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.


#170: Ross Cowman  

This week, Dirk and Kathryn talk with Ross Cowman, owner of game design studio Heart of the Deernicorn. They discuss the game Fall of Magic.---------------------Ross Cowman- @rosscowman, Kathryn Hymes - @chicalashaw, Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Outline 0:00:19 - Ross’ background 0:01.08 - Origin of company name 0:02:22 - company name SEO 0:02:57 - Origin of Fall of Magic 0:10:40 - Talking about a turn of the game 0:22:37 - What opportunities and difficulties have come from the game? 0:27:16 - What's next? 0:29:16 - Overseas reception of the game 0:33:22 - Translation of the game

#169: Dirk David & Rob  

This week, Dirk, David and Rob get together to catch up and answer listener questions. Ice cubes are involved.---------------------David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rob Daviau - @robdaviau Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Outline 0:00:26 - What's David been up to 0:03.37 - Update from Dirk on the Tesla vs Edison Dual kickstarter 0:05:18 - Rob got a haircut 0:07:27 - Listener Steve asks about cancelled kickstarter backers 0:10:43 - Listener Steve asks about the 'Winner Effect' 0:15:18 - Listener Doug asks about Escape Rooms 0:23:27 - Listener JC asks about revealing key information in a game 0:26:04 - Listener Glen asks a question regarding an idea you can't get off the ground, when do you shelve it or keep going? 0:28:48 - The Little Zen Handbook

#168: Emily Care Boss  

This week, Dirk and Kathryn welcome veteran game designer Emily Care Boss to the show. Emily has a long history in designing RPG games and making tools available to players to challenge their views and expand their gaming horizons. Some of her games encourage players to examine uncommonly represented topics, such as romance and sexuality.--------------------- Emily Care Boss - @emilycare, Kathryn Hymes - @chicalashaw, Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Outline 0:00:19 - Emily’s background 0:03:25 - Tabletop games and sexuality 0:15:40 - Emily’s catalog 0:25:56 - RPG and game theory

Episode #167: Chelsea Howe and VR  

Dirk and David are joined by Owlchemy Labs’ Chelsea Howe to talk about Virtual Rick-Ality and the new frontier of VR. Chelsea’s involvement with VR goes back to her days at EA and she continues to be on the forefront of development for this new platform. Chelsea describes what it’s like to develop and port games for VR and gives Dirk a pop culture lesson on Rick and Morty.--------------------- Chelsea Howe - @manojalpa David Heron - @DavidVHeron Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, --------------------- Episode Outline 0:01:14 - VR and Virtual Rick-Ality 0:09:03 - VR 101 0:13:39 - Augmented Reality 0:17:28 - Virtual communities 0:19:35 - New tech and novelty 0:22:21 - Dirk learns about Rick and Morty

#166: John Harper  

Dirk and Kathryn are joined this week by designer John Harper, the mind behind Blades in the Dark. John’s transition to full-time developer has been helped by his fans that support him via Kickstarter and Patreon - this following allows him to fully concentrate on his multi-disciplinary craft and continue to release free, hackable material.---------------------John Harper -, @john_harper---------------------Kathryn Hymes - @chicalashaw, Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer,, Episode Outline 0:01:41 - Blades in the Dark 0:10:51 - Growing in tastes as a designer 0:20:49 - Supporting yourself with indie work 0:27:34 - Game development over several disciplines 0:32:19 - Hackable game designs 0:35:13 - Upcoming designs

#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

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