Episode 11: The Shoulders of Giants

Artwork from Titanfall 2's single-player campaign

In 2014 Respawn Entertainment debuted Titanfall: an inventive new entrant in the high-stakes world of AAA first-person shooters. The game won numerous accolades for its fluid dual-mode gameplay, but long-term player engagement ultimately proved disappointing. Two years later Respawn has returned with Titanfall 2: a sequel that takes dead aim at the perceived shortcomings of the original. Packing improved multiplayer depth and a dedicated single-player campaign, does the new iteration have the muscle to compete with the FPS juggernauts? Call in your titan and join the fray as we dive into the gameplay and game design of this hotly anticipated sequel.

Spoiler warning! Campaign spoilers are discussed starting at the 47-minute mark.

Show Notes

Image credit: Electronic Arts

Episode 10: Switched On

Nintendo Switch Karen plays a game with friends

In the last decade Nintendo has become synonymous with quirky hardware designs: sometimes inspired leaps of creativity like the original Wii and 3DS, and sometimes befuddling mish-mashes like the Wii U. So, as the first details on the venerable game maker’s seventh-generation console began to trickle out this year, fans and analysts alike were gripped with suspense. Would the new platform be a return to form or a second consecutive stumble? Now that we’ve had our first official look at the Switch, it’s clear that Nintendo is continuing to follow its own muse, this time emphasizing a unique take on the future of home and mobile gaming. Join Chris and Derek for a look ahead at Nintendo’s next chapter, and a wide-ranging discussion of the Switch’s unique creative possibilities.

Show Notes

Image credit: Nintendo

Episode 9: The Pillars of Autumn

Jack-o'-lantern carved with a Triforce pattern

Curling up with a great game on a crisp autumn afternoon is surely one of life’s best simple pleasures. With the leaves outside changing and the days growing shorter, let’s settle in for a cozy chat about fall gaming memories, as well as the end-of-year releases we’re most excited to play this year. There’s a lot of great games to discuss, so get yourself a toasty mug of hot chocolate and let’s begin! Plus, a special bonus this week: Chris and Derek finally introduce themselves.

Show Notes

Image credit: Klim Levene

Episode 8: Complicated Creatures

Winston from Overwatch

The social communities that form around games are complicated creatures. The enthusiasm and energy of a positive, engaged audience can elevate a good game into a phenomenal experience. Yet when communities lapse into immature or toxic behavior, the results make games less welcoming for everyone. So: as players and as creators, how can we better steer our communities towards the positive side of this divide? Join Chris, Derek, and special guest Amanda Knowlton from Gamers with Jobs for a spirited discussion of the best and worst aspects of playing games together.

Show Notes

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Weekly Roundup: October 16, 2016

I Expect You To Die Screenshot

A lot of VR news this week, as well as several other gamedev gems. This post covers 10/3 – 10/16 due to an inconvenient business trip 🙂

Check out Episode 4 for a discussion on whether the first generation of VR will realize the dream of immersive experience or whether we still have further to go.

  • An interview with Jesse Schell of Schell Games provides practical tips for soliciting valuable feedback during play tests. (polygon)
  • Valve showed off a prototype of its new hand tracking controller at the Steam Dev Days event in Seattle. (gamasutra)
  • David Mullich summarizes a paper prototyping panel discussion moderated by IGDA Los Angeles and hosted by NYFA. (davidmullich.com)
  • Torbern Ellert on the Elusive Target system in Hitman: a fantastic example of compelling game design. The design creates experiences that are distinct, exciting, and rare, while matching the game theme perfectly. (gamasutra)
  • Jeff Cork and Kyle Hilliard at Game Informer provide a convenient overview of the state of VR platforms, including PlayStation VR. (gameinformer)
  • Ben Kuchera observes that the legal risk of publishing misleading game trailers or screenshots is low, and that it is up to consumers to hold game developers accountable. (polygon)
  • Another installment of Gamasutra’s excellent Game Design Deep Dive series: prototyping and design iteration by Beglitched designer AP Thomson. (gamasutra)
  • A helpful discussion of procedural generation on Chasm, a Metroidvania-style game that strikes a balance between hand-crafted design and procedural generation to increase variety and replayability. (gamasutra)

Image credit: Schell Games

Episode 7: Great Expectations

A planet and creatures from No Man's Sky

In a crowded marketplace, a game’s success or failure often hangs on the creator’s ability to woo an audience prior to release. Game creators have to be able to explain, often months or even years before their game is complete, what it is that will make the experience they are offering unique. When done well, this kind of pre-release messaging can build communities and propel previously unknown games to success. But! The path is a perilous one. When creators promise more than they can deliver, the audience’s ire can be swift and severe. This week, Chris and Derek tiptoe onto the treacherous tightrope of managing expectations. What’s the right way to build excitement for your game without over-reaching your grasp?

Show Links

Image credit: Hello Games

Weekly Roundup: October 2nd, 2016

Darkest Dungeon hero image

Game development news that caught our attention this week:

  • Notable release: after a long journey from the stygian depths of madness, Red Hook Studio’s critical darling Darkest Dungeon has arrived on PS4. (Official site)
  • Take a tour of five titles that create compelling narratives without any dialogue. (Game Informer)
  • Thoughtful piece about how Brian Balamut and Giant Squid sought to recreate the emotion of being underwater while creating their visual masterpiece ABZÛ . (pixelempire)
  • Recap of Amy Hennig’s thoughts on looking for creative solutions before resorting to tech. (gamasutra)
  • Book of Demons devs provide a postmortem of their early access launch, and share the challenges of gaining traction even with solid coverage from major gaming media outlets. (thingtrunk)
  • Mark Brown published another installment to his Boss Keys series, this time he looks at the Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Seasons, developed by Capcom for Game Boy Color. (youtube)
  • Jeff Vogel provides practical advice to aspiring developers in a lengthy yet lively blog post. (gamasutra)
  • Liz Mercuri provides an excellent ‘getting started’ guide for students interested in developing skills for the games industry. (gamesindustry.biz)
  • Harsh Gupta gives a colorful and inspiring challenge to learn something new about game development every day beyond what you encounter in your work. (isometric dawn)

Image credit: Red Hook Studios

Weekly Roundup: September 25th, 2016

Chambara neon city

Game development news that caught our attention this week:

  • Valve continues to adjust Steam reviews in an effort to highlight helpful contributions while preventing abuse. (Kotaku)
  • Graeme Devine has come out of retirement to join Magic Leap as its “chief game wizard.” In this interview he discusses how game developers will create Mixed Reality (MR) experiences. (Gamasutra)
  • Chambara is a local multiplayer game on PS4 that includes screen-looking as a unique core gameplay element. (anigamers)
  • Star Citizen has raised more than $120 million but it’s development has been fraught with controversy, scope creep and difficulty levering large groups of contractors. An exposé on what not to do. (Kotaku uk)
  • Phil Walker-Harding on designing for a specific target  audience and creating dynamics that respect player choice. (Cardboard Edison)
  • Unseen64 is a online archive working to preserve the development history of unreleased games. They recently released a collaborative volume that details some of these stories. (gameinformer)
  • Planar Conquest developers give an honest look at the difficulties of multi-platform development. (Gamasutra)
  • A challenge to the indie community to ease off on the intense criticism of Hello Games and Sean Murray. Is the game’s disappointing launch just a case of honest intentions colliding with the challenge of working with a AAA publisher? (indiewatch)

Image credit: Chambara

Episode 6: Up by the Bootstraps

U.S. Navy Seabees negotiate an obstacle course, 1943

When we think about making games we tend to focus on the creative journey: the path of ideas and insights leading from a rough initial design to an engaging final product. Most of the time though, this process is only half of the true challenge. Taking a game from start to finish also requires negotiating an obstacle course of real-world challenges. How do you find like-minded collaborators? Where can you go for working capital? And of course, if you can’t work full-time on your great idea, how do you squeeze in the sheer number of hours you need to make it happen? This week Chris and Derek take on these tough questions with special guest host Dru Erridge, a game developer who bootstrapped his own creation from the seed of an idea into an incredibly impressive project. Let’s find out how he did it!

Show Notes

Image credit: U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

Episode 5: The Creator’s Dilemma


Currencies from around the world

Choosing how to price a game is a deeply tricky business, one that requires almost as much psychological insight as it does economic. Setting your game’s price too high can starve it of the players and exposure it needs to take off; pricing too low can erode your game’s perceived value with no guarantee of return. And of course, in the age of the App Store, all creators have to reckon with the seismic effect that free-to-play has had on player expectations and economic behavior. So what’s the right answer? In this week’s episode Chris and Derek delve into this difficult debate, searching for the elusive balance between creator sustainability and player value.

Show Notes

Image copyright Moyan Brenn