Designer Notes - RSS Feed

Why do we make games? Every designer has a different and very personal answer to that question. Soren Johnson, founder of Mohawk Games, sits down with noted designers to find out by examining their careers as a whole.

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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.

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.

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...

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 March 24, 2018.

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 December 1, 2021.

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.

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...

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...

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.

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.

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