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Author: Brian

#182: Game Designer Mike Bithell – Thomas Was Alone

#182: Game Designer Mike Bithell – Thomas Was Alone

Description

In this episode, Dirk and Harrison have a chat with Mike Bithell, designer of games such as Thomas Was Alone, Volume, EarthShape, and Subsurface Circular. They discuss Mike’s path to success and how he’s been able to make such a variety of games.

Mike Bithell – @mikebithell, mikebithellgames.com
Harrison Pink – @GilesPink, harrisonpink.com, harrisonpink@gmail.com
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:17 Background on Mike
  • 1:23 How did Mike get into games?
  • 3:43 To what does Mike attribute his success?
  • 5:55 Was it really all luck? How about the marketing side? – How Mike ended up on Steam
  • 7:49 For the game, Thomas is Alone, how did narration get added to the game?
  • 11:54 What about games more recent than Thomas is Alone and their great reviews?
  • 15:24 What makes a game, an Bithell company game?
  • 18:46 What’s next?
  • 21:11 Did lack of marketing actually help?
  • 22:59 How do you balance making customers happy against sales volume?
  • 25:01 Design process
  • 27:47 Advice for aspiring indie game designers
#181: Listener Questions with David and Dirk

#181: Listener Questions with David and Dirk

Description

David Heron – @DavidVHeron
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:13 Listener Questions
  • 0:33 What are the most common mistakes new designers make with blind playtesting?
  • 6:55 What is the current state in board game printing?
  • 8:44 How does it work with games with lots of mini’s?
  • 10:56 Will 3D printing change how mini’s are handled?
  • 11:46 When you start designing a game, how much research do you do in the genre?
  • 15:00 What are the pros and cons of physical cards vs digital?
  • 21:21 Any advice on identifying broken strategies before taking a game to external testers?
  • 27:03 On a desert island, what games do David and Dirk pick?
#180: Spy Club from Foxtrot Games; How Collaboration helped deliver results.

#180: Spy Club from Foxtrot Games; How Collaboration helped deliver results.

Description

In this episode, Dirk is joined by John Schulter, Sarah Graybill and Randy Hoyt to discuss their work on their new game, Spy Club from Foxtrot Games. They describe how their collaboration works and how Foxtrot Games and Black Straw Games fit into this relationship.

John Schulter & Sarah Graybill – @BlackStrawGames, blackstrawgames.com
Randy Hoyt – @Randyhoyt, @foxtrotgames, foxtrotgames.com
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:11 Welcome John, Sarah and Randy – Background
  • 0:35 Discuss the new game, Spy Club, and how they all started on the team
  • 1:18 It is based on another game by Jason D. Kingsley
  • 2:18 These games have a long and intensive development process
  • 3:05 How did it get from Jason to Foxtrot Games
  • 3:53 How did playtesting turn into participation in the dev process?
  • 6:34 Spy Club – what type of game is it?
  • 7:58 John and Sarah have experience in designing games for children
  • 9:54 Is Foxtrot Games making a directed effort into family friendly games?
  • 11:12 Is this collaboration going into more projects?
  • 13:32 This shows how relationships can pay off
  • 14:53 Sarah and Black Straw Games
  • 16:44 How does the collaboration work between the two companies?
  • 19:35 How would people who are interested in working together do so?
  • 22:44 Foxtrot, is the pace of releases increasing?
  • 26:49 Spy Club the campaign aspect
  • 34:07 What are some challenges of collaboration?

 

#179: Elizabeth LaPensée, indigenous self-determination in game development.

#179: Elizabeth LaPensée, indigenous self-determination in game development.

Description

In this episode, Elizabeth LaPensée joins Kathryn and Dirk and they discuss indigenous self-determination in game development and how a destructive pattern of colonialism is being addressed.

Elizabeth LaPensée – elizabethlapensee@gmail.com, elizabethlapensee.com
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com
Kathryn Hymes – @chicalashaw, thornygames.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:11 Welcome Elizabeth – Background
  • 1:35 Elizabeth’s voice and perspective as a game designer
  • 3:07 Themes of culture; How does this impact Elizabeth’s making of games
  • 7:46 In the game Invaders, can a player win? Or is it inevitable that they will die?
  • 9:09 How do Grandmother-mechanics fit into a game like Invaders with indigenous game mechanics?
  • 11:42 Is there a larger message that is being told with these games?
  • 12:36 Why might the holocaust in WWII Europe be see differently than the holocaust that was perpetuated on the native American peoples?
  • 17:45 While there a lot of patterns of colonialism in games today, are there any positive themes to be found?
  • 19:15 Serious Games – What is this about?
  • 22:59 Game development as a form of self determination
  • 27:52 Will games of assassination be seen in the future as smoking on planes is seen today?
#178: Niki Crisci, Will Glow the Wisp

#178: Niki Crisci, Will Glow the Wisp

Description

In this episode, Niki Crisci calls in from Germany and chats with David and Dirk about his recently release game, Will Glow the Wisp. They discuss his inspiration for the game and how he’s found the time to work on it.

Niki Crisci – @KeyboardSamuray , parttimeindie.com, store.steampowered.com/app/640890/Will_Glow_the_Wisp/
David Heron – @DavidVHeron
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:16 Welcome Niki- Background
  • 0:50 Overview of Niki’s new game, Will Glow the Wisp
  • 2:59 Niki’s day-job
  • 3:26 Nike’s art background and his relationship to making games
  • 6:57 When did Niki get started on Will Glow the Wisp?
  • 14:13 What is the indie game scene like in Germany?
  • 15:58 How has Niki dealt with a smaller supporting community during development?
  • 19:09 Working alone vs working with a team
  • 22:24 What is the hope for this or future games for Niki?
  • 24:02 Advice for beginners

 

 

#177: Tomer Perry, Ethics and Political Theory

#177: Tomer Perry, Ethics and Political Theory

Description

In this episode, Tomer Perry, political theorists, avid board and table gamer from Harvard University joins David and Dirk. They discuss how games are used to teach ethics and political theory.

Tommer Perry – @Perrytom6, ethics.harvard.edu, politicalgamer.com
David Heron – @DavidVHeron
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:14 Welcome Tomer – Background
  • 2:45 What impact, is what you’re doing, having for people who are teaching?
  • 3:53 Are great opportunity to also explore questions of ethics
  • 7:44 Book: The Art of Losing
  • 10:37 What can be learned from traditional game design?
  • 12:13 What is the innovation that is breaking new ground?
  • 15:31 Are there other fields besides IR that could benefit?
  • 16:52 Tabletop games are easier to reproduce
  • 19:37 Where does this all go moving forward?

 

 

#176: Methodology and Management

#176: Methodology and Management

Description

David and Dirk catch up and talk about David’s new work. They discuss some of the different ways he’s found this new studio operates organizationally and how he thinks it may be a growing trend across the industry.

David Heron – @DavidVHeron
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:38 What is David doing now in terms of job roles and companies? It’s not quite what he expected
  • 3:29 What is David’s new project?
  • 5:14 David discusses that this is the first time he’s run a project from the very beginning.
  • 7:32 Lean Engineering
  • 9:13 How decisions are distributed across a team
  • 12:14 How are the new ideas of developing a game applied in his new environment?
  • 14:42 Where is the design happening?
  • 18:02 What does the team look like?
  • 20:50 What is the impressive part of the way this team is assembled and the game is being developed?
  • 27:07 Is this new way of team design unique to the new company or is it something that is happening across the industry?

 

#175: Listener Mail August 2017

#175: Listener Mail August 2017

Description
David, Dirk, and Kathryn dive into the digital mailbag and take a shot at some listener questions.

Topics include Kickstarter Cancellations, design organization and ways to pitch a game.

David Heron – @DavidVHeron
Kathryn Hymes – @chicalashaw, thornygames.com
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:20 Everyone thinks it has been a good week.
  • 0:26 Some listener comments
  • 0:36 Listener Michael Hopkins – Kickstarter Cancellations
  • 3:18 Q: Glen Slagel – Do you go back through old notes?
  • 7:17 Q: Tristen Angeles & Ryan Sumo – How do you organize your design?
  • 15:02 Q: Aaron Wilson & Trevor Willis – Pitching a game by video vs. at a convention?
  • 18:15 Q: Tristen & Ryan – How do you organize play tests?
  • 22:53 Art Quality of prototypes – How does high vs. low fidelity impact testing?
  • 26:06 Events for designers
  • 27:00 Q: Derek Tocaz – Score keeping mechanisms – what do you like?
  • 34:23 Kathryn got some cool games while in Japan

 

#174: Mo Turkington and LARPs

#174: Mo Turkington and LARPs

Description

In this episode, Mo Turkington from Unruly Designs joins Dirk and Kathryn to discuss LARPs and specifically chamber LARPs focused on women in WWII. The conversation also touches on the roles LARPs can have in understanding social privilege.

Mo Turkington – unrulydesigns.com, moyra@unrulydesigns.com
Kathryn Hymes – @chicalashaw, thornygames.com
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:14 – Mo introduced and background
  • 0:49 – What is a LARP?
  • 2:02 – How does the idea of a LARP fit into Nightingales?
  • 4:18 – What attracts Mo to the subject of historical LARP?
  • 8:53 – As a designer how do you approach the historical details?
  • 11:43 – What are the concrete goals a LARP player has?
  • 17:20 – Are LARP games meant to be replayed?
  • 19:51 – Differences between LARP and tabletop games
  • 20:40 – Onboarding and Offboarding mechanics
  • 25:54 – Privilege Lines
  • 29:51 – Debriefs
  • 35:12 – The changing narratives of LARP, RPG and tabletop games
  • 40:17 – What’s the right way to play a LARP for the uninitiated?
  • 44:00 – Wrap up and contact information
#173: Game Design Axioms

#173: Game Design Axioms

Description
Dirk, Kathryn, and Rob get together for the much anticipated game design axioms episode. Listen as they share their their top design principles.

Kathryn Hymes – @chicalashaw, thornygames.com
Rob Daviau – @robdaviau
Dirk Knemeyer – @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com

Episode Outline

  • 0:06 – Greetings
  • 0:22 – Rob has a sultry voice
  • 0:41 – Kathryn and Rob are on the show together for the first time
  • 0:57 – Game design axioms
  • 1:23 – Axiom – Rob – Never make a person lose a turn
  • 5:26 – How Rob’s experience at Hasbro contributed
  • 6:45 – Axiom – Kathryn – Design for the Human Animal
  • 8:20 – Heuristics – Group info and decisions in 3’s
  • 8:58 – What are humans great at?
  • 10:47 – Insight – The Friction Is The Game
  • 11:57 – Flout Axioms with purpose
  • 12:19 – Kathryn background for her axiom
  • 13:01 – Axiom – Dirk – Know who you are designing for
  • 16:29 – User testing is core to knowing your audience
  • 17:59 – Tips for getting the right play testers
  • 20:37 – Axiom – Rob – Experience is more important than the rules
  • 24:17 – Rule design – people will do what they will do
  • 25:19 – Axiom – Kathryn – Rules relate to emotion
  • 28:11 – How to draw an emotional map
  • 29:22 – Axiom – Dirk – If you want them to like it, make sure they succeed.
  • 34:12 – Design Nuggets from the internet
  • 34:37 – Nugget – Design to guide for the right use
  • 35:27 – Nugget – Your politics or someone else’s
  • 35:52 – Nugget – Be specific
  • 36:21 – Nugget – Tell me why to play your game
  • 36:48 – Nugget – Prioritize projects that are exciting to you
  • 37:38 – Nugget – People value what you make them work for