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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: September, 2021
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

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