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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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Dev Game Club
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Now displaying: 2021
Oct 27, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we start a new series on 2005's Capcom horror classic, Resident Evil 4. We place it in its time and then talk immediately about how it really kicked the third-person action-adventure game into higher gear. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the second typewriter

Issues covered: the Capcom 5, having some trouble getting the game off the ground, success of the remake, a really different feel, relying on establishing POV shots from slashers, horror movie touchpoints, moving away from straight-up zombie games, differences between Chris and Leon, meeting Hunnigan via the Codec, popularizing the third-person shooter, hold-overs from the older controls, fighting the controls, embodying the character, disempowerment, pick a spot and stand your ground, jerky enemies, shooting a weapon out of the air, opening up the level design to multiple paths, the gun-and-run, Leon's better tactics, "various awesome actions," moving saves away from being a resource, a more revealed map, having people coming at you with pitchforks and torches, can you get the chainsaw guy?, disconnects with marketing, getting lucky to have marketing departments who got it, moral choices and the morally objectionable, motivating the character choices for evil, coloring the tone of dialog to reflect your choices, what weapons we chose with BioShock, talking about the wrench kill, loving crossbows, style over substance in Control.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, SW: Republic Commando, Psychonauts, Guild Wars, Civ IV, FEAR, The Undying, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, AC: Wild World, Guitar Hero, Mercenaries, Battlefront II, KotOR II, Lego Star Wars, Xbox 360, Capcom, GameCube, PN 03, Vanquish, Viewtiful Joe, Suda51, Killer 7, Clover Studio, Hideki Kamiya, Dead Phoenix, Panzer Dragoon, PlayStation 2, Devil May Cry, PT, Game Developer Magazine, Friday the 13th, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Godzilla, Classic Monsters, The Hills Have Eyes, 'Salem's Lot, The Omen, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Living Dead, Shawn Cassidy, Silent Hill, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, Frankenstein, Deathloop, Sam Thomas, BioShock, The Green Knight, David S. Lowery, Ghost Story, Jarkko S, Dishonored, Metro, Hitman, Control, Aki Kaurismaki, The Last of Us Part II, Ryan, Deus Ex, No More Heroes, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Check Twitter!

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

Oct 20, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we add a little splice to our series on BioShock by revisiting and discussing its sequels, somewhat vaguely. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: whether Elizabeth is a grown-up Little Sister, getting a chance to revisit Rapture, breaking cycles and circles, overstuffing the narrative space, the mechanics, Skyline rollercoasters, kitchen sink combat, trapping with vigors, combining vigors, being on the nose, dehumanizing the enemies and putting that next to more serious topics, a creator revisiting previous work, friction between teams, wanting more BioShock, "it is a big ole TWO," being able to use both types of weapons at the same time, simplifying hacking, finding new types of puzzles, fleshing out Rapture, paying off on a wish fulfillment you didn't know you have, "getting the franchise," going deeper, the difficulty of seeing someone else work on your work, the weirdness of the DLC, what would they do with a sequel, earning the ending, having more fun via creativity.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Lottery (Shirley Jackson), Dishonored, Fallout 3/Fallout New Vegas, Alien: Isolation, Prey, Halo (series), Daron Stinnett, Star Wars, George Lucas, Escape from New York, Arkham (series), UbiSoft, Death of the Outsider, Deathloop, Resident Evil 4, GameCube, Tantuar, Drew, The Prestige, Hannah Arendt, Ken Levine, Sunset Overdrive, Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac, Control, Todd Howard, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Notes:
The quote is "There's always a lighthouse, there's always a man, there's always a city." We regret the error.

Next time:
Resident Evil 4!

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

Oct 13, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we complete our series on BioShock. We delve into the end and endings of the game, and of course address our takeaways.Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Issues covered: Brett's terrible fathering, Big Daddy issues, developing Suchong more as a character, Yellow Peril, leaning into pulp, being like a ship, turning the lower classes via demogoguery, leaning on the Irish, tracing the arc of Diane McClintock, using abstraction to hide real harm, character dualities, turning you into a Big Daddy, seeing the evolution and development of the program, putting the big boots on, fully integrating the backstory into the level and narrative design, redesigning to support the movement of the Big Daddy, changing the perspective, moving from alien camera views to first-person perspective, forcing the section where you protect the Little Sister, being paranoid about keeping the Little Sister alive, playing this section on Hard, BioShock 2 as a better-playing game, handing you the syringe, also becoming a Little Sister, where the series goes from here, the specificity of the series, how to adapt the themes of the series repeatedly, the point of no return, the boss working on paper and maybe not in-game as much, Fontaine being under-developed, still getting Ryan's story after his death, not knowing enough about Fontaine before meeting Ryan, the binary that drives the bad ending, becoming like your fathers, unmotivated world monstrosity, the good ending, doing something other games hadn't, BS jobs, failures of capitalism, a shooter with the heart of an immersive sim, greater approachability, two senses of place (sight and sound), high production values, ease of use/play how you like to/forgiving design.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Fu Manchu, Titanic, Ratchet & Clank, Revenge of the Jedi, 2K Games, Cloud Chamber Studios, Activision, Call of Duty, Fallout, Star Wars, Metroid, Prometheus, Alien, Six Feet Under, The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand, Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years, Occupy Wall Street, Dishonored 2, Prey, God of War (series), Portal, Control, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Bonus: the sequels!

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

Oct 6, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on BioShock. We talk a lot about the surprise of the scene of Ryan, and some mechanical and production aspects we haven't had a chance to talk about yet. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Apollo Square!

Issues covered: where the game should (?) have ended, playing golf with your dad, finding a way to incorporate a power station, Ryan the abstract monster vs Ryan the concrete monster, changing the lens you view Ryan through, rationalizing one's choices, the red yarn board, forcing the player to see a scene the way they want you to, egocentric Ryan and seeing oneself as a tragic hero, every villain as the hero of his own story, mythological framing, other ways you could tackle player agency here, "The Cake Is A Lie," the Irish charmer becoming the Irish thug, using Atlas to puff out Ryan as a monster, the many many layers of references and archetypes, all that matters to me is me and all that matters to you is you, killing people who are much like you, differentiating the Little Sisters in the Tenenbaum section, the mind-control plasmid, walking a tightrope with difficulty and challenge, mixing up your plasmids, the simplicity of upgrades, some numbers change or more things can be impacted, not feeling the power of tonics and plasmids, lack of builds, the limited number of axes across which powers and weapons apply, compressing the depth, modularity in world construction, solid art direction, regularity in the built world, kit-bashing, a couple of kind reviews, dealing with issues of preservation, what gets lost, wanting leaders to do more, having let's plays for reference.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: System Shock 2, Snowpiercer, Portal, Walt Disney, Wide World of Disney, PIXAR, Studio Ghibli, William Hearst, Citizen Kane, Modern Warfare 2, The Last of Us 2, Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima, Arkham City/Arkham Knight, Robert De Niro, The Irishman, Ken Levine, Village of the Damned, Metroid, Ratchet & Clank, Unreal, Gears of War, Skyrim, Fallout (series), Jarkko S., Baldur's Gate, Diablo, Final Fantasy VI, Metal Gear Solid, Chris_3646363, Ocarina of Time, mysterydip, Phil Spencer, Vectrex, Double Fine, Square Enix, The Matrix (series/Online), The Wachowskis, Meridian 59, Andrew and Chris Kirmse, Control, The Lost Room, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Links:
Twitter thread on preservation

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

Sep 29, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on BioShock. We talk about Fort Frolic and the arc of what's coming, guns and plasmids and a bit about their crossover, crafting, and gene tonics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Fort Frolic

Issues covered: hitting the best beats of the game, having the future be a little blurry, Cohen's theatricality, using the camera purely as a framing camera artistically, the multiple payoffs of the camera, critical path integration of the camera, time-delayed gratification, a bottle episode, the statue splicers, using spotlights theatrically, how do you produce oxygen and filter out carbon dioxide, riffing on space games, putting crafting on the critical path, not having inventory as a presented system but having it underneath, not a lot of difficult decisions, always being able to get enough stuff through grinding, minimal benefits to adding crafting stations, only just getting better plasmids and tonics (not spending to improve them), the changing approach to respecs in modern design, wanting to ground systems in the world, categorizing tonics as a sop to balancing, Trojan Horsing the immersive sim, alienating a smaller audience in favor of a larger one, Jack's mother and father, themes of family in the series, getting a lot of mileage from the narrative setting, the uselessness of the map and the way the objective marker can put you on the rails, not having decisions that mean a lot, the greater impact of the older games, the rise of blogs and critical outlets, explosion of other outlets around the time.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Pokemon Snap, Dead Rising, Xbox, Unreal Engine, System Shock, Thief, The Chronicles of Riddick, Repblic Commando, Prey, Dishonored, Fallout 3, Tomb Raider (2013), Ayn Rand, Resident Evil, Peter, Planescape: Torment, Control, Blarg42, Twin Suns Corp, Batman (film series), Calamity Nolan, Airplane!, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
To Apollo Square

Links:
1998: Why it's (probably) the Greatest Year Ever in video games

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

Sep 22, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Bioshock. We talk about the horror elements early on, the use of minibosses, how low-friction the game is, hacking and of course, the Choice. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to end of Neptune's Bounty

Issues covered: reading how Atlas talks about Ryan knowing what we know, introducing Fontaine and audio tapes indicating maybe death at first, temporal setting, the game's argument both against and for the primacy of the individual, horror and the Medical Pavilion, doling out a good step-by-step game, having a solid target in Steinman, framing cinematic events well, theming characters in areas, audio design heightening the horror, seeing ghosts/echoes and the direct lift from System Shock 2, the setup and payoff of the Choice, Tim the Harvester, the difference between harvesting and rescuing, wondering about their goals in making the choice, the sea slug and the original version of the game, killing the protector and traumatizing the girl, not questioning Atlas even though he's wrong, the melancholy of the Big Daddies, the strength of the music and the use of diagetic music, the horror of the 1950s, dealing with the Sisters and Daddies as you go, the pipe hacking mini-game, being low friction, a very forgiving immersive sim, AI state vocalization, richness of AI voice lines, the shift of perspective and how it gives permission to allow for variety of lines, humanizing vs dehumanizing in AI state communication, Bioshock the power fantasy/shooter/hero story.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Half-Life, Arkham Asylum, Pablo Picasso, System Shock 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Bernard Herrmann, Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Prey, Thief, Deathloop, Splinter Cell, Uncharted (series), The Last of Us, Naughty Dog, No One Lives Forever, James Bond, Austin Powers, Artimage, Control, The X-Files, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
To the end of Fort Frolic

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

Sep 15, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on 2007's Bioshock. We set the game in its time and talk about how it expanded the audience for a shooter with sim elements, as well as other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Neptune's Bounty

Issues covered: the name change, retaining identity after being acquired, what is a brand, the games that year, the Shock-verse, wanting System Shock 3, missing the immersive sim, starting with the wrench and a power, the success of the game, broadening the appeal of immersive sim elements, the difficulty of balancing immersive sims and testing them, improving the shooting, a successful E3, keeping secret the weird beginning, the theme park opening, the bathysphere and the mystery, marine life being used once, delivering a really solid moment, a single location that is a character in and of itself, a sleeper hit, the games blogosphere, the "Bioshock slot", taking a chance on something quirky, superhero games often being bad, establishing an Art Deco aesthetic, amplifying fear by setting it underwater, leaning into the horror early, Dutch angle usage, needles, survival horror elements, staying in first person, story bits and teasing narrative out over time, growing story space, well-implemented audio logs, a good choice for narrative delivery, foreshadowing and making a place feel lived in, easy to enjoy, getting some stuff really right, Kindly filling folks in on Atlas, setting up the smoke and mirrors, reapproaching the 4X genre from an old hand, the fun that is Ratchet & Clank, choosing a language based on the regional flavor, how long to show the tutorialization, teach the player without them knowing they are being taught, dynamic tutorials.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Irrational Games/2K Boston, Firaxis, Microsoft, Bethesda Game Studios, SWAT 4, Republic Commando, Portal, Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, Metroid Prime 3, Crysis, Nintendo Wii, Super Mario Galaxy, Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction, The Orange Box, Half-Life (series), Team Fortress 2, Medal of Honor: Vanguard, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, The Witcher, Peggle, PuzzleQuest, Crackdown, WoW: The Burning Crusade, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Lulu LaMer, PlayStation, Xbox, Rainbow Six: Vegas, System Shock 2, Ken Levine, Cloud Chamber, Prey, Arkane, Deathloop, Bioshock Infinite, The Incredibles, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Todd Howard, Fallout 3, Arkham Asylum, Skyrim, Rocksteady, Warner Bros., Jules Verne, Control, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Johnny Pockets Grattan, Old World, Soren Johnson, Civ III, Drew, Ratchet & Clank, Traveller's Tales, LEGO (series), GTA, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Ni No Kuni, SEGA, Ghost Squad, House of the Dead, Yakuza, Metal Gear (series), Death Stranding, Alan Wake, Remedy, Dragon Quest Builders, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
TBD! More Bioshock!

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

Sep 8, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we interview Brian Allgeier, the Lead Designer of the first Ratchet & Clank (as well as many others) in connection with our series. We cover 20 years of career at Insomniac, creative leadership, Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.


Podcast breakdown:
1:12 Interview
59:45 Break
1:00:13 Feedback, Next Time

Issues covered: Girl with a Stick, first jobs, getting in as an animator and artist, getting a good demo reel together, being excited to work on Spyro, having trouble thematically connecting disparate elements, playing in a toy store, an alien traveling from planet to planet collecting weapons and gadgets, evolving the character, building levels diorama-style, getting the attitude of the character across, relatability, kitchen sink design, try it and see what happens, tinkering to find the fun, coming up with jokes except they were weapons, fun in the room translating to fun for the player, an iteration that last for years, grinding, having a rhythm of constantly getting more stuff, getting exciting to work on the games, focusing on story in a generation swap, eating up preproduction on a downloadable title, using challenges to develop as a studio, tricks from the book, switching to user experience research, learning about disability, figuring out movement in VR, always pushing forward, falling into pits, removing friction.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Spyro the Dragon (series), Sony, Ted Price, Phillips Interactive Media, CD-i, Scooby-Doo, Michael John, Mark Cerny, Vinnie the Penguin, Cuphead, Warner Bros/Loony Tunes, Doom, Blue Shift Inc, Running Wild, 989 Studios, PlayStation 2, Brian Hastings, Marvin the Martian, The Little Prince, Iron Giant, Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Conker's Bad Fur Day, David Guertin, Naughty Dog, Game Developer, Thomas Edison, Disruptor, Resistance (series), Call of Duty (series), Nintendo, Mike Stout, Halo, Pixar, Brad Santos, TJ Fixman, Directing Video Games: 101 Tips for Creative Leadership, Edge of Nowhere, Lucky's Tale, Sunset Overdrive, Remote Control, Nnedi Okorafor, Binti, Sam, Super Meat Boy, Spider-man, Tony Hawk, Control, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Notes:
Agent 9 was the spy-monkey in Spyro: YotD

Next time:
BioShock!

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

Sep 1, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on 2002's Ratchet & Clank, with our takeaways and a bonus look at the 2016 remake. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Actually finished the game

Issues covered: the quality of the cinematics in the new game, Quark's criminal status, being underpowered for the final boss, getting money by going back so you can buy additional weapons, fun timing challenges, giving you a greatest hits in the last couple levels, the difficulty being a thing of its era, getting the benefit of dynamic difficulty, promoting grinding with currency systems, wanting additive rewards, the magic of the RYNO, the inaccessibility of the RYNO, keeping players stuck in one game, balancing on average vs minimum, giving you more navigation tools earlier and by default, doing what's coolest for the player, leaning into variety, infusing RPG elements into another genre, having lenses to navigate the environment, leaning into weapons, embracing the shooter/platformer combo, the Rule of Cool, generosity and finding ways to say yes to your designers and players, handcrafting lots of different things, the many things Insomniac does, the layout of the credits, character attitude, how Ratchet becomes more sympathetic, referring to Halo, character design changes, embracing modern third-person action, transmedia influence, appreciating the company.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Galaxy Quest!, Halo, Bungie, Insomniac, Dungeons & Dragons, Ted Price, Sony, Crash Bandicoot, Warner Bros, Animaniacs, Bugs Bunny, Spider-Man, Edge of Nowhere, The Unspoken, Song of the Deep, Slow Down Bull, Magic Leap, Control, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Marc Garcia.

Next time:
Another Bonus!

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

Aug 25, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Ratchet & Clank. We talk about the late game, variety in the game in its many forms, getting things out of order, favorite stuff, and more. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finishing the game?

Issues covered: what the remaster improved or didn't, finding upgrades, having to backtrack, how many weapons we have left, getting to the end of a sequence and not having a payoff, our bonus episode, the entertainment of Mr. Zurkon, comparing the film adaptations, favorite or favored weapons, throwing the wrench, getting the weapon placed in your hands when you pick it up, UI fighting design, chorded weapon wheels later, putting devices on or off the item select, silly trophies, skill points, the space battle with Quark, getting to be Giant Clank, fun being the giant monster, pounding lots of big enemies, the Gadgetron grind rail, tools for making things epic, having only two hoverboard sections, having the confidence to let your enemies look dumb, setting up the level design to make you feel clever, embracing the medium, "smart dumb fun," killer dogs, dynamic difficulty,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Metroid (series), World of Warcraft, Fallout, Spyro (series), LEGO (series), Iron Giant, Psychonauts, Rampage, Final Fantasy (series), SSX (series), God of War, Halo (series), Jak & Daxter, Zachary, Starfighter, Republic Commando, Resident Evil 4, Mark Brown, Game Designer's Toolkit, Bloodborne, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, Pokemon, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Note:
In LEGO games, the currency is the "stud"

Next time:
Finishing the game! and a bit of the re...visit

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

Aug 19, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Ratchet & Clank. We delve primarily into the variant game play we start to see at this point in the game, though admittedly with other topics sprinkled in. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Bomb Factory

Issues covered: voice cast, Ratchet's longer story arc, dark and snark, opposing ideas of what have to be done, building story around archetypes, attitude mascots, moving from mascots to more realistic rendering and characters, PlayStation moving to more "mature" themes, Microsoft pulling Sony, changing strategy, wanting the variant game play to reinforce the setting, spline enemies, aim down sites, using tools to create problem-solving scenarios with weapons, having lots of rewards for completing variant play, enjoying being able to visit a space a second time, sticking with a single design structure for years, fighting the Snagglebeast, what we have to look forward to, miniaturization for backwards compatibility and as a business plan, picking the right version of a game to play, not looking to fans for what they want, having the tools to talk about game design through engaging with the podcast, talking about the end of Death Stranding.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Lost, Hitman, Pulp Fiction (obliquely), David Kaye, Transformers, GI Joe, Paul Giamatti, Mikey Kelley, Michael Richardson, Mortal Kombat, TMNT, Jim Ward, Prince of Persia, Star Trek, Mario (series), Nintendo, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Sly Cooper, Infamous, Ghosts of Tsushima, Spider-man (PS4), Sony Santa Monica, Twisted Metal, God of War, Xbox, Halo, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Mark Cerny, Starfighter, Rogue Squadron, Starfox, Zelda (series), Spyro, Sunset Overdrive, Tony Hawk, Jet Grind Radio, Kingdom Hearts, Death Stranding, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, PSOne, Metal Gear Solid, LucasArts, Truffles Mochachino, Final Fantasy VI, Square Enix, Waypoint Radio, Chrono Trigger, Sebastian Deken, Bloodborne, Sekiro, Dark Souls, Horizon: Zero Dawn, biostats, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Finishing the game

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

Aug 11, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on 2002's Insomniac action shooter platformer Ratchet & Clank. This week we talk about the weapons systems, watching a game evolve over a few years, level design, and other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Blarg Station Nebula G64 or thereabouts

Issues covered: propulsion, stretch and squish, humor along the lines of Warner Bros, comedy and timing, matching comedy style to the game, weapon upgrade systems and the many levels of weapons, contextualizing upgrades and gadgets, the zaniness of weapons, gold bolts, having help with the collectibles, getting a lot of trophies, the ways gadgets improved, improving usability, third-person shooting on consoles, early 3D still, filling in the gaps for Nintendo, collection-focused mechanics vs generosity of bolts, failing forward, channels of reward, skill-based leveling systems, adding behaviors to weapons as they level, the variant gameplay forms, looping back to the beginning of sections in level design, taking over Clank, ordering a small squad of robots, a series that blends together, Ratchet being a little irritating, good enemies, music with zany sci-fi, world-building on the nose in a good way, why Gau is a great character, CRTs vs monitors, picking favorite RPG characters, hidden mechanics, an announcement of Brett and Tim working together again.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Marvin the Martian, Warner Bros., Disney, Hanna Barbera, Jackass (film series), the 1619 Project, Nintendo, Oddworld, Stranger's Wrath, The Mask, Sly Cooper, LucasArts, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, LEGO Star Wars, Elder Scrolls (series), Ready at Dawn, High Impact Games, Full Throttle, Anachronox, Space Quest, The Incredibles, Michael Giacchino, David, Bergeaud, Disruptor, Resistance, mysterydip, Final Fantasy VI, Pokemon, zachary, SNES Classic, Blarg42, Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest, Dragonball, Sebastian Deken, BioWare, Planescape: Torment, Mass Effect, Dragon Age (series), Ni No Kuni, Freddy Prinze Jr, Baldur's Gate, Dungeons & Dragons, JRR Tolkien, Mikael Danielsson, Gears of War, Starfighter, Republic Commando, Jak & Daxter, Resident Evil (series), Death Stranding, Calamity Nolan, Twin Suns Corp, Harley Baldwin, Greg Knight, Paul Pierce, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Up through the Bomb Factory!

Link:

CRT vs Monitor in Pixel Art

Hidden Mechanics

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

Jul 28, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on the delightful action platformer shooter thing called Ratchet & Clank. We set it in its time a little bit, and talk a bit about developer Insomniac, and then turn to talk about introductory impressions and continue to catch up on feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Novalis

Issues covered: destroying your enemies with flame, tone and charm and humor, 2002: a Good Year with a Thick Coat of Peanut Butter, the mascots, playing PlayStation games at the start of the PS2 lifecycle, the Cerny Method, Tim's first time, the war on consoles surrounding mascots and third person action, what Microsoft was up to, Brett projects that Tim will be amazed about with the guns, a little sideline into Resistance, the titles, future streamlining, getting animation to film quality, stretch and squish as a frontier, making a character feel very alive, Brett dives into the hardware, wishing you could take your technical expertise back, seeing lots of characters and structure very early, consistency of tone, enjoyable juvenalia, a series of gags, the surprise of having a map and quests, a variety of enemy types, the tendency of consoles towards PCs, a huge pile of FF6 secrets, a game coming to you at a time where it helped you get through, what we'd want from JRPG combat, taking a week off, thinking you've finished the game,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Insomniac, PlayStation 2, Disruptor, Spyro (series), Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Kingdom Hearts, Eternal Darkness, Animal Crossing, GameCube, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, Wind Waker, Republic Commando, Xbox, Sly Cooper, MechAssault, Splinter Cell, BG: Dark Alliance, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4, Phantasy Star Online I & II, Andrew Kirmse, Warcraft III, Jedi Outcast, Freedom Force, Irrational Games, Jonathan Chey, Dungeon Siege, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, No One Lives Forever 2, Neverwinter Nights, Battlefield 1942, Jedi Starfighter, Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread, Sonic (series), GTA III: Vice City, LucasArts, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy Tactics, Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Overdrive, Fuse, Mark Cerny, Game Developer Magazine, Jak & Daxter, Super Mario 64, Nintendo 64, Crash Bandicoot, Rare, Banjo Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Sega, UbiSoft, Rayman, Gex, Crystal Dynamics, Croc, Bonk, Blinx: The Time Sweeper, Frogger, Halo, Max Payne, Brute Force, Psychonauts, Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark Zero, GoldenEye, Sea of Thieves, Resistance, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Agent Carter, Skylanders, Toys for Bob, Star Wars, Space Quest, Anachronox, Warner Bros, Animaniacs, Bugs Bunny, Ryan/Biostats, Top Gun, Ninja Turtles, Ducktales, Chrono Trigger, Mark Garcia, Undertale, Skyrim, Death Stranding, Calamity Nolan, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Play more! How much more? Peep the Twitters.

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

Jul 21, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we at last conclude our series on Final Fantasy VI. We give our takeaways and then turn to some of the mountain of feedback that's been piling up. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: June says hello, developing deep character backstories, differing combat mechanics for each character, being pushed to mix parties at the end of the game, full world state changes, going against the grain, going dark places, getting a lot out of their engine and their small set of sprites, stretching beyond your audience's expectations, the alienness of opera, merging exploration with linear story, not knowing what order the story might come in, storylets and minimum expectations of how much game you get, Brett's Book Recommendation, dealing with the end of the world, having trouble getting past an early fight, a strange fan theory, having lots of story and wanting to split the characters, cautioning against reading too much into "original plans," marketing input, the contrasts of Terra and Celes, games as products of their constraints, the business constraints of a changing technology base with many developers, Terra's special ability, input lag in the Anthology, more about the weird Relm sketch glitz, how tools lag, higher fan expectations, the slowing of velocity with each generation, going towards the lowest common denominator or what we know works.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sebastian Deken, biostats, Chrono Trigger, Baldur's Gate, BioWare, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Ultima (series), Gold Box (series), Wizardry, Dungeons & Dragons, SNES, Batman (obliquely), Shadow of the Colossus, God of War (series), Deus Ex, The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells, Death Stranding, Logan Wells, Skyrim, Star Wars, Sega, Phantasy Star, Wes from DFW, Ted Turner, The Museum of Film and Television, Mikael Danielsson, Sam, Johnny Pockets, Valheim, Cyberpunk, The Witcher III, Marvel, Wonder Woman, John Romero, DOOM (1993), Quake, Stardew Valley, Ratchet & Clank, PS3, Hideo Kojima, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Ratchet & Clank (first level)

Links:
An Ultima-te fail

Podcast rec from Johnny Pockets

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

Jul 14, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we add a bonus interview to our series on Final Fantasy VI. We are joined by Sebastian Deken, whose new book explores especially the music in the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:51 Interview
1:05:21 Break
1:06:03 Outro

Issues covered: not being able to talk about video game music, researching live performances of video game music, pitching Boss Fight Books, playing a friend's copy of Final Fantasy, racking up Blockbuster fines from pushing the rental, knowing that you're a musician from early on, studying to be an opera singer, having punishing stage fright for performance, getting into the Columbia MFA program, getting a great thesis advisor, the influence of prog rock on FF6's soundtrack, "the steampunk of music," Celtic music as an influence, the other influences you hear, having the Chocobos take you out of the game, the transitions from overworld to Zozo, knowing what to expect from a game vs not, needing a quilt of a game to quilt the music, planet-hopping, doing a lot of work through the music, having to find a way to talk about music through analogy, showing a few examples visually, the subtlety of Relm's musical number, sassy Relm, getting the whole story about Shadow and Relm through multiple playthroughs, the opera scene and "how is it possible," not making any sense to get the airship this way, the game as an opera with a three act structure, reflecting back what's happening in the game, opera as a strange confluence of factors, transcendant beauty that stays with you, opera as its own answer, needing to hear something as an 8x8 square, maintaining the illusion, matches of fidelity, the viewpoint on opera, not being meant to see people up close in opera.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: biostats, Brett White, Boss Fight Books, NES, StarTropics, Dragon Quest, Matt Shafeek, Gabe Durham, GameCube, Kirk Hamilton, Strong Songs, St Louis Symphony, Upright Citizen's Brigade, Margo Jefferson, Michael Jackson, Koichi Sugiyama, Nomuo Uematsu, Mario (series), Nine Inch Nails, Ennio Morricone, Indiana Jones, Baldur's Gate, JRR Tolkien, Ultima, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls (series), Forgotten Realms, Super Mario RPG, Ryan Thompson, Cosi fan tutte, La traviata, Otello, Puccini, Ingmar Bergman, The Magic Flute, Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet, Spelunky, Derek Yu, ZZT, Anna Anthropy, Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima, Dragon Quest Builders, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Takeaways and feedback

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

Jul 7, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we mostly conclude our series on Final Fantasy VI, though we'll be back for takeaways and more email. Brett takes us through the ending and we discuss some other late-game content. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the end

Issues covered: games we haven't finished for the 'cast, setting aside a day to finish, three hours of the final dungeon, the advantage of the SNES Classic, the emulation problems, delving into the magic points per battle for Espers, cross-pollination of Espers and various systems, gaining Ultima and Ragnarok, Ragnarok's weird power, grinding for Ultima, using Phantom to vanish as a strategy, having Dualcast and whether you can find it, naming things with X-, potential localization differences, games with multiple translations and intending different things, needing Mog to get the Yeti and not Gau, Relm's dad, the credits for the characters, betting Striker to get Shadow, Tim's FF6 Watch, finding the tile to change Relm, the paintings in Owzer's, figuring out how to turn on the light, the final dungeon tileset, the statues as bosses, philosophical chats with Kefka, ordering your whole party, battling through a bunch of Espers, healing/restoring MP to people so they can cast Ultima, things matching up well, Ultima cutting through everything, Relm's powers sometimes being good for the enemy, final cutscenes, the stately pacing of the end of the game, having time to come down, finishing games rather than just getting what you needed, the mixture of unrelated elements, having to maintain player goals through combat, an on-air production meeting, favorite Finals Fantasies, serious games with their lighter moments and their antecedents.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy IX, GTA III, Dungeons & Dragons, SNES Classic, PS1, Tacoma, Chrono Trigger, Star Wars, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Final Fantasy VIII, Reed Knight, "Tom," Willy the Shakes, Macbeth, Henry IV, Halo, Death Stranding, Dragon Quest Builders, Nolan Filter, mysterydip, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
TBD!

Errata:
In FF8, they are actually "Ability Points." We regret the error.

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

Jun 23, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Final Fantasy VI. We are deeply into the world of ruin, seeking out our friends, and relating our strange adventures, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
More of the World of Ruin

Issues covered: breaking the Internet, reaching the Dream Stooges, naming Cyrano, The Dark Chuckler, Tim's plan going off the rails, exploring Zozo, returning to places from the World of Balance, the sad story of the woman's departed beau, getting a lot of mileage out of small amounts of animation, not enjoying the battle system enough to avoid the feelings of interruption, the challenge of the dragon, Brett's unchanging strategy, Celes's Runic action, searching the map for Locke, the hidden stuff in Doma, getting into Cyan's dream, defeating the Dream Stooges, puzzles on the Phantom Train, being begged to save Cyan by his dead family, the tough battle against Wrexsoul, combats that challenge you more and play against expectations, combinations that lead to unexpected results, hidden bosses in Kingdom Hearts, secrecy of bosses changing over time, being at the top of their game, establishing an expectation of secret bosses, "the Internet ruins everything," pulling off more adult themes, having the unexpected in tabletop and in a JRPG, the big unresolved moment in Cyan's life, Esper management, exploitable combos, not knowing the usefulness of the other spells, picking out a weapon at the secret base... or not?, poking at the Tower, not liking the distance melee attacks, mechanics you bounce off the first time, not enjoying the disempowered controls of certain games, the focus on story in JRPGs, being co-located to play co-op, bugs and exploits in the game, Eastern European takes on Tolkien.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mark Garcia, Cyrano de Bergerac, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy (series), Chrono Trigger, Dungeons & Dragons, Hironobu Sakaguchi, The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien, MattSattam, Fallout, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario RPG, Square Enix, XenoGears, Dark Cloud 2, Ni No Kuni, Shadow of the Colossus, Reed Knight, Resident Evil, Nathan Martz, Fumito Ueda, Artimage, Pokemon, Diablo, Baldur's Gate, World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls (series), BioWare, Mass Effect, Darren Johnson, John Stafford, Derek Filippo, Icewind Dale, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Interplay, Earthbound, Brave New World, John Webb, Divinity (series), The Witcher (series), Death Stranding, Get Out, Us, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Even more of the World of Ruin

Links:
https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Vanish-Doom_bug
https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Sketch_bug
https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Evade_bug
https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Psycho_Cyan_bug

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

Jun 16, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Final Fantasy VI. Tim catches up and fails to save the world, so we talk about making it work, in the ashes, as we got the band back together, before turning to listener feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
A few hours past Floating Continent

Issues covered: the messed up inner turmoil of Terra, being stuck in a maze with random encounters, five hours on the floating continent, wiping after racing to the ship, waiting because of the walkthrough (or not), Timmy saves the day and holds back Kefka, cutscenes that age well or poorly, saving Cid or not, the cost of resetting the party, fears of apocalypse, meaningful sequences of finding each character again, finding a dragon and failing, Terra not rejoining you, wandering around Zozo, Sabin holding up a house and another timed sequence, regaining Edgar, going through Darill's/Daryl's Tomb, restoring the Falcon and watching it rise from the water, grinding around Narshe, being able to do more because production costs are lower, talking about FFXV's troubled production and feeling it in the game, revisiting games a second time around, first bosses in several ATB games, renting from the store, long load times and emulation, having trouble when you name your character the same as an in-game character, being frustrated when characters are taken away, wanting it to be Cyan's story, the reactive world.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Lani Lum, Tron, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Symphony of the Night, Gabe Durham, Boss Fight Books, Sebastian Deken, Nobuo Uematsu, Silent Hill 2, Nick Faulhaber, Derek from Spokane, Link's Awakening, MrRhythm, Zack from Melbourne, Maas Neotek Proto, Death Stranding, Dragon Quest Builders, Minecraft, Dark Cloud, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
More of the World of Ruin

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

Jun 9, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Final Fantasy VI. We continue talking about the story, the mechanics that make an area like Floating Continent so frustrating, the new characters, and more! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Floating Continent

Issues covered: sketching my enemies to death, whether there are other characters named Relm, setting things up to be open, retreading a lot of territory due to random battle interruptions, the psychology of spatial changes, running away and smoke bombs, leaving the area and returning, crashing the airship and getting that Mode7 goodness, the rough-and-tumble empire town of Maranda, the impact of Empire, having to sustain disbelief, not buying that the Emperor would sue for peace, introducing dialog trees for a one-off, designer jokes, Cid becoming a Returner, General Leo's honor, Kefka being locked up, mastering 16-bit cutscenes with a limited palette of expressions, Thamasa and the lore of how the world came to discard magic, constraints inspiring creativity, the Jedi analog, the house fire sequence and Relm and Shadow, Gao as a character based on grinding, the return of Ultros, Leo fighting Kefka and losing, negotiating peace with the Espers, the party being somewhat culpable with the Espers as well, Leo's consistency as a character and the shock of his death, Kefka as Louis XIV, Sephiroth as villain, the organic looking environment of the Floating Continent, the massive number of potential spells, using Espers more, ways to slim down spell options based on character archetypes,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: L. A. Noire, Kingdom Hearts, Godzilla, Star Wars, H. R. Giger, Chrono Trigger, Death Stranding, Dragon Quest Builders, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Some significant amount of time in the World of Ruin.

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

Jun 2, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Final Fantasy VI. We talk about more of what we've played so far, dipping into issues of where we grind, how we approach combat, and touching on the Espers. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Opening the Gate!

Issues covered: the gold hairpin/Moogle choice, Lone Wolf in a cell, being confused about the Atma Weapon, random battles and preventing player goals and expression, exploring the Vector facility, having to fight the sub-boss and then save, meeting Cid, the grim origins of Magitek, cultural origins of what the game might be about, grinding in the facility for tents, Brett's physical damage approach vs Tim's magical damage approach, Scanning, losing a magic-user due to Lore Reasons, some discussion of Espers and leveling their skills, how the summons work in later FFs, streaming rules and audience support, being unprepared to lose a character, finding a way to incorporate things you love, the airship as reward, milking the mode 7, multiple control modes for the airship, having to figure out the discrete interface, having even more freedom in another JRPG, an interactable flashback interlude, having a baby on screen and learning how Terra came to be, inviting Tim to come and play FFVII for a week, Terra wanting to open the gate to elist the Espers, gating in Thamasa, monster town, friction with random encounters and disappearing floors, losing your save files and being pushed to finish, doing unpaid labor for your brother, other ways of delivering cutscenes, the whelk and ATB.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mark Garcia, Park Chan-wook, Parasite, The Host, Bong Joon Ho (obliquely), Wasteland 2, Waypoint, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ultima Underworld, Mario Kart, Chrono Trigger, Baldur's Gate, Suikoden II, Mikael Danielsson, Zach, James Roberts, Super Mario RPG, Square Enix, Sam, Dungeons & Dragons, Ultima, Wizardy, Dragon Quest, Rubik's Cube, Tetris, Spelunky, Death Stranding, Dragon Quest Builders, Aaron Evers, Kirk Hamilton.

Links:
Super Mario RPG pantomime

Opera House Track OCR


Next time:
Up to the World of Ruin!

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

May 26, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Final Fantasy VI. We talk about more of what we've played so far, including differences between each of our experiences especially, and culminating in the Opera House. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Opera House!

Issues covered: not being able to play every day, lack of recaps, enjoying the thief play, fighting a merchant and stealing his clothes, "who does this?," playing different games, the influence of party members on combat play, the trickster as main character, missing out on surprises because you spent so much time on a space, recontextualizing a space, paying off the cider/setting up things that needed to be dealt with later, transitioning based on order, a little bit of proto-Tower Defense, how/why Brett lost, fighting Kefka, the transformation of Terra, spell ordering in the menus, learning from Espers (rather than treating them as Items), implementation cost tradeoffs, effective use of Mode 7, a brief aside on how Mode 7 works, hardware-supported image tricks, retroactive peformance analysis, making a level out of sprites, party composition, a flashback with Edgar and Sabin, losing context for later information, Locke and Rachel, the backstory and its many tropes, the HadesGiga earthquake thing and avoiding it, the clock puzzle in Zozo and everyone lying to you, Edgar's chainsaw, the Opera House, getting to rewind time, Tim failing the timer due to shenanigans, really laying out the scene, not playing to the game's audience (with opera), a big set-up to introduce Setzer, investing in the developers' passions, limited sources of pop culture reference, drawing from a wider range of influences, layering force over the top, a review that calls back a couple years, keeping Edgar in the party, Balthier (FFXII) as Han Solo stand-in, abstraction and JRPGs, music in the game, getting into JRPGs in 2000.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dragon Quest Builders, Chrono Trigger, Star Fox, Mario Kart, PlayStation, Jedi Starfighter, Super Castlevania IV, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Romeo and Juliet, Friday the 13th, biostats, Nintendo DS, The Three Amigos, Star Wars, Aliens, The Matrix, BioShock, Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, The Witcher 3, Death Stranding, ArmsTech President Kenneth Baker, Metal Gear Solid, Eric Anderson, Logan Wells, Kirk Hamilton, Jason Schreier, Triple Click, Maddy Myers, Stephen, Dragon Quest XI, Raph Koster, Dungeons & Dragons, Nobuo Uematsu, The Last Story, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Check the Twitter!

Links:
An orchestral/sung version of the Opera

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

May 12, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Final Fantasy VI. We talk about the story and the utility of allowing players to choose the order in which to play a few sections, among other things, before turning to your feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through two of the post-rapids sequence

Issues covered: the ins and outs of S. Figaro, finding the rebel base, Tim forgets the names, whether longer names would be easier to remember, having a way to introduce several characters quickly, a digression into how several FFs are related in terms of tone, enjoying the presentation because it's more cohesive, potentially not predisposing a player to particular characters, strategy guides and long manuals, learning to control Sabin's moves, suplexing the train, the death of Doma, the tension of melodrama and darkness, conveying moments through simple tools, the possibility of anything coming next, getting everything out of the SNES, an analogy to silent films, being curious about how big studios reapproach the formula (aka FF7 Remake), running down to the veldt, meeting Gau and what's their deal with primitives, not knowing what ability to pick from Gau, Cyan's swordtechs, active battle mode and Cyan (vs wait mode), not knowing how to get past Gau, the tight little text bursty questy stuff, all the different modes of world interaction, the weirdness of the Serpent Trench, Chocobos and lack of random battles, running low on resources, resources as rewards, the potential to grind for gil, the saga of trying to play Final Fantasy VI, why teach you what you learn from Ymir fight, a poorly executed teaching moment.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Remi Lacoste, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Dungeons & Dragons, Chrono Trigger, Hironobu Sakaguchi, The Last Story, Square, Nintendo, The Artist, PlayStation, Ray Bradbury, Legend of Zelda (series), 668 The Neighbor of the Beast, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Shout at the Devil, Vincent Price, Mark Garcia, Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64, Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft, Death Stranding, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
To The Opera House!

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

May 5, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we present a bonus interview with Remi Lacoste, who reflects on what it took to make the camera of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which was far more authored than previous 3rd person platformers and action adventures. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Interview
1:04:29 Break
1:05:00 Outro

Issues covered: trial by fire with the last talk of the week, "If the job is well-done, people won't realize how much work there is," being the bad goalie, exploring a new medium for storytelling, working with level designers, developing an aesthetic, setting up the alternate camera, providing the player more spatial context, expressing yourself as an artist, getting views you couldn't have gotten otherwise, building a relationship with level design, anticipating problems, discovering the rules as they went, attempting to preserve the feeling of the 2D game, a 3D navigation puzzle, helping guide the player, camera-relative steering, finding the exact moment to cut, camera behaviors, splines, placing thousands of trigger volumes, preventing panning for jumping between walls, moving the camera to see better, helping the player better understand a space, placing shadows well on the wall to help the player understand the timing of jumps, creating exclusion lists to prevent bugs, maintaining controller and player facing continuity, changing camera at a knowable time, avoiding a problem that's hard to train/tutorialize, the fragility of the player-character control mapping, watching someone else play your game, having flybys and not enjoying watching them, audience problems vs play problems, using camera as a crutch for weak level design, having to show the player something they couldn't see via cuts and trying to avoid that, find the way to frame the destination while you're activating it, blending back when you cut, collaborating with an excellent team, a major milestone, the game's tone and mechanics, the timing with UbiSoft taking off, a darker tone for the sequels, everything needing to work together, pushing the GDC talk again

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Assassin's Creed (series), Behaviour Interactive, WET, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (2013 reboot series), The Avengers, The Initiative, Microsoft, NES, Patrice Desilets, Philippe Morin, Half-Life, Rainbow Six (series), MYST (series), Donald Duck: Quack Attack, Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, Mario (series), Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, 3D Studio MAX, Alex Drouin, David Châteauneuf, Raphaël Lacoste, Splinter Cell, Michel Ancel, Beyond Good and Evil, Final Fantasy VI, Death Stranding, The Last Story, Mistwalker Studios, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Links:
Creating an Emotionally Engaging Camera for Tomb Raider

Next time:
More of Final Fantasy VI!

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

Apr 28, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on Final Fantasy VI, which is often in the conversation surrounding the pinnacle of the 16-bit JRPG. We set the game in its time, and then turn to it directly, talking about world-building and how 2D feels better than 3D for these sorts of games, among other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to South Figaro

Issues covered: who chose this game, stringing out the announcement of the game, how the numbering happened, the apex 16-bit JRPG, Square leaving Nintendo, 1994 in games, knowing what they're doing, feeling like a late-generation game, the transition from VI to VII, the expense of cartridges vs CDs, getting to the limits of cartridges, investing in the cinematics department, self-correcting the numbering scheme, how good the cinematics department was, moving to more of a cinematics-based storytelling style, caveat: this is our darned podcast, Nomura starting as a "debugger," the advantages of staying somewhere for a long time, compressed world-building on the SNES version, making the cinematic for people who already know the game, having expectations, 2D holding up better than 3D from this era, not being ready to compare with Chrono Trigger yet, feeling hyper-linear and not being able to pursue options you think you should, feeling like Chrono Trigger was better balanced for straight play, feeling more adventure-gamey, having moments that stick with you, being balanced towards easy early on, getting poor feedback from an enemy, leaning on Edgar's strengths, some parallels with other popular media, sticking with the given names, hoping for strong characterization, similarity in presentation across modes in 2D and late 3D, universality and abstraction, having a great moment in a combat, adding layers of confusion to presentation with multiple interpretations and writers, removing abilities at the end of the game, adding challenge, addressing adventure game dialog trees through time rewind.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Chrono Trigger, Ultima, Dragon Quest/Warrior, Earthbound, Level-5, Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni, Nintendo, Super Metroid, Warcraft, TIE Fighter, X-COM: UFO Defense, Earthworm Jim, Donkey Kong Country, Tekken, Namco, DOOM (1993), System Shock, The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Master of Magic, Theme Park, Aladdin, The Lion King, Sonic (series), Sega Genesis, Quake, PlayStation, Blizzard, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Kitase, Shigeru Miyamoto, Fallout, Vampire: the Masquerade, Troika, Hiroyuki Ito, Tetsuya Nomura, Tetsuya Takahashi, Nobuo Uematsu, Kingdom Hearts, The Spirits Within, Star Wars, Pokemon, Arcanum, Baldur's Gate, Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Symphony of the Night, God of War II, Life Is Strange (season one), Wasteland 2, Spider-Verse, Spider-Man 2, Tobey Maguire, Returnal, Groundhog Day, Death Stranding, The Last Story, Mistwalker Studios, Wii, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Stay tuned!

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

Apr 21, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We talk about the unfortunate elevator sequence, the final platforming of the game, its circular story and of course, our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the Game

Podcast breakdown:
0:52 Prince of Persia
56:16 Break
56:46 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: rewinding time, feeling bad about the elevator section, spending two hours on one combat encounter, leaning on the worst things of the combat system, tight space, companion AI, being unable to see the Prince, being able to render more stuff and having that in tension with what you want to see, the "Kung Fu Circle," using the death blossom and wanting fewer sand bubbles, taking away all the things I enjoyed about the combat, the rewind resource, feeling over-designed, "fun is challenge," the history of challenge in digital game design, tightness and the tension with other goals, being too good at your game at the end, giving a lot of verbs that are fluidly deployed via context, trying to jump away but instead running me up an enemy, help me look cool getting away, not making the lock-on specific, finding the right balance for players, advocating for how to make your enemies/systems look great, the value of a locked camera, Tim looks up the solution to an audio puzzle, more puzzle discussions, misreading a puzzle and having a good moment, long checkpoints for the final exam, flipping the difficulty, really demonstrating how far the Prince has come by holding the blade edge of the dagger, maybe missing some of the transitions, rewinding the whole story back to the beginning so he tells this wild story (tying into the failures), the grand vizier trope, the cobra staff, compressing character development, the right difficulty for the final boss, doing a deep reading of the Prince disrobing through the game, not loving the rewound smooch, Brett's Book Recommendation, those mechanics that are just Great Ideas, allowing for soft failure and experimentation, contextual traversal (and combat), making the player look awesome with gentler difficulty, distilling down/all killer no filler, allowing for games that are shorter, the excellence of the animation blending system to achieve fluidity, the history of that fluidity to the original, the narrative space, trying different things in the narrative, how much we use mods, grief and games, the way games are more fixed in time, playing single player games with friends, getting streaming now, where to add quality of life improvements, asking why and what a game is about, Mister E. Dip, the sweet spot for Animal Crossing quality of life, "would fast travel help this game," being in the natural world, where the interesting friction is.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Star Wars, Brian/dontkickfood, Todd Howard, NES/SNES, Mario (series), UbiSoft, Nintendo, Troy Mashburn, Tomb Raider, Nathan Martz, Republic Commando, John Hancock, God of War, Starfighter, S. A. Chakraborty, Aladdin, Groundhog Day, Zelda (series), Dungeons & Dragons, G. Willow Wilson, Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, Alif the Unseen, Gears of War, Ocarina of Time, Uncharted, Shenmue, Assassin's Creed, Baldur's Gate, PixelJunk Eden, Q Games, Rez, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, The Matrix, Jill Murray, Zac Katis, Anachronox, Diablo, Bethesda Game Studios, DOOM (1993), World of Warcraft, Ashton Herrmann, Morrowind, Marcel Proust, mysterydip, Civilization, Animal Crossing, Ultima Underworld, The Witcher 3, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, Death Stranding, Hitman (2016), Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Links:
Big World Setup tool for Baldur's Gate

Enhanced Edition Game Setup

Ashton Herrmann on sharing single-player games

Next time:
TBD!

Notes:
I call it the "Death Blossom" but the manual calls it the Power of Haste.

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

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