Designer Notes 83: Mitch Lasky – Part 2
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
1w ago
In this episode, Soren interviews noted game investor Mitch Lasky, best known for his work as a venture capitalist at Benchmark, as the CEO of JAMDAT, and as an executive at Activision and Electronic Arts. They discuss how the industry’s business models have always affected design, why he was wrong about the Halloween pack ruining League of Legends, and why the litigation leaks are better than GDC. This episode was recorded on October 23, 2023. Games discussed: League of Legends, Hearthstone, StarCraft, Civilization 6, World of Warcraft, Pentiment, Offworld Trading Company, Flow, Sky, Journey ..read more
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Designer Notes 82: Mitch Lasky – Part 1
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
1M ago
In this episode, Soren interviews noted game investor Mitch Lasky, best known for his work as a venture capitalist at Benchmark, as the CEO of JAMDAT, and as an executive at Activision and Electronic Arts. They discuss how the Doom shareware model was a preview of free-to-play, why a console transition led to EA buying Maxis, and how Jamdat pioneered paying for visibility on mobile. This episode was recorded on October 23, 2023. Games discussed: Pong, Computer Space, Robotron, Seven Cities of Gold, Secret of Monkey Island, Civilization: Call to Power, The Lion King, Aladdin, Classic Text Adven ..read more
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Designer Notes 81: Jake Solomon – Part 2
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
2M ago
In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Jake Solomon, best known for the XCOM reboot and Midnight Suns. They discuss his first, failed attempt at XCOM, why 75% does not mean 75%, and how many copies of XCOM he sold at Power Gamer in Glen Burnie, MD. This episode was recorded on April 26, 2023. Games discussed: Civilization Revolution, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Rocket League, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, Old World, the Civilization series, XCOM 2, Slay the Spire, Offworld Trading Company, Into the Breach, Pandemic, Covert Action https://www.idlethumbs.net/d ..read more
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Donkeyspace AI Interview
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
6M ago
Frank Lantz recently interviewed me on Donkeyspace, his excellent Substack, which generally focuses on the current AI boom but, in reality, is about his ongoing work on the human condition. As my responses would be of interest to readers here, I’ve reposted the interview below. Is there a competitive scene for Civ, with tournaments, ranking, etc? If so, do bots have any role in this scene, either as part of the game or for training/analysis? There is no true competitive scene for Civ although there are a number of small ladders that do the best they can. It’s not really a game that lends itsel ..read more
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Designer Notes 80: Jake Solomon – Part 1
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
7M ago
In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Jake Solomon, best known for the XCOM reboot and Midnight Suns. They discuss how much money he had to give back to Accenture, how to animate multiple units at the same time, and why Sid suddenly started golfing so much. This episode was recorded on April 25, 2023. Games discussed: Sopwith, Silent Service, Zork, Jumpman, Ultima V, Falcon 4, F-19 Stealth Fighter, Pirates!, Dungeons and Dragons, X-COM: UFO Defense, Midnight Suns, Warcraft 2, Doom, Duke Nukem, Age of Empires 2, Civilization 3, Dinosaurs!, SimGolf, Civilization 4, Civilizatio ..read more
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Designer Notes 78: Trent Kusters – Part 1
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
9M ago
In this episode, Soren interviews veteran game developer Trent Kusters, co-founder of League of Geeks, best known for the strategy game Armello. They discuss how he faked his way into games journalism, how to sneak risky ideas past licensors, and how to make games feel big. This episode was recorded on September 8, 2023. Games discussed: Pong, Trog, Zoo Hospital, Stunt Flyer: Heroes of the Skies, Monster Jam: Urban Assault, Scooby-Doo: First Frights, Scooby-Doo and the Spooky Swamp, Armello, Ocarina of Time, Bloodborne, Offworld Trading Company, Old World, Jumplight Odyssey, Crusader King ..read more
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You Have No Idea How Hard It Is To Run A Sweatshop, Part 3
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
10M ago
I gave a talk on games and meaning at GDC 2023, which is now available on YouTube: However, I fully scripted the talk ahead of time, so I decided it would be worth taking the time to post the slides online, in three parts to have mercy on your browser. Conflict between designer intent and player behavior actually predates video games as it is a common issue with historical wargames. One of the basic challenges of wargame design is how to encourage historical play when no one knows what the likely or even plausible alternate results could be – for example, could the South have ever won the Ci ..read more
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You Have No Idea How Hard It Is To Run A Sweatshop, Part 2
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
10M ago
I gave a talk on games and meaning at GDC 2023, which is now available on YouTube: However, I fully scripted the talk ahead of time, so I decided it would be worth taking the time to post the slides online, in three parts to have mercy on your browser. Besides the question of whether we know what we are doing as designers, what about the question of whether games can teach us anything about our world. Or, maybe, let’s set the bar lower and see if games can at least teach us anything about sports. To do that, we need to talk about baseball analyst Voros McCracken. Who, despite his preposte ..read more
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You Have No Idea How Hard It Is To Run A Sweatshop, Part 1
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
10M ago
I gave a talk on games and meaning at GDC 2023, which is now available on YouTube: However, I fully scripted the talk ahead of time, so I decided it would be worth taking the time to post the slides online, in three parts to have mercy on your browser. Hi everyone, I’m Soren Johnson, and welcome to You Have No Idea How Hard It Is To Run A Sweatshop Here are the published games that I’ve worked on over my career, some of which I will touch on over the next hour. I also do a podcast where I interview game designers about why they make games, and the episodes tend to run long, so check it out ..read more
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Think Like A Game Designer Podcast
Soren Johnson - DESIGNER NOTES
by Soren Johnson
10M ago
At this year’s GDC, I mentored Justin Gary on his Tabletop Summit talk on SolForge Fusion and, afterwards, he invited me onto his excellent game designer podcast Think Like A Game Designer. It’s a bit like my podcast except its 90% tabletop designers (although I will be having more tabletop designers on in the future). As I’m not afraid of going too long, he had to split my recording into two parts, but they serve as a pretty good overview of my career. Take a listen if you’ve got some free time! Part 1: https://www.thinklikeagamedesigner.com/podcast/2019/11/14/think-like-a-game-designer-49-so ..read more
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