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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: 2020
Dec 30, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We talk about a lot of side quests and then turn to the end of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the Game!

Issues covered: playing games too fast, the tension of verbs and shortcuts, loss of discoverability, taking note of where things are (or not), where to find remaining skulltulas, feeling like you are in a place and finding everything, wanting to live in the world, knowing where things are, feeling like an epic adventure, translating the epic from 2D, knowing the gravekeeper (you know, to talk to), emulating a game vs emulating a movie, simulating a world vs simulating empty places for adventure, Nintendo's approach to an RPG, a series of rooms that test everything you can do, rewards that are less useful, the final exam, lending the character to the Gerudos, realizing what the mask of truth was for, using it on many... many stones, side content in Ubisoft games, overly systematizing side content, other ways of making open world content unique, finding the Biggoron quest and being pushed everywhere, goofy gossip stones, localization and the gossip stones, the one room which challenged us both, losing a tunic, Tim has more horse teeth, having duplicate items where only one is the path forward, climbing the tower with increasingly louder organ music, the final Ganondorf fight, the pain point this boss could be, a timed escort escape, the climactic building coming down, a building settling into an arena, "that's not a knife.... this is a knife," Wisdom keeping Power in check so Courage can deliver the blow, damsels and unnamed archetypes, cursing one's descendants, seeing all the characters again, seeing the locations again, joining up the characters again, ongoing series, end of year episode.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Final Fantasy IX, Mark Sean Garcia, Final Fantasy X, Kingdom Hearts (series), Witcher 3, Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones (films), Mario (series), Square, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, Bethesda Game Studios, The Elder Scrolls (series), Fallout (series), Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted 2, Crocodile Dundee, Age of Calamity, Hyrule Warriors, Return of the Jedi, Earthbound, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario 64, Link to the Past, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Fumito Ueda, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Takeaways and a bunch of feedback

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

Dec 23, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We talk about the ability to play things out of order and the precursor dungeons and temples of this section of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
through the Spirit Temple

Issues covered: the possibility for going out of order to dungeons, being able to get all the tools, how to speedrun this, not being sure about what map stuff means, being stumped by side quests, watching Tim Schafer beat the boss, visiting the Gerudo area as a child, being confused by the carpenters, only knowing when you have done a thing, Brett gives a hint, the 3D representation adding a level of epic feel, reproducing progress in the save file, seeing the beginnings of lots of 3D adventure and puzzle tropes, the potential influence of Tomb Raider, teaching you how to think with the Lens of Truth, not enjoying the magic drain of the Lens, making you think about other tools when you run out of a resource, finding the third magic, wondering how to thaw the Zora domain, the well and the connection to the Shadow Temple, the stencil effect of the Lens of Truth, performance on the N64, using knowledge of your inventory to know whether you need to approach as a child or an adult, having more keys that aren't keys, discussing the longshot vs the arrows and timing, the difficulties of the Phantom Bongo Bongo, the design of the witch beams, fighting the Z-targeting, seeing how much of the formula they got right here, preferred length of dungeon vs shrines and temples, the OCD nightmare, being able to re-enter a space from multiple directions, missing the set piece centrality of a hub in first-person design, a fine review, wild connections between this and the preceding games in feedback, who is Impa in Breath of the Wild, transcending lore nonsense, specificity with myth and fireside stories, a present for the listeners.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tim Schafer, Grim Fandango, Breath of the Wild, Link to the Past, Tomb Raider, PlayStation, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, The Witcher 3, JJ Abrams, Silicon Graphics, Starfighter, Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, irreverentQ, Link Between Worlds, Uncharted, John Romero, SIGIL, DOOM (1993), Far Cry, Dishonored, Pokemon, tylenardo, Billy/The2ndQuest, Toy Story, Jim Henson, The Christmas Toy, Star Wars, How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps, Age of Calamity, Mark Garcia, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
Ocarina TV ad

Twilight Princess trailer

Next time:
Finish the Game!

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

Dec 16, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We dive into the Water Temple (see what I did there?) as well as elaborating more about some topics we touched on last time. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the Water Temple

Issues covered: what Tim means when he talks about Hyrule Field, lack of prior art for 3D hub and spoke, the beginnings of an open world, sight lines for blocking and enticing, breaking the prior structures, physically representing the choice space of macro decisions, looking at a level in a tool to get a sense of scale, getting different perspectives, seeing the DNA of 3D Zelda, getting a sense of a space, a return to Goron City, revisiting areas with new tools, stealing object-oriented quest design, filling in the slots and a sense of accomplishment, gaining levels or using an economy for reward, hybrid systems, allowing for player choice, renting tools in later versions, getting to Breath of the Wild and having all tools fairly early, not caring about remaining progression stuff, what happened to Jabbu-Jabbu?, dabbling with buoyancy and friction on the ice, having a tool that's only useful in one dungeon/Domain, having to give up something in a bottle, having a need for that analog stick, having to make decisions about how you'll use a container, concretizing the abstract, an area of effect key, how they devised their rules, Navi's... cryptic hint, using stores as a clue mechanism, a usability feature, replacing lost items, how many hearts Dark Link have, a camera problem with the Forest Temple boss, taking off the boots as soon as you get in the temple, the water level as a state you can change many times, the floating platforms as an item of interest, hookshot anchors, the potential influence of Tomb Raider and The Cistern, a quick aside on which versions we're playing, the creepy reveal of Dark Link, how we each defeated that boss, the evolution of wearables as also bindable in the future, upgrading a tool instead, making it clearer that you need another means of solving a puzzle, the cold hard truth about fishing games, variant gameplay should be easy, a preference for Tim's explanation for all the Legends of Zelda.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Super Mario 64, Disney World, LucasArts, N64, Shadows of the Empire, Dark Forces, Rogue Squadron, DOOM (1993), TIE Fighter, World of Warcraft, Republic Commando, Dave Collins, Jesse Harlin, GTA III, Metroid, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Troy Mashburn, Arkham (series), Link Between Worlds, Skyward Sword, Kingdom Hearts, Diablo, Path of Exile, Torchlight II, Tomb Raider, 3DS, Chrono Trigger, Milo Kent, Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, Okami, Jak and Daxter, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Link to the Past, Switch, Dungeons & Dragons, Sam Thomas, Brian David Gilbert, Polygon, Halo, Vlad, Kirk Hamilton, Strong Songs, Ultima Underworld, Final Fantasy, Aaron Evers.

Links:
Brian David Gilbert's total Hyrule timeline

Next time:
The next two Temples

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

Dec 9, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We talk a lot about cluing direction, small keys, and the two dungeons we played. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through the Fire Temple!

Issues covered: what brings out the email, developing a relationship with Sheik, having trouble figuring out how to go back and forth in time, getting stuck in the Goron City, weird cluing, the lingering effects of a critical path mini-game, not knowing there's a verb in the graveyard, the inconsistency of the grab/pull verb, signalling critical path via text, the expanding set of verbs and the expanding amount of space they can be used in, "horse teeth," where your head goes when the puzzle logic is vague, stumbling upon a critical key and not knowing that's what it was, trying to figure out the what the key is from the shape of the lock, discussing where the bottles are, the multiplicative effective of verbs, wondering about whether the time change is critical path, world changes, psychological safety in world changes, big bang for buck, good camera trickery in the Forest Temple, making you believe more is going on than really is, "Object-Oriented Quests," quest status screen and the objects on it, abstract pegs on a board, strong work through theming, lack of copyright over game mechanics, making an RPG without a quest log, not usually being able to add UI elements indefinitely, keeping the same formula and iterating it and pushing it, feeling unsettled by small keys in the Forest Temple, wanting more clarity from key linearity, the interchangeability of the small keys, directing the player attention via a side goal, wanting specific keys, the fact that keys are not shared between dungeons, the impact of age, the Headless Horseman feel of the Phantom Ganondorf, timing and attacking/returning an attack, being misclued by Navi in combat, needing to worry about magic (or not), a serpent-style dragon, having a routine before attempting a boss, music in these two dungeons, revisiting the fishing game when Link is an adult, how different people bounce off different challenges, teaching players to throw the bomb, updating the contextual button text, overworld sparseness, the performance choices in 3D overworlds, the tiling rendering being the same as being in a level in 2D Zeldas, changing pace with Hyrule Field.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: SNES, N64, Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (obliquely), Tomb Raider, Super Mario (series), DOOM (1993), Spelunky, Final Fantasy (series), Drew, Mark Garcia, Walker, Chris Hecker, Rubik's Cube, LucasArts, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Two More Dungeons!

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

Dec 2, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We look at some of the snags around the Zora domain as well as its main dungeon, chat about mechanic literalization, and then Tim explodes a Lore Bomb. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Until becoming the Hero of Time

Issues covered: the undercurrent of masculine tropiness, the canonical relationship between Ruta and Link, not loving the Zora section, ignoring the critical path minigame, solving a puzzle in different ways, running around for an hour because of presentation, experience with the series hampering you, the usability problem presented by longevity, Tim connects the dots for Brett, not wanting to enter the Lost Woods, looking for another way to get a fish, not having the Rumble Pack, showcasing the rumble add-on, an elaborate fishing mini-game, the Game Cast 'Cast, whether or not the message in the bottle is misplaced, resolution changes between N64 and GameCube versions, bottles on the critical path, being misleading, the multiple uses for bottles, telling a parent when you're asked not to, getting sucked into the giant fish, watching the king scooch over, circuitous routes to map locations, difficulty with cause and effect and timing, lack of clarity with affordances, not knowing the distance you can throw Ruta, introducing a new element, another level inside a body, the ability to do organic stuff in textures, the mini-boss room, an unnecessary difficulty spike, the easier multi-stage boss with tentacles, failing mini-games and not wanting to repeat them, literalizing mechanics, upgrading without experience points, korok seeds in Breath of the Wild as a similar literalized mechanic, using the primary verbs to collect, the cutscene with Zelda and Sheik and Ganondorf, getting the Ocarina of Time, the Lore Bomb about the origin story of Ganon, overexplaining the lore, supporting differently abled gamers, bringing Zelda mechanics into musou games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Big, Dark Souls, GameCube/Wii, Chris Hecker, World of Warcraft, Nintendo 64, Tomb Raider, System Shock 2, Thief, Pinocchio, Kingdom Hearts, Breath of the Wild, Far Cry 2, Assassin's Creed (series), Homer, Star Wars, future_Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs (obliquely), Death Stranding, Metal Gear Solid (series), Johnny Pockets, Left 4 Dead 2, Sony, Microsoft, Valve, Age of Calamity, irreverentQ/Nolan Filter, Dynasty Warriors, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Next two dungeons!

Links:
Blind Gamer Beats Ocarina of Time

Interview with that Gamer

Another Blind Gamer who Beat OoT

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

Nov 25, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We talk a bunch about mechanics big and small in this one, focusing on things that come up through the first dungeon as well as some audio chat and themes of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Death Mountain

Issues covered: adorable Gorons, audio hardware, voice emotes, the unappreciated half of an audiovisual medium, memory cost of voiceover, ambient dungeon music, hearing Saria's Song near the entrance to the Lost Woods, using stereo music to guide you through the woods, being able to map out the Lost Woods (rather than randomization), the opportunity to get stuck, getting a hint from the King's guard, modern design vs two decades ago, many people having one thing to say, seeing a 2D representation of a ruin moved to 3D, games keeping track of things, inspiring creativity in the music through a constraint, limiting to five notes, unifying all the game music, not needing to chord up the buttons, using the Ocarina as a key, holistically integrating time into the play and leveraging it for production, the safety in mechanical and replenishing dungeons, being able to retry a room by resetting it, learning to use the tools, locking down milestones, the ease of returning to places, the repeatability of Dark Souls, the progression of the bomb mechanics, teasing that things will be available to you, the tradition of level design at Nintendo (Lost Woods in Breath of the Wild), modernization of Nintendo design (and the critical sphere), a new generation of level designers, the King Dodongo reveal, accentuating the relative size of Link, searching for gold Skulltulas, getting all the Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild, stealth mechanics, the mechanics of the shield, naming things, having a use even for a weaker shield, lighting things on fire in Zelda games, torches as an indication of adventure, Goron dancing, moving around, centering the camera, lock-on targeting, using target switching to do your next attack, care and feeding of your controls, Switch joycon drift, a note of thanks, weird to do a podcast for so long, still learning, applying the tools.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: SNES, N64, Super Mario 64, Dark Souls, Breath of the Wild, Shigeru Miyamoto, Metal Gear Solid, Dungeons & Dragons, The Dungeon Run, Majora's Mask, Zimmy Finger, Valve, Discworld (series of novels), Batman: Arkham Knight, Mark of Kri, "Drew," Joystick Butter et al, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Becoming the Hero of Time

Links:
Valve's Dev Note

Iwata Asks

Joystick Butter

Tribute 64

Steel Sticks

Retro-Tink 2x Pro

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

Nov 18, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on one of the highest-rated games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We of course first situate the game in time, but especially start the discussion by talking about how ground-breaking and revolutionary it felt at the time. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through meeting Princess Zelda

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Ocarina
1:01:05 Break
1:01:40 Feedback

Issues covered: a man without a fairy, the antithesis of our last game, not being sure where we stopped, a surprising discovery, "I'm Mr. Rhythm," 1998 in games, release days in stores, seeing the character in 3rd person, a large team for time, the 64DD expansion, a mind-blowing impact, amazingly well-received, the revelatory step to 3D in this game, two giant cratering events in the year, approach of a Mario vs a Zelda in terms of problem space, cinematic choices, artful cinematics in-engine, stepping into the world and all the world-building, Nintendo and finding ways to present innovation, introducing a controller with Super Mario 64, creating characters that represent a mechanic, Navi & Lakitu & Wii Fit Trainer, helping people surmount the 3D barrier, the Fairy Navigation System, having to find the sword, near-perfection, a sense of ease and trust, being led to the places where you need to go, changing the world in ways that recontextualize the space, the timer of fire, one of the best introductory dungeons of all time, knowing you're doing the right thing, a weird choice with the Lost Woods, the quality of the moment of waking up, animation to show quality, getting a lot out of limited facial expressivity, using cinematic language to establish emotional tenors, texture changes to convey ageing, limited tools in 3D, music interactions, leading up to a boss, presenting you with a 3D way of thinking of past/2D Zelda dungeon construction, wondering how they iterated on the level design, why it's hard to talk about our more recent games, discussing some other weird differences in play between our games of Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, an unanswered question about VtM.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Vampire the Masquerade, Nintendo 64, Troy Mashburn (obliquely), Starfighter (series), Full Throttle 2, Jake Stephens, Wind Waker, GameCube, Wii, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, Thief, Grim Fandango, Banjo Kazooie, Xbox One, Crash Bandicoot, PlayStation, Xenogears, Suikoden II, Resident Evil 2, Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate, Unreal, Starcraft, Starsiege: Tribes, Falcon 4.0, Rogue Squadron, Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aounuma, Yoshiaki Koizumi, Link to the Past, Koji Kondo, Mario 64, Link's Awakening, GameBoy, LucasArts, Shadows of the Empire, Wayne Cline, Hal Barwood, Tim Schafer, Psychonauts, Jon Knowles, Forza (series), Bill Tiller, SCUMM, Breath of the Wild, Wii Sports, Monkey Island (obliquely), Twilight Princess, Bethesda Game Studios, Dungeons & Dragons, Final Fantasy (series), Kingdom Hearts (series), Blarg42, nambulous, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Through Death Mountain

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

Nov 11, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. We talk about Chinatown, the end of the game, boss design, 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:
0:52 VtM: Bloodlines
1:01:03 Break
1:01:44 Takeaways

Issues covered: the use of voiceover in RPGs at the time, the whole game Maguffin, some remaining events in Chinatown, confronting the Mandarin, referencing the G-Man, Brett's dancing werewolf at the Luckee Star, the linearity of Chinatown, development and cutting late in the game, the connectivity of the macroworld, Brett misses a shark boss, being violation free, the threat of losing to a violation, having more vampire hunters in the world due to violations, having more and more abilities but narrowing the actual game options (to combat), being unable to talk people out of combat, feeling like there should be no-combat options, lacking intrigue options, wanting a nemesis system, the difficulty of endings, having trouble reading the Ming Xiao boss fight, an unbalanced fight, exploits, circularity with the cabbie and Smilin' Jack and character creation, maybe meeting Caine, a poetic and humorous ending, the other endings, spending a bunch of points at the end, interconnected level design, fitting your fanbase/drawing on your license, providing distinct experiences for your first-person RPG, world-building, "best of" inclusion, genre-busting, having to fully support combat to include it, Brett's Book Recommendation.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Half-Life, Kevin Mitnick, Wargames, Maximilian Schreck, Nosferatu, Bill Gates, Arcanum, Kill Bill, Dishonored (series), Prey, Shadow of Mordor (implicitly), Mafia III, Deus Ex, Obsidian, Interplay, Jabberjaw, Street Sharks, Suicide Squad (comic), Fallout 3, Skyrim, The Stand, Sandman, The Matrix, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fallout, Anne Rice, Tom Cruise, Twilight (series), Stephanie Meyer, Dracula, True Blood, White Wolf, Cyberpunk 2077, LucasArts, The Vampire Tapestry, Suzy McKee Charnas, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Either an interview or our next game

Errata:
Brett said The Shining when he meant The Stand, and Tim said The Corsican when he meant The Corinthian. We regret the errors.

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

Nov 4, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. We delve into Chinatown, touch on some of the level design issues, and revisit some of the thinking of how RPGs and genres were starting to bleed into one another at the time. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Chinatown

Issues covered: level design in the Warrens, whether things were fully tested, leaning on what was new in the Source Engine, jamming barrels into spinning bits, sewage tunnels that go nowhere, leaning away from what the game is, likely lack of playtesting, the reservoir tank race, keeping the player on the right track through signalling, the simplicity of telling the player they are doing the right thing, possible solutions for visualization, body horror and the late 90s/early 00s, having to backtrack, being reminded of Lamplighter, enjoying the payoff of the Nosferatu den, having locations for all the clans, the Nosferatu hacker, Tim's choice of fighting style, supporting some styles and not others, trinkets and blood, being unable to visit a location again, being a game unlike others, dissolving genres, experimentation with first-person, expectations of first-person action today, having to teach the player, getting stuck in Chinatown as a player, Brett gets confused about how to get to the Nosferatu, a level design joke, good character design, leaning into a real place, connective tissue and cross-pollination of quest design, mapping that onto a 3D world, the lure of interconnectedness, the quality of the artwork in the tabletop and its translation into the game.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Half-Life 2, Valve Software, Fallout 3, Nate Purkeypile, Hackers, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, System Shock 2, Metroid Prime, Unreal, id Software, Cyberpunk 2077, CD Project Red, The Witcher (series), Gremlins, Blade Runner, The Misfits, Eli Wallach, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, The Good Bad and the Ugly, Hitman, Shenmue, Leonard Boyarsky, Ubisoft, Bethesda Game Studios, Microsoft (obliquely), The Outer Worlds, Tim Cain, Tim Bradstreet, White Wolf, Ralph McQuarrie, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Finish the game!

Errata:
It's called "Little Lamplight," and its denizens are "Little Lamplighter."
That other rose-colored glasses vampire is probably a Toreador.

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

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

Sep 30, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we conclude our series on Populous with a special guest interview with Glenn Corpes, the original programmer who came up with a little generator for height maps that ended up launching a whole genre; we'll talk about that and tons of other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Interview
1:18:41 Break
1:19:02 Next time

Issues covered: how Glenn got in, seeing a computer for the first time, being a computer operator, getting a job for your woodgrain, getting hired as an artist, porting a game without the code, winging it on things like collision detection, being unable to port something and casting about for something else, writing a level generator to avoid writing an editor, having to add the ability to raise and lower land, having the whole world with a pixel per cell, the game on top being all Peter's, working backwards from mouse coordinates, having the original disk, the potential for the landscape to rise up over the interface elements, updating the map every frame, limiting the use of the blitter, size of Bullfrog at the time, the musician/salesman, understanding the "metal-bashing aspect" or not, three man weeks of graphics, blocks vs sprites, one thing per square and no more than 256 total, managing character state, no pathfinding, map steps: the opposite of pheromones, buildings based on the flat space around, people as groups of people, the interaction of weapons multipliers and population, getting an explanation of what all the bars mean, the most significant digits, the strategy for managing population, the strategy for clearing land, a clarifying button on the SNES, near-launch title, sales and the UK Chart, multiplayer only until shortly before ship, communicating through a networked file, writing the game in 7 months, watching two AIs play each other, the ways in which AI difficulty is managed, reimplementing all the gameplay in two weeks, faking out the AI because it will always attack your oldest building, AI speed, responding to flood, the manna rules, going into a manna debt and paying it off, making inroads for the knights, stuck messages, adding a campaign two weeks from the end, having an accountant QA the game, the most difficult level of the game: Biloord, how to beat "Biloord: The Hardest Level in Populous," slowing the game vs arcade-ing it up, faking out a sphere, making the cube without the stickers, flat land as currency, synergy and serendipity, revolutionary gameplay from an unexpected place, last minute additions, fights on Populous: The Beginning, heretical choices in game development.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Bullfrog Productions, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate, Lost Toys, Moho, Battle Engine Aquila, Kuju, EA, Weirdwood, 22 Cans, Edge, Topia, Fat Owl with a Jet Pack, Ground Effect, powARdup, Commodore PET, ZX-81, Sinclair, Telex, Amiga, Taurus, Peter Molyneux, DPaint, Druid 2: Enlightment, Gauntlet, Spectrum, Fusion, The Ultimate Database, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Alienate, Knight Lore, Spindizzy, Marble Madness, Dungeon Master, Ultima Underworld, Andrew Bailey, Dene Carter, Big Blue Box, Fable, Lionhead, Kevin Donkin, Powermonger, GDC, SNES, The Sentinel, The Promised Lands, LEGO, Black&White, Godus, Sean Cooper, Civilization, Alan Wright, Alex Trowers, Command & Conquer, Ernő Rubik/Rubik's Cube, X-COM, Wayne Frost, Julian Gollop, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, Leonard Boyarsky, Fallout, Tim Cain, The Outer Worlds, Obsidian, Microsoft, Dungeons & Dragons, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines (up through.... some of Santa Monica)

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

Sep 23, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we talk about our Populous takeaways and then take a little bonus look at Populous: the Beginning, an RTS spinoff from the original games. We talk about how the game takes concepts from the originals and molds them into something new, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
A few missions

Podcast breakdown:
0:56 Takeaways and Populous: The Beginning
1:12:48 Break
1:13:20 Feedback

Issues covered: dreaming big, the one-sentence/high concept, buying on the box, the mindset you approach the game with now and at the time, creation vs destruction mechanics, your Old Testament gods, toys vs games academically, indirect control and influence, opacity of interface, being engaged even indirectly, board games as an influence, the interactions you have as a god, "when I get to mid-game, I flood the world," emergent strategy, simulated villagers, wanting the stories of how strategies developed internally, simulating a population, what are your choices for abstraction, the mystery of simulation, watching an ant colony, it's like the terrain itself was a character, Tim's troubles getting this game running, user-created solutions to get this thing running, forgetting to save, how the god of Populous ascended, borrowing from multiple tribal traditions, is a thing 3D or not, a rotable camera vs an isometric view, a level-designed game, limitations on raising and lowering land, getting a number of charges to raise land, directly controlling villagers to become warriors or to build and occupy buildings, your godlike powers, tech tree driven by level/macro design, having the RTS ruts, critical unit mass and rhythm, franchise pillars and what you bring with you, winged monsters, converting savages through your Shaman, converting units, a finite unit map, religion and colonization, a puzzle level, micro-management of units, seeing patrol paths, the costs of scale, being neither enough of an RTS nor enough of a Populous game, legacies, eye strain, hardening of the corneas, blue light blockers, perception of depth of field and focusing, ambient light, what do you tell a young person, organizing thoughts creatively, the benefits of a liberal arts education, communication as key life skill, doing the thing every day, game jams online and in person, Brett's Book Recommendation.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Bullfrog Productions, Lionhead, Peter Molyneux, SimCity, Civilization, Will Wright, The Walking Dead, Black & White, Ultima IV, Windows, Star Trek, Warcraft, Dune 2, Command & Conquer, Starcraft, Quake III Arena, Nintendo DS, Total Annihilation, EA, Haden Blackman, Paul Pierce, Tropico (series), Anno (series), Sam, Cody, Unreal, Unity, Blender, MGS 3: Snake Eater, Resident Evil 4, Mario 3, itch.io, Terry Pratchett, Discworld, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
An interview or possibly our Halloween-themed game

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

Sep 16, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on 1989's genre-defining Populous. We take a little more time with the game and then think about how and why and it might have hit so big at the time, in addition to considering its principal designer, Peter Molyneux. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Several more battles

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Populous Discussion
51:30 Break
52:02 Feedback

Issues covered: Tim's new podcast, the thinness of the game, the systems present in the game, minimal surfacing, settlers and food and buildings, getting a feel for systems rather than directly understanding or showing them, finding a formula, reinforcing castles as good but it maybe leading to a poor dynamic, indirect control, being unable to stop them from making castles, weird ant farm thoughts, overclicking, building up to flood them, speed-land raising by the AI, flooding rather than swamping, the OCD clean-up dopamine, turning the tides, tit-for-tat strategies, a narrow tipping point for Brett, not knowing what to do about things, forgetting about the population bars, getting to flood conditions, being ready to do the thing at the right time, wanting to act on the enemy at exactly the right place, fighting on the borders, pinball wizardry, examining the "load-out" of the level set-up, the fun of playing genre-defining games, that Unique Selling Proposition, finding the big selling point, calcifying genres and breaking away, being not "another one of those," shooting an eye out from a mile away, Molyneux's unique talent, overselling his ideas, child-like enthusiasm, being a forcing function on development, going beyond the limits of what's possible, different approaches to how you push beyond preconceptions, console generation and caring less about new hardware, interesting games being interesting on any platform, an Ubisoft model, applying the specific game to every design, the value of working cheap, having the value of working with more interesting hardware, simulating lots of Little Computer People, how we build an image today, not being able to re-render the whole screen, getting to the interface they had, actually using all the screen to play, being confused about how it all works, runtime performance of PCs in the 1980s, the screenshot test, selling the experience not the visuals, severe technical constraints, switching from another industry, creative leadership in different industries, being willing to step down before stepping back up, the difficulty of going from peak to peak, leveraging your leadership/mentoring skills.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Northern Exposure, Voice of the Last Frontier, SimCity, GTA, Civ, Dungeon Keeper, Dominion, The Who, Thief, Ultima (series), Heroes of Might and Magic, Dave Perry, Shiny, MDK, Peter Molyneux, Syndicate, Bioshock, Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin, Roberta Williams, Space Quest/King's Quest, PS2, Ubisoft, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Monster (energy drinks), Michel Ancel, Bullfrog, Populous: The Beginning, From Dust, Eric Chahi, Yannick from Germany, Maas Neotek, Amiga, John Romero, Benoit B. Mandelbrot, Apple ][, NES, MegaMan, The Legend of Zelda, Jonathan, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Note:
The Amiga was in fact 640x512, higher than I would have guessed! This would have been EGA/VGA depending on the machine on other PCs.

Next time:
A bit of Populous: The Beginning!

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

Sep 9, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on 1989's Bullfrog Productions hit and originator of the God Game genre, Populous. We talk about using the mouse in 1989 and dive into particular strategies and the surprising depth of the game, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Another... 5? Levels

Issues covered: the tutorial just going on, restarting a conquest, having a false sense of security in the tutorial, generating more manna early in the tutorials, games being more keyboard-only at the time, evolving use of home computers for games, adventure games/text adventures and interfaces, figuring out the input interface, hard-to-use mouse input, the Taurus/Torus mix-up that gave us Bullfrog Productions, the PC platform space in 1989, RTS improvements to help navigate, keyboard controls, figuring things out on the second or third game, unanticipated phases to the game, avoiding arcadey controls by indirection, slow manna generation, the costs of raising land, the dangers of flooding, leaving a lone knight errant to decimate the enemy, the enemy flooding himself, unanticipated stories, flooding yourself to kill the enemy, the ways the AI cheats, rubberbanding of a sort, using swamps and earthquakes to disrupt the enemy, papal magnet management, the impact of the map, how to analyze a map for an RTS, developing a simple unit-based AI, the Game of Life/cellular automata approach to AI, focusing on knights, using the gather behavior to make tougher nights, how much space castles take up and the borders around them, the macro around score and how far to advance in the 500 levels of Populous, how would one speedrun Populous, modern descendants of the game, loving having Molyneux in the industry, "to think, it all started with baked beans," machine speed in DosBox, not adjusting for time in old video games, what is an honorific, honorifics and first-person identification in Japanese, observing sexism as potentially embedded in the writing alphabet, gendered particles/radicals and similarities to Romance languages.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Prince of Persia, Civilization, Ultima (series), Doom (series), Quake, King's Quest, Space Quest, LucasArts, Dark Forces, Ultima Underworld, Duke 3D, Amiga, Peter Molyneux, World of Warcraft, 22 Cans, EA, Microsoft, Fusion, SNES, SimAnt, Game Developer, Warcraft, Dune, Command & Conquer, Game of Life, John Conway, Darwinia, WarGames, Introversion Software, DEFCON, Uplink, Prison Architect, Scanner Sombre, Godus, Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube, Dungeon Keeper, Fable (series), Mr. Beast, Chris Corry, Syndicate, Johnny Pockets, Chrono Trigger, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Harry Potter, George Orwell, allthosewhowander.org, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
More Populous

Link:
That Italian translation article I mention

Note:
It is in fact possible to navigate the view window with the number pad. But the number pad does in fact control the viewport scrolling. The problem is, the number pad and the mouse are typically both controlled with the right hand.

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

Sep 2, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a series on the Bullfrog classic Populous. We set the game in its time and place and talk a little bit about Bullfrog and the different directions simulation games were going, driven by different designers, before talking a little bit about the weirdnesses of this game proper. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Tutorial and First Battle

Podcast breakdown:
0:51 Populous
1:03:48 Break
1:04:17 Feedback

Issues covered: welcoming Tim back and a discussion of his trip, 1989 in video games, a little discursion into Midwinter, creating the God Game, the immense sales of Populous, the Bullfrog game legacy, absorbing smaller developers into a larger publisher, the different directions that simulations were going under different developers, geographic distinctions, creating genres, limitations in processing power and UI representations, trying Populous in 1992 without a manual, the tutorial in the manual, failing the tutorial, the UI representation, performance concerns and filling the space, raising and lowering terrain, overloading icon use, the pause menu, GDC Lifetime Achievement Award, trying to figure out the best way to do a thing, influencing a game vs controlling the game, reading the map, using cartographic techniques in lieu of shading, killing the enemies indirectly, making your leader into a knight, mixing religious iconography, "we" are good and "they" are evil, the macro of the game, the way characters become stronger, overloading the use of the bars on the shield, lowering land to prevent a new leader forming, raising land to create a path for your knight, visual novel recommendations, an update on Pockets the Great, how deep the Civ rabbit hole goes, finding appropriate mentors, not always having the answer, listening to and asking questions of a report, the Socratic method, getting to know your people, setting Phoenix Wright in LA for a Western market, regional dialects, Shu Takumi's dog.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Revenge of Shinobi, Phantasy Star II, Golden Axe, Herzog Zwei, NES, River City Ransom, Castlevania III, Mother (Earthbound Beginnings), Final Fight, Strider, Xbox One, Nintendo GameBoy, Super Mario Land, SimCity, Midwinter, Minesweeper, Prince of Persia, Stunt Car Racer, Commodore 64, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, LucasFilm Games, The Colonel's Bequest, Roberta Williams, Batman, Bullfrog Productions, Peter Molyneux, Fusion, Amiga, Black & White, Lionhead, Microsoft, EA, Dark Forces, Dungeon Keeper, Powermonger, Syndicate, Syndicate Wars, Magic Carpet, Theme Park, Theme Hospital, 22 Cans, Godus, Origin Systems, LucasArts, Maxis, The Sims, Spore, Will Wright, Respawn Entertainment, Sid Meier, Civilization, Ultima Underworld, Warcraft, Rogue, MYST, Richard Garriott, Looking Glass, id Software, Tropico (series), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Hotel Dusk, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Danganronpa, 999, Nonary Games, Jonathan Stoler, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Nolan Filter/irreverentQ, Murder by Numbers, Picross, Johnny Grattan/Pockets, Morrowind/Arena/Daggerfall, Brian, Republic Commmando, Nick Faulhaber, Shu Takumi, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Five (?) more battles?

Links:
Amusingly enough, it *was* a Populous postmortem talk where I first heard Peter's anecdote

Shu Takumi's Pomeranian

Errata:
Thank you for playing... Wing Commander!

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

Aug 19, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. This week we talk about the final original case, particularly looking at the growing complexity of the story, and then turn to our takeaways and feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Turnabout Goodbyes

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 Phoenix Wright Case 4
59:57 Break
1:00:34 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: being novelistic and weaving through multiple narratives, intricate backstories coming together, wanting the macro arc, ending on a high note, developing character empathy, the impact of one event on many lives, wanting to have a character introduced earlier, feeling a greater sense of the world, the Castlevania-lookin' character, goofy gourds, Edgeworth staying a little too quiet, potential professional embarrassment and guilt and shame, a common setup for a mystery, turning expectations on its head, where is this game set?, Lotta Hart, layers of motivation, getting stuck in a cross, the puzzle of getting to a bit of conflicting evidence and when, when to press and when to present, the way information enters into the world, looking for tells, the localization nightmare when language is so ambiguous, localization as design, animation tells, the case room, the police tools, Missile the Shiba Inu, what the police tools do, finding Larry's CO2 compression canister, working back from the one idea, establishing Yanni Yogi's identity and his own knowledge of it, the Chewbacca effect, economy driving connection, raising the stakes, the boss battle with von Karma, how are you going to get to von Karma, the riddle of the one bullet, von Karma's shoulder-grabbing pose, being careful to work within your constraints, deepening von Karma's "Objection", the screaming and head-banging, "the evidence was in you all along," a possible plot hole, what's "fair," realizing a connection, using every part of the animal to emphasize drama, doing a lot with a little, the hallmarks of a novel, anime/manga treatment of the courtroom procedural, making the rules part of the drama, what you marry to the adventure game to breathe new life in, a different take on the adventure game, JRPG to Western RPG, being careful about what you bring from a genre, asking whether a thing is necessary, Brett's Book Recommendation, a shout-out to a listener, fast-forwarding through random combat, the one-handed version of this game, playing the touch-screen, All Those Who Wander.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: X-Files, Castlevania, Bird Box, Josh Malerman, Sandra Bullock, Star Wars, Hotel Dusk, Secret of Monkey Island, Halo 1, Misery, Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil, Tango Gameworks, Zenimax, The Evil Within, Platinum, Eliza, Danganronpa, Richard Lloyd Parry, The People Who Eat Darkness, Mark Sean Garcia, Final Fantasy IX, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy XII, Matt A, Nintendo Wii, Kingdom Hearts, Yakuza (series), Persona 5, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Hollow Knight, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
Tim off on his trip

Next time:
...? We will let you know.

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

Aug 12, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Capcom's 2001 Japanese GBA title/2005 US DS title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. We revisit the history just a bit before diving into this next case, talking about "detectiving" and adventure game tropes (and how/whether they work here), as well as various ways in which the game pushes 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:
Case 3

Issues covered: a bit of correction and elaboration, the cost or lack thereof of pressing, the kid with no respect for the law, quick case recap, a slight change in structure, wondering whether Phoenix was defending a murderer, the personal stake in the case, demanding a lot of the legal system, growing the space you investigate, expanding into a detection game, deductions that are there to confound you, tricking the player, having to revisit places just to move characters, rebuilding logic after the fact, being thrown off by details that turn out to be meaningless, wanting fast travel, having clear ideas of what should happen in the game and not knowing what to do to trigger them, text adventure hold-overs, hesitating to change genre design, expanding the use of "evidence," stretching the interface, audio and visual upgrades, the arguments for remasters vs remakes, the high quality music, adding motion graphics in this case, feeling more engaged in the investigation mechanics, using a small amount of character animation budget to good effect, the slide mechanic in areas, missing support for a second stick, good moments with Edgeworth, adversarial legal systems, wanting the truth, adding S-Rank, why did we even go there?, how much we don't know about the legal system, lawyer's badges, more about the sexism, future supernatural stuff, Tim is possessed by the spirit of his wife, being conditioned to apologize for systemic issues, localization issues with various places, generally trying to abide to cultural sensitivity, questions of centrality, wanting to have the conversation and pushback, getting pushback in concept and pushing back yourself, censorship vs companies and creators, the difficulty as a creator of having your work looked at, curating how games are made, shouting into your DS, pronouncing names properly, AllThoseWhoWander.org, Tim's small trip.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Portopia Serial Murder Case, Yuji Horii, Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Border of this World, Wolverine, Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote, Hotel Dusk, Trauma Center, Matlock, Sherlock Holmes, Capcom, GBC/GBA/DS, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, SamSpot, Kingdom Hearts, Gran Turismo, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Dagur Danielsson, Persona 4/5, Edwin, Matt A, The Muppets, Shaun, 8-4 Play podcast, Star Wars, Halo 5, Dragon's Crown, Judgement/Yakuza series, World of Warcraft, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Links:
The importance of lawyer lapel pins

AllThoseWhoWander.org

Next time:
Case 4

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

Aug 5, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on Capcom's 2001 Japanese GBA title/2005 US DS title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. We talk a bit about the year, the visual novel as a form we're not all that familiar with, although we've each played at least one, and then dive into the game properly before turning to reviews. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Cases 1 & 2

Podcast breakdown:
0:48 PW Discussion
1:02:38 Break
1:03:16 Reviews & Feedback

Issues covered: looking at the history of the visual novel, crime scene base, the combination of visual novel elements with other action elements, companion quests as visual novel, the split between adventure game types from different cultures (like RPGs and JRPGs), the limits of a handheld vs the early 80s PCs, good fit for the DS, the rampant sexism, the distraction of the sexism, stereotypes/archetypes used to involve the player efficiently, lack of subtlety, production realities, dating game history, where you put your development dollars, showing the crime and the killer up-front, dramatic irony, knowing you have to press the villain, scrubbing back and forth and evaluating when you want to present, being able to see the evidence at any point, a brief discussion about the Japanese legal system, similarities to turn-based combat, stripping down the mystery to expose the mechanics, adding in the investigation/adventure game mode, coming up with a theory of the crime, finding the evidence, the burdens on the prosecution vs the defense, adding in the pressing mechanic, seeing characters progressively crack, animating the characters in a way fitting to the hardware, having the fighting game rhythms, using manga aesthetics for pacing, Brett objects to the supernatural elements as unnecessary, would historians really thank us?, making the margin too small for dates, possible localization issues, Brett objects to the lighting in the office vs the hotel room, being open to what the game wants from me rather than what I know, finding what the game wants, seeking out the aha moment, following the wrong leads, red herrings, stuffing too much into the initial couple hours of a game, missing a core mechanic, two old men with their vision issues, exhaustible dialog elements vs a different style in PW:AA, RPGs trying to replicate D&D, verisimilitude of a game's dialog, parser-based early Ultima games, different ways of presenting dialog, lifting into a different level of story space abstraction, the hidden costs of moving to voice, the loss of the parser, money finds a way.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Republic Commando, Capcom, GBA/Nintendo DS, Portopia Serial Murder Case, Enix, Square, Hotel Dark, Trauma Center (series), Professor Layton (series), Policenauts, Hideo Kojima, Bioware, Mass Effect (series), Doki Doki Literature Club, Space Quest/King's Quest, Sierra, Scott Adams, Devil May Cry, Ico, GTA III, Animal Crossing, Civ III, Halo, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Final Fantasy X, Onimusha: Warlords, Shenmue II, Dreamcast, Pikmin, Advance Wars, Starfighter, Luigi's Mansion, GameCube, Xbox, Dream Daddy, L.A. Noire, Infocom, Deadline, Law & Order, Medium, Profiler, Numb3rs, SamSpot101, Ben Zaugg, 999, Danganronpa, Kingdom Hearts, Hunt A Killer, LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Sam Thomas, Walker Farrell, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Divinity: Original Sin, Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, Dungeons & Dragons, Ultima, Reed Knight, Ken Rolston, Mark Crowe, Jurassic Park, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Case 3

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

Jul 29, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we at last complete our series on Republic Commando, with an interview with technical artist Jeremie Talbot, now at Pixar as a Characters Supervisor. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:53 Interview
1:12:01 Break
1:12:35 Feedback

Issues covered: growing up in Canada, going to college in the states, interning for Alias, bartering skills with a weather station, starting at a company that dissolved, joining up with LucasArts, maintaining family relationships through video games, "When you're working on a game, nothing is done until it ships," breaking the game every day, team alchemy, people who didn't fit into silos, the various aspects of character art, "The Puppet Department," specialization, the lubrication that makes it go, the technology in the way, becoming technical to get it out of the way, just wanting to make the thing, "nobody knew what they were doing," losing connection points through specialization, creating tiger teams, agile-style methodology, military manuals for terminology, wanting to dig in and make stuff as well, having technical chops, the pink baby arms, adding raindrops to the head, safe experimentation, animation compression and "we need to," being the communication chain, wanting to also make the stuff, the internal video that was good enough to release, taking things from the game and turning it into the video, doing a whole scripted video to cut together, prototyping through video, the genesis of the prologue, baby hands baby hands baby hands, having some direction for the story, being able to lean into them being clones, reuse to make things feel big, a good team functioning well, building excitement making a thing happen, being inspired instead of checking the box, staying apart from the LucasArts madness, "there's no way they're not gonna release this," scratching a Star Wars itch, thinking back about process and alchemy, the feeling of something accidental that was actually designed, wondering if it's even going to work, the payoff of thinking about team composition, the tension of company needs and project needs, giving people an opportunity gives a burst of enthusiasm, the problems with always filling the container, "the team makes the game," getting along well with people and how that makes the whole thing go, the healthy mix of seniority and new folks, leveled up Jeremie, talking about what Leia and Marcus were, Brett confesses his eye strain, our next game, taking recommendations.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Tippett Studio, Charlotte's Web, Spiderwick Chronicles, Enchanted, Pixar, Brave, Monsters University, Finding Dory, Onward, Dave Bogan, Sheridan College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Alias/Wavefront, Autodesk, PowerAnimator, Maya, Jonathan French, Metrolight Studios, Total Recall, Conn Peterson, Jason Armstrong, Pokemon, Full Throttle 2, Bounty Hunter, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Ian Milham, The Mandalorian, EA, Harley Baldwin, Nathan Martz, Adam Piper, Unreal, Tim Ramsay, Skyrim, Greg Knight, Paul Pierce, Paul Murphy, Brett Schulz, Loren Cox, Rebecca Perez, Daron Stinnett, the one and only person, Luke Thériault, Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion, Leia/Marcus, Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Ray Gresko, Rob Huebner, Justin Chin, SITH Engine, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Maniac Mansion, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer, Rebel Assault, INSANE, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Kingdom Hearts, Animal Crossing, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Danganronpa, 999, Hotel Dusk, Ghost Trick, Nintendo Switch, Kotaku Splitscreen/Triple Click, Jason Schreier, Hollow Knight, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, first case

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

Jul 22, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue to flog the dead tauntaun of our series on Republic Commando, through a pair of interviews. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:53 Interview One
54:05 Break One
54:17 Interview Two
1:46:40 Break Two
1:45:55 Feedback

Issues covered: starting out as a theater geek, finding a job in the newspaper, faking co-op via phone, QA as the breeding ground for designers and producers, needing to staff a project after folks left, finding management talent in QA as well, the benefits of a theater education in level design, the historical areas of the Indiana Jones game (including the Aetherium), using similar research as for set design, theatricality and 3D spatial design, matching believability with fun, reallocating resources to JK's ex-pack, scripting cutscenes, Leia/Marcus engine, the long crunch of Indy, figuring out how to ship a game, sharing design amongst Daron and programmers, looking into leadership, thinking you'd come in for mission design and having so much people work, leadership vs management, moving into more of a direction role, getting to build on something you knew, choosing pillars around features, aiming for more bombast, tying missions together, wearing a producer hat as well, "90% of the challenges are people challenges," picking people for the project, wanting to work with people, skill sets and talent, diving back into the first person shooter, building consensus and going too far, finding the right boundaries for consensus, using pillars and goals to set the sandbox for discussion, giving respect to others, having the connection of the team, listening as an actor (and as a director), the trust on the stage, physics as a misstep, switching to computer science for grad school, doing military contracting in academia, Caveman Tim lifts his head, learning a million subjects all at once, remembering that first interview, getting a random offer, having no flight simulator experience, starting out playing pure flight sims, programming mission logic, figuring out how a game works from the tools, EvE (the Event Editor), knowing the LucasArts legacy, learning everything about being a professional programmer and a good collaborator, moving quickly into leadership, the internal MMO, working closely with level designers, being asked to be a lead, "the designer's programmer," having a rapport with designers (and building it), fighting for the users, learning to work with people, being able to hold the technological line, a game being too expensive to build, helping shore up technical management, helping the programmers help the designers, Brett makes an Alien reference, not being set up for failure, opportunities for growth, the potential problems of success, the conundrum of what people make sense when on a project, the weird side effects of matrix management, we agree to never do it again, the difficulty of writing squad-style AI for varied potential parties in CRPGs, the goals of action games vs RPGs, differing fantasies, disconnect from expectations of players if you had more independence in CRPGs.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Mysteries of the Sith, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Starfighter (series), Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Microsoft, 343 Industries, Halo (series), Nintendo Wii, Jason Botta, Playstation 2, Xbox, MobyGames, Tacoma, Skyrim, Reed Knight (nee Derleth), Dan Connors, Jonny Rice, Nihilistic Software, Ray Gresko, Rob Huebner, Justin Chin, Infinite Machine, GT Interactive, Activision, Dan Pettit, Geoff Jones, Outlaws, Kevin Schmitt, Ryan Kaufman, Telltale Games, Hal Barwood, Wayne Cline, Daron Stinnett, Troy Mashburn, Rich Davis, Dave Bogan, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tim Miller, Unreal, Harley Baldwin, Tim Schafer, Full Throttle II, Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout (series), Apple ][+, Colossal Cave Adventure, Macintosh SE/80, Richard Feynman, Pixar, Doom, Quake, Diablo, MYST, Steve Ash, Aric Wilmunder, SCUMM, Steve Dauterman, Garrett James, Descent: Freespace, Chris Corry, Andrew Kirmse, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars Galaxies, Jesse Moore, Doug Modie, Reeve Thompson, Force Commander, Tron, David Lee Swenson, Steve Dykes, Malcolm Johnson, David Worrall, Vernon Harmon, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, The Warriors, J. Scott Peter, Alien, Battlefront II, Patrick Sirk, Chris Williams, Harry Potter, EA, Nathan Martz, John Hancock, Michelle Hinners, Ashton Herrmann, Mass Effect, Baldur's Gate, Josh Lindquist, Hollow Knight.

Next time:
A final(?) interview

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

Jul 15, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we just keep on rolling about Republic Commando, on which both of your hosts worked. This week we talk with lead animator Dave Bogan, about his journey into the industry and what stuck out for him on this project, among many other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:44 Interview
1:19:32 Break
1:20:05 Feedback

Issues covered: our rampant professionalism, stepping in the right potholes, taking an early liking to art, half arts school/half regular high school, finding out you're not a draftsman, learning about animation, having industry professionals for teachers, not knowing you can work in games, putting in the devotion and the time, a little who's who of great LucasArts artists, making a choice based on comedy and drawing, early experience on CMI and other titles, getting a title axed, finding roles for people rather than laying them off, getting involved in a project and working with other people, doing what you have to to ship, not having a plan and realizing: we always need to have a plan, taking on additional responsibility, the limitations of some of early characters, eyes and face and hands for animation, where one of the animators went, looking for an opportunity as a lead, thinking about how characters behave before you see them, getting expectations set, being intimidated by Daron Stinnett, looking at the competition, feeling elevated by Daron, the excellence of the animation team, learning from Joe Bacciocco, trigger discipline, when good behavior meets up with video game needs, how much an expert cared for people, using soldier expertise, composition and correctness, translating the authenticity, a well-integrated and organized animation team, the Trandoshan who runs at you like a gorilla, having to tell Dave no, various games they thought about post-SWRC, being afraid of not doing a Jedi game, being a pragmatist, lacking strife, having real characters, wanting stories at the forefront, Brett's Book Recommendation, being a salve in tough times, the hidden co-op version of Republic Commando.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Curse of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Obi-Wan, Escape from Monkey Island, Rogue Squadron, Telltale Games, The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Fame, Degrassi Street, Amanda Stepto, This Is Spinal Tap, Tara Campbell, Sheridan College, Disney, Fox, Pixar, ILM, LucasArts, SquareSoft, Magnum PI, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kevin Boyle, Chris Miles, Graham Annable, Karen Chelini, Sangeeta Prashar, Sega/Secret Level, Starcraft, Jedi Knight, Ray Gresko, SCUMM, Derek Sakai, Mark Overney, Kevin Micallef, Chris Williams, Daron Stinnett, Eric Ingerson, Tippett Studios, Troy Molander, Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner, John Hancock, Chris Ross, Ryan Kaufman, Stephen McManus, Jeff "Pinecone" Kung, Ian Milham, Dead Space, Bret Robbins, Ascendant Studios, Justice Unlimited, Michael Stemmle, Diablo, Patrick McCarthy, Camela Boswell, Afterlife, Sean Clark, Force Commander, Factor 5, Magpie, Bounty Hunter, Armando Lluch, Cory Allemeier, Loren Cox, Matt White, Medal of Honor, Halo, Ryan Hood, Brett Schulz, Rebecca Perez, Jeremie Talbot, Nathan Martz, Joe Bacciocco, Call of Duty, Hulk Hogan, Haden Blackman, Patrick Sirk, Matt Omernick, GTA, The Force Unleashed, George Lucas, Sledgehammer Games, EA, Soul Reaver, Full Throttle 2, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries, Chrono Trigger, Mark, Ultima Underworld, Super Mario RPG, Nintendo, Bill, Johnny Szary, Short Circuit.

Link:
Video of training the animators


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

Jul 8, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we are beginning to come dangerously close to spending longer talking about Republic Commando than we did playing it. This time, we get a look behind art development for Star Wars through the eyes and voices of two artists who worked on the title: Greg Knight, who was the principal concept artist for the game, and Paul Pierce, who designed the look and feel of the user interface. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Interview segment
1:14:39 Break
1:15:14 Feedback

Issues covered: how Paul got his start, web design in the 90s, learning 3D modeling, how Greg got his start, the ubiquity of LucasFilm in Marin, making an important connection and getting an unstoppable recommendation, the importance of art in establishing a game, the design of HUDs and menus, the distinction between UX and UI, how UI art got into the game, iterating the UI in response to the game you're building, starting out as a texture artist, imagining rooms as a whole and getting noticed for your control of tone, an exciting time to learn about concept art, being a force multiplier for the art team, the need for concept art with rising fidelity, keeping cohesive style and flow in the art by use of concept art as well as art direction, differences with film, what immersive experiences mean for content, lacking control of camera, good ideas coming from all over, vs auteurism, putting a burden on UI aesthetics by being always first-person, bringing in the visor pieces, losing visual real estate and that conversation, the impact on design on art decisions, putting the ammo readouts on the guns, marking up renders to figure out where UI elements would go, weapons as characters, running into resistance with the programmers, the ways programmers can... avoid work, the conversation you have to have around iteration cost, fitting into a palette, designing vehicles that didn't exist in canon, coming up with the tone of a more deadly clone story, figuring out who the clones even were, figuring out what the side stories were, imagining beyond the borders of the film, morphing to a different scale, how little a Geonosian means to a Jedi and how much to a trooper, colorgrading and how it sells various tones and moods, giving a different interpretation of Star Wars, seeing something of Republic Commando reflected in Rogue One, focusing on what's important to your characters, the heat and contrast of the Geonosians, pulling on the film's UI elements, avoiding drama on a project, checking egos at the door, how collaborative the game was, the value of technical art, the energy of team members, tech artists as glue and bridges, the value of a demo, Neanderthal Tim, when your level is difficulty, the design ideas behind the hangars and bridge, the knobs you had to turn for storytelling through tone, having to die again and again, failure without excessive punishment, the ability level of the team, where your skills are relative to the game, improving communication between branches of the team, setting a vision without falling to design by committee, being able to deliver a new experience for a Star Wars audience, the challenge of making an AI that keeps pace with the player, "The Squad Is Your Weapon," the debate around the efficacy of the squad, building around the game's goals and how other games might attack that differently, the importance of building consensus, trying to find a way to say "yes" to an idea, "everybody can design," being able to have the squad revive you.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Jedi Starfighter, Bounty Hunter, Galactic Battlegrounds (series), Escape from Monkey Island, Lucidity, Disney, 2K, Transformers, EndeavorRX, Akili, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Phantom Menace, EA, Jedi: Fallen Order, NYU Film School, Whole Foods, Cybernautics, Rocket Science Games, Obsidian, Behind the Magic, Haden Blackman, Starcraft, Dan Colon, Lightwave, LucasFilm, Ralph McQuarrie, Hal Barwood, Chris Williams, Unreal, Adobe Illustrator, Peter Chan, Joe Johnston, Doug Chiang, Obi-Wan, Bill Tiller, Jedi Knight, Dark Forces, Nathan Martz, Jeremie Talbot, Hideo Kojima, Metroid Prime, Maya, 3DS Max, Daron Stinnett, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Rogue One, Paul Murphy, James Zhang, Adam Piper, Harley Baldwin, Mafia III, Hangar 13, Top Mix, Kovaak's Aim Trainer, Galaxy of Heroes, Reed Knight, TIE Fighter, John Drake, Ryan/biostats, Pat Sirk, Gary Whitta, Book of Eli, Fallout, Nick from LA, Halo Reach/Halo 5, John Hancock, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
YET. ANOTHER. INTERVIEW.

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

Jul 1, 2020

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we welcome another interview, this time with industry veteran and current VP of Design at Schell Games, Harley Baldwin. Harley talks about her path through the industry and about her time especially at LucasArts and Republic Commando, on which she served as a level designer. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:45 Interview
1:25:23 Break
1:25:51 Feedback

Issues covered: how Harley got her start, planning to get into photographic printing, crashing a friend's interview, knowing a tuck-in top from a hang-over top, figuring out technical art challenges, getting a programmer to do some interpolation, emergence of digital cameras, the unsung heroism of technical art, making one kind of data into another kind of data, overlapping art and engineering, figuring out how to blend animations for locomotion, learning from designers via over-the-shoulder watching, the three-point slice, trying to figure out how to build stuff, moving to design, not having to worry about both the architecture and the gameplay at the same time, getting designers to play and talk, becoming a lead systems designer, communicating the use of systems, advocating for designs, VR and location-based entertainment, hard and interesting problems, encouraging design skill overlap, getting the design document on day one, LucasArts using proprietary technology and the internal controversy, believing you need the author of the engine in-house, the conversations between level designers, talking about how to make the bridge moment, building momentum, speaking level designers' language, coming on late and fixing cover bugs and optimizing spaces, figuring out how and whether to do jungle, arguing over the spotlights, trying to find solutions together, level ownership, getting enough distance to see what needs to be real or what needs to be smoke and mirrors, the creepiness of the Prosecutor, giving the designer you once were a talking to, getting stuck on Troy's level, designing to the peak experience, the story of what a designer is trying to say, finishing your own level on hard... over a few hours, QA beating it eventually, lacking storytelling tools and using design tools like difficulty, door breaches and hints, the "doors and hallways engine," how to tackle a dwarf spider droid, still figuring things out as you ship, building to a character moment, being in the perfect spot, the old home tour of enemies, "hey player, you can handle this now," "Brett's favorite room," the energy and communication of that team, "Nobody reads your docs," designers and difficulty, "when do you turn off god mode," watching people play, your applicant pool of user testing players, three things you'd change about project/process, fumbling towards scrum/agile, how seeing where the squad was going changed the game dramatically, VR and its problems to solve, meeting Harley for the first time, the Starfighter pie meeting, Pi Day, Tim delivers a pie to Brett's apartment, "I might worry about a random pie," East Coast geography, the team helping get you through the making of the game, the special atmosphere of LucasArts, good people working with good people, defending Tim's honor, difficulty and Constraint Satisfaction Problems, Boss Keys series, Longo Calrisian, positioning and leadership, lowering ammo and tuning towards the focus fire mechanic, the hot targets, differences between PC and Xbox, difficulty codes, marketing, Starfighter III: Jedi Starfighter II: Starfighter Outcast or Reti Player One, a plea for orbital strikes in more video games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: American Laser Games/Her Interactive, LucasArts, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Starfighter (series), RTX Red Rock, Crystal Dynamics, Tomb Raider (series), Demiurge, Nihilistic Software, Rock Band, Resistance, Call of Duty, Schell Games, PhotoStyler, McKenzie & Company, Mad Dog McCree, Drug Wars, 3D0, Vampire Diaries, Nancy Drew (series), Debabelizer, Jedi Knight, Reed Knight, X-COM: The Bureau, Jesse Schell, Disney VR, Unreal, Galactic Battlegrounds, Age of Empires, Outlaws, Troy Mashburn, Pat Sirk, Jesse Moore, Juli Logemann, Uncharted, Kevin "Schmitty" Schmitt, Xbox, Microsoft, Jeffrey "Pinecone" Sondin-Kung, I Expect You to Die, Until You Fall, PlayStation VR, GDC, David Collins, Blarg42, Anachronox, Violet B. Trudel, Pokemon, Oliver Uvman, Sokoban, Super Mario Bros 3, Stephen's Sausage Roll, Final Fantasy XIII-2, King's Quest, Gothic Chocobo, Game Maker's Toolkit, Mark Brown, Zelda (series), Leon Buckel, Greg Knight, Sam Thomas, June, Jocko Willink, Leif Babin, Dark Forces, GameSpot, Billy/The2ndQuest, Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Forza, Tetris99, Animal Crossing, Charlie Rocket, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Epic Mickey, Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
Another Interview?

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

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