Steve

Tone Control 7: Brendon Chung!

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https://www.idlethumbs.net/tonecontrol/episodes/brendon-chung !!!!

January 11, 2014 Piranha. Barracuda. Beluga Whale. A frog. These and other fish-types are discussed in episode 7 of Tone Control with Brendon Chung, founder of Blendo Games. Hear discussion on Brendon's earliest mod work, to his time in AAA at Pandemic, to the creation of Blendo games like Flotilla, Atom Zombie Smasher, 30 Flights of Loving, and the upcoming Quadrilateral Cowboy. Salamander.

Games Discussed: Gravity Bone, Atom Zombie Smasher, Flotilla, 30 Flights of Loving, Quadrilateral Cowboy, The Saboteur, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, System Shock, BioShock 2: Minerva's Den, Gone Home

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Yeah that stood for me too in the list of games discussed. That game did some really cool stuff

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Damn it.. I'm running behind. Tone Control is much more difficult to follow due to its dense content.

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I'm an episode behind as well.  I guess I know what I'm listening to at work tomorrow. 

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Brendon has such a soothing voice. I'd pay him to say "Piranha" till I am lulled into sleep... :P

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The bit about Gone Home's super obtuse nods to the Bioshock universe is hilarious.

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So Burial at Sea added some light stealth mechanics to Bioshock Infinite. Also noticeable is that Garret and Booker share a similar cynical and world-weary outlook on life. And as so many players have observed, Booker also has a strange compulsion to rummage through trash cans and desks for like coins and hot dogs. So I am positing that there is some tear that reveals they are the same person. The only flaw in this theory is that Elizabeth has to pick locks for Booker, but we can suppose at some point she might teach him the tricks of the trade (say, in between the crypt mission and the Assassins mission in Thief 1, when Garret first gains the pick locks ability). We are now extremely close to tying all Looking Glass, Irrational, and Fullbright games into the same universe. We just need to figure out how to tie in some flight and golf sims, Ultima Underworld, and that mech combat game to all of this...

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Great interview! His trajectory from fart jokes to AAA to indie was super interesting and the fact that he completed  Flotilla in 6 months is amazing.

Also, I completely geeked out on the "tar trap + fire" discussion: that's a gameplay programmer wet dream; adding a gameplay ingredient that because it builds naturally on existing systems, is self explanatory and captures the imagination, can be given to both the player and the designers to add immediate depth to their activity. I freakin live to find out/implement that kind of stuff.
 

Anyway, I admire Brendon Chung because 1) he seems to have incredible self motivation 2) he hasn't done the same game twice and through his successfull explorations of different genres, he still manages to keep a Kubrick-like consistency (i.e. fairly over, but obvious in hindsight) and 3) even when he builds a game around one-off interactions - like in the Citizen Abel series - he manages to present and construct in a way that make them feel systemic - as if the game simply happened to present them to us only once; but they could be used in many other situation.
 

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The bit about Gone Home's super obtuse nods to the Bioshock universe is hilarious.

 

Yeah it's pretty goofy but well basically I just can't help myself.

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False advertising! There was no saboteur chat :)

Great cast, I really enjoyed it. I haven't played any of the games that are being talked about as I haven't had a home PC for like 7 years now which is something I really need to rectify, I've got a lot to catch up on when I get my steam box.

I've experienced/lived almost all the reference points in gaming culture growing up. It's cool that when I listen to these podcasts the history is that we all started in the same place, playing doom and monkey island.

I feel like I'm now missing the reference points for the future generations of games. Obviously gaming has shot off in a billion directions and I've missed MMOs, Lords Managements, handheld/mobile gaming but that's not really the type of gaming I'm interested in.

I feel like I should be playing gone home because I feel like it's important to the type of games I'm interested in playing now and in the future.

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False advertising! There was no saboteur chat :)

 

Whoops! Damn! I know it was at least mentioned... but I'll pull it from the "discussed" list. Thanks for the reminder.

 

And yeah, get you a PC! If you have a Mac laptop you can dual-boot into Windows, even. Lots of stuff worth playing imho.... like my game

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Great episode. Brendon Chung has made a large chunk of my favorite games of the past few years, basically all by himself, which is amazing. Blendo Games (aka Brendon) is one of my favorite developers and at this point I'd probably just buy a lifetime pass to Blendo's future output because I'm just assuming it's all going to be gravy forever. Brendon has his own podcast and one of the early episodes is about how he got into game design, so I was really glad that this Tone Control episode barely overlapped with that at all. (Steve Gaynor is also on the latest episode of Extended Memory, by the way!)

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I'm loving this Podcast Steve, I find it so engaging to listen to. 

 

Also thank you TychoCelchuuu for that hot scoop about Brendon's podcast, I'll be sure to give that a listen.

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Great interview! His trajectory from fart jokes to AAA to indie was super interesting and the fact that he completed  Flotilla in 6 months is amazing.

 

I will never move away from fart jokes. It's evergreen territory.

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Yeah, thanks Tych!

Steve, listening to the discussion about negative spaces in Gone Home, can you show us the difference between the house's conceptual floor plan - the one the player is supposed to think that the virtual house equates to - and as it would actually look if the in-game spaces were stiched together? Are they radically different?

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Yeah, thanks Tych!

Steve, listening to the discussion about negative spaces in Gone Home, can you show us the difference between the house's conceptual floor plan - the one the player is supposed to think that the virtual house equates to - and as it would actually look if the in-game spaces were stiched together? Are they radically different?

Hmm, can you give me a timestamp to refer back to? I probably just meant that the player can't easily conceptualize the meta-shape of the house from the inside (but then the minimap in game shows an approximate layout for broader reference.)

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1h15 and onwards, but it's much clearer now that I've listened to it again without distraction. Brendon asked if you'd had to shift the house over in order to accommodate any secret passageways, but in fact the only one that needed extra set dressing (beyond a secret door panel in the wall) was the connection between the parents' room and the library.

I guess I was wondering what sort of differences there were between the minimap and the actual architecture of the game space. The 3D model at the end of this 2012 RPS preview isn't the most conventional floor plan layout in real world terms, I mean!

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The minimap and geometry are pretty darn similar. But you'll note that the minimap depicts a basically impossible house, if it were freestanding. Our internal rationale was that house is actually build onto the side of Arbor Hill, explaining away why the 2nd floor would logically be floating off on its own instead of being directly above the 1st floor. But we never actually expressed that anywhere in the game. In the end the architecture of the house was dictated by level design flow requirements, so yeah, it is not a believably-laid-out house when you zoom out and try to picture it from the outside.

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I like the bit about tying things together in an overarching setting or mythos, because as a nerd I totally get off on that. The little connections you describe between System Shock and BioShock and Gone Home are cool as hell, and I love knowing that the Rastafarian cats in Flotilla exist in the same universe as Gravity Bone.

 

You mentioned William Faulkner, and I think his approach was great. The history of Yoknapatawpha County lends his stories a great sense of reality, but he doesn't bend over backward to make it all sync up; it's as solid as it needs to be to achieve the desired effect, but he isn't beholden to some rigid canon. If you try to draw a map of the area or figure out the genealogies or timelines, you'll never reconcile it all.

 

I'm really digging Tone Control. It's so good. I didn't even know who Craig Hubbard was before listening to his episode (in spite of the fact that I loved pretty much every game in his portfolio, I mean why hadn't I heard of this guy), and it was super interesting and fun to hear his stories. Each episode makes me want to make games, which is something I never really felt before.

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So Burial at Sea added some light stealth mechanics to Bioshock Infinite. Also noticeable is that Garret and Booker share a similar cynical and world-weary outlook on life. And as so many players have observed, Booker also has a strange compulsion to rummage through trash cans and desks for like coins and hot dogs. So I am positing that there is some tear that reveals they are the same person. The only flaw in this theory is that Elizabeth has to pick locks for Booker, but we can suppose at some point she might teach him the tricks of the trade (say, in between the crypt mission and the Assassins mission in Thief 1, when Garret first gains the pick locks ability). We are now extremely close to tying all Looking Glass, Irrational, and Fullbright games into the same universe. We just need to figure out how to tie in some flight and golf sims, Ultima Underworld, and that mech combat game to all of this...

 

May I blow your mind? Stephen Russell, the voice of Garrett, voiced Booker in the first "gameplay" video of Bioshock Infinite, released back in 2010. I'm not saying anything but, you know, Levine knows the answer so...

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Each episode makes me want to make games, which is something I never really felt before.

 

This is awesome to hear. One of my motivations for making Tone Control was that when I was in college trying to figure out what I actually wanted to do for real, Gamespot published these profiles of famous game designers (primarily I remember reading the Peter Molyneux and Tim Schafer ones) that went all the way back to the very beginnings of their "how did you get started making games" origin stories. And they were all kind of like, I didn't know what the hell I was doing, I knew I liked games, so I just kind of tried to figure out how to make them. And it was kind of like, if these guys started out being Just Some Guy who didn't know how to make a game and then they ended up making some of my favorite games ever, then I guess I can do it too?? So it's really good to hear that the discussions are inspiring to you along those lines.

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Ah yeah, here's the Peter Molyneux one: http://web.archive.org/web/20050830100952/http://www.gamespot.com/features/petermolyneux/index.html

 

I can't find the Tim Schafer one... it's possible it wasn't in the same Gamespot series. But it talked about his (now legendary) application to Lucasarts in the form of a comic depicting an adventure game about himself applying to Lucasarts.

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