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The Game Design Round Table
61 minutes | 3 days ago
#251 David McDonough Supports the Player’s Story
Firaxis designer David McDonough joins the show to talk strategy game design with Dirk and David. Topics in their discussion include: player stories vs game stories, the spectrum between full sandbox games and historical simulations, and how immersion in player stories can be encouraged. Along the way many games are covered, including both the Civilization series and the XCOM series.
54 minutes | 17 days ago
#250 Alisha Thayer Uses Exceptions in Design Systems
Alisha Thayer, a designer who has worked on AAA video games like Red Dead Redemption and Rise of the Tomb Raider, joins Dirk and David to talk game systems. They discuss both the strengths and limitations of designing games that allow multiple systems to interact with each other and create novel experiences. By walking through the different games she’s worked on in her career, Alisha explains how she learned why exceptions to procedural game systems can enhance the player experience.
59 minutes | a month ago
#249 Diving into MOBA Changes and Updates
Dirk, David, and show producer Skye team up to tackle the third episode in our deep dive into the MOBA genre. This time the group discusses an aspect that’s fairly unique to the genre: its constant changes. Topics include why MOBAs have such huge casts of playable characters, a digression into the QWER four-ability mechanic, how the cadence of changes can affect their impact and reception, and how character updates are handled in some of the genre’s top games.
57 minutes | 3 months ago
#248 Listener Questions October 2020
Kathryn joins Dirk and David to answer some more listener questions. Discussion includes a deep dive into the role of complexity in design: where it makes sense and where it detracts from the product. In a similar vein, the hosts talk about “stout” games that are both heavy in decision making but short in duration. Other topics include the RTS genre, the idea of experience-focused design, and the favorite episodes of Kathryn, Dirk, and David.
52 minutes | 3 months ago
#247 Tabletop Game Development with Brenna Noonan
Brenna Noonan, a tabletop game developer, joins Dirk and David to discuss the role of game development in the board game industry. She explains the differences between a designer and developer, and she shares how developers can help improve a game’s balance, scope, and player experience. Dirk and David also ask her about her path into the industry and what skills should be honed for good game development.
51 minutes | 4 months ago
#246 Omari Akil Talks Rap Godz
Board game designer Omari Akil joins Dirk and David to talk about Rap Godz, Hoop Godz, and the process of making games that connect both mechanically and emotionally with a specific theme. They discuss the hip hop theme of Rap Godz as well as the street basketball theme of the upcoming Hoop Godz. Additional topics include managing scope and IP issues with a hip hop game, staying true to theme even if it upsets other game design norms, and designing as a sibling team.
66 minutes | 5 months ago
#245 Listener Questions August 2020
Kathryn joins Dirk and David to discuss the recent Rob Daviau episode as well as answer listener questions. In response to Daviau’s design axiom, the trio discusses the role of memory in the games they design and play. Then the hosts proceed to answer listeners’ questions. Those questions include: how to help characters avoid picking a playstyle they’ll hate later, whether the hosts plan to work in the VR space, what the exact process is for incorporating an established IP, and how IP affects the character rosters of MOBA games.
55 minutes | 6 months ago
#244 Round Table on Matching Player Expectations
Kathryn joins Dirk and David to discuss some recent episodes. In response to the show with Ryan Scott, the trio talks game balance and the difficulty of meeting the expectations of different player types. Then they all discuss toxicity in board games and how it compares to the toxic culture of competitive online games like MOBAs. Finally, the three hosts chat about thematic games and what makes a game thematic for them. (A discussion on Rob Daviau’s design axiom was moved to the upcoming episode 245.)
58 minutes | 6 months ago
#243 Rob Daviau Minimizes Ongoing Negative Effects
Rob Daviau returns to the show to talk with Dirk and David about his design axiom: minimize ongoing negative effects for players to remember. They discuss why party games and heavier games might get away with these ongoing negative effects while other games get bogged down by them. Rob mostly uses his own work as examples, discussing Mountains of Madness, Betrayal Legacy, and Seafall.
51 minutes | 6 months ago
#242 Molly Johnson Talks Point Salad
Molly Johnson of Flatout Games joins Dirk and David to talk about designing light thematic games. Molly goes over Point Salad, published by AEG, and how the name and game came together. Later, she discusses some other games she’s been involved with (including Public Market, Calico, Cascadia, and Dollars to Donuts) and how theme helped complete or even spark these puzzle-y games.
71 minutes | 7 months ago
#241 Diving into MOBA Perspectives and Problems
Skye joins Dirk and David again to continue their deep dive into the MOBA genre. This time, the episode hones in on a few key gameplay decisions of MOBAs, and examines what those choices mean for players.
53 minutes | 7 months ago
#240 Ryan Scott Aims for Balanceable, Not Balanced
Ryan “Morello” Scott joins Dirk and David on the show to discuss his design axiom: balance isn’t important, but balanceable is critical. Ryan discusses why planning ahead for a balanceable piece of content is critical to avoid making balance feel chaotic for players and designers alike. With his experience working on League of Legends and Riot’s new FPS, Valorant, he shares specific examples of where balance went wrong and steps designers can take to make things right.
73 minutes | 8 months ago
#239 Listener Questions May 2020
After a brief discussion about how the coronavirus has impacted work in games, Kathryn helps Dirk and David answer a few questions from our listeners.
57 minutes | 8 months ago
#238 Round Table on How Different Game Mediums Handle Edge Cases
Kathryn once again rejoins Dirk and David to discuss the last few episodes of the podcast. The trio talks about the differences in edge cases between TTRPGs, board games, and video games. Then they move on to discuss the merits of the axiom: if the player doesn’t see it, it might not exist. The group rounds out the discussion chatting about their familiarity with the 4x genre as well as MOBAs and why Kathryn, Dirk, and David all enjoy watching esports.
65 minutes | 9 months ago
#237 Old World: Utilizing Playtesters Effectively
Soren rejoins Dirk and David to discuss what’s new with his 4X game Old World—including a new name! The trio talks about publisher changes, how playtesting has incrementally improved the game, and some of the unique mechanics that Old World brings to the 4X table.
48 minutes | 9 months ago
#236 Tanya X. Short Makes Game Systems Obvious
Tanya X. Short talks with Dirk and David about her design axiom: if the player doesn’t see it, it might not exist. They discuss both some of the games Tanya has worked on, as well as other games that contradict or reinforce this rule. One key point of the discussion is how complex (and costly) systems created by the designers might go completely unnoticed by players if the user interface or the game’s objectives don’t align well with the system.
66 minutes | 10 months ago
#235 Diving Into MOBA Foundations
Dirk and David team up with show producer Skye to dive into the MOBA genre, a first in a series meant to explore the design of this popular genre. They discuss the genre’s roots in real-time strategy game mods and give an overview of the most popular MOBAs on the market. Additionally, the trio talks about tabletop and mobile MOBAs, and why they haven’t taken off (at least in North America, that is).
56 minutes | 10 months ago
#234 Sen-Foong Lim Designs Edge Cases Out of the Game
Sen-Foong Lim rejoins the show to chat with Dirk and David about his design axiom: design edge cases out of the game. The definition of an edge case is explored at length, and the importance of context when discussing edge cases is emphasized. Sen talks about what types of games can afford to include edge cases, and why he usually opts to either remove them or turn them into features of the game.
69 minutes | a year ago
#233 Round Table on the Challenges of Pleasing Customers
Kathryn returns to the show to chat with Dirk and David about the last three episodes of the Designing Thematic Games series. The group chats about hybrid games, designing additional content for games, and handling criticism. They also answer some listener questions about remote work and art contracts. Overall, a great deal of this episode focuses on the customer level and the difficulties (and joys) of designing with customers in mind.
57 minutes | a year ago
#232 Chris Bourassa Talks Darkest Dungeon
Chris Bourassa joins Dirk and David to discuss his work on the indie hit Darkest Dungeon. They talk about the inspiration for some of Darkest Dungeon’s characters, enemies, and mechanical systems. They also cover the game’s difficulty and learning from some of the public outcry during the game’s early access stage.
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