Interview with Greg Street, Lead Designer at Riot Games

This week, I have an interview with Riot Games lead designer, Greg Street.

A few months ago, the League of Legends YouTube channel posted a “Dev Diary” video. A few people who follow my work alerted me on social media about this video, telling me that it sounded a bit like theory I often advocate was being expressed in the video. I often watch Riot’s dev-diary type stuff, but I had been a bit out of the loop at the time, so I missed it. But once I checked it out, it did feel kind of familiar!

And it’s true that it does sound a lot like me. For reference, when you Google “input randomness” I’m pretty much all of the top results; the only other people talking about it are people referencing my work, with a couple people referencing the Ludology Podcast (which is where I originally got the terms from).

It turns out that Greg was aware of my stuff, so probably that is where he got the terminology, if not the theory. Anyway, I got a chance to chat with Greg about the theory and how it maybe should, or could apply to League. I think it went well! Let me know what you think in the comments, and thanks for listening.

As always, you can support this podcast over at www.patreon.com/keithburgun.

Interview with James Lantz, designer of Invisible, Inc.

Today I interviewed James Lantz, game designer at Klei. Among numerous other games, he was for me most notably a designer on Invisible Inc., a really interesting X-Com-ish tactical strategy game, and Mercury, a small indie Rogue-like game that really boiled down how Rogue-likes really work in the smartest way I’ve ever seen.

(By the way: yes-relation! James is the son of Frank Lantz, who you can hear in my episodes 23 and 24.)

Some topics covered:

  • How James came to work for Klei
  • Our opinions on how to market strategy games
  • A little discussion about League of Legends and last-hitting
  • Game design writing
  • A bit about what growing up as the son of a game designer was like

Thanks for listening! As always, you can support the show on Patreon by going to http://www.patreon.com/keithburgun. Thanks for listening!

 

League of Legends vs. Heroes of the Storm

I’ve got a new video out discussing why I think League of Legends is not only better than Heroes, it’s not even in the same, well, league. For more, check out my article on why I consider League of Legends to be the world’s greatest game. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Aaron Oman for his support. If you would like to support my work, please visit my Patreon page and become a Patron!

Continue reading

Incremental Complexity

Announcement! In the future, I think I’ll do more articles in “video form”. Very lightly edited videos, mostly a voice over and some pictures/titles/video. I think that video seems to be where more of the conversation is happening these days. Here‘s the first video, on incremental complexity, a new way of thinking about strategy game design (designing them, and teaching them), inspired by Pandemic: Legacy.

Support my work on Patreon here! Special thanks to Patreon Patron Aaron Oman!

Continue reading

Interview with Tadhg Kelly

You probably already know Tadhg Kelly, as he’s one of game design’s most prolific writers. He writes for TechCrunch, as well as his own blog at www.whatgamesare.com. In this interview I ask him about why there has been a falling off of game design writing over the past few years, including an interesting point about the role #GamerGate may have played.

We also talk about his new book that he’s been working on, as well as my concerns about VR/AR, both of which he writes about a lot. It was a great interview, and I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for listening. Special shout-out to Aaron Oman for his support as a Patron. If you want to become a Patron and support podcast episodes like this one, as well as articles, videos and even games from me, please support my Patreon campaign over at www.patreon.com/keithburgun.

I also mentioned in the podcast that there is a Kickstarter running for Push the Lane. If you haven’t checked that already, please do!

Against score systems (and for success and failure)

Strategy game designers should start thinking about alternatives to “score systems” for their games. In this article I will talk about how and why we use score systems right now, what their weaknesses are, and how we can (as well as why we should) move beyond them. Much of this article is written with respect to designing single player strategy games, but the theory absolutely applies to multiplayer strategy games equally.

Score Systems in Videogames

Score systems have been relied on by all kinds of interactive systems designers since the beginning. Early videogames such as Pac-Man and Galaga had high score boards that players would compete for places on, whereas Super Mario Bros. had a score feature as a sort of extra added feature that really serious players could try to maximize if they got tired of beating the game.

It goes back further than that, of course. Pinball, which laid many of the foundations for videogame design tropes, also used a score system, not to mention some ancient games such as Go. Today, there are strategy games that use score systems, such as games like Civilization, Rogue-likes, or my own Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure. They’re appealing to designers because they’re so simple to implement and design; you can pretty easily take just about any simple toy/sandbox activity and slap a score on it, and then it almost instantly feels a little bit more competitive, a little bit more replayable, a little bit more “strategy-game-like”. Continue reading