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Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Now displaying: August, 2018
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

Aug 8, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are turning our eyes to 1996's Tomb Raider. In this episode we situate the game in its time, paying particular attention to the challenges of 3D and technology at the time. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Peru

Issues covered: setting the game in its time, 3D acceleration, "at least they got our names right," having to control a bunch of extra stuff in 3D, camera control in Super Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot or Resident Evil, handling challenges differently through design and technology, Brett fumbles around the PS1 hardware, lack of save anywhere on PS1, designing for console vs PC, "the Indy game that people wanted," starting in Peru and Raiders callbacks, the ambient score supplementing exploration and loneliness, broken keymapping, Lara's evolving backstory, a strong self-sufficient woman, objectifying the character, nude mods, strong character design, British culture, traveling well, amalgamation of clear character archetypes, sensibility of a British icon, setting up a world via simple short character interactions, analogue in Resident Evil, world-building through grace notes, pulp antecedents, pure exploration, exploration as its own reward, finding secrets, doing whatever it needs to do to serve the core fantasy, level construction, Brett becomes a German, wanting more tracked data, stats and baseball, adding more tracking over time, using data in development, digging into his WoW stats, the person Tim spends the third most amount of time with, games that terrify you so much you can't play them, does Alien impact people who don't know the movies.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Jason Botta, Crystal Dynamics, Toby Gard, CORE Design, PlayStation, Crash Bandicoot, Lara Craft GO, Nokia, 3Dfx, Xbox, Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64, Diablo, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Donkey Kong Country 3, Resident Evil, Quake, Indy's Desktop Adventures, Duke Nuke'em 3D, Civilization, 3DO, Meridian 59, Andrew and Christopher Kirmse, Game Developer, GDC, Game Programming Gems, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Next Generation, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Batman, Temple of Doom, Allan Quatermain, H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines, Spice Girls, Ian Livingstone, EIDOS, Deathtrap Dungeon, Games Workshop, Warhammer, Peter Molyneux, John Wick, Soul Reaver, Hal Barwood, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Producers, Maas Neotek Proto, Final Fantasy, League of Legends, DOTA, Blizzard, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Eric Bartoszak/WeyounNumber6, Prey, Alien: Isolation, P.T., Ico.

Next time:
Thru Greece

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

Aug 1, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where in this bonus episode we've turned to a clear descendant of Deus Ex, 2017's Prey. We talk about the first few hours of the experience and note some of its systems and world-building, among other thoughts. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
At least up to the lobby

Issues covered: post-it notes, allowing mimics, Tim gets excited, another potential forerunner, using the Goo Gun to get to an apparently unreachable area, analysis paralysis, not knowing which way to go, being surprised that the payoff was delayed, trying to reach beyond the normal market (and people who understand the tropes), the erased whiteboard code, psi hypos in the safe, surprise CryEngine, looking at the map, setting up Alex as a villain, waking up again, room inside a room, commitment to first-person presentation, visual design of the PDA, putting in the neuromod, contextualizing neuromods, use of body horror, mimic design and creepiness, mod for inhabiting any prop, using audio design to enhance creepiness, breeding paranoia, wanting to look at and enjoy the world but anything could be a threat, fighting the bigger typhon, being less inclined to stealth because combat is expected, themes, choice of gender here, going wide vs deep in skill choices, the resource collection mechanics, what can you scavenge, crafting and how far you go in the resources, the origin of 0451 and immersive sims, the A113 Easter Egg, alternate histories, clear lineage in immersive sims, the rough road for immersive sim makers, importance of setting, critical vs commercial appeal, what genre do you put this game in critically, production design choices, living in-between and pushing other genres forward, Hong Kong the shelf-level event, the killswitches, being old as dirt, wanting more guns, maintaining tension through resource levels, hoarding weapons, FOMO.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Legend of Zelda, Arkane Studios, Bethesda Game Studios, ZeniMax, Bioshock, System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Looking Glass, Half-Life, Portal, Dishonored (series), CryEngine, id Software, Raphael Colantonio, Harvey Smith, Groundhog Day, Mission: Impossible, Dead Space, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Republic Commando, Counterstrike, Garry's Mod, Team Fortress II, Source Engine, Alien: Isolation, Fallout 4, Tacoma, Fahrenheit 451, Pixar, Disney, Battlezone, Ricardo Bare, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Origin, ION Storm, Irrational Games, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Viktor Antonov, Philip Staffetius, Kevin Brown, Halo, Wumpus, Hammurabi, Sanders Associates, Ralph Baer, ADVENT.EXE, Pipe Dream, Thief, Resident Evil.

Corrections:
Turns out, Dishonored II was idTech 5

Next time:
For those looking at the show notes, advance notice: We'll be playing 1996's Tomb Raider, the first four levels (Peru). (Looking out for you show notes readers. My people. -B)

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

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