The gang discusses Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest entry in the long-running tactics RPG series. We dig into how Three Houses uses its character development mechanics to encourage the player to invest in their characters both mechanically and emotionally. We then contrast this approach with those taken in XCOM 2 and Darkest Dungeon to see how each game uses its systems to reinforce its unique themes and tone.
We discuss Fantasy Flight Games' recent 'unique deck game', Keyforge, in which every deck you buy is a randomly generated, unique, and unchangeable combination of cards. We look at how this system makes the game more approachable than traditional trading card games, how it affects high level and competitive play, and what other developers can learn from this approach, even if they don't have access to FFG's custom printing processes.
The gang compare the card combat systems in Steamworld Quest and Slay the Spire and analyze how one simple difference massively changes the focus of each game.
We're super excited to be joined by Alex Beachum, creative director of Outer Wilds, the time-looping space exploration game that won the Independent Game Festival's grand prize back when it was still a student project.
Together we explore the story of the game's seven year development cycle before diving deep into how Alex and the team at Mobius Digital created a mystery game that spans an entire solar system. How did they make sure that players would be motivated to investigate each separate plot thread? How did they prevent players from ever feeling lost or directionless? How did they do all of this without ever placing a map marker or opening a quest log? You'll have to listen to found out!
Jon and Rob discuss how the developers of 2016's Doom reboot pursued a philosophy of 'push-forward combat', utilizing smartly-design systems and AI to give the player a sense of agency and empowerment.
(We also referred to Doom 2016 as Doom 5, thinking that there had been a previous, underwhelming Doom 4. No such game was ever release -- we were probably thinking of Quake 4 instead. Our bad!)
Jon and Rob are back from vacation, and we're ready to deliver some spicy hot takes! This time: Jon can't stand playing Dungeons & Dragons, despite loving lots of other tabletop RPGs. Improv comedy technique, homebrew magic systems, and bad fantasy novels are all discussed within.
This week we're discussing one of the most important skills for a professional game designer to cultivate -- workplace communication! We share thoughts and personal anecdotes on how to clearly get your ideas across, how to foster a non-toxic work environment, and how to align your whole team behind the same set of goals.
Continuing on from last week's discussion of non-standard RPG stats in games, we dig into the confusingly named stats that make up Bloodborne's progression system. Designs will be analyzed, honor will be challenged, and in true From Software fashion, one of our hosts will die.
The gang discusses Digimon World's Brains stat and how it allowed the designers to tutorialize the game's combat by abstracting the player's access to each monster's moves until they had gained a certain level of familiarity with them. Also: the start of a bitter feud that threatens to tear the world of Pretentious Game Ideas apart.
We're back with a new interview episode! Special guest Casey Yano drops by to discuss the experience of developing his hit game Slay the Spire using early access development, in which a game is made available for play and purchase while it is still being actively built by the developer.
Together we explore how to recognize if early access is right for your project, what value it can create for you as a developer, how to convince your players to pay for an unfinished game, and strategies for avoiding the dreaded scope creep.