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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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Nov 25, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We talk a bunch about mechanics big and small in this one, focusing on things that come up through the first dungeon as well as some audio chat and themes of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Death Mountain

Issues covered: adorable Gorons, audio hardware, voice emotes, the unappreciated half of an audiovisual medium, memory cost of voiceover, ambient dungeon music, hearing Saria's Song near the entrance to the Lost Woods, using stereo music to guide you through the woods, being able to map out the Lost Woods (rather than randomization), the opportunity to get stuck, getting a hint from the King's guard, modern design vs two decades ago, many people having one thing to say, seeing a 2D representation of a ruin moved to 3D, games keeping track of things, inspiring creativity in the music through a constraint, limiting to five notes, unifying all the game music, not needing to chord up the buttons, using the Ocarina as a key, holistically integrating time into the play and leveraging it for production, the safety in mechanical and replenishing dungeons, being able to retry a room by resetting it, learning to use the tools, locking down milestones, the ease of returning to places, the repeatability of Dark Souls, the progression of the bomb mechanics, teasing that things will be available to you, the tradition of level design at Nintendo (Lost Woods in Breath of the Wild), modernization of Nintendo design (and the critical sphere), a new generation of level designers, the King Dodongo reveal, accentuating the relative size of Link, searching for gold Skulltulas, getting all the Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild, stealth mechanics, the mechanics of the shield, naming things, having a use even for a weaker shield, lighting things on fire in Zelda games, torches as an indication of adventure, Goron dancing, moving around, centering the camera, lock-on targeting, using target switching to do your next attack, care and feeding of your controls, Switch joycon drift, a note of thanks, weird to do a podcast for so long, still learning, applying the tools.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: SNES, N64, Super Mario 64, Dark Souls, Breath of the Wild, Shigeru Miyamoto, Metal Gear Solid, Dungeons & Dragons, The Dungeon Run, Majora's Mask, Zimmy Finger, Valve, Discworld (series of novels), Batman: Arkham Knight, Mark of Kri, "Drew," Joystick Butter et al, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Becoming the Hero of Time

Links:
Valve's Dev Note

Iwata Asks

Joystick Butter

Tribute 64

Steel Sticks

Retro-Tink 2x Pro

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Nov 18, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on one of the highest-rated games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We of course first situate the game in time, but especially start the discussion by talking about how ground-breaking and revolutionary it felt at the time. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through meeting Princess Zelda

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Ocarina
1:01:05 Break
1:01:40 Feedback

Issues covered: a man without a fairy, the antithesis of our last game, not being sure where we stopped, a surprising discovery, "I'm Mr. Rhythm," 1998 in games, release days in stores, seeing the character in 3rd person, a large team for time, the 64DD expansion, a mind-blowing impact, amazingly well-received, the revelatory step to 3D in this game, two giant cratering events in the year, approach of a Mario vs a Zelda in terms of problem space, cinematic choices, artful cinematics in-engine, stepping into the world and all the world-building, Nintendo and finding ways to present innovation, introducing a controller with Super Mario 64, creating characters that represent a mechanic, Navi & Lakitu & Wii Fit Trainer, helping people surmount the 3D barrier, the Fairy Navigation System, having to find the sword, near-perfection, a sense of ease and trust, being led to the places where you need to go, changing the world in ways that recontextualize the space, the timer of fire, one of the best introductory dungeons of all time, knowing you're doing the right thing, a weird choice with the Lost Woods, the quality of the moment of waking up, animation to show quality, getting a lot out of limited facial expressivity, using cinematic language to establish emotional tenors, texture changes to convey ageing, limited tools in 3D, music interactions, leading up to a boss, presenting you with a 3D way of thinking of past/2D Zelda dungeon construction, wondering how they iterated on the level design, why it's hard to talk about our more recent games, discussing some other weird differences in play between our games of Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, an unanswered question about VtM.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Vampire the Masquerade, Nintendo 64, Troy Mashburn (obliquely), Starfighter (series), Full Throttle 2, Jake Stephens, Wind Waker, GameCube, Wii, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, Thief, Grim Fandango, Banjo Kazooie, Xbox One, Crash Bandicoot, PlayStation, Xenogears, Suikoden II, Resident Evil 2, Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate, Unreal, Starcraft, Starsiege: Tribes, Falcon 4.0, Rogue Squadron, Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aounuma, Yoshiaki Koizumi, Link to the Past, Koji Kondo, Mario 64, Link's Awakening, GameBoy, LucasArts, Shadows of the Empire, Wayne Cline, Hal Barwood, Tim Schafer, Psychonauts, Jon Knowles, Forza (series), Bill Tiller, SCUMM, Breath of the Wild, Wii Sports, Monkey Island (obliquely), Twilight Princess, Bethesda Game Studios, Dungeons & Dragons, Final Fantasy (series), Kingdom Hearts (series), Blarg42, nambulous, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Through Death Mountain

Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub, instagram:timlongojr
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Nov 11, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. We talk about Chinatown, the end of the game, boss design, and then turn 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

Podcast breakdown:
0:52 VtM: Bloodlines
1:01:03 Break
1:01:44 Takeaways

Issues covered: the use of voiceover in RPGs at the time, the whole game Maguffin, some remaining events in Chinatown, confronting the Mandarin, referencing the G-Man, Brett's dancing werewolf at the Luckee Star, the linearity of Chinatown, development and cutting late in the game, the connectivity of the macroworld, Brett misses a shark boss, being violation free, the threat of losing to a violation, having more vampire hunters in the world due to violations, having more and more abilities but narrowing the actual game options (to combat), being unable to talk people out of combat, feeling like there should be no-combat options, lacking intrigue options, wanting a nemesis system, the difficulty of endings, having trouble reading the Ming Xiao boss fight, an unbalanced fight, exploits, circularity with the cabbie and Smilin' Jack and character creation, maybe meeting Caine, a poetic and humorous ending, the other endings, spending a bunch of points at the end, interconnected level design, fitting your fanbase/drawing on your license, providing distinct experiences for your first-person RPG, world-building, "best of" inclusion, genre-busting, having to fully support combat to include it, Brett's Book Recommendation.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Half-Life, Kevin Mitnick, Wargames, Maximilian Schreck, Nosferatu, Bill Gates, Arcanum, Kill Bill, Dishonored (series), Prey, Shadow of Mordor (implicitly), Mafia III, Deus Ex, Obsidian, Interplay, Jabberjaw, Street Sharks, Suicide Squad (comic), Fallout 3, Skyrim, The Stand, Sandman, The Matrix, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fallout, Anne Rice, Tom Cruise, Twilight (series), Stephanie Meyer, Dracula, True Blood, White Wolf, Cyberpunk 2077, LucasArts, The Vampire Tapestry, Suzy McKee Charnas, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Either an interview or our next game

Errata:
Brett said The Shining when he meant The Stand, and Tim said The Corsican when he meant The Corinthian. We regret the errors.

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Nov 4, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. We delve into Chinatown, touch on some of the level design issues, and revisit some of the thinking of how RPGs and genres were starting to bleed into one another at the time. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Chinatown

Issues covered: level design in the Warrens, whether things were fully tested, leaning on what was new in the Source Engine, jamming barrels into spinning bits, sewage tunnels that go nowhere, leaning away from what the game is, likely lack of playtesting, the reservoir tank race, keeping the player on the right track through signalling, the simplicity of telling the player they are doing the right thing, possible solutions for visualization, body horror and the late 90s/early 00s, having to backtrack, being reminded of Lamplighter, enjoying the payoff of the Nosferatu den, having locations for all the clans, the Nosferatu hacker, Tim's choice of fighting style, supporting some styles and not others, trinkets and blood, being unable to visit a location again, being a game unlike others, dissolving genres, experimentation with first-person, expectations of first-person action today, having to teach the player, getting stuck in Chinatown as a player, Brett gets confused about how to get to the Nosferatu, a level design joke, good character design, leaning into a real place, connective tissue and cross-pollination of quest design, mapping that onto a 3D world, the lure of interconnectedness, the quality of the artwork in the tabletop and its translation into the game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Half-Life 2, Valve Software, Fallout 3, Nate Purkeypile, Hackers, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, System Shock 2, Metroid Prime, Unreal, id Software, Cyberpunk 2077, CD Project Red, The Witcher (series), Gremlins, Blade Runner, The Misfits, Eli Wallach, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, The Good Bad and the Ugly, Hitman, Shenmue, Leonard Boyarsky, Ubisoft, Bethesda Game Studios, Microsoft (obliquely), The Outer Worlds, Tim Cain, Tim Bradstreet, White Wolf, Ralph McQuarrie, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Finish the game!

Errata:
It's called "Little Lamplight," and its denizens are "Little Lamplighter."
That other rose-colored glasses vampire is probably a Toreador.

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Oct 28, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. This week we talk a bit about how we're playing the game, what that suggests about its design, and continue to delve into all this vampire mythos. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Hollywood

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 VtM: Bloodlines
57:41 Break
58:12 Feedback

Issues covered: how we get from area to area, the Nosferatu primogen... Gary, sect and clan, getting to meet Grout (or not), meeting our first vampire hunter, playing to the tabletop fanbase, integrating the worldbuilding and servicing fans, getting caught up in the machinations, building a power base, sending the player back and forth between hubs, having dialog options that tie into the politics, feeling like a double agent, Nosferatu as the Shadow Broker, misreading Malkavian cues, including Tzimisce and whatever Pishi is, having a number of trope locations, good connections between locations and storylines, being able to rely on a quest log, needing to take notes, missing a codex, a narrative quest log presented in a more mechanical way, having difficulty remembering who or where a character is, lack of a player-focused map, wanting a little more direction at times, telegraphing and inconsistency, the affordances of GMs/DMs and adapting tabletop RPGs, more of an action game and an adventure game, testing spending upgrade points, dialog supporting the RPGs, needing to support things as augmenting the storylines, their first 3D game, lack of levels, the combat not delivering XP, having difficulty reading the cameras, leveling obfuscation, choosing melee over guns, audience expectations around combat for RPGs and particularly modern-set RPGs, sum of parts/grotty fish stew, maintaining the Masquerade, increasing your stealth so high that you can get closer to things, whose hand you're playing into, appreciating the many scary locations, having to hit the right level of pastiche, someone asking me not to sing a singing review, indirect control games, the rhythm of conflict, direct vs indirect control in Populous, limitations of controls, MOBAs, iteration in AAA: sprints vs longer prototypes, gating iteration, the difficulties of high fidelity, iterating a big feature in Skyrim, how milestones change late in development, working on an intellectual property you love, the difference in feeling of playing each clan type, solo character RPGs being the big difference, how you're reined in to have the game be buildable, choices around women.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dracula/Drakthar, Dungeons & Dragons, Fallout (series), Mass Effect, The Shining, Silent Hill, The Witcher 3, Shenmue, Hitman (series), Half-Life, Troika, Bethesda Game Studios, Crimson Peak, Bioshock, Thief, Dishonored 2, Resident Evil, Maas Neotek Proto, Podcast Addict, Spodboy, Jon Cheatham, Giant Beastcast, AwwwwwYeeeaahhh, Populous, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, John Webb, SNES, Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, Glenn Corpes, Warren Linam-Church, SW: Republic Commando, John Romero, Skyrim, Todd Howard, Dagur Danielsson, CCP Games, Dragon Age (series), Deus Ex, Kingdom Hearts, Chinatown, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Up through Chinatown

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Oct 14, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, from 2004. We talk especially about level and design density and the world structure, as well as tidbits of our playthroughs and of course, our names! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Downtown

Issues covered: picking your character's name, insane vampires, the disposition of White Wolf, jokes that are timeless or not, having special abilities in dialog, how many clans there are, the way Malkavians speak, why you might play this game multiple times, level and design density in Santa Monica, quest and interaction density and opportunities in the world, staying on top of the side quests for XP, sprawl in 2D RPGs, knowing who to talk to, width rather than depth, discrete-ness of locations in other RPGs vs high degrees of interconnectedness, doors in video games, density of opportunity, limited depth of systems, lack of soft failure, sum of parts/grotty fish stew, inherent limitations of CRPGs vs tabletops, being able to take over a guard's mind, taking a cab to downtown vs having to use the sewers, how a cutscene had to be built, when it is safe to feed, combat and bosses pushed, checking out the license plates, computers in the game, the "aesthetic," the generational challenge, threading the needle of a particular vibe, doubling down on being the "adult RPG," cyberpunk and Cyberpunk, marketing/authoring missteps, cyberpunk's moment and playing a role at a time, timeless ideas and settings vs narrower ones, talking through things with people, how good the faces look, really good voice acting, the split personality sisters as an example of something that doesn't play well, handling women poorly, scummy characters, being scared by atmospherics, good camera shake in 2004, the quality of the Ocean Hotel, failing or not failing a quest, liking to feel smart, meeting Bertie Tung, enjoying the warehouse (or not), giving an old woman a heart attack, each player having their own high points, expectations of dialog vs systems, spending a lot of time reading, new areas on the website, the timeline, how long games are, being into MMOs, talking yourself into playing the game again, fine control in character creation, vectors for narrative, setting the scene with the question-based character creator, working around the limitations of being a Nosferatu (as a designer), having to pay attention to the dialogue.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Enola Holmes, White Wolf Publishing, CCP, Onyx Press, Paradox Interactive, Ian Watson, Vampire: The Requiem, Johnny Carson, Baldur's Gate (series), Wasteland 2, Planescape: Torment, GTA III, Deus Ex, Eidos Montreal, BioWare, Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls (series), Fallout 3, Rubik's Cube, Prey, Dishonored (series), Hitman (series), Ken Levine, Half-Life 2, Twilight, True Blood, Charlaine Harris, Leonard Boyarsky, Cyberpunk, The Witcher 3, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Dungeons & Dragons, Robert Forster, Quentin Tarantino, Alien: Isolation, The Shining, Warren Spector, AwwwwwwYeahhhh, Conor, Final Fantasy IX, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Eternal Darkness, Johnny Grattan, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Glenn Corpes, Mikael, Ultima (series), Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Through Hollywood!

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Oct 7, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we return to our annual tradition: a series on a horror-themed game. This year we look at 2004's Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, the last game from RPG developer Troika. We set the game in its time (and its crowded month) and talk about its license, how that compares with D&D in particular, and the opening moments of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Into Santa Monica

Issues covered: our interview with Glenn Corpes, 2004 and especially November of that year, stiff competition, shipping on an untested engine, what engine support one can expect, the costs of building your own engine, delays in engine/game development, shipping Steam at the same time, why Valve isn't more of an engine company, founding and fall of Troika, the studio's earlier games, the full implementation of D&D 3.5, save-scumming through a final battle, the consolidation of RPGs under Microsoft Game Studios, southern California game developers, a differing style of tabletop RPG, lesser emphasis on statistics, heavier melodrama with more role-play focus, politics and diplomacy, ending the world of White Wolf, a modern setting, vampires living among us, "classic" settings in D&D, Dark Sun/Eberron side settings, a question of being less timeless, tying into a very specific aesthetic and time and place, anti-heroic settings and edginess, the Storyteller System, mission goals for small numbers of XP rather than around skill uses and cleverness, cinematic combat in tabletop, focus on intrigue, Greyhawk/The Forgotten Realms, timelessness in settings, the White Wolf MMO, the options for character creation, multiple-choice questions, vampire clans/archetypes, dancing around what we were picking, ending as Nosferatu, vampires as an analogy for disease, being staked and stunned, a big world-building moment, Camarilla vs Sabbat, a theater of the undead, the niche nature of the World of Darkness, not necessarily wanting to pick a Nosferatu, possibly feeling like a different game based on clan, the horror of becoming like Tim, designing a question system for RPG character creation, tournament selection and classes, points-based questions and answers, attributes: physical/social/mental, abilities: talents/skills/knowledges, feats as combinations of attributes and abilities, vampire magic as disciplines, experience points as skill trees purchases, not being able to have it all, the high quality of Smiling Jack as a focus and as a world-builder, various skills to introduce, learning powers and having multiple tutorial paths based on clan, simple passive tutorializations, watching a loop of the TV or listening to the radio, how much we both love LA.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Glenn Corpes, Populous, Kotaku Splitscreen, LucasArts, KotOR 2, Doom 3, Fable, Sly 2, Spider-Man 2, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Jak 3, Pikmin 2, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Beyond Divinity, Baldur's Gate 3, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Counterstrike (Source), Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Bejewelled 2, Epic, Unreal, Valve, Respawn, id Software, Deus Ex, Troika, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Fallout (series), Interplay, Jason Anderson, Temple of Elemental Evil, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Bethesda Game Studios, TES V: Skyrim, Andrew Meggs, Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons, Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds, inXile, Wasteland 2, Brian Fargo, The Bard's Tale, The Village of Hommlet, White Wolf, John Stafford, Crystal Dynamics, Call of Cthulhu, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Mummy: The Resurrection, Gary Gygax, Lord of the Rings, Anne Rice, Wizards of the Coast, Twilight (series), The Matrix, Ray Gresko, Richard Garfield, CCP, Ultima (series), What We Do in the Shadows, Nosferatu, System Shock 2, Ubisoft, Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Danny Trejo, Tom Cruise, Interview with the Vampire, AwwwwwYeeeaah, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Through Downtown

Note:
White Wolf Publishing became defunct in 2018. We were unaware, which may speak to its niche nature.

Errata:
Nosferatu was 1922 and it is Count Orlok. Count Orloff/Orlov is a figure in Russian history.

Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub, Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr,
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Sep 30, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we conclude our series on Populous with a special guest interview with Glenn Corpes, the original programmer who came up with a little generator for height maps that ended up launching a whole genre; we'll talk about that and tons of other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Interview
1:18:41 Break
1:19:02 Next time

Issues covered: how Glenn got in, seeing a computer for the first time, being a computer operator, getting a job for your woodgrain, getting hired as an artist, porting a game without the code, winging it on things like collision detection, being unable to port something and casting about for something else, writing a level generator to avoid writing an editor, having to add the ability to raise and lower land, having the whole world with a pixel per cell, the game on top being all Peter's, working backwards from mouse coordinates, having the original disk, the potential for the landscape to rise up over the interface elements, updating the map every frame, limiting the use of the blitter, size of Bullfrog at the time, the musician/salesman, understanding the "metal-bashing aspect" or not, three man weeks of graphics, blocks vs sprites, one thing per square and no more than 256 total, managing character state, no pathfinding, map steps: the opposite of pheromones, buildings based on the flat space around, people as groups of people, the interaction of weapons multipliers and population, getting an explanation of what all the bars mean, the most significant digits, the strategy for managing population, the strategy for clearing land, a clarifying button on the SNES, near-launch title, sales and the UK Chart, multiplayer only until shortly before ship, communicating through a networked file, writing the game in 7 months, watching two AIs play each other, the ways in which AI difficulty is managed, reimplementing all the gameplay in two weeks, faking out the AI because it will always attack your oldest building, AI speed, responding to flood, the manna rules, going into a manna debt and paying it off, making inroads for the knights, stuck messages, adding a campaign two weeks from the end, having an accountant QA the game, the most difficult level of the game: Biloord, how to beat "Biloord: The Hardest Level in Populous," slowing the game vs arcade-ing it up, faking out a sphere, making the cube without the stickers, flat land as currency, synergy and serendipity, revolutionary gameplay from an unexpected place, last minute additions, fights on Populous: The Beginning, heretical choices in game development.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Bullfrog Productions, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate, Lost Toys, Moho, Battle Engine Aquila, Kuju, EA, Weirdwood, 22 Cans, Edge, Topia, Fat Owl with a Jet Pack, Ground Effect, powARdup, Commodore PET, ZX-81, Sinclair, Telex, Amiga, Taurus, Peter Molyneux, DPaint, Druid 2: Enlightment, Gauntlet, Spectrum, Fusion, The Ultimate Database, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Alienate, Knight Lore, Spindizzy, Marble Madness, Dungeon Master, Ultima Underworld, Andrew Bailey, Dene Carter, Big Blue Box, Fable, Lionhead, Kevin Donkin, Powermonger, GDC, SNES, The Sentinel, The Promised Lands, LEGO, Black&White, Godus, Sean Cooper, Civilization, Alan Wright, Alex Trowers, Command & Conquer, Ernő Rubik/Rubik's Cube, X-COM, Wayne Frost, Julian Gollop, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, Leonard Boyarsky, Fallout, Tim Cain, The Outer Worlds, Obsidian, Microsoft, Dungeons & Dragons, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines (up through.... some of Santa Monica)

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Sep 23, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we talk about our Populous takeaways and then take a little bonus look at Populous: the Beginning, an RTS spinoff from the original games. We talk about how the game takes concepts from the originals and molds them into something new, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
A few missions

Podcast breakdown:
0:56 Takeaways and Populous: The Beginning
1:12:48 Break
1:13:20 Feedback

Issues covered: dreaming big, the one-sentence/high concept, buying on the box, the mindset you approach the game with now and at the time, creation vs destruction mechanics, your Old Testament gods, toys vs games academically, indirect control and influence, opacity of interface, being engaged even indirectly, board games as an influence, the interactions you have as a god, "when I get to mid-game, I flood the world," emergent strategy, simulated villagers, wanting the stories of how strategies developed internally, simulating a population, what are your choices for abstraction, the mystery of simulation, watching an ant colony, it's like the terrain itself was a character, Tim's troubles getting this game running, user-created solutions to get this thing running, forgetting to save, how the god of Populous ascended, borrowing from multiple tribal traditions, is a thing 3D or not, a rotable camera vs an isometric view, a level-designed game, limitations on raising and lowering land, getting a number of charges to raise land, directly controlling villagers to become warriors or to build and occupy buildings, your godlike powers, tech tree driven by level/macro design, having the RTS ruts, critical unit mass and rhythm, franchise pillars and what you bring with you, winged monsters, converting savages through your Shaman, converting units, a finite unit map, religion and colonization, a puzzle level, micro-management of units, seeing patrol paths, the costs of scale, being neither enough of an RTS nor enough of a Populous game, legacies, eye strain, hardening of the corneas, blue light blockers, perception of depth of field and focusing, ambient light, what do you tell a young person, organizing thoughts creatively, the benefits of a liberal arts education, communication as key life skill, doing the thing every day, game jams online and in person, Brett's Book Recommendation.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Bullfrog Productions, Lionhead, Peter Molyneux, SimCity, Civilization, Will Wright, The Walking Dead, Black & White, Ultima IV, Windows, Star Trek, Warcraft, Dune 2, Command & Conquer, Starcraft, Quake III Arena, Nintendo DS, Total Annihilation, EA, Haden Blackman, Paul Pierce, Tropico (series), Anno (series), Sam, Cody, Unreal, Unity, Blender, MGS 3: Snake Eater, Resident Evil 4, Mario 3, itch.io, Terry Pratchett, Discworld, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
An interview or possibly our Halloween-themed game

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Sep 16, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on 1989's genre-defining Populous. We take a little more time with the game and then think about how and why and it might have hit so big at the time, in addition to considering its principal designer, Peter Molyneux. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Several more battles

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Populous Discussion
51:30 Break
52:02 Feedback

Issues covered: Tim's new podcast, the thinness of the game, the systems present in the game, minimal surfacing, settlers and food and buildings, getting a feel for systems rather than directly understanding or showing them, finding a formula, reinforcing castles as good but it maybe leading to a poor dynamic, indirect control, being unable to stop them from making castles, weird ant farm thoughts, overclicking, building up to flood them, speed-land raising by the AI, flooding rather than swamping, the OCD clean-up dopamine, turning the tides, tit-for-tat strategies, a narrow tipping point for Brett, not knowing what to do about things, forgetting about the population bars, getting to flood conditions, being ready to do the thing at the right time, wanting to act on the enemy at exactly the right place, fighting on the borders, pinball wizardry, examining the "load-out" of the level set-up, the fun of playing genre-defining games, that Unique Selling Proposition, finding the big selling point, calcifying genres and breaking away, being not "another one of those," shooting an eye out from a mile away, Molyneux's unique talent, overselling his ideas, child-like enthusiasm, being a forcing function on development, going beyond the limits of what's possible, different approaches to how you push beyond preconceptions, console generation and caring less about new hardware, interesting games being interesting on any platform, an Ubisoft model, applying the specific game to every design, the value of working cheap, having the value of working with more interesting hardware, simulating lots of Little Computer People, how we build an image today, not being able to re-render the whole screen, getting to the interface they had, actually using all the screen to play, being confused about how it all works, runtime performance of PCs in the 1980s, the screenshot test, selling the experience not the visuals, severe technical constraints, switching from another industry, creative leadership in different industries, being willing to step down before stepping back up, the difficulty of going from peak to peak, leveraging your leadership/mentoring skills.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Northern Exposure, Voice of the Last Frontier, SimCity, GTA, Civ, Dungeon Keeper, Dominion, The Who, Thief, Ultima (series), Heroes of Might and Magic, Dave Perry, Shiny, MDK, Peter Molyneux, Syndicate, Bioshock, Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin, Roberta Williams, Space Quest/King's Quest, PS2, Ubisoft, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Monster (energy drinks), Michel Ancel, Bullfrog, Populous: The Beginning, From Dust, Eric Chahi, Yannick from Germany, Maas Neotek, Amiga, John Romero, Benoit B. Mandelbrot, Apple ][, NES, MegaMan, The Legend of Zelda, Jonathan, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Note:
The Amiga was in fact 640x512, higher than I would have guessed! This would have been EGA/VGA depending on the machine on other PCs.

Next time:
A bit of Populous: The Beginning!

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Sep 9, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on 1989's Bullfrog Productions hit and originator of the God Game genre, Populous. We talk about using the mouse in 1989 and dive into particular strategies and the surprising depth of the game, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Another... 5? Levels

Issues covered: the tutorial just going on, restarting a conquest, having a false sense of security in the tutorial, generating more manna early in the tutorials, games being more keyboard-only at the time, evolving use of home computers for games, adventure games/text adventures and interfaces, figuring out the input interface, hard-to-use mouse input, the Taurus/Torus mix-up that gave us Bullfrog Productions, the PC platform space in 1989, RTS improvements to help navigate, keyboard controls, figuring things out on the second or third game, unanticipated phases to the game, avoiding arcadey controls by indirection, slow manna generation, the costs of raising land, the dangers of flooding, leaving a lone knight errant to decimate the enemy, the enemy flooding himself, unanticipated stories, flooding yourself to kill the enemy, the ways the AI cheats, rubberbanding of a sort, using swamps and earthquakes to disrupt the enemy, papal magnet management, the impact of the map, how to analyze a map for an RTS, developing a simple unit-based AI, the Game of Life/cellular automata approach to AI, focusing on knights, using the gather behavior to make tougher nights, how much space castles take up and the borders around them, the macro around score and how far to advance in the 500 levels of Populous, how would one speedrun Populous, modern descendants of the game, loving having Molyneux in the industry, "to think, it all started with baked beans," machine speed in DosBox, not adjusting for time in old video games, what is an honorific, honorifics and first-person identification in Japanese, observing sexism as potentially embedded in the writing alphabet, gendered particles/radicals and similarities to Romance languages.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Prince of Persia, Civilization, Ultima (series), Doom (series), Quake, King's Quest, Space Quest, LucasArts, Dark Forces, Ultima Underworld, Duke 3D, Amiga, Peter Molyneux, World of Warcraft, 22 Cans, EA, Microsoft, Fusion, SNES, SimAnt, Game Developer, Warcraft, Dune, Command & Conquer, Game of Life, John Conway, Darwinia, WarGames, Introversion Software, DEFCON, Uplink, Prison Architect, Scanner Sombre, Godus, Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube, Dungeon Keeper, Fable (series), Mr. Beast, Chris Corry, Syndicate, Johnny Pockets, Chrono Trigger, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Harry Potter, George Orwell, allthosewhowander.org, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
More Populous

Link:
That Italian translation article I mention

Note:
It is in fact possible to navigate the view window with the number pad. But the number pad does in fact control the viewport scrolling. The problem is, the number pad and the mouse are typically both controlled with the right hand.

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, Twitter: @timlongojr and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Sep 2, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a series on the Bullfrog classic Populous. We set the game in its time and place and talk a little bit about Bullfrog and the different directions simulation games were going, driven by different designers, before talking a little bit about the weirdnesses of this game proper. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Tutorial and First Battle

Podcast breakdown:
0:51 Populous
1:03:48 Break
1:04:17 Feedback

Issues covered: welcoming Tim back and a discussion of his trip, 1989 in video games, a little discursion into Midwinter, creating the God Game, the immense sales of Populous, the Bullfrog game legacy, absorbing smaller developers into a larger publisher, the different directions that simulations were going under different developers, geographic distinctions, creating genres, limitations in processing power and UI representations, trying Populous in 1992 without a manual, the tutorial in the manual, failing the tutorial, the UI representation, performance concerns and filling the space, raising and lowering terrain, overloading icon use, the pause menu, GDC Lifetime Achievement Award, trying to figure out the best way to do a thing, influencing a game vs controlling the game, reading the map, using cartographic techniques in lieu of shading, killing the enemies indirectly, making your leader into a knight, mixing religious iconography, "we" are good and "they" are evil, the macro of the game, the way characters become stronger, overloading the use of the bars on the shield, lowering land to prevent a new leader forming, raising land to create a path for your knight, visual novel recommendations, an update on Pockets the Great, how deep the Civ rabbit hole goes, finding appropriate mentors, not always having the answer, listening to and asking questions of a report, the Socratic method, getting to know your people, setting Phoenix Wright in LA for a Western market, regional dialects, Shu Takumi's dog.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Revenge of Shinobi, Phantasy Star II, Golden Axe, Herzog Zwei, NES, River City Ransom, Castlevania III, Mother (Earthbound Beginnings), Final Fight, Strider, Xbox One, Nintendo GameBoy, Super Mario Land, SimCity, Midwinter, Minesweeper, Prince of Persia, Stunt Car Racer, Commodore 64, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, LucasFilm Games, The Colonel's Bequest, Roberta Williams, Batman, Bullfrog Productions, Peter Molyneux, Fusion, Amiga, Black & White, Lionhead, Microsoft, EA, Dark Forces, Dungeon Keeper, Powermonger, Syndicate, Syndicate Wars, Magic Carpet, Theme Park, Theme Hospital, 22 Cans, Godus, Origin Systems, LucasArts, Maxis, The Sims, Spore, Will Wright, Respawn Entertainment, Sid Meier, Civilization, Ultima Underworld, Warcraft, Rogue, MYST, Richard Garriott, Looking Glass, id Software, Tropico (series), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Hotel Dusk, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Danganronpa, 999, Nonary Games, Jonathan Stoler, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Nolan Filter/irreverentQ, Murder by Numbers, Picross, Johnny Grattan/Pockets, Morrowind/Arena/Daggerfall, Brian, Republic Commmando, Nick Faulhaber, Shu Takumi, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Five (?) more battles?

Links:
Amusingly enough, it *was* a Populous postmortem talk where I first heard Peter's anecdote

Shu Takumi's Pomeranian

Errata:
Thank you for playing... Wing Commander!

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Aug 19, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. This week we talk about the final original case, particularly looking at the growing complexity of the story, and then turn to our takeaways and feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Turnabout Goodbyes

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Phoenix Wright Case 4
59:57 Break
1:00:34 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: being novelistic and weaving through multiple narratives, intricate backstories coming together, wanting the macro arc, ending on a high note, developing character empathy, the impact of one event on many lives, wanting to have a character introduced earlier, feeling a greater sense of the world, the Castlevania-lookin' character, goofy gourds, Edgeworth staying a little too quiet, potential professional embarrassment and guilt and shame, a common setup for a mystery, turning expectations on its head, where is this game set?, Lotta Hart, layers of motivation, getting stuck in a cross, the puzzle of getting to a bit of conflicting evidence and when, when to press and when to present, the way information enters into the world, looking for tells, the localization nightmare when language is so ambiguous, localization as design, animation tells, the case room, the police tools, Missile the Shiba Inu, what the police tools do, finding Larry's CO2 compression canister, working back from the one idea, establishing Yanni Yogi's identity and his own knowledge of it, the Chewbacca effect, economy driving connection, raising the stakes, the boss battle with von Karma, how are you going to get to von Karma, the riddle of the one bullet, von Karma's shoulder-grabbing pose, being careful to work within your constraints, deepening von Karma's "Objection", the screaming and head-banging, "the evidence was in you all along," a possible plot hole, what's "fair," realizing a connection, using every part of the animal to emphasize drama, doing a lot with a little, the hallmarks of a novel, anime/manga treatment of the courtroom procedural, making the rules part of the drama, what you marry to the adventure game to breathe new life in, a different take on the adventure game, JRPG to Western RPG, being careful about what you bring from a genre, asking whether a thing is necessary, Brett's Book Recommendation, a shout-out to a listener, fast-forwarding through random combat, the one-handed version of this game, playing the touch-screen, All Those Who Wander.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: X-Files, Castlevania, Bird Box, Josh Malerman, Sandra Bullock, Star Wars, Hotel Dusk, Secret of Monkey Island, Halo 1, Misery, Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil, Tango Gameworks, Zenimax, The Evil Within, Platinum, Eliza, Danganronpa, Richard Lloyd Parry, The People Who Eat Darkness, Mark Sean Garcia, Final Fantasy IX, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy XII, Matt A, Nintendo Wii, Kingdom Hearts, Yakuza (series), Persona 5, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Hollow Knight, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
Tim off on his trip

Next time:
...? We will let you know.

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Aug 12, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Capcom's 2001 Japanese GBA title/2005 US DS title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. We revisit the history just a bit before diving into this next case, talking about "detectiving" and adventure game tropes (and how/whether they work here), as well as various ways in which the game pushes its mechanics before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Case 3

Issues covered: a bit of correction and elaboration, the cost or lack thereof of pressing, the kid with no respect for the law, quick case recap, a slight change in structure, wondering whether Phoenix was defending a murderer, the personal stake in the case, demanding a lot of the legal system, growing the space you investigate, expanding into a detection game, deductions that are there to confound you, tricking the player, having to revisit places just to move characters, rebuilding logic after the fact, being thrown off by details that turn out to be meaningless, wanting fast travel, having clear ideas of what should happen in the game and not knowing what to do to trigger them, text adventure hold-overs, hesitating to change genre design, expanding the use of "evidence," stretching the interface, audio and visual upgrades, the arguments for remasters vs remakes, the high quality music, adding motion graphics in this case, feeling more engaged in the investigation mechanics, using a small amount of character animation budget to good effect, the slide mechanic in areas, missing support for a second stick, good moments with Edgeworth, adversarial legal systems, wanting the truth, adding S-Rank, why did we even go there?, how much we don't know about the legal system, lawyer's badges, more about the sexism, future supernatural stuff, Tim is possessed by the spirit of his wife, being conditioned to apologize for systemic issues, localization issues with various places, generally trying to abide to cultural sensitivity, questions of centrality, wanting to have the conversation and pushback, getting pushback in concept and pushing back yourself, censorship vs companies and creators, the difficulty as a creator of having your work looked at, curating how games are made, shouting into your DS, pronouncing names properly, AllThoseWhoWander.org, Tim's small trip.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Portopia Serial Murder Case, Yuji Horii, Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Border of this World, Wolverine, Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote, Hotel Dusk, Trauma Center, Matlock, Sherlock Holmes, Capcom, GBC/GBA/DS, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, SamSpot, Kingdom Hearts, Gran Turismo, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Dagur Danielsson, Persona 4/5, Edwin, Matt A, The Muppets, Shaun, 8-4 Play podcast, Star Wars, Halo 5, Dragon's Crown, Judgement/Yakuza series, World of Warcraft, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
The importance of lawyer lapel pins

AllThoseWhoWander.org

Next time:
Case 4

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Aug 5, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on Capcom's 2001 Japanese GBA title/2005 US DS title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. We talk a bit about the year, the visual novel as a form we're not all that familiar with, although we've each played at least one, and then dive into the game properly before turning to reviews. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Cases 1 & 2

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 PW Discussion
1:02:38 Break
1:03:16 Reviews & Feedback

Issues covered: looking at the history of the visual novel, crime scene base, the combination of visual novel elements with other action elements, companion quests as visual novel, the split between adventure game types from different cultures (like RPGs and JRPGs), the limits of a handheld vs the early 80s PCs, good fit for the DS, the rampant sexism, the distraction of the sexism, stereotypes/archetypes used to involve the player efficiently, lack of subtlety, production realities, dating game history, where you put your development dollars, showing the crime and the killer up-front, dramatic irony, knowing you have to press the villain, scrubbing back and forth and evaluating when you want to present, being able to see the evidence at any point, a brief discussion about the Japanese legal system, similarities to turn-based combat, stripping down the mystery to expose the mechanics, adding in the investigation/adventure game mode, coming up with a theory of the crime, finding the evidence, the burdens on the prosecution vs the defense, adding in the pressing mechanic, seeing characters progressively crack, animating the characters in a way fitting to the hardware, having the fighting game rhythms, using manga aesthetics for pacing, Brett objects to the supernatural elements as unnecessary, would historians really thank us?, making the margin too small for dates, possible localization issues, Brett objects to the lighting in the office vs the hotel room, being open to what the game wants from me rather than what I know, finding what the game wants, seeking out the aha moment, following the wrong leads, red herrings, stuffing too much into the initial couple hours of a game, missing a core mechanic, two old men with their vision issues, exhaustible dialog elements vs a different style in PW:AA, RPGs trying to replicate D&D, verisimilitude of a game's dialog, parser-based early Ultima games, different ways of presenting dialog, lifting into a different level of story space abstraction, the hidden costs of moving to voice, the loss of the parser, money finds a way.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Republic Commando, Capcom, GBA/Nintendo DS, Portopia Serial Murder Case, Enix, Square, Hotel Dark, Trauma Center (series), Professor Layton (series), Policenauts, Hideo Kojima, Bioware, Mass Effect (series), Doki Doki Literature Club, Space Quest/King's Quest, Sierra, Scott Adams, Devil May Cry, Ico, GTA III, Animal Crossing, Civ III, Halo, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Final Fantasy X, Onimusha: Warlords, Shenmue II, Dreamcast, Pikmin, Advance Wars, Starfighter, Luigi's Mansion, GameCube, Xbox, Dream Daddy, L.A. Noire, Infocom, Deadline, Law & Order, Medium, Profiler, Numb3rs, SamSpot101, Ben Zaugg, 999, Danganronpa, Kingdom Hearts, Hunt A Killer, LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Sam Thomas, Walker Farrell, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Divinity: Original Sin, Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, Dungeons & Dragons, Ultima, Reed Knight, Ken Rolston, Mark Crowe, Jurassic Park, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Case 3

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 29, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we at last complete our series on Republic Commando, with an interview with technical artist Jeremie Talbot, now at Pixar as a Characters Supervisor. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:53 Interview
1:12:01 Break
1:12:35 Feedback

Issues covered: growing up in Canada, going to college in the states, interning for Alias, bartering skills with a weather station, starting at a company that dissolved, joining up with LucasArts, maintaining family relationships through video games, "When you're working on a game, nothing is done until it ships," breaking the game every day, team alchemy, people who didn't fit into silos, the various aspects of character art, "The Puppet Department," specialization, the lubrication that makes it go, the technology in the way, becoming technical to get it out of the way, just wanting to make the thing, "nobody knew what they were doing," losing connection points through specialization, creating tiger teams, agile-style methodology, military manuals for terminology, wanting to dig in and make stuff as well, having technical chops, the pink baby arms, adding raindrops to the head, safe experimentation, animation compression and "we need to," being the communication chain, wanting to also make the stuff, the internal video that was good enough to release, taking things from the game and turning it into the video, doing a whole scripted video to cut together, prototyping through video, the genesis of the prologue, baby hands baby hands baby hands, having some direction for the story, being able to lean into them being clones, reuse to make things feel big, a good team functioning well, building excitement making a thing happen, being inspired instead of checking the box, staying apart from the LucasArts madness, "there's no way they're not gonna release this," scratching a Star Wars itch, thinking back about process and alchemy, the feeling of something accidental that was actually designed, wondering if it's even going to work, the payoff of thinking about team composition, the tension of company needs and project needs, giving people an opportunity gives a burst of enthusiasm, the problems with always filling the container, "the team makes the game," getting along well with people and how that makes the whole thing go, the healthy mix of seniority and new folks, leveled up Jeremie, talking about what Leia and Marcus were, Brett confesses his eye strain, our next game, taking recommendations.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Tippett Studio, Charlotte's Web, Spiderwick Chronicles, Enchanted, Pixar, Brave, Monsters University, Finding Dory, Onward, Dave Bogan, Sheridan College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Alias/Wavefront, Autodesk, PowerAnimator, Maya, Jonathan French, Metrolight Studios, Total Recall, Conn Peterson, Jason Armstrong, Pokemon, Full Throttle 2, Bounty Hunter, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Ian Milham, The Mandalorian, EA, Harley Baldwin, Nathan Martz, Adam Piper, Unreal, Tim Ramsay, Skyrim, Greg Knight, Paul Pierce, Paul Murphy, Brett Schulz, Loren Cox, Rebecca Perez, Daron Stinnett, the one and only person, Luke Thériault, Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion, Leia/Marcus, Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Ray Gresko, Rob Huebner, Justin Chin, SITH Engine, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Maniac Mansion, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Rebel Assault, INSANE, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Kingdom Hearts, Animal Crossing, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Danganronpa, 999, Hotel Dusk, Ghost Trick, Nintendo Switch, Kotaku Splitscreen/Triple Click, Jason Schreier, Hollow Knight, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, first case

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 22, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue to flog the dead tauntaun of our series on Republic Commando, through a pair of interviews. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:53 Interview One
54:05 Break One
54:17 Interview Two
1:46:40 Break Two
1:45:55 Feedback

Issues covered: starting out as a theater geek, finding a job in the newspaper, faking co-op via phone, QA as the breeding ground for designers and producers, needing to staff a project after folks left, finding management talent in QA as well, the benefits of a theater education in level design, the historical areas of the Indiana Jones game (including the Aetherium), using similar research as for set design, theatricality and 3D spatial design, matching believability with fun, reallocating resources to JK's ex-pack, scripting cutscenes, Leia/Marcus engine, the long crunch of Indy, figuring out how to ship a game, sharing design amongst Daron and programmers, looking into leadership, thinking you'd come in for mission design and having so much people work, leadership vs management, moving into more of a direction role, getting to build on something you knew, choosing pillars around features, aiming for more bombast, tying missions together, wearing a producer hat as well, "90% of the challenges are people challenges," picking people for the project, wanting to work with people, skill sets and talent, diving back into the first person shooter, building consensus and going too far, finding the right boundaries for consensus, using pillars and goals to set the sandbox for discussion, giving respect to others, having the connection of the team, listening as an actor (and as a director), the trust on the stage, physics as a misstep, switching to computer science for grad school, doing military contracting in academia, Caveman Tim lifts his head, learning a million subjects all at once, remembering that first interview, getting a random offer, having no flight simulator experience, starting out playing pure flight sims, programming mission logic, figuring out how a game works from the tools, EvE (the Event Editor), knowing the LucasArts legacy, learning everything about being a professional programmer and a good collaborator, moving quickly into leadership, the internal MMO, working closely with level designers, being asked to be a lead, "the designer's programmer," having a rapport with designers (and building it), fighting for the users, learning to work with people, being able to hold the technological line, a game being too expensive to build, helping shore up technical management, helping the programmers help the designers, Brett makes an Alien reference, not being set up for failure, opportunities for growth, the potential problems of success, the conundrum of what people make sense when on a project, the weird side effects of matrix management, we agree to never do it again, the difficulty of writing squad-style AI for varied potential parties in CRPGs, the goals of action games vs RPGs, differing fantasies, disconnect from expectations of players if you had more independence in CRPGs.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Mysteries of the Sith, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Starfighter (series), Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Microsoft, 343 Industries, Halo (series), Nintendo Wii, Jason Botta, Playstation 2, Xbox, MobyGames, Tacoma, Skyrim, Reed Knight (nee Derleth), Dan Connors, Jonny Rice, Nihilistic Software, Ray Gresko, Rob Huebner, Justin Chin, Infinite Machine, GT Interactive, Activision, Dan Pettit, Geoff Jones, Outlaws, Kevin Schmitt, Ryan Kaufman, Telltale Games, Hal Barwood, Wayne Cline, Daron Stinnett, Troy Mashburn, Rich Davis, Dave Bogan, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tim Miller, Unreal, Harley Baldwin, Tim Schafer, Full Throttle II, Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout (series), Apple ][+, Colossal Cave Adventure, Macintosh SE/80, Richard Feynman, Pixar, Doom, Quake, Diablo, MYST, Steve Ash, Aric Wilmunder, SCUMM, Steve Dauterman, Garrett James, Descent: Freespace, Chris Corry, Andrew Kirmse, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars Galaxies, Jesse Moore, Doug Modie, Reeve Thompson, Force Commander, Tron, David Lee Swenson, Steve Dykes, Malcolm Johnson, David Worrall, Vernon Harmon, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, The Warriors, J. Scott Peter, Alien, Battlefront II, Patrick Sirk, Chris Williams, Harry Potter, EA, Nathan Martz, John Hancock, Michelle Hinners, Ashton Herrmann, Mass Effect, Baldur's Gate, Josh Lindquist, Hollow Knight.

Next time:
A final(?) interview

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 15, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we just keep on rolling about Republic Commando, on which both of your hosts worked. This week we talk with lead animator Dave Bogan, about his journey into the industry and what stuck out for him on this project, among many other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:44 Interview
1:19:32 Break
1:20:05 Feedback

Issues covered: our rampant professionalism, stepping in the right potholes, taking an early liking to art, half arts school/half regular high school, finding out you're not a draftsman, learning about animation, having industry professionals for teachers, not knowing you can work in games, putting in the devotion and the time, a little who's who of great LucasArts artists, making a choice based on comedy and drawing, early experience on CMI and other titles, getting a title axed, finding roles for people rather than laying them off, getting involved in a project and working with other people, doing what you have to to ship, not having a plan and realizing: we always need to have a plan, taking on additional responsibility, the limitations of some of early characters, eyes and face and hands for animation, where one of the animators went, looking for an opportunity as a lead, thinking about how characters behave before you see them, getting expectations set, being intimidated by Daron Stinnett, looking at the competition, feeling elevated by Daron, the excellence of the animation team, learning from Joe Bacciocco, trigger discipline, when good behavior meets up with video game needs, how much an expert cared for people, using soldier expertise, composition and correctness, translating the authenticity, a well-integrated and organized animation team, the Trandoshan who runs at you like a gorilla, having to tell Dave no, various games they thought about post-SWRC, being afraid of not doing a Jedi game, being a pragmatist, lacking strife, having real characters, wanting stories at the forefront, Brett's Book Recommendation, being a salve in tough times, the hidden co-op version of Republic Commando.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Obi-Wan, Escape from Monkey Island, Rogue Squadron, Telltale Games, The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Fame, Degrassi Street, Amanda Stepto, This Is Spinal Tap, Tara Campbell, Sheridan College, Disney, Fox, Pixar, ILM, LucasArts, SquareSoft, Magnum PI, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kevin Boyle, Chris Miles, Graham Annable, Karen Chelini, Sangeeta Prashar, Sega/Secret Level, Starcraft, Jedi Knight, Ray Gresko, SCUMM, Derek Sakai, Mark Overney, Kevin Micallef, Chris Williams, Daron Stinnett, Eric Ingerson, Tippett Studios, Troy Molander, Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner, John Hancock, Chris Ross, Ryan Kaufman, Stephen McManus, Jeff "Pinecone" Kung, Ian Milham, Dead Space, Bret Robbins, Ascendant Studios, Justice Unlimited, Michael Stemmle, Diablo, Patrick McCarthy, Camela Boswell, Afterlife, Sean Clark, Force Commander, Factor 5, Magpie, Bounty Hunter, Armando Lluch, Cory Allemeier, Loren Cox, Matt White, Medal of Honor, Halo, Ryan Hood, Brett Schulz, Rebecca Perez, Jeremie Talbot, Nathan Martz, Joe Bacciocco, Call of Duty, Hulk Hogan, Haden Blackman, Patrick Sirk, Matt Omernick, GTA, The Force Unleashed, George Lucas, Sledgehammer Games, EA, Soul Reaver, Full Throttle 2, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries, Chrono Trigger, Mark, Ultima Underworld, Super Mario RPG, Nintendo, Bill, Johnny Szary, Short Circuit.

Link:
Video of training the animators


Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 8, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we are beginning to come dangerously close to spending longer talking about Republic Commando than we did playing it. This time, we get a look behind art development for Star Wars through the eyes and voices of two artists who worked on the title: Greg Knight, who was the principal concept artist for the game, and Paul Pierce, who designed the look and feel of the user interface. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Interview segment
1:14:39 Break
1:15:14 Feedback

Issues covered: how Paul got his start, web design in the 90s, learning 3D modeling, how Greg got his start, the ubiquity of LucasFilm in Marin, making an important connection and getting an unstoppable recommendation, the importance of art in establishing a game, the design of HUDs and menus, the distinction between UX and UI, how UI art got into the game, iterating the UI in response to the game you're building, starting out as a texture artist, imagining rooms as a whole and getting noticed for your control of tone, an exciting time to learn about concept art, being a force multiplier for the art team, the need for concept art with rising fidelity, keeping cohesive style and flow in the art by use of concept art as well as art direction, differences with film, what immersive experiences mean for content, lacking control of camera, good ideas coming from all over, vs auteurism, putting a burden on UI aesthetics by being always first-person, bringing in the visor pieces, losing visual real estate and that conversation, the impact on design on art decisions, putting the ammo readouts on the guns, marking up renders to figure out where UI elements would go, weapons as characters, running into resistance with the programmers, the ways programmers can... avoid work, the conversation you have to have around iteration cost, fitting into a palette, designing vehicles that didn't exist in canon, coming up with the tone of a more deadly clone story, figuring out who the clones even were, figuring out what the side stories were, imagining beyond the borders of the film, morphing to a different scale, how little a Geonosian means to a Jedi and how much to a trooper, colorgrading and how it sells various tones and moods, giving a different interpretation of Star Wars, seeing something of Republic Commando reflected in Rogue One, focusing on what's important to your characters, the heat and contrast of the Geonosians, pulling on the film's UI elements, avoiding drama on a project, checking egos at the door, how collaborative the game was, the value of technical art, the energy of team members, tech artists as glue and bridges, the value of a demo, Neanderthal Tim, when your level is difficulty, the design ideas behind the hangars and bridge, the knobs you had to turn for storytelling through tone, having to die again and again, failure without excessive punishment, the ability level of the team, where your skills are relative to the game, improving communication between branches of the team, setting a vision without falling to design by committee, being able to deliver a new experience for a Star Wars audience, the challenge of making an AI that keeps pace with the player, "The Squad Is Your Weapon," the debate around the efficacy of the squad, building around the game's goals and how other games might attack that differently, the importance of building consensus, trying to find a way to say "yes" to an idea, "everybody can design," being able to have the squad revive you.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Jedi Starfighter, Bounty Hunter, Galactic Battlegrounds (series), Escape from Monkey Island, Lucidity, Disney, 2K, Transformers, EndeavorRX, Akili, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Phantom Menace, EA, Jedi: Fallen Order, NYU Film School, Whole Foods, Cybernautics, Rocket Science Games, Obsidian, Behind the Magic, Haden Blackman, Starcraft, Dan Colon, Lightwave, LucasFilm, Ralph McQuarrie, Hal Barwood, Chris Williams, Unreal, Adobe Illustrator, Peter Chan, Joe Johnston, Doug Chiang, Obi-Wan, Bill Tiller, Jedi Knight, Dark Forces, Nathan Martz, Jeremie Talbot, Hideo Kojima, Metroid Prime, Maya, 3DS Max, Daron Stinnett, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Rogue One, Paul Murphy, James Zhang, Adam Piper, Harley Baldwin, Mafia III, Hangar 13, Top Mix, Kovaak's Aim Trainer, Galaxy of Heroes, Reed Knight, TIE Fighter, John Drake, Ryan/biostats, Pat Sirk, Gary Whitta, Book of Eli, Fallout, Nick from LA, Halo Reach/Halo 5, John Hancock, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
YET. ANOTHER. INTERVIEW.

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 1, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we welcome another interview, this time with industry veteran and current VP of Design at Schell Games, Harley Baldwin. Harley talks about her path through the industry and about her time especially at LucasArts and Republic Commando, on which she served as a level designer. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Interview
1:25:23 Break
1:25:51 Feedback

Issues covered: how Harley got her start, planning to get into photographic printing, crashing a friend's interview, knowing a tuck-in top from a hang-over top, figuring out technical art challenges, getting a programmer to do some interpolation, emergence of digital cameras, the unsung heroism of technical art, making one kind of data into another kind of data, overlapping art and engineering, figuring out how to blend animations for locomotion, learning from designers via over-the-shoulder watching, the three-point slice, trying to figure out how to build stuff, moving to design, not having to worry about both the architecture and the gameplay at the same time, getting designers to play and talk, becoming a lead systems designer, communicating the use of systems, advocating for designs, VR and location-based entertainment, hard and interesting problems, encouraging design skill overlap, getting the design document on day one, LucasArts using proprietary technology and the internal controversy, believing you need the author of the engine in-house, the conversations between level designers, talking about how to make the bridge moment, building momentum, speaking level designers' language, coming on late and fixing cover bugs and optimizing spaces, figuring out how and whether to do jungle, arguing over the spotlights, trying to find solutions together, level ownership, getting enough distance to see what needs to be real or what needs to be smoke and mirrors, the creepiness of the Prosecutor, giving the designer you once were a talking to, getting stuck on Troy's level, designing to the peak experience, the story of what a designer is trying to say, finishing your own level on hard... over a few hours, QA beating it eventually, lacking storytelling tools and using design tools like difficulty, door breaches and hints, the "doors and hallways engine," how to tackle a dwarf spider droid, still figuring things out as you ship, building to a character moment, being in the perfect spot, the old home tour of enemies, "hey player, you can handle this now," "Brett's favorite room," the energy and communication of that team, "Nobody reads your docs," designers and difficulty, "when do you turn off god mode," watching people play, your applicant pool of user testing players, three things you'd change about project/process, fumbling towards scrum/agile, how seeing where the squad was going changed the game dramatically, VR and its problems to solve, meeting Harley for the first time, the Starfighter pie meeting, Pi Day, Tim delivers a pie to Brett's apartment, "I might worry about a random pie," East Coast geography, the team helping get you through the making of the game, the special atmosphere of LucasArts, good people working with good people, defending Tim's honor, difficulty and Constraint Satisfaction Problems, Boss Keys series, Longo Calrisian, positioning and leadership, lowering ammo and tuning towards the focus fire mechanic, the hot targets, differences between PC and Xbox, difficulty codes, marketing, Starfighter III: Jedi Starfighter II: Starfighter Outcast or Reti Player One, a plea for orbital strikes in more video games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: American Laser Games/Her Interactive, LucasArts, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Starfighter (series), RTX Red Rock, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Demiurge, Nihilistic Software, Rock Band, Resistance, Call of Duty, Schell Games, PhotoStyler, McKenzie & Company, Mad Dog McCree, Drug Wars, 3D0, Vampire Diaries, Nancy Drew (series), Debabelizer, Jedi Knight, Reed Knight, X-COM: The Bureau, Jesse Schell, Disney VR, Unreal, Galactic Battlegrounds, Age of Empires, Outlaws, Troy Mashburn, Pat Sirk, Jesse Moore, Juli Logemann, Uncharted, Kevin "Schmitty" Schmitt, Xbox, Microsoft, Jeffrey "Pinecone" Sondin-Kung, I Expect You to Die, Until You Fall, PlayStation VR, GDC, David Collins, Blarg42, Anachronox, Violet B. Trudel, Pokemon, Oliver Uvman, Sokoban, Super Mario Bros 3, Stephen's Sausage Roll, Final Fantasy XIII-2, King's Quest, Gothic Chocobo, Game Maker's Toolkit, Mark Brown, Zelda (series), Leon Buckel, Greg Knight, Sam Thomas, June, Jocko Willink, Leif Babin, Dark Forces, GameSpot, Billy/The2ndQuest, Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Forza, Tetris99, Animal Crossing, Charlie Rocket, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey, Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Another Interview?

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jun 24, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we delve deeper into audio and music on Republic Commando, via our interview with David Collins and Jesse Harlin, the audio lead and composer for the game, respectively. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Interview
1:45:20 Break
1:45:56 Outro

Issues covered: going from film scoring to games, writing a column, dealing with the suits, getting the games at a discount, getting exposed to the hard work of audio and games, interviewing the composer, the turnover at LucasArts in the early 00s, being focused on audio and music in games, Redbook audio, having no one to learn from, having to figure out how to fit all the music on different consoles, parallels to silent film and MIDI, the development of iMUSE and having to replicate it, trying to find middleware for audio, hot-rodding the engine for audio, splitting sound and voice and the history, having lots of departments that had built up their own silos, being a service group at even a greater scale, the costs of switching, burnout and lack of downtime, having to crunch on multiple games at a time, the physical costs of burnout, having to hide that you're working on multiple projects, "see a dog hear a dog" sound design, shifting to being fully involved with one team, integrating departments earlier, having a fully immersive proof-of-concept level with audio, being able to hand off more to audio, still chasing what you'd like from audio, the non-Star Wars Star Wars game, systemic audio vs a more curated experience, the implementation of the Assault Ship, having different musical cues for different approaches, the game finding its own way from the Star Wars musical soundscape, not knowing what the movies would sound like, injecting more personality, having developed based on what we knew, the wonders of the ring modulator, a signature Star Wars sound, having the LucasArts audio available at Skywalker Sound, choosing a language for choral music (and not having Wookiee available), embedding your sister's name in a piece of music, training up the choir on how to sing Mandalorian, having the gall to invent Boba Fett's language, getting away with more because of timeline distance, slipping a thing to be low-key, wanting to use a talking dog, having a thing die because Business Affairs holds onto it for a long time, adding in Russian/Slavic dipthongs, knowing what fans were going to want to know, planning ahead for the meaning of the content, having The Battle of the Trees in Sanskrit for Duel of the Fates, slipping Doctor Who character names into The Old Republic, the audioscape of the "battle beyond," pulling in the audio for a developer diary, having the opportunity to widen the Universe, going nuts with the audio, having time to think about what a space should sound like, "this is my level too," integrated audio storytelling, the invisible art form, people not knowing how to describe audio, "you know, audio's cheap," the small size of the audio team, the high efficiency of audio, where the Ash video came from, having a weird coda to the game like that, critics thinking the game had rock in it, how mistakes happen in reviews, having had a deal, the only rock song ever to be in a Star Wars game, guitars and Star Wars, line items in a budget, Foley as a performance, having raw material for days for blasters and such, having clacky armor in front of the camera the whole game, having a footstep level, having to retag geometry, meeting with a fan, missing out on a multiplayer balancing issue, having networking break the music system, the airing of grievances, making a music map for QA, how to test audio effectively, the problem with music, what these guys are up to now, scores that don't work, knowing that things had to change, iterating on team makeup and process.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Star Wars, Marvel, Mafia, Avatar, Futurama, Counterspy, Yoku's Island Express, LucasArts, Escape from Monkey Island, Star Wars: Demolition, Starfighter (series), Sony, PlayStation, Uncharted 3, Journey, The Last of Us, Celebration, Skywalker Sound, Rage Software, Space Debris, Starfox, Paul Stroud, Game Developer Magazine, Electronic Musician, Larry the O, USC, The 7th Guest, Xbox, GameCube, Michael Land, Michelle Hinners, Unreal, Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, The Force Unleashed 2, Troy Mashburn, Kevin Schmitt, John Hancock, Nathan Martz, Dave Bogan, Jenny Huang, Wwise, Daron Stinnett, Alien, Event Horizon, J. White, Obi-Wan, Resident Evil, Philip Sousa, Steve Matulac, George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare, Justin Lambros, Cindy Wong, Doctor Who, The Longest Day, Tales of Jabba's Palace/Tales of Mos Eisley Cantina, Creative Audio, Harrison Deutsch, Jedi: Fallen Order, Respawn Entertainment, Andrew Cheney, Julian Kwasneski, Bay Area Sound, Aaron Brown, Ash, Chris Williams, Full Throttle 2, The Gone Jackals, Halo, Marty McDonnell, John Williams, Michael Giacchino, Clint Bajakian, Mercenaries, Peter Hirschmann, Jana Vance, Dennie Thorpe, Tony Shalhoub, GalaxyQuest, Battlefront II, ComiCon, Joss Whedon, Riot Games, Valorant, Mafia Remake, Haden Blackman, Matthew Wood, Star Wars Resistance, Galaxy of Adventures, Forces of Destiny, Ahmed Best, Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge, Jason Sudeikis, Rise of Skywalker, Boss Baby: Back in Business, Netflix, The Soundtrack Show, Ladyhawke, Mutiny on the Bounty, Akili Interactive Labs, EndeavorRx, Metal Gear Solid, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Epic Mickey, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
SWRC Developer Diary about audio

The Battle of the Trees

Next time:
Another interview!

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jun 17, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we conclude our series on the 2005 squad-based shooter Star Wars Republic Commando, on which both hosts worked. We talk about some of the difficulty unevenness of the game, some of the process of building the game, a bit about enemy and squad AI, and especially how we came to differentiate the characters and inject some humor. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Kashyyyk

Issues covered: leaving characters behind, the length of development and how it changes your longer-term plans, having George give feedback on your game, the overly grim version of the game, ignoring feedback given once, the difference of dealing with George vs dealing with LF Licensing, caring more about story than lore, the huge impact on production, the value of the feedback, being on each side of the question of whether to push out a schedule, having Robin Williams suggested for the game, needing the balance of comedy, the use of gallows humor, the impact of voice on a game's budget and schedule, RPGs and text vs voice, the additional cost of well-known names, finding actors more in line with characterization, enriching the script by specificity, having an off-site to plus up the game, looking at the game during in production, facilitating discussions, getting ideas from everyone, stepping back from development to get enough distance, going to Kashyyyk, incorporating another film character in General Tarfful, seeing the ragdoll bug, climbing up to the treetops, fitting this game on a Xbox, having good technology internally, being unclear about objectives, not having characters to rely on for storytelling, reusing enemies etc, having only two people write all the AI but carrying other engineering tasks, how you would approach this today, leveraging gaps in time to get across the bridge, delaying the pay-off to force the player to see it, the milestone process, not having enough investment in the product over the process, cutting part of the bridge level, failing a milestone and using that to improve, needing more spectacle and spit and polish, the AIs throwing grenades back and forth, leaning on the linearity of the game to make the squad seem smarter, "bread-crumbing," behavior trees, multiple path voting, AI and level design working together, finding the edge of AI, how you design for roguelikes instead, adapting to the needs of the game as they went, having a little bit of everything at the end, a notable cameo, the interviews, difficulty in games and different ways to achieve it, toy development timelines, the success of the game as a surprise, the team gift, a team delivering a solid first product, the possible follow-on titles, Delta Squad as canon, how tech could have supported the game better, Tim admits that he is a jerk, a good game with a lot of potential, figuring out how to make the game vs making the game, the strength of second titles, the greatness of the team, who gets design credit on the games, having the opportunity to work on different types of games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: George Lucas, Clone Wars (TV Show), Genndy Tartakovsky, Samurai Jack, Dave Filoni, Chris Williams, Daron Stinnett, Robin Williams, Shakespeare, Law and Order, Tomb Raider, Jill Murray, Ken Rolston, Morrowind, Oblivion, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Max von Sydow, Temuera Morrison, Ryan Kaufman, Mike Stemmle, John Hancock, Unreal, Xbox, PS2, Epic, Starfighter, Patrick Sirk, Half-Life 2, Hacky Sack, John Hancock, Nathan Martz, Remnant: From the Ashes, Harley Baldwin, Thief, TIE Fighter, Larry Holland, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Blarg42, Raymond Cason, BoxBoy, Curse of Monkey Island, Resident Evil 4, Mark Brown, Dawfydd, Karen Traviss, West End Games, Dylan Thomas, Jim Ward, Gentle Giant, Greg Knight, Battlefront II, Grand Theft Auto (series), Jedi Knight, Fallout (series), The Mandalorian, Dave Collins, David Norton. Mass Effect (series), Uncharted (series), Assassin's Creed (series), Kirby's Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey.

Next time:
Bonus Episodes!

Link:
Dynamic Difficulty in Resident Evil 4

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jun 10, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on the 2005 squad-based shooter Star Wars Republic Commando, on which both hosts worked. We talk about demoing at E3, some of the design philosophies evidenced by the scavenger droid and tidbits from the levels we played, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the Prosecutor

Issues covered: getting approval with the Ranch, trailblazing, how clones talk about commandos, showing on the E3 floor, getting a theater presence, E3 as trade show and practicing to present the game, how teams were handling demos, handling rude Q&A, being glad to do it once, being at ComiCon, playing a live demo in the theater, the value of a demo and the predictive power, bug counts, giving you the Star Wars juice, setting up the scale of the environment, making the player feel small relative to the battle, having an assassination that really matters (to the nerds), the massive size of the torpedo launch tube, changing the sniper visual effect in response to the game feeling bad, having to make the weapons feel better, making the games feel not so "pew-pew," going from trigger-to-hit, having a good even basic weapon, having a difficult sections and losing sight of them, the fingers that tap on your armor, having really good Foley, introducing the maneuvers, bringing in the door breach and adding the slice option, object-oriented maneuver design, the team putting in extra things that made the game better, building up the scavenger droid, pulling the survival horror vibe from Alien, getting the scale of the place, the audio and music cues really selling an experience, introducing the scav droid, orthogonal enemy design, overly high lethality, shooting the greebles in case they were scavs, using the scav droid properly and not, embodying the player with the scav, adding new elements to the universe, introducing the brute and selling their toughness, introducing the mercenaries, the mercenaries breaching the room like you did, getting some additional bang for buck, reusing a space, the expense of building spaces, the hangars as tactical areas with lots of options, constant decision-making, the usefulness of a movable monster closet, reexamining our choices there, needing more support from voice or something to help the player know what's going on when they are locked in perspective, trapping the player, having the ship battle behind you, winning and disabling the droids, the impact of games and the humility with which we take that responsibility, visits from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, building a connection that is player-motivated, ikigai and iyashikei, shelf-level events, damage types, putting too much into the tutorial, coming back to a game and having the skills to overcome a challenge that defeated you previously, the Tetris Effect, skill acquisition and sleep. dynamically lowering the difficulty on challenges, wanting to avoid taking away the feeling of mastery, the original Xbox controller configuration, mapping A to squad control vs jump, taking time to accommodate a control scheme, controlling a camera vs controlling a head.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, ATI, Enter the Matrix, Xbox, Revenge of the Sith, Battlefront II, Pandemic Studios, Chris Williams, Matt Fillbrandt, Cat Sheu, Jonny Rice, Uncharted 3, Assassin's Creed, Skyrim, Daron Stinnett, Starfighter (series), Return of the Jedi, Dark Forces, Ben Burtt, Geoff Jones, Troy Mashburn, Jana Vance, Adam Piper, Jeremie Talbot, Alien, Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, Spider-Man, Tom Bissell, The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero, Gears of War (series), Reed Knight, TIE Fighter, Battle for Naboo, Jedi Knight, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Sam Thomas, Animal Crossing (series), 343 Industries, Nintendogs, Mario Kart (series), Luke Theriault, Alan Stevens, Pokemon, Super Mario Galaxy, Mario 64, Bethesda Game Studios, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Tetris Effect, Spider-Man 2, Jamie Fristrom, MobyGames, Chris Gripeos, Jenny Huang, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
Discovering presents from your mum on Animal Crossing

Next time:
Finishing the game!

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jun 3, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on the 2005 squad-based shooter Star Wars Republic Commando, on which both hosts worked. We first set the game in its time and also look at the various introductions made in the first part of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
The Geonosis section

Issues covered: revisiting our game and what it was like, a new console generation, HD gaming, embracing online play, the impact of a new generation on the late games of the prior generation, market pressures on Republic Commando, being a late game in a cycle and being held back by your publisher, internal flap over a separately licensed title, tying into the franchise and flooding the market, licensing as a market strategy, the growth of team size, the continuing strength of first-person shooters, presentation and Half-Life, the presentation of real life in shooters, the influence of Halo, having a sense of playing a single-player game that had the feel of playing co-op tactical games, the original high concept of the game, the mechanics of Allied Assault that helped lead to the game, wanting to point to a window and have a guy snipe from there, doing a lot with the game, a shooter for a Star Wars audience, the marines in Halo, letting the level design embrace the maneuver system, borrowing a stance system from elsewhere, why we had an unskippable intro, the strength of the team to just get things done, going above and beyond, delivering under duress, the intro being something you don't see in a Star Wars game, establishing a world, always being in the helmet, a few other influences, eliminating the text crawl, the lineage of LucasArts Logo animations, text crawls leading to the melodrama, choosing military-style introductions, introducing the characters to distinguish them more, moving to the painted armor, seeing unfinished film, giving the characters a chance to shine, creating the idea that the characters are different, having to be flexible about what the commandos can do, throwing down smoke and reflecting it in a mirror, opportunistic design, having characters comment on what they like and don't like, context-sensitive cuing, how later games would introduce a character, "we gave it to the Wolf," maybe being heavy-handed with the tutorial, finding elegant ways to trick the player into learning, difficulty levels, Brett sings a review, how to fiddle with puzzles for difficulty, messaging on a macro and micro level in presenting a puzzle, asking the player to step up, sticking to your goals, managing difficulty by presenting levels of challenge that are optional, knowing your niche and your ceiling of number of audience members, wanting to do GDC all year round, our inspiration for the 'cast, small regular bonuses of Nook Miles in Animal Crossing, letting go of Nook Miles, responding to the dopamine drip.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Morrowind, Fallout, LucasArts, God of War, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Resident Evil 4, Psychonauts, Guild Wars, Civilization IV, FEAR, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Animal Crossing: Wild World, Guitar Hero, Mercenaries, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Pandemic, Lego Star Wars, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Forza, Doom 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, DreamCast, Halo 2, Xbox Live Arcade, Starfighter (series), Rainbow Six (series), Rogue Squadron, Daron Stinnett, Dark Forces, Outlaws, Jedi Knight, Half-Life (series), Medal of Honor, Saving Private Ryan, EA, 2015 Games, Jason West, Vince Zampella, Respawn Entertainment, ARMA (series), The Longest Day, Chris Williams, Greg Knight, Kevin Schmitt, Peter Hirschmann, Freedom Fighters, Tim Ramsay, Scott Peters, Adam Piper, Jeremie Talbot, Pixar, Tippett Studio, Brett Schulz, Ryan Kaufman, Mike Stemmle, Telltale Games, Metroid Prime, Full Spectrum Warrior, Laralyn McWilliams, SWAT 4, Ken Levine, Day of the Tentacle, John Hancock, Nathan Martz, Andrew Kirmse, Borderlands, Troy Mashburn, Mike Baker, Kevin Guigere, Cuphead, Super Mario 64, Sherlock Holmes, Call of Cthulhu, Frogware, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Pit Droids, Lucas Learning, Baba Is You, Nintendo, Dark Souls, Super Mario Odyssey, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Ori (series), Sebastian, Vlaada Chvatil, Codenames, GDC, Grand Theft Auto III, Crystal Dynamics, Rebel FM, Jesse, Animal Crossing, Destiny, Epic Mickey, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
The Prosecutor section

Links:
Game Degustation (Czech)

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

May 27, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we cap off our revisit of the unique series Animal Crossing with a bonus episode about it's latest installment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We talk about the feeling of the new game, the intersection of new mechanics and quality-of-life improvements and how they change the feel of the game, and we give the museum some love in addition to other topics and feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
An hour or so a day!

Podcast breakdown:
0:47 Animal Crossing: New Horizons
57:04 Break
57:37 Feedback & Next Game

Issues covered: the vacation that's not a vacation, observations of humanity and how we use our phones, our own relationships with phones, similarities with Pocket Camp, seasonal events, the evolving mobile game and its influence into New Horizons, explicit vs implicit cooldowns (and being able to pay to remove them), analysis paralysis at the beginning, the things that Brett's not crazy about in the game/Nook Miles tracking, preferring the lack of incentives, worrying about achievements, intrinsic vs extrinsic rewards, stacking fruit, hacking and modding scene, losing the innocence, imagining a world in which the original game appears now, visibility into the indie space, blowing tranquility out of the water with Nook Miles, achievements, the influence of business models on the churn and turmoil of the industry, the changing approachability of games, being able to ask Tom Nook what to do, losing discovery and its accompanying delight, taking a positive lesson from trash, franchise challenges in terms of what you keep and what you discard, tracking multiple economies, revisiting EverQuest or Ultima and not knowing what to do, taking things academically for the 'cast, wanting to stay in the tent, not being engaged by the acquisition loops, losing characters in the original, animalizing changing your look, beauty as a feature, only doing the required crafting, overlap between classic AC/WoW and modern AC/WoW, the fantastic music, Tim captures a flea, the huge impact of the beauty of the museum, Brett's Book Recommendation, having a birthday intersecting with holidays in Animal Crossing, anticipating what will delight a player, being akin to a clicker, why play a game about chores, being rewarded by a chuckle, tend-and-befriend, Scandinavian comfort culture (hygge), ikagai and lagom, thinking about the next generation of hardware, load constraints, being interested in constraints, being curious about genuine innovation, what you can do with a really big hard drive, the expense of building for a new generation, high definition as a feature, pushing up against the constraints, we look forward to returning Geonosis, Brett's screed against YouTube.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Chris Hecker, Ultima IV, Ultima VII, Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, Death Stranding, Quake, Michael Abbott/Brainy Gamer, World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Hitman 2, Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteredge, Tay if that is his real name, 30 Rock, Mike, Cookie Clicker, Universal Paperclips, Cow Clicker, Last of Us, Mike Baker, LucasArts, Sierra On-line, Edwin, Nintendo Switch, PS2/3, Xbox, Wii, Metal Gear Solid, Pokemon, Fallout 4, Mark Cerny, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Star Wars: Starfighter/Jedi Starfighter, Kotaku, John Williams, David Collins, Epic Mickey, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
Michael Abbott on older games

Next time:
Star Wars Republic Commando: The Geonosis missions

Twitch: brettdouville, instagram:timlongojr, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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