DGC Ep 109: God of War (part one)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning our series on 2005's God of War. We set the game in its time, an interesting time at the end of a console lifecycle as new machines loomed on the horizon, and then turn to the game itself before hitting feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to the desert / through Athens

Podcast breakdown:
0:44     Segment 1: God of War
50:35   Break
51:06   Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: the console lifecycle, PS2 install base, the new console generation, learning the hardware over the lifecycle, exclusives, squeezing the hardware over the series, optimizing instructions, iterating on a franchise, juvenile tone, the influence of the underlying mythology, being edgy or over the top, Greek tragedy and the fatal flaw, opening with a bang, narrative device of setting up how the character got to the big moment, setting up mysteries of character and fate, tension between player and character, pacing and balancing on a beam, perfecting the quick time event, the first level as a microcosm of the whole game, the influences of this game, skimming the top of a bunch of genres, adventure games drawing from every verb, explicit vs implicit tutorialization, great mythological moments, a series of yeses.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Broderbund Software, Red Storm Entertainment, Red Orb Entertainment, Riven, Prince of Persia 3D, The Journeyman Project, Santa Monica Studio, Shadow of the Colossus, Dragon Quest VIII, Resident Evil 4, F.E.A.R., Republic Commando, Metal Gear Solid 2, Sly Cooper 3, Guitar Hero, GTA: San Andreas, Japan Studio, Starfighter/Jedi Starfighter, Devil May Cry 3, Gran Turismo 4, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Lego Star Wars, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Tomb Raider (2013), Clash of the Titans, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Richard Wagner, Uncharted 2, Shenmue, Crystal Dynamics, Soul Reaver, Castlevania, Maximo: Ghosts and Goblins, MediEvil, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, System Shock 2, Sid Meier, Half-Life, Dario Casali, Sierra Games, Sebastian Pellegrino, Tim Schafer, LucasArts, Telltale Games, Amanita Design, Wadjet Eye, Daedelic, Edna and Harvey, Deponia saga, The Dark Eye, The Whispered World, Hal Barwood, Bill Tiller, Curse of Monkey Island, Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler, A Vampyre's Tale, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Dig, Kyle Vermaes, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Link to the Past, Manhunter (series), Rules of Play, Eric Zimmerman, Katie Salen, Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman, GamaSutra, Brenda Romero, Challenges for Game Designers, Will Wright, The Sims, SimCity, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander, RadiatorYang, Ryan, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku Splitscreen, Giant Bomb, Giant Beastcast, DLC, Jeff Cannata, Christian Spicer, RebelFM, Waypoint Radio, Patrick Klepek, Danielle Riendeau, Austin Walker, Steve Gaynor, Tone Control, Gone Home, Tacoma, Idle Thumbs, Important If True, Shall We Play A Game, Chris Suellentrop, JJ Sutherland, Slate Culture Gabfest, Filmspotting, Filmspotting: SVU, The Next Picture Show, Maximum Fun, April Wolfe, Switchblade Sisters.

Next time:
Up through the Three Challenges

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

DGC Ep 108: Space Quest (part two)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we complete our discussion of a pair of very early Sierra adventure games with Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter. We finally hear Tim's story about getting stuck on a game so long it drove him to drink and also get to our takeaways before hitting feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished SQ1

Podcast breakdown:
0:43   Segment 1: SQ1
35:35 Break
36:08 Segment 2: Takeaways and Feedback

Issues covered: music theft, the Do Not Press button and a return to Daventry, talking to the guards, cross promotion, learning to use your seat belt, the influence of the real world, making jokes out of the topical, Tim's inadvertent hint, inventory objects inside other objects, the importance of looking at things at the right time, getting a hint from the parser, the origin of the pizza orgy, killing Orat with a spider droid, random walk mechanics, hating on the skimmer, Brett gives Tim a pro tip, critical path gambling mini-game, adding in new mechanics, Brett's early skiing game, game play variety, using money in adventure game puzzles, Tim gets stuck, Tim doesn't get a fart joke, being driven to drink, the new verb with the grate, player perspective and the sense of exploration, dramatic/cinematic moments, ignoring the first offer for the skimmer, looking everywhere for a coupon, gadgets and copy protection in the box, story arc and adventure and fantasy fulfillment, aligning the player and the character as far as world knowledge, cognitive dissonance vs ludonarrative dissonance, cinematic presentation, buckazoids in the Longo family, splitting screen spaces as a push for exploration and sense of adventure, where could adventure games go, visual novels and systemic depth, underserved genres, what game would you claim for yourself, games that are hard to get and their influence, buying consoles, has something been lost in change of difficulty, opacity and discovery, finding players who won't look on the Internet, on-demand culture and chasing the next thing, putting the onus back on the game (to keep you enthralled and not searching for answers), creators asking you to not get hints, supporting the right team size.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: ZZ Top/Sharp Dressed Man, Styx, Peter Gunn/The Blues Brothers, Madonna, King's Quest 1, Ken Williams, LucasArts, Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Grim Fandango, Curse of Monkey Island, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, George Lucas, Anachronox, Star Trek, The Corbomite Maneuver, Sierra, Police Quest, Star Wars, Grimm Fairy Tales, Skyrim, StarGate, The City on the Edge of Forever, Joan Collins, Jar-Jar Binks, Derek Achoy, Broken Age, Thimbleweed Park, Machinarium, Ron Gilbert, Telltale Games, Samorost, Amanita Design, Chuchl, X-Files, Wadjet Eye Games, Dave Gilbert, Year Walk, Simogo, Device 6, Sailor's Dream, Aaron Evers, Souls series, Tom Hall, Ultima, Civilization, Zork, Pitfall, Adventure, Atari 2600, Half-Life, Dark Forces, Daron Stinnett, Jeff Buttaccio, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Sega Saturn, Ico, Mario 64, NOLF, Warcraft, Steinar Nedreboe, Jonathan Blow, Braid, The Witness, GDC, Jeff Vogel.

Links:
Sierra Death Generator

Space Quest 3 Promo

Space Quest 1 VGA Remake Commercial

SQ Docucomedy

Panzer Dragoon Saga

Next time:
Keep an eye on our Twitter as we figure it out!

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

DGC Ep 107: Space Quest (part one)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we continue to discuss a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, now turning to Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter. We talk a little bit more about adventure games and general and talk about some specific ways this game differs from King's Quest, including its use of space. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Planet Kerona

Podcast breakdown:
0:45   Segment 1: SQ1
37:19 Break
37:43 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: humor in adventure games, obvious influences, nostalgia for Tim, playing adventure games as a shared experience, getting stuck, linear vs open structure/points of no return, not getting the cartridge, stealth game play, fearing death and rushing through the game, quick beginning to the game, how you measure play time, designing around player death, embracing shorter game length, frustration points, inability to predict puzzle pain points, prodding the edges out of frustration, how you QA or player test a game like this, how to innovate or adjust in light of success, knowing whether you can fail, the market at the time, extending a specific audience rather than trying to grow the whole audience, attention to detail and commitment to a consistency of the world, requiring less knowledge from the player, discovery at the same pace as the character, Guybrush Threepwood, from Space Zero to Space Hero, characters who change or that don't, character development over a series, humor, fish out of water, Tim gives Brett a hint (survival kit), use of screen space, explorable spaces, payoff on finding nothing vs keycard, using splitscreen, economical screen use, text adventure structure, dramatic tension, having fun with death and exploring that, double whammy of enemies you can't kill and a timer, the daily chase of the most recent releases, learning as much if not more from an old game, doing a lot with a small team, legendary games we missed out on, picking between systems, classic strategy wargames, getting a survey vs playing in depth, games history and film history, playing the history at LucasArts, the tip line, ickiness of 1-900 numbers.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Sierra, LucasArts, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Star Wars, Tacoma, The Walking Dead, Telltale, Deadline, Republic Commando, Monkey Island, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, Phantasmagoria, Quest for Glory, Al Lowe, Anachronox, Tom Hall, Outlaws, Daron Stinnett, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Super Metroid, Out of this World/Another World, Planescape: Torment, Dan Hunter, Guernsey College, Fallout, Skyrim, Zachary Crownover, Unity, Unreal, Derek Achoy, Aaron Evers, Raphael Cornford, Mikkel Lodahl, Dungeons and Dragons, Temple of Elemental Evil, Keep on the Borderlands, Ultima Underworld, M.U.L.E., Commodore 64, Mario (series), Megaman, Bomberman, NES/SNES, Sega Genesis, Flashback, PS2, Atari, IntelliVision, Vectrex, Chuck E. Cheese, Avalon Hill, Art of War, Panzer (series), Larry Holland, HMS Pegasus, Will Wright, Raid on Bungeling Bay, SimCity, SimEarth, SimAnt, Guy Morgan, XCOM, Soul Reaver, Game Boy Pocket, Link's Awakening, Discworld, Psygnosis, Activision, Infocom, Vivendi.

Next time:
Finish Space Quest!

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

DGC Ep 106: King's Quest (part two)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we continue to discuss a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, beginning with 1984's King's Quest: Quest for the Crown. Having finished the game, we discuss the ways in which different puzzles work and what aspects are frustrating and how it might all have gotten that way. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finish King's Quest 1

Issues covered: getting through without hints, remembering puzzles and forgetting stuff, rule-breaking and rocks, leaning into fairy tales, thinking about the game away from it, the better manual, verbs with rare usages or no usages, the Rumplestiltskin puzzle, good for streaming or not, dying from the rock, timing and waiting, the difficulty of the game Deadline, things not appearing on screens, characters that don't appear all the time, not knowing what you're not seeing, the well and figuring out what to do there through dying, dealing with the dragon, solving puzzles multiple ways, timing your throw at the dragon, using water in the pail all over, supporting lots of weird choices, finding the use of the bucket and not experimenting further, verbs you use only once, looking at objects in your inventory, XYZZY, piecing together a series of steps, the Leprechaun puzzle, multiple solutions as a usability issue, losing the goat, giving treasure to the troll, fallback solutions, being able to ignore various obstacles, encouraging exploration, no RPG-style combat, the Fairy Godmother spell, dealing with the witch, lack of mapping between manual and game, eating the witch's house, the fullness of the world, climbing the beanstalk and being high on the foliage, fighting the parser, thinking the pebbles might be for the wolf, sick fairy tales, a sleeping giant, navigating the beanstalk, differences in world structure between different adventure games, proving out the capabilities of a new engine, showstopping spots in an adventure that's more linear, playing a game together, ARGs and the appeal of playing with a crowd, breaking Tim Sr with Space Quest, giving away carrots, goat eating your carrots, top-down design vs bottom-up design, 500K copies sold, relegislating the sexism, The Boss, aspiring to be Solid Snake, getting interested in real world topics via games, creators who are drawn to real-world issues, not fully embracing a difficult topic, having a hard time getting that stuff funded, various examples, escapism in entertainment, fun MGS bits.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Roberta and Ken Williams, Deadline, Infocom, LucasArts, Ron Gilbert, Edge of Tomorrow, Wizard of Oz, Advent, Grimm Fairy Tales, Space Quest, Day of the Tentacle, Zork, Two Guys from Andromeda, Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, Reed Knight, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Metroid, Quest for Glory (series), Manhunter, Betrayal at Krondor, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Blarg42, Final Fantasy IX, Metal Gear (series), Bioshock, Tom Clancy, Far Cry 2, Hideo Kojima, This War of Mine, Papers Please, Cart Life, Valiant Hearts, UbiSoft, Far Cry 5, Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin, Firewatch, Gone Home, Wolfenstein, Star Wars, Yoji Shinkawa.

Next time:
Play until you reach the first planet in Space Quest

Links/Notes:
Note - the XYZZY Awards still exist!

Dialog with Campbell et al about your mono TV

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

DGC Ep 105: King's Quest (part one)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, beginning with 1984's King's Quest: Quest for the Crown. We talk a bit about Sierra and its early contributions to games as a whole and the specific form of the adventure game, setting it in context and discussing taste. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
"About half" of King's Quest

Issues covered: crossing a drawbridge, being top of the game food chain, the rise and fall and rise of adventure games, establishing a formula early on, being unable to get games, hint lines, IBM funding, sweet development deal, four-color video cards, reusable engines, general-purpose machines vs custom machines, leveraging programming work, local-ish company, building a string of franchises, first developers whose names you know, typing in directions, diving into the manual, how to make an adventure game map, the need to restart, lack of direction, number pad, playing with a parser, getting source code for text adventures, verb usability in LucasArts vs Sierra, finding parser edges and the sense of discovery, one-use verbs, having visual feedback in addition to the parser, open world exploration in the parser, different taste in adventures and animation, a brainy game, experimentation, engineers vs pure designers, character mechanics, timing element, hint books, using friends like a hint line, pen and paper similarity, willing suspension of disbelief, blocking off inaccessible areas via art, the wrap-around map, connected world, usability decision?, multi-use puzzles and inventory items, waiting for things, relying on fairy tale lore.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Apple ][, Infocom, Wizard and the Princess, Roberta and Ken Williams, Egghead Software, IBM, Out of this World/Another World, Karateka, Dynamix, Vivendi, CUC International, Havas, Andromeda, Zork, ADVENT/Colossal Cave Adventure, Ultima, Tetris, ExciteBike, Marble Madness, Montezuma's Revenge, Commodore 64, Ancient Art of War, Ballblazer, Archon, Lode Runner, Disney, Pixar, Ubisoft, Dark Souls, Felix the Cat, Warner Bros, Ralph Bakshi, Mystery House, Manhole, HyperCard, Cyan, Myst, Enchanter, Lost Treasures of Infocom, Activision, Dungeons and Dragons, Greensleeves, Ultima Underworld, Pac-Man, Lucas Rizoli, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Daryl Gates.

Note:
It might have been more accurate to say source might have been "assembled" rather than "interpreted"

Links:
Duncan Fyfe on PQ4, writing for Waypoint

Next time:
Finish King's Quest

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

DGC Ep 104: Ultima Underworld (part four)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We talk about how the game comes together at the end and the interconnectedness of it all before we turn to our pillars and 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:
0:42 Segment 1: finishing the game
44:23 Break
44:59 Segment 2: Takeways and feedback

Issues covered: serviceable weapons, Tim realizes he never beat the game before, reuniting pieces of key, going in between levels, breaking down a door, getting a little help from your friends, cup talisman, the taper being a different piece of art, the writ of Lorne, killing all the trolls, Tim finds nine talismans, the crux ansata, Tom and Judy quest, themes of loss throughout the game, the lost world of Cabirus, thematic storytelling here vs larger open worlds, usability issues and keeping track, missing clues and having to scour levels, having an unbreakable sword, worrying about the final room, anticlimactic final room, the final maze and its length, hallucinatory images while running away, dream sequences in Max Payne, wearing the special crown, the moonstone room, Brett ends with a ton of scrolls, wondering about other skill possibilities, finishing at level 15/16, clip of the ending screen, interconnected quests and dungeon, being nervous about a game being broken, QAing this game and finding workarounds, hinting at how to move around the dungeon space, getting frustrated to the point of exploring the non-obvious, the game that justifies the inclusion of quest journals, the wane that proceeds the RPG renaissance, full commitment to simulation, simulating the staleness of food, leaving bloodspots, pushing forward to any idea you could think of, supporting the core fantasy of being in this place, interconnecting systems, focusing on one dungeon, committing to a motivating idea, balance, interconnected levels, pen and paper games, fallen utopia, old rotten and seasoned, choosing enemy types, borrowing from the main games, using archetypes, picking characters based on their abilities and lore, orthogonal design in enemies, varieties of damage types, top-down vs bottom-up approach, potentially bad tropes to take into here, lack of random monster encounters, balancing for different sorts of characters, separating systems, iterating on numbers, leaning on QA, changing enemy behaviors based on weapons, putting the onus on the player, cheating on behalf of the player, GDC and planned interview, parser games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ultima (series), Mark Eldridge, Max Payne, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Origin, Baldur's Gate, Gold Box games, Martian Dreams Ultima Adventure, Wolfenstein, Doom, The Elder Scrolls: Arena, H. P. Lovecraft, Icewind Dale, The Witcher (series), Bard's Tale, Eye of the Beholder, Dungeons & Dragons, Underworld: Ascendant, Mark *Sean* Garcia, Tader Chip, Maas Neotek Proto/Keane, Republic Commando, Halo, Diablo, Brian Taylor, Metal Gear Solid, Skyrim, Deus Ex, Sierra Games, LucasArts, King's Quest, Space Quest, Day of the Tentacle, GOG.com, Wizard and the Princess.

Next time:
King's Quest I, "About half"

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

DGC Ep 103: Ultima Underworld (part three)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We take a deeper dive into the leveling system and the magic system and talk about the intersection of RPGs and immersive sims and the various analog elements of this game in particular. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 4-6

Issues covered: rotworm stew, taking notes and having too much to sort through, keeping track using the map, space for a legend, cartography, how the leveling system works vs other games, strengths and weakness of a leveling system, ceding control of the player experience to the RNG, rewarding the finding of mantras and pushing you to search for them, awarding of XP, pushing you to other skills via randomness, sticking with the Sword of Justice because it doesn't break, the intersection of two very difficult genres in terms of balancing, encouraging you to fully explore the map, finding an angry ghost and a talking door, mixing runes to come up with spells, the consistency of 8 virtues and 8 races and 8 talismans, role-playing your decisions, embracing the pen and paper origins, combat pacing and space with magic and weapon timing, swinging a weapon and hitting a wall, weapon mechanics, the tale of Sir Rodrick, essential objects and the possibility of losing the game, sources of weird rendering artifacts, potential optimizations to avoid clipping, Longo Rooms, low fidelity games, using the silver seed for resurrection -- Tim teaches Brett a trick, tracking ownership of objects, identifying AI state using the look button, analog fidelity of systems, inter-level connections of quests and objects, adventure game elements, finding a moonstone and other favorite moments, Tim confesses his hacker past.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Warren Spector, Planescape: Torment, Gold Box games, Eye of the Beholder, GURPS/Steve Jackson Games, Wolfenstein 3D, Mark Eldridge.

Next time:
Finish the game! (Levels 7 & 8)

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

DGC Ep 102: Ultima Underworld (part two)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We discuss the specifics of levels two and three a bit, but also tackle inventory, encumbrance, taking notes on paper, and the delightful map and how those have changed over the years. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 2 and 3

Podcast breakdown:
0:43    UU Discussion
48:46  Break
49:12  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett learns some Lizardman, chatting with goblins and the many civilizations, relationships between factions, killing a she-spider, being fully engaged, the mystery of Sir Cabirus, Tim falls down a hole, leveling up quickly, Brett loses some chain mail, taking paper notes as you play, making lists of details like clues and mantras, physical keys vs logical keys and design trade-offs, imagining player stories, keeping track of key rules, attributing influences to this game vs prior games, annotating the map, drawing a dungeon as you went, automapping and writing on the map, writing a legend, player agency on the map, some map games, the shadow of the map pin, handling inventory, bags within bags, putting inventory responsibility on the player, respecting the player's intelligence, anxiety from previous play-throughs of losing objects, having help from viewers, needing encumbrance space and dropping objects to make room, asking a lot from the player, return of older styles of gameplay to support usability, jankiness of erasing, adapting map to a controller, rules that you discover along the way: leeches and spiking doors, using player tools in Bethesda games, game developer view on objects that you have, dwarf section: beginning middle and end, sense of place, the gazer shooting a beam at you, looking for Shak, repair skills, potential for overspecialization, level cap of 16, the eight virtues and corresponding classes, Joy to the Underworld, playing music on stream, being a completionist and hoarding everything in the hoard room, fixing the audio, podcasts/interviews, level design as a discipline, level design for stealth gameplay, onboarding stealth mechanics and their combination, avoiding overwhelming player (and designer), fantasy fulfillment in Thief, a little goes a long way, designing from moments and working backwards, having vignettes to implement towards, client-facing programming, merging geometry and systems and mechanics, tension in Thief II.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons and Dragons, Eye of the Beholder, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, UbiSoft, The Witcher, Far Cry 2, Miasmata, Joe and Bob Johnson, LOST, Etrian Odyssey, Nintendo, Brian Taylor, Mark Eldridge, Dark Souls, Looking Glass Studios, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Ultima Underworld 2, System Shock 2, Ultima series and classes, Final Fantasy (series), JohnCaboose/Bjorn, Makendi, MaasNeotekProto, Tom Francis, Heat Signature, Floating Point, Gunpoint, PCGamer podcast, Crate and Crowbar, Aaron Evers, Thief, Paul Neurath, Mark Allen Garcia, Metal Gear Solid, Chris Mead, GAMBIT/MIT, Irrational Games, Bioshock, Phillip Staffetius, Final Fantasy IX, Kotaku, MSXII, Gamemaker, Game Developers Conference, Metal Gear Solid 4, John LeCarre, Mark of the Ninja, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Nels Anderson, Thief II, Alien: Isolation.

Links:
Tom Francis on emergent narrative

GOG forum link for audio care of Mark Eldridge

Paul Neurath on Thief  c/o Aaron Evers

GAMBIT/MIT on Looking Glass c/o Chris Mead

Next time:
Levels 4, 5, and 6

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

DGC Ep 101: Ultima Underworld (part one)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a new series on 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. As usual, we situate the game in time a bit and in the Ultima series as a whole, before delving into the first few hours of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Level 1

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    Underworld
54:54  Break
55:22  Feedback

Issues covered: Brett gets hooked, first person game and a lot of clicking, getting over the initial hump, taking a long time to finish a game, 72-hour game benders, epilepsy and flashing, firsts of their kind year, seeing the walls of the design, branching out with the Ultima series, Ultima Worlds of Adventure, adding simulation to the point of view, not being alone in the first-person space, vector wireframe rendering in the first Ultima dungeons, feeling the presence of the developer, exploration of controls, limited verbs in FPSes, free look, overdesigned mouse interface, not reading the manual, coming full circle to analog controls in the modern day, fine-tuning movement, "this will never catch on," clarity in input, instinct was right but implementation was wrong, poll rates, mechanical mice vs optical mice, Trish the Bard, 80s looking character portrait, innovating on taking a thing from world and dragging into the inventory, the Trello of inventory systems, adding too many things to a bag, UX nightmare, convergence game with systems coming together, top-down design vs bottom-up design, RPG differences between player skill and character skill, gesture-based combat, idea to implementation, fewer barriers to implementation, lack of level designers, taking more risks because of lower costs, dark side of games, using a key in a door, verbs and similarity to adventure games, where the three hours went for Brett, fearing dropping something that you'll need later, traipsing all over, jumping difficulty, factions as an underpinning of the underground society, lack of quest log/journal, does dialogue hint at actions you can take, clarity of the rules, fading fortunes of SSI, playing MGS vs remembering MGS, coloring what follows a good moment, CGI cutscenes painting in the player's impressions of fidelity, the legacy of Lara Croft's portrayal, avoiding blind spots through diverse representation in your development team, preferring Twin Snakes.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: The Chronicles of Narnia, Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, Origin Systems, EA, Ultima (series), Richard Garriott/Lord British, Wizardry, Dungeon Master, Gold Box, Eye of the Beholder, The Bard's Tale, Dark Corners of the Earth, Elder Scrolls (series), Looking Glass Studios, Warren Spector, Doug Church, System Shock, Marc MAHK LeBlanc, Tim Stellmach, Deus Ex, Harvey Smith, Randy Smith, Prey, Dishonoured (series), Paul Neurath, Underworld Ascendant, Dune II, Warcraft, Ultima VII, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Hal Barwood, Ecco the Dolphin, Super Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Flashback, Another World/Out of this World, Martian Dreams, Savage Empire, Quake, Wing Commander, Space Rogue, id Software, Stonekeep, Final Fantasy (series), Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest (series), Ogre, Quake, DOOM 2, Terminator, Planescape: Torment, SoundBlaster, Fallout 2, Elder Scrolls: Arena, SSI, Thief, Kupo1256, Christian Schuster, Metal Gear Solid (series), Fallout 3, Todd Howard, Jonah Lobe, Silent Hill 2, Final Fantasy VII/IX, Travis Grasser, Symphony of the Night, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider, Jason Schreier, Kirk Hamilton, Michael, Final Fantasy XV, Christianne Meister, Skyrim, Jeff Buttaccio, GameCube, MGS: Twin Snakes, Shigeru Miyamoto.

Next time:
Levels 2 and 3

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

DGC Ep 100: Metal Gear Solid (part four)

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

DGC Ep 099: Metal Gear Solid (part three)

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

DGC Ep 098: Metal Gear Solid (part two)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are midway through our series on 1998's Japanese stealth classic Metal Gear Solid. We talk about frustration, the various bosses, and a bit about one-offs. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the torture scene

Podcast breakdown:
0:40      MGS
1:03:10 Break
1:03:45 Feedback

Issues covered: the history of "snake style," sources of frustration, Brett's psychological makeup, frustration in boss battles, the point of no return, finding the mine detector, using the cardboard box, getting through the lasers, using first person, smoking to reveal beams, gadget use in espionage movies, suddenly encountering a tank, stealth mechanics and the tank, tropes and cultural appropriation, 80s movies, elevating a bad B movie into a good B movie, committing to your melodrama, geopolitical themes and the military-industrial complex, subtext about game development, difficulty and frustration with Cyber Ninja, wall boss, human-sized bosses, grounding the game even in its strangeness, bosses can be characters, breaking the fourth wall with Psycho Mantis, reading the memory card, psychological warfare, cutscene leading up to his face reveal, ridiculous backtracking for the sniper rifle, beating Sniper Wolf and getting captured anyway, limited control in the cinematic, Revolver taunting you, focusing on scenes, voice acting video (link in the notes), briefing cutscene, taking joy in our lives despite their problematic elements, assuaging our guilt, carpal tunnel issues, posture issues.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Star Wars: Starfighter, Chris McGee, Andrew Kirmse, Matty Alan Estock, Portal, Day of the Tentacle, Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Samus Returns, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, The Wrong Trousers, Nick Park, Metal Gear (NES), Hideo Kojima, James Bond, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Batman, Escape from New York, The Great Santini, Brawl in Cell Block 99, S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk, Kurt Russell, Death Stranding, Eternal Darkness, Magneto, Hellboy, Darth Vader, The Incredibles, GoldenEye, Mark Garcia, Ben Hanson, Game Informer, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Drew/Tim Homan, Jeremy Blaustein, Silent Hill 2/3, Anachronox, Björn Johansson, Peacewalker, William Rance, Bleemcast/Dreamcast, Aaron Giles, Revengeance, John Yorke, Pro Evolution Soccer, Phil Yorke, Zone of the Enders, Derek Achoy, Super Mario Odyssey, Nels Anderson, Lyndsey Gallant, Tacoma, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Xbox, COBOL, Thief.

Links:
GI The Inside Story of Recording Metal Gear Solid

MGS Briefing

Call Me Snake

Errata:

Brett was confusing Matt Zoller Seitz with S. Craig Zahler. We regret the error.

Aaron Giles was in fact involved with the Connectix software Virtual Game Station.

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

DGC Ep 097: Metal Gear Solid (part one)

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

DGC Ep 096: Tom Hall Interview

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

DGC Ep 095: Anachronox (part four)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are having our fourth and final discussion about 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk quite a bit about the specifics of the end of the game, with a diversion into ION Storm, and then talk about our takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through to the end!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Anachronox!

Issues covered: that final battle, splitting up the party, Rho Bowman's adventure on Democratus, Stiletto Anyway's adventure on Democratus, Tim mansplains Star Wars to Brett, we do no work in figuring out the Elementor, Paco's adventure makes a mockery of the military, locks and keys through a million variations, Paco's minigame, party variety, why have unique levels for party members, end of the credits sequence, replayability as an issue in early 2000s games, ION Storm history, splitting off to be a rebel developer, how did this get made, game development rock stardom, Brett's film nerddom, going to Limbus and getting historical and religious context for the whole Chaos/Order thing, character design on Limbus, going to talk to Rowdy, circularity in the story, facial animation system, splitting up the party, heist movie, long car chase scene and Fatima's death, Kuleshov effect, what can and should games notice about player behavior, the final battle, how the Elementor crosses over or whether it does, area effect abilities, post-battle walk out scene, letting your freak flag fly, keeping players guessing, focus on writing and characters, being more playful, humor in games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Aaron Evers, Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider, Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, Tom Hall, Quake, Warren Spector, Deus Ex, ION Storm, Daikatana, John Romero, Unreal, Image Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Todd MacFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eidos Interactive, EA, Gathering of Developers, Masters of DOOM, New York Times Magazine, id Software, Epic Megagames, Peter Lorre, M., Fritz Lang, Dark Crystal, Time Machine, Die Hard, Sly Cooper (series), Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid (series), Reservoir Dogs, Star Trek, Moby Dick, Christopher Nolan, Batman, Jeff Green, Computer Gaming World, MaasNeotekProto.

Links:
Computer Gaming World issue where Jeff Green talks about the company and game

Next time:
Interview...? (If not, see the Twitter account)

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

DGC Ep 094: Anachronox (part three)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are having our third discussion about 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk quite a bit about the specifics of this section of the game, including the combat elements and leveling, before turning to feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
To the surface of Democratus!

Podcast breakdown:
0:43      Anachronox pt III
1:05:15 Break
1:05:47 Feedback

Issues covered: resolutions (or lack thereof) and taking stock, flying towards the Hive and having a railgun shooter, abstracting away from player skill in RPGs, hybridization, lack of loot, finding new offensive stuff in the environment, using the Elementor, colored bugs and finding them all over, the Hive Queen, saving Democratus and having it... join your party?, tonal shifting every couple of hours, movie tone management, no shackles, could you do this today?, indie studios doing widely different games, how would you do a sequel to this game?, drug missions in Far Cry 4, optional nature of diverse gameplay lending them less force, whether a pure episodic model could work, theoretical possibility of continuing the series, choice between Hephaestus vs Red Light District, Pumping Station, broader humor, introduction of Stiletto Anyway, Stiletto's special ability, tricky design problem -- locking off areas, Rho's description of what's going on quantum physics/astrophysics/temporal physics, moving mass between universes, incorporating the game's ideas all the way down into the UI, the Hephaestus mystery, characters moving around in the environment apart from you, useless randomization, getting the elementor, Krapton comics universe and Rictus the villain, storytelling with comic panels, hologram puzzles, the weird hero capture room, committing all the way to a planet as a party member, the electoral college mockery in 2000, hyperdiegetic lore issues, content coordination, the "dragon break", content coordination and licensing, listening out of order, book club.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Aaron Evers, IrreverentQ, Matty Alan Estock, Makendi, MaasNeotekProto, Ryan (Stats_dr), Jackbox Party Pack/Drawful, Rebel Assault, Descent, Final Fantasy, Witcher III, Aliens, Soul Reaver, Star Trek, What Remains of Edith Finch?, The Unfinished Swan, Vlambeer, Year Walk, Beat Sneak Bandit, Device 6, Simogo, Far Cry 4, Far Cry Primal, Square Enix, Eidos, Outlaws, The Terminator, Ron Gilbert, Rob Howard, Grid Snaps, Star Wars Republic Commando, Ben (from Iowa) Zaugg, Al Gore, Logan Brown, Halo, Jason Schreier, Blood Sweat and Pixels, Halo Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, 343 Industries, LucasFilm, Haden Blackman, Hangar 13, Mafia III, Star Wars Encyclopedia, Ryan Kaufman, Star Wars Galaxies, Bethesda Game Studios, tshokunbi, System Shock 2.

Links:
Podcast episode about SWRC

Next time:
Finish the game!

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

DGC Ep 093: At Year's End, Again

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have a very special, year-end blast where we talk about some top take-aways and interview moments from the past year. And it's been a busy one, with six interviews and ten games discussed. Thanks for joining us this year. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: defeating Darth Vader, the complexity of the world and reflecting that in TIE Fighter, taking a twist on the Chosen One, developing the character of Gordon Freeman and ultimately cutting the cutscenes, having a scene of level designers competing with one another and also with other companies, making single-player content be moment-to-moment excellence, the enemy AI playing against you in X-COM, flying under the radar, adding dynamic difficulty at the last possible moment, Tim loses his X-COM save file, thematic and story integration, holistic design (between control/mechanics/camera/space), less is more, individual effort shining through, homogenization of game development, nailing the 3D camera, shipping your experiments.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Anachronox, Darren Johnson, Reed Knight, TIE Fighter, Dan Connors, Mark Cartwright, Larry Holland, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Republic Commando, Planescape: Torment, Chris Avellone, Half-Life, Marc Laidlaw, Chuck Jones, Dario Casali, Fallout, Sin, Daikatana, Quake II, Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment, Chris Blohm, Julian Gollop, X-COM: UFO Defense, Microprose, Phoenix Point, Star Wars: Starfighter, Fumito Ueda, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Silent Hill 2, Super Mario 64, Battlefront II, Metal Gear Solid, The Last Guardian, Fred Markus, Aaron Evers.

Next time:
We return to Anachronox and go down to the surface of Democratus!

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

DGC Ep 092: Anachronox (part two)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are in the midst of our discussion about 2001's quirky Western-built Japanese-style RPG Anachronox. We talk about the writing and humor, how those may have developed, and also discuss the characters and their characterization, among other topics. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Through Votowne

Podcast breakdown:
0:45   Segment 1: Anachronox
50:23 Break
50:52 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: etymology of sly boots and other forms of boots, the writing style, broad and referential humor, the quest for a size five helmet, comedic space opera, particular interests in the humor, dark humor, lack of boundaries to the writing, Grumpos's Yammer ability, going back and forth with your party on Votowne, having to have Sly in your party, drifting in space conversations, walking a thin line of humor and menace, hinting at Detta before you meet him, is PAL's voice getting in the way?, lip-synching and fully-voiced cinematics, recording all actors in the same room, length of space cutscenes, edited together machinima, paying off on team and technical investments over multiple games, use of multiple locations, feeling like a television series, political commentary, gaining confidence in comedy, individualism in Votowne and Rho Bowman, use of space and environment in combat, combat speed, stone sentinel fight and combat design, figuring out the JRPG rock-paper-scissors stuff, combat challenge and depth (or lack thereof), enabling character dialog based on quest state, Sender Station Station, NPC state or location changes based on quest, boss battles, jeep battle section at end of MGS 1, marker system challenge in SWRC, air steering in Tomb Raider.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Nathan Bailey’s 1721 Dictionary of Canting and Thieving Slang, Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, SpaceQuest, Sierra, The Beatles, Tom Hall, Jim Jones, SpongeBob Squarepants, Cartman, Buck Rogers, Kingdom Hearts, Nightmare Before Christmas, Cowboy Bebop, Mass Effect, Planescape: Torment, Chinatown, John Huston, Kingpin, Daredevil, The Godfather, Jeff Morris, Jake Hughes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 2001: A Space OdysseyUncharted (series), Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, Star Trek (television series), Avengers/Captain America, Final Fantasy IX, Chrono Trigger, Tomb Raider, Drew Homan, Final Fantasy VIIMetal Gear Solid, Panther One/Anthony Vaccaro, Asteroids, Pong, Unity, Unreal Engine 4, Hero Engine, GameMaker: Studio, Republic Commando, Nathan Martz, Tomb Raider (2013), Mario (series), TIE Fighter, Half-Life, Julian Gollop, X-COM, Chris Avellone.

Next time:
To the Surface of Democratus!

Links:
Asteroids tutorial, Step 1: https://youtu.be/7XDcSXVUGsE

GameMaker: https://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker

Brett Making Asteroids in a couple hours: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv7L09FOx8E

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

DGC Ep 091: Anachronox (part one)

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

DGC Ep 090: Super Mario 64 (part four)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are closing our series on 1996 3D platforming sensation Super Mario 64. We start at the end, discuss Koji Kondo's iconic music and finally, our takeaways, before turning to listener feedback. SM64 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   Segment 1: Discussion and Pillars
44:35 Break
45:08 Segment 2: Feedback/next time

Issues covered: the boss battle, getting better at the game, getting those red stars, finding a backflip shortcut, throwing Bowser and figuring out a pattern for yourself, listening for audio cues, desperation, difficulty of the final Bowser fight, having a one-up nearby, building that Bowser battle around the controller, training you for that final battle, ending games, weird final cake, the last few levels, Tiny Huge Island and finding Wiggler, Tim learns you can choose one or the other image to jump into Tiny Huge Island, secret stars, sliding down the ramp, the music, our John Williams, adapting simple melodies across multiple titles, the stickiness of a few Mario musical themes, pulling these melodies forward into modern games, comparing film music to game music, limitations of hardware influencing musical choices, the 3D camera working so well with the level design, accommodating a camera in your level design (vs not), the abstraction that allows exploration of 3D ideas and experimentation, decision paralysis, the hub and spoke structure revisited, not holding up as consistently, green cap, variant gameplay should be easy, endings of games are hard, new combinations of skills, appreciating the game as an adult, more developed critical skills, importing an N64 and renting it out, reconfiguring the levels, speedrunning Mario 64, Brett uses the F word, teleporting out of the world, extending the play of the world, getting to the unreachable coin, swimming in 3D platformers, wish fulfillment in games, octogenarians and nostalgia, physical competence, VR potentially having a role when we are old, targeting wish fulfillment to only one demographic, power fantasy, mobile fantasy fulfillment.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Super Mario Odyssey, Portal, Mario Kart, Daron Stinnett, Koji Kondo, Nobuo Uematsu, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, John Williams, Halo, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Final Fantasy XV, Soul Reaver, Dan Houser, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sasha Visari, Truffles Mochacchino, SEGA Saturn, Tomb Raider, The Hobbit, Starfighter, TIE Fighter, Bobby Oster, Phil Rosehill, Summoning Salt, Awesome Games Done Quick, Audrey Fox, Mikkel Lodahl, Cribbage, Backgammon, Bridge, Ultima, Richard Garriott, Kim Kardashian's Hollywood, Ready Player One, j-dog33, Fallout 3, Silent Hill 2, Anachronox, Republic Commando, Reed Knight, Deus Ex, Tom Hall, id Software, Jeff Green, Computer Gaming World.

Links:
Summoning Salt on the Super Mario 64 120-Star World Record Progression

Summoning Salt on the Super Mario 64 0-Star World Record Progression

Super Mario 64 120 Star Race at GDQ

Super Mario 64 0/1 Star Race at GDQ

Half Button Presses 

The Super Mario 64 coin that took 18 years to collect 

Next time:

Anachronox! Through "Bricks"

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