The Game Design Round Table

The Game Design Round Table

United States

Hosts Dirk Knemeyer and Jon Shafer talk game design each week with esteemed guests. Focusing on both digital and tabletop gaming, The Game Design Round Table provides a forum for conversation about critical issues to game design.


#165 Listener Mail April 2017  

Dirk, Harrison, and Kathryn dive into the mailbag once again to answer your game design questions. Is it really that difficult to get published in North America from other markets? What’s life on the digital side like when it comes to publishing? And what can you do when you (inevitably) get stuck?.---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Harrison Pink - @gilespink,, Kathryn Hymes - @chicalashaw, - The difference between design and development and getting stuck 0:06:05 - Publishing from non-American or European markets 0:10:04 - Linear narratives 0:16:03 - Game design and budget 0:21:53 - Self-publishing and digital games 0:26:02 - Players vs. The Game

#164: Nels Anderson and Firewatch  

Designer Nels Anderson stops by to talk to Dirk and Harrison about his work on 2016’s hit Firewatch. Nels worked with a small team at Campo Santo studios to create a unique storytelling adventure that was a critically acclaimed success. Nels describes the pros and cons of working with a small team of core developers and the lessons he learned from working on a team that was birthing their first game together.---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Harrison Pink -, Nels Anderson - @nelsormench, Outline 0:00:58 - Firewatch 0:08:00 - Getting started 0:11:53 - Narrative and level design 0:15:14 - Working with a small team 0:18:42 - Firewatch as a first game 0:23:14 - Current projects 0:26:13 - Design lessons learned

#163: Jason Thompson  

Dirk and Rob are joined by writer, artist, and game designer Jason Thompson to talk about his innovative drawing game "Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics", co-published by Mock Man Press and Japanime Games. Jason talks about his background in manga and writing as well as the process that caused Mangaka to evolve over the course of several years into the game it is today.---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Rob Daviau - @robdaviau Jason Thompson - @mockman---------------------0:01:33 - Mangaka 0:09:15 - Early ideas 0:15:48 - How the stories unfold 0:17:48 - From writing to game design 0:21:48 - Jason’s future plans

#162: Listener Mail February 2017  

Dirk, David, and Kathryn Hymes are here to answer your questions. This week they go over replayability, ambitious ideas, and the differences between design and development.---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Kathryn Hymes - - Replayability and value 0:16:06 - Trimming game length 0:26:39 - IP creation and long-term goals 0:31:19 - The difference between design and development

#161: Paizo Games  

Dirk and Harrison are joined by Jessica Price and Wes Schneider from Paizo games to talk about their voluminous tabletop roleplaying library. Paizo is best known for their Pathfinder roleplaying system, a successor to Dungeons and Dragons Version 3.5. Wes and Jess talk about their paths into game development as well as the highly anticipated new RPG, --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Harrison Pink -, @colonialpink Jessica Price - @delafina777 Wes Scneider - @fwesschneider --------------------- Starfinder. 0:00:21 - Paizo Games 0:09:00 - Backgrounds before Paizo 0:18:10 - Creating tabletop modules 0:29:40 - Starfinder RPG

#160: Dominic Crapuchettes and North Star Games  

Dirk and David are joined by Dominic Crapuchettes of North Star Games to talk about their breakout hits and the process of creating mass market games. North Star Games is most well known for their widely-available games Wits and Wagers and Say Anything but also their educational Evolution series that is used by teachers across the country. Dominic shares what it’s like balancing creating games using a winning formula and branching out into something new. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Dominic Crapuchettes -, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:00:30 - The beginnings of North Star Games 0:01:59 - Wits and Wagers and Say Anything 0:06:17 - Business partners 0:10:20 - Evolution: Climate 0:19:44 - Managing success and aspirations 0:22:29 - The Evolution series 0:30:48 - New and upcoming games

#159: Guess Who’s Back, Back Again  

Description David makes his return to the show after a brief absence and fills us in with what’s been going on in his world. We’re also happy to announce a new half-hour format that will hopefully yield shorter shows that are posted more often. Dirk, David, and Rob take on more listener questions as they settle back into their old routine. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau -@RobDaviauGamer, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:01:16 - Where did David go? 0:05:14 - Designing a game to be more than mechanics 0:10:26 - Women in game design 0:16:49 - What pre-existing IP would you pick to work on? 0:20:32 - Choose ONE game design axiom 0:24:45 - Kickstarter advice 0:26:35 - How has crowdsourcing impacted replayability?

#158: Suzanne Zinsli and Cardboard Edison  

Dirk and Harrison are joined by Suzanne Zinsli of Cardboard Edison to talk about game design, publishing, and running their amazing resource for game designers. Cardboard Edison is a gather of best practices, tips for designers, and information about publishers. Their Cardboard Edison Award also helps grow and develop designers through the submittal process. Suzanne covers their own games like Cobra and Dubai and goes over what you should (and really shouldn’t do) to submit a game for the Cardboard Edison Award. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Harrison Pink -, @colonialpink Suzanne - @cardboardedison, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:00:46 - Cardboard Edison and other jobs 0:08:05 - Publishers vs. self-publishing 0:11:47 - Firewalling your own games 0:14:06 - Cobras 0:19:06 - Cardboard Edison Awards 0:32:16 - Having three partners 0:40:59 - Dubai 0:44:02 - Managing a large amount of projects 0:47:58 - Potential upcoming games 0:51:14 - Advice for designers

#157: Harrison Joins the Mail Crew  

Dirk, David, and Harrison tackle the mail bag after an exciting announcement about Rob’s new company, Restoration Games. Restoration’s goal is to reprint and modernize classic games that are no longer available. Our hosts go on to talk about games that are overproduced (as well as micro games), the concept of player choice vs. direction, and where to get all the shiny bits needed for prototyping. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Rob Daviau - @robdaviau Harrison Pink -, @colonialpink --------------------- Episode Outline 0:00:32 - Harrison’s status 0:03:03 - Rob and Restoration Games 0:07:37 - When is game setup part of the game? 0:11:40 - Number of decision points in a game 0:18:57 - The incremental idle genre 0:25:19 - Overproduced games and micro games 0:31:47 - Where can you draw inspiration from? 0:34:35 - Forcing interactions or letting players choose 0:40:33 - Using real locations in games 0:44:39 - Should rules always place setup first? 0:54:44 - What parts are you attracted to for prototypes?

#156: Kathryn Hymes and Thorny Games  

This week Dirk is joined by new co-host Harrison Pink and guest Kathryn Hymes of Thorny Games. Kathryn brings a unique perspective to the tabletop world with games that take on the challenges of linguistics and the evolution (and death) of languages. She explains how Thorny Games takes on the challenge of games light on mechanics and heavy on intellectual stimulation. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Harrison Pink -, @colonialpink Kathryn Hymes - @chicalashaw, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:03:31 - Sign 0:14:34 - Dialect 0:28:32 - Games light on mechanics 0:33:56 - Games vs. experiences 0:36:23 - The design process 0:53:37 - Games design and a day job

#154: Essen and Listener Mail  

Dirk, David, and Rob are back again to talk about what’s going on in their worlds and to answer more listener mail. Rob is back from Europe after attending the Essen (SPIEL) game convention and has stories to tell about where cultural stereotypes come from. Dirk’s Einstein game is doing well on Kickstarter and is available for purchase at that site. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau -@RobDaviau, ---------------------Episode Outline 0:01:02 - Essen 0:08:07 - Einstein 0:12:44 - 504 0:18:31 - Designing a Legacy game 0:30:37 - When is good “good enough”? 0:37:07 - Companion apps for games 0:43:26 - Incorporating setup and takedown 0:46:16 - Patreon vs. Kickstarter

#153: Riot Games  

Description Dirk and David are joined by Rick Ernst and Chris Cantrell of Riot Games to talk about their upcoming board game Mechs vs. Minions. Riot Games is best known for their wildly successful PC game League of Legends. Riot is taking that universe and condensing a part of it down into a board game that focuses on team play and cooperative strategy. Rick and Chris talk about how the game came about and what it’s like to capture the MOBA magic on the tabletop.--------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rick Ernst Chris Cantrell --------------------- Episode Outline 0:00:51 - Mechs vs. Minions 0:04:30 - League of Legends 0:07:30 - Condensing a MOBA to tabletop 0:14:27 - Handling quarterbacking 0:18:34 - The early game 0:24:30 - Complexity vs. accessibility 0:28:13 - Build quality 0:37:37 - How the game came about 0:43:30 - Playtesting 0:47:31 - The design process

#152: Professor Rob’s Mailbag  

Description Dirk, David, and Rob get together to answer more of your questions. The Game Design Roundtable audience continues to provide poignant and intriguing questions, and our trio of hosts is ready to help.--------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau -@RobDaviau, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:12:08 - Anti-quarterbacking 0:21:33 - Creativity and inspiration 0:33:53 - Witnessing playtesting 0:41:41 - Emergence in boardgames 0:50:57 - Design and marketing

#151: Isaac Shalev and Kind Fortress  

Dirk and David get together with Isaac Shalev to talk about the fast-paced development at Kind Fortress. Since his last time on the show Isaac has had several games designed and put into print, and he talks about importance of artwork as well as designing a wide variety of games rather than a special niche. He also talks about the usefulness of Tabletop Simulator as a prototyping and presentation tool. You can check out his own podcast at ---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Isaac Shalev -@KindFortress,, ---------------------Episode Outline 0:00:43 - Isaac’s recent developments 0:09:36 - Artwork 0:18:23 - Working with a partner 0:23:35 - Broad vs niche design 0:27:43 - Business acumen 0:31:22 - Prototyping 0:35:35 - Tabletop Simulator

#150: Travel Catch-up and Listener Mail  

Dirk, David, and Rob are here on the momentous 150th episode of the Game Design Roundtable to talk about their recent travels. David is traveling the globe to support his game studio and Rob returns from the prestigious Spiel des Jahres awards in Germany. They also tackle some more of your insightful questions. --------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau -@RobDaviau, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:00:58 - Star Trek Conventions 0:09:02 - Spiel des Jahres 0:20:49 - Prototype Cards and nanDECK 0:23:16 - Bidding mechanics 0:32:01 - Abstract games 0:40:50 - Well-written rules 0:49:13 - Designer credits

#149: Jellybean Games  

Dirk brings on guests Peter Hayward and Tania Walker to talk about their work at Jellybean Games. Jellybean places an emphasis on family-friendly games that can still be enjoyed by adults. Peter talks about his role at the company and what prompted him to start in the family game space and Tania shares her experience as an artist and art director. ---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Peter Hayward - @PeterHayward Tania Walker -@TaniaWalker, ---------------------Episode Outline 0:01:34 - Jellybean Games 0:12:22 - Scuttle 0:16:05 - The first Kickstarter 0:19:59 - Dracula’s Feast 0:30:31 - Upcoming games 0:48:23 - Future plans for Jellybean 0:52:28 - Advice for Designers

#148: More Listener Mail  

Dirk, David, and Rob are back to answer more of your questions. How viable is it to break into the market and make a decent salary? Is high-quality art worth it? And just how do you get cards printed?---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau -@RobDaviau, Outline 0:00:41 - Games that use memory as a resource 0:14:04 - How to print cards and prototypes 0:25:39 - Art and artists 0:37:43 - Hobby market vs mass market 0:56:31 - The value of IP

#147: Black Straw Games  

Dirk and David welcome designer Sarah Graybill of Black Straw Games to the show to talk about their unique brand of games. Black Straw have developed a collection of abstract and family friendly games while also working to foster the game development community..--------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Sarah Graybill - @blackstrawgames, ---------------------Episode Outline 0:00:58 - Black Straw Games 0:04:30 - Abstract games 0:11:37 - Rocket Squad 0:15:32 - Publishers 0:18:17 - The design process 0:22:55 - Oolong 0:28:41 - Community development 0:36:59 - Goals for the company 0:44:27 - Oblique

#146: Soren Johnson and Offworld Trading Company  

Soren Johnson is back to talk to Dirk and David about his new game, Offworld Trading Company. Offworld is the product of Soren’s own game development studio, Mohawk Games. He dives deep into the development process and the early access model and shares how the game has evolved over time.---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Soren Johnson - @sorenjohnson,, - The development process 0:16:48 - Tutorials and concepts 0:21:01 - The campaign 0:33:04 - The daily challenge 0:37:15 - Black markets and goon squads 0:45:25 - Refining the campaign 0:47:05 - Early access and launch 0:55:47 - “Lessons learned”

#145: Seafall, Powering Up, and Listener Mail  

It’s a celebratory show as Dirk, David, and Rob talk about the latest releases from the crew. Rob’s Legacy game Seafall is finally ready for preorder after many years of hard work and Dirk is also pleased to share that his expansion for Tesla vs. Edison - Powering Up - is up on Kickstarter and exceeding his expectations. Our always-curious listeners have provided yet more questions for the panel, and they delve into a variety of topics on digital game implementations and why Rob wants to be a cardboard screen.---------------------Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau -@RobDaviauGamer, Outline 0:00:32 - Seafall 0:06:30 - Tesla vs. Edison - Powering Up 0:14:39 - Games in both tabletop and digital format 0:20:19 - App first before Kickstarter? 0:34:13 - Turn length on apps and tabletop 0:39:42 - When are you truly a game designer? 0:45:06 - What physical game component do you most identify with? 0:48:49 - Playing a bad game with a good group 0:53:24 - Memory as a resource

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