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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: April, 2020
Apr 29, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on the unique series Animal Crossing. We situate the game briefly in time before turning to some of the ways the game introduces itself and its mechanics, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
An hour a day!

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Animal Crossing
1:08:09 Break
1:08:43 Feedback

Issues covered: "this is one of my favorite Nintendo series, actually," Tim uses the 'cast to his advantage, trying to think of forerunners, Daddy, an explosive era of design, the variety of games and the PC/console divide, thinking outside the box, a weird kind of buzz, the Nintendo spin on some genres, having a chillout time, being able to meditatively play, the weird concepts at work and conveying that to a potential audience, Nintendo going its own way, having a lot going on in even this first game, daily routine and tranquility obscuring the systems, heading off player aggression, meeting up with KK Slider, setting and subverting player expectations, listening to KK Slider play guitar, that Nintendo touch, hopping the train to town and meeting Rover, the important Rover connection, committing to characters and making them iconic, social propriety and cell phones, contrasting this with character creation, representing everything in the game (with an inventory as well), chibi/big head character design, attitude with their voicing, character design and presentation being economic but expressive, timing phonemes against the spaces between words, spending a lot of time on the speech system, Nintendo's habit of having everyone in the company try the games, anime/manga idioms for expression/emotion, developing an internal language and sticking with it, Rover the cat, we reveal our town and player names, getting a mortgage and job from Tom Nook right away, establishing verbs early, passing by the dump and into the store, learning how to put on clothes, gating progress on activity, being naturally pushed to explore what the game has, atypical goals and tricking you into addiction, talking to the animals, establishing something like a main loop gently, coming up with your own "quests," random towns (a discovery for Brett), shared characters between towns, we introduce our characters and NPCs, review from Finland, some design choices that a 25-year-old game overcame, leaning on the RNG to some degree, remembering getting into Animal Crossing and the draw of NES games, the acquisition loop and its evolution, Tim having not really analyzed this game before, gyroids.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Sims, Little Computer People, Tamagotchi, Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, Alex Neuse, Silent Hill 2, Anachronox, Ico, GTA III, Civilization III, Devil May Cry, Soul Reaver, Star Wars: Starfighter, Jak & Daxter, Final Fantasy X, Halo, Xbox, Metal Gear Solid 2, Advance Wars, Pikmin, Black & White, Max Payne, World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot, PS2, Luigi's Mansion, Peter Molyneux, LucasArts, Starcraft 64, Halo Wars, Resident Evil, Spider-man 2, Satoru Iwata, Wii, Viva Pinata, Pokemon, Happy Home Designer, Amiibo Festival, Mario series (obliquely), Sonic series (obliquely), Final Fantasy (series), Zelda (series), Sailor Moon, Madman, _Dupre/Petri, Commodore 64, Ultima IV, Bitmap Books, Derek from Spokane, Chrono Trigger, Octopath Traveler, Chrono Cross, Sea of Stars, Sabotage Studios, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, SNES Classic, Final Fantasy VI, Ni No Kuni, Dragon Quest (series), Level 5, Dark Cloud (series), Square Enix, Reed Knight, Metal Gear Solid 4, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
An hour a day!

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

Apr 22, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we return to Blizzard's 2004 classic MMORPG World of Warcraft. We discuss the pace of the game in solo vs group, another dungeon, and make some observations about MMO combat before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to level 30

Podcast breakdown:
0:53 WoW Talk
1:06:32 Break
1:07:08 Feedback

Issues covered: blasts from the LucasArts past, "a gaming miracle," XP bonuses galore, Westfall culminating in Deadmines, quest storylines culminating in a dungeon run, extending the storyline into the Stockades, elegant design of these quest lines, breaking someone out of Stockades in modern, instance dungeons getting better over time, grey setting and repetitive play, hit point sponges, lack of boss mechanics, similarity to tower defense or EverQuest, dungeons with wings, the game as a group experience, having less down time, having a better balance in solo vs group experiences in modern, getting better at the types of roles warriors can fulfill, separating into tank/healer/DPS and some stagnation in the MMO space, the effect on D&D and being better to go the other way, having stances per character later, finding the right challenge level, the types of quests in Redridge, good critter variety, more verticality, introducing the Black Rock orcs, starting into the long game of end game quests, having deep lore and organizational structures in your setting, loving the Duskwood art design, hating the Duskwood quest design, lacking a culminatory dungeon, a wandering abomination, the pfffft of the Stalvan quest line, getting cursed repeatedly, enjoying the Raven Hill cemetery, reviving the Embalmer, snitches get Stitches, introducing the Worgen, the process of recruiting and traveling to an instance, evolving the theme park, the technicality of aggro and pulling and enemy awareness, using tactics against the technology, lacking saves and structuring strategy around that, seeing the top-down view in your mind's eye, using simple representations (planes and circles), running a combat system on a single machine for everyone in the zone, the costs of scale, using line of sight against the enemy, exploits as game-play, Brett's Book Recommendation, New Game+, the cost of additional development, paid DLC, checking NG+ off the list, block quotes from Woolsey and Slattery, a book club for books about games, finding all the endings, Frog and Robo's themes, being impressed by what they get from music hardware, "It's Not Easy Being Green," soundtracks we loved, lots of Chrono Trigger details, Janus/Magus as the main character, an update on Tim's trip.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Gladius, LucasArts, Mike Terpstra, Tippett Studios, Alex Neuse, Jedi Starfighter, Chrono Trigger, Activision/Blizzard, Makendi, The Goonies, Warcraft III, EverQuest, Dungeons & Dragons, Guild Wars 2, Reed Knight, Dark Age of Camelot, The Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Ravenloft, Reanimator, Bride of Frankenstein, DisneyWorld, The Witcher, Diablo, Ultima Online, Dragon Age, Stephen King, 11/22/63, Sam Thomas, Devil May Cry, Dark Souls, Breath of the Wild, Gabe Durham, Boss Fight Books, Ted Woolsey, Tom Slattery, Michael Williams, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls, Dave Fort, Earthbound, A Christmas Story (obliquely), Mikael Danielsson, Phantasy Star, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Mass Effect (series), Halo (series), Brock Holt, Red Dead Redemption, Kirk Hamilton, Shadow of the Colossus, Peter McConnell, Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, Clint Bajakian, Outlaws, Ryan/Bio, Ryan McPherson, Final Fantasy VII Remake, James Roberts, Chrono Cross, Nintendo Switch, Wasteland 2, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Animal Crossing (2001)! An hour a day!

Link:
The Audio Design of RDR by Kirk Hamilton

Magus as the Main Character

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

Apr 15, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we complete our series playing Chrono Trigger. We discuss the handful of remaininig quests in "The Fated Hour" and defeating Lavos (as an afterthought) before turning to our takeaways and feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finish the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Chrono Trigger
1:27:22 Break
1:28:05 Feedback

Issues covered: reforestation with Robo, being aware that certain characters have to be in your party, Robo's world sprite, seeing Robo on the world map, being able to have player theories, not deploying Robo as a player verb, Robo's theory, a Gaia hypothesis, the double-edged sword of optional content, time travel wish fulfillment, having trouble saving Lara, a moment by a campfire, Robo's evolution, Lucca's mini robot and the progeneration of the robots, collecting the highest power loot, hunting the moon stone, Tim discovers there's an in-game map, the Sun Keep boss and randomly selecting, hitting the right flame, having a different tactic to deal with the boss, clearly telegraphing the Sun Stone, the mayor whose kids hate him, the consequences of your actions, Sins of the Father visited on the sons, how you open up a game, open worlds vs Chrono Trigger, the stifling linearity of the early game of FFXIII, losing narrative cohesion, telegraphing important decision, how your game's goals close off other opportunities, replayability vs feeling the impact of player choice, doing everything the designers want you to do, freeing Cyrus's ghost, hating on Crono, Prometheus and Robo and Atropos, pouring one out for Toma, the court scene, bursting through the stained glass, the many endings, the developer ending, the bridge ending to Chrono Cross, the Dream Devourer and Lavos and Schala, the advent of New Game+, the various final weapons, Tim's water level theory, fighting science fiction elements, supporting the party as being important, supporting party experimentation, limited party combat vs full party combat, deepening characters, subverting the tropes, letting the hero die, strong female characters, a world structure that works, not worrying too much about paradox, The Three Wise Men and Magi vs Magus, Magus's lieutenants' names, the strengths and weaknesses of the combat, splitting Chrono Trigger into two games, tragedy vs comedy, goals for translations, the richness of this game and being able to investigate it over and over, squinting and seeing Frog as the hero of the game, silent protagonists in JRPGs, a story of a killed game, the strength of this game's New Game+, systemic games and story generation.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: James Lovelock (obliquely), Rio Bravo (obliquely), Final Fantasy XIII, The Witcher 3, GTA III, Wasteland 2, Alpha Protocol, LMNO, Steven Spielberg, David Cage, Doug Church, Randy Smith, Breath of the Wild, Final Fantasy IX, Pinocchio, Boss Fight Books, Michael Williams, Akira Toriyama, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Chrono Cross, Silent Hill 2, Fallout, Persona 5, Kingdom Hearts, Earthbound, Mass Effect, BioWare, KotOR 2, irreverentQ/Nolan Filter, Warren Linam-Church, Patrick Holleman, Shakespeare, Ted Woolsey, Tom Slattery, Rick Butler, James Roberts, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (obliquely), John Webb, Final Fantasy VII, Breath of Fire 3, Walker Farrell, NieR: Automata, Zimmy Finger, Civilization, Dwarf Fortress, The2ndQuest, Johnny "Pockets" Grattan, Marc LeBlanc, Ron Gilbert, X-COM, World of Warcraft, Metal Gear Solid 4, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Link:
The 1UP article about LMNO appears lost to time, but here's a contemporaneous Kotaku article reporting on that article

Reverse Design: Chrono Trigger

Dwarf Fortress

The Hamlet of Tyranny

Errata:
Brett referred to Tom Slattery as "Shepherd." We regret the error.

Next time:
Another WoW Checkin

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

Apr 8, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series playing Chrono Trigger. We hit the story notes first and doing things in your own order before turning especially to where the game goes once we reach "The Fated Hour." Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up into The Fated Hour

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Chrono Trigger
1:08:35 Break
1:09:07 Feedback

Issues covered: the chapters at the end, the monomaniacal immortal queen and her daughter, underdeveloped queen nemesis, the cast of characters surrounding the queen, a battle with the Golem Twins, having bosses that are puzzles rather than slugfests, bringing in cosmic horror, fighting Lavos early, finding the locked chests organically... and not, finding the blue pyramid, a brief digression on the Ultimate Weapon, the revelation of the prophet, Chrono struggles to his feet and is obliterated, the fall of the floating continents, the party reacts to Chrono's death, choosing a new leader, losing and retrieving your stuff on the Blackbird, looking through grates, similarity to an adventure game, crashing the time ship after defeating Dalton, leveraging the history of the characters, Brett blows Tim's mind, "the black wind blows" and telegraphing Magus's identity, learning how everything came from one event, the gurus help you out, having an object out of order, bringing you full circle, having trouble with a mini game, more frustrations, QA being good at a thing, designing to the controller you have, another difference between the two versions, Brett and Tim talk about time paradoxes, whether you always have to have the main character, finding Ozzie's fortress by accident, assembling all the ingredients to fix the timelines, monsters and humans living in harmony, Brett theorizes about how to finish the desert quest, advice from the Civ 3 political advisor, modding and Civ 3, updates from the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, the appeal (or lack thereof) of developing a 4X game, worrying about the spreadsheet and chaos, not being sure you could go the distance, being able to tell a story about your game, replaying a JRPG and length, having more or less grind.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Timothy Dalton, James Bond (franchise), X-Men (series), Brian Taylor (obliquely), Final Fantasy (series), The Sneetches, Dr. Seuss, Metroid (series), Pulp Fiction, Wii/Virtual Console, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Xbox, Back to the Future, James Roberts, BioWare, Civilization 3, Wild Weazel, Soren Johnson, DOOM, Johnny Grattan, Sid Meier's Beyond Earth, X-COM, Julian Gollop, The2ndQuest, Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior, Shakespeare, Wasteland 2, Persona 5, World of Warcraft, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Finish the game! For real, this time!

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

Apr 1, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series playing Chrono Trigger. We talk about new modes of exploring the game, the tone of the translation between the two of us, some of the boss battles and go over the story bits for the week. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to "What Lies Beyond?"

Podcast breakdown:
0:53 Chrono Trigger
1:14:42 Break
1:15:17 Feedback

Issues covered: bowling balls and sashimi, slipping in jokey references, tone in translation, finding places for the game to be heavier, being caught off guard by differences in tone, the consequences of your actions, getting more information on Lavos and getting a sense of cosmic horror, being a little lost on the timeline, focusing on the linear story vs the ripple effect, other games dabbling with time travel, Tim moves to Wait mode, Wait mode and feeling like a better fit, using Marle's Haste ability and having her as a utility player, having many options for party make-up, what other JRPGs do with character roles and XP, the impact of the past, Tim moves to Wait mode, Wait being better balanced for menus and for exploring abilities, leaning on Marle's Haste ability, allowing the player to explore party makeup, XP side-leveling, party members as utility players, mixing in the characters you want to play with, Brett's long game, the spooky tone of the Magus's Castle, all the NPCs being faceless, controlling pacing, chasing Ozzie from room to room through traps, fighting a part of the environment, fighting the Magus and shifting elemental attacks, having a role for the whole party, Tim having the benefit of auto-combat, not being clear on why you go back in time, Lavos being summoned and learning more about his history in the world, finding and riding pterodactyls, exploring the world and finding breadcrumbs for later, Brett gets over-geared, Tim asks Brett about jerky things, stepping on buttons in the reptite castle, starting in on dual techs, fighting Nizbel again and being allowed to pass but not really, the arrival of the red star, portaling to our last time period, taking the bifrost, getting a new trope, a quick review of the royal house of the Enlightened ones, being sent away by Schala and powering the amulet Marle wears, coming back to the scientist who is building the ship, coming full circle with time, recordings from the Guru of Life, going through the Beast's lair to ascend Mt Woe, strategies for defeating Giga Gaia, the dragon counting down, ATB in various Square JRPGs, later exploration coming, a full Final Fantasy ATB survey, Tim getting a JRPG itch, the way tech conveys character, how you learn techs and prerequisites, the trade-off of a multi-character technique, forgetting where the magic chests are.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy (series), Avengers: Age of Ultron, Memento, Looper, Primer, Time Lapse, Rear Window, SNES, Ultima (series), Earthbound, Eternal Darkness, Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages, Ocarina of Time, Shadow of Destiny/Shadow of Memories, Shenmue, Ni No Kuni, Pokemon, Errol Flynn, Ron Gilbert, Day of the Tentacle, Thor, Walker Farrell, Chrono Cross, Eric Anderson, Kingdom Hearts, Stardew Valley, Reed Knight, World of Warcraft, James Roberts, Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenara, Obsidian, inXile, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Finish this game!

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

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