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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: September, 2018
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

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