Designer Notes #57: Rob Daviau – Part 1

In this episode, Soren interviews board game designer Rob Daviau, best known for his work on Risk: Legacy and Pandemic: Legacy. They discuss bluffing his way through his first game job interview, how he designed Betrayal at House on the Hill without either starting or finishing it, and why Risk Legacy bombed in Germany.

Games discussed: Candy Land, Impossible Mission, Dungeons and Dragons, Trivial Pursuit, Scruples, Atlantis: Pathways to the Deep, Mountains of Madness, Pandemic: Legacy, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Risk 2210, Risk: Black Ops, Risk: Legacy

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/rob-daviau-part-1

Designer Notes 56: David Dunham

In this episode, Soren interviews independent game designer David Dunham, best known for his work on the narrative strategy games King of Dragon Pass and Six Ages. They are joined by writer and designer Meg Jayanth, best known for her work on 80 Days. The three discuss whether the advisors in Dragon Pass lie to the player, what Six Ages and 80 Days have in common, and whether the anthropomorphic ducks are ducks with human-level intelligence or humans who have been turned into ducks.

Games discussed: King of Dragon Pass, Pendragon, Fallen London, 80 Days, Six Ages, Sunless Sea, Castles, Hearthstone, Battle of the Bulge, Really Bad Chess, Drive on Moscow

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/david-dunham

I Shouldn’t Have to Write this Post

I have voted for a Democrat in ever election in my lifetime, and while I express my political view from time to time, it’s important to acknowledge that plenty of Republicans have served their country honorably in government. John McCain and Mitt Romney, for example, would both have been perfectly serviceable presidents. The country will always have a conservative party, and yet progress is still made because, each generation, what used to be an unthinkable progressive idea is now mainstream enough to be simply unchallenged by the GOP.

That context is necessary for the following statement: voting for Donald Trump is an unconscionable act.

I don’t need to list all of the ways he has beclowned our nation. Everyday, one just needs to read the news to see one more example of his cruelty, his ignorance, his incompetence, and his narcissism. Today’s violation is his ALL CAPS approval of his thugs running his opponent’s bus off the highway. Encouraging political violence is an unspeakably careless act for any politician, let alone the president. By itself, it would be enough of a reason to vote out any elected official, and I would vote against a Democrat who did the same. Consider that a president could do something this base, worse than anything Nixon ever did – who was a cartoon villain when I was young – and yet today will be forgotten in the unending waves of Trump’s crimes, failures, and corruptions.

Therefore, as the US is a two-party system, not voting for Joe Biden is also an unconscionable act. A second Trump term would mean that everything he has done was not just permitted or ignored but actually rewarded. I still have faith that America would recover, but every year undoing his damage is a year not feeding the hungry, not healing the sick, and not educating the ignorant.

Moreoever, all we have to do is vote. Our country has sometimes asked far too much from its citizens just for the right to vote, usually because of color or gender. Voter suppression may be the last refuge of minority rule, but Trump can still be easily beaten if every American just does his or her duty. All we have to do is vote.

The hard part is learning how to control Trump’s breed of American fascism because, no matter how many bad things one can say about Trump, the one thing that cannot be said about him is that he is not American. That fight, however, begins the day after Tuesday.

Designer Notes 55: Meg Jayanth

In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Meg Jayanth, the writer on 80 Days. They discuss how fan fiction is similar to modding, if 80 Days is a criticism of the Bioware companion system, and why it’s important to do your work.

Games discussed: SimTower, Grand Theft Auto, Savoir-Faire, All Roads, Choice Of Games, Samsara, 80 Days, Sunless Seas, Sunless Skies, Horizon Zero Dawn

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/meg-jayanth

Designer Notes 54: Jon Ingold – Part 2

In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Jon Ingold, who co-founded inkle and is best known for his work in interactive fiction, including All Roads, 80 Days, and the Sorcery! series. They discuss how to get the player to trust the designer, why pursuing fairness can take away what is special about a game, and whether packing should be done in real-time.

Games discussed: Creature of Havoc, The Sorcery! series, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 80 Days, Heaven’s Vault, The Last Express

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/jon-ingold-part-2

Designer Notes 53: Jon Ingold – Part 1

In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Jon Ingold, who co-founded inkle and is best known for his work in interactive fiction, including All Roads, 80 Days, and the Sorcery! series. They discuss why Plundered Hearts is his favorite Infocom game, how being a maths teacher is like being a level designer, and when he realized that parsers were a commercial dead-end.

Games discussed: Psi-5 Trading Company, Rogue, Out There, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Deadline, The Witness, Plundered Hearts, Starcross, Blade Runner, Curses!, The Mulldoon Legacy, All Roads, Make It Good, Heavy Rain, Frankenstein, the Sorcery! series

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/jon-ingold-part-1

Designer Notes 52: Roger Keating

In this episode, Bruce Geryk interviews veteran game developer Roger Keating, co-founder of Strategic Studies Group (SSG). Roger is best known for his work on the Warlord series as well as many digital wargames. They discuss what it was like to do pathfinding before A*, how SSG worked from home before it was cool, and how to determine who is a game designer.

Games discussed: Conflict, Operation Apocalypse, Reach for the Stars, Carriers at War, Europe Ablaze, Gold of the Americas, the Warlords series, Ardennes Offensive

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/roger-keating

This Old World

My next game, Old World, releases on Early Access tomorrow (May 5th) on the Epic Games Store. This might come as a bit of a surprise to some as we have not been discussing the game very often, but that is changing quickly! Old World is a 4X strategy game set in the Mediterranean during Classical Antiquity. Each turn is a year, and your leader is mortal and will eventually die – passing on the crown to the next in line.

I discuss the major new features here on the Mohawk blog: https://www.mohawkgames.com/2020/04/14/old-world-first-post/

For example, here is a description of the Orders system:

Orders are a resource used to issue commands across your nation. Instead of moving every unit every turn, as is traditional in 4X games, each unit can be moved as many times as desired, until the player runs out of Orders. There are many other ways to spend this resource: Combat, Construction, Events, Diplomacy, and so on. 

You can find more information on the game in these interviews:

  • Rock, Paper, Shotgun: In the end, after a few more hours of “one more turn” (it’s taken that much from Civ, at least), I could only conclude that Old World is entirely its own thing. And I like it very much.
  • PolygonThe build I’ve been playing is certainly not the finished article, but it’s engrossing and fun, and I love its attempt to bring more story elements to grand strategy.
  • PC GamerBut once I started amassing soldiers I would run out of orders without moving half my units, and realized how much more tactical I was going to have to be.
  • I also discussed the game with Dirk Knemeyer and David Heron on the latest Game Design Round Table podcast

Check out our game webpage, mohawkgames.com/oldworld, for more info and important links, including our press kit and Discord server.

We will be streaming Old World from the official Mohawk Games Twitch channel on release day starting at 10AM ET. Hope to see you there!

Dev Game Club on Civilization 3

I was a guest on the Dev Game Club Podcast, with Brett Douville and Tim Longo Jr., talking about the history of Civilization 3, which took me back a long time to my first full-time job in the industry. (Indeed, I believe I started at Firaxis exactly 20 years ago this month!) It was a great conversation, and we had a little bit of discussion on my next game, which is the first time I’m returning to historical 4X gaming since Civilization 4. Thus, I have a lot of thoughts about what ideas in Civilization 3 are still worth pursuing and which ones are (or perhaps should be) dead ends.

http://www.devgameclub.com/blog/2020/3/4/dgc-ep-201-bonus-interview-with-soren-johnson

Designer Notes 51: Michał Drozdowski and Przemysław Marszał

In this episode, Soren and Leyla Johnson interview Creative Director Michał Drozdowski and Art Director Przemysław Marszał of 11 Bit Studios, best known for their work on This War Of Mine and Frostpunk. They discuss why This War of Mine does not judge the player and why Frostpunk does.

Games discussed: Anomaly, Anomaly: Korea, Anomaly 2, Funky Smugglers, Sleepwalker’s Journey, This War of Mine, Frostpunk

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/michal-drozdowski-and-przemyslaw-marszal