TGDRT #60: My Games of 2013


Episode #60 is live!

Jon and Dirk hand out awards for the mechanics and games they played in 2013 that stood out – for better and worse.

Now a yearly tradition! I should note that these are indeed our games of 2013. Hell, most weren’t actually even released during 2013. However, Dirk and I tried to pick games and mechanics that stood out to us as having an important role in game design in 2014 and beyond.

This is why both of us chose David Dunham’s venerable King of Dragon Pass as ‘Most Innovative’. The title may now be entering its fifteenth year, but the way it models interesting and realistic characters in a truly living world is incredibly… fresh. The lessons KoDP offers us have long sat dormant, but I’m confident they’ll soon be given due attention and praise. A large chunk of the diplomacy in At the Gates is directly inspired by this little gem.

Anyways, I won’t focus too much on KoDP. We also talk about many other interesting games, so make sure you give ye olde episode a listen!

– Jon

TGDRT #15 – Company of Heroes & XCOM

Episode #15 is live!

In this week’s episode Jon and Dirk discuss two of their favorite tactical combat games: Relic’s Company of Heroes, and Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Our hosts discuss what these games did well, poorly and what changes they would make to them.

We’ve been meaning to do an episode dedicated to these games for a while now, so it was great to finally chat about them. I’m very excited for the impending release of Company of Heroes 2 – although thanks to ATG I may not have much time to play it!

– Jon

Consequences – Part 3 – MMOs, Strategy Games & Conclusion

Link to: Consequences – Part 1

Link to: Consequences – Part 2

In the first two parts of this series we introduced the topic of consequences, talked about what different audiences look for and saw the effect of consequences in action through the death of the player’s avatar or characters.

In this concluding article we’ll discuss consequences unrelated to death, the fascinating role consequences play in strategy games and MMOs, the player’s relationship with consequences and how designers can use that to their advantage.

So without further ado, let’s wrap things up!


Consequences – Part 1 – Introduction

Making a game that’s fun is the first and last goal of every development team (or it should be, anyways!). This ethereal funness is largely crafted by the consequences that result from player decisions. How punishing or difficult a game is can be the determining factor in what kind of audience it will – or more importantly, won’t – appeal to.

The role and impact of consequences is one of the most important topics in modern game design. And yet, it surprisingly receives very little attention. I actually have so much to talk about regarding this subject that I decided to split this article into three parts. All of them will be up within a week, so don’t fret if you’re just itching for more!

As usual, we’ll kick things off by making sure everyone has a base understanding of our subject and why it’s even worth caring about. The second article in the series will analyze the consequences of death in games, and the third will examine their place in certain unique genres, plus some parting thoughts for designers. Without further ado, let’s get to it!


Three Moves Ahead Podcast Appearance

Continuing with the podcast circuit, I was a guest on Three Moves Ahead talking once again about XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

As I’ve said before, the game does many things well. It’s a great example of how to pull off a focused design, and how placing limits on players can create interesting decisions. But let’s leave it at that, as I’ll have much more to say about the game in the next couple weeks!

– Jon

Quarter to Three Podcast Appearance

I was recently a guest co-host on the October 12th episode of the Quarter to Three games podcast. Jason McMaster and I discussed several topics including XCOM, Dishonored, Tokyo Jungle and a bit of speculation surrounding the future of Kickstarter.

XCOM isn’t a perfect game, but I really, really like it. Give the podcast a listen if you want to hear more. Additionally, in honor of XCOM I’ll also be putting up an article next week on consequences, so look forward to that!

– Jon