Designer Notes

A podcast about why we make games

Why do we make games? Every designer has a different and very personal answer to that question. Soren Johnson, founder of Mohawk Games, sits down with noted designers to find out by examining their careers as a whole.


Once per month (Ideally!)

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Episode 63:
Josh Sawyer - Part 2

January 10, 2022 In this episode, Soren interviews veteran RPG designer Josh Sawyer, best known for his work on Icewind Dale, Fallout: New Vegas, and Pillars of Eternity. They discuss the purpose of grinding, the difference between viable and optimal characters, and why RPG players don’t welcome rebalancing their games. This episode was recorded March 24, 2018.

Games discussed: Baldur’s Gate series, Icewind Dale series, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout series, Civilization series, Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity series, Into the Breach, Torchbearer, Tyranny, Darkest Dungeon, Phantom Doctrine

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December 8, 2021 In this episode, Soren interviews veteran RPG designer Josh Sawyer, best known for his work on Icewind Dale, Fallout: New Vegas, and Pillars of Eternity. They discuss how making a website for a tattoo parlor led to his game career, what is the purpose of traps in an RPG, and how much lore is too much lore. This episode was recorded March 24, 2018.

Games discussed: Adventure, Ultima series, Bard’s Tale series, Gold Box series, Dungeons & Dragons, Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny, Darklands, Quake, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale series, Baldur’s Gate series

November 20, 2021 In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Chet Faliszek, who co-founded Stray Bombay and is best known for his work at Valve on games such as Left 4 Dead and Portal 2. They discuss what shampoo sales have to do with Old Man Murray, why he tests his games in a foreign language, and why game design is easier for co-op games. This episode was recorded August 17, 2021.

Games discussed: Pong, Tecmo Bowl, Civilization series, Archon, M.U.L.E., Racing Destruction Set, Gin, Hearts, Doom, Quake, Tribes, Myth, Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Old World, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 1, Portal 2, Counterstrike, Half-Life: Alyx, Crusader Kings series, The Anacrusis, Deep Rock Galactic, Killing Floor 2, Risk of Rain 2, Payday 2, GTFO, Hades

October 20, 2021 In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Andy Schatz, who founded Pocketwatch Games and is best known for his work on Monaco and Tooth and Tail. This episode was recorded March 23, 2018. They discuss what Monaco and Rashomon have in common, how familiarity with your best players can be more valuable than metrics, and why the flag bearer in Tooth and Tail can’t attack.

Games discussed: Monaco, Spore, Tooth and Tail, Whacked!, Payday, Hotline Miami, Minecraft, Terraria, Pikmin, Offworld Trading Company

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