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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: July, 2020
Jul 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

Next time:
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, first case

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

Jul 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

Next time:
A final(?) interview

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

Jul 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

Link:
Video of training the animators


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

Jul 8, 2020

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

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

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

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

Next time:
YET. ANOTHER. INTERVIEW.

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

Jul 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

Next time:
Another Interview?

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

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