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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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Dev Game Club
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Now displaying: April, 2021
Apr 28, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we begin a new series on Final Fantasy VI, which is often in the conversation surrounding the pinnacle of the 16-bit JRPG. We set the game in its time, and then turn to it directly, talking about world-building and how 2D feels better than 3D for these sorts of games, among other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to South Figaro

Issues covered: who chose this game, stringing out the announcement of the game, how the numbering happened, the apex 16-bit JRPG, Square leaving Nintendo, 1994 in games, knowing what they're doing, feeling like a late-generation game, the transition from VI to VII, the expense of cartridges vs CDs, getting to the limits of cartridges, investing in the cinematics department, self-correcting the numbering scheme, how good the cinematics department was, moving to more of a cinematics-based storytelling style, caveat: this is our darned podcast, Nomura starting as a "debugger," the advantages of staying somewhere for a long time, compressed world-building on the SNES version, making the cinematic for people who already know the game, having expectations, 2D holding up better than 3D from this era, not being ready to compare with Chrono Trigger yet, feeling hyper-linear and not being able to pursue options you think you should, feeling like Chrono Trigger was better balanced for straight play, feeling more adventure-gamey, having moments that stick with you, being balanced towards easy early on, getting poor feedback from an enemy, leaning on Edgar's strengths, some parallels with other popular media, sticking with the given names, hoping for strong characterization, similarity in presentation across modes in 2D and late 3D, universality and abstraction, having a great moment in a combat, adding layers of confusion to presentation with multiple interpretations and writers, removing abilities at the end of the game, adding challenge, addressing adventure game dialog trees through time rewind.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Chrono Trigger, Ultima, Dragon Quest/Warrior, Earthbound, Level-5, Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni, Nintendo, Super Metroid, Warcraft, TIE Fighter, X-COM: UFO Defense, Earthworm Jim, Donkey Kong Country, Tekken, Namco, DOOM (1993), System Shock, The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Master of Magic, Theme Park, Aladdin, The Lion King, Sonic (series), Sega Genesis, Quake, PlayStation, Blizzard, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Kitase, Shigeru Miyamoto, Fallout, Vampire: the Masquerade, Troika, Hiroyuki Ito, Tetsuya Nomura, Tetsuya Takahashi, Nobuo Uematsu, Kingdom Hearts, The Spirits Within, Star Wars, Pokemon, Arcanum, Baldur's Gate, Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Symphony of the Night, God of War II, Life Is Strange (season one), Wasteland 2, Spider-Verse, Spider-Man 2, Tobey Maguire, Returnal, Groundhog Day, Death Stranding, The Last Story, Mistwalker Studios, Wii, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Next time:
Stay tuned!

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

Apr 21, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we finish our series on 2003's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We talk about the unfortunate elevator sequence, the final platforming of the game, its circular story and of course, our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the Game

Podcast breakdown:
0:52 Prince of Persia
56:16 Break
56:46 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: rewinding time, feeling bad about the elevator section, spending two hours on one combat encounter, leaning on the worst things of the combat system, tight space, companion AI, being unable to see the Prince, being able to render more stuff and having that in tension with what you want to see, the "Kung Fu Circle," using the death blossom and wanting fewer sand bubbles, taking away all the things I enjoyed about the combat, the rewind resource, feeling over-designed, "fun is challenge," the history of challenge in digital game design, tightness and the tension with other goals, being too good at your game at the end, giving a lot of verbs that are fluidly deployed via context, trying to jump away but instead running me up an enemy, help me look cool getting away, not making the lock-on specific, finding the right balance for players, advocating for how to make your enemies/systems look great, the value of a locked camera, Tim looks up the solution to an audio puzzle, more puzzle discussions, misreading a puzzle and having a good moment, long checkpoints for the final exam, flipping the difficulty, really demonstrating how far the Prince has come by holding the blade edge of the dagger, maybe missing some of the transitions, rewinding the whole story back to the beginning so he tells this wild story (tying into the failures), the grand vizier trope, the cobra staff, compressing character development, the right difficulty for the final boss, doing a deep reading of the Prince disrobing through the game, not loving the rewound smooch, Brett's Book Recommendation, those mechanics that are just Great Ideas, allowing for soft failure and experimentation, contextual traversal (and combat), making the player look awesome with gentler difficulty, distilling down/all killer no filler, allowing for games that are shorter, the excellence of the animation blending system to achieve fluidity, the history of that fluidity to the original, the narrative space, trying different things in the narrative, how much we use mods, grief and games, the way games are more fixed in time, playing single player games with friends, getting streaming now, where to add quality of life improvements, asking why and what a game is about, Mister E. Dip, the sweet spot for Animal Crossing quality of life, "would fast travel help this game," being in the natural world, where the interesting friction is.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Star Wars, Brian/dontkickfood, Todd Howard, NES/SNES, Mario (series), UbiSoft, Nintendo, Troy Mashburn, Tomb Raider, Nathan Martz, Republic Commando, John Hancock, God of War, Starfighter, S. A. Chakraborty, Aladdin, Groundhog Day, Zelda (series), Dungeons & Dragons, G. Willow Wilson, Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, Alif the Unseen, Gears of War, Ocarina of Time, Uncharted, Shenmue, Assassin's Creed, Baldur's Gate, PixelJunk Eden, Q Games, Rez, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, The Matrix, Jill Murray, Zac Katis, Anachronox, Diablo, Bethesda Game Studios, DOOM (1993), World of Warcraft, Ashton Herrmann, Morrowind, Marcel Proust, mysterydip, Civilization, Animal Crossing, Ultima Underworld, The Witcher 3, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, Death Stranding, Hitman (2016), Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.

Links:
Big World Setup tool for Baldur's Gate

Enhanced Edition Game Setup

Ashton Herrmann on sharing single-player games

Next time:
TBD!

Notes:
I call it the "Death Blossom" but the manual calls it the Power of Haste.

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

Apr 14, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. We talk about the Library, our problems with it, how we were misled, and how such things happen, as well as other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to "On the Ramparts"

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

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

Next time:
Finish the Game!

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

Apr 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

Next time:
More Prince of Persia!

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

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