GTA, learning the map vs being directed, appeal of missions vs driving around shenanigans, player-directed vs designer-directed behavior, what people showed when they showed you the game, side content and achievements, how much simulation is too much simulation?, what brings people in, recognizing film-style realism, sports games looking like television broadcasts, inviting mechanics, the arcade driving model, forgiving damage model, listening to whatever radio station comes on, scratched disc and other reminiscences.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Gone with the Wind (obliquely), X-COM: UFO Defense, Final Fantasy IX, Deus Ex, Rockstar Games, Robert Loggia, seaofmorgan, djmurgatroyd, Kyle MacLachlin, Homo Ludens, Huizinga, Red Dead Redemption 2, PlayStation 2, Starfighter, TIE Fighter, Assassin's Creed (series), Spider-Man (2018), Halo, Metal Gear Solid, PacMan, The A-Team, Jesse Morgan, Dungeons & Dragons, Miles Truss, Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael, MaasNeotekProto, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Joe Carnahan, Mark Garcia, Shenmue, Harry Potter, Scarface, The Godfather, The Mechanic, Miami Vice, Christopher Wright, Don Winslow, Dan Simmons, Pokemon Red/Blue, GameCube.

Brett's Book Suggestions:
The Winter of Frankie Machine, by Don Winslow
Dan Simmons's "Joe Kurtz" trilogy: Hardcase/Hard Freeze/Hard as Nails

Links:
Global Game Jam

Next time:
Pokemon Red/Blue, up to Viridian City

Mea culpa:
"Fiero" appears to be a term popularized by Nicole Lazzaro, in the 4 Keys to Fun. We regret the error.

Dan Simmons's "Joe Kurtz" trilogy is actually set in Buffalo, NY, not Albany. We regret the error.

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

Nov 28, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion about Grand Theft Auto III. We talk a bit about mission structure, failure states, learning through failure, and a host of other things. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
About a dozen missions into Staunton

Podcast breakdown:
0:47    GTA III discussion
55:12  Break
55:45  Feedback

Issues covered: homophones, the intermediate position between cartridges and hard drive, saving when you're "done for the night," tension between mission design and world design, building up your arsenal, adding to your mission setup loop, memory cards and the hardship of working with them, choosing your save spots in an open world game, Vita Chambers vs save spots, the weakness of the PC port, "quality of life stuff," the assassination of Salvatore, learning through failure, escalation missions, individual mission stories, sniping on the PC, aim assist for consoles and stealing from a common place, learning the map, playing the radar game, eyes being drawn low for the radar but being unable to follow landmarks as a result, the cool moment of knowing a place, usability to support the story missions, putting yourself back in 2001, wishing you could program for the PS2 again, being frustrated by timers, using the systems and tools you have rather than building new stuff for every mission, getting janky because of having few tools, bending tools to your will, capture the flag mission from humble beginnings, Rube Goldberg machines, how far can you bend a system before it's no longer in line with what your game's about, timers don't support the chaos engine that the game is, punishment for being poor with the controls, finding your lanes and staying in them, maybe missions aren't really the point, the player type that pushes the boundaries, using achievements or trophies to push you in directions you might otherwise miss, the cars being much better on Staunton, being put off by the driving model, world systems fighting your driving, fingers deep in Cheetos, no one in the game fighting for anything, finding a character you can hold on to, the value of Aristotelian structure, putting different points of view around an issue, needing stakes and counterpoints, punk rock requires an opposing authority, punching down, wanting more meaning from your choices, examining what games should be trying to do, our super-fan, host-appropriate T-shirts.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Banjo-Kazooie, Rare Replay, Nintendo, PS2, Tomb Raider, Bioshock, Hitman (2016), The Terminator, Halo, Starfighter, PS3, Thief, Unreal, Republic Commando, Jedi Starfighter, John Drake, The Incredible Machine, Casey's Contraptions, Rube Goldberg, Red Dead Redemption 2, Dark Souls (series), Ninja Gaiden (series), GTA V Online, Crazy Taxi, Batman: Arkham (series), The Witcher 3, Mazirian the mag, Mikkel Lodahl, GTA San Andreas, Bojack Horseman, Waypoint, Austin Walker, Patrick Klepek, Danielle Riendeau, Rob Zacny, Natalie Watson, Baldur's Gate, Jurassic Park: Trespasser, Microsoft, XBOX, Bill Gates, Dreamworks Interactive, Far Cry 2, Clint Hocking, Aaron Evers, Dungeons and Dragons, Tomb of Horrors, Star Wars.

Links:
Seamus Blackley and Trespasser

Sorry, I could not find Clint Hocking's Trespasser talk... :(

Next time:
Finish the game!

https://twitch.tv/brettdouville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Nov 21, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion about Grand Theft Auto III. We actually spend a little time talking about the counter-argument, that this game extends a middle finger to the moral scolds who wanted to cage video games, and then talk about specifics about its streaming, and talk about the dissonance between its systems and mission design, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "Last Requests"

Podcast breakdown:
0:32   GTA III discussion
57:07 Break
57:41 Feedback & reviews

Issues covered: voice actors who don't quite work and those who do, rough combat, dreading combat, avoiding alternate and secondary missions, moral scolds and violent video games, critical and player response to a finger extended at the establishment, punk rock, rap in the 90s in Oakland and LA, skewering American culture, handling your satire around certain topics, madonna/whore divide and stripper/nun divide, treatment of women in games, being in the right place at the right time, freedom of speech issues in film (and games), systems vs skinning, positive benefits of skinning and negative, consequences for actions, forcing player behavior by being unable to continue otherwise, pushing the boundaries when there are numbers, seamless streaming, systemic support for the streaming, parallel mission structure, flight sims as streaming, streaming in with media storage much larger than the available RAM, streaming in topography for flight sims, doing quest lines with multiple characters at once, intertwining mission structure, parallelizing and TV's subplot nature, RPG influence with quest lines and side quests and optional quests, putting various skill challenges into missions, skill challenges in opposition to the chaos engine, failing due to flipping your car, freedom fighting the missions, chilling with an open world, being able to exploit systems, suffering for the art of the exploit, exposing options, janky grenade throwing, finding simulation limits to exploit, our occasional lapses in knowledge or research, the hooker/health/money method, making horrific behavior palatable, "protagonist doesn't mean hero," punching up and punching down, hearing more of the radio because you're better at the game, double standards and hypocrisy, treatment of minorities, narrative framing, representation matters, liking to play the good guy, what freedoms do you actually have, lack of consequence for death or mayhem, limits of failure, upping the ante on police response, lack of a strong female lead in Rockstar games, playing a game when there's nothing like it and how that impacts you and returning to it later and seeing its flaws, abandoning World War II games because of a personal connection, feeling weird about war games where the only way they touch me is through entertainment, licensing term, lifecycle of a music license, unionization aspects and agent culture with music licensing (inheriting from film), complication of rights even for scores, personal soundtracks, save systems and using engines, choosing the wrong engine for the game you're making, writing all your game code.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Michael Madsen, Frank Vincent, ESRB, Jack Thompson, Paducah, Columbine, DOOM, Wolfenstein, Mortal Kombat, Joe Lieberman, South Park, Bonnie and Clyde*, the New Hollywood, The People vs Larry Flynt, Hustler, Penthouse, Playboy, Woody Harrelson, Ed Norton, Milos Forman**, Oliver Stone, Thomas Was Alone, God of War, GTA Vice City and San Andreas, Super Mario 64, PlayStation 1, Spyro the Dragon (series), David Jones, Elite, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Derek Smart, BattleCruiser 3000AD, Star Citizen, The Sopranos, David Murgatroyd, Red Dead Redemption (series), Spider-Man 2, Jamie Fristrom, Joseph Krull, Fallout (series), Grant Goodine, Manhunt, Kevin James, Thief, Silent Hill 2, Hitman (series), Black & White, The Sims, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Call of Duty (series), Medal of Honor, Ethan Johnson, Dylan Cuthbert, Q Games, Pixeljunk Sidescroller, Xbox/Xbox 360, Underworld Ascendant, Mark Eldridge, Unity, Unreal, System Shock 2, idTech, CryEngine, Dishonored (series), Prey (2017), Tacoma, Lulu LaMer, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Tim Sweeney.

Next time:
12-15 missions into Staunton Island

Corrections:
*Bonnie and Clyde was released in 1967.
** Milos Forman did in fact pass away in April of 2018.

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

Nov 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we are beginning a new series about Grand Theft Auto III. As always, we spend the first episode situating the title in its release time frame and talk a bit about the history of the studio and creators associated with it before turning to the game proper. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Fuzz Ball"

Podcast breakdown:
0:37 GTA III discussion
58:48 Break
59:16 Feedback

Issues covered: perspectives from Lulu about production, games of 2001, bringing the mafia back into popular entertainment, grabbing the zeitgeist, how to deal with the anti-hero, commercial plays with the gritty follow-up, freshening up a franchise by going dark, not being sold on playing this game, mature with a capital M, still being under the shadow, starting and abandoning GTA IV and skipping GTA V altogether, DMA Design founders, programming-centric company, the top-down camera view, introduction of the Houser brothers, British gangster cinema, writing style and tone changes, film-style credit sequence, iconic characterization and key art, having a gritty New York of the 70s and 80s genre films, blaxploitation, the New Hollywood, leaning into character archetypes, impressive voice cast, using Hollywood-level talent, not needing to use them, unsung high-quality voice talent, cinematic representation of the credits, ambition vs genius, going big and not apologizing, putting the developers forward rather than the actors, making their own myth, a voiceless main character (Claude), voiceless being better in first-person, empty vessel to fill, limited representation, defining characters more as time goes on, the risk of changing the character out from under the player, undirected game, tension between genre and character and story, playing a low-level thug in The Godfather, playing your own sort of character, do players care about the tension, do you have to like the character, the chaos engine and the strong cinematic style, player exploration of the possibility space, separating the chaos and the nihilistic stories, dehumanizing women, punching every which way vs punching down, Brett messes up his punching directions, creative decisions, choosing the ones you put in and don't, presenting a boundary that is itself commentary, choices players can't make due to lack of systems, prostitution in multiple media, the crassest flattest two-dimensional representation of sex work, being a target in the industry, disposable human beings, hope for humanity, craftmanship and talent and lack of responsibility, representing themselves, pushing the player to a nihilistic viewpoint, pushing the player to psychopathic driving, spawning cars to gum up the works, diametrically opposing success and responsible citizenship, not overcrediting them with thinking it through, tongue-in-cheek or not, what if it were visually amazing but everything else was the same, how you get the talent, Brett and Tim the ASMR guys, first-person camera, console-centric development, head bobbing, couch vs monitor, motion sickness and movement and FOV, more complicated than you think, stick movement and aim assist, what's the walkin' around like, frame-dependency, noticing something and being able to describe it, reticle, GTA III memories, returning to GTA III, corrupting the youth, killing jaywalking pedestrians, unexamined biases, kitsch, the first draft and tropes, editing a story due to current events.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Lulu LaMer, Thief, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, System Shock 2, Ico, Silent Hill 2, Anachronox, PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, SSX Tricky, GameCube, Super Smash Bros, Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy X, Max Payne, Black & White, Diablo 2, Xbox, Halo, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rare, Jak & Daxter, Game Boy Advance, Castlevania, Oni, Bungie, The Sopranos, Scorcese, Coppola, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Prince of Persia, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA V, Rockstar North/DMA Design, Acme Software, David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond, Mike Dailly, Crackdown, Lemmings, Take Two, PS1 Classic, Reagent Games, Cloudgine, Epic, the Houser brothers, The Krays, Bob Hoskins, Ian McQue, GTA: Vice City, Robert Loggia, Frank Vincent, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Rapaport, True Romance, Debi Mazar, Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Nolan North, Leslie Benzies, The Godfather: The Game, GTA Online, Eve Online, South Park, Klute, Jane Fonda, Michel Faber, The Crimson Petal and the White, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dungeon Keeper, Jigsaw/Saw, Michael Madsen, Lars from Hamburg, Hitman, Giant Beastcast, Tacoma, Steve Gaynor, The Stanley Parable, Nels Anderson, The Witness, David "Heavens To" Murgatroyd, Fallout, Ray Liotta, Brian Moriarty.

Next time:
Through "Last Requests"


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

Nov 7, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we in this episode we are lucky enough to enjoy an interview with Lulu LaMer, who started out her career at Looking Glass as QA on Thief, and went on to be a producer, including on some of the Tomb Raider games at Crystal Dynamics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:00:39 Interview
1:10:24 Break
1:10:48 Next time

Issues covered: a quick list of the uses of a degree in French, quitting your job and bleaching your hair and tossing your business casual, early introduction to games, getting away from games and coming back, QA as an engineering discipline and player advocacy, buying into the development philosophy, becoming QA, level designer differences and tester differences, pairing designers and testers, moving to full play-throughs with specific builds, being a sympathetic tester/regulatory capture, naming a play style for forum users, too much intimacy with forum users, influencing the game's economy, the benefits of Looking Glass on a résumé, the help of data-driven design, inheritance and object model, a lot of territory to cover, trying to get outside the level, Randy's voice acting, ignoring a player who's being a dick, transitioning to associate producer, lack of communication at LG, going on press tour, having unsympathetic press, going to the pub, having a company abruptly close, the role of a producer, having a core of people to work on Thief: Deadly Shadows, taking an engine and trying to make it work for their sort of game, using Unreal to make levels, lacking shared understandings, needing to create a culture, lacking direction and mentorship, the abstraction of being a producer, avoiding micromanagement, quitting to become a midwife, "you don't deliver the baby, the mom delivers the baby!", coming back into the fold better prepared for the job, feeling you had been terrible at the job, the last game she played as a Tomb Raider, the sense of being in a place, additive vs subtractive rendering and tools, moving from a story game to a more systemic game, having trouble communicating the ideas, Uncharted taking a big leap forward, distilling down Tomb Raider's essence, remaking vs remastering, preferring the updated levels, a schedule all of out of whack, playing through the levels and streamlining, distillation of memory and emotion, building to alpha and then moving to agile, triage, ranking what needs to be fixed, compromise and choices, ending pressure, guidance for players, Daydream the "product area," augmented reality project, Immersive Arts, augmented reality, spaces and games and reading and space.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Looking Glass Studios, Thief (series), System Shock 2, Flight Unlimited, ION Storm, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, 2K Games, Spec Ops: The Line, Borderlands, Bioshock: Infinite, Borderlands 2, Funomena, Robin Hunicke, Daydream Studios, Google, Randy Smith, Pong, Vic 20, NES, Bethesda Studios, Dorian Hart, LucasArts, Greg LoPiccolo, Marc (Mahk) LeBlanc, Harmonix, PC Gamer, Kieron Gillen, Eidos, Telltale Games, Jon Chey, Irrational Australia, Warren Spector, Emil Pagliarulo, Terri Brosius, Doug Church, Freedom Force, Chris Carollo, Tom Leonard, Deus Ex, Unreal, Tim Sweeney, Epic, Game Developer's Conference, Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver, Uncharted, Richard LeMarchand, Naughty Dog, Jason Botta, Ratchet and Clank, Project Snowblind, Nate Wells, Nate Schaumberg, Kyle Mannerberg, Google Pixel, Playground, Iron Man, Kindle, GTA III, GTA Vice City, Resident Evil VII, Thief (2014).

Next time:
GTA III, the first several missions

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

Oct 31, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we in this episode we are lucky enough to enjoy an interview with Greg LoPiccolo, project lead on Thief, and Randy Smith, who was a level designer on the title. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview
1:00:08  Break
1:00:50  Feedback

Issues covered: World Series, how Randy got his start, psychology and programming as substrate for game design, "Suck it down" and toxic masculinity, cold-calling, the attraction of LG games, how Greg got in, the origins of Thief, competition, seeking limited but rich interaction, being weak, controlling the world from observation, AI with sense perceptions, the success of Thief, working counter to the prevailing winds, writing documentation to think about the space, commodities of space: loud/quiet and light/dark, tools support or lack thereof for those spaces, carving shapes, spaces that are hard to read, the level Escape, experimentation to find how to make a level, inventing sound propagation, dynamic lights impacting game play, player reading the lighting of a space, optimization, pulling back on combat in Thief II, "winging it and doing our best to survive," having nothing until you had everything, "like digging the Chunnel," polygon limitations, how do you build a cathedral with that?, the Emil vs Randy systems of building, designers having to be artists at the same time, putting the systems first, systemically reading space rather than tagging it, leading the team without having the tech yet, directing the narrative, writing lots of narrative to provide background and use it sparingly, people making their own stories, high quality voice acting, the bear pits, dialog as part of the game play loop, witty characters poking through, having to learn how to build a GANTT chart, repossessing the plants, the role of a leader, deep backstory, starting from a 1-4 page document, making up cool ideas and running with them, not being aware you couldn't do a thing, the trend of risk aversion in the industry, the indie spirit, an attempt to be more commercial, object hierarchy of inheritance, being in a submarine in the cold war, debugging console, the fundamental trick of game design: player brain and designer brain, starting testing much earlier, empathy as a design skill, overcoming doubt when innovating, saying yes to everything -> saying no to everything -> it's hard but we can do it, what the guests are doing next, having taste in game design and finding that audience, feeling like a musician vs being a musician, a touching father/daughter story.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Looking Glass Studios, Thief (series), ION Storm, Electronic Arts, Steven Spielberg, Edge Magazine, Tiger Style, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, Sega Genesis, Bimini Run, Nuvision Entertainment, System Shock, Flight Unlimited, Harmonix, Frequency, Rock Band VR, Tribe, Waking Mars, Nate Blaisdell, MYST, Tim Schafer, Eric Brosius, Rex Bradford, Activision, Tim Ries, Doug Church, Dan Schmidt, Ned Lerner, Terra Nova, Terri Brosius, 2001: A Space Odyssey (obliquely), DOOM (1993), Paul Neurath, Metal Gear Solid, Ultima Underworld, id Software, Tim Stellmach, DromEd, Unreal, Emil Pagliarulo, Bethesda Game Studios, Marc LeBlanc, Stephen Russell, Ken Levine, Tom Leonard, Red Dead Redemption 2, Game Developer's Conference, Kevin Brown, Halo: Combat Evolved, Far Cry 5, Andrew Kirmse, Star Wars: Starfighter.

Next time:
Another interview!

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

Oct 24, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we in this episode we conclude our discussion of 1998's Thief: The Dark Project. We talk a bit about equipment and gadgets, the story and enemy shifts that happen late in the game, the commitment maybe to story over what was working, and as always, our takeaways from the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Segment 1: Thief discussion
54:53 Break
55:20 Segment 2: Thief takeaways, Brett's Book Minute, and Feedback

Issues covered: good ending dialog, using the whole toolkit, kiting enemies to a trap, firing off gadgets immediately on acquisition, gas and fire arrows, having trouble on Escape, leaning away from the core fantasy, being a little too story-forward, other directions that might have worked, an easier last level, having to experiment to take down enemies, making good extensions to the enemy mix vs bad, finding an in-game way to give you information about your tools, the Hammerite mythology and technological disruption, conflicts between technology and nature, Hammerites and the Brotherhood of Steel, the texts before the cutscenes, setting tone, using first-person tools for storytelling, not being able to rely on lore, usability and testing, being a developer and being too good at your game, enjoying little loops of locations and story, missing subobjectives and having to go back, kicking the hornet's nest and having to go back, moving the goalposts too many times, the frustrating Escape level, returning to the Hammerite cathedral and having it changed, one-way gating your way through the final level (vs stealth), changing the tone of the game, how do you end a game?, going to an otherworldly place, Garrett talking to himself, listening to the Trickster do his summoning, heist/switching the idol, committing to the thief fantasy, technology as a feature, writing their own engine, focusing on simulation and systems in first-person, rope arrows and surface types, designing ancillary systems to support your core experience, consequential map, lockpicking vs a minigame, inventory and the store, horror beats, Garrett as a character, Brett's Book Minute, a correction, quiet and loneliness in Tomb Raider, loner vs loneliness, the golden age of the immersive sim, the genre as a success or not, expense of making AAA, level designers' ability to make whole levels, immersive sims at the indie level and procedural elements, flesh levels.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Looking Glass Studios, Everquest, Edge of Tomorrow, Fallout, Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Gone Home, Dear Esther, D&D, JRR Tolkien, System Shock 2, Indiana Jones/Raiders of the Lost Ark, Baldur's Gate, ION Storm, Ultima Underworld, Deus Ex, Thief (2014), Tomb Raider, Tony Cliff, Delilah Dirk (series character), Timothy Hallinan, Junior Bender (series character), Ethan Johnson, Greg LoPiccolo, Vijay Lakshman, Elder Scrolls, Alex Rigopulos, Eran Egozy, Tim Dore, Half-Life, Dan Hunter, Dishonored, Prey, TIE Fighter, Daron Stinnett, Bethesda Game Studios, Zenimax, Arkane Studios, Kotaku, Neon Struct, We Happy Few, The2ndQuest, Contra, Aliens, Predator, Abadox, Alien Syndrome, Halo, Eric Bartoszak, Jill Murray.

Next time:
Next time we expect an interview! Keep your eyes peeled.

Links:
Fansy the Famous Bard (CW: homophobia, probably other chat grotesqueries, MMO chat can be ugly)

Brett's Twitch Channel

Stealth Docs YT Channel (recommended by a listener)

Podcast with Looking Glass folks

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

Oct 18, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in the midst of series discussing 1998's Thief: The Dark Project. We talk about map trade-offs, enemy diversity and choices, the levels we played, music and objectives, and other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Undercover

Issues covered: "disco is my life," longer Thief: Gold levels, DLC before DLC existed, technical issues and level design, experimenting with what direction to take next, being unable to connect the dots, making assumptions about what the sim is saying, satisfying objectives unsatisfactorily, feeling like you'll be able to pick up the collectibles later, making the optional mandatory, intrinsic reward of economy and core fantasy, scaling difficulty being different in modern designs, unnecessary tension, changing up strategies due to the mission preparation screen, identity and tone in the music and audio design, impact of horror film genre on soundtrack choices, NPC dialog, cinematics as reward vs dialog, reward for slow player pace, variety of player choice encouraging stealth in NOLF, using dialog and timing to locate enemies and get into position, NPC dialog as a timer, having all the enemy types in The Lost City, the variety of enemy types, using water arrows on fireballs, crossing a valuable resource over, motivation of enemy designs, reuse of animation and models, technical limitations, character realism vs other games, co-op in SS2, choices in the map, map as opportunity for strategy, an inaccurate map, maintaining the fantasy with the map, map as puzzle, needing to use the compass to get your bearings, the many approaches of the map, flexibility in the uses of the map, seeing the lineage to Dishonored, finding maps as you play, map in an exploration game vs a target game, playing to your game's needs, map as a microcosm of design choices, getting an opportunity to be in disguise, the Eye talking to you, bleeding the natural through the mechanical thematically, MIT Gambit lab podcasts.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Earth, Wind, and Fire, Eric Brosius, Red Dead Redemption, Kirk Hamilton, GB Buford, Jaws, Frictional Games, Amnesia, SOMA, The Chinese Room, No One Lives Forever, Cthulhu, System Shock 2, Soul Reaver, Tomb Raider, Quake, Hitman, Unreal, Doom, Far Cry 2, Miasmata, Firewatch, Prey, Dishonored, Tim Dore, Dan Hunter.

Links:
Kotaku on the RDR soundscape

Podcast with Looking Glass folks

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Oct 10, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we look back to Shadows of the Tomb Raider for a special bonus episode featuring Lead Writer Jill Murray. We talk about how the writing gets done -- spoilers, there's a lot more planning than writing -- as well as all sorts of topics that grow from that. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: lacking access to technology, Jill's early career in visual arts/music/theater, staging a big musical, web development and a mismatch of needs, being non-distracted by the Internet, realizing that someone is writing these things, getting in, having to generate a lot of AC in a short time, the roles of writers, the meaning of a lead writer, leading a team vs being a principal writer, focusing on character and voice, writers holding multiple roles, writers working alongside one another vs a writers room, working with designers vs writers, splitting content responsibilities up, sharing a few systems, accommodating multiple styles, the team still tells the story, the impact of the team on the storytelling, choice of verbs impacting possible stories, lack of authorial control, having no sense of the size of a team, out-sourced studios enlarging the team, pros and cons of working with big teams, working with actors, the luxury of performance capture, security of the company being your security, production and collaboration style driving lifestyle, combative styles, smaller games less reliable, working out collaboration afresh, broader responsibilities, figuring out how everything fits to drive the actual sitting down and writing, lots of meetings, working on animatics, prepping for performance capture, multiple revisions with critiques of up to a dozen people, planning to prepare due to cost, attending performance capture shoots, going over the scripts again and again, having a full crew to move equipment/manage cameras/aid talent/feed everyone/set up mocap, observing as a writer, talking with the performance director to avoid getting in the way of the actor/director relationship, read-throughs, doing the cinematography afterwards, having a little more freedom with the character, reaching the end of this first journey, strength in vulnerability, leaning into awkwardness in a scene, being limited in what we're allowed to choose because it having to be badass, adding dimensionality to characters, expanding the medium into new audiences, audience not realizing what they want, community management and development, how game writing is like Gatorade, audience empathy, your responsibility to the player, provoking anger and fear, aftercare, thinking about how we care for a player after we've provoked strong, games as services, seeing yourself represented, being someone else, making games not just for ourselves, bringing other voices into the room, reaching the status of a Lara Croft, dating in a seniors residence, the Star Trek holodeck.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: UbiSoft, Assassin's Creed (series), Writer's Guild of America, Kitfox Games, Moon Hunters, Minority Media, Time Machine VR, Lawbreakers, Tomb Raider, Montreal Fringe Festival, Minesweeper, Xbox, Mass Effect (series), Ann Lemay, WB Games, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012, Richard Farrese, Republic Commando, Jedi Starfighter, Bethesda Game Studios, Darby McDevitt, Eidos, Camilla Luddington, Gray's Anatomy, Virginie Costa, David Hubert, Crystal Dynamics, Gatorade, Kotaku, Skyrim, Kirk Hamilton, Evan Narcisse, James Bond, Batman, Bloom Digital, Later Gators, DreamDaddy, Golden Girls, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Boyfriend Dungeon, Meagan Marie, Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play, Chinese Independent Game Developers Association Conference.

Next time:
Next time we return to Thief: The Dark Project, through "Undercover"

Links:
You can find Jill on Twitter at @disco_jill and via her company website, https://discoglo.be.

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

Oct 3, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in the midst of our series about 1998's Thief; we talk about the story development of the world, some small mechanical bits, and then dig into the level design of the four levels we played. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Sword"

Issues covered: getting shot with an arrow, starting with the day in the life of a thief, establishing a baseline of a life, introducing the Hammerites and other groups, verses from religious texts, things are getting weird, weaving in "The Dark Project," upsetting the balance, the trope of stumbling into something larger, significance of what you're stealing, interludes vs cutscenes, preferring the mundane to the strange in this game, player expectations of story, surprising the audience, industrial/steampunk setting mixing with magic, wanting more from the city, leaning into weird backstory but drifting away, not needing the bizarre framing devices, constructing your story level to level, individual contributions driving story, extending the core fantasy with new mechanics, knucklehead stealth, sword swinging mechanics, complexity of collisions, the efficiency of the blackjack, adding traps and lock picks, slow projectiles, being able to see the mechanisms behind the traps, methodical trap avoidance, player skill in reading the environment, committing to first-person in lock-picking, triggering character skill, adding a lock-picking mini-game to the franchise, being a predator in other games, claustrophobia in narrow corridors, hacking a zombie to bits, the mournful music of the horn, building Garrett's character and placing him in the world, surprise switch objective, a level that is too long, not having the texture budget to support the level design, being lost, picking up things and having them in your inventory, doing stuff in the wrong order, banging up against the banners, being a second story guy, rope arrow mechanics, a weird space, relying on physics engines, level as character building, weird promotions, flipping the script and driving you away.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Tomb Raider, System Shock 2, The Usual Suspects, Memento, Hitman (series), Assassin's Creed, Dario Casali, Half-Life, Dark Forces, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Hal Barwood, Die By The Sword, Ultima Underworld, Leon: The Professional, Ken Levine, Dark Souls, Pipe Dreams, Kent Hudson, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Arkham Asylum, Deus Ex, Stephen King, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Cthulhu, HP Lovecraft, Gothic Chocobo, Fallout 3, Bulletstorm, People Can Fly, EA Partners, Turok, Dante's Inferno, Brutal Legend, Jack Black, The Way, Grand Theft Auto IV.

Next time:
Through "Undercover"

Links:
Assassin's Creed's Functional Story


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

Sep 26, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we now begin our series about 1998's Thief; as usual, we start by setting the game in its time before diving into a few of its systems and technology requirements. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Cragscleft Prison

Podcast breakdown:
0:41 Thief
53:13 Break
53:45 Feedback

Issues covered: reflecting on 1998, first-person shooter games of the time, having different first-person goals, differing pacing, original design goals, high enemy lethality and comparative weakness of the protagonist, methodical style of play, punishing the player for an action approach, getting sucked into the demo, niche and sales, sticking to a core fantasy vs going to a more action-oriented design, an aesthetic that spreads to other places, going in a different direction with tone, establishing a different fantasy setting, painterly cutscenes, functional lore, quality of the voice acting, the light meter, audio surface changes, lack of direct information about the AI, technology considerations, dynamic lighting, dynamic and attenuated audio, not cheating for the AI, setting an expectation for future games in the genre (particularly with shooting out lights), doing a job at Lord Bafford's Manor, setting the stage for the game, introducing the mission, having alternate routes, picking pockets, level and experiential density, clear level direction (moving up), dynamic goals, turning off transparency and ledges, following the dotted line or not, movement weight, making trade-offs of immediacy vs groundedness, weapon roles, progression and weapon roles working against one another, extending character through weapon choices, making more interesting choices from your systems (including weapons).

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Starcraft, Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Unreal, Rainbox Six, Final Fantasy Tactics, Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider 3, Rogue Squadron, Grim Fandango, Half-Life, Baldur's Gate, Spyro the Dragon, Battlezone, Descent: Freespace, Star Wars: Starfighter, Kotaku Splitscreen, Half-Life 2, Fallout 2, Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow, Quake, Epic Games, id Software, Duke Nukem, Heretic, Eidos Interactive, Die by the Sword, Treyarch, Trespasser, Daron Stinnett, System Shock 2, Looking Glass, Hitman, Splinter Cell, Dishonored, Ultima Underworld, Origin, Flight Unlimited, System Shock, Terra Nova, Strike Force Alpha Centauri, Ken Levine, Doug Church, Harvey Smith, Randy Smith, Mark LeBlanc, Warren Spector, Paul Neurath, Underworld Ascendant, Emil Pagliarulo, Lulu LaMer, Crystal Dynamics, Tim Stellmach, Terry and Eric Brosius, Greg LoPiccolo, Stephen Russell, Arx Fatalis, Arkane Studios, Raf Colantonio, Gothic Chocobo, Mark Brown, Morrowind, Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Batman, Dead Space, Rômulo Santos, Monster Hunter (series), Andrew from Cincinnati, Deus Ex, Doom, Halo, Uncharted, Star Wars: Republic Commando.

Next time:
Through The Sword

Links:
Is the reboot of Lara Croft more feminist?

10 things (women were doing in Video games in the) 1990's (2:45-4:28)

Why Nathan Drake doesn't need a compass.


Following the little dotted line

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

Sep 19, 2018

Hello, and welcome to a special bonus episode of Dev Game Club, where we talk about the most recent Tomb Raider release, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, talking a little bit about where the reboots came from and the thinking that went into them as well as some of the structural differences between the two. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Some of the first few hours

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Shadow of the Tomb Raider
42:18 Break
42:50 Feedback

Issues covered: considering the original reboot, discussing the Crystal Dynamics era generally, updating for the modern era, avoiding predictability, exploring character rather than superheroics, reconsidering the world structure, adding side activities for the player, tonal shift, survival action rather than survival horror, not seeing how the character will turn into the original Lara Croft, voice acting, changing set pieces, paying off on minimal player interaction with bigger set pieces, the flood sequence, having moments in the original and the reboot where you're hunting around for what to do, the resourceful explorer, solitude, marrying modern sensibilities and expectations to older game feelings, connectivity constraining globe-trotting, choosing the difficulty, not missing the telegraphing/mark-up, considering how the puzzles might be different, re-using combat AI to create play opportunities, finding repeatable systemic features that enrich a space, leveraging mechanics that you don't need to teach the player, relishing modern design, starkness of the difference between them, Sega Saturn technical concerns, soundtrack differences, resolution differences, lock and key dependencies, the condensing of the original in the remake, a bit about Kingdom Hearts, some insight on the philosophy of TR: Anniversary, capturing the flavor of the original, gruesome deaths, taking ourselves less seriously, real-time raytracing, the uncanny valley, making things more expensive, letting go, whether you even notice, slow adoption by developers, enjoying the smoke and mirrors and the demands of limitations, the run-on costs of even a simple addition, mixing settings and increasing the uncanny valley.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Eidos Montreal, Crystal Dynamics, Noah Hughes, Soul Reaver, CORE Design, Jason Botta, Brandon Fernandez, Toby Gard, Darryl Gallagher, Uncharted (series), Skyrim, The Descent, Indiana Jones, Metal Gear Solid 4, Assassin's Creed, DF Retro, Edwin Crump, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, (Allison By Proxy -- sorry to forget your name), irreverentQ, Game Maker's Toolkit, Super Metroid, Dagur Danielsson, Kingdom Hearts, Half-Life, Ratchet & Clank, Doug Church, Valve, William Rance, Conan O'Brien, Chris Tiemeßen, Xbox/Xbox 360, Republic Commando, Tim Ramsay, Metal Gear Solid, Nintendo.

Links:
DF Retro on Tomb Raider

Boss Keys on Super Metroid

Brett on Kingdom Hearts

Next time:
Possibly Thief? Possibly an interview? Keep posted at @devgameclub.

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

Sep 12, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we celebrate the triumphant return of co-host Tim Longo with... a discussion of the rest of 1996's Tomb Raider. We once again discuss the levels themselves, but also discuss traps, puzzles, and the use of voice to characterize action adventure avatars in more recent games, before turning to takeaways and your questions and feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finishing the game (Egypt and Atlantis)

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Segment 1: Levels and other discussion
1:04:40  Break
1:05:12  Segment 2: Takeaways and feedback

Issues covered: cumbersome controls, traversal-based exploration vs skill-based exploration, traps as playing against expectations in traversal, varying threats with traps, lower stress approach than combat, puzzles, block moving, levels as puzzles, evolving the puzzles and mechanics over multiple games, feature iteration over a series, voice acting in cutscenes vs in-game, preferring solitude, not having a plan for Lara the character, losing the ability to see yourself in the character, using cutscenes as reward, blurring the line between cinematic and game, using FMV instead, thinking of the first two Egypt levels as one level, interconnectedness of the Obelisk, seeing everything you need to do in one room, breaking their rules, climbing all around the side of the Sphinx room, navigation as puzzle, sense of scale, showing you the destination and making you figure out how to get there, water puzzles, contextualization, having your input read in in-engine cutscenes, doors that open and stay open, motivating your puzzles and switches, ancient stuff vs modern, building new mechanics late in the game, central pyramid room, ending in flesh, leaning into a problem, paying off on doing something denied you in a cutscene, leaning into exploration, naming your enemies and therefore making them more important, level as puzzle, strong character design, animation with weight and wind-up, the move set as puzzle, learning the move systems, white paint, branching paths, inescapable abstraction, give me guardrails to find the fun, balancing freedom against direction, MDA framework, interaction of the mechanics with the dynamics, abstraction in AI and physics and other systems, merging mechanics and narrative, VR as an interesting place for this, innovation moving to the mainstream, horror.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Indiana Jones, Resident Evil, Soul Reaver, Stephen's Sausage Roll, Monument Valley, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, Core Design, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Uncharted (series), God of War (2018), Jedi Knight, Westwood, Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Wing Commander, Half-Life, System Shock 2, Doom, Cthulhu, Metal Gear (series), Eidos Montreal, Starfighter (series), Republic Commando, Assassin's Creed, Deus Ex, Michael, LonelyBob K, Tim Dooley, Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Zachary Crownover, Zimmy Finger, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Papers, Please, Limbo, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Inside, Cart Life, Memento, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Switchblade Sisters, Sera Gamble, April Wolfe, Being John Malkovich, Lost, The Magicians, Supernatural, Sharp Objects, Hereditary, American Horror Story, The Endless, Resolution, Thief.

Links:
Play Tomb Raider in a browser

31 Nights Streaming Screaming

Next time:
We look a bit at Shadow of the Tomb Raider!

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

Aug 29, 2018

No show notes this week as we revisit our 2016 interview with guest Janos Flösser; you can find those notes on the website. However, Brett does take a moment to answer a reader email before the show and to talk about next week afterwards.

Aug 22, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been playing 1996's Tomb Raider. We spend more time on the levels themselves as well as diving into the AI for human enemies, the sense of space and of pace, and having no idea what to do to find a key. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Egypt, in theory

Podcast breakdown:
0:41      Tomb Raider
1:00:17 Break
1:00:47 Feedback

Issues covered: plumbing, level and puzzle size, nonsensical space and St Francis's Folly, suspending disbelief, squinting and seeing the modern version of a puzzle, erosion of geometry, integrating player knowledge to game knowledge, preparing the player for challenges, knowing your mythology, knowing less mythology in Egypt, having preconceived notions due to myths, climbing down and up the tower, complications and confusions, situational awareness of levels, consistent themes across whole levels, motivating animals, scouring the space, level scale, emphasizing the sense of being underground with clip distance and fog, trusting the player to understand the space, hardware fogging lending to mystery, jumping on the hand of Midas, gruesome deaths and a protective instinct, ratcheting up tension psychologically, justifying playing a female character, the patriarchy, more realistic deaths being more problematic, cartoon plumbers, not relating to characters, hinting at what you're supposed to do, missing areas and not being directed well, industry learning how to naturally direct a player, cutscenes to show what happens, composition replacing cutaways and tracking cameras, order of operations puzzles, coming out at a place you've seen before, tantalizing glimpses of where you might get next, non-linearity vs linearity in levels, lower friction in level/dungeon design, Tim reveals a favorite level of all time, mind-blowing ability to change the level of the water, getting stuck on the shimmy, missing a key and being terrified, matching player motivations to puzzle logic, a realistic functioning space, a thrown switch only needs to be thrown once, making it clear why you should raise and lower a switch, spending a long time in a level, imagining leaving the Cistern for a week, avoiding usability problems by making solutions irreversible, disconnected levels, bursting centaurs, avoiding an unnecessary fight, bringing in the supernatural and Atlantis elements, descending deeper and deeper underground through multiple levels, taking an enemy down with two shots, humans vs animals as enemies, the guy who gets away, "white paint" and usability and directing the player, watering down the sense of exploration, difficulty settings in the new TR, putting more on level design to direct the player, maps making a game into "a map game," composition/visual design/environment art, camera and animation to direct the player, telegraphing where you can go, keeping titles current or revisiting them.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Indiana Jones, Jenga, God of War, Quake, Crystal Dynamics, Mario (series), Uncharted (series), Skyrim, Fallouts 3 & 4, Oblivion, TR Anniversary, Dark Souls, La Bamba, Tomb of Horrors, fulltilted, Deus Ex, Michael, Fable, Andrew Kirmse, Naughty Dog, LonelyBob K, Daron Stinnett, TIE Fighter, XvT, Dark Forces, Tim Dooley.

Links:
TR in the browser:

Next time:
Finishing the game! (Always, always, in theory)

Program note! We will be taking a little time off so Tim can go explore the real world.

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

Aug 15, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been playing 1996's Tomb Raider. We specifically dive into level design, Lara's move set, combat, and a bit about technology here and there. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Greece, theoretically

Issues covered: dinosaurs in film in books, level size, level design and events to direct the eye, interconnectedness of areas, distilling the original game to remake it, exploration and order of operations, not knowing when you're done with a puzzle, possibility of going back and forth, looking for secrets and finding a way down to the valley, opening the other two doors, becoming less accepting of more abstract spaces, going for realism vs abstract reality, why you might build levels on grids and with repeated bits, backface culling, lining up animations because the character is on a grid, PlayStation hardware and acceleration, announcing the PlayStation at its price, controls vs fidelity, dropping air steering out and returning it, figuring out the right move to get the right jump, reinforcing character through move set, one-false-move failures, tank controls, trusting the grid, trading fidelity and responsiveness, planting the foot before she jumps, really embodying her in the world, fluid animation, designing with the experience in mind, failure as a valid teaching tool, aligning design and animation intent, increasing realism and trade-offs of feel, introducing procedural approaches to animation, blending in sports games, using inverse kinematics to navigate the world, allowing tech to solve a role, using math to point the head and arms in the right direction during combat, simple gun combat with good character animation, using jump scares to introduce combat, limited AI, limitations in combat systems, auto-lock and camera interplay, lacking sticks, switching lock targets, lack of music during combat, downplaying the combat, good level moments, the T-Rex moment, collision on the T-Rex corpse, pushing scale in environments, correction 0451 code, music genres and game genres, when do game mechanics and narrative mesh together well, "Would You Kindly?", simple stories working better, ludonarrative dissonance, the player being the unique hurdle, comedy in games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Jurassic Park, Arthur Conan Doyle, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne, Michael Crichton, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Crystal Dynamics, TR: Anniversary, Jason Botta, Half-Life, Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64, Silicon Graphics, PlayStation 1/2, Star Wars: Starfighter, Track and Field, Resident Evil, The Matrix, Dark Souls, Demons Souls, Assassin's Creed, CORE Design, Steve Ash, Crash Translation, System Shock, Warren Spector, Deus Ex, dcab11, Zimmy Finger, Beethoven, Tetris, Bioshock, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Prince of Persia (2008), Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Far Cry 2, Planescape: Torment, Chris Avellone, Gone with the Wind.

Next time:
Through Egypt, theoretically

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

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