Designer Notes 35: Manveer Heir

In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews independent game developer Manveer Heir, best known for his work on the Mass Effect series. They discuss the sunken cost fallacy and game development, why Mass Effect 3 would be a bad first game for a new developer, and when a game designer is like a baseball player and when it’s like a trauma surgeon.

Games discussed:

Rise of Legends, Wolfenstein, the Mass Effect series, No Man’s Sky

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/manveer-heir

Designer Notes 34: Tyler Sigman – Part 2

In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Tyler Sigman, best known as the designer of HOARD and Darkest Dungeon. They discuss how whether it makes sense to hide game data in the age of wikis, if Darkest Dungeon is too punishing or too forgiving, and what happened with the Corpse and Hound.

Games discussed: NITRO, Darkest Dungeon

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/tyler-sigman-part-2

Designer Notes 33: Tyler Sigman – Part 1

In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Tyler Sigman, best known as the designer of HOARD and Darkest Dungeon. They discuss how his game design career was almost derailed by staplers, how a weird aeronautical engineer is a normal game designer, and why his finished air racing game was never released.

Games discussed: Pirates!, Below the Root, Backgammon, Age of Empires: Age of Kings (DS), Darkest Dungeon, Dragon Age Legends, Battles of Prince of Persia (DS), Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Sonic Rivals, Monster Lab, Sky Pirates of Neo Terra, HOARD, Raid over Bungeling Bay

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/tyler-sigman-part-1

Designer Notes 32: Asher Vollmer

In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Asher Vollmer, best known as the designer of Puzzlejuice and Threes. They discuss why paper prototypes don’t always translate well into video games, whether a game should take up 100% of your brain, and how he feels about the Threes clone 2048.

Games discussed: The Secret of Monkey Island, Leisure Suit Larry, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, Active Worlds, Furcadia, The Misadventures of P. B. Winterbottom, Semi-Automatic, Puzzlejuice, Tiny Wings, Threes, 2048, Guildlings

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/asher-vollmer

Designer Notes 31: Margaret Robertson

In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews Margaret Robertson, Game Director at PlayDots. Margaret is known for her pioneering work at Hide & Seek and as editor-in-chief at EDGE magazine. They discuss how to make a game about death, whether a game should make you good at lying, and why making a game about dots can be rewarding.

Games discussed: Dots, Two Dots, Boardgame Remix Kit, Dream of Your Life, Would Anyone Miss You, Werewolf, Dots & Co, Puzzlescript

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/margaret-robertson

Designer Notes 30: Steve Gaynor – Part 2

In this episode, Soren interviews Steve Gaynor, co-founder of The Fullbright Company and best known for his work on BioShock 2, Minerva’s Den, and Gone Home. They discuss whether audio diaries need to make sense, why the Gone Home family is made up of barefoot vampires who hate showers, and why Fullbright made Tacoma.

Games discussed: Minerva’s Den, Bioshock Infinite, Gone Home, Tacoma, Sleep No More, Firewatch, Her Story

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/steve-gaynor-part-2

Designer Notes 29: Steve Gaynor – Part 1

In this episode, Soren interviews Steve Gaynor, co-founder of The Fullbright Company and best known for his work on BioShock 2, Minerva’s Den, and Gone Home. They discuss how bad Sierra adventure design could be, why he decided to make video games instead of comics, and about that time he interviewed Ken Levine and Tim Schafer for his zine.

Games discussed: Godzilla, Snarfs, Space Quest 4, Police Quest 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Marc Ecko Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, Bioshock, System Shock 2, S.W.A.T. 4, Half-Life, Bioshock 2

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/steve-gaynor-part-1

Playing to Lose: AI and Civilization (GDC 2008)

I gave a talk at GDC 2008 on developing the AI for the Civilization series. I highlighted the difference between “good” AI and “fun” AI and how writing AI for Civ is tricky because it fits somewhere between those two extremes. Unfortunately, the talk was not filmed, and because I always wanted to get it online, I went ahead and reconstructed it from the original audio and slides. If you give it a watch, let me know what you think!

Play Early, Play Often: Prototyping Civilization 4 (GDC 2006)

I gave a talk at GDC 2006 on the development history of Civilization 4, with the benefit of post-release hindsight. We actually demoed multiple early versions of the game, but unfortunately the talk was not filmed. However, I always wanted to get it online, so I went ahead and reconstructed it from the original audio and slides. If you give it a watch, let me know what you think!

Don’t Blow It: Successful Franchises (GDC 2004)

I gave a talk at GDC 2004 on maintaining successful franchises, with a focus on the Civilization franchise. This talk was the first time we gave any significant public details about Civ 4, so it’s interested to see what I thought was going to be important over a year before shipping. Unfortunately, the talk was not filmed, and because I always wanted to get it online, I went ahead and reconstructed it from the original audio and slides. If you give it a watch, let me know what you think!