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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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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

Jun 13, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club for a special bonus interview edition. We speak with Daron Stinnett, lead programmer and project lead on Dark Forces, looking at the beginnings of his career before turning to specifics about the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview segment
1:04:45  Break
1:05:17  Feedback segment

Issues covered: Daron intro, the Stinnett origin story, making houses on computers, Radio Shack, buying a first car, transitioning to having a regular development job, porting Thexder, moving to Spectrum Holobyte, existential threat to the company, becoming a project lead, team lead and lead tester, multiplayer and the 600 baud modem, a Las Vegas con FalCon, modeled cockpit, high-fidelity simulations that didn't exist in the real world, "I knew I had to make Star Wars games," eating lunch at Skywalker Ranch, a room full of prop, Kerner complex, looking out at ILM, crashing a plane in a parking lot, "I want to do a Star Wars Wolfenstein game," the challenge of making Dark Forces, getting a leg up from the DOOM alpha, subtracting from the world rather than adding to it, performance challenge, having a vision of walking around a hangar, expecting to work with Luke Skywalker, Luke belonged to George, adding Ray Gresko as a rendering engineer and Justin Chin as lead designer/story guy, mixing level design and architecture, adding to the palette, specific areas of wish fulfillment, not just a game about shooting things, LucasArts as a place to create new stories, showing the game to George the first time, shooting non-humans in the films, putting together teams to make something no one knows how to build, bringing the conversation around to the car, following up on the interview, getting interviewed ourselves, targeting just one hardware, console exclusivity.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Thexder, Republic Commando, Spectrum Holobyte, Falcon 3.0, LucasArts, Outlaws, Starfighter (series), Star Wars Episode III, Perpetual Entertainment, Star Trek Online, Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising, PlayGrid, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rick Lamont, Synergistic Software, Sierra, Microprose, Chuck Yeager, Nintendo, FalCon, X-Wing, Dean Sharpe, Jon Knoles, Taito, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Toshi Morita, Steve Dauterman, Alive, DOOM, Wolfenstein 3D, Faceball 2000, Ray Gresko, Justin Chin, Doug Smith, Lode Runner, Broderbund, Justin Stinnett, Dan Hunter, Terminator: Future Shock, Bethesda Game Studios, Danny O'Dwyer, Gamespot, noclip, Unity, Sony, Sega.

Next time:
We... think, another interview

Links:
Space Race

Daron's interview on Computer Chronicles

NoClip video about BGS

Making of Fallout 76

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

Jun 6, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finishing 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces. We talk a bit about the final levels of the game while punching dragons 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:
We finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:44     DF Discussion
59:08   Break
59:38   Takeaways

Issues covered: the Kell dragon, entirely too much discussion of dragon types, being unsure what to do, not matching up with the fantasy, puzzle elements in fighting, having a role-playing moment in an action game that you don't often have in an RPG, starting as a Luke Skywalker game, lacking a hook for why it's Jabba's ship, enemy types, cuts later in games, the iso chamber maze puzzle, making the level itself into an interesting space, bending constraints to your will, not having anyone to tell you you can't do a thing, lowering risk, shifting towards production realities, the cost of a pivot raising aversion to risk, distinctions between studios (tech-driven vs design-driven vs art-driven), having to compete on all three, "you are fighting Boba Fett, so that's pretty cool," player skill puzzles, executing on a plan that's working, minimal story telling, television vs films, build up and implication, filling in a lot yourself, leaning on the films, the only source of Phrik in the galaxy, unmotivated space, the conveyor belt action bits, gaminess of a level, placing obstacle courses at the end of games, denouement and falling action, climax and the lack of remaining action, remaking the game, level design high water mark, being evolutionary rather than revolutionary, elevating through design and Star Wars bits, gadgetry and secondary mechanics, introduction of the Dark Trooper, high quality music, using Jedi in games, what you choose to build into your design, cornering the market in the Auction House, picking a setting that supports the fantasies, the MDA framework.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Force Awakens, Return of the Jedi, TIE Fighter, Jon Knoles, Mysteries of the Sith, Final Fantasy IX, The Witcher, Baldur's Gate, Rebel Assault, Republic Commando, Ingar Shu, Kevin Schmitt, Reed Knight, Duke Nukem 3D, Steve Chen, Starfighter (series), John Drake, id Software, Epic MegaGames, Half-Life, Unreal, Quake, Outlaws, Jedi Knight, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Fallout, Leonard Boyarsky, Tim Cain, Obsidian, Chris Avellone, Planescape: Torment, Justin Chin, Mario, Ratchet & Clank, Battlefront II, Clint Bajakian, John Williams, @notmyviews, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Everquest, Ultima Online, Raph Koster, Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax, Knights of the Old Republic, Bioware, Tomb Raider, Wolfenstein.

Next time:
Bonus interview!

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

May 30, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our second episode about 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces. We delve much deeper into the level design and themes, talk about fulfilling the Star Wars fantasy, and talk about the tease of future technologies. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Death Mark"

Podcast breakdown:
0:46    DF Segment
57:09  Break
57:40  Feedback

Issues covered: beating the parsec to death, a favorite moment in games, going down deep through into the mine level, playing the game on different difficulties, how lives and checkpoints work, the ice cleats, taking a break due to frustration, tension-filled obstacle courses, Star Wars fantasy fulfillment, making the places feel like Star Wars, good texture work, puzzling out the level geometry, the balance of combat vs level traversal, getting lost and leaning on the map, atmospheric, pushing the technical boundaries, bleeding through of new technologies, the "golden path," finding secrets, more ornate secrets, extra steps to use your inventory, RPG-elements, a sense of high adventure, Darth Vader says your name, Boba Fett, tools that are unique to a space, Dark Trooper introductions, seeing the enemy side, building the story up a piece at a time, Vader overseeing other enemies, battle droids, motion sickness in games, speedrunning and leaving glitches in, singing reviews.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Terminator, GalaxyQuest, The Rock, Republic Commando, Half-Life, God of War, Pinocchio, Bambi, Jedi Knight, Fable, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Solo: A Star Wars Story, No One Lives Forever, TIE Fighter, Halo, 343 Industries, The Witness, Maas Neotek Proto, David Sullivan, Bethesda Game Studios, Jeff Brown, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

May 23, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a new series about 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces. We situate the game in its time a bit and then turn to the first three levels of the game, specifically talking about its level design and a bit about squeezing Star Wars into games. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through The Subterranean Hideout

Podcast breakdown:
0:46    Segment 1: Dark Forces
49:50  Break
50:25  Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: Star Wars character class, Bothan spies, Tim as Dark Forces tester, PlayStation version, credits up front, lots of adventure games in 1995, fond memories of DF, faking co-op by phone, project leader Daron Stinnett, prior Star Wars games, level design, not a discipline, innovating beyond DOOM, grounding the level design in architecture, creating a sense of place, increased complexity, verticality, auto-aim, ducking and jumping, lighting, scale of rooms and levels, grounded vs abstract levels, Star Wars economics, using more detail in rooms being visited multiple times, characters and story lines fitting into Star Wars, hunger for new Star Wars stories, loving and respecting Star Wars, building characters on Star Wars archetypes, bringing in Star Wars elements and fitting them into the game, Crix Madine, flexibility with using a new character, mechanics, vertex lighting, enemies who aren't facing your way, reimagining the Williams aesthetic, seeing Star Wars a bunch of times, controls, differences between GOG and Steam versions, Brett's weird keyboard configuration, sliding movement, pace of play, cover shooters, seeing canonical characters in mission briefings, seeing the hive of scum and villainy side of things, leaning on the existing world-building of Star Wars, polygonal Moldy Crow, fixed point and floating point math, seeing a thing in a cutscene and then in-game, levels getting bigger, resources carrying between levels, Brett delivers a punk serenade to the audience, Tim mispronounces "proliferation," pitch docs, DVD-style commentary on Jedi Starfighter, surfacing unreleased content, lack of bang for buck, not showing things that aren't complete, saving stuff for a sequel.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: George Lucas, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Sierra, The Dig, Phantasmagoria, The Beast Within, The 11th Hour, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Warcraft 2, Blizzard Entertainment, TIE Fighter, Command and Conquer, Flight Unlimited, Looking Glass Studios, Chrono Trigger, Square, Enix, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice, Descent, Marathon 2, Hexen, DOOM, Daron Stinnett, Starfighter (series), Republic Commando, Outlaws, Jedi Knight, Bioforge, D, Super Star Wars, Rebel Assault I & II, Myst, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Kevin Schmidt, Ingar Shu, Matt Tateishi, Ultima Underworld, Anachronox, Mysteries of the Sith, Empire Strikes Back, Clint Bajakian, Half-Life, Amy Hennig, DOOM 3, Wolfenstein, Quake, id Software, Unreal, Descent, Brian Taylor, Buttercup Scratchnsniff, The Ramones, The Platters, Bing Crosby, God of War, Daniel C, Andrew Kirmse, Nathan Martz, Doug Modie, Troy Mashburn, Rich Davis, Halo 5, Arkham (series), Fallout 3.

Next time:
Through The Death Mark

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

May 16, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing the newly released return to God of War. We talk about the way the game has been modernized for current tastes, and how it maintains the feel of the series. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
First few hours

Issues covered: modern design elements, combat feel, level linearity with bits of side secrets, combat/explore, chests, pushing technology, ways you can cheat for performance, pixel density, which GoW games we've played, elaborate progression system, camera commitment, camera in combat, thinner combos, epic feel of original from camera, older and more sympathetic anti-hero, more deliberate pace of combat, more psychologically dense mythology, making a character relatable again, more vulnerable heroes, the character of the mother, small story, enriching a character after her death, developing the relationship with the boy through animation and writing, animation-forwardness, craftsmanship, Tim digresses into television, geographic and cultural origins of mythology, toxic masculinity, the jock and the theater kid, high stakes and having to survive, the dad games and the dad feelings, having another character to relate to, having colors and level information on enemies, loot systems and not knowing what sort of player you're going to be, the axe and its economy of design, giving clear direction, more grounded violence, intimate violence, digging into the design problem with the one room, camera having to work with level design, fork in the road level design choices, not doing enough usability testing, wanting more information based on what you're given in a story game, non-verbal communication, difficulty balancing at the end of God of War for explorers vs combo kings, how to deal with balancing, rubber-banding.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Skyrim, Devil May Cry, DOOM (2016), Tomb Raider (2013), Resident Evil 4, PS3, Xbox 360, Cory Barlog, The Vikings, The Road, The Last of Us, Starfighter series, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Gilmore Girls, Diablo, Borderlands, Assassin's Creed, Republic Commando, They Live, Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven, Fight Club, Rocky, Dolph Lundgren, Metal Gear Solid (series), Gothic Chocobo, Zimmy Finger, Ico, Silent Hill, Ratchet and Clank, Mark Garcia, Sony Santa Monica, Spider-Man 2, Jamie Fristrom, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Nintendo, Metroid (series), Mario Kart.

Next time:
TBA!

Links:
Ratchet and Clank Level Design

The Muse Keys

 

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

May 9, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finishing our series on 2005's God of War. We talk about when the game leans into the things it's not great at, the sense of epic scale, as well as turning to our traditional takeaways as we end a series. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 God of War discussion
54:45 Break
55:11 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: dying 20 - 60 times, the downward spiral rage, compounding challenge, adding elements at a good rate, enumerating the elements of a challenge, not earning the challenge, shelf-level events/wall mission, not knowing you're near the end of the game, being stubborn and maybe putting a game away for a while, representing Hades accurately as a Sisyphean task, leaning into disempowerment sections as a mistake, potential for usability testing issues, variant gameplay needs to be easier, getting bored as developers, it's a sorbet not a bowl of hot sauce, positive vs negative feedback loops, rich getting richer syndrome, strategies for dealing with small numbers of orbs, arguing with QA, rationalizing your poor choices, a combo game for the masses, difficulty levels as a Band-Aid (TM), a strategy for spending orbs, adjusting orbs for difficulty, puzzle scale, puzzles for pacing, merging of genres, enjoying geometry puzzle, macro puzzle, puzzles that fit or don't, physics puzzles (buoyancy, momentum), tests of the gods, Tim and Brett forget ballistas, Greek tragedy themes, melodrama being appropriate here, having to work for a more minimal story, overly simplistic motivations, conflating player and character motivations, finding revenge against Ares, never getting to care for Kratos, an unsympathetic hero, tragedy as a character issue vs a plot issue, evolving Kratos and his world, sequence saving the family, Brett confuses who the brothers are, music as the MVP, exotic and seductive soundtrack, pushing Pandora's Box to no soundtrack, full commitment to camera, a technical pinnacle on the platform, embracing spectacle, combo flow, Raiden: the best MGS hero, empowering games, assertion through domination vs self-expression, the opportunity to be clever, using tactics effectively.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Mark Garcia, Nintendo, Jamie Fristrom, Jak & Daxter, Devil May Cry, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, King Tutenkhamen, Noah Hughes, TR: Legend, Ray Harryhausen, The Bacchae, Shadow of the Colossus, Faustus, Oedipus, 300, Frank Miller, Conan, Medal of Honor, Michael Giacchino, Clint Bajakian, LucasArts, Outlaws, Gerard Marino, Michael Reagan, Ron Fish, Winifred Phillips, Winnie Waldron, Cris Velasco, Marcello de Francisi, Lawrence of Arabia, DarkSiders, Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, Platinum Games, Metroid: Other M, Metal Gear: Rising, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mikkel Lodahl, Sierra, Mark Crowe, Jordan Mechner, Karateka, Prince of Persia, Republic Commando, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Everything: The Game, Minecraft, Fallout 3, X-COM, Toy Story 3: Toy Box Mode, Disney Infinity, Project: Spark, else heart:break, The Magic Circle, Kim Kardashian's Hollywood.

Next time:
We'll figure it out soon! (Almost certainly more God of War-related content)

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

May 2, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are on to the second of our series on 2005's God of War. We talk about what a fully scripted camera allows you to do, where it breaks down in implementation, as well as touching on the over-the-top nature of the game and its light RPG elements. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the Challenges

Podcast breakdown:
0:43 Segment 1: God of War
51:40 Break
52:20 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: Birthdays, Sierra interview, the academic/theoretic side of making games, the early days, the Yosemite photograph, cameras and third-person action-adventure, level design and the camera, scripting the camera throughout the game, conceptually 2D in some ways, freeing up the right thumb, flicking to roll, managing the space well for the camera in combat, sewer camera problem, "God of War Camera," altitude in combat, telegraphing the camera through player control vs designer control, exploring a space from multiple directions, being clear about what space you're in and whether you've been there before, not knowing where you can go, were levels and camera being designed at the same time?, lack of telegraphing of direction to follow, not having supporting mechanics to know you've missed things, possibility of thinking you have to do something local to solve a puzzle, sense of scale, having to trust the game, using the camera to hide secrets, gigantic sense of scale, capturing sense of scale with a closer third person, over-the-top violence, combining scale and animation and camera cohesively, pairing button mashes to animation speed, herky-jerky and stop-motion animation, sacrificing a soldier, pushing Kratos's inhumanity, toxic masculinity, toxic masculinity/anti-heroes and pop culture, wanting to play as a hero, lack of choice, light RPG elements, stringing combos together, leveling the Artemis sword, balancing weapons with XP, liking to power up the base weapon, just using the cutting laser in Dead Space, the ranged blades of chaos, compelling weapon design due to flexibility, combo-based games, watching skilled players, playing for stream, power escalation and enemy introductions, adding multiple enemies of a newly introduced type, foreshadowing the moment of Kratos's jump, whiskey-fueled voices, looking at your user experience to support tutorialization, taking the easy way out at the end of production, implicit tutorials and learning, real-time and turn-based tutorials, implicit tutorials and iteration, not hand-holding for experienced players, players don't read, also: podcast listeners don't read show notes, prove me wrong, send us an email :)

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, King's Quest/Space Quest, Mark Crowe, John Romero, Larry Holland, Julian Gollop, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Soul Reaver, Super Mario 64, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Prince of Persia (2008), Devil May Cry, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Republic Commando, Super Metroid, Ray Harryhausen, Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, DOOM, Cory Barlog, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Dead Space, Bioshock, Rygar, Bayonetta, Resident Evil, Plasticman, Mr. Fantastic, Ninja Gaiden Black, Boy.Pockets, Tom Waits, Gilmore Girls, Zachary Crownover, Chevy Chase, SpaceChem, FTL, Detention, Red Candle Games, The Last Door, Nintendo, Civilization, Fallout.

Next time:
Finish God of War (2005)!

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

Apr 25, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are lucky this week to be able to interview Mark Crowe, one of the original "Guys from Andromeda" who were the creative force behind Space Quest, as well as working on many other Sierra titles. We talk about those old days, the flexibility of working with a parser, and all the constraints on game development in the early days. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: Mark's history, having a dream job, walking in the door, the hippie environment, local inspiration, first exposure to computers, size of company, meeting Scott and teaming up, developing a core idea and prototyping it, having the split-up environments in the first screens made, getting a picture on the box, taking a pseudonym in fear, dabbling in prosthetics, vacationing from Mars, learning on the job, doing everything at once, adding some humor, a cinematic approach, cinematic inspirations, cramming in references, pushing technology further, side-scrolling environments, not knowing what's possible vs "staying in your lane," the origin of Roger Wilco, stand-in for the player and trying to be in the player's head, the point-and-click innovation, parser as another layer of interaction, additional entertainment value, death and missing things and frustration, signature negative, making the games more player friendly, the needs of your existing audience vs the needs of a growing audience, playing the game pre-release, layoffs and the "cart debacle," throwing pencils at the ceiling, quick prototyping, primitive tools, time lapse rendering, Space Venture development.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, Scott Murphy, Space Quest 1, Ken and Roberta Williams, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Dynamix, Star Siege, The Black Cauldron, Chris Pope, Greg Steffen, Wizard and the Princess, Softporn, Mission: Asteroid, Frogger, Sega, Ultima, Two Guys from Andromeda, King's Quest, Two Guys from Italy, Star Wars, Star Trek, Bernard Kliban, Lifeline, Space Venture.

Links:

Bernard Kliban's Original Roger Wilco

Space Quest III Timelapse

Guys from Andromeda

Guys from Andromeda YouTube Channel

Next time:
Next week we return to God of War to discuss everything up through the Challenges

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

Apr 18, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning our series on 2005's God of War. We set the game in its time, an interesting time at the end of a console lifecycle as new machines loomed on the horizon, and then turn to the game itself before hitting feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the desert / through Athens

Podcast breakdown:
0:44     Segment 1: God of War
50:35   Break
51:06   Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: the console lifecycle, PS2 install base, the new console generation, learning the hardware over the lifecycle, exclusives, squeezing the hardware over the series, optimizing instructions, iterating on a franchise, juvenile tone, the influence of the underlying mythology, being edgy or over the top, Greek tragedy and the fatal flaw, opening with a bang, narrative device of setting up how the character got to the big moment, setting up mysteries of character and fate, tension between player and character, pacing and balancing on a beam, perfecting the quick time event, the first level as a microcosm of the whole game, the influences of this game, skimming the top of a bunch of genres, adventure games drawing from every verb, explicit vs implicit tutorialization, great mythological moments, a series of yeses.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Broderbund Software, Red Storm Entertainment, Red Orb Entertainment, Riven, Prince of Persia 3D, The Journeyman Project, Santa Monica Studio, Shadow of the Colossus, Dragon Quest VIII, Resident Evil 4, F.E.A.R., Republic Commando, Metal Gear Solid 2, Sly Cooper 3, Guitar Hero, GTA: San Andreas, Japan Studio, Starfighter/Jedi Starfighter, Devil May Cry 3, Gran Turismo 4, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Lego Star Wars, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Tomb Raider (2013), Clash of the Titans, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Richard Wagner, Uncharted 2, Shenmue, Crystal Dynamics, Soul Reaver, Castlevania, Maximo: Ghosts and Goblins, MediEvil, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, System Shock 2, Sid Meier, Half-Life, Dario Casali, Sierra Games, Sebastian Pellegrino, Tim Schafer, LucasArts, Telltale Games, Amanita Design, Wadjet Eye, Daedelic, Edna and Harvey, Deponia saga, The Dark Eye, The Whispered World, Hal Barwood, Bill Tiller, Curse of Monkey Island, Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler, A Vampyre's Tale, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Dig, Kyle Vermaes, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Link to the Past, Manhunter (series), Rules of Play, Eric Zimmerman, Katie Salen, Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman, GamaSutra, Brenda Romero, Challenges for Game Designers, Will Wright, The Sims, SimCity, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander, RadiatorYang, Ryan, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku Splitscreen, Giant Bomb, Giant Beastcast, DLC, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, RebelFM, Waypoint Radio, Patrick Klepek, Danielle Riendeau, Austin Walker, Steve Gaynor, Tone Control, Gone Home, Tacoma, Idle Thumbs, Important If True, Shall We Play A Game, Chris Suellentrop, JJ Sutherland, Slate Culture Gabfest, Filmspotting, Filmspotting: SVU, The Next Picture Show, Maximum Fun, April Wolfe, Switchblade Sisters.

Next time:
Up through the Three Challenges

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

Apr 11, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we complete our discussion of a pair of very early Sierra adventure games with Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter. We finally hear Tim's story about getting stuck on a game so long it drove him to drink and also get to our takeaways before hitting feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished SQ1

Podcast breakdown:
0:43   Segment 1: SQ1
35:35 Break
36:08 Segment 2: Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: music theft, the Do Not Press button and a return to Daventry, talking to the guards, cross promotion, learning to use your seat belt, the influence of the real world, making jokes out of the topical, Tim's inadvertent hint, inventory objects inside other objects, the importance of looking at things at the right time, getting a hint from the parser, the origin of the pizza orgy, killing Orat with a spider droid, random walk mechanics, hating on the skimmer, Brett gives Tim a pro tip, critical path gambling mini-game, adding in new mechanics, Brett's early skiing game, game play variety, using money in adventure game puzzles, Tim gets stuck, Tim doesn't get a fart joke, being driven to drink, the new verb with the grate, player perspective and the sense of exploration, dramatic/cinematic moments, ignoring the first offer for the skimmer, looking everywhere for a coupon, gadgets and copy protection in the box, story arc and adventure and fantasy fulfillment, aligning the player and the character as far as world knowledge, cognitive dissonance vs ludonarrative dissonance, cinematic presentation, buckazoids in the Longo family, splitting screen spaces as a push for exploration and sense of adventure, where could adventure games go, visual novels and systemic depth, underserved genres, what game would you claim for yourself, games that are hard to get and their influence, buying consoles, has something been lost in change of difficulty, opacity and discovery, finding players who won't look on the Internet, on-demand culture and chasing the next thing, putting the onus back on the game (to keep you enthralled and not searching for answers), creators asking you to not get hints, supporting the right team size.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: ZZ Top/Sharp Dressed Man, Styx, Peter Gunn/The Blues Brothers, Madonna, King's Quest 1, Ken Williams, LucasArts, Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Grim Fandango, Curse of Monkey Island, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, George Lucas, Anachronox, Star Trek, The Corbomite Maneuver, Sierra, Police Quest, Star Wars, Grimm Fairy Tales, Skyrim, StarGate, The City on the Edge of Forever, Joan Collins, Jar-Jar Binks, Derek Achoy, Broken Age, Thimbleweed Park, Machinarium, Ron Gilbert, Telltale Games, Samorost, Amanita Design, Chuchl, X-Files, Wadjet Eye Games, Dave Gilbert, Year Walk, Simogo, Device 6, Sailor's Dream, Aaron Evers, Souls series, Tom Hall, Ultima, Civilization, Zork, Pitfall, Adventure, Atari 2600, Half-Life, Dark Forces, Daron Stinnett, Jeff Buttaccio, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Sega Saturn, Ico, Mario 64, NOLF, Warcraft, Steinar Nedreboe, Jonathan Blow, Braid, The Witness, GDC, Jeff Vogel.

Links:
Sierra Death Generator

Space Quest 3 Promo

Space Quest 1 VGA Remake Commercial

SQ Docucomedy

Panzer Dragoon Saga

Next time:
Keep an eye on our Twitter as we figure it out!

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

Apr 4, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we continue to discuss a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, now turning to Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter. We talk a little bit more about adventure games and general and talk about some specific ways this game differs from King's Quest, including its use of space. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Planet Kerona

Podcast breakdown:
0:45   Segment 1: SQ1
37:19 Break
37:43 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: humor in adventure games, obvious influences, nostalgia for Tim, playing adventure games as a shared experience, getting stuck, linear vs open structure/points of no return, not getting the cartridge, stealth game play, fearing death and rushing through the game, quick beginning to the game, how you measure play time, designing around player death, embracing shorter game length, frustration points, inability to predict puzzle pain points, prodding the edges out of frustration, how you QA or player test a game like this, how to innovate or adjust in light of success, knowing whether you can fail, the market at the time, extending a specific audience rather than trying to grow the whole audience, attention to detail and commitment to a consistency of the world, requiring less knowledge from the player, discovery at the same pace as the character, Guybrush Threepwood, from Space Zero to Space Hero, characters who change or that don't, character development over a series, humor, fish out of water, Tim gives Brett a hint (survival kit), use of screen space, explorable spaces, payoff on finding nothing vs keycard, using splitscreen, economical screen use, text adventure structure, dramatic tension, having fun with death and exploring that, double whammy of enemies you can't kill and a timer, the daily chase of the most recent releases, learning as much if not more from an old game, doing a lot with a small team, legendary games we missed out on, picking between systems, classic strategy wargames, getting a survey vs playing in depth, games history and film history, playing the history at LucasArts, the tip line, ickiness of 1-900 numbers.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, LucasArts, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Wars, Tacoma, The Walking Dead, Telltale, Deadline, Republic Commando, Monkey Island, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, Phantasmagoria, Quest for Glory, Al Lowe, Anachronox, Tom Hall, Outlaws, Daron Stinnett, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Super Metroid, Out of this World/Another World, Planescape: Torment, Dan Hunter, Guernsey College, Fallout, Skyrim, Zachary Crownover, Unity, Unreal, Derek Achoy, Aaron Evers, Raphael Cornford, Mikkel Lodahl, Dungeons and Dragons, Temple of Elemental Evil, Keep on the Borderlands, Ultima Underworld, M.U.L.E., Commodore 64, Mario (series), Megaman, Bomberman, NES/SNES, Sega Genesis, Flashback, PS2, Atari, IntelliVision, Vectrex, Chuck E. Cheese, Avalon Hill, Art of War, Panzer (series), Larry Holland, HMS Pegasus, Will Wright, Raid on Bungeling Bay, SimCity, SimEarth, SimAnt, Guy Morgan, XCOM, Soul Reaver, Game Boy Pocket, Link's Awakening, Discworld, Psygnosis, Activision, Infocom, Vivendi.

Next time:
Finish Space Quest!

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

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