Take a look at your favorite video game. Walk around the levels in it, and look at all the small details. Does a bed have a night stand next to it, with a family picture? Maybe a busy office has a water cooler with a trash can full of crumpled disposable cups. Whatever the example, these details are commonly referred to as "set dressing," and Rob and Kip talk about how smart set dressing enhances the player experience.
It's E3 time again, which means Rob and Kip analyze the latest game trailers, trying to glean clues about the future of game and level design.
Who are we kidding. Rob just wants to talk about the latest Death Stranding trailer for an hour
Regardless, some time is spent on the other games. Rob and Kip discuss Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part 2, and Insomniac's Spider Man game. Rob thinks most of these are pretty safe bets, in terms of game design and theme, which makes him admire Death Stranding's risk taking all the more.
Kip discusses some interesting color pallete choices in the Death Stranding environments, and why he realy likes the Last of Us series.
Gamers who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s remember Prey, the long awaited 3D Realms title that almost became vaporware. Fortunately, Human Head Studios finished the game in 2006, and everyone expected a sequel to the first person shooter classic.
That sequel was supposed to be Prey 2, which promised to break new ground in vertical level design, visuals, and bounty hunter gameplay. Alas, this game never made it into the public's hands. Rob joined the Prey 2 project in early 2011 as a level scripter, working closely with Nathan Cheever who was the Lead World Designer at Human Head Studios at the time. The two share their experiences on the project, discussing its design, systems, and how they keep the legacy of a cancelled project alive.
Nathan's early career
Prey 2's origins
Prey 2 influences
Rob's favorite Prey 2 weapon, sort of!
Rob's favorite Prey 2 game system
Nathan's Prey 2 deep dives on Gamasutra:
Most of us were settled in to our easy chairs enjoying a casual evening of video game industry back-patting watching The Game Awards 2017 when we were blindsided by Josef Fares' incredible rant in the middle of the show.
Behind the laughter, however, was incredible passion for game design and game making, and this can be seen in every second of Fares' and Hazelight Studio's "A Way Out," built from the ground up for cooperative play. Rob and Patrick recently played this game and loved it. It reminded them of Disaster Report on the Playstation 2, while innovating in some key areas in regards to ludo-narrative gameplay. They also react to the entirety of Fares' famous rant, which is played here!
The Grid Snaps Podcast returns from a two week hiatus (sorry everyone!) with an interview with technical artist Gwen Frey, founding member of indie developer The Molasses Flood. Gwen discusses her early career working on MMO projects, eventually transitioning to AAA action game development on Bioshock Infinite with Irrational Games. Next, we ask Gwen about the Molasses Flood, including their succesful debut game, The Flame in the Flood. Finally, we conclude with a bit of information on Gwen's newest game, KINE, as well as a brief discussion about personal health in the game industry.
MMO versus action game development
The role of a tech artist
Why go from AAA to indie
"Do the thing you're most interested in."
Flame in the Flood setting inspiration
Challenges in balancing the game design of The Flame in the Flood
All about Kine, Gwen's passion project
Gamedev Health - Rob, Kip and Gwen each talk about the things they do for their personal health as
Marvel Heroes Online
The Flame in the Flood
As always, if you liked this podcast, please leave us a review on your podcatcher of choice!
Japanese Game Correspondent Patrick (our most frequent guest!) returns once again, this time live in the Grid Snaps Studio in San Jose! He brought with him an eclectic collection of Sega CD, Genesis, Saturn, and Playstation games... games that had Rob and Kip truly stunned. Or maybe it was the enormous amount of meat and soju consumed at the Korean BBQ mere hours before?
Cho Aniki (please youtube this... wow).
Not Treasure Hunter
The "ideas" person. We all probably knew someone who claimed to have the best game design idea. Or maybe that was you, or is you. Often video game professionals mock such people, claiming they need to get skills because "ideas are cheap, everybody has them."
For Rob, this approach rubs him the wrong way because it discourages creativity and passion. Kip tries to balance Rob's optimism with realism! That said, both agree that while hard skills are vital, ideation shouldn't be thought of as unimportant.
Rob attended the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco in March, so in this episode, he reports all the various things he saw and experienced at the show!
Million Onion Hotel (Available now on iTunes/Google), designed by Yoshiro Kimura, legendary designer of Little King's Story! Rob almost got to meet this game design legend (listen to learn why he didn't!).
Huntdown by Easy Trigger Games.
Squadron 51 by Loomiarts.
Errata: The game Rob mentions called "The Last Light" is actually "The Last Night."
Between colds and GDC, it's been a busy week for Rob and Kip. As such, this is a solo podcast with just Rob, talking about one of the surprise hits of 2018, Warhorse Studio's Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Rob also talks about the new idea of "cozy" games, as well as games he's been playing recently.
Roar! If you were a gamer in January, you were probably playing Monster Hunter World, Capcom's smash hit action RPG. The series has roots that go back to the Playstation 2 era, and Rob, Japanese Game Correspondant Patrick and Pac-Man Champion Jason Gahler discuss most of the games in the series.
While Rob and Patrick somewhat disagree on the visual style of the first two games, everyone agrees that the series' game design was firmly established from the start. Funny anecdotes are shared about Rob's futile attempts to get fertile mud in Monster Hunter Tri, as well as the struggle for the Zinogre Jasper in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the WiiU!
Finally, we discuss Monster Hunter World itself: the incredible environments, dynamic level design, and smart changes to the game to benefit newer players. However, there is one thing that Monster Hunter World doesn't do quite as well as the previous games (even though we love it). To find out, you'll have to listen!