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Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Now displaying: November, 2019
Nov 27, 2019

Following on from our DGC series on 2002's Eternal Darkness, we talk with designer Brad Furminger, who got his start at Silicon Knights working on Eternal Darkness and an earlier version of Too Human. We talk about design choices on Eternal Darkness and get lots of little stories.

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Interview segment
1:03:35 Break
1:04:06 Feedback

Issues covered: getting in with geographical luck, progressively getting into deeper discussions with a future employer, becoming second party with Nintendo, being at a teaching developer, diversity of background and interests, structuring for various characters, studying the game bible, working with tough tools, the "glamour" of game development, having an intense crunch, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, not being able to show fear, having a learning moment that lasts, a four-room prototype, meeting ED, building worlds and universes and not just individual games, a universe with mystery, diversity of characters, a strong positive female role model, the ancient ones and their machinations, establishing the importance of places in the world, building and rebuilding the world, returning to a place and knowing where to go, blending the player and character experience, the meta effects, the adventure game beginnings, sanity effects coming from the whole team, incorporating good ideas as a designer, Brad's favorite meta sanity effect, the difficulty of going low sanity, "You need keys that aren't keys," illustrative koans, finding ways to connect Alex through the chapters as keys, teaching the player to navigate the unknown, Nintendo's excellent QA department, finding a weird.... hardware bug?, PEBCAC, sacrificing a feature to make the game a little more approachable, seeing the flaws in our own work, making not enough use of the body part targeting, having to change to Pargon for Japanese, the magic system, developing around four plays, the percentage of people who finish a game having started it, hoping rather than expecting people would play more than once, making changes that cut down on differentiation of playthroughs but benefited QA, getting into teaching, getting experimental in classes, the impact of 9/11 on Eternal Darkness, Bush invoking the Crusades, incorporating development lessons into teaching, a game recommendation, the impact of fans in keeping games alive and playable, usability testing and playtesting, getting information about the whole player, blind testing, having that discomfort and not saying anything about play, getting a sense of what the player is experiencing, giving voice to what you're playing, pushback on playtesting, using different departments to playtest, seeing and not reading, usability issues again.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: World of Warcraft, Silicon Knights, Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, Too Human, Bedlam Games, D&D: Daggerdale, George Brown College, Toronto Film School, Denis Dyack, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, Full Sail, DigiPen, Sandbox Studios, Digital Extremes, PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Nintendo, Ted Travor, Sierra, King's Quest, Space Quest, Robyn Miller, MYST, Lovecraft, Shigeru Miyamoto, Trevor Fencott, Runbow, 13AM Games, Jedi Starfighter, DLC Podcast, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, Alynne O., FromSoft, Shadow Tower Abyss, Metroid Prime, Half-Life 2, King's Field, Dark Souls/Bloodborne, Owen Lawson, TIE Fighter, X-Com, Dark Forces, Planescape: Torment, Star Control 2, Stardock, Lucas Rizoli, Microsoft, Republic Commando, Michael Abbott, Valve, Blizzard, Jeffrey Sondin-Kung (Pinecone), LEC-Game Theory, Zachary Crownover, Johnny Pockets, John Romero, Persona 5.

Links:
Patrick Klepek on Mizzurna Falls

Next time:
Up to level 20 (?ish) in World of Warcraft

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

Nov 20, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we this week we start a new series with a bit of a different goal: a game we'll play for an initial couple of episodes and then return to from time to time. We discuss 2004's seminal and crowning MMORPG World of Warcraft, discussing the year in which it came out, a history (personal and not) of MMOs, and then dig a bit into the initial hours of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up until level 8

Issues covered: revisiting our chat with John Romero, looking at 2004 in games, a live game model in EverQuest, self-cannibalization, early history of MUDs, a sad discovery, reflecting on Brad McQuaid's career, sharing games as source, MUDs and theming, talking through the history of a number of MMOs, talking about the market and approachability of other MMOs, peak users, the influence of other Blizzard games on WoW, Brett's confession, introducing characters through the RTS, modding and Warcraft III, launch and WoW, pulling the games from the shelves, server queues, revenue gross, Brett does some on-the-fly math, Activision-Blizzard merger, the starting area for gnomes and dwarves, inviting you into the world like a DM, learning the design language of the game, usability of the quest system, shifting the focus to quests (vs combat grinding), doing multiple things with the quests and rewards, changing your character's look, each race having its own animation set, differentiating races strongly, pre-rendered introduction, RTS influence again, seeing your first human (on a horse), simplifying WoW in the modern version, having to read the text to understand where to go, adding user interface mods, increasing intrinsic reward through difficulty, managing your own grouping, growing the scale of what you see, scale of towns and villages, growing up with the world through exploration, experience ramp.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: John Romero, LucasArts, Republic Commando, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life 2, DOOM 3, Metal Gear Solid 3, Fable, Halo 2, Far Cry, Chronicles of Riddick, Katamari Damacy, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, Source Engine, Troika Entertainment, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, The Outer Worlds, EverQuest & EverQuest II, 989 Studios, Sony Online Entertainment, Rob Pardo, MUD, Roy Trubshaw, Richard Bartle, DikuMUD, Brad McQuaid, Zork, Adventure, MOO, Pantheon, Saga of Heroes, Habitat, LucasFilm Games, Randy Farmer, Chip Morningstar, Meridian 59, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call, Raph Koster, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Underworld, Turbine Entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online, Mythic, EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Blizzard, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Bill Roper, Diablo, David Brevik, Warcraft III, Chris Metzen, DotA, Icefrog, Riot Games, Dark Souls.

Next time:
To level 20

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

Nov 14, 2019

Following on from our DGC series on 1993's DOOM, we've been lucky enough to get connected with John Romero to talk about his early career and how id and DOOM came to be. We hear all sorts of stories about those early days, and we hope you enjoy it.

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Interview segment
1:40:30 Break
1:41:00 Next time

Issues covered: a brief history of John Romero, playing games at the arcade and on a mainframe, programming without being able to save them, living with hyperthymesia, learning BASIC and 6502, hand-assembling without a computer, bailing from college, selling games to a bartender, meeting a fellow programmer for the first time, zeroing in on Origin Systems, co-opting a demo PC, Origin in New Hampshire, overlapping between John and Brett, being up against other Commodore programmers, killing the interviews, making every life change at once, making your own hardware and writing your own protocol, getting your first raise, the death of 8 bit, learning PC and moving house, missing out on your chance to make a great 8-bit game, wanting to make games all day, hiring an artist based on musical taste, knowing a coder from the game, Carmack renting a PC to port his own RPGs, getting your own room and making your own games, two games in a month, becoming the game everyone in Pakistan and India played, dividing up the work, vertical scrolling vs smooth horizontal scrolling, getting stuff done in a night, knowing when it's time to move on, pitching a game to Nintendo, mistaking fan mail, making deals through the mail, making bank and cutting a deal to avoid a lawsuit, nearly selling the company, shareware just taking off, moving into the black cube, writing a... strong press release, riding the rocket, being fluent in code and creativity at the same time, multi-user editing, breaking out of a rectilinear world, getting out of the intellectual model, no room could have been made in the prior game, having to solve unknown problems, coding everything into the editor and coming up with the needs, programming all sorts of wild secrets, goals for SIGIL, coming up with new ideas that are reasonable extensions, someone stealing your thunder, flipping switches to get from multiplayer to single player, loving designing stuff, the Empire RPG, dream game with the dream team, spending time with John Romero, working on 90 games, working solo, the history of games in one man's head, June calls out, we talk our next game, SWotH.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sigil, Origin Systems, Softdisk, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack, Tom Hall, id Software, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Quake, ION Storm, Daikatana, Deus Ex, Anachronox, Monkeystone Games, Midway, Slipgate Ironworks, Gazillion, Loot Drop, Brenda Romero, Romero Games, Empire of Sin, Poison Cookie, Hunt the Wumpus, Nim, Adventure, Robert Lavelock, Will Wright, Dr. Cat (David Shapiro), David Crane, Capital Ideas Software, Apple ][, Nibble Magazine, Scout Search, InCider Magazine, AppleFest 1987, UpTime, Jay Wilbur, Cocktail, Epic Software, Lane Roathe, Ultima I, ManPower, John Fachini, Denis Loubet, Robert Garriott, Ultima Underworld, Mapping the Commodore 64, Inside Out Software, Might & Magic 2, Tower Toppler/Nebulous, Epyx, Lynx, Crush Crumble Chomp, Temple of Apshai, Alien, Dark Castle, Ideas from the Deep, Al Vekovius, Karateka, LodeRunner, Choplifter, PlayStation 2, LucasArts, Gamer's Edge, Sub Stalker, Tennis, Mark Crowe, Paul Lutus, GraFORTH, Catacomb, SuperNES, Mario, Zelda, Dangerous Dave, Solitaire, Minesweeper, Slordax, Michael Abrash, Captain Cosmic, Nintendo, Scott Miller, Kingdom of Kroz, Commander Keen, Aliens Ate My Babysitter, FormGen, Sierra, Ken and Roberta Williams, Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, Kevin Cloud, NextSTEP, Wizardry, REKKR, Civilization, Paradox, The Irishman, Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, Skyrim, World of Warcraft Classic.

Next time:
World of Warcraft Classic (up to level 5)

Links:
Making of SIGIL

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

Nov 6, 2019

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we this week we complete our play and discussion of 2002's GameCube horror adventure Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. We discuss re-use and when it doesn't quite work here, but highlight the end of the game and then turn to 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:
0:39 Segment 1 -- ED discussion
59:30 Break
60:00 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: Tim talks about his surprise trip, leaning into spells as lock and key mechanisms, having to use the dominant color, systems that are more simply multiplicative, the portraits of the human archetypes, committing to personification, rune descriptions and lore, Lovecraft's racism, natural opposition in different archetypal systems, the fourth playthrough, Pious's purple dispel, learning at the same rate as Alex, setting the final rune and soft failure, having a hard time knowing what to do, usability fighting fiction, getting into a designer's head, describing the WWI bosses, communicating how to fight the boss, timing with the seven-part magical attack, scripting-heavy bosses, playing against your instincts, our go-to spells, objects showing up in the trapper world, running past because your sanity is low, the most repetitive points of the game, using the towers as an amplifier, good camera use, finding a cyclical story for production benefits, the final fight as a restatement of the rest of the game, starting the game as Pious, villainous consistency, learning to hate Pious with Alex, phases of the fight, getting lucky with the ghosts, Brett's Book Recommendation, the strength of the structure of the game, the statues in the walkway, finding a story that allows for production benefits, finding additive bits via the insanity systems, adding coats of paint to levels, water cooler talk, viral marketing, generating surprise, insanity effects and a conflict with a resource, interplay with difficulty, Alex slowly going insane, the magic system and its visual and experiential representation, gender and racial representation, a note about our book club feel, lighting in DOOM vs gzDoom, lighting complementing emotion, level design and lighting, fidelity and lighting, using light as a landmark to propel the player, photorealism and its interplay with design, remembering you're making a game, lightening the load on the player.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Brian Taylor, HP Lovecraft, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Hamlet, Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom, Waypoint Radio, Austin Walker, The Night Ocean, Paul LaFarge, Metal Gear, Diablo, Dejan Josifović, DOOM, Sigil, John Romero, Alan Wake, Dead Space 2.

Next time:
An Interview!

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

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