September 1, 2018
In part 2 of Grid Snaps' series on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Rob and Kip take us on a design deep dive of the Nova Braga Airport playspace. What makes this a great place to sneak, shoot, and fulton extract soldiers? Rob and Kip also explore many great level design and environment art processes and techniques, in one of the most info-packed episodes to date!
1. How real life events are used for the game and level design, re: Africa at the time of The Phantom Pain.
2. Contrasting the "trench" technique in older games (used to obscure long draw distances in outdoor environments), versus topography in a modern open world game.
3. Negative and positive space in level design.
4. Using the fences as a clever way to limit entrances to the airport.
5. The difficulty curve of the game: hard at first, but not so hard as to make one stop playing.
6. Adaptive difficulty in the game.
7. Theorizing about what the whiteboxing phase of this design was like.
8. How Rob and Kip, working together, might have approached desigining this environment.
9. Whiteboxing techniques from various companies and studios.
10. Making sure you aren't fooled by simplicity in a whitebox.
11. How Nova Braga airport has a lot of great design, despite it being a relatively simple in architecture.
12. In level design, things often start complex, but get "baked down" to simpler forms because they work better.
13. How players can easily "mentally map" the area.
14. Giving level designers proper recognition for their work, which the Phantom Pain does with its credits for each mission.
Here's the hilarious "real life Metal Gear" video Rob and Kip referenced.
August 2, 2018
NOTICE: The version of this podcast released around midnight 8/2 has an audio error (music from the last podcast that was left in). If you downloaded this episode before 11:00 pm Thursday August 2, please re-download it to get the corrected version, thank you!
We loved the Phantom Pain so much, we wanted to do a two part episode on it! In this episode, Rob talked to Chris Millar of Millartime.com, who listeners may remember from the ECM podcast. Millar has put an enormous amount of time into the Phantom Pain, and has a lot to say about it from a player's perspective. Topics include:
- Favorite story moments
- Strategies from an expert FOB player
- Stories about getting into the game
In addition, there is plenty of awesome music from the OST in the breaks!
Check out some of Millar's incredible MGSV gameplay here:
Zero Kills, Zero Alerts in Ground Zeroes
Deja Vu Mission (with Cyborg Ninja!)
Daytime FOB Invastion No Alert (Wow, this is awesome!)
Stay tuned for part 2, when Rob and Kip talk about the design and art of The Phantom Pain!
July 26, 2018
When Rob puts 200 hours in a game... he's gonna podcast about it, even if there was one already. While the first Xenoblade Chronicles podcast is a deep dive on the game's world design, Rob and Brandon instead talk about the game as a whole. Topics discussed include:
- The history of developer Monolith Soft
- Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and Xenoblade Chronicles X
- The deep battle systems
- How Monolith Soft uses religious themes in their games
Make sure to visit Nichegamer.com, a great website that loves to cover games such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2!
You can also follow Nichegamer via twitter @nichegamer, facebook at nichegamer, and niche_gamer on Instagram!
July 5, 2018
Grid Snaps favorite Adam Pratt returns to promote his newest book, Arcade Heroes: Arcade Gaming Almanac 2018/2019, coming soon! We also discuss the latest developments in the arcade scene, including:
- How has the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game affected arcade game design? Can we expect more "joystick" (not wheel or plastic gun based) games now?
- What is going on with the Exa-Arcadia board, and can we see it here in the United States soon (the answer was YES!)?
- California Extreme, one of the premiere events for arcade game fanatics, coming soon in Santa Clara, California. Both Rob and Adam will be there at this event!
- Check out Adam's swag at his Teepublic site.
- Catch up with Adam's first book, The Arcade Experience.
- Of course follow all the latest arcade news at ArcadeHeroes.com.
June 23, 2018
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.
June 15, 2018
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.
May 28, 2018
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:
Locktown Level Design
Bowery Level Design
The Blur Trailer
Alien Noire, the fan site dedicated to Prey 2
Prey 2 Gameplay on Youtube
May 13, 2018
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!
May 6, 2018
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!
April 21, 2018
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