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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: May, 2019
May 29, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our discussion of 1993's MYST. We talk about avatar-based puzzle games, story elements, and some other bits and bobs before turning to our takeaways from the game and answering listener feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:45     Final sections discussion
58:27   Break
59:00   Takeaways and feedback

Issues covered: not seeing the fourth ending, a first-person avatar/playing as yourself, increasing immersion, not having to develop a back-story, throwing back to text adventures, forcing a light touch on the story, removing layers of story, the player succeeding or failing, using FMV to reinforce that they are people which matches with you, other story/adventure games, getting stuck in the Stoneship Age, being unable to see details in the frame, up-rezzing and porting, having difficulty with the compass and the submersible lamp, logical vs physical connections in Stoneship and Channelwood Ages, Brett and Tim do math on-air, the sounds in the Selenic Age, teaching how a puzzle works, compatibility issues in 1994, the lore in the books, trying to piece together the timeline, the themes of reading and being immersed in a book, finding through-lines in Cyan's work, stewardship of young minds, fan service and Jules Verne, absent fatherhood, we work through a possible plot hole, talking about each of the endings, threading your story and lore to enrich the world, accessibility in interface and approach, limiting verbs, complexity in other adventure games, playing to your strengths and using constraints to improve your game, being in the right place at the right time, technology matters, Brett's Book Minute, interface suggestions for touch, VR controls, parallels between game design and modular synthesizers, gameplay programming and constraints, making choices around accessibility and context-sensitivity, disturbing side rooms, word of mouth and watercooler talk to get ideas about games, leaning into obfuscating, playing games in the 80s, finding ways to make a community work together, disarming nuclear silos in MGS V, getting out through the solar system in Noby Noby Boy, placing limitations on yourself in the age of the Internet.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra On-Line, LucasArts, Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork, Enchanter, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Curse of Monkey Island (obliquely), King's Quest (obliquely), Space Quest (obliquely), The 7th Guest, Gabriel Knight, Phantasmagoria, Roberta Williams, Tex Murphy, Full Throttle, The Dig, Grim Fandango, The Wire, biostats/Ryan, The Manhole, Alice in Wonderland, The Mysterious Island, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Gone Home, Tacoma, Xbox 360, Assassin's Creed, Riven, The Lighthouse, gutenberg.org, The Impostor, Javier Cercas, Raymond Cason, realMYST, Walker Farrell, Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Starfighter, HyperCard, Nolan Filter, Cory Potomis, Pokemon Red/Blue, Rockstar, Mortal Kombat 11, Richard Powers, Plowing the Dark, Silicon Graphics, Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden Black, Majestic, Destiny, MGS V, Noby Noby Boy, Red Dead Redemption, GTA San Andreas, Jonathan Blow, The Witness, Robyn Miller, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

Next time:
Either an interview or a bit of Obduction!

Links:
Modular synthesizers

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

May 22, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue discussing 1993's MYST. We talk about representing a physical space, the problems of camera and limited modes of interaction, and a host of other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Two more ages!
(Both: Channelwood; Tim: Stoneship; Brett: Spaceship)

Issues covered: turning a lot of valves, making and motivating a physical space, losing a sense of direction due to the lack of camera, having a hard time getting your bearings, filling in the blanks and having your intention mislead you, wanting to know where the touch box is, the importance of camera framing, minimizing the HUD, maximizing the diagesis, simplification as a strength, cameras as challenge or gameplay and that not being designer intent, building out the whole world, when a gun isn't Chekhov's gun, elaborate bits and not being clear on their relevance, caring so much about their story and lore, clockwork/repeatability/knowledge loop, mixing bedrock interactions with new mechanics, using repeatability to encourage experimentation, player goals and implicit goals, reinforcing the sense of a real space, lack of reversability in other adventure games, closed loops and watertight game state, not knowing why a thing is in the game, having those AHA moments, when you get it vs when you don't, making puzzles to keep intruders out, being stuck and not having anything for your brain to chew on, accidental solutions, accidentally solving things, reading player intent, how you rank your design goals, setting the game apart from competitors, Mac vs PC, Brett gives a KH update, humor in puzzle games vs dramatic/horror adventure games, using the books to be invested in the ages, more reading than expected, DGC merch, the creeping sense of dread, Johto region update, Brett being a monster.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Anton Chekhov, Sierra, LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, The Witness, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Greta Garbo, HyperCard, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Leonard Nimoy, Waypoint Radio/Lore Reasons, Natalie Watson, Raymond Cason, The 7th Guest, Broken Sword, Monkey Island, Phantasmagoria, Gabriel Knight, Infocom, Enchanter, Zork, HP Lovecraft, The Lurking Horror, Cameron Hass, DOOM (1993), Soma, Amnesia, Halo Infinite, Jamie Zucek, Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver, Pokemon OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire, Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu, Pokemon Sword/Shield.

Next time:
Finish MYST

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

May 15, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series looking at 1993's MYST. We talk about the strains of adventure games at the time, HyperCard, the emergence of the CD-ROM platform, and a bit about the game itself. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
One Age (Mechanical, as it turned out)

Issues covered: what we're playing it on and why, the game landscape in 1993, using MYST to justify CD-ROM pack-ins by OEMs, using HyperCard to work together and pool their talents, HyperCard base technology, broadening the base of PCs, non-gamers having a copy of MYST and showing off your new PC, everyone knew what MYST was, the limitations of the art style in other graphical adventures, MYST and DOOM (1993) clones, streaming video, the benefit of constraints, image transitions, confluence of many emerging technologies, interconnected puzzle games, walking simulators and a simpler interface, hidden object games, simplicity of interface, sense of solitude, music and ambient soundscape, Redbook audio, game developer snobbishness, comparing MYST and DOOM (1993), covering the same ground again and again, trying to find a toehold in the world, getting lost in the open structure, finding the format of the main island puzzles, pixel hunts, spurious interactivity, enlivening the space, real-time puzzle/interaction, avoiding spoilers, teaching concepts, aha moments that keep you going, because it feels so good when I stop, the answer is there somewhere, putting two and two together to make five, how you set resource costs for upgrades, tuning for both cost and behavior in upgrade systems, numerous small points about Devil May Cry, bouncing between multiple characters.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: UbiSoft, iOS, Riven, Day of the Tentacle, Link's Awakening, Kirby's Adventure, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, The 7th Guest, Syndicate, Master of Orion, Sam & Max Hit the Road, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father, DOOM (1993), Megaman X, Starfox, Disney's Aladdin, SNES, Sega Genesis, Mortal Kombat 2, Samurai Showdown, Virtua Fighter, NBA Jam, LucasArts, Sierra, King's Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry 6, The Sims 2, Cyan, Cyan Worlds, Rand Miller, Robyn Miller, HyperCard, QuickTime, Broderbund, Stratovision 3D, Macromedia MacroModel, Photoshop, Gateway, HP, Dell, Star Wars: Rebel Assault, Fortnite, Lighthouse, Dark Forces, John Knowles, The Manhole, Alice in Wonderland, Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island, Chronicles of Narnia, Zork, The Room, Gone Home, Skyrim, Gorogoa, Dear Esther, Proteus, Unreal Engine, Source, Vangelis, Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, Blarg42, Devil May Cry (series), Daniel C, Ben Zaugg, Metal Gear (series), Wayne Cline, Star Wars, Resistance 3, Jak & Daxter, irreverentQ, MaasNeotekProto, owellgi, dontkickfood, Gothic Chocobo, biostats, Makendi.

Next time:
Two more Ages!

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

May 8, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we take a bonus trip to discuss a more modern game in Devil May Cry 5. We especially note how much they capture the feeling of the original game, despite modernizing some aspects. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
The first few hours

Issues covered: cramming everything Devil May Cry into Devil May Cry 5, iterating on a formula and delivering the same feel, pulling the Resident Evil series along, iterations in camera, having the same feeling of play but with lower effort, feeling cool even outside the cutscenes, the reward of spectacle, risk/rewards and timing and breakers, translating enemies to the modern era, the addition of the grapple action of a breaking arm, teaching you to grapple and incorporating it into a boss fight, the story catch-up at the main menu, going back and forth in time, fighting with a motorcycle, opening credits sequence, tight franchise identity, being happy with the sequel, high level of craft, lack of maturity in the women characters, Barbie-Dolling the bodies, being careless with stereotypes and archetypes, lock and key and self-awareness, Dante's styles, fan service, Brett's Book Minute, using difficulty to train the player for higher difficulty levels, different ways to address turn-based vs real-time goals, trading off the cerebral for the immediate or vice versa, being too nit-picky about the details.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: William Blake, The Force Awakens, God of War, Resident Evil (series), The Raid: Redemption, A Star Is Born, Adam Driver, Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Platinum Studios, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Ninja Theory, Metroid: Other M, Team Ninja, Heavenly Sword, Hellblade, Microsoft Game Studios, Diablo III, Kingdom Hearts 2, Jak & Daxter, Takashi Miike, Ryu Murakami, In the Miso Soup, Book Riot, Horrorstör, Grady Hendrix, Mike Vogt, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Johnny, David Brevik, War and Peace, X-COM, Fallout, Final Fantasy 9, FTL, Into the Breach, Temple of Elemental Evil, Tim Cain, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, MYST.

Next time:
MYST (check Twitter for how much)

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

May 1, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we complete our discussion of 2001's Devil May Cry, discussing the ending of the story (for the benefit of one co-host) and some mechanical elements about the structure before turning to our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game! (In theory)

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Segment 1: End of game discussion
42:55 Break
43:10 Segment 2: Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: Tim confesses, spending big chunks of time on bosses, Trish's betrayal, packing story into the end, fighting your brother Vergil, the high cost of failing Mundus, Trish's sacrifice, fighting in an intergalactic void, the shooting mechanics at the end vs the swimming mechanics, changing up the mechanics at the end, high melodrama, escaping the building, the surprise return of the biplane, strength in character rather than plot, introducing themes through associations, Mundus's motivation, seeing the underpinnings of future lore, negative reinforcement and mission continue, resource consumption across retries, disincentive to grinding, learning skills and the player improvement loop, jankiness with Nightmare, using space to your advantage, losing Devil Trigger to use the Sparda sword, end-of-game rankings, reconsidering your approach to consumables, the Nightmare boss's design elements fighting one another, blood locking, artfully obfuscating blood locking, embracing and clearly communicating blood locking, artificial creation of potential wall moments, good world structure as a means of limiting blood locking, not clocking failure, running with Happy Accidents, ultra focus on high skill/high speed mechanical combo-based melee skill-based combat, juggling minor enemies, third person experimentation, being able to read the animation tells, additional aesthetics driving feel of the game, swagger in game design, gamification of ranking your successes, camera and levels must work together, working on our audio, how animation contributes to play, communicating movement through tiny details, telegraphing and animation, frame counting in fighting games, video games bringing people together, cultural appropriation and context, historic insularity and imperial context in Japan, preferred camera style, refining cameras, preserving drama with camera.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dark Souls, God of War (2005), Space Harrier, X-COM, Final Fantasy IX, GTA III, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Legend of Zelda (series), LucasArts, Call of Duty, Onimusha, PlayStation 2, Kingdom Hearts, Suda51, TheSentry42, Waypoint Radio, CaffeinatedBrushes, Josh Rogers, James King, Warcraft, Command and Conquer, Don Daglow, Ester Olsen, Donut County, Zimmy Finger, Ico, Alpha Protocol, God of War (2018), Jak & Daxter.

Next time:
A bit of Devil May Cry 5!

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

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