Soren Johnson

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About Soren Johnson

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    http://designer-notes.com

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    Silver Spring, MD

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  1. Designer Notes 39: Brian Reynolds - Part 2 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer Brian Reynolds, best known for his work on Colonization, Civilization 2, Alpha Centauri, and Rise of Nations. They discuss when Brian discovered Twilight Struggle, how Alpha Centauri influenced BioShock, and whether he could have made Rise of Nations at Firaxis. Games discussed: Twilight Struggle, Civilization 2, Gettysburg, Alpha Centauri, BioShock, Call to Power, Rise of Nations Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  2. Designer Notes 38: Brian Reynolds - Part 1 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer Brian Reynolds, best know for his work on Colonization, Civilization 2, Alpha Centauri, and Rise of Nations. They discuss how his original dream job was to write compilers, all the bad decisions he needed to make to end up as a game designer, and his true feelings about the philosophy department at UC Berkley in the state of California. Games discussed: Hannibal, Twilight Struggle, Pong, Space Invaders, Quest 1, the Ultima series, Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender, Civilization 1, Colonization, Civilization 2 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  3. Designer Notes 37: Chris Hecker - Part 2 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews independent game developer Chris Hecker, best known for his work on Spore and SpyParty. They discuss accessibility versus depth, when SpyParty suddenly became fun, and why Chris Hecker ruined Spore. Games discussed: Spore, SpyParty, Offworld Trading Company Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  4. Designer Notes 36: Chris Hecker - Part 1 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews independent game developer Chris Hecker, best known for his work on Spore and SpyParty. They discuss why game jams are no longer necessary, why the first triangle is always the hardest, and whether Powers of Ten was a good idea for a game. Games discussed: SpyParty, Doom, Ultima Underworld, Spore Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  5. 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 franchise. 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, Mass Effect series, No Man’s Sky Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  6. 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 the Hound. Games discussed: NITRO, Darkest Dungeon Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  7. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  8. Designer Notes 7: Brad Muir

    Thanks for the kind words... and good luck!
  9. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  10. Designer Notes 31: Margaret Robertson

    Yeah, we kind of screwed up the audio on this one. We'll do our best not to let it happen again! (It's always hard to know what to do after a bad recording - I came close to binning this episode but thought it was not quite so bad after Hermes cleaned it up...)
  11. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  12. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  13. 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
  14. FWIW, I just reconstructed the GDC talk referenced on this podcast from the slides and the audio because it was never actually filmed. Feel free to argue about whether WoW is a game about evolution again!
  15. In this episode, Soren interviews independent game designer George Fan, who is best known as the creator of Insaniquarium and Plants vs Zombies. They discuss why he learned to program instead of just focusing on art, how most Diablo monster design is a variation of kill-me-first, and why Plants vs. Zombies wasn’t Fish vs. Aliens. Games discussed: Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Are You Dumb?, Wrath of the Gopher, Magic: The Gathering, Bomberman, Risky Planet, Insaniquarium, Diablo 3, Plants vs Zombies, Octogeddon https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/george-fan