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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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Dec 5, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion about Grand Theft Auto III. We close out the game by picking a couple favorite moments, talk about some of the difficulty at the end, and of course, do our takeaways before turning to feedback, of which there was much. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game! (If you're Brett, anyway)

Podcast breakdown:
0:39    GTA III discussion
59:06  Break
59:46  Feedback

Issues covered: Tim gets demoralized, timing and bad luck, wall missions, time and patience running out, being indifferent to the player, one's changing taste, getting better at the driving (and falling into the ocean), 'cast being non-conducive to this style of game, being okay with not finishing it, feeling comfortable in some areas of the game, imagining giggling devs, timing missions pushing you to let go of stuff and learn the city well, lower mission density, running off the drawbridge, doing the coffee carts the second time (and rubbing it in), getting the bulletproof Patriot, everyone shooting at you around the world, stuff in the disc case (RTFM) including a good map, heist mentality, planning and executing your heist, cheating, moments of grace, fiero, triggering a stunt at the end of a mission, movie moment, side missions Brett tried, the cost of adding more on top of the simulation, other ways to scale the timing missions, making a big commitment to the story, likely low completion rate, wanting to care more about the characters and being pushed against the stereotypes, the high quality of the radio stations, adding flavor and life through radio, car damage model, running to the Pay and Spray, juking the police cars at high wanted level, punishing system countering the player's goals, inner turmoil, considering the game's impact, the freedom of this open world, loading times on PS2, opening up open world games and establishing the possibility of many franchises, committing to style, fantasy fulfillment of crime, media influences, realistic setting (as opposed to fantasy), pushing towards transgression, pushing the player into just getting things done and letting things go, expert frustration, running over pedestrians, running around the streets and bumping into people, dehumanizing pedestrians, Brett's favorite moment, the chaos engine, getting into the cartel area to go after the "oriental gentleman," switching into game development later, whether to get into QA, having useful skills, buying a developer lunch or a beer, company sizes, getting into game jams, what's punk rock (Brett has no idea), calling something virtue signaling and what that means, taking a risk in talking GTA, learning the map vs being directed, appeal of missions vs driving around shenanigans, player-directed vs designer-directed behavior, what people showed when they showed you the game, side content and achievements, how much simulation is too much simulation?, what brings people in, recognizing film-style realism, sports games looking like television broadcasts, inviting mechanics, the arcade driving model, forgiving damage model, listening to whatever radio station comes on, scratched disc and other reminiscences.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Gone with the Wind (obliquely), X-COM: UFO Defense, Final Fantasy IX, Deus Ex, Rockstar Games, Robert Loggia, seaofmorgan, djmurgatroyd, Kyle MacLachlin, Homo Ludens, Huizinga, Red Dead Redemption 2, PlayStation 2, Starfighter, TIE Fighter, Assassin's Creed (series), Spider-Man (2018), Halo, Metal Gear Solid, PacMan, The A-Team, Jesse Morgan, Dungeons & Dragons, Miles Truss, Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael, MaasNeotekProto, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Joe Carnahan, Mark Garcia, Shenmue, Harry Potter, Scarface, The Godfather, The Mechanic, Miami Vice, Christopher Wright, Don Winslow, Dan Simmons, Pokemon Red/Blue, GameCube.

Brett's Book Suggestions:
The Winter of Frankie Machine, by Don Winslow
Dan Simmons's "Joe Kurtz" trilogy: Hardcase/Hard Freeze/Hard as Nails

Links:
Global Game Jam

Next time:
Pokemon Red/Blue, up to Viridian City

Mea culpa:
"Fiero" appears to be a term popularized by Nicole Lazzaro, in the 4 Keys to Fun. We regret the error.

Dan Simmons's "Joe Kurtz" trilogy is actually set in Buffalo, NY, not Albany. We regret the error.

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

Nov 28, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion about Grand Theft Auto III. We talk a bit about mission structure, failure states, learning through failure, and a host of other things. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
About a dozen missions into Staunton

Podcast breakdown:
0:47    GTA III discussion
55:12  Break
55:45  Feedback

Issues covered: homophones, the intermediate position between cartridges and hard drive, saving when you're "done for the night," tension between mission design and world design, building up your arsenal, adding to your mission setup loop, memory cards and the hardship of working with them, choosing your save spots in an open world game, Vita Chambers vs save spots, the weakness of the PC port, "quality of life stuff," the assassination of Salvatore, learning through failure, escalation missions, individual mission stories, sniping on the PC, aim assist for consoles and stealing from a common place, learning the map, playing the radar game, eyes being drawn low for the radar but being unable to follow landmarks as a result, the cool moment of knowing a place, usability to support the story missions, putting yourself back in 2001, wishing you could program for the PS2 again, being frustrated by timers, using the systems and tools you have rather than building new stuff for every mission, getting janky because of having few tools, bending tools to your will, capture the flag mission from humble beginnings, Rube Goldberg machines, how far can you bend a system before it's no longer in line with what your game's about, timers don't support the chaos engine that the game is, punishment for being poor with the controls, finding your lanes and staying in them, maybe missions aren't really the point, the player type that pushes the boundaries, using achievements or trophies to push you in directions you might otherwise miss, the cars being much better on Staunton, being put off by the driving model, world systems fighting your driving, fingers deep in Cheetos, no one in the game fighting for anything, finding a character you can hold on to, the value of Aristotelian structure, putting different points of view around an issue, needing stakes and counterpoints, punk rock requires an opposing authority, punching down, wanting more meaning from your choices, examining what games should be trying to do, our super-fan, host-appropriate T-shirts.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Banjo-Kazooie, Rare Replay, Nintendo, PS2, Tomb Raider, Bioshock, Hitman (2016), The Terminator, Halo, Starfighter, PS3, Thief, Unreal, Republic Commando, Jedi Starfighter, John Drake, The Incredible Machine, Casey's Contraptions, Rube Goldberg, Red Dead Redemption 2, Dark Souls (series), Ninja Gaiden (series), GTA V Online, Crazy Taxi, Batman: Arkham (series), The Witcher 3, Mazirian the mag, Mikkel Lodahl, GTA San Andreas, Bojack Horseman, Waypoint, Austin Walker, Patrick Klepek, Danielle Riendeau, Rob Zacny, Natalie Watson, Baldur's Gate, Jurassic Park: Trespasser, Microsoft, XBOX, Bill Gates, Dreamworks Interactive, Far Cry 2, Clint Hocking, Aaron Evers, Dungeons and Dragons, Tomb of Horrors, Star Wars.

Links:
Seamus Blackley and Trespasser

Sorry, I could not find Clint Hocking's Trespasser talk... :(

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Nov 21, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our discussion about Grand Theft Auto III. We actually spend a little time talking about the counter-argument, that this game extends a middle finger to the moral scolds who wanted to cage video games, and then talk about specifics about its streaming, and talk about the dissonance between its systems and mission design, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "Last Requests"

Podcast breakdown:
0:32   GTA III discussion
57:07 Break
57:41 Feedback & reviews

Issues covered: voice actors who don't quite work and those who do, rough combat, dreading combat, avoiding alternate and secondary missions, moral scolds and violent video games, critical and player response to a finger extended at the establishment, punk rock, rap in the 90s in Oakland and LA, skewering American culture, handling your satire around certain topics, madonna/whore divide and stripper/nun divide, treatment of women in games, being in the right place at the right time, freedom of speech issues in film (and games), systems vs skinning, positive benefits of skinning and negative, consequences for actions, forcing player behavior by being unable to continue otherwise, pushing the boundaries when there are numbers, seamless streaming, systemic support for the streaming, parallel mission structure, flight sims as streaming, streaming in with media storage much larger than the available RAM, streaming in topography for flight sims, doing quest lines with multiple characters at once, intertwining mission structure, parallelizing and TV's subplot nature, RPG influence with quest lines and side quests and optional quests, putting various skill challenges into missions, skill challenges in opposition to the chaos engine, failing due to flipping your car, freedom fighting the missions, chilling with an open world, being able to exploit systems, suffering for the art of the exploit, exposing options, janky grenade throwing, finding simulation limits to exploit, our occasional lapses in knowledge or research, the hooker/health/money method, making horrific behavior palatable, "protagonist doesn't mean hero," punching up and punching down, hearing more of the radio because you're better at the game, double standards and hypocrisy, treatment of minorities, narrative framing, representation matters, liking to play the good guy, what freedoms do you actually have, lack of consequence for death or mayhem, limits of failure, upping the ante on police response, lack of a strong female lead in Rockstar games, playing a game when there's nothing like it and how that impacts you and returning to it later and seeing its flaws, abandoning World War II games because of a personal connection, feeling weird about war games where the only way they touch me is through entertainment, licensing term, lifecycle of a music license, unionization aspects and agent culture with music licensing (inheriting from film), complication of rights even for scores, personal soundtracks, save systems and using engines, choosing the wrong engine for the game you're making, writing all your game code.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Michael Madsen, Frank Vincent, ESRB, Jack Thompson, Paducah, Columbine, DOOM, Wolfenstein, Mortal Kombat, Joe Lieberman, South Park, Bonnie and Clyde*, the New Hollywood, The People vs Larry Flynt, Hustler, Penthouse, Playboy, Woody Harrelson, Ed Norton, Milos Forman**, Oliver Stone, Thomas Was Alone, God of War, GTA Vice City and San Andreas, Super Mario 64, PlayStation 1, Spyro the Dragon (series), David Jones, Elite, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Derek Smart, BattleCruiser 3000AD, Star Citizen, The Sopranos, David Murgatroyd, Red Dead Redemption (series), Spider-Man 2, Jamie Fristrom, Joseph Krull, Fallout (series), Grant Goodine, Manhunt, Kevin James, Thief, Silent Hill 2, Hitman (series), Black & White, The Sims, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Call of Duty (series), Medal of Honor, Ethan Johnson, Dylan Cuthbert, Q Games, Pixeljunk Sidescroller, Xbox/Xbox 360, Underworld Ascendant, Mark Eldridge, Unity, Unreal, System Shock 2, idTech, CryEngine, Dishonored (series), Prey (2017), Tacoma, Lulu LaMer, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Tim Sweeney.

Next time:
12-15 missions into Staunton Island

Corrections:
*Bonnie and Clyde was released in 1967.
** Milos Forman did in fact pass away in April of 2018.

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

Nov 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we are beginning a new series about Grand Theft Auto III. As always, we spend the first episode situating the title in its release time frame and talk a bit about the history of the studio and creators associated with it before turning to the game proper. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Fuzz Ball"

Podcast breakdown:
0:37 GTA III discussion
58:48 Break
59:16 Feedback

Issues covered: perspectives from Lulu about production, games of 2001, bringing the mafia back into popular entertainment, grabbing the zeitgeist, how to deal with the anti-hero, commercial plays with the gritty follow-up, freshening up a franchise by going dark, not being sold on playing this game, mature with a capital M, still being under the shadow, starting and abandoning GTA IV and skipping GTA V altogether, DMA Design founders, programming-centric company, the top-down camera view, introduction of the Houser brothers, British gangster cinema, writing style and tone changes, film-style credit sequence, iconic characterization and key art, having a gritty New York of the 70s and 80s genre films, blaxploitation, the New Hollywood, leaning into character archetypes, impressive voice cast, using Hollywood-level talent, not needing to use them, unsung high-quality voice talent, cinematic representation of the credits, ambition vs genius, going big and not apologizing, putting the developers forward rather than the actors, making their own myth, a voiceless main character (Claude), voiceless being better in first-person, empty vessel to fill, limited representation, defining characters more as time goes on, the risk of changing the character out from under the player, undirected game, tension between genre and character and story, playing a low-level thug in The Godfather, playing your own sort of character, do players care about the tension, do you have to like the character, the chaos engine and the strong cinematic style, player exploration of the possibility space, separating the chaos and the nihilistic stories, dehumanizing women, punching every which way vs punching down, Brett messes up his punching directions, creative decisions, choosing the ones you put in and don't, presenting a boundary that is itself commentary, choices players can't make due to lack of systems, prostitution in multiple media, the crassest flattest two-dimensional representation of sex work, being a target in the industry, disposable human beings, hope for humanity, craftmanship and talent and lack of responsibility, representing themselves, pushing the player to a nihilistic viewpoint, pushing the player to psychopathic driving, spawning cars to gum up the works, diametrically opposing success and responsible citizenship, not overcrediting them with thinking it through, tongue-in-cheek or not, what if it were visually amazing but everything else was the same, how you get the talent, Brett and Tim the ASMR guys, first-person camera, console-centric development, head bobbing, couch vs monitor, motion sickness and movement and FOV, more complicated than you think, stick movement and aim assist, what's the walkin' around like, frame-dependency, noticing something and being able to describe it, reticle, GTA III memories, returning to GTA III, corrupting the youth, killing jaywalking pedestrians, unexamined biases, kitsch, the first draft and tropes, editing a story due to current events.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Lulu LaMer, Thief, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, System Shock 2, Ico, Silent Hill 2, Anachronox, PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, SSX Tricky, GameCube, Super Smash Bros, Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy X, Max Payne, Black & White, Diablo 2, Xbox, Halo, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rare, Jak & Daxter, Game Boy Advance, Castlevania, Oni, Bungie, The Sopranos, Scorcese, Coppola, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Prince of Persia, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA V, Rockstar North/DMA Design, Acme Software, David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond, Mike Dailly, Crackdown, Lemmings, Take Two, PS1 Classic, Reagent Games, Cloudgine, Epic, the Houser brothers, The Krays, Bob Hoskins, Ian McQue, GTA: Vice City, Robert Loggia, Frank Vincent, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Rapaport, True Romance, Debi Mazar, Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Nolan North, Leslie Benzies, The Godfather: The Game, GTA Online, Eve Online, South Park, Klute, Jane Fonda, Michel Faber, The Crimson Petal and the White, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dungeon Keeper, Jigsaw/Saw, Michael Madsen, Lars from Hamburg, Hitman, Giant Beastcast, Tacoma, Steve Gaynor, The Stanley Parable, Nels Anderson, The Witness, David "Heavens To" Murgatroyd, Fallout, Ray Liotta, Brian Moriarty.

Next time:
Through "Last Requests"


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

Nov 7, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we in this episode we are lucky enough to enjoy an interview with Lulu LaMer, who started out her career at Looking Glass as QA on Thief, and went on to be a producer, including on some of the Tomb Raider games at Crystal Dynamics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:00:39 Interview
1:10:24 Break
1:10:48 Next time

Issues covered: a quick list of the uses of a degree in French, quitting your job and bleaching your hair and tossing your business casual, early introduction to games, getting away from games and coming back, QA as an engineering discipline and player advocacy, buying into the development philosophy, becoming QA, level designer differences and tester differences, pairing designers and testers, moving to full play-throughs with specific builds, being a sympathetic tester/regulatory capture, naming a play style for forum users, too much intimacy with forum users, influencing the game's economy, the benefits of Looking Glass on a résumé, the help of data-driven design, inheritance and object model, a lot of territory to cover, trying to get outside the level, Randy's voice acting, ignoring a player who's being a dick, transitioning to associate producer, lack of communication at LG, going on press tour, having unsympathetic press, going to the pub, having a company abruptly close, the role of a producer, having a core of people to work on Thief: Deadly Shadows, taking an engine and trying to make it work for their sort of game, using Unreal to make levels, lacking shared understandings, needing to create a culture, lacking direction and mentorship, the abstraction of being a producer, avoiding micromanagement, quitting to become a midwife, "you don't deliver the baby, the mom delivers the baby!", coming back into the fold better prepared for the job, feeling you had been terrible at the job, the last game she played as a Tomb Raider, the sense of being in a place, additive vs subtractive rendering and tools, moving from a story game to a more systemic game, having trouble communicating the ideas, Uncharted taking a big leap forward, distilling down Tomb Raider's essence, remaking vs remastering, preferring the updated levels, a schedule all of out of whack, playing through the levels and streamlining, distillation of memory and emotion, building to alpha and then moving to agile, triage, ranking what needs to be fixed, compromise and choices, ending pressure, guidance for players, Daydream the "product area," augmented reality project, Immersive Arts, augmented reality, spaces and games and reading and space.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Looking Glass Studios, Thief (series), System Shock 2, Flight Unlimited, ION Storm, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, 2K Games, Spec Ops: The Line, Borderlands, Bioshock: Infinite, Borderlands 2, Funomena, Robin Hunicke, Daydream Studios, Google, Randy Smith, Pong, Vic 20, NES, Bethesda Studios, Dorian Hart, LucasArts, Greg LoPiccolo, Marc (Mahk) LeBlanc, Harmonix, PC Gamer, Kieron Gillen, Eidos, Telltale Games, Jon Chey, Irrational Australia, Warren Spector, Emil Pagliarulo, Terri Brosius, Doug Church, Freedom Force, Chris Carollo, Tom Leonard, Deus Ex, Unreal, Tim Sweeney, Epic, Game Developer's Conference, Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver, Uncharted, Richard LeMarchand, Naughty Dog, Jason Botta, Ratchet and Clank, Project Snowblind, Nate Wells, Nate Schaumberg, Kyle Mannerberg, Google Pixel, Playground, Iron Man, Kindle, GTA III, GTA Vice City, Resident Evil VII, Thief (2014).

Next time:
GTA III, the first several missions

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

Oct 31, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we in this episode we are lucky enough to enjoy an interview with Greg LoPiccolo, project lead on Thief, and Randy Smith, who was a level designer on the title. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview
1:00:08  Break
1:00:50  Feedback

Issues covered: World Series, how Randy got his start, psychology and programming as substrate for game design, "Suck it down" and toxic masculinity, cold-calling, the attraction of LG games, how Greg got in, the origins of Thief, competition, seeking limited but rich interaction, being weak, controlling the world from observation, AI with sense perceptions, the success of Thief, working counter to the prevailing winds, writing documentation to think about the space, commodities of space: loud/quiet and light/dark, tools support or lack thereof for those spaces, carving shapes, spaces that are hard to read, the level Escape, experimentation to find how to make a level, inventing sound propagation, dynamic lights impacting game play, player reading the lighting of a space, optimization, pulling back on combat in Thief II, "winging it and doing our best to survive," having nothing until you had everything, "like digging the Chunnel," polygon limitations, how do you build a cathedral with that?, the Emil vs Randy systems of building, designers having to be artists at the same time, putting the systems first, systemically reading space rather than tagging it, leading the team without having the tech yet, directing the narrative, writing lots of narrative to provide background and use it sparingly, people making their own stories, high quality voice acting, the bear pits, dialog as part of the game play loop, witty characters poking through, having to learn how to build a GANTT chart, repossessing the plants, the role of a leader, deep backstory, starting from a 1-4 page document, making up cool ideas and running with them, not being aware you couldn't do a thing, the trend of risk aversion in the industry, the indie spirit, an attempt to be more commercial, object hierarchy of inheritance, being in a submarine in the cold war, debugging console, the fundamental trick of game design: player brain and designer brain, starting testing much earlier, empathy as a design skill, overcoming doubt when innovating, saying yes to everything -> saying no to everything -> it's hard but we can do it, what the guests are doing next, having taste in game design and finding that audience, feeling like a musician vs being a musician, a touching father/daughter story.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Looking Glass Studios, Thief (series), ION Storm, Electronic Arts, Steven Spielberg, Edge Magazine, Tiger Style, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, Sega Genesis, Bimini Run, Nuvision Entertainment, System Shock, Flight Unlimited, Harmonix, Frequency, Rock Band VR, Tribe, Waking Mars, Nate Blaisdell, MYST, Tim Schafer, Eric Brosius, Rex Bradford, Activision, Tim Ries, Doug Church, Dan Schmidt, Ned Lerner, Terra Nova, Terri Brosius, 2001: A Space Odyssey (obliquely), DOOM (1993), Paul Neurath, Metal Gear Solid, Ultima Underworld, id Software, Tim Stellmach, DromEd, Unreal, Emil Pagliarulo, Bethesda Game Studios, Marc LeBlanc, Stephen Russell, Ken Levine, Tom Leonard, Red Dead Redemption 2, Game Developer's Conference, Kevin Brown, Halo: Combat Evolved, Far Cry 5, Andrew Kirmse, Star Wars: Starfighter.

Next time:
Another interview!

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

Oct 24, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we in this episode we conclude our discussion of 1998's Thief: The Dark Project. We talk a bit about equipment and gadgets, the story and enemy shifts that happen late in the game, the commitment maybe to story over what was working, and as always, our takeaways from the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Segment 1: Thief discussion
54:53 Break
55:20 Segment 2: Thief takeaways, Brett's Book Minute, and Feedback

Issues covered: good ending dialog, using the whole toolkit, kiting enemies to a trap, firing off gadgets immediately on acquisition, gas and fire arrows, having trouble on Escape, leaning away from the core fantasy, being a little too story-forward, other directions that might have worked, an easier last level, having to experiment to take down enemies, making good extensions to the enemy mix vs bad, finding an in-game way to give you information about your tools, the Hammerite mythology and technological disruption, conflicts between technology and nature, Hammerites and the Brotherhood of Steel, the texts before the cutscenes, setting tone, using first-person tools for storytelling, not being able to rely on lore, usability and testing, being a developer and being too good at your game, enjoying little loops of locations and story, missing subobjectives and having to go back, kicking the hornet's nest and having to go back, moving the goalposts too many times, the frustrating Escape level, returning to the Hammerite cathedral and having it changed, one-way gating your way through the final level (vs stealth), changing the tone of the game, how do you end a game?, going to an otherworldly place, Garrett talking to himself, listening to the Trickster do his summoning, heist/switching the idol, committing to the thief fantasy, technology as a feature, writing their own engine, focusing on simulation and systems in first-person, rope arrows and surface types, designing ancillary systems to support your core experience, consequential map, lockpicking vs a minigame, inventory and the store, horror beats, Garrett as a character, Brett's Book Minute, a correction, quiet and loneliness in Tomb Raider, loner vs loneliness, the golden age of the immersive sim, the genre as a success or not, expense of making AAA, level designers' ability to make whole levels, immersive sims at the indie level and procedural elements, flesh levels.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Looking Glass Studios, Everquest, Edge of Tomorrow, Fallout, Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Gone Home, Dear Esther, D&D, JRR Tolkien, System Shock 2, Indiana Jones/Raiders of the Lost Ark, Baldur's Gate, ION Storm, Ultima Underworld, Deus Ex, Thief (2014), Tomb Raider, Tony Cliff, Delilah Dirk (series character), Timothy Hallinan, Junior Bender (series character), Ethan Johnson, Greg LoPiccolo, Vijay Lakshman, Elder Scrolls, Alex Rigopulos, Eran Egozy, Tim Dore, Half-Life, Dan Hunter, Dishonored, Prey, TIE Fighter, Daron Stinnett, Bethesda Game Studios, Zenimax, Arkane Studios, Kotaku, Neon Struct, We Happy Few, The2ndQuest, Contra, Aliens, Predator, Abadox, Alien Syndrome, Halo, Eric Bartoszak, Jill Murray.

Next time:
Next time we expect an interview! Keep your eyes peeled.

Links:
Fansy the Famous Bard (CW: homophobia, probably other chat grotesqueries, MMO chat can be ugly)

Brett's Twitch Channel

Stealth Docs YT Channel (recommended by a listener)

Podcast with Looking Glass folks

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

Oct 18, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in the midst of series discussing 1998's Thief: The Dark Project. We talk about map trade-offs, enemy diversity and choices, the levels we played, music and objectives, and other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Undercover

Issues covered: "disco is my life," longer Thief: Gold levels, DLC before DLC existed, technical issues and level design, experimenting with what direction to take next, being unable to connect the dots, making assumptions about what the sim is saying, satisfying objectives unsatisfactorily, feeling like you'll be able to pick up the collectibles later, making the optional mandatory, intrinsic reward of economy and core fantasy, scaling difficulty being different in modern designs, unnecessary tension, changing up strategies due to the mission preparation screen, identity and tone in the music and audio design, impact of horror film genre on soundtrack choices, NPC dialog, cinematics as reward vs dialog, reward for slow player pace, variety of player choice encouraging stealth in NOLF, using dialog and timing to locate enemies and get into position, NPC dialog as a timer, having all the enemy types in The Lost City, the variety of enemy types, using water arrows on fireballs, crossing a valuable resource over, motivation of enemy designs, reuse of animation and models, technical limitations, character realism vs other games, co-op in SS2, choices in the map, map as opportunity for strategy, an inaccurate map, maintaining the fantasy with the map, map as puzzle, needing to use the compass to get your bearings, the many approaches of the map, flexibility in the uses of the map, seeing the lineage to Dishonored, finding maps as you play, map in an exploration game vs a target game, playing to your game's needs, map as a microcosm of design choices, getting an opportunity to be in disguise, the Eye talking to you, bleeding the natural through the mechanical thematically, MIT Gambit lab podcasts.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Earth, Wind, and Fire, Eric Brosius, Red Dead Redemption, Kirk Hamilton, GB Buford, Jaws, Frictional Games, Amnesia, SOMA, The Chinese Room, No One Lives Forever, Cthulhu, System Shock 2, Soul Reaver, Tomb Raider, Quake, Hitman, Unreal, Doom, Far Cry 2, Miasmata, Firewatch, Prey, Dishonored, Tim Dore, Dan Hunter.

Links:
Kotaku on the RDR soundscape

Podcast with Looking Glass folks

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Oct 10, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we look back to Shadows of the Tomb Raider for a special bonus episode featuring Lead Writer Jill Murray. We talk about how the writing gets done -- spoilers, there's a lot more planning than writing -- as well as all sorts of topics that grow from that. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: lacking access to technology, Jill's early career in visual arts/music/theater, staging a big musical, web development and a mismatch of needs, being non-distracted by the Internet, realizing that someone is writing these things, getting in, having to generate a lot of AC in a short time, the roles of writers, the meaning of a lead writer, leading a team vs being a principal writer, focusing on character and voice, writers holding multiple roles, writers working alongside one another vs a writers room, working with designers vs writers, splitting content responsibilities up, sharing a few systems, accommodating multiple styles, the team still tells the story, the impact of the team on the storytelling, choice of verbs impacting possible stories, lack of authorial control, having no sense of the size of a team, out-sourced studios enlarging the team, pros and cons of working with big teams, working with actors, the luxury of performance capture, security of the company being your security, production and collaboration style driving lifestyle, combative styles, smaller games less reliable, working out collaboration afresh, broader responsibilities, figuring out how everything fits to drive the actual sitting down and writing, lots of meetings, working on animatics, prepping for performance capture, multiple revisions with critiques of up to a dozen people, planning to prepare due to cost, attending performance capture shoots, going over the scripts again and again, having a full crew to move equipment/manage cameras/aid talent/feed everyone/set up mocap, observing as a writer, talking with the performance director to avoid getting in the way of the actor/director relationship, read-throughs, doing the cinematography afterwards, having a little more freedom with the character, reaching the end of this first journey, strength in vulnerability, leaning into awkwardness in a scene, being limited in what we're allowed to choose because it having to be badass, adding dimensionality to characters, expanding the medium into new audiences, audience not realizing what they want, community management and development, how game writing is like Gatorade, audience empathy, your responsibility to the player, provoking anger and fear, aftercare, thinking about how we care for a player after we've provoked strong, games as services, seeing yourself represented, being someone else, making games not just for ourselves, bringing other voices into the room, reaching the status of a Lara Croft, dating in a seniors residence, the Star Trek holodeck.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: UbiSoft, Assassin's Creed (series), Writer's Guild of America, Kitfox Games, Moon Hunters, Minority Media, Time Machine VR, Lawbreakers, Tomb Raider, Montreal Fringe Festival, Minesweeper, Xbox, Mass Effect (series), Ann Lemay, WB Games, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012, Richard Farrese, Republic Commando, Jedi Starfighter, Bethesda Game Studios, Darby McDevitt, Eidos, Camilla Luddington, Gray's Anatomy, Virginie Costa, David Hubert, Crystal Dynamics, Gatorade, Kotaku, Skyrim, Kirk Hamilton, Evan Narcisse, James Bond, Batman, Bloom Digital, Later Gators, DreamDaddy, Golden Girls, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Boyfriend Dungeon, Meagan Marie, Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play, Chinese Independent Game Developers Association Conference.

Next time:
Next time we return to Thief: The Dark Project, through "Undercover"

Links:
You can find Jill on Twitter at @disco_jill and via her company website, https://discoglo.be.

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

Oct 3, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in the midst of our series about 1998's Thief; we talk about the story development of the world, some small mechanical bits, and then dig into the level design of the four levels we played. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Sword"

Issues covered: getting shot with an arrow, starting with the day in the life of a thief, establishing a baseline of a life, introducing the Hammerites and other groups, verses from religious texts, things are getting weird, weaving in "The Dark Project," upsetting the balance, the trope of stumbling into something larger, significance of what you're stealing, interludes vs cutscenes, preferring the mundane to the strange in this game, player expectations of story, surprising the audience, industrial/steampunk setting mixing with magic, wanting more from the city, leaning into weird backstory but drifting away, not needing the bizarre framing devices, constructing your story level to level, individual contributions driving story, extending the core fantasy with new mechanics, knucklehead stealth, sword swinging mechanics, complexity of collisions, the efficiency of the blackjack, adding traps and lock picks, slow projectiles, being able to see the mechanisms behind the traps, methodical trap avoidance, player skill in reading the environment, committing to first-person in lock-picking, triggering character skill, adding a lock-picking mini-game to the franchise, being a predator in other games, claustrophobia in narrow corridors, hacking a zombie to bits, the mournful music of the horn, building Garrett's character and placing him in the world, surprise switch objective, a level that is too long, not having the texture budget to support the level design, being lost, picking up things and having them in your inventory, doing stuff in the wrong order, banging up against the banners, being a second story guy, rope arrow mechanics, a weird space, relying on physics engines, level as character building, weird promotions, flipping the script and driving you away.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Tomb Raider, System Shock 2, The Usual Suspects, Memento, Hitman (series), Assassin's Creed, Dario Casali, Half-Life, Dark Forces, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Hal Barwood, Die By The Sword, Ultima Underworld, Leon: The Professional, Ken Levine, Dark Souls, Pipe Dreams, Kent Hudson, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Arkham Asylum, Deus Ex, Stephen King, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Cthulhu, HP Lovecraft, Gothic Chocobo, Fallout 3, Bulletstorm, People Can Fly, EA Partners, Turok, Dante's Inferno, Brutal Legend, Jack Black, The Way, Grand Theft Auto IV.

Next time:
Through "Undercover"

Links:
Assassin's Creed's Functional Story


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

Sep 26, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we now begin our series about 1998's Thief; as usual, we start by setting the game in its time before diving into a few of its systems and technology requirements. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Cragscleft Prison

Podcast breakdown:
0:41 Thief
53:13 Break
53:45 Feedback

Issues covered: reflecting on 1998, first-person shooter games of the time, having different first-person goals, differing pacing, original design goals, high enemy lethality and comparative weakness of the protagonist, methodical style of play, punishing the player for an action approach, getting sucked into the demo, niche and sales, sticking to a core fantasy vs going to a more action-oriented design, an aesthetic that spreads to other places, going in a different direction with tone, establishing a different fantasy setting, painterly cutscenes, functional lore, quality of the voice acting, the light meter, audio surface changes, lack of direct information about the AI, technology considerations, dynamic lighting, dynamic and attenuated audio, not cheating for the AI, setting an expectation for future games in the genre (particularly with shooting out lights), doing a job at Lord Bafford's Manor, setting the stage for the game, introducing the mission, having alternate routes, picking pockets, level and experiential density, clear level direction (moving up), dynamic goals, turning off transparency and ledges, following the dotted line or not, movement weight, making trade-offs of immediacy vs groundedness, weapon roles, progression and weapon roles working against one another, extending character through weapon choices, making more interesting choices from your systems (including weapons).

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Starcraft, Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Unreal, Rainbox Six, Final Fantasy Tactics, Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider 3, Rogue Squadron, Grim Fandango, Half-Life, Baldur's Gate, Spyro the Dragon, Battlezone, Descent: Freespace, Star Wars: Starfighter, Kotaku Splitscreen, Half-Life 2, Fallout 2, Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow, Quake, Epic Games, id Software, Duke Nukem, Heretic, Eidos Interactive, Die by the Sword, Treyarch, Trespasser, Daron Stinnett, System Shock 2, Looking Glass, Hitman, Splinter Cell, Dishonored, Ultima Underworld, Origin, Flight Unlimited, System Shock, Terra Nova, Strike Force Alpha Centauri, Ken Levine, Doug Church, Harvey Smith, Randy Smith, Mark LeBlanc, Warren Spector, Paul Neurath, Underworld Ascendant, Emil Pagliarulo, Lulu LaMer, Crystal Dynamics, Tim Stellmach, Terry and Eric Brosius, Greg LoPiccolo, Stephen Russell, Arx Fatalis, Arkane Studios, Raf Colantonio, Gothic Chocobo, Mark Brown, Morrowind, Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Batman, Dead Space, Rômulo Santos, Monster Hunter (series), Andrew from Cincinnati, Deus Ex, Doom, Halo, Uncharted, Star Wars: Republic Commando.

Next time:
Through The Sword

Links:
Is the reboot of Lara Croft more feminist?

10 things (women were doing in Video games in the) 1990's (2:45-4:28)

Why Nathan Drake doesn't need a compass.


Following the little dotted line

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

Sep 19, 2018

Hello, and welcome to a special bonus episode of Dev Game Club, where we talk about the most recent Tomb Raider release, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, talking a little bit about where the reboots came from and the thinking that went into them as well as some of the structural differences between the two. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Some of the first few hours

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Shadow of the Tomb Raider
42:18 Break
42:50 Feedback

Issues covered: considering the original reboot, discussing the Crystal Dynamics era generally, updating for the modern era, avoiding predictability, exploring character rather than superheroics, reconsidering the world structure, adding side activities for the player, tonal shift, survival action rather than survival horror, not seeing how the character will turn into the original Lara Croft, voice acting, changing set pieces, paying off on minimal player interaction with bigger set pieces, the flood sequence, having moments in the original and the reboot where you're hunting around for what to do, the resourceful explorer, solitude, marrying modern sensibilities and expectations to older game feelings, connectivity constraining globe-trotting, choosing the difficulty, not missing the telegraphing/mark-up, considering how the puzzles might be different, re-using combat AI to create play opportunities, finding repeatable systemic features that enrich a space, leveraging mechanics that you don't need to teach the player, relishing modern design, starkness of the difference between them, Sega Saturn technical concerns, soundtrack differences, resolution differences, lock and key dependencies, the condensing of the original in the remake, a bit about Kingdom Hearts, some insight on the philosophy of TR: Anniversary, capturing the flavor of the original, gruesome deaths, taking ourselves less seriously, real-time raytracing, the uncanny valley, making things more expensive, letting go, whether you even notice, slow adoption by developers, enjoying the smoke and mirrors and the demands of limitations, the run-on costs of even a simple addition, mixing settings and increasing the uncanny valley.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Eidos Montreal, Crystal Dynamics, Noah Hughes, Soul Reaver, CORE Design, Jason Botta, Brandon Fernandez, Toby Gard, Darryl Gallagher, Uncharted (series), Skyrim, The Descent, Indiana Jones, Metal Gear Solid 4, Assassin's Creed, DF Retro, Edwin Crump, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, (Allison By Proxy -- sorry to forget your name), irreverentQ, Game Maker's Toolkit, Super Metroid, Dagur Danielsson, Kingdom Hearts, Half-Life, Ratchet & Clank, Doug Church, Valve, William Rance, Conan O'Brien, Chris Tiemeßen, Xbox/Xbox 360, Republic Commando, Tim Ramsay, Metal Gear Solid, Nintendo.

Links:
DF Retro on Tomb Raider

Boss Keys on Super Metroid

Brett on Kingdom Hearts

Next time:
Possibly Thief? Possibly an interview? Keep posted at @devgameclub.

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

Sep 12, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we celebrate the triumphant return of co-host Tim Longo with... a discussion of the rest of 1996's Tomb Raider. We once again discuss the levels themselves, but also discuss traps, puzzles, and the use of voice to characterize action adventure avatars in more recent games, before turning to takeaways and your questions and feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finishing the game (Egypt and Atlantis)

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Segment 1: Levels and other discussion
1:04:40  Break
1:05:12  Segment 2: Takeaways and feedback

Issues covered: cumbersome controls, traversal-based exploration vs skill-based exploration, traps as playing against expectations in traversal, varying threats with traps, lower stress approach than combat, puzzles, block moving, levels as puzzles, evolving the puzzles and mechanics over multiple games, feature iteration over a series, voice acting in cutscenes vs in-game, preferring solitude, not having a plan for Lara the character, losing the ability to see yourself in the character, using cutscenes as reward, blurring the line between cinematic and game, using FMV instead, thinking of the first two Egypt levels as one level, interconnectedness of the Obelisk, seeing everything you need to do in one room, breaking their rules, climbing all around the side of the Sphinx room, navigation as puzzle, sense of scale, showing you the destination and making you figure out how to get there, water puzzles, contextualization, having your input read in in-engine cutscenes, doors that open and stay open, motivating your puzzles and switches, ancient stuff vs modern, building new mechanics late in the game, central pyramid room, ending in flesh, leaning into a problem, paying off on doing something denied you in a cutscene, leaning into exploration, naming your enemies and therefore making them more important, level as puzzle, strong character design, animation with weight and wind-up, the move set as puzzle, learning the move systems, white paint, branching paths, inescapable abstraction, give me guardrails to find the fun, balancing freedom against direction, MDA framework, interaction of the mechanics with the dynamics, abstraction in AI and physics and other systems, merging mechanics and narrative, VR as an interesting place for this, innovation moving to the mainstream, horror.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Indiana Jones, Resident Evil, Soul Reaver, Stephen's Sausage Roll, Monument Valley, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, Core Design, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Uncharted (series), God of War (2018), Jedi Knight, Westwood, Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Wing Commander, Half-Life, System Shock 2, Doom, Cthulhu, Metal Gear (series), Eidos Montreal, Starfighter (series), Republic Commando, Assassin's Creed, Deus Ex, Michael, LonelyBob K, Tim Dooley, Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Zachary Crownover, Zimmy Finger, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Papers, Please, Limbo, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Inside, Cart Life, Memento, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Switchblade Sisters, Sera Gamble, April Wolfe, Being John Malkovich, Lost, The Magicians, Supernatural, Sharp Objects, Hereditary, American Horror Story, The Endless, Resolution, Thief.

Links:
Play Tomb Raider in a browser

31 Nights Streaming Screaming

Next time:
We look a bit at Shadow of the Tomb Raider!

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

Aug 29, 2018

No show notes this week as we revisit our 2016 interview with guest Janos Flösser; you can find those notes on the website. However, Brett does take a moment to answer a reader email before the show and to talk about next week afterwards.

Aug 22, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been playing 1996's Tomb Raider. We spend more time on the levels themselves as well as diving into the AI for human enemies, the sense of space and of pace, and having no idea what to do to find a key. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Egypt, in theory

Podcast breakdown:
0:41      Tomb Raider
1:00:17 Break
1:00:47 Feedback

Issues covered: plumbing, level and puzzle size, nonsensical space and St Francis's Folly, suspending disbelief, squinting and seeing the modern version of a puzzle, erosion of geometry, integrating player knowledge to game knowledge, preparing the player for challenges, knowing your mythology, knowing less mythology in Egypt, having preconceived notions due to myths, climbing down and up the tower, complications and confusions, situational awareness of levels, consistent themes across whole levels, motivating animals, scouring the space, level scale, emphasizing the sense of being underground with clip distance and fog, trusting the player to understand the space, hardware fogging lending to mystery, jumping on the hand of Midas, gruesome deaths and a protective instinct, ratcheting up tension psychologically, justifying playing a female character, the patriarchy, more realistic deaths being more problematic, cartoon plumbers, not relating to characters, hinting at what you're supposed to do, missing areas and not being directed well, industry learning how to naturally direct a player, cutscenes to show what happens, composition replacing cutaways and tracking cameras, order of operations puzzles, coming out at a place you've seen before, tantalizing glimpses of where you might get next, non-linearity vs linearity in levels, lower friction in level/dungeon design, Tim reveals a favorite level of all time, mind-blowing ability to change the level of the water, getting stuck on the shimmy, missing a key and being terrified, matching player motivations to puzzle logic, a realistic functioning space, a thrown switch only needs to be thrown once, making it clear why you should raise and lower a switch, spending a long time in a level, imagining leaving the Cistern for a week, avoiding usability problems by making solutions irreversible, disconnected levels, bursting centaurs, avoiding an unnecessary fight, bringing in the supernatural and Atlantis elements, descending deeper and deeper underground through multiple levels, taking an enemy down with two shots, humans vs animals as enemies, the guy who gets away, "white paint" and usability and directing the player, watering down the sense of exploration, difficulty settings in the new TR, putting more on level design to direct the player, maps making a game into "a map game," composition/visual design/environment art, camera and animation to direct the player, telegraphing where you can go, keeping titles current or revisiting them.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Indiana Jones, Jenga, God of War, Quake, Crystal Dynamics, Mario (series), Uncharted (series), Skyrim, Fallouts 3 & 4, Oblivion, TR Anniversary, Dark Souls, La Bamba, Tomb of Horrors, fulltilted, Deus Ex, Michael, Fable, Andrew Kirmse, Naughty Dog, LonelyBob K, Daron Stinnett, TIE Fighter, XvT, Dark Forces, Tim Dooley.

Links:
TR in the browser:

Next time:
Finishing the game! (Always, always, in theory)

Program note! We will be taking a little time off so Tim can go explore the real world.

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

Aug 15, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been playing 1996's Tomb Raider. We specifically dive into level design, Lara's move set, combat, and a bit about technology here and there. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Greece, theoretically

Issues covered: dinosaurs in film in books, level size, level design and events to direct the eye, interconnectedness of areas, distilling the original game to remake it, exploration and order of operations, not knowing when you're done with a puzzle, possibility of going back and forth, looking for secrets and finding a way down to the valley, opening the other two doors, becoming less accepting of more abstract spaces, going for realism vs abstract reality, why you might build levels on grids and with repeated bits, backface culling, lining up animations because the character is on a grid, PlayStation hardware and acceleration, announcing the PlayStation at its price, controls vs fidelity, dropping air steering out and returning it, figuring out the right move to get the right jump, reinforcing character through move set, one-false-move failures, tank controls, trusting the grid, trading fidelity and responsiveness, planting the foot before she jumps, really embodying her in the world, fluid animation, designing with the experience in mind, failure as a valid teaching tool, aligning design and animation intent, increasing realism and trade-offs of feel, introducing procedural approaches to animation, blending in sports games, using inverse kinematics to navigate the world, allowing tech to solve a role, using math to point the head and arms in the right direction during combat, simple gun combat with good character animation, using jump scares to introduce combat, limited AI, limitations in combat systems, auto-lock and camera interplay, lacking sticks, switching lock targets, lack of music during combat, downplaying the combat, good level moments, the T-Rex moment, collision on the T-Rex corpse, pushing scale in environments, correction 0451 code, music genres and game genres, when do game mechanics and narrative mesh together well, "Would You Kindly?", simple stories working better, ludonarrative dissonance, the player being the unique hurdle, comedy in games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Jurassic Park, Arthur Conan Doyle, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne, Michael Crichton, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Crystal Dynamics, TR: Anniversary, Jason Botta, Half-Life, Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64, Silicon Graphics, PlayStation 1/2, Star Wars: Starfighter, Track and Field, Resident Evil, The Matrix, Dark Souls, Demons Souls, Assassin's Creed, CORE Design, Steve Ash, Crash Translation, System Shock, Warren Spector, Deus Ex, dcab11, Zimmy Finger, Beethoven, Tetris, Bioshock, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Prince of Persia (2008), Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Far Cry 2, Planescape: Torment, Chris Avellone, Gone with the Wind.

Next time:
Through Egypt, theoretically

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

Aug 8, 2018

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

Sections played:
Through Peru

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

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

Next time:
Thru Greece

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

Aug 1, 2018

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

Sections played:
At least up to the lobby

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

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

Corrections:
Turns out, Dishonored II was idTech 5

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

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

Jul 25, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finishing out our discussion of 2000's Deus Ex. In our fifth episode in the series, we talk a bit about the game's viewpoint(s) and 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 at last

Issues covered: Tim's marathon of M:I, the othering of Anna and Gunther as well as Walter Simons and Bob Page, building a sense of place and history, the inhumanity of JC Denton, a game about the grey area of decision-making, Tim merges with the AI, choosing a little less globalization, wealth operating in secret, playing the good guy, turning off the Illuminati-sicle, pulling the opposing threads back further into the game, the gas station level, Tim finds a prototype AI, mashup of genres, robust optional content, stealthing the end of the game, using thermoptic camo, leveling up the sword, a fully-realized Vandenberg Base, flying the drone and blowing up the robots, using the AI's rules to stealth through, doing the mission impossibly, like we're playing two different games, emergent design, using tools for mayhem vs success, paying off on story choices/the game watching and keeping track of little things you do, the RPG lineage, projecting onto the character because of flat affect, allowing Paul to live, Tim likes the trains to run on time, bringing in all the various conspiracy theories, tracking things and setting up the sorts of things that we track today, choosing story beats instead of being able to fully get through non-lethally, level design feeding into emergence, the saga of BobPage51, adding surrealism to everyday life, the modern Deus Ex games, lockpicking and time, knucklehead stealth and limited playtime, assigned roles vs created roles, player tracking, internal vs external, expectations of privacy, the challenge of interpreting player data, heat maps and ways to tie the data together, justifying any decision, tracking and part of the competitive landscape.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mission: Impossible, Terminator (series), RoboCop, Peter Weller, The Witcher 3, Fallout, Warren Spector, Far Cry 4, X-COM: UFO Defense, Kindergarten Cop, Jack Black, Nacho Libre, Grand Theft Auto III, Ultima Underworld, Dragnet, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Starfighter (series), Rick Butler, Metal Gear Solid V, Splinter Cell (series), Thief, Ben from Iowa, Clint Hocking, Aaron Evers, Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, UbiSoft, God of War, Tomb Raider, Jumanji, 343 Industries, Microsoft, Halo 5, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, League of Legends, DotA 2, Fortnite, Unreal Engine, Unity, Prey.

Next time:
A big chunk o' Prey

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

Jul 18, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have finally turned our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our fourth episode in the series, we talk about maps, the damage model, augmentations, and more! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Paris Cathedral

Issues covered: stealth and non-lethal play, hitting your foes with tranq darts, externalizing statistics, the things you track, a decision or a priority, a stuffed UI, adding notes to images, self-motivated play vs auto-mapping, usability, detailed maps, orienting yourself via the maps, feeling in conversation with the designer, map fidelity and playing into the fantasy, leaning on the existence of a map as a designer, leaning on navigation mapping as a crutch, spatial sense, making navigation design choices based on the needs of the game, emergent design and not holding hands, navigation as a resource, taking away mechanics you lean on, sneaking up on snipers, accurate modeling of bullet trajectory, making weapons feel like they should feel, suspected player collision model, accuracy model, difficulty making decisions, understanding the weapons having not using them, the damage model, weapons being more lethal sometimes than others, random vs statistical distributions, seeing the RNG and damage model, tuning and spread and balance, player expectations and numbers, progressive improvement in random chance in MMOs, perception is everything, "it's not a blunderbuss," augmentation choices, not meeting tougher creatures when you make the choices, not upgrading, recycling + healing non-stop, playing into power fantasies of different types, potential "best way to play," being a sum of parts rather than strong at any individual thing, VO issues, player stories in the Dowd level, making weird decisions with guns, audio design, triggering enemies through walls, provoking exploration, more player stories in the Dowd level, scripting interactions and weirdness, clash of script and AI, player feedback, a future bonus episode, proper noun soup.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Fable, Metal Gear Solid (series), Ultima Underworld, Far Cry 2, Elder Scrolls (series), Perfect Dark Zero, Xbox 360, Dead Space, Resident Evil, Dark Forces, Unreal, Halo, X-COM: UFO Defense, Sid Meier, Civilization, World of Warcraft, Planescape: Torment, Fallout, Thief, Grehtn/Zimmy Finger, Darren from Ohio, Prey (2017), The Witcher 3, Warren Spector.

Next time:
Finish the game, no really, really!

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

Jul 11, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have finally turned our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our third episode in the series, we talk about the RPG aspects as far as story goes as well as some obvious influences. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Paris Cathedral

Issues covered: mispronouncing the title of the game, bringing in all the story as you get to Hong Kong, level geometry in Hong Kong and getting lost the first time you played it, hearing the proper nouns, the gigantic conspiracy smoothie, pushing conspiracy theories 75 years forward, not being sure who you can trust, can you even trust Tracer Tong, hitting all the technology paranoia (clones, nanomachines, viruses and cures), having time still running while you're hacking/lockpicking, the final destiny of Maggie Chow, cutscenes and enemy AI, mini-games in hacking and lockpicking, player vs character skill in mini-games in BGS games, when mini-games pull you out of the game and when they don't, making hard decisions thematic resonance with hacking/lockpicking, "knucklehead stealth," giving the player lots of options even just to hack and player agency, getting captured by MJ12 in Brett's version and in Tim's, Anna Navarre and "I can see you," forced greets, procedural camera placement, dialog cutscenes in Mass Effect, revealing that you've been in the UNATCO base the whole time, forking level assets, how Alex and Jaime join back up with you if you choose to have them, finding killswitch codes for others, avoiding lethality, reuse of space, having to propagate fixes to multiple spaces, placing your RPG in the real world, connecting the world, globalization and fear and paranoia, naming post-apocalyptic cities, Tim outs my film choices on the podcast, contextualizing the make-up of the world, replaying games and length, engaging with backstory, what we're on about here.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Harry Truman, The X-Files, Millennium, Deus Ex (rest of series), Assassin's Creed (series), Leonardo da Vinci, The Matrix, Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, Thief, Bioshock, Fallout 3/4, Skyrim, Dark Souls, Pipe Dream, LucasArts, Anthony Gallegos, RebelFM, Mass Effect, Anachronox, ION Storm, Eidos, Dishonored 2, Tomb Raider, Fallout 1 & 2, Lord of the Rings (films), Obsidian Entertainment, Alpha Protocol, Metal Gear Solid 2, Darren, Konrad the Canadian.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Jul 4, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have finally turned our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our second episode in the series, we discuss difficulty levels for different styles of play vs augmentation hard choices and some level systems specifics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Hong Kong (in theory)

Issues covered: trying to get out of the level when you've been in it a while, difficulty levels and combat vs stealth, the paths not chosen, the interaction of augmentations and difficulty, not being a great shooter, motivated level design, stealth and the tranq dart, balancing weapons, the ghost or non-lethal run, the emergent quality vs achievements for ghosting, player choice in play goals, trying to remove all the TNT from a room, punishing particular play styles, how you reflect player choices in the world vs the character, forking paths and the small bugs therefrom, the crowbar vs the baton, making hard binary choices, all active augmentation and resource usage, minimal resources, bioelectric batteries vs colas and chocolate bars, forgetting the skill points, point-based skills vs discrete augmentation levels, not playing completionist, getting rewards for different solutions, Tim's weird way of dealing with the hostage situation, failing for purposes of discovery, visual language, ladders in games, cutscenes and what systems get turned off or not, Tim goes backwards, the difficulty of getting through a door, using a heavy box as a defense, save-anywhere as a critical play system.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Starfighter (series), Halo, Thief, Dishonored, Harvey Smith, Julius Caesar, Warren Spector, Infamous (series), Fable (series), Far Cry (series), Dungeons & Dragons, LoZ: Link to the Past, Mark of the Ninja, Hitman 2.

Next time:
Up through Paris Cathedral

Links:
Ben Abraham Plays Far Cry 2 with Permadeath

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

Jun 27, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finally turning our attention to 2000's Deus Ex. In our first episode in the series, we set the game in its time but also talk about its many connections to other games we've played here on the 'cast. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the Airfield

Issues covered: ten hours of driving, convergent point in games, early indie dev mentality, formative early career game, a game that became a verb, commitment to multiple paths, merging RPG and action and other systems, branching skill trees, lack of classes, connecting to a more grokkable understanding, creating a subgenre, listening to E3 recaps, setting the game in time, a bunch of engine discussion, multi-route play and accommodating play styles, narrative beats that you can influence, supporting player choice, going super-lethal and being disincentivized, RPGs not tying choices together/mere mechanics, knucklehead stealth, linear tutorial, putting all the plants in the tutorial rooms, bulletproofing a level, blowing off your legs, supporting all the various possibilities, GDC post-Deus Ex, emergent gameplay, supporting a wide variety of player stories in emergent design, engineering around sources generally instead of specific things.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ion Storm, Ultima (series), Irrational Games, Looking Glass Studios, Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, Anachronox, System Shock, Arkane Studios, Ricardo Bare, Prey, Dishonored II, Austin Grossman, Reed Knight, System Shock 2, Mass Effect (series), Junction Point, Origin Systems, Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher, CD Project Red, Diablo II, Baldur's Gate II, Infinity Engine, Icewind Dale, The Sims, Hitman: Codename 47, Final Fantasy IX, Rainbow Six, Quake III Arena (DreamCast), Daikatana, PS2, Dark Cloud, SSX, Nintendo 64, Perfect Dark, Majora's Mask, Shenmue, Timesplitters, Soldier of Fortune, Elite Force, Bioshock, Escape from Monkey Island, Thief II, Unreal, Half-Life, id Software, Eidos, other Deus Ex titles, GO series, Planescape: Torment, Chris Avellone, Grand Theft Auto 3, Breath of the Wild, Oblivion, Dabominic, The2ndQuest, Link to the Past, Super Mario 64.

Next time:
Check Twitter for details

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

Jun 20, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club for a second Dark Forces special bonus interview edition. We speak with Matt Tateishi, a level designer on the game, talking about the environment around the building of Dark Forces, process, and leaping into the new. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39       Interview
1:03:31  Break
1:04:01  Feedback

Issues covered: a brief history of Matt, architecture department at Berkeley, starting as art techs, hourly wages, having your Star Wars bedsheets, Master Chief body pillow, thinking about the use of a space, trying to outdo one another, abstract spaces vs real-feeling one, geeking out over the Dark Trooper intro, simulating screen shake, just getting the thing to run, how big should levels be, figuring out production, difficulty spikes and weapon (mis-)balancing, dreaming of work, skill-based challenges, losing sight of your work, some doubt about doing Dark Forces, "puzzles are how we're going to be different from DOOM," throwing everything at the player, saving state mid-level, the pie tin mine, motivating the space, being brought in to be an artist (rather than the technical specifics), being near ILM at the time, everyone coming together to make cool stuff, Brett sings terribly again, an argument for Jabba's Palace, going from high concept to design, productivity and scheduling, Pomodoro, meeting-driven, Brett walks down memory lane, discussion of Mac vs PC in the 90s.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Shadows of the Empire, Jedi Knight, Lucas Learning, Droid Works, Infinite Machine, Nihilistic Software, The Force Unleashed, Dante's Inferno, EA, Visceral, 1313 (RIP), WETA Digital, Impulse Gear, Farpoint, Daron Stinnett, Ingar Shu, Jim Current, Kilani Striker, Ralph Gerth, Winston Wolff, Ray Gresko, Rob Huebner, Brett Tosti, Republic Commando, Troy Mashburn, Skyrim, X-Wing, DOOM, Peter Tsacle, Full Throttle, Double Fine, George Lucas, Tom Payne, Ben Burtt, Dungeons & Dragons, Colette Michaud, Peter Chan, Day of the Tentacle, Forrest Gump, Steve Dauterman, A Knight of Ren, Dire Straits, Zachary Crownover, Zimmy Finger, Quake, Mysteries of the Sith, Marathon, Philip Kramer, Apple, Myth, Kevin Steven.

Next time:
Deus Ex; up to the airfield

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

Jun 15, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club for a special bonus bonus interview edition. Justin Stinnett turns the microphones on hosts Brett Douville and Tim Longo, in addition to Daron Stinnett, to talk Republic Commando. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: making a squad seem smart, how to deal with the squad AI, keeping the squad in view, how to control the squad on a console, squad positioning, seeing the sniper, Sev's sense of humor, Fixer's uptight nature, Scorch childishness, making the squad feel even smarter and more connected, markers/maneuvers, more freedom and options for maneuver use, regretting cutting co-op, Delta Squad animated, Republic Commandos as canon, obeying or disobeying Order 66, what we're up to now,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Rainbow Six, Nathan Martz, Mike Stemmle, Ryan Kaufman, The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni, Star Wars Legends, 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim, Fallout 3 & 4.

Next time:
Another interview OR Deus Ex, up to the Airfield

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

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