The Game Design Round Table



Focusing on both digital and tabletop gaming, The Game Design Round Table provides a forum for conversation about critical issues to game design.


  • #314 Designing to Ship with Xalavier Nelson Jr

    09/04/2024 Duración: 56min

    Dirk and David interview prolific designer and leader Xalavier Nelson Jr. They discuss Xalavier’s illustrious and busy career, focusing on his philosophy of how to ship a game as well as knowing your own capabilities. Topics include his work and inspiration for El Paso, Everywhere, how he manages to produce so many games, treating staff fairly and with respect, and the benefits of working within your box.

  • #313 Civilization Series 2

    26/03/2024 Duración: 57min

    Welcome to the second episode of the series on the “Civilization” games, as well as other 4X titles. Continuing from episode one, the pair talk about the phenomenon of “One More Turn”, using overlapping progression paths, and quality life improvements for the genre. They also share their insights on the game “Humankind”, as well as how their attitudes toward real life affect how they act within a 4X game.

  • #312 Civilization Series 1

    12/03/2024 Duración: 55min

    This episode marks the beginning of a new series focused on the Civilization series of games. Dirk and David are joined by Soren Johnson to discuss their background with the Civilization games, and how they got introduced to the series. They discuss the development of the earlier games, as well as the broader strokes of Civilization, including the hallmarks of a 4X game, what design space Civ occupies, and where they would like the series to go in Civ 7 and beyond.

  • #311 Innovating Themes with Anna Anthropy

    27/02/2024 Duración: 52min

    Dirk and Kathryn Hymes meet this episode to talk with Anna Anthropy, digital and tabletop designer known for her prolific work with non-traditional themes. They discuss Anna’s career in game design, and her path into becoming an educator. Topics include why violence is an attractive game element, dealing with releasing art and it no longer being one’s own, one page games, and the absence of sex as a theme or topic.

  • #310 Listener Questions

    14/02/2024 Duración: 46min

    Dirk and David answer another round of listener questions! They discuss how mobile and desktop games differ, what makes a game “broken”, and tips to follow when designing around a licensed property. They also delve into design stagnation and following what was done before you, as well as when to innovate and when to iterate.

  • #309 Industry and Loose Leaf with Tanya X. Short

    30/01/2024 Duración: 55min

    Dirk and David are joined by Tanya X. Short, Captain of Kitfox Games. They discuss the balance between appealing to market sensibilities and following one’s own interests, and how to make them work together. They also discuss the difficulty in funding projects with non-normative themes, barriers toward funding indie games, and the unique problems and solutions created while making Loose Leaf.

  • #308 Narrative AI with Emily Short

    16/01/2024 Duración: 51min

    Dirk and David are joined by legendary interactive fiction writer and creative director of Failbetter Games Emily Short. The trio discuss Emily’s career, her contributions to interactive fiction, and some of her thoughts on both traditional game AI and modern generative AI. Topics include modeling relationships in games, player psychology and how much information to give, and how game AI can be used in non-combat oriented experiences.

  • #307 Roundtable with Soren Johnson

    02/01/2024 Duración: 52min

    Dirk and David are joined by Soren Johnson, friend of the show and founder of Mohawk Games. The trio answers questions and design problems from the community, and follow up on recent episodes. Topics include achievements and collectables, the importance of having an art style, when to innovate and when to fall back on convention, and how to integrate community involvement in the design process.

  • #306 A Highland Song with Jon Ingold

    19/12/2023 Duración: 57min

    Dirk and David are joined by Jon Ingold, narrative designer and co-founder of Inkle Studios. They discuss Inkle’s newly released video game A Highland Song, centered around exploration, discovery, and engaging the human form within nature. They discuss the mechanics around rewarding and incentivizing players in an exploration game, ways to hide the quantum ogre, and how to utilize elements of randomness within a story-driven experience.

  • #305 Thirsty Suitors with Chandana Ekanayake

    05/12/2023 Duración: 53min

    Dirk and David are joined by Chandana Ekanayake, Game Director of Outerloop Games and long-time designer. They discuss Eka’s newly released Thirsty Suitors, a turn-based adventure game centering around culture, relationships, family, and self-expression. They discuss Eka’s career,  Outerloop’s titles, and what makes Thirsty Suitors so special. Topics include designing in VR, designing the game only you can make, the game’s strengths and weaknesses, and working within budget. 

  • #304 Listener Questions November 2023

    21/11/2023 Duración: 58min

    It’s time for another round of listener questions! In this episode, Dirk and David field questions from the community, discussing a variety of subjects. Topics include the validity and usefulness of player taxonomies, the pros and cons of game jams, and the considerations that go into creating an expansion for physical and digital products.

  • #303 Darkest Dungeon 2 with Chris Bourassa and Tyler Sigman

    07/11/2023 Duración: 01h07min

    This week, David is joined by Chris Bourassa, creative director and cofounder of Red Hook Studios, as well as Tyler Sigman, designer and fellow co-founder. Together, they discuss Red Hook’s latest venture, Darkest Dungeon 2, the road trip sequel to Darkest Dungeon. Topics include the risks involved in making a sequel, the use and pitfalls of early access, the danger in releasing a roadmap, and where Red Hook is going from here.

  • #302 Wildermyth with Nate Austin

    24/10/2023 Duración: 51min

    Dirk and David are joined by Nate Austin, co-creator of myth-making tactical RPG Wildermyth. In this entry in the series on worldbuilding, Nate describes the origins of Wildermyth, and how he and his partners grew the game into a true success. The trio also discuss how Wildermyth’s mechanics lead to a character focused over plot focused story, as well as how the game approach death and character progression. Other topics include using different styles of game writing, how systems change, and the perceived conflict between market appeal to story players and more complex mechanics.

  • #301 Design and Controls with Richard Lemarchand

    10/10/2023 Duración: 01h01min

    Dirk is joined by returning guest host Soren Johnson in today's episode in the Design Talk series. Dirk and Soren speak with Richard Lemarchand, distinguished game designer and now-professor most well-known for his work on the Uncharted series. Richard details his journey through his game design career, and the skills and processes he learned along the way. Special consideration is given to control design, and the importance of them on game feel and playability.

  • #300 Tricentennial Celebration

    26/09/2023 Duración: 59min

    Welcome to episode 300 of The Game Design Round Table! Dirk and David take the opportunity to celebrate this momentous milestone. They reflect on the role the show has played in their lives, their own journeys as designers, and hear from friends new and old.  Thank you all for listening, whether this is your first episode or you’ve been listening from the beginning. 

  • #299 Worldbuilding with Ryan Laukat

    12/09/2023 Duración: 45min

    Dirk is joined by Ryan Laukat, designer, illustrator, and co-founder of Red Raven Games, for the second installation in this series on worldbuilding. Ryan discusses his introduction and path into game design, the creation of Red Raven Games, and different methods that can be used to worldbuild. Topics include the importance of maps, how storybooks are utilized, the benefits and drawbacks of mixed medium board games, and branching narratives.

  • #298 Tchia with Phil Crifo

    29/08/2023 Duración: 51min

    Today on the show, Dirk and David are joined by Phil Crifo, game director at Awaceb, most prominently known for his work on Fossil Echo and Tchia. He discusses growing up in New Caledonia, and how it serves as an influence on the creation of Tchia. Topics include the history of New Caledonia and colonization, creating a world based on difficult histories, making an engaging open world, and what soul jumping actually is.

  • #297 Gerson Da Silva Talks Kingdom Rush

    15/08/2023 Duración: 44min

    Dirk and David are joined by Gerson Da Silva, Director at Ironhide Game Studio and co-founder of Totem Games. Gerson is best known for his work on the Kingdom Rush series, as well as Water 2050. This episode delves into alternative paths into game design, as well as how to adapt a game to audiences of different investment levels. Topics include the benefit of reaching out to subject experts, innovating on a genre, choosing a market, and how to leave design space for variety and maximizing mass appeal. 

  • #296 Listener Questions

    01/08/2023 Duración: 53min

    Dirk and David gather for another round of listener questions! They answer how to balance mechanical options and variety in a game, trends in how genres are under- or over-utilized, and the impact of live streaming on designing and marketing a game. Topics include the evolution of Legend of the Five Rings, the gameplay loops of extraction shooters and battle royales, and polarizing opinions on the idle/clicker genre.

  • #295 Kingdoms and Castles with Lion Shield Studios

    18/07/2023 Duración: 51min

    Dirk is joined by Pete Angstadt and Michael Peddicard, co-founders of Lion Shield Studios, to talk about the design and success of Kingdoms and Castles. They discuss designing in the city builder genre, as well as how they structure their studio. Topics include how they decided on an art style, ethical employment and business growth, the power of their game systems, and the history of ancient Rome.

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