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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: October, 2020
Oct 28, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. This week we talk a bit about how we're playing the game, what that suggests about its design, and continue to delve into all this vampire mythos. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Hollywood

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 VtM: Bloodlines
57:41 Break
58:12 Feedback

Issues covered: how we get from area to area, the Nosferatu primogen... Gary, sect and clan, getting to meet Grout (or not), meeting our first vampire hunter, playing to the tabletop fanbase, integrating the worldbuilding and servicing fans, getting caught up in the machinations, building a power base, sending the player back and forth between hubs, having dialog options that tie into the politics, feeling like a double agent, Nosferatu as the Shadow Broker, misreading Malkavian cues, including Tzimisce and whatever Pishi is, having a number of trope locations, good connections between locations and storylines, being able to rely on a quest log, needing to take notes, missing a codex, a narrative quest log presented in a more mechanical way, having difficulty remembering who or where a character is, lack of a player-focused map, wanting a little more direction at times, telegraphing and inconsistency, the affordances of GMs/DMs and adapting tabletop RPGs, more of an action game and an adventure game, testing spending upgrade points, dialog supporting the RPGs, needing to support things as augmenting the storylines, their first 3D game, lack of levels, the combat not delivering XP, having difficulty reading the cameras, leveling obfuscation, choosing melee over guns, audience expectations around combat for RPGs and particularly modern-set RPGs, sum of parts/grotty fish stew, maintaining the Masquerade, increasing your stealth so high that you can get closer to things, whose hand you're playing into, appreciating the many scary locations, having to hit the right level of pastiche, someone asking me not to sing a singing review, indirect control games, the rhythm of conflict, direct vs indirect control in Populous, limitations of controls, MOBAs, iteration in AAA: sprints vs longer prototypes, gating iteration, the difficulties of high fidelity, iterating a big feature in Skyrim, how milestones change late in development, working on an intellectual property you love, the difference in feeling of playing each clan type, solo character RPGs being the big difference, how you're reined in to have the game be buildable, choices around women.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dracula/Drakthar, Dungeons & Dragons, Fallout (series), Mass Effect, The Shining, Silent Hill, The Witcher 3, Shenmue, Hitman (series), Half-Life, Troika, Bethesda Game Studios, Crimson Peak, Bioshock, Thief, Dishonored 2, Resident Evil, Maas Neotek Proto, Podcast Addict, Spodboy, Jon Cheatham, Giant Beastcast, AwwwwwYeeeaahhh, Populous, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, John Webb, SNES, Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, Glenn Corpes, Warren Linam-Church, SW: Republic Commando, John Romero, Skyrim, Todd Howard, Dagur Danielsson, CCP Games, Dragon Age (series), Deus Ex, Kingdom Hearts, Chinatown, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Up through Chinatown

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

Oct 14, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, from 2004. We talk especially about level and design density and the world structure, as well as tidbits of our playthroughs and of course, our names! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Downtown

Issues covered: picking your character's name, insane vampires, the disposition of White Wolf, jokes that are timeless or not, having special abilities in dialog, how many clans there are, the way Malkavians speak, why you might play this game multiple times, level and design density in Santa Monica, quest and interaction density and opportunities in the world, staying on top of the side quests for XP, sprawl in 2D RPGs, knowing who to talk to, width rather than depth, discrete-ness of locations in other RPGs vs high degrees of interconnectedness, doors in video games, density of opportunity, limited depth of systems, lack of soft failure, sum of parts/grotty fish stew, inherent limitations of CRPGs vs tabletops, being able to take over a guard's mind, taking a cab to downtown vs having to use the sewers, how a cutscene had to be built, when it is safe to feed, combat and bosses pushed, checking out the license plates, computers in the game, the "aesthetic," the generational challenge, threading the needle of a particular vibe, doubling down on being the "adult RPG," cyberpunk and Cyberpunk, marketing/authoring missteps, cyberpunk's moment and playing a role at a time, timeless ideas and settings vs narrower ones, talking through things with people, how good the faces look, really good voice acting, the split personality sisters as an example of something that doesn't play well, handling women poorly, scummy characters, being scared by atmospherics, good camera shake in 2004, the quality of the Ocean Hotel, failing or not failing a quest, liking to feel smart, meeting Bertie Tung, enjoying the warehouse (or not), giving an old woman a heart attack, each player having their own high points, expectations of dialog vs systems, spending a lot of time reading, new areas on the website, the timeline, how long games are, being into MMOs, talking yourself into playing the game again, fine control in character creation, vectors for narrative, setting the scene with the question-based character creator, working around the limitations of being a Nosferatu (as a designer), having to pay attention to the dialogue.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Enola Holmes, White Wolf Publishing, CCP, Onyx Press, Paradox Interactive, Ian Watson, Vampire: The Requiem, Johnny Carson, Baldur's Gate (series), Wasteland 2, Planescape: Torment, GTA III, Deus Ex, Eidos Montreal, BioWare, Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls (series), Fallout 3, Rubik's Cube, Prey, Dishonored (series), Hitman (series), Ken Levine, Half-Life 2, Twilight, True Blood, Charlaine Harris, Leonard Boyarsky, Cyberpunk, The Witcher 3, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Dungeons & Dragons, Robert Forster, Quentin Tarantino, Alien: Isolation, The Shining, Warren Spector, AwwwwwwYeahhhh, Conor, Final Fantasy IX, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Eternal Darkness, Johnny Grattan, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Glenn Corpes, Mikael, Ultima (series), Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Through Hollywood!

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

Oct 7, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we return to our annual tradition: a series on a horror-themed game. This year we look at 2004's Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, the last game from RPG developer Troika. We set the game in its time (and its crowded month) and talk about its license, how that compares with D&D in particular, and the opening moments of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Into Santa Monica

Issues covered: our interview with Glenn Corpes, 2004 and especially November of that year, stiff competition, shipping on an untested engine, what engine support one can expect, the costs of building your own engine, delays in engine/game development, shipping Steam at the same time, why Valve isn't more of an engine company, founding and fall of Troika, the studio's earlier games, the full implementation of D&D 3.5, save-scumming through a final battle, the consolidation of RPGs under Microsoft Game Studios, southern California game developers, a differing style of tabletop RPG, lesser emphasis on statistics, heavier melodrama with more role-play focus, politics and diplomacy, ending the world of White Wolf, a modern setting, vampires living among us, "classic" settings in D&D, Dark Sun/Eberron side settings, a question of being less timeless, tying into a very specific aesthetic and time and place, anti-heroic settings and edginess, the Storyteller System, mission goals for small numbers of XP rather than around skill uses and cleverness, cinematic combat in tabletop, focus on intrigue, Greyhawk/The Forgotten Realms, timelessness in settings, the White Wolf MMO, the options for character creation, multiple-choice questions, vampire clans/archetypes, dancing around what we were picking, ending as Nosferatu, vampires as an analogy for disease, being staked and stunned, a big world-building moment, Camarilla vs Sabbat, a theater of the undead, the niche nature of the World of Darkness, not necessarily wanting to pick a Nosferatu, possibly feeling like a different game based on clan, the horror of becoming like Tim, designing a question system for RPG character creation, tournament selection and classes, points-based questions and answers, attributes: physical/social/mental, abilities: talents/skills/knowledges, feats as combinations of attributes and abilities, vampire magic as disciplines, experience points as skill trees purchases, not being able to have it all, the high quality of Smiling Jack as a focus and as a world-builder, various skills to introduce, learning powers and having multiple tutorial paths based on clan, simple passive tutorializations, watching a loop of the TV or listening to the radio, how much we both love LA.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Glenn Corpes, Populous, Kotaku Splitscreen, LucasArts, KotOR 2, Doom 3, Fable, Sly 2, Spider-Man 2, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Jak 3, Pikmin 2, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Beyond Divinity, Baldur's Gate 3, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Counterstrike (Source), Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Bejewelled 2, Epic, Unreal, Valve, Respawn, id Software, Deus Ex, Troika, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, Fallout (series), Interplay, Jason Anderson, Temple of Elemental Evil, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Bethesda Game Studios, TES V: Skyrim, Andrew Meggs, Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons, Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds, inXile, Wasteland 2, Brian Fargo, The Bard's Tale, The Village of Hommlet, White Wolf, John Stafford, Crystal Dynamics, Call of Cthulhu, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Mummy: The Resurrection, Gary Gygax, Lord of the Rings, Anne Rice, Wizards of the Coast, Twilight (series), The Matrix, Ray Gresko, Richard Garfield, CCP, Ultima (series), What We Do in the Shadows, Nosferatu, System Shock 2, Ubisoft, Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Danny Trejo, Tom Cruise, Interview with the Vampire, AwwwwwYeeeaah, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Through Downtown

Note:
White Wolf Publishing became defunct in 2018. We were unaware, which may speak to its niche nature.

Errata:
Nosferatu was 1922 and it is Count Orlok. Count Orloff/Orlov is a figure in Russian history.

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

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