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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: February, 2023
Feb 22, 2023

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our themed series on the flexibility of text with 2006's Dwarf Fortress. We set the game in its time and then start delving into the play of the game, and the steep cliff of learning how to play it. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
A couple of hours

Podcast breakdown:
0:46 Dwarf Fortress
54:36 Break
55:13 Feedback

Issues covered: an early early access game, ASCII vs glyphs, setting the game in its time, lack of simulation games at the time, similar games we've played, not knowing how to categorize the game, failure to launch, not playing the game but playing the learning of the game, exploring the game's systems, bouncing off tremendously, in-game help, "losing is fun," being different from the mainstream, an opening cutscene and music, fictional grounding and world generation, the depth of the dwarves, getting clues from the help and discovering how to do those things, the minimal interface, the combinatorics of choices made, being in a jungle vs a pine forest, having a sad dwarf and building for them, reassigning dwarf abilities, balancing for combat by what the fortress produces, thinking ahead and attracting attention, invading raccoons and a miasma, losing a sense of scale of time, seasons and weather, a flowing river, the little stories you see play out, the tamed feral cat, a cave-in, the ant farm appeal, moments of discovery, levelling up, turning someone into a recruit, games getting shorter if they are level-based, eyes bigger than stomach, scope creep problems, overstuffing a game, systemic expansion, reactive planning in Rogue vs grinding in Diablo, increasing player agency, customizing TTRPGs to react to the players, running the games in our brains, a framework for storytelling, dabbling in game design without having to do it from scratch, accommodating flexibility and adaptation, having a lot to keep in your head, simpler rulesets, designing for physical vs digital, designed scarcity.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Artimage, Bay 12 Games, Zach and Tarn Adams, Rogue, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, Gears of War, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, New Super Mario Bros, TES: Oblivion, Final Fantasy XII, Dead Rising, Okami, Zoo Tycoon, Thrillville, Civilization, The Sims, Populous, SimCity, Skyrim, Minecraft, Kamil, Branden, Assassin's Creed, Fallout (series), Morrowind, Rogue Legacy 2, Star Wars: Starfighter, Murray Lorden, Diablo 2, Nintendo Switch, Nick Miller, Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Joel Gifford, Marvel Snap, Hearthstone, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia. 

Next time:
More Dwarf Fortress!

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

Feb 8, 2023

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our series on Plundered Hearts, the pirate romance text adventure, and also turning to a short bonus discussion about Twine games. We mostly discuss our takeaways before turning to the bonus discussion. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:18 Takeaways
51:02 Break
51:12 Bonus Discussion

Issues covered: text adventure length, an introductory adventure and the audience it sought, being unable to market, a diversion to Rogue Legacy 2, finding a parser bug, game pack-ins, losing a thing to the parser, a garter on a crocodile, waiting and responding to player choice, playtesting internally, not knowing to wait, inventory combination vs revisiting every location you've missed, failure-driven games, piecing clues together through trial and error, choosing your verbs carefully, whether there are multiple solutions, the hostility of a trial-and-error design, subverting your genre through mechanics, Tim's life as a series of flow charts, a structure still used today, flow charts for puzzle steps, working back from a problem to the solution, responding to your players, using good writing to provide a rich experience, interesting work coming from diverse sources, being playful with text, Twine as an environment, what you can do with good writing and simple tools, text effects, the approachability of the tools, personal games, an experimental game and interpretation, the structure of "howling dogs," simulation aspects, commentary on games, the default response and the "that's interesting," poetic/evocative/allusive tone, being in a browser and the affordances, a commentary on the games industry, the anxiety-provoking games, feeling seen, being exactly spot-on, a learning tool, the value of constraints.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dark Souls, Zork, Infocom, Byte, Nibble, EGM, Nintendo Power, Rogue Legacy 2, Halo, LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Emily Short, Counterfeit Monkey, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Dungeons & Dragons, MYST, Space Quest, King's Quest, Reed Knight, Ron Gilbert, Peter Pan, Errol Flynn, Geena Davis, Cutthroat Island, Matthew Modine, Activision, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Chris Klimas, Hypercard, howling dogs, Porpentine, The Writer Will Do Something, Matthew Seiji Burns, Tom Bissell, Game Developer magazine, Magical Wasteland, IF Comp, Andrew Plotkin, Meg Jayanth, Richard Hofmeier, Papers Please, Hot Pockets, Mountain Dew, Warhammer, Frog Fractions, Universal Paperclips, Frank Lantz, HP Lovecraft, Melville, Shakespeare, Mark Laidlaw, Eliza, Zachtronics, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia. 

Errors!
It was not Papers, Please (which is also excellent and by Lucas Pope), but Cart Life that was by Richard Hofmeier

Links:
When You Say One Thing and Mean Your Motherboard

Next time:
...?!

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

Feb 1, 2023

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our mini theme of the flexibility of text. We examine the Infocom era by playing a late title, Plundered Hearts. We discuss some of the rougher aspects of the game and the mechanics of text adventures, including the facilities of the language and some of its modern descendants. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Tim (all), Brett (the first section)

Issues covered: setting the game in its time, graphic adventures in the time, the death of Infocom, the variety of Infocom's game, Tim pulling his hair out, the cinematic nature of the game, some digressions on Deadline, extending the play through difficulty, saving the game, puzzles and wordplay, exploring the parser, accommodating the player, playing with tropes, Tim misses the boat, a bit of description of the parser and virtual machine, rooms and inventory, fore and aft vs north and south, abstraction and flexibility, restrictions, great graphics via visualization, the perfect run and the perfect score, the modern text adventure market, trigger warning for adult themes, a female protagonist, failure states, "a fate worse than death," a commentary about the dangers for women in the world, a game that she wanted to play, the context of the medium and the inherent danger of the world, having an impactful victory, Vermin's SL1 of Dark Souls, Pippin Barr and experimental games, Break Out and performance art, from Rogue to Diablo.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Rogue, Calamity Nolan, Reed Knight, TIE Fighter, Aaron Reed, Maniac Mansion, Sierra Online, Space Quest 2, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Nintendo/NES, Punch-Out, Final Fantasy, Sid Meier's Pirates!, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Day of the Tentacle, Cornerstone, Zork, Deadline, Deathloop, The Lurking Horror, Ballyhoo, Moonmist, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Activision, Sea of Thieves, Amy Briggs, Agatha Christie, Murder She Wrote, Sleep No More, Colossal Cave Adventure, Apple ][, Volkswagon, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Dark Souls, Tomb Raider, Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy, Sir Ian Livingstone, Ink/Inkle, Around the World in 80 Days, Sorcery (series), Heaven's Vault, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Suspended, Brian Moriarty, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Dark Souls, Emily Short, Elsinore, Pirates of the Caribbean, verminthewepper, Pippin Barr, David Wolinsky, Marina Abramovich, The Artist Is Present, Kill.Screen, GameThing, Breakout, don't die, Father Beast, Diablo, Ragnarok Valhalla, Glenn Wichman, The Eggplant Show, Dave Brevik, Moria, Nethack, Oliver Uv, Brogue, Caves of Qud, Cogmind, Rogue Legacy 2, Mark Garcia, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
A bit of a bonus and takeaways!

Errata:
It's a babelfish, I can't believe I couldn't remember that

Brett confused Astrologaster with Heaven's Vault (he was referring to the latter)

Links:
Interactive Fiction Database

GameThing podcast!

Pippin Barr's site
Don't Die by David Wolinsky


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

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