DGC Ep 087: Super Mario 64 (part one)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are just beginning a new series on 1996 3D platforming sensation Super Mario 64. We set the game in its time and then discuss the big up-front issues, particularly the camera and how new elements and mechanics sometimes require fictional underpinnings before turning to other issues, including listener feedback. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through the first key!

Podcast breakdown:
0:33   Segment 1: SM64 in time and initial thoughts
47:59 Break
48:28 Segment 2: Feedback

Issues covered: situating the game in 1996, cover shooters, fully integrating new mechanics, carrying forward 2D mechanics to 3D mechanics, the physics implementation, momentum and friction, 3rd person camera and control, animation control vs player control in 3D vs 2D, dust effects, shadow circle for depth perception (not realism), the hedge maze and following a rabbit to develop the camera, putting control on the player and punting on difficulty, Brett's history with 3D Mario and other 3D platformers, waiting for the camera to catch up, micromanaging the camera, centering the camera behind Mario, splitting attention with the camera and easing up on difficulty as a result, simpler levels, fictionalization of mechanics, introduction of the camera, controlling a second person, Hong Kong cinema, other examples of fictionalizing mechanics, the uses of the Force, holograms in RepComm, big transitions in games history, commitment to solving the camera, various framing with the camera, level design of camera control, Tim's OCD approach, hats, snow physics, having difficulty with the pulled out 3D, analog level design, tighter difficulty in more 2D levels, macro loop of setting you back to the hub level, knowing how much the player has played via door gating, masters of onboarding, reinforcing 3D-ness via boss battles, forgiving damage wheel, Tim's theory of red squares, red mirrors mythology, achievements from a developer perspective, optionality of achievements, console ecosystems, not usually driving development, a trend we were forced to implement, trend towards game length, pricing models, Brett's music-deafness, horror music not calling attention to itself, ambient soundtrack vs score, suspending disbelief and buying into horror combat difficulty, repetition in combat, the possibility of threat, Final Fantasy XV block mechanic, P. T. as playable trailer, Maria ending, history of the 120 stars run, speedrunning record breaking.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Silent Hill 2, Gears of War, Kill Switch, Super Mario (series), Fred Markus, Nintendo 64, Tomb Raider, Shadows of the Empire, Mark Haigh-Hutchinson, Retro Studios, Metroid Prime, Resident Evil, Quake, Crash Bandicoot, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Crystal Dynamics, Soul Reaver, UbiSoft, Shigeru Miyamoto, Daron Stinnett, Star Wars: Starfighter, Wipe Out, Rayman 3, Sly Cooper (series), Ratchet and Clank (series), GameCube, Margot Kidder, Mike Myers, Max Payne, John Woo, Tacoma, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Prince of Persia (2008), Tomb Raider (2013), Banjo-Kazooie, Yu-Gi-Oh, Blind Guardian, Mike Vogt, X-COM: UFO Defense, Julian Gollop, Firewatch, Uncharted (series), Steam, Good Old Games, Kotaku, Rare Replay, Halo 5, Dan Doyen, Xbox Live, Nathan Martz, Painkiller, God of War: Ascension, Ninja Theory, Visceral, EA, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, The Order: 1886, Eric Kozlowsky, P. T., Akira Yamaoka, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Final Fantasy XV, Hideo Kojima, Mads Mikkelsen, Eric Shields, Kevin Kauffman, Patricia Hernandez, Phil Rosehill.

BrettYK: 1
TimYK: 72


Note, the article (in links below) about a small game developer leaning into Steam features appeared on Rock Paper Shotgun, not Kotaku. Dev Game Club regrets the error.


Real-Time Cameras by Mark Haigh-Hutchinson 

Developer making little games on Steam

Could Visceral have found another way? 

Making of Silent Hill 2 

History of the 120 Stars run

Beating the world record three times in 36 hours 

Next time:
Up through the second key!

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub