Soren Johnson

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Everything posted by Soren Johnson

  1. Designer Notes 43: Clint Hocking - Part 1 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer Clint Hocking, who started his career working on the original Splinter Cell and was also the Creative Director of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2. They discuss how his early time as a Dungeon Master informs his design work, how he took a huge pay cut to join the games industry, and how the Splinter Cell team was conflicted over dynamic gameplay vs. set piece content. Games discussed: Space Invaders, Turbo, Dig Dug, Dragon’s Lair, Lode Runner, Ultima IV, Dungeons and Dragons, GURPS, Thief, Deus Ex, Rainbow Six, Alpha Centauri, Splinter Cell Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  2. Designer Notes 42: David Sirlin - Part 2 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer David Sirlin, best known for his work on Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Yomi, and Puzzle Strike. They discuss how many hit points are too many hit points, whether his work is post-modernist, and how to make the first move in Yomi. Also, listen to see if Soren can successfully pronounce iconoclast. Games discussed: Fantasy Strike, Divekick, Rising Thunder, Yomi, Pandante, Puzzle Strike, Offworld Trading Company, Codex Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  3. Designer Notes 44: Clint Hocking - Part 2 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer Clint Hocking, who started his career working on the original Splinter Cell and was also the Creative Director of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2. They discuss why games always need three months at the end, how he feels about his crunch on Chaos Theory, and how they choose Africa for Far Cry 2. Games discussed: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, Far Cry 2 Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  4. Designer Notes 40: Brian Reynolds - Part 3 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 why Big Huge made Rise of Legends instead of Rise of Nations 2, why you shouldn’t let a company provide you with a computer, and how he cost Zynga $800K from a spreadsheet error. Games discussed: Rise of Nations, Rise of Legends, Settlers of Catan, Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Farmville, Mafia Wars, FrontierVille, Brian Reynold’s Unreleased Fashion Game, CityVille 2, DomiNations Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  5. Designer Notes 43: Clint Hocking - Part 1

    Glad people are appreciating my "transitions"!
  6. Designer Notes 41: David Sirlin - Part 1 In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer David Sirlin, best known for his work on Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Yomi, and Puzzle Strike. They discuss why games with more mechanics are not deeper, whether fighting games should also include cake baking, and why he didn’t end up designing Street Fighter 4. Games discussed:: the Street Fighter series, the Guilty Gear series, Yomi, Puzzle Fighter, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Death Jr., Kongai Listen on the Episode Page Listen on Soundcloud Listen in iTunes
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. In this episode, Soren Johnson interviews veteran game designer Amy Hennig, best known for her work on the Legacy of Kain and Uncharted series. They discuss what happened in 1977, how to make a platformer about Michael Jordan, and whether women are now being scared away from game development the way she was from the film industry. In true adventure game fashion, we end on a cliffhanger! Games Discussed: ELIZA, Sea Wolf, Combat, Dungeons and Dragons, Zork, Electrocop, Bard’s Tale 4, Desert Strike, Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, the Legacy of Kain series, Jak 3 https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/amy-hennig
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Designer Notes 7: Brad Muir

    Thanks for the kind words... and good luck!
  17. Designer Notes 7: Brad Muir

    In this episode, Soren interviews Brad Muir, who is a designer/programmer at Double Fine. He was a programmer on Psychonauts, the lead designer of Brutal Legend, and the project leader on Iron Brigade. Brad is currently leading the development of Massive Chalice, a tactical strategy game now available on Steam Early Access. They discuss trying to make peace with narrative-based games, why consoles (and not tablets) are the future of Lords Managements, what it's like pitching ideas to publishers, and why Brad worked at Raven for 89 days. Games Discussed: Spec Ops: The Line, The Walking Dead, Crusader Kings 2, Hunt the Wumpus, The Legend of Zelda, Brutal Legend, Alter Echo, Psychonauts, XCOM, Massive Chalice, Trenched/Iron Brigade https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/brad-muir
  18. In this episode, Bruce Geryk interviews veteran wargame designer Mark Herman, former CEO of Victory Games and best known for pioneering card-driven wargames with We The People. They discuss designing games for less than $100 per week, why he couldn't release a game because Saddam Hussein might play it, and how Magic the Gathering helped him create a new genre. Games Discussed: Chess, Battle of the Bulge, October War, The Next War, MechWar 2, Gulf Strike, Desert Shield, We The People, For The People, Empire of the Sun, Churchill https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/mark-herman
  19. 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...)
  20. 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
  21. In this episode, Adam Saltsman interviews independent game developer Lucas Pope, best known for the immigration officer simulation Papers Please. They discuss how Naughty Dog taught him to mercilessly cut features, why it might be a good thing if Obra Dinn is bad, and how Adam has time to do these interviews. Games discussed: Malice, Gearhead Garage, Papers Please, The Republia Times, Return of the Obra Dinn https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/lucas-pope
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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!