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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: Category: general
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

Jan 6, 2021

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we conclude our series on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We talk takeaways and then catch up on our feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:50 Takeaways
48:18 Break
48:45 Feedback

Issues covered: the Master Quest version of the game, the 3DS version, transitioning to 3D, coming up with mechanics to answer new questions, the evolution of block puzzles, the wow I'm a genius moment, object-oriented quest design/chunky progress, list-based vs tangibility in quests, gating in different designs, "true adventure" and sense of space, tricking the player into how big a space is, a richer space and a sense of adventure, overlaying side quests everywhere, the keys that aren't keys, the ocarina key-ring, tying the colors of ocarina songs, the music, looking at the manual, Brett's Book Recommendation, jumping the Lon-Lon Ranch fence, critical path objects that don't appear on the critical path, challenges you set for yourself, missable/skippable things, it's our podcast and we can do what we want to, giving the player options, allowing player expression, Tim talks streaming, rumors of secrets,

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Mark Garcia, Tomb Raider, Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, Jeff Browne, Shigeru Miyamoto, Eternal Darkness, Brad Furminger, Mario (series), Koji Kondo, Kirk Hamilton, Strong Songs Podcast, Earthbound, Bone Houses, Emily Lloyd-Jones, Roel, Guy Morgan/notmyviews, Darksiders, Vigil Games, Gunfire Games, Starfighter (series), Tim, Full Throttle 2, Hitman (series), Game Maker's Toolkit, Voltron, ElfQuest, Atari 2600, Mortal Kombat, Streetfighter II, Ed Boon, Adventure (Atari 2600), Warren Robinett, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
An interview!

Links:
How Zelda's Puzzle Box Dungeons Work


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

Nov 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we are beginning a new series about Grand Theft Auto III. As always, we spend the first episode situating the title in its release time frame and talk a bit about the history of the studio and creators associated with it before turning to the game proper. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through "The Fuzz Ball"

Podcast breakdown:
0:37 GTA III discussion
58:48 Break
59:16 Feedback

Issues covered: perspectives from Lulu about production, games of 2001, bringing the mafia back into popular entertainment, grabbing the zeitgeist, how to deal with the anti-hero, commercial plays with the gritty follow-up, freshening up a franchise by going dark, not being sold on playing this game, mature with a capital M, still being under the shadow, starting and abandoning GTA IV and skipping GTA V altogether, DMA Design founders, programming-centric company, the top-down camera view, introduction of the Houser brothers, British gangster cinema, writing style and tone changes, film-style credit sequence, iconic characterization and key art, having a gritty New York of the 70s and 80s genre films, blaxploitation, the New Hollywood, leaning into character archetypes, impressive voice cast, using Hollywood-level talent, not needing to use them, unsung high-quality voice talent, cinematic representation of the credits, ambition vs genius, going big and not apologizing, putting the developers forward rather than the actors, making their own myth, a voiceless main character (Claude), voiceless being better in first-person, empty vessel to fill, limited representation, defining characters more as time goes on, the risk of changing the character out from under the player, undirected game, tension between genre and character and story, playing a low-level thug in The Godfather, playing your own sort of character, do players care about the tension, do you have to like the character, the chaos engine and the strong cinematic style, player exploration of the possibility space, separating the chaos and the nihilistic stories, dehumanizing women, punching every which way vs punching down, Brett messes up his punching directions, creative decisions, choosing the ones you put in and don't, presenting a boundary that is itself commentary, choices players can't make due to lack of systems, prostitution in multiple media, the crassest flattest two-dimensional representation of sex work, being a target in the industry, disposable human beings, hope for humanity, craftmanship and talent and lack of responsibility, representing themselves, pushing the player to a nihilistic viewpoint, pushing the player to psychopathic driving, spawning cars to gum up the works, diametrically opposing success and responsible citizenship, not overcrediting them with thinking it through, tongue-in-cheek or not, what if it were visually amazing but everything else was the same, how you get the talent, Brett and Tim the ASMR guys, first-person camera, console-centric development, head bobbing, couch vs monitor, motion sickness and movement and FOV, more complicated than you think, stick movement and aim assist, what's the walkin' around like, frame-dependency, noticing something and being able to describe it, reticle, GTA III memories, returning to GTA III, corrupting the youth, killing jaywalking pedestrians, unexamined biases, kitsch, the first draft and tropes, editing a story due to current events.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Lulu LaMer, Thief, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, System Shock 2, Ico, Silent Hill 2, Anachronox, PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, SSX Tricky, GameCube, Super Smash Bros, Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy X, Max Payne, Black & White, Diablo 2, Xbox, Halo, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rare, Jak & Daxter, Game Boy Advance, Castlevania, Oni, Bungie, The Sopranos, Scorcese, Coppola, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Prince of Persia, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA V, Rockstar North/DMA Design, Acme Software, David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond, Mike Dailly, Crackdown, Lemmings, Take Two, PS1 Classic, Reagent Games, Cloudgine, Epic, the Houser brothers, The Krays, Bob Hoskins, Ian McQue, GTA: Vice City, Robert Loggia, Frank Vincent, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Rapaport, True Romance, Debi Mazar, Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Nolan North, Leslie Benzies, The Godfather: The Game, GTA Online, Eve Online, South Park, Klute, Jane Fonda, Michel Faber, The Crimson Petal and the White, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dungeon Keeper, Jigsaw/Saw, Michael Madsen, Lars from Hamburg, Hitman, Giant Beastcast, Tacoma, Steve Gaynor, The Stanley Parable, Nels Anderson, The Witness, David "Heavens To" Murgatroyd, Fallout, Ray Liotta, Brian Moriarty.

Next time:
Through "Last Requests"


@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

May 9, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are finishing our series on 2005's God of War. We talk about when the game leans into the things it's not great at, the sense of epic scale, as well as turning to our traditional takeaways as we end a series. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 God of War discussion
54:45 Break
55:11 Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: dying 20 - 60 times, the downward spiral rage, compounding challenge, adding elements at a good rate, enumerating the elements of a challenge, not earning the challenge, shelf-level events/wall mission, not knowing you're near the end of the game, being stubborn and maybe putting a game away for a while, representing Hades accurately as a Sisyphean task, leaning into disempowerment sections as a mistake, potential for usability testing issues, variant gameplay needs to be easier, getting bored as developers, it's a sorbet not a bowl of hot sauce, positive vs negative feedback loops, rich getting richer syndrome, strategies for dealing with small numbers of orbs, arguing with QA, rationalizing your poor choices, a combo game for the masses, difficulty levels as a Band-Aid (TM), a strategy for spending orbs, adjusting orbs for difficulty, puzzle scale, puzzles for pacing, merging of genres, enjoying geometry puzzle, macro puzzle, puzzles that fit or don't, physics puzzles (buoyancy, momentum), tests of the gods, Tim and Brett forget ballistas, Greek tragedy themes, melodrama being appropriate here, having to work for a more minimal story, overly simplistic motivations, conflating player and character motivations, finding revenge against Ares, never getting to care for Kratos, an unsympathetic hero, tragedy as a character issue vs a plot issue, evolving Kratos and his world, sequence saving the family, Brett confuses who the brothers are, music as the MVP, exotic and seductive soundtrack, pushing Pandora's Box to no soundtrack, full commitment to camera, a technical pinnacle on the platform, embracing spectacle, combo flow, Raiden: the best MGS hero, empowering games, assertion through domination vs self-expression, the opportunity to be clever, using tactics effectively.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Halo, Mark Garcia, Nintendo, Jamie Fristrom, Jak & Daxter, Devil May Cry, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, King Tutenkhamen, Noah Hughes, TR: Legend, Ray Harryhausen, The Bacchae, Shadow of the Colossus, Faustus, Oedipus, 300, Frank Miller, Conan, Medal of Honor, Michael Giacchino, Clint Bajakian, LucasArts, Outlaws, Gerard Marino, Michael Reagan, Ron Fish, Winifred Phillips, Winnie Waldron, Cris Velasco, Marcello de Francisi, Lawrence of Arabia, DarkSiders, Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, Platinum Games, Metroid: Other M, Metal Gear: Rising, Metal Gear Solid 4, Mikkel Lodahl, Sierra, Mark Crowe, Jordan Mechner, Karateka, Prince of Persia, Republic Commando, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Everything: The Game, Minecraft, Fallout 3, X-COM, Toy Story 3: Toy Box Mode, Disney Infinity, Project: Spark, else heart:break, The Magic Circle, Kim Kardashian's Hollywood.

Next time:
We'll figure it out soon! (Almost certainly more God of War-related content)

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Feb 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are are just finishing our series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We talk about the end of the game and some narrative choices there that we like and then discuss our pillars for the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:41 End of MGS
1:00:48 Break
1:01:22 Pillars and feedback

Issues covered: 100 episodes, Tim moving out, extravagant endings in the series, intercutting action scenes, turning codecs into cutscenes later, economic storytelling through codecs and audio diaries, conversational audio diaries, utilizing VO in interesting ways, Brett's new keyboard, the interesting dynamics of the Vulcan Raven battle, cat and mouse, Brett forgets the word "claymore," multiple ways of defeating Raven, using the AI's rules against them, boss/level design/camera synergy, Brett skips a cutscene and has to redo the battle, backtracking and stretching time, cool alloys, keeping a balance between being cool and usability, camera shot of Revolver noticing that Solid is outside the room (sort of a double reversal on the player), hanging out in the cold or hot rooms, Master Miller and throwing Naomi under the bus and yet still being Liquid, Tim recants his feeling that there should be a MGSVI, small universe problem, Chewbacca effect, Naomi and Gray Fox, the Ocelot effect, Ocelot and Liquid reunited, Liquid monologuing outside of Rex, going toe-to-toe with Rex, RoboCop vs ED 209, forcing you to be bold, Liquid as the boss who never dies, Gray Fox confessing his sins, hand-to-hand fighting with Liquid on top of Rex and the uncertain fate of Meryl, the reveal about FoxDie, cloning and the relationship between multiple characters, Dolly the cloned sheep, being the soldier of the century, James Bond themes, Snake Eater, The Man Who Saved The World, two more monkeys jumping on the bed, differences in the endings, jeep battle, low turn rate, tracers, having a third big battle, end-game balance for normal difficulty, Jim Harrison (the politician behind it all), Meryl and Snake riding off into the sunset on their snowmobile, wrapping up themes of love blooming on the battlefield, different endings, juxtaposing the scientific/techy stuff with the philosophical talk, Hal and Dave (joking at the end), post-credits sequence and the Iditarod, writing yourself into corners and cliffhangers, retconning to fit story stuff together, comic book writing and story structure for serialization, commitment to narrative and cinematic presentation, in-engine cutscenes, hardware-acceleration on the PS1, bilinear filtering, best B movies, letting your freak flag fly, all of ones loves and fears being in a game, being generous as an artist, committing to stealth gameplay, high lethality, voice acting, fictional context, experimentation with mechanics, bringing you back through the evolution of mechanics, adding mechanics from a competing or more recent game into a remake, upsetting the balance, new game plus mechanics, new game plus plus and a tuxedo, immersive sims.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: System Shock 2, Metal Gear (series), James Bond, Star Trek, Ron Gilbert, Star Wars, RoboCop, Halloween (Michael Myers), Spy Who Loved Me, The Last Samurai, 2001: A Space Odyssey, George Lucas, Indiana Jones (series), Empires Strikes Back, Final Fantasy VII, Voodoo hardware, Anachronox, Thief, Death Stranding, Guillermo del Toro, Silent Hills, Silent Hill 2, P.T., LeraAtwater, Michael Baker, Silicon Knights, Shigeru Miyamoto, Denis Dyack, Ben "from Iowa" Zaugg, Christian, Travis, Michael, Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, Looking Glass, Origin Systems, Warren Spector, Doug Church, Ultima VII, Good Old Games, Prey, The Elder Scrolls: Arena.

Next time:
Ultima Underworld Level 1

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Feb 7, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in our third episode of our series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We talk about a big choice in the game and the things you're not taught, particularly considering how fourth wall breaking it can be, as well as topics like UI choices. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To Vulcan Raven (II)

Podcast breakdown:
0:41    Metal Gear Solid
58:54  Break
59:26  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett's carpal tunnel, Decoy Octopus and the DARPA Chief, animals chosen for code names, keeping Octopus in the game, submitting to the torture, big story splits and Dragon Breaks, tone variety in Eastern action cinema, weird untaught mechanics, negative vs positive reinforcement in teaching, blood tuition (learning through death) vs soft failure, gameplay telegraphing vs realistic environments, the staircase section, contextualizing rather than breaking systemic knowledge, rappelling down from the roof, having to do things too many times in boss battles, player skill vs stretching time, using vector art in various weapon UIs etc, grounding and science fiction, Otakon and the guys in the elevator with you, CQC'ing the guys around the elevator, multiple ways of dealing with Sniper Wolf, love blooming on the battlefield, respecting the soldiers, professionalism, catching a cold, Naomi's grandfather and adding layers of random research, using the codec for storytelling, a sequel for the West, Metal Yorke Solid, stealing time on the PC, lessons from Metal Gear Solid to teens, when some of the audience wants one thing and a larger audience wants something else, evolving with the industry and your player base, bands selling out vs finding a wider audience, having games find their own voice in a changing environment, changing characters with actors, Kojima's prequels, expanding the histories of characters.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: other Metal Gear games (Solid and otherwise), Elder Scrolls (obliquely), Jackie Chan, Park Chan-Wook, John Woo, Nintendo, Super Mario 64, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, James Bond, Die Hard, Hideo Kojima, John Carpenter, Tom Clancy, Linda Nagata (the Red series), The Incredibles, Bastion, Ashton Herrmann, Splinter Cell (series), MSX2, Konami, Philip Yorke, ISS Pro '98, LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Ploppy54, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, The Rock, Tomb Raider (2013), Halo (series), Fallout (series), Star Wars: Starfighter, TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Republic Commando, Rogue Squadron, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, Star Wars prequels, Gothic Chocobo, Bleem, Connectix's Virtual Game Station, Aaron Giles.

Next time:
Actually finish the game

Links:
Bleem and VGS

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jan 24, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning our new series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We first situate the game in its time, including some personal reminiscences of how we first came to the title, before turning to the stealth gameplay, the cutscenes, and other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through Revolver Ocelot

Podcast breakdown:
0:48       Segment 1: MGS in time, Beginning of game
1:03:54  Break
1:04:27  Email/Feedback

Issues covered: crawling around in ducts, constantly reaching for your phone, previous games in the series, Brett's first year in the industry, good years in games, influences in American film and TV, melodrama and pulp, wholesale commitment to stealth, demo disc for the gaming, preferring systemic games, pre-rendered cutscenes vs in-engine, Carpenter influences (percussion, minimalistic, and synthy), constant camera movement in the cutscenes, choosing CGI vs in-engine (pros and cons), design considerations for streaming video, pixel density/differences in cutscene vs gameplay, being able to tweak a cutscene until right before you ship, setting mood and art direction, camera choice and having a sense of your surroundings, fitting the map to the camera, comparisons with Thief, tactical espionage and choosing the camera to fit, committing to stealth as a primary mechanic, creative risk in the commitment, high lethality and bouncing off, softening failure, unfortunate sexism, Asian influence as far as character choices, introducing the Cold War/extended peace issues, melodrama and big story choices, divisiveness of exposition, tapping walls as a mechanic, good level design choices, out-sized boss characters, solid introductions, allowing the industry to ask whether we can put ourselves forward in this way, breaking the fourth wall puzzle for the CD case, level design writing checks that your camera can't cash, nostalgia as a factor in appreciating a game, hunting through history for Brett's crazy memory, the cut worlds from Anachronox.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Die Hard, Hideo Kojima, NES, Alex Neuse, PlayStation, Half-Life, Starcraft, Fallout 2, LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Rogue Squadron, Thief: The Dark Project, Rainbow Six, Spyro the Dragon, Final Fantasy Tactics, Kotaku Splitscreen, Kirk Hamilton, Kurt Russell, Michael Biehn, Terminator, Randy Smith, Ken Levine, Daron Stinnett, Atari, Sega, Nintendo 64, Final Fantasy VII, Tomb Raider (1996), Anachronox, LucasArts, John Carpenter, The Thing, Jackie Chan, Alan Stevens, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Sunshine, Game Informer, Aaron Evers, Tom Hall, Planet Anachronox, GameSpy, Jake Hughes, Ronald Railgun, Phil Rosehill, Awesome Games Done Quick, MGS: Twin Snakes, GameCube.

Links:
Promo video for Anachronox

Speedrun description of Anachronox

Speedrun of PC MGS

Errata
The PS1 did indeed have some hardware support.

Next time:
Through the first Sniper Wolf encounter

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jan 17, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we present our interview with Tom Hall, Project Lead of 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk about the team, the labor of love, what got left on the cutting floor, and various other bits and bobs. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:35    Interview segment
55:28  Break
56:00  Mail/outro

Issues covered: the game's science fiction underpinnings, JRPGs and adventure games, the surprise of having the adventure game elements, the lore bible and map of the Universe, generating the background information to make characters sound consistent, creating alphabets, the black and white pirate world, PAL-18's digital home world and cel-shading, knowing what happens next, writing and cinematic direction with tools (PLANET), programming the mini-games (APE), in-depth cinematics and facial animation and mitten hands, getting a story in the bathroom (and starting with the name), talking process with Terry Gilliam, little ideas coming together to unite a concept, having a poisoned past, Nick Danger and radio plays, coming up with the most surprising things you could think of, Democratus having its origins in John Carmack's D&D campaign, a planet walks into a bar, playing with expectations, feeling episodic, making characters come first to drive those episodes, loyalty missions in Mass Effect, hidden content, having different levels for different choices, renaming characters, origin of Paco's and Rho Bowman's names, Stiletto Anyway's origins, crunching too much and team size, team cohesion, structure of ION Storm, Dream Design, doing one take of Walton Simmons, thirty years into the industry, being just a bit ahead of time for mobile, directing Gordon Ramsay, missing the big references to Hitchhiker's Guide, talking about the black and white world, talking crunch, potential achievements for Anachronox, adding achievements to remastered adventure games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tom Hall, SoftDisk, John Carmack, John Romero, id Software, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Apogee, Rise of the Triad, Terminal Velocity, ION Storm, Monkeystone Games, Hyperspace Delivery Boy, KingIsle Entertainment, Loot Drop, PlayFirst, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Monkey Island, Lee Perry, Epic, Fornite, Jet Set Radio, Borderlands, Richard Gaubert, Jake Hughes, Joey Liaw, Brian Eiserloh, Crystal Dynamics, Watchmen, Terry Gilliam, Monty Python, Brazil, Firesign Theater, Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Mass Effect, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy IX, Peter Marquardt, El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez, Band of Brothers, Eidos, Deus Ex, Murder One, Daniel Bengali, ngmoco, JAMDAT, gluMobile/PlayFirst, Cooking Dash/Restaurant Dash with Gordon Ramsay, Diner Dash, Eric Zimmerman, Jeff Green, Marc Laidlaw, Half-Life, Valve Software, Quake 2, Jedi Starfighter, MaasNeotekProto, Day of the Tentacle, Aaron Evers, Metal Gear Solid, Thief, Revolver Ocelot, PlayStation, Hideo Kojima, Peacewalker, PSP, Brandon Fernandez.

Next time:
Metal Gear Solid: Up thru Revolver Ocelot

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Dec 13, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning our new series on 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We set it in its time, and discuss how we decided to play it and then spend a lot of time on its world-building. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Bricks

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    Anachronox in time, Initial discussion
38:36  Break
39:04  Thanks and feedback

Issues covered: Games of the Year, how we came to choose Anachronox, 2001 in PC games, mash-ups, lack of character creator, is the character a Chosen One, possible character antecedents, world-building in simple ways and picking up things as you go, avoiding the lore bombs, dialogue trees vs continuing dialogue, progenitor race tropes, technology we don't understand but make use of, more character antecedents, film noir tropes, Boots as sad sack, layout of the introductory area and not getting lost, mix of architectural styles, moving city blocks around, putting ideas into games more quickly, investing in mechanics to make them pay off multiple times, boat action sequence, mini-games, shifting audience expectations, less forgiving audiences, changing suspension of disbelief, character names, a codex with all the names of stuff, potential fragility of scripting, thank yous, German B-thing, Tim's phone audio, musical touches in Mario 64, Brett's favorite Mario 64 levels, games we replay, Brett and Freud, picking games and timing, interviews, difficulty in getting Japanese devs, next time.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Alien Isolation, Nintendo Switch, What Remains of Edith Finch, Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Assassin's Creed Origins, AC Unity, AC Syndicate, id Software, Quake II, Mass Effect, Silent Hill 2, Max Payne, Clive Barker's Undying, Oni, Bungie, Soul Reaver 2, AVP, Star Wars: Starfighter, Halo, Final Fantasy, Deus Ex, Blade Runner, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, David Cage, David Bowie, Starcraft, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Gateway, Rendezvous with Rama, Babylon 5, Geoff Jones, Frederick Pohl, J. Michael Straczynski, Firefly, Sam Spade, Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Grand Theft Auto III, Dark City, City of Lost Children, Alex Proyas, Rufus Sewell, Unreal, Half-Life, Dario Casali, John Romero, DOOM, Chase Thompson, Super Mario 64, Aaron Evers, MDK, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Good Old Games, Metal Gear Solid, Mark Garcia, Gamer Lawyer, Skyrim, Fallout (series), Bioshock (series), Hitman (series), Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Mario Kart, World of Warcraft, Tim Dore, Sigmund Freud, Thief: The Dark Project, Bullfrog, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital, Silent Hill 2, Portal, TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Rogue One, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, System Shock 2, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssey, Ashman86, Jason Schreier, Kotaku: Splitscreen, Republic Commando, Chris Avellone, Julian Gollop, Marc Laidlaw, Reed Knight, Darren Johnson, Larry Holland, The Phantom Menace, AddictArts.

Next time:
Up to (and possibly through) Votowne

Corrections:
Arthur C. Clarke wrote Rendezvous with Rama. We regret the error.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Sep 20, 2017

That week, the Dev Game Club podcast welcomes special guest Ken Levine, founder of Irrational Games and designer/writer of System Shock 2! Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:33     Intro
1:50      Early days of SS2 and Irrational
31:33    Break 1
31:57    SS2 World-building, design, future
1:17:16   Break 2
1:17:29  Quick note about next episode

Issues covered: "Shock" prototype, Looking Glass relationship and Ken's early career there, Irrational Games beginning, business structure, imagining your audience and what you'd like to make, fingering .plan files, emergence and immersion, simulation, persistent world, personal ownership of experience, engine strengths and weaknesses, making fish stew, the benefits of constraints and happy accidents, polish, sense of place, naturalism in a science fiction setting, making the most of minimalism, turning a weakness into a strength, economical design, race track design/nooks and crannies, lack of time for level review, "spreading the butter thinner over the bread," elevator as storage chest, balancing, player skill vs. character skill, the "genius of the novice," story influences and groundedness, leaning on the audio space, writing towards the voices you have, bringing everything you have to the party, single-player squad shooters, letting people figure things out, crunchier design, the pendulum of accessibility, dealing with player frustration as a resource, what next

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Paul Neurath, Looking Glass, Jon Chey, Rob Fermier, Apocalypse Now, Dark Engine, Thief, EA, Origin, Se7en, Doug Church, The Magnificent Seven, Star Trek: Voyager, Hideo Kojima, Eric Brosius, Dorian Hart, Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, Star Wars, System Shock 1, John Carmack, Ultima Underworld, Choplifter, Defender, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Might and Magic series, Doom, Warren Spector, Bethesda Game Studios, Quake, Todd Howard, Fallout 3, Skyrim, The Division, Republic Commando, GTA series, Starfighter, Terra Nova, Roberta Williams, Alien/Aliens, Kemal Amarasingham, Stephen Russell, Terry Brosius, Courtnee Draper, Sean Vanaman/Jake Rodkin, Firewatch/Campo Santo, Bioshock, Freedom Force, SWAT 4, Tribes Ascend, The Lost, Firaxis Games, Minecraft, Dark Souls, Don't Starve, Fallout 4, Left 4 Dead, Battlezone, Austin Grossman.

Next time:
Hitman 2: Beginning through level 4

@IGLevine, @brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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