Designer Notes #15: Nels Anderson

In this episode, Soren interviews Nels Anderson, who was the lead designer of the critically acclaimed Mark of the Ninja and is currently a designer/programmer at Campo Santo working on the upcoming game Firewatch. They discuss how he almost went into law enforcement, whether Mark of the Ninja actually has AI, and why designers should be able to write code.

Games Discussed: Thief, Planescape: Torment, DeathSpank, Mark of the Ninja, Firewatch

https://www.idlethum…s/nels-anderson

 

Designer Notes #14: Mark Herman

In this episode, Bruce Geryk interviews veteran wargame designer Mark Herman, former CEO of Victory Games and best known for pioneering card-driven wargames with We The People. They discuss designing games for less than $100 per week, why he couldn’t release a game because Saddam Hussein might play it, and how Magic the Gathering helped him create a new genre.

Games Discussed: Chess, Battle of the Bulge, October War, The Next War, MechWar 2, Gulf Strike, Desert Shield, We The People, For The People, Empire of the Sun, Churchill

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/mark-herman

Designer Notes #13: Jamie Cheng

In this episode, Soren interviews Jamie Cheng, founder of Klei Entertainment which is known for the Shank series, Mark of the Ninja, Don’t Starve, and Invisible, Inc. They discuss paying back the Canadian government, why Mark of the Ninja‘s AI needs to be dumb, why Don’t Starve has no extrinsic rewards, and how free-to-play games are his white whale.

Games Discussed: The Legend of Zelda, Aerobiz, SD Gundam, Dawn of War, Eets, The Outfit, Sugar Rush, Shank 1 & 2, Mark of the Ninja, Don’t Starve, Invisible, Inc.

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/jamie-cheng

Designer Notes #12: Davey Wreden

In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews indie game developer Davey Wreden, who is best known for his work on The Stanley Parable and The Beginner’s Guide. They discuss why he worked as a bartender while making The Stanley Parable, how they fit the “gnawing void” into the game, and why he is looking forward to getting old.

Games Discussed: The Stanley Parable, Dear Esther, English Country Tune

https://www.idlethum…es/davey-wreden

Designer Notes #11: Chris Avellone

In this episode, Soren interviews game designer Chris Avellone, who is best known for his work on Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and Wasteland 2. He is currently working at inXile Entertainment on Torment: Tides of Numenera. They discuss why he owes his career to publisher desperation, how Torment reflects that players only care about themselves, the mystery of how Black Isle lost the D&D license, and why game writing is overrated.

Games Discussed: The Bard’s Tale series, Etrian Odyssey, Dungeons & Dragons, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Ultima Underworld, the Icewind Dale series, Van Buren, KOTOR 2, Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity

https://www.idlethum…/chris-avellone

How Board Games Matter

GDC started posted lecture videos a couple months ago, and they recently posted my talk from 2014 on transparency in board game design. Enjoy the mohawk!

I am very late to post these links, but I have also been on a few podcasts since the release of Offworld:

Designer Notes #10: Nina Freeman

In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews indie game developer Nina Freeman, who is best known for her personal vignette games How Do You Do It?, Freshman Year, and the upcoming Cibele. She is currently working at Fullbright as a level designer on the upcoming game Tacoma. They discuss why all VR games are about sitting in chairs, how a background in poetry influences her work, and how to write about your own personal flaws in a game.

Games Discussed: How Do You Do It?, Cibele, Digital: A Love Story, Gone Home, Dys4ia, MMO’s, Final Fantasy 10

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/nina-freeman

Designer Notes #9: Bruce Shelley

In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game designer Bruce Shelley, who is best known for his work on Railroad Tycoon, Civilization, and the Age of Empires series. He is currently working at Bonus XP on Servo, a new RTS. They discuss what the two Sids have in common, why they took disasters out of Railroad Tycoon, what game got shoved out the door to make way for Civilization, why Ensemble games always look so bright, and why he always does his research in the children’s section.

Games Discussed: Squad Leader, the MERP series, Titan, Civilization (Avalon Hill), 1830, Cosmic Encounter, Acquire, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, F-19 Stealth Fighter, Covert Action, Railroad Tycoon, Pirates!, Empire Deluxe, Civilization, Age of Empires series, Company of Heroes

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/bruce-shelley

Designer Notes #8: Daniel Benmergui

In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews independent game developer Daniel Benmergui, who is best known for experimental story games like Today I Die, I Wish I Were The Moon, and the IGF-winning Storyteller. He is currently working on the Indie Fund-backed puzzle game Ernesto. They discuss why games should not be designed backwards, how to recover from the burden of success, why players have difficulty committing a murder of jealousy in Storyteller, and whether Chris Hecker hates Ernesto.

Games Discussed: Storyteller, Today I Die, I Wish I Were The Moon, Ernesto, Return of the Obra Dinn, Gone Home, Overland, Hundreds, FTL

https://www.idlethum…aniel-benmergui

Designer Notes #7: Brad Muir

In this episode, Soren interviews Brad Muir, who is a designer/programmer at Double Fine. He was a programmer on Psychonauts, the lead designer of Brutal Legend, and the project leader on Iron Brigade. Brad is currently leading the development of Massive Chalice, a tactical strategy game now available on Steam Early Access. They discuss trying to make peace with narrative-based games, why consoles (and not tablets) are the future of MOBAs, what it’s like pitching ideas to publishers, and why Brad worked at Raven for 89 days.

Games Discussed: Spec Ops: The Line, The Walking Dead, Crusader Kings 2, Hunt the Wumpus, The Legend of Zelda, Brutal Legend, Alter Echo, Psychonauts, XCOM, Massive Chalice, Trenched/Iron Brigade

idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/brad-muir