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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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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

Apr 14, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We talk about the Library, our problems with it, how we were misled, and how such things happen, 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 "On the Ramparts"

Issues covered: the Prince as a jerk, what did you call me?, feeling hamfisted but trying for the heart, a stepping stone to better-formed relationship in a game, inter-character action in later Ubisoft games, skipping to the end puzzle of a sequence as a possible goal, misunderstanding the point of the puzzle, skipping a chunk of stuff and being thrown off mentally, having to re-run the room to understand what was going on, building the puzzle piece-by-piece instead of holistically, wanting to see a pattern when it's just a series of steps, the language of the space, Tim loves his cisterns, recontextualizing a space, being able to compare several rooms more or less back-to-back, the memorable rooms from an art standpoint vs a design standpoint, balancing against hidden health packs, feedback loops that are negative for the wrong people, aesthetic fit of the space between worlds in tension with the difficulty piece, unlikelihood of dynamic difficulty balancing, feeling like the later areas were seen less in playtesting, getting to the limits of the traversal, the inability to refill the sands out of combat, camera modes and the camera timer reset, losing track of where the stick movement will take you, breaking the 180 rule, working the level and camera design together, platformers with wider spaces, why this game didn't hit as well as God of War, the possible shadow of September 11, tone and presentation and mass appeal, everything going grim, the arcade-y nature of God of War and the power fantasy, story and video games, the balance of traversal and combat, excellence in craft in the God of War series, the roots of Western civilization and making a Greek story easier to go for, what we're streaming, Sands of Tim.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver, Uncharted, UbiSoft, Assassin's Creed, Naughty Dog, AC: Syndicate, Beyond Good and Evil, Prince of Persia (2008), Crystal Dynamics, Apple ][, Ocarina of Time, Perfect Dark Zero, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, Remi Lacoste, Mario (3D series), Artimage, Binx: The Time Sweeper, God of War, DOOM, John Carmack, Max Payne, Jak 2, Brian/dontkickfood, Hitman (2016, series), Death Stranding, Metal Gear (series), Hideo Kojima, Lea Seydoux, Lyndsay Wagner, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Fallout (series), Troika, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Finish the Game!

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

Apr 7, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we return to our series on Baldur's Gate with an interview with James Ohlen, who was lead designer on the title. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Interview
52:50 Break
53:21 Outro

Issues covered: starting a comic book store at 19 right before the market crashed, the origin of Minsc, starting at BioWare, building an IP bible as a way to start, working the killer hours and becoming the lead designer, putting in the 25000 hours, getting lucky and selling millions of copies, the impossibility of faking love, the choice between real-time and turn-based leading to pause-and-play, being delayed by Diablo, having contributions from everyone for design, sharing credit, feeling of playing D&D more important than perfect translation, balancing being easy due to so many party members, feeling smart, finding patterns in your party, relying on save and load, random numbers, the team testing the game, using characters from the binder, finding the voice for Minsc, writers taking ownership of voice, the passing of a player, bringing in characters from more players, growing the Sword Coast, staying away from the main space others were used, the perks of working for Wizards, four types of player, learning to respect player types, the end of a game being less tested, fighting the "dumbing down" due to overplay, engaging with the community, Karzak the Half-Orc and Gromnir and criticism, incorporating another player's character in to some coming work, caring so much for the license, being able to put infinite hours in.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Arcanum Worlds, Odyssey of the Dragon Lords, Wizards of the Coast, Kevin Martens, Image Comics, Magic: The Gathering, Cameron Tofer, Augustine Yip, Warcraft, Doom, Dungeons & Dragons, Shattered Steel, Scott Grieg, Malcolm Gladwell, Fallout, Civilization, Gold Box (series), TSR, Interplay/Black Isle, Chris Avellone, Chris Parker, Feargus Urquhart, Blizzard, Diablo, David Brevik, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Michael Backus, Chris King, Lukas Kristjanson, Gary Gygax, Ross Gardner, Dean Anderson, Icewind Dale, Trent Oster, Beamdog, Richard Bartle, David Gaider, Drew Karpyshyn, LucasArts, Starfighter, Mark Garcia, Sands of Tim/Brett-e Davis, Hitman 3, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Troika, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
More Prince of Persia!

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

Mar 31, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We talk a bit about combat and especially the way the baths area expands the level design, despite a few visual language missteps. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the Soldier's Mess Hall

Issues covered: the physics of ponytails, trying to make the palace feel like a real place, deathtraps, major locations, a thin narrative, establishing a relationship between the Prince and Farah, who he's telling the story to, a charming rogue, differences with other similar heroes, the upcoming elevator scene, a companion character that is genuinely helpful, the scripting of Farah to be helpful, Farah as an element of the combat space, having different voice lines for small changes in order, the availability of further linearization, making your small choices make an experiential impact, not being forced to learn by trial and error, not refreshing mechanics for players, the cadence of mechanics to reinforce learning, level design and design jokes, the bath house room, going between two spaces, recontextualizing a space, environmental storytelling misleading the player, symmetry getting in the way, macro goals getting in the way of the level design, the possibility that these were solutions that needed further refinement, being able to rewatch the vision as a band-aid, loving the ability to climb up through swinging and jumping, having the heavy sword as a key, not cuing that the sword is going to go through the wall well, the rewind time mechanic, using the sands as a resource, the cooldown mechanic, an additional health bar for combat and not caring about your health as much, painless experimentation without reloading, learning combat by rewinding to the moment of pain, crowd combat and finding gaps to escape through, finding ways to make traversal less punishing in more modern games, not needing the sands to be a resource, needing to refill the bubbles by killing enemies, the grittier sequels, our lack of cussing, narrative reactivity, our streaming lives.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mark Garcia, Tomb Raider (series), Chris Hecker, The Three Stooges, Mass Effect, Half-Life, Uncharted, Tangled, Firefly, Nathan Fillion, Aladdin, Republic Commando, Captain America, Mark of Kri, Rise of the Kasai, God of War (2018), Resident Evil 4, Ico, Dark Souls, Devil May Cry, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, JS Bach, the Crab Canon, Assassin's Creed, Super Meat Boy, Arkham (series), Jonathan Blow, Braid, Remi Lacoste, Frost Raven, John Romero, mysterydip, Finding Dory, Maximum Super Dip Land, Bastion, Supergiant, Logan Cunningham, The Crow, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Baldur's Gate, Vampire: The Masquerade, Troika Entertainment, Icewind Dale, Hitman 3, Knives Out, Sherlock Holmes, Clue, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Errata:
The word for a story that is the story of its own making is poioumenon. We regret the error.

Links:
Tomb Raider: Cameras and Emotion

Next time:
A Bonus!

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

Mar 24, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We set the game in its time and studio, and then speak a fair amount about its holistic approach to design, its fluidity, and its contextualization of game mechanics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to defeating Demon Dad

Issues covered: 2003 with lots of sequels and licenses, when you launch a new IP, a strange sort of gap year, the prior incarnation of the game, emulating Tomb Raider and feeling heavy, buliding one you can learn with, burning Jordan Mechner, UbiSoft becoming a bigger player, the continuation of the series into the next generation, maintaining IP rights, rebooting with your own flavor of a thing, partnering with Nintendo, branching out with outside the box thinking, UbiSoft model of layering in content, supporting four engines internally, the Jade engine, the feeling of flying, feeling like a hero, perfecting and polishing a mechanic and getting the credit, melding multiple things together very well, using the linearity to contextually drive movement and camera, setting it in a place, the formula being copied for many years, "motion capture," rotoscoping in the original, moving from mark-up to mark-up fluidly due to blending, using transition points to drive the camera, shipping programmer art, orientalism, a holistic translation to 3D, contextualization of mechanics, basing the mechanics upon the narrative elements, avoiding cognitive load through holism, ludonarrative dissonance, writing getting out ahead of mechanics, switching discs.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Max Payne 2, Jak 2, Ratchet & Clank 2, Final Fantasy X-2, SoulCalibur 2, PlayStation 2, Devil May Cry (series), Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness, CORE Design, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, EverQuest, EVE Online, Call of Duty, Knights of the Old Republic, Mario Kart Double Dash, Beyond Good & Evil, Legend of Zelda (series), Michel Ancel, Jedi Academy, Uru: Ages Beyond MYST, SWAT, The Hobbit, Charlie's Angels, Pirates of the Caribbean, Enter the Matrix, Hulk, Ang Lee, True Crime: Streets of LA, XIII, Red Orb, Broderbund, Jordan Mechner, UbiSoft, Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy, The Learning Company, SSI, Rayman (series), Assassin's Creed (series), Patrice Desilets, Clint Hocking, Baldur's Gate, BioWare, Dragon Age, Nintendo, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Wii, Far Cry (series), Watch Dogs (series), EA, God of War, Gears of War, Kill.Switch, Mario 64, Tomb Raider, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Crystal Dynamics, House of Moves, Obi-Wan, Remi Lacoste, The Initiative, Daryl Gallagher, Perfect Dark, Starfighter (series), John Webb, Pillars of Eternity, Secret of Evermore, SNES, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Uncharted (series), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Eric Fox, Grim Fandango, Knives Out, Mission: Impossible.

Links:
How It's Made

Next time:
Up to the Drawbridge


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

Mar 18, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we conclude our series on Baldur's Gate. We talk takeaways and then clean up a very full mailbag. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: the long-term quest of the franchise, Baals everywhere, converting from D&D, not every rule translating well, limiting the story to a generic "Gorion's Ward," having different expectations for their other games, a full campaign, feeling like a bad adventurer, mechanical map support, fog of war, stories about the side content, the story picking up from the flooding of a mine, tactical hybrid combat, the wide variety of character choice, companion quests, addition of voice, closing off branches, RPG elements, holistic design and RPGs, the use of archetypes, the spectrum of being a role-playing game, companion pairs, richness for companions, leaning into the save system, the puzzle nature of the combats, the ideal in level design vs core mechanics, the influence of level design on mechanics, comfort with tools, making the mistake of stopping a story having an impact on me, greater maturity expected of players, missing out on an opportunity for executing a plan, having a wider field of options for play, not worrying about what happens to your game after you've left it,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Diablo, Dungeons & Dragons, SSI, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Jade Empire, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Neverwinter Nights, Black Isle, The Witcher 3, Fallout, Temple of Elemental Evil, Larian Studios, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Beamdog, Dragon Lance, The Belgariad, David Eddings, Divinity: Original Sin, Dan Hunter, Descent 3, Dark Souls, UbiSoft, Assassin's Creed, Arkham (series), Bette Davis, Dragon's Dogma, Final Fantasy, Warren Linam-Church, Greg, Logan, Borderlands, Uncharted, Jedi Starfighter, GTA 3, Keith "mysterydip" Wagner, Firewatch, BioShock, The Walking Dead, Artimage, Wizards of the Coast, Ashton Herrmann, Republic Commando, Trent Oster, Soul Reaver, Populous: The Beginning, Hitman 3, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
TBD

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

Mar 10, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Baldur's Gate, the 1998 D&D interpretation that put BioWare on the map, as it were. We talk about the end of the game based on our two approaches to play, some fun side content, and other issues! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Baldur's Gate
1:09:35 Break
1:10:06 Feedback

Issues covered: names in reverse, a brief tour of one title in Brett's childhood library, side content, discovering someone swapped your Oil of Speed for a Potion of Confusion, when things were added to the map vs being actually playable, the potential for hitting the level cap, balancing to the save system, the sense of going out and finding stuff being missing for a non-completionist, the way the main story is much clearer, the journal as guide, the way we draw connections in the tabletop that make their own stories and how that crosses over with the CRPG and the journal, a game made by fans for fans, the sense of getting to the big city, intrigue and the setting, the Doppelganger Banquet, retrieving the dying Duke, leaning on the thievery, Tim's greater difficulty at the end of the game, talking your way through things, having to design in all the options, accentuating the horror, two ways skipping side content hurts you, having very little interesting gear, wanting the blessings of the RNG, feeling like you have two many options, being framed by Sarevok at Candlekeep, circling back to where you began, having a murder mystery where you're the prime suspect, exploiting knowing where the enemies were vs using protection from paralyzation, missing a critical bit of information and getting lost, the battle in the castle, the lack of clarity in the tactical rules, messing with the maze, the ruined city beneath the city, entering Bhaal's cathedral, being blessed by the RNG Gods, having a hard time making the final moments epic because of reloading, how quickly the game ends, the large number of sequels the game should have, Brett's Book Recommendation, using ASCII characters for games, not playing or watching a lot over the last year, the way graphics are in our memories, how much you can talk about as far as bugs go, triaging bugs, losing the ability to even evaluate a game at the end, self-handicapping, using achievements to find unusual ways to play.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Nintendo, Forgotten Realms, The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings, George Lucas, The Phantom Menace, The Elder Scrolls (series), Dark Souls, Eternal Darkness, Brian Taylor, Soren Johnson, Jill Murray, Tomb Raider, The Crystal Shard, R. A. Salvatore, Raymond, Castle Adventure, Rogue, Atari 2600, Drew, Edwin, Istvan Pely, Fallout (series), Stanley Kubrick, Matt, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Pikmin, The MinnMax Show, Halo, Hitman (reboot).

Next time:
Takeaways!

Links:
Finding a Bow in a Rockpile

Tim on The MinnMax show

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

Mar 3, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we celebrate our five years of podcasting by doing something a little bit different. We look at our first Adventures, the Atari 2600 Adventure and Colossal Cave Adventure. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: why we're doing the adventure games, the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, birds and videos, connecting the printer to the modem, arcade games we played, action games, seeing a representation of a dungeon crawl, the dynamics of the simulation, clockwork and the surprising depth, a surprising story of a bat and a sword and a dragon, playing games with Dad, what you show the player and what you leave to the imagination, mapping problems, a score rush, muscle memory, wanting to explore to find new text, discovery, using text as game design and the emergence of narrative design, the ongoing life of interactive fiction, being able to page back through your work, other games of interest, the evolution of the design, the many dynamic aspects of the game, programming the Atari 2600, the first Easter Egg, a new timeline, being humbled to hear someone is making games, some other introductions, format fiddling, the first time planning a podcast.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Atari 2600, Will Crowther, Don Woods, Oregon Trail, Space Invaders, Boot Hill, Galaga, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Dungeons & Dragons, Commodore 64, IntelliVision, Zork, Planetfall, Hunt the Wumpus, Enchanter (series), Deadline, Witness, King's Quest, Space Quest, Richard Powers, Plowing the Dark, Twitch Plays Pokemon, Andrew Plotkin (zarf), Pitfall, Tomb Raider, Sierra On-Line, Racing the Beam, Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost, Warren Robinett, Lode Runner, Baldur's Gate, Johnny "Pockets", Dave from Seattle, Super Metroid, Keith "mysterydip" Wagner, Robert Smith, The Cure, Hitman, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
We return and finish Baldur's Gate!

Links:
Emulated Adventure 2600

Colossal Cave Adventure PHP implementation

Colossal Cave Sources Article

The Easter Egg

Juno StarPlanet

The type of paper we used

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

Feb 24, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Bioware's 1998 CRPG classic, Baldur's Gate. We talk a bit about the structure of the world, the difference between playing straight through on the main story and indulging in side quests, companions, and some about audio and music before turning to your feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Chapter 5

Issues covered: Brett explains Tim's intro, consistency of tone in the writing, economics in pop culture, considerations of what mixes badly with chocolate, the flow of Cloakwood, Brett makes a map, leaning into quicksaving, pulling back like a tactical map, how much time has been spent in-game, Tim's Cloakwood PTSD, CRPG arachnophobia, a few standout side areas, the slowness of D&D's progression mechanics, a well-written side character, companion characters from the beginning, adding in 3e backstab rules, the compositions of our parties, a walk through how you gained XP in different editions, D&D tournaments, Brett's anecdote about a chime of hunger, gaining story rewards, rich complex settings like the Forgotten Realms, how much do you leverage the IP, a fan wanting more fan service, being a potential recruitment tool, ambient audio, songs sticking in your head due to hours with them, orchestral soundtrack, inconsistent tone in voice performance, the large number of side characters, the unheroic death of Dorn, Rasaad's side quest in Baldur's Gate, the curse of Crenshinibon, the manual and tutorialization, brain-twisting THAC0, what editions/settings we're playing online, what designers leave to the player's imagination, cutting away from cutscenes, many uses of narrative design, audio logs, environmental storytelling, having the opportunity to sit with a story space in video games, how the numbers and pattern recognition lead to player stories, level caps in games, needing the cap for production reasons, needing the cap for design reasons, level caps and player goals, retiring in a tabletop game, modding in side management games into big RPGs.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Dungeon Run, Critical Role, Star Wars, Eye of the Beholder, Darkstone, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, Black Isle, Birthright, Trading Places, Vampire: the Masquerade, R. A. Salvatore, World of Warcraft, Michael Hoenig, Charles Deenen, Craig Duman, Interplay, Wayne Cline, Hal Barwood, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Michael Dorn, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Grant, Winnie the Pooh, Darkwing Duck, Jim Sterling, Jennifer Hale, Kevin Brown, Champions, Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, Wizards of the Coast, Rime of the Frostmaiden, Roll20, Greyhawk, The Shackled City, Zimmy Fingers, Bioshock, Fallout 3, Bethesda Game Studios, Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian, Diablo, Elder Scrolls (series), Cosmic Funkonaut, Grace Blessey, Hitman (series), Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time (two weeks!):
Finish the Game

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

Feb 17, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Baldur's Gate. We talk about racing through versus following multiple sidequests, about tactical battling, and about the huge variance in verb sets for different party members, amongst other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Chapters Two and Three

Podcast breakdown:
0:57 Baldur's Gate
1:02:11 Break
1:02:43 Feedback

Issues covered: meeting Drizz't, chasing side quests and not knowing where to go, balancing with side content, the hidden cost of racing through, replaying battles, dynamic difficulty, JRPGs vs western RPGs for grinding XP, low XP rewards, getting too much data, potential fixes for allowing multiple styles of play, giving the player points to spend, discussing XP accrual when you choose not to level up, milestone-based leveling, giving the player options, enjoying the tactical battles, wanting more clarity as in an action point system, the blessings of the Random Number Gods, multiple whiffs, old manuals, quest scripts ending and dropping into systemic play, QA and ISV, the possible ways in which different departments could have been responsible for a bug, a digression into multiclass vs character with two classes (and its interplay with race), the wide gap between verbs for different archetypes, verbs not represented in this game, the huge change to go to 3rd-5th and have skills, adding class abilities, discretely placed content vs curated content, finding the very specifically placed items that feel like tabletop, the possibility for an ecology, building tension without combat, introducing players to game worlds, timed quests, thinking hard about when to initiate timed quests, time and failure, time being an important element in your game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Temple of Elemental Evil, JFK, Elder Scrolls (series), World of Warcraft, Super Metroid, Ocarina of Time, Path of Exile, Fallout (series), X-COM, Calamity Nolan, Ray Muzyka, GURPS, Diablo, Dragon Age (series), Divinity: Original Sin, Ashton Herrmann, Ultima VI, Dan Hunter, Vampire: the Masquerade, Brian Mitsoda, Aliens, DOOM (1993), Warren Linam-Church, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Chapters Four and Five

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

Feb 3, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series about Baldur's Gate, the 1998 CRPG from BioWare that revitalized the genre. We situate the game in time, talk about BioWare as a company, and then turn to a lot of Dungeons & Dragons nerdery. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Chapter 1

Issues covered: explaining Brett's intro, flashbacks, 1998: a great year in games, the setting, 2nd edition AD&D, founding BioWare and "the doctors," different flavors of CRPGs, how the backgrounds hold up, feeling like your way through an explorable world, talking a little bit about methodical combat, hiding some of the complexity of combat scheduling, the varieties of turn-based combat, how they might have gotten to the combat, how we're using combat, scripted AI characters, the (new?) tutorial, THAC0 explained, table-driven combat and war-games, discussing the difficulty levels in this and the other games, having to reload, statistical difficulty vs statistical gentleness, player expectations in early D&D modules, leaning more towards role-playing, BioWare and dialogue/ethics systems, mixing in other genre elements, evolving towards loyalty quests, feeling like the tabletop, having all the text, party members not meshing, changing perspective, being banned from Candlekeep, classic characters, death of a dad figure, reinforcing the main quest, building up a party, multi-classing vs two classes, potential party members, kicking party members out for roleplaying reasons, letting characters die, characters not interacting well, including VO, VO and character, needing to gather a party before venturing forth, playing evil characters, the affect of game-making on mood, animating the deaths of children, abstraction and craft, having to deliver, project rhythms, sense of flow, playing "right" vs efficiently, incentivizing the player, intrinsic vs extrinsic rewards, achievements as a psychological motivator.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Planescape: Torment, Dungeons & Dragons, LoZ: Ocarina of Time, BioWare, Shattered Steel, Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid, Grim Fandango, Resident Evil 2, Starcraft, Unreal, Thief: The Dark Project, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Xenogears, Tales from the Sword Coast, Icewind Dale (series), Forgotten Realms, Wizards of the Coast, TSR, Magic: the Gathering, Hasbro, Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, EA, Mass Effect (series), Dragon Age (series), Diablo, Blizzard, Fallout (series), Black Isle, Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment, David Brevik, Temple of Elemental Evil, GDC, GURPS, Shadowrun, Storyteller, Call of Cthulhu, Dark Souls, Cyberpunk 2077, "etcetera,etcetera," Sam, Lani Lum, Nintendo, Tomb Raider, Bethesda Game Studios, Pete Hines, Starfighter (series), Republic Commando, Soren Johnson, Michael, Halo, The Witness, Assassin's Creed: Origins, Chris Hecker, Christian Bale, Hitman, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Through Chapter 3

Errata:
Apparently, Shattered Steel was *not* a Windows 95 title. We regret the error.

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

Jan 27, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we look back on the podcast year of 2020 (because we'd like never to think about the year in general ever again). We talk over our takeways, largely drawn from our interviews but also bringing in themes from the games we played. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: Tim's non-trip, COVID/US tragedies, playing a bunch of sims, every day is problems, better people means better problems, getting a lot out of making yourself play games deeply, being in school/structure, listening to the series you're interested in, how we approach our takeaways, games with holistic merging of aesthetics/dynamics/mechanics, "done is not the same as good," "wouldn't it be great if," production as a tax, the cube and the stickers, putting the aesthetics together with the mechanics, the questions Nintendo ask themselves, making the mundane into a fun source of game design and delightful experience, applying the filter of interactive design over anything, simulating the arc of a TV episode, music and audio, how the audio sells the experience, the difference between visual and audio when it's missing, the difficulty in talking about audio, building the AI for a Civ game, focusing on the player experience, the anti-pheromone pathfinding algorithm, filling in the gaps, the stories that come out of simulation games, Brett's ongoing relationship with Bertha, characters who have their own lives vs being the chosen one, identifying with the main character, a SWRC Easter egg, our next game, Infinity Engine.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Chrono Trigger, Ocarina of Time, Republic Commando, Nintendo, World of Warcraft, Serial, Phoenix Wright, Civ III, Jeff Morris, Sid Meier, Soren Johnson, Populous, Glenn Corpes, Rubik's Cube/Erno Rubik, Peter Molyneux, Lani Lum, Halo 5, Animal Crossing, Brian Mitsoda, Aaron Brown, Brian Reynolds, Johnny Pockets, Assassin's Creed: Origins, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, Nintendo Power, Counterstrike, Cody Harlin, David Collins, Starfighter (series), Dungeons & Dragons, Baldur's Gate (series), Larian Studios, BioWare, Pool of Radiance, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, Spelljammer, Hitman (2016 series), Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Baldur's Gate: Through Ch 1

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

Jan 20, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we air our December interview with Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines writer/designer Brian Mitsoda. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Interview
1:11:02 Break
1:11:34 Outro

Issues covered: wanting to start in screenwriting, playing a game that gets its hooks in you, overdressing for the interview, the low bar to QA entry, starting out testing RPGs, "don't crunch, kids," a game cancellation, the OC style, branching dialog, being given a lot of leeway, including mature language, generalizing across level design vs writing vs narrative design, two designers, bringing hubs to life with supporting characters, working to get the Ocean House scary, funneling the player subtly, the importance of audio to horror, sticking to your guns about keeping combat out, a necessary density, representing Santa Monica, thinking about who lives in a location, satisfying player expectations and wish fulfillment, filling in gaps and fixing things yourself, domain protection, not needing permission, balancing input and ownership, keeping the game in your head, a lived-in quality, how to branch effectively, focusing on player intent, the difference between writing and narrative design, 24 ways to say "ow," helping to design and build tools, guiding the experience, maintaining cohesion, how writing is delivered, prepping to work with a license, managing experienced players' expectations, bringing in players as a new vampire, avoiding a Chosen One story, thinking of clans as a mod, feeling important and unplanned delights, reskinning the game for Malkavians, thinking of characters as having lives that are interrupted by the player (not waiting for the player), overlap with theater.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Icewind Dale, Messiah, Interplay, Troika Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment, Alpha Protocol, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Double Bear Entertainment, Dead State, Panic at Multiverse High, Bloodlines 2, Fallout, Black Isle Entertainment, Invictus, TORN, Planescape: Torment, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, The Writer Will Do Something, Matthew Burns, Tom Bissell, Universal Studios, TJ Perillo, Chad Moore, Jason Anderson, Ubisoft, Dungeons & Dragons, Halo, Half-Life 2, LucasArts, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Annual Takeaway Show!

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

Jan 13, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we explore Ocarina of Time a bit more through an interview with industry Executive Producer Lani Lum. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Interview
1:07:25 Break
1:07:54 Feedback

Issues covered: nerd markings, "why are you studying anthropology?", drawing the short straw, transferring into production, unsung heroes, "this is a game about a girl?", video games being marketed towards boys, still waiting on a female protagonist, making programming a male job, art becoming specific with graphical power, a female arm for CounterStrike, opening doors, a less linear feeling game, the comfort of early childhood encounters, a game you can trust, room for so much debate, rolling onto Hyrule Field and the model, revelatory moments, struggling with camera control, overcoming the feeling of size, introducing the game to a new generation, listening to the music in your life, the difficulty of looking back, "I don't think I'll ever play a more perfect game," the sense of discovery, context-sensitive controls (and a modern version), "games will never be the same after this," two kinds of people: those who care about the timeline and normal people, the possibility Link turns into a skeleton, Brett the Heartless, Tim the teary-eyed, using the Triforce to hop the line, innocence and lack of cynicism, asking yourself the right questions, being honest with what we're doing, using influence rather than control, mapping the pieces of the triforce to game development, the perspective of the Triforce in different games, Tim swayed by passion, the complexity and expectations of Flight Simulator, Flight Simulator in VR, shipping while working from home during a pandemic with a nine hour time difference, the importance of representation and the mishandling, family focus, transferring into your adult self as wish fulfillment, the timing of recording and recent events, the cautionary tale of becoming an adult, motion capture and Ocarina, inverse kinematics in games, skipping the game play, we've gotten away from feeling we have to force people to play a particular way, if the game is claiming to be good at a thing it should be compelling enough that people want to play it, free-to-play and intrinsic interest, the value proposition, games in school.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Turok, Threewave Software, Aion, NCSoft, Microsoft, 343 Studios, Halo (series), Xbox Game Studios, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Counterstrike, Republic Commando, NES, The Karate Kid, Indiana Jones, Gamecube, Harry Potter, Breath of the Wild, N64, Minecraft, Koji Kondo, Roblox, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart Double Dash, Kingdom Hearts, Shigeru Miyamoto, Starfighter (series), TIE Fighter, Super Metroid, Wii, Nintendo Switch, Dungeons and Dragons, mysterydip, Drew, Freaky Friday, big, 18 Again, Jennifer Garner, Elizabeth McGovern, Elizabeth Perkins, Moon, Duncan Jones, Kevin Spacey, Michael Justice, Tomb Raider, Majora's Mask, Shadow of the Colossus, League of Legends, Sam, Math Munchers, Oregon Trail, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Lemonade Stand, Robot Wars, Manhole, Ken and Roberta Williams, Wizard and the Princess, Mystery House, Rogue, Sierra, Hitman, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Another Interview!

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

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