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Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Now displaying: January, 2020
Jan 29, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin our discussion of the game series beginning in 1991, Civilization, through its 2001 incarnation Civilization III. We talk about it in time, the type of sim it is, some bits about "civilization" and lots of other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the Medieval Age

Issues covered: choosing your names, looking at the series as a whole, one more turn, the 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) genre, situating the game in two times, additions to the Civilization franchise, needing the manual, the PC as the home of the deeper simulation game (wargames and flight simulations), "a game is a series of interesting decisions," Sid Meier's studio history, game perspective and the God Game, Brett and insomnia and a number of turns, learning through failure and why people bounce off, high highs and low lows, having a hard time making the early decisions, getting a better understanding of the early game by having a good roll, not knowing how far apart to place things, not cracking the manual, not knowing what to do, the difference between Civ and some other styles of Sim game, transparency of numbers and systems, the distinction of toys vs games, limited automation in Civ, digging into the Civilopedia, genre-defining creation of its own choice space, what you read in the Civilopedia, playing against harder AI levels, reading as a min-maxer, applying concepts as relatable, being pushed away from the "realism/historicity," colonialism and Western civilization as the framework, limiting historical tribes as "barbarians," scope and production realities, warping reality, using peoples as pure resources, colonialism and barbarians and their inherent game limitations, layering systems, leveling units against barbarians, limiting what you ask of an old game, being curious about a ruler, finding an essentialism in a representative leader, arguing that different civs might have an opportunity to rule, seeing another Civ pass through a first time, early game tranquility and the end of innocence, creating a story around a single resource, shifting to a new form of government, establishing Pax Romana, the simple power of names, layers of ironic naming, "the past is never dead, it isn't even past," film and games, not being part of the cultural conversation, the mystery of games to people, Oscars and Pulitzers and prizes, marketing and games, proud self-support, staying away from a side-hustle, a couple of well-wishes, Tim's charity walking.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Metal Gear (series, obliquely), Nintendo, Sonic the Hedgehog, Avalon Hill, Computer Gaming World, Sid Meier, Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Street Fighter II, Monkey Island 2, Metroid (series), Super Castlevania IV, id Software, Bungie, Blizzard/Silicon & Synapse, 3D0 Corporation, SNES, World of Warcraft, Neverwinter Nights, Stormfront Studios, SSI, Gold Box Series, Ico, Final Fantasy IX, Doom (series), Soul Reaver (series), Star Wars: Starfighter, Devil May Cry, Silent Hill 2, Halo: Combat Evolved, Jak & Daxter, Max Payne, Red Faction, Serious Sam, TIE Fighter, MicroProse, Spectrum HoloByte, Hasbro Interactive, Infrogrammes, Firaxis, 2K Games, Take-Two Interactive, SimCity, Populous, Will Wright, Maxis, Peter Molyneux, Bullfrog Productions, Sid Meier's Pirates, Istanbul (not Constantinople), They Might Be Giants, Flood, Soren Johnson, Puerto Rico (board game), UFO: Enemy Unknown, StarCraft, Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Candy Crush, Fortnite, Lady Gaga, Geoff Keighley, The Economy of Prestige, James English, Alexander, Luke Theriault, The Revenant, Persona 5.

Next time:
Civ III to the Industrial Age

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

Jan 22, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we welcome Kirk Hamilton, composer, podcaster, and retired writer/editor to the podcast to talk about music composition, working with licenses and licensed music, the way music and play work on our brains, and a host of other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:16 Interview
1:10:31 Break
1:11:00 Next game, announcement, etc.

Issues covered: Kirk's early writings, using your ear training, picking up a saxophone, Brett's saxophone solo, getting a broad mandate, modeling on NPR podcasts, geeking out about NPR podcast intros, aerophone, jingles as condensed composition, working with synthesizers, programmer art for the theme, remembering the old themes, the hard work of working with composers as a non-musician, talking about intangibles, level reviews and music, working on established IPs, breaking the music, repeating music in older games, composing for player actions, iMUSE and music blending in between states, game audio with multiple sound cards, preserving game audio, CD-ROM game audio/Redbook audio, the excellent audio and voice department of LucasArts, the many cool influences of Peter McConnell, artists at play, the evolution of the human brain, playing with your prey, the mix of lyrics and music and story and game play, the need for technical understanding in game composers, writing for an environment, adding data to music tracks, scheduling audio to play at the exact right moment, building a dynamic game play system and finding a way for music to match that, how Zelda music has changed over time, being aware of the creative vision of the game, Japanese game development, the mismatch of the opening vs the play of a game reflected in its music, feeling the play, the Tomb Raider menu music, Lara Croft in media vs Lara Croft in the game, the loneliness and promise of the menu music, the exploration of Tomb Raider vs the pulp of Raiders, licensing music, matching a soundtrack to the game's moment, using the right soundtrack that reflects the music, dropping in some Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins, Brett overshares his saxophone history, Kirk's projects, feedback about how we should set up each episode, going from game/book club vs discussing and analyzing games, what's next, Tim's big adventure.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Gamer Melodico, Kotaku, Strong Songs, Kotaku Splitscreen, Maddy Myers, Jason Schreier, Red Dead Redemption, Aaron Evers, NPR, RadioLab, Fresh Air, This American Life, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, World Saxophone Quartet, Matthew Burns, JukeDeck, Slate Culture GabFest, Succession, Nicholas Britell, Star Wars, Tomb Raider, Halo, Jason Graves, Republic Commando, Jesse Harlin, John Williams, David Collins, Ludwig Göransson, MIDI, Michelle Hinners, iMUSE, LucasArts, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Dark Forces, Nintendo, GameBoy, The Secret of Monkey Island, Michael Land, MYST, Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, George Lucas, Peter McConnell, Psychonauts, Double Fine Entertainment, Metallica, ProTools, David Byrne, How Music Works, Austin Wintory, Journey, That Game Company, Flower, Uncharted, Zelda (series), Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Koji Kondo, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Manaka Kataoka, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Cadence of Hyrule, Danny Baranowsky, Super Meat Boy, Mario (series), Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Odyssey, UFO: Enemy Unknown/X-COM, John Broomhall, Timothy Michael Wynn, The Avengers, Morgan Grey, Indiana Jones, Crystal Dynamics, GTA (series), UbiSoft, Watch Dogs, Martin Scorcese, Birth of the Cool, Miles Davis, Saint Thomas, Sonny Rollins, The Lost Boys, Phillip from Copenhagen, Pokemon, World of Warcraft, Kingdom Hearts, Shenmue, Eternal Darkness, Rebel FM, DDR, Civilization III, SimCity, Sid Meier, Alpha Centauri.

Next time:
Civilization III

Links:
Kirk and the Secret of Monkey Island

Gameplay and Story Are Exactly Like Music and Lyrics

Strong Songs Patreon

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

Jan 16, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we return to Blizzard's 2004 classic MMORPG World of Warcraft. We discuss the focus required to work in groups, zone design and macro story choices, and delve into our first dungeon before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Into the mid-20s

Podcast breakdown:
0:47       WoW talk
1:16:45  Break
1:17:16  Feedback

Issues covered: shortcuts/acronyms for what's going on, our change in schedule, streamlining roles into tank/healer/dps, a first experience tanking, explosions of types of role-playing games, the interplay of innovation and risk/cost, being able to easily fall into a role, limitations on boss encounters due to role specificity, crowd control roles, elite feel for a game requiring harder roles, spreading abilities around to all classes, roles becoming automatic and rote, designing dungeons to the variety of player you actually have, building more complex MMO behaviors, limiting mechanical complexity, using position as an element in combat for boss design, adding puzzles to dungeon instances, being a part of a bigger raid, the perfect tank build, designing zones to slowly push you to the tough challenges, randomly encountering folks tackling the tough challenge, naturally pushing people to the same locations and forcing social interactions, quest lines that cycle you past places you've been, having long-term enemies and macro stories, having your endgame tie into characters you've seen before, breadcrumbing storylines, seeing higher level characters and having aspirations, returning to new player areas, Tim uses the B word, trying to find a group via server-wide channels, how busy the servers are, modern and match-making, name collisions on the server, being over-leveled for the dungeon, being overwhelmed to fulfill the role, getting careless or pulling badly, switching tactics for a dungeon, high highs and low lows, knowing your role while you're in a 5 person raid, surprises along the way with different types of characters, designing like an amusement park, having surprising visual moments, going out on an adventure, why there aren't lots of games like Shenmue, the historic hangover due to lack of diversity in AAA games marketing, making a game to reach our parents' generation, reaching Tim's mom, discoverability, attach rates and consoles, modern games with deep Shenmue vibes, mobile and casual games, availability of "classic" mobile games, game portals.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Destiny, Everquest, Final Fantasy XII, Left 4 Dead, Valve, Sekiro, Lord of the Rings (obliquely), Disneyland, The Goonies, Dark Age of Camelot, Shenmue, Robin, Resident Evil, The Sims, LucasArts, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Nintendo, Wii, Wii Sports, Persona (series), Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA (series), Nick McCormick, Spider, Drop 7, Osmos, Andy Nealen, Big Fish, Diner Dash, Crazy Taxi, Plants vs Zombies, World of Goo, Peggle, Alchemy.

Links:
Shenmue on the Saturn

Next time:
Our (delayed) interview with Kirk Hamilton!

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

Jan 8, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we complete our series on 1999's Sega cult classic Shenmue. We spend a lot of time lifting cargo and putting it into place and also run pell-mell for the exit before we turn to our takeaways and some feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finishing the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:44    Shenmue discussion
58:24  Break
59:03  Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: why we're even working in the harbor anyway, being stuck in the harbor and not being able to free-roam, triggering scenes day by day, being committed to the forklift bit, warm-up racing, earning raises, giving in to the routine, turning off the open world and opt-in, being stuck at the harbor if Ryo had more to do, "the worst version of wandering around," being directed but not being able to directly forward the story, genre-bending, watching forklift operators and then feeling part of that machinery, playing anything, having a first job, feeling communion with Ryo more and with the characters with whom he interacts, whether Death Stranding derives from this, having timelines with Nozomi and Goro and Mai, wondering what we missed, having to rush to the docks at midnight, connecting to the schedules, hopping on a motorcycle, a late timed challenge, getting into the Mad Angels' hideout, a music video returning Nozomi home, having to fight Gui Zhang, having to fight everyone who hangs out in the docks at night, leeching drama from a scene through repetition, Tim getting into the move set, wanting a little more from the fighting game parts, going half-way and lacking camera and HUD support, an aside into Japanese gang sartoria and Hong Kong cinema, missing out on Lan Di, having the final conflict, incorporating more fight moves in the final fights, finding scrolls and being taught the moves, suddenly dropping in narration, an abrupt ending, the life simulator, succeeding at building a living world, the real-time clock, lacking character state in unscheduled interactions, having rewarding moments off the beaten path, how the notebook fills in and not being able to use that to explore the world, "interactive cinema" and how that drove the game and industry, paralleling certain cinema tropes, embracing the mundane, crafting as mundane, having the mundane to balance and buoy the action, setting the game in its time again from fans, technical achievements of Shenmue, things feeling a little stilted, Brett not remembering the names of stuff, spending time on side things, looking ahead.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Yu Suzuki, Ian Bogost, Play Anything, Death Stranding, Metal Gear (series), John Woo, Jackie Chan, Oldboy, Virtua Fighter, The Warriors, LucasArts, Full Throttle, Persona (series), Left 4 Dead (series), Top Gun, David Cage, Heavy Rain, World of Warcraft, DreamCast, Guy Morgan, Lloyd Parker, Soul Calibur, PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy VIII, XBOX, John Carmack, DOOM 3, Daniel Louks, Animal Crossing, Assassin's Creed, Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
An interview with Kirk Hamilton about the new theme!

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

Jan 1, 2020

No show notes this week -- just our annual takeaways and recaps. Happy New Year -- let's make 2020 a good one, folks.

 

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

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