July 9, 2019
Remember those super fun action RPGs where you could team up with your friends and bash the playstation buttons for hours on end? Environment artist Konrad Honey and game designer Rob Howard dive into Activision/Raven's classic Marvel Ultimate Alliance series.
Topics discussed include:
-How the camera perspective influences the gameplay and level design.
-How the designers used simple interactions to give pause to the combat.
-The heritage of these games, going back to Gauntlet in the arcades and Diablo on PC.
June 19, 2019
A long time ago, Rob read in a magazine about "Service to the Player," but couldn't recall what it was referring to exactly. Over time, he developed this into a theory of game design choices: when to break immersion to deliver something useful or fun to the player (a "service," so to speak).
Often seen in Japanese games, Rob, Patrick and Kip discuss this concept and how it improves games by keeping them player-centric. They also discuss what is *not* service to the player.
While this is a topic near and dear to Rob's heart, you might notice the crew is a little punchy in this episode. This is because this was recorded shortly before Kip Carbone departed San Jose for another adventure in his game development career (though he will STAY ON as co-host of Grid Snaps, thanks to the wonders of the internet!).
May 7, 2019
Perhaps the most anticipated console of its time, the PlayStation 2 was a fertile breeding ground of creativity. Described by Rob as part of a "golden age" of gaming, the system helped support a variety of titles, from AAA powerhouses to quirky games by mid-sized and smaller developers.
Also, ignore Patrick. Gungriffon Blaze is good
April 25, 2019
For a small but growing number of American gamers, the best in Japanese action is spelled with three letters: EDF!
While the series made its debut on the PS2 in Japan and Europe, most Americans know Sandlot's Earth Defense Force series from the third game, Earth Defense Force 2017, which was released on the Xbox 360 in 2007 in the United States.
With giant mutant bugs, robots, and voice acting that seemed to feature "talent" pulled from a random Los Angeles bus stop, EDF 2017 became a "best kept secret" for many gamers.
One of those gamers included the Grid Snaps' own Rob Howard, who went on to design levels for the American made Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon while at Vicious Cycle Software. Rob and Patrick discuss the series, going all the way back to the origins of developer Sandlot though the current day's releases of EDF 5 and EDF: Iron Rain.
1. Sandlot's origins, from Human Entertainment, Firepro Wrestling, and Sandlot's first game: Robot Alchemic Drive (RAD) on the PS2.
2. The "Simple" series of budget titles, home of the first EDF games.
3. How in the world did a low budget Japanese shooter series end up on the Xbox 360?
4. The "American" EDF game that Rob worked on.
5. How EDF 4.1 might be the best game in the series.
6. What Rob and Patrick think of EDF 5 and beyond.
February 25, 2019
Where are we droppin'? This episode takes a quick look at Respawn's newest Battle Royale hit, Apex Legends, and the genre as a whole. It is new genre for Rob and Patrick, so we rely on Konrad to fill us in, while Rob talks about his early experiences with the game.
January 27, 2019
Environment Artist Konrad Honey joins us for a discussion about the newly released soup-to-nuts remake of Resident Evil 2! Rob discusses his expectations knowing that Hideki Kamiya directed the original. Konrad shares both his love of the original game and the remake, while voicing some small frustrations about the moment-to-moment gameplay. Both Rob and Konrad were very impressed with Capcom's latest title: the technology, the visuals, and the classic Resident Evil level design.
Other topics discussed:
Why developers used a fix camera perspective in the 1990s.
Action versus survival horror gameplay.
The puzzle design of RE2.
January 14, 2019
This is a rebroadcast of 2018's memorial podcast for Eric "ECM" Mylonas. In addition to last year's content, Rob has recorded some new remarks. We invite new listeners to learn about our friend, who was a gamer, game journalist, and amazing person.
Original 2018 Notes:
This podcast is a tribute to a dear friend, Eric "ECM" Mylonas. We discuss his career in video game journalism and his personal relationship with Rob and a number of friends from all over the globe. This takes the form of a roundtable discussion, which includes regular podcast guests (and ECM friends!) Patrick and ArcadeHeroes.com's Adam Pratt. The roundtable also includes ECM friends Ruben Pintos of Tomatazos.com, professional musician Jason Gahler, and Eric's favorite Canadian "Snow Elf," Chris Millar (of Millartime.com). In the course of this, many games are discussed, from Monster Hunter to MUSHA to Final Fantasy. Games were a huge part of Eric's life, and his skill as a gamer was legendary. For all of us, however, it was Eric's generosity, loyalty, sense of humor, and spirit that most moved us.
Many of Eric's favorite musical compositions are featured throughout. Get ready to bang your head to 80's rock and classic game soundtracks!
Thank you for listening to this special podcast.
Errata: I refer to "Hardcore Gamefan" at numerous points, but the correct name of the magazine if "Gamefan." Hardcore Gamefan was a name used later, after Eric's tenure.
January 8, 2019
Gamers in 2005 thought they were getting the Japanese Grand Theft Auto when Yakuza debuted in 2005. Over the years, however, the Yakuza series has established its own unique identity apart GTA and other open world games. In short: Yakuza games are almost their own genre.
Rob begins this podcast with a short exposition on the history of the real life Yakuza. Next, he is joined by Kip and Patrick for a discussion about the finer points of these games: the design, its characters, and its dedication to presenting a realistic (save for for the fighting!) portrayal of modern-day Japan.
Errata: Rob refers to the "Majima Forever" mode in Yakuza Kiwami. This mode is actually called Majima Everywhere.
Yakuza as the ultimate "Games as Tourism" game. See also: Our two-part series on games as tourism. Part 1. Part 2.
Is it an RPG?
The pre-Yakuza 6 sidequest style and why this is ideal game-making.
Realistic environments that aren't virtual playgrounds for the player.
How the fighting compares to the brawlers of old and arena fighters today.
Kansai people and how Majima is much like them (albeit more violent).
The "Curse of the Colonel" (a great story about Kansai people!).
Note: The graphics used to promote this episode use the "Edo" font by Vic Fieger.
Background info: Real Yakuza play the Yakuza games.
January 3, 2019
In this whitebox conversation, Patrick and Rob talk about the recent SNK 40th Anniversary Collection on the Nintendo Switch.
1. SNK memories.
2. SNK's strong use of themes to differentiate their content.
3. Wow such bizarre sequels!
4. How this collection is a lot cooler than typical "retro" collections.