The gang discusses Really Bad Chess, which is actually really good. We dig into how developer Zach Gage made a classic game more fun and accessible, and Rob expresses his surprisingly deep love for Backgammon.
The gang discusses the gorgeous visual album game Sayonara Wild Hearts, heaping praises upon its aesthetics but picking apart its bizarre relationship with its scoring system.
The gang discusses comedy in games and how Untitled Goose Game and What the Golf? each tackle this difficult design area.
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.