Soren Johnson

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Everything posted by Soren Johnson

  1. Designer Notes 67: Old World In this episode, Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk interview Soren and Leyla Johnson about their new historical 4X, Old World. They discuss whether the Old World timeline really makes sense, how they approach Early Access differently, and why Soren didn’t want to give up on the name 10 Crowns. Games discussed: Old World, Civilization series, FrontierVille, Neptune’s Pride, Crusader Kings series, King of Dragon Pass, XCOM, Empires of the Middle Ages, Alpha Centauri, Seven Cities of Gold, Colonization, Power Grid Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  2. Designer Notes 66: Luca Redwood In this episode, Soren interviews Luca Redwood, the developer of 10000000, You Must Build a Boat, and Photographs. They discuss why 10000000 has no commas, how he makes sure the player never gets unlucky, and why you need to build a boat. This episode was recorded March 18, 2019. Games discussed: Morph, Suikoden I, Suikoden II, 10000000, Puzzle Quest, Chuzzle, Dungeon Raid, Henry Hatsworth, The World Ends with You, Path of Exile, You Must Build a Boat, Civilization III, Civilization IV, Photographs Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  3. Designer Notes 65: Robin Hunicke - Part 2 In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Robin Hunicke, co-founder of Funomena and best known for her work on MySims, Boom Blox, and Journey. They discuss why developers overperform their authority in large companies, how they almost accidentally made Journey a competitive game, and why they decided to let thatgamecompany run out of money to ship the game. This episode was recorded December 1, 2021. Game discussed: Journey Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  4. Designer Notes 64: Robin Hunicke - Part 1 In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Robin Hunicke, co-founder of Funomena and best known for her work on MySims, Boom Blox, and Journey. They discuss why HyperCard was so great, why AI development is game design, and how Steven Spielberg almost made Angry Birds for EA. This episode was recorded December 1, 2021. Games discussed: Pitfall, M.U.L.E., Offworld Trading Company, XCOM, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Half-Life, Spore, Katamari Damacy, The Sims 2, MySims, Boom Blox, Nintendo Land Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  5. Designer Notes 63: Josh Sawyer - Part 2 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  6. Designer Notes 62: Josh Sawyer - Part 1

    COVID! (My stockpile of podcasts ran low, so I slowed my release schedule...)
  7. Designer Notes 62: Josh Sawyer - Part 1 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  8. Designer Notes 61: Chet Faliszek 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  9. Designer Notes 60: Andy Schatz - Part 2 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  10. Designer Notes 59: Andy Schatz - Part 1 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 how he tried to live out Ultima’s virtues, why no one was ever able to rip-off The Sims, and why we both hate click-the-stick. Games discussed: Ultima series, Minecraft, Halo, X-COM, Star Trek: Hidden Evil, Whacked!, The Sims, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa, Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Arctic, Monaco, Geometry Wars Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  11. Designer Notes 58: Rob Daviau - Part 2 In this episode, Soren interviews board game designer Rob Daviau, best known for his work on Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy. They discuss the criteria for a good Legacy game, how to put just a little PvP in a game without overdoing it, and why he removed his phone number from his website. Games discussed: Risk: Legacy, Pandemic: Legacy, XCOM 2, Seafall, Conspiracy, Stop Thief Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  12. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  13. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  14. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  15. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  16. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  17. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  18. 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 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  19. Designer Notes 50: Designer Notes 50: Alex Hutchinson In this episode, Soren interviews game designer Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director at Typhoon Studios and best known for his work on Spore, Assassin’s Creed 3, and Far Cry 4. They discuss how they both would have screwed up SimCity, how working at Ubisoft is like Brewster’s Millions, and what happened with Spore. Games discussed: Pepper 2, Sensible Soccer, SimCity, The Urbz, The Sims 2, Spore, Army of Two: The 40th Day, Assassin’s Creed 3, Far Cry 4, Journey to the Savage Planet Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  20. Designer Notes 49: Adam Saltsman - Part 2 In this episode, Soren interviews game developer Adam Saltsman, who co-founded indie publisher Finji and is best known for his work on Gravity Hook, Canabalt, Hundreds, Capsule, and Overland. They discuss how Mario speed runs are the original infinite runners, why Canabalt is in 6 shades of grey, and when does Permadeath make sense for a game Games discussed: Canabalt, Captain Forever, Jetpack Joyride, Alone, Hundreds, Portico, Overland, 868-HACK, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 Games discussed: Canabalt, Captain Forever, Jetpack Joyride, Alone, Hundreds, Portico, Overland, 868-HACK, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  21. Designer Notes 48: Adam Saltsman - Part 1 In this episode, Soren interviews game developer Adam Saltsman, who co-founded indie publisher Finji and is best known for his work on Gravity Hook, Canabalt, Hundreds, Capsule, and Overland. They discuss how Cave Story showed him that he could make games on his own, why he thought he worked with the guy who invented Boggle, and his many failed attempts to join the video games industry. Games discussed: Super Mario Bros. 2, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Cave Story, Tower Blocks, Boggle, Gravity Hook, ThrustBurst Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  22. Designer Notes 47: Brendon Chung - Part 2 In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Brendon Chung, best known for his work on Atom Zombie Smasher, Thirty Flights of Loving, and Quadrilateral Cowboy. They discuss why Xbox Live Indie Games didn’t take off, what exactly happens at the end of Atom Zombie Smasher, and how streaming game development made him work harder than ever before. Games discussed: Flotilla, Air Forte, Atom Zombie Smasher, XCOM, Thirty Flights of Loving, Quadrilateral Cowboy, Cursor 10 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  23. Designer Notes 46: Brendon Chung - Part 1 In this episode, Soren interviews independent game developer Brendon Chung, best known for his work on Atom Zombie Smasher, Thirty Flights of Loving, and Quadrilateral Cowboy. They discuss how to make an adventure game inside of Doom, why he won’t read text popups but will read the back of cereal boxes, and what does the ending of Gravity Bone mean. Games discussed: Sierra Adventure Games, Doom, XCOM, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Planescape: Torment, Hexen 2, Strife, Thief, Company of Heroes, Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Gravity Bone Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  24. 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
  25. Designer Notes 45: Rami Ismail In this episode, Soren and Leyla Johnson interview independent game developer Rami Ismail of Vlambeer, best known for his work on Super Crate Box, Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers, and Nuclear Throne. They discuss why he started a company with someone he couldn’t stand, how to make games in a place without electricity, and why the world “inclusivity” can still be exclusionary. Games discussed: StarCraft, Urban Assault, Final Fantasy XV, Nier: Automata, Star Wraith, Evochron, Super Crate Box, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers, Nuclear Throne Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes