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The Game Design Round Table

Covering the full breadth of digital, tabletop, and role playing games, The Game Design Round Table inspires and educates aspiring and experienced game designers.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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#211 Slay The Spire - A Designers Deep Dive with Anthony Giovannetti

David and Dirk are joined by Anthony Giovannetti, designer of the game Slay The Spire. Together they take a deep dive into the creation and game mechanics of the game.


9 Apr 2019

Rank #1

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#192 Engineering Game Design with Aljernon Bolden

In this episode, Dirk and Harrison welcome Aljernon Bolden to the show. They discuss game design from an engineering approach.


20 Apr 2018

Rank #2

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#205 Deep Dive - Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right

Cole and Dirk are joined by Kaitie Aidley and take a deep dive into Cole's game Root.


15 Jan 2019

Rank #3

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104: Trading Mission to Mars with Julian Murdoch and Dr. Bruce Geryk

Dirk and Soren are joined by strategy games enthusiasts Julian Murdoch and Dr. Bruce Geryk to talk about the current state of Offworld Trading Company. Julian, Bruce, and Dirk have all had time with the game and offer Soren feedback, ask a few questions, and figure out just what that robot voice is saying.-------------------------------------------------------------------------Contact Information Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, Dirk@Knemeyer.com Soren Johnson - @sorenjohnson, designer-notes.com, offworldgame.com Bruce Geryk - @spacerumsfeld, www.wargamespace.com-------------------------------------------------------------------Episode Outline 0:00:33 - The latest changes in OTC 0:03:44 - Impressions from Bruce and Julian 0:11:31 - Competition and fun 0:21:44 - The wargamer’s perspective 0:27:13 - New influences 0:31:34 - Belter 0:40:38 - Speed and the endgame 0:47:44 - Early access 0:50:39 - Innovative games 1:06:19 - Dates

1hr 12mins

8 Nov 2014

Rank #4

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#229 Round Table on the Essence of a Theme

Kathryn rejoins Dirk and David to talk discuss the past few episodes in the Designing Thematic Games series. The trio talks art budgets, terminology, and thematic mismatches. They also answer listener questions about designing around themes. Much of the discussion explores the distinction between an essence of a theme and the broader theme itself.

1hr 11mins

24 Dec 2019

Rank #5

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#4: Storytelling & Crusader Kings 2. With Paradox.

Henrik Fahraeus and Chris King from the Paradox Interactive design crew join Jon and Dirk to talk about storytelling in games.


3 Dec 2012

Rank #6

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#37: Failure, Punishment and Learning

Jon, Dirk and David discuss the role of failure in games and how it ties in with how people learn how to play. What does punishment add, and where can it go wrong? How do you effectively teach players strategy games? What do PLAYERS get out of failure? And how the heck do you learn a tabletop game without tooltips?

1hr 12mins

23 Jul 2013

Rank #7

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#185 Game Designer Cole Wehrle

In this episode, David and Dirk speak with game designer Cole Wehrle. They discuss Cole's work and how to find balance designing games with deep historical and cultural context.


22 Dec 2017

Rank #8

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#188 Listener Question - You Don't Blind Test a Painting

In this episode, Dirk, Kathryn and Rob get together to answer listener questions around playtesting and professional backgrounds in design.


9 Feb 2018

Rank #9

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#34: Progression Systems. With Soren Johnson

Soren Johnson returns to the show to discuss progression systems with Jon and Dirk, with a special focus on technology trees. What are the advantages and disadvantages of abstraction? How do Diablo 2 and 3 and Civilization 4 and 5 differ? What is At the Gates doing with Romanization Perks? And hell, what makes for a good progression system anyways? All of these questions - and more - are answered within!

1hr 3mins

2 Jul 2013

Rank #10

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#24: Games and the Law. With Dave Fitzgerald

Trademark specialist and actual lawyer-type Dave Fitzgerald joins the show to discuss legal issues relating to games development. Topics covered include the difference between patents, trademarks and copyrights, what you need to set up a company and common mistakes made by developers.

1hr 29mins

23 Apr 2013

Rank #11

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#25: Information & Obfuscation

David Heron, Jon and Dirk noodle over the role of information and obfuscation in game design. Why does ‘Persona 4’ work when the BioWare games do not? And when can hiding info be GOOD for a game?

1hr 3mins

30 Apr 2013

Rank #12

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#56: ‘SeaFall’ & Legacy Design. With Rob Daviau

Jon and Dirk are paid a return visit by first-ever TGDRT guest Rob Daviau to talk about ‘SeaFall’, his new exploration legacy tabletop game, Rob’s company ‘IronWall Games’, and his hopes for further innovation in the genre he helped create.--------------------------Contact InformationJon Shafer - @JonShaferDesign, www.JonShaferOnDesign.com, Jon.Shafer@ConiferGames.comDirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, Dirk@Knemeyer.comRob Daviau - @RobDaviauGamer, Rob.Daviau@IronWallGames.com--------------------------Episode Outline0:01:00 - Balancing Risk: Legacy0:06:06 - SeaFall0:11:44 - Core mechanics0:15:30 - Victory & legacy0:27:24 - Balancing legacy VS individual playthroughs0:35:19 - Exploration0:40:36 - How do you design a legacy game?0:52:55 - Inspirations behind SeaFall1:03:50 - Rob’s company: IronWall Games

1hr 14mins

2 Dec 2013

Rank #13

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#35: Ethics in Design, Hotline Miami & Updates

Jon and Dirk cover a variety of games they’ve played lately, including the new ‘Walking Dead’ expansion, ‘Ascension’ and ‘1775’. The discussion gets serious when ‘Hotline Miami’ comes up, and the crew debates the role of ethics in game design. They wrap up on a lighter note, describing the challenge of integrating mechanics and UI in a tabletop game, and how to instill life into fictional characters.

1hr 25mins

9 Jul 2013

Rank #14

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#225 Round Table on Thematic Games #1

Dirk and David speak with former cohost and friend of the show Kathryn Hymes. Together, the three of them discuss important questions and lessons learned from the first four episodes in the Designing Thematic Games series.


29 Oct 2019

Rank #15

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#153: Riot Games

Description Dirk and David are joined by Rick Ernst and Chris Cantrell of Riot Games to talk about their upcoming board game Mechs vs. Minions. Riot Games is best known for their wildly successful PC game League of Legends. Riot is taking that universe and condensing a part of it down into a board game that focuses on team play and cooperative strategy. Rick and Chris talk about how the game came about and what it’s like to capture the MOBA magic on the tabletop.--------------------- Dirk Knemeyer - @DKnemeyer, www.artana.com, dirk@artana.com David Heron - @DavidVHeron Rick Ernst Chris Cantrell www.mechsvsminions.com --------------------- Episode Outline 0:00:51 - Mechs vs. Minions 0:04:30 - League of Legends 0:07:30 - Condensing a MOBA to tabletop 0:14:27 - Handling quarterbacking 0:18:34 - The early game 0:24:30 - Complexity vs. accessibility 0:28:13 - Build quality 0:37:37 - How the game came about 0:43:30 - Playtesting 0:47:31 - The design process

1hr 2mins

13 Oct 2016

Rank #16

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#208 Game Designer Jennifer Scheurle

This week Dirk is joined by Jennifer Scheurle, a multi-award-winning, world-travelling Game Designer and public speaker. They discuss her work, her experience with NASA as well as some tips for game designers.


26 Feb 2019

Rank #17

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#3: Trends in Digital & Tabletop Game Design

Bill Abner from Conquistador Games joins Jon and Dirk to talk about trends in digital and tabletop games, as well as his experiences transitioning from gaming media into game development.

1hr 29mins

27 Nov 2012

Rank #18

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#218 Geoff Engelstein and Isaac Shalev: Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design

Dirk speaks with game designers Geoff Engelstein and Isaac Shalev about their co-authored book, Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: an Encyclopedia of Mechanisms.


23 Jul 2019

Rank #19

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#191 Fireball Island

In this episode, David, Dirk, and Rob get together to answer some listener questions, which turn into a good discussion and a deep dive into a single question about promotion. Also, Rob announces a Kickstarter for Fireball Island.


3 Apr 2018

Rank #20