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The Game Design Round Table

The Game Design Round Table

Covering the full breadth of digital, tabletop, and role playing games, The Game Design Round Table inspires and educates aspiring and experienced game designers.

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thegamedesignroundtable.com

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#278 Listener Questions June 2022

Kathryn teams up with Dirk and David to tackle another round of listener questions. Topics include microtransactions, free-to-play games, early game design steps, data in game design, and how designers can learn from other mediums. 

2022-06-08
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#277 Diving into Cards as a Crossroads

Isaac Vega joins Dirk and David to talk about his experiences in the board game industry and how he has used cards in his games. First the trio discuss City of Remnants and how different components fulfill different roles in game design. Next, Dirk and David ask Isaac about his work on Ashes Reborn and some of its more unique systems. Finally, the group continues the discussion of Isaac?s games with some questions about Dead of Winter and its crossroads cards.

2022-05-25
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#276 Round Table on Market Considerations for Game Themes

Kathryn rejoins Dirk and David for another Round Table discussion of past episodes. First, in reference to the recent episode with Sydney Engelstein, the group talks about card-based expansions. Then the discussion turns to the various Zenobia award finalist guests who have been on the show?topics include unique themes, alternative funding for games, and how to utilize popular IPs while maintaining your own vision for the game. Finally, the group has a conversation about the Dave Scott episode and discusses how they?ve used customizable experiences in their own games.

2022-05-12
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#275 Diving Into Card-focused Adaptations and Expansions

Sydney Engelstein joins Dirk and David to talk about her history in game design and her work on multiple card-centric games. After discussing some of her earlier games such as the Space Cadet games, Sydney talks at length about her experience working on some of the popular game series in the Stronghold Games lineup: Aeon?s End and Terraforming Mars. The discussion covers what it?s like making expansions for the deckbuilder Aeon?s End, how the design for Ares Expedition streamlined aspects of Terraforming Mars by focusing in on the card play, and some advice on the more business?oriented side of game acquisitions.

2022-04-06
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#274 Damon Stone Talks Liberation Haiti

Damon Stone joins Dirk and David to discuss his game Liberation Haiti, a historical-themed deckbuilder and a Zenobia Award finalist. First, Damon talks about his experience in game design and development, including how he got started working with Fantasy Flight. Next, Damon talks at length about the historical setting for Liberation Haiti and explains how he mapped different mechanics to that theme. Other topics include how undefined time to prepare for a final confrontation can sometimes sink a game and how Damon chose to handle the random elements of a game that uses both cards and dice.

2022-03-25
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#273 Dave Scott Talks Everyday Heroes

Dave Scott joins Dirk and David to discuss the upcoming tabletop roleplaying system Everyday Heroes, a revived and updated version of the old D20 Modern system. Dave discusses how he worked with a team of game designers to create rulesets for a system and roleplaying space that has fascinated Dave for years. One topic is a deep dive into the problems with chase mechanics in RPGs and how those mechanics are handled in Everyday Heroes. Another big discussion point is how Dave and the team decided to give the game a more cinematic feel and capture the action hero stereotypes without straying into superhero status. Finally, Dave talks about what the design process for his team looks like right now and how they utilize a group of hundreds of playtesters effectively.

2022-03-09
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#272 Charlie Cleveland Talks Subnautica

Charlie Cleveland joins Dirk and David to discuss his work on the underwater survival game Subnautica?an indie hit and a standout in the genre. The trio talk about the game?s somewhat unusual theme and the difficulties of making a game set underwater. They also talk about how that theme helped influence the game?s mechanics and continually reinforced the core design pillar for the game: thrill of the unknown. Finally, Charlie takes some time to talk about the early access process, aspects of the game that got cut, and a little discussion on the game?s frosty followup title, Subnautica: Below Zero.

2022-02-22
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#271 Lauren Ino Talks The Season

Lauren talks to Dirk about her Regency era game, The Season. She gives a lot of background on the Regency romance setting and the Georgian Era in general. She explains how elements of her game reflect its historical setting. Lauren also talks about her experience with the Zenobia Awards competition and how it helped inspire her to finally follow through on a design she?d been thinking about for a long time.

2022-02-09
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#270 Listener Questions January 2022

Once again, Kathryn Hymes joins Dirk and David for another round of listener questions. The discussion starts with a thorough examination of how to best grow an audience for a game when starting at zero. Other conversations cover the new hot genres in games, consent and session zero conversations for board games, and what the cohosts look for with their personal gaming choices. Finally, the talk wraps up with a discussion on purposefully or accidentally toxic players in all gaming mediums and different solutions for those issues.

2022-01-26
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#269 Joseph Kelly Talks Molly House

Joseph joins Dirk and David to talk about their game Molly House, which was a Zenobia Award finalist. They discuss the historical theme behind the game, which was the Molly Houses where 18th century queer communities would gather. A major topic is how the game keeps players involved and engaged while including historical setbacks that the queer community faced. Other topics include the hardest aspects to include in the game, which mechanics worked most successfully, and what types of games Joseph might try to tackle in the future.

2022-01-04
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#268 Sherria Ayuandini Talks From Darkness to Light

Sherria joins Dirk and David to talk about her game From Darkness to Light, which explores the intersection between the education of women in Indonesia and the Indonesians? fight for independence. Plenty of historical background is provided as Sherria discusses why the theme is important to her and how her game represents these stories through mechanics. Other topics include the difficulty of publishing games with niche themes and how traditional euro game mechanics might map onto other themes when approached with a new lens.

2021-12-22
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#267 Crowdfunding on Kickstarter with Anya Combs

Anya, Director of Games for Kickstarter, joins Dirk and David to talk about how the crowdfunding platform works with creatives in the games industry. The three discuss why games, and especially tabletop games, have thrived on the platform and how to make sure a Kickstarter campaign has the best chance of working for your game. Topics covered include game-adjacent products, changes in Kickstarter over the years, community building, and discoverability on the platform.

2021-12-08
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#266 Banana Chan Talks Suburban Consumption of the Monstrous

Banana Chan joins Dirk and David to talk about her experience in multiple areas of game design, and how thematic games can be made in each medium. First, Banana discusses live action roleplaying (LARP) design at length, providing tips for a thematic design and explaining how monetization might work as a LARP designer. Next, the trio talks about tabletop roleplaying games and specifically on how to pick the right system and mechanics for a theme. Finally, Banana shares some thoughts on her current Kickstarter projects, Suburban Consumption of the Monstrous and An Exquisite Crime.

2021-11-24
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#265 Round Table on Past Projects and Untapped Potential

Kathryn joins Dirk and David for a round table discussion based on recent shows. Dirk and David get Kathryn?s perspective on card games and how they help her create story-based games. Then discussion moves to market trends and demographics for cooperative games. Next the trio talks about unused game concepts, inspired by the interview with Will Thompson. All three hosts have a conversation on past projects that are ?the ones that got away,? using the episode with Jesse Howard as a starting point. And finally Kathryn, Dirk, and David share their thoughts on video game to board game adaptations, and vice versa.

2021-11-02
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#264 Will Thompson Talks Winter Rabbit and PaleoVet

Will returns to the show with Dirk and David to discuss his game Winter Rabbit, a finalist for the Zenobia Award. A contest for designers from underrepresented groups in the hobby, the Zenobia Award pairs promising applicants with mentors and awards winners with a cash prize and help with publication. Will, a member of the Cherokee Nation, talks about how Winter Rabbit was designed from the start to incorporate indigenous themes. The group also discusses the Zenobia Award itself, as well as another design Will is working on: the dice manipulation game PaleoVet, where players help dinosaurs recover from illnesses.

2021-10-14
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#263 Old World: Sorting Through Feedback

Soren returns to the show with Dirk and David for the third and final episode in this mini-series on his game Old World. They talk about the reception for Old World now that it?s been released, the narrative elements of the event system that became important to the design, and how other systems were finalized through feedback from a lengthy early access period. Additionally, Soren discusses his relationship with the 4x genre?starting out working on the Civilization series and eventually returning to the genre to make Old World. And finally, the trio briefly talks about the future of 4x games.

2021-09-25
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#262 Diving into Co-op Card Games with MJ Newman

MJ Newman joins Dirk and David to discuss co-op card games and her work on the Lord of the Rings and Arkham Horror LCGs published by Fantasy Flight Games. They talk about how these co-op games are designed compared to a competitive collectable card game, and how MJ?s love for narrative led to a stronger RPG-like aspect to the games she worked on. Finally, the game discusses some of the considerations when designing a Lovecraftian game?from the question of how to incorporate combat to the question of how to adapt the genre while avoiding the horror author?s problematic ideas.

2021-09-08
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#261 Jesse Howard Talks Hype Tag

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2021-08-20
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#260 Diving into LCGs with Andrew Navaro

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2021-08-04
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259 Diving Into Cards as Components

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2021-07-24
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#258 Cole Medeiros Talks Stardew Valley: The Board Game

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2021-07-07
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#257 Diving Into Card Games

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2021-06-16
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#256 Listener Questions June 2021

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2021-06-02
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#255 First-time Designer Skye Larsen Talks Paperback Adventures

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2021-05-19
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#254 Round Table on Representing Unique Player Stories

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2021-05-05
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#253 Diving Into MOBA Wild Rift with Brian Feeney

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2021-04-21
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#252 Board Game Production and Operations with Nicole Cutler

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2021-02-24
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#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.

2021-01-19
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#250 Alisha Thayer Uses Exceptions in Design Systems

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2021-01-06
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#249 Diving into MOBA Changes and Updates

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2020-12-09
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#248 Listener Questions October 2020

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2020-10-28
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#247 Tabletop Game Development with Brenna Noonan

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2020-10-15
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#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.

2020-09-29
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#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.

2020-08-19
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#244 Round Table on Matching Player Expectations

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2020-08-04
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#243 Rob Daviau Minimizes Ongoing Negative Effects

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2020-07-21
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#242 Molly Johnson Talks Point Salad

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2020-07-08
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#241 Diving into MOBA Perspectives and Problems

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2020-06-23
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#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.

2020-06-09
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#239 Listener Questions May 2020

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2020-05-27
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#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.

2020-05-12
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#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.

2020-04-28
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#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.  

2020-04-15
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#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). 

2020-04-01
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#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.

2020-03-18
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#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.

2020-03-04
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#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.

2020-02-18
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#231 Tim Fowers Talks Burgle Bros 2

Tim Fowers, a guest on the show in 2016, returns to talk with Dirk and David about designing heist games. He discusses the thematic and mechanical design decisions made in both the original game as well as his upcoming sequel. Other topics include hybrid games, sequels versus expansions or new editions, and the burgeoning Tabletop Network Conference.

 

2020-01-28
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#230 Rob Daviau Talks Return to Dark Tower

Former host Rob Daviau returns to the show to catch up with Dirk and David and talk about Restoration Games and their next big project: Return to Dark Tower. He discusses the decisions made when updating the 1981 game to capture the same eye-catching experience in 2020.

2020-01-14
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#229 Round Table on the Essence of a Theme

Kathryn rejoins Dirk and David to talk discuss the past few episodes in the Designing Thematic Games series. The trio talks art budgets, terminology, and thematic mismatches. They also answer listener questions about designing around themes. Much of the discussion explores the distinction between an essence of a theme and the broader theme itself.

2019-12-24
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