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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: November, 2018
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

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