044: Fourth Season’s a Charm

Thought surely dead, our heroes return from the Outer Rim to kick off a new season of game-design interviews.

Things discussed this episode:

  • 00:34 – Game of the Year
  • 02:20 – Tim on Super Mario Brothers Wonder
  • 03:56 – Michael on Baldur’s Gate 3
  • 04:26 – Our Tiktok algorithms
  • 05:48 – What we’ve been playing
  • 06:42 – Tim on Dave The Diver
  • 08:50 – Thirst, our game!
  • 11:01 – What to expect from this season
  • 13:48 – What folks should follow

Please note: the following is an automatically generated transcript. You might find it odd to read with all of our spoken, verbal gaffes, but we hope it offers some extra utility. Thanks! – M.

We are back!

Michael: Tim, it’s been however long since the final episode of the last season that we’ve come together in a recorded situation to greet the loyal followers of design thinking games, we went to PAX Unplugged for the second year?

Or was this year three?

Tim: We took Thirst, the board game, there, so this is the second year we playtested it there. And as of the recording of the show, we’ve also playtested it at Unpub Prime in Baltimore.

Game of the Year

In regards to Game of the Year, I believe Game of the Year went to, um What, Alan Wake? Is that right?

Michael: Game of the Year was Baldur’s Gate.

[00:00:44] Tim: Holy shit, I may be misremembering then. It’s, there’s so many years now. So let me get the, let me actually confer with the winners.

[00:00:52] Michael: There were six games up for Game of the Year.

[00:00:55] Tim: I’ve played three of the ones that were nominated of the six. I own another one, but I haven’t played it yet. So I played Legend of Zelda, Tears of the Kingdom. Oh, it is so good. Cried so much. Super Mario Brothers Wonders is amazing. Marvel’s Spider Man 2 is amazing, and people have suggested Resident Evil 4 remake to me.

[00:01:16] They’re like, if you only ever play one remake in your life, ever, play Resident Evil 4.

[00:01:22] Michael: I was kind of worried about coming into this topic because I don’t feel like I’ve played a lot. My last couple of months have been pretty work-heavy, and board game-heavy, but I’ve actually played the other three. So I played Alan Wake 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, and Resident Evil 4.

[00:01:39] Tim: How is that serendipitously possible? We never even talked about this.

[00:01:44] Michael: I think these evenly fall on either side of the games that we tend to play anyway, Alan Wake is a kind of like moody cinematic horror. Baldur’s Gate is Dungeons and Dragons and Resident Evil is horror.

[00:01:57] That’s the only one I’m kind of surprised you haven’t played yet because I’m sure you played the original.

[00:02:01] Tim: yeah. So no, I want to play Resident Evil 4. It’s it’s been recommended to me.

[00:02:06] Tim: Marvel Spider-man, when it one game of the year X number years ago all of the games in that series have been like, oh my gosh it’s so good and you’re right and I played Resident Evil Nintendo novel or groundbreaking.

Tim on Super Mario Brothers Wonder

[00:02:20] And so there had not been a side scroller in Nintendo since new Super Mario Brothers Wii, which was back on the Wii.

[00:02:29] So on the Wii U way back in the day, that was the last time they advanced Mario’s technology: we’re gonna put four people on the screen at the same time, but that’s it, you know, and that’s, since then, no new innovations.

[00:02:41] And what they did here was phenomenal. Like they used music and, alternate realities. And then also just a lot of different cool things to make it challenging in different ways that you wouldn’t think, but make sense for Mario. And of course, I love me an open-world adventure, so I’m always down for Zelda.

[00:03:01] Michael: I think way back in season one, we broke down, how you like an open world and how I don’t, I prefer kind of like the linear thing.

[00:03:09] Tim: I want to customize my shit. All my shit. So I want to, yeah. If you give me the way that I can play my character, just give me the tools. I don’t want it to be simplistic to the point to where it’s like Minecraft or Valheim. I don’t know that whatever the game is. Yeah, to where it’s just like, no, you’ve got to dig for wood and metal and like, you’ve got to sew and weave.

[00:03:34] And it’s like, no, dude, that’s way too much. But I have nothing against that level of crafting, but I’m talking about like the way I can play and stack my character or class and powers, and then fluidity there is also important. Most people want to experiment like, Oh, what is this maxed out in this trait? But you don’t want to be like, I’m locked into this forever.

Michael on Baldur’s Gate 3

[00:03:56] Michael: Yeah, exactly, and I want to be penalized for the choices that I make. So I guess we’ll end with kind of like Baldur’s Gate 3.

[00:04:04] Tim: yeah. So you speak to it. How was it?

[00:04:06] Michael: Um, it’s fine.

[00:04:08] My appetite for high fantasy declines every year. I thought it was really impressive. I also thought it was really, um, it’s not for me. I got pretty bored, as I went.

[00:04:20] Tim: How dare you, sir? How dare you? How dare you, sir? Here, here.

[00:04:23] I’ll slap you with my glove, d’Artagnan.

Our TikTok algorithm

[00:04:26] Michael: my TikTok algorithm is like a little bananas, but right now I’m back on D& D TikTok, and right now D& D TikTok is like, oh, the Dragonborn, the Dragonborn, and I’m like, fuck the Dragonborn, the Dragonborn suck, screw this high fantasy bullshit, you’re all losers.

[00:04:44] Tim: TikTok algorithm is definitely political anarchy Um, I feel like it’s also board games. And then it’s a lot of science and astrophysics.

[00:04:58] Michael: it’s like Hank Green’s, SciShow, Kervin from Board Game Tok, this poet guy that you send me every so often, who wavers at the camera, and is like, I know nothing to be true, life is just a struggle between living accountants and dead poets.

[00:05:14] Um, I love that guy.

[00:05:16] Um, but the meta of Baldur’s Gate 3 winning is that in a way that other games might win for like being the most amazing artistic experience or have the most amazing narrative.

[00:05:31] I look at Baldur’s Gate 3 as winning on the merit of craft.

[00:05:36] Tim: Everything.

[00:05:37] Michael: I can’t imagine the sort of like logical pivots, the system has to make, and it’s so expertly well done and the team isn’t huge or triple a.

What we’ve been playing

[00:05:48] Michael: Maybe we can like really quickly use this opportunity to sort of dovetail into what we’ve been playing because we played some of these in this downtime, I’ve been playing Sons of the Forest since one of its earliest betas, and now I believe it’s finally released to like 1. 0. And that is exactly that kind of game. We’re like, oh my gosh. You want to build a fire? Well you better go chop down the trees to do it, and then you have to chop the wood, and then you have to get stones to create a fire pit, and all the while cannibals are like stalking you like throughout the,

[00:06:18] Tim: You didn’t rub your flint with your stone? You need to go find flint.

[00:06:22] Michael: They give you like an electric lighter, which totally feels like it cheats. I think my ideal experience would be like when it starts to snow and I found myself like stupidly, like in the mountains, chasing some treasure. I expect not be able to light a fire and just freeze to death.

[00:06:38] That is exactly the kind of game that I want to play, you know?

Tim on Dave the Diver

[00:06:42] Tim: What surfaces to me since the last time we played is, I played Dredge of course. And I think we talked about that last season and I played like, Um, you know, at the end of the year, I really got into, which I don’t even think we talked about a little bit, but if we didn’t, we did just, I played a lot of time in Dave the Diver.

[00:07:04] So Dave the Diver is this roguelike to where you’re doing these randomly generated things and performing and increasing your skills and whatever, but then you’re also, you’re like, Oh no, you’re a diver. And you’re getting fish and sharks and all these underwater materials and treasure and like refuse and scrap from whatever and Your fish are going into a fish hatchery and it’s supplying a sushi place. And then you run the sushi place and the fish hatchery, and then you’re like, Oh shit, I need a farm in addition to have carrots and vegetables, but I need —

[00:07:37] Michael: This is totally up your alley.

[00:07:38] Tim: this, yes, of course. So I got lost in this, of course, for months, cause I don’t know why I’m like, Oh, I need to do chores for, but it’s, there’s something about it that is tranquil to me that is just like zenning out. Uh, um, but. Dave the Diver sticks out to me the most.

[00:07:54] Uh, when I was talking about Spider Man 2, like literally that was recently here. I just beat that, like, And so that was the story for that took forever. I will say my obsession. If you follow our accounts, I apologize. I’m recently obsessed with Lorcana. It’s a TCG.

[00:08:13] Michael: Mmm.

[00:08:14] Tim: Um, um, so it’s the Disney one and they just announced yesterday, like in May, they’re dropping, um, Encanto-based Lorcana cards, and then they have all this other stuff that, um, and so it is just like. It’s like all the Disney as well as the, I will say I also played in recently the board game bank heist. We had them on the show. Um, lonely hero games. And so bank heist, I played with family. I had it, but I just never played it for the longest times. And it’s really good. I would highly recommend people played it.


[00:08:50] Tim: Yeah. And apart from what I spoke to earlier, Super Mario brothers wonder, really. Um, we’ve just been spending a lot of time, play-testing and working on our game.

[00:09:02] Michael: It’s possible that the last time anyone heard about this game through the podcast, we were so heavily calling it like “corporate vampire.”

[00:09:11] But, we went to PAX Unplugged for a reason. Um, and there was a second year we went to go play test the game that we’re now calling, Thirst.

[00:09:19] Now, one of the upshots of having play tested at PAX too, is that we ended up spending some of that time with an Ars Technica writer, Kevin Purdy, who sat with us during the playtest and wrote about that game. And officially I believe that is the moment that, uh, title Thirst was entered into the public.

[00:09:42] Tim: Yeah, and, we fully intend to to give credit to the person who said, you should call it Thirst! Because that was, uh, the best idea cut out of playtesting. We have been playtesting the heck out of it. We were talking the other day about how many playtests and versions of the game we’ve had.

[00:10:00] And then we’re like, we’ve had to at least have tested anywhere. With, 30 to 50 plus people already different people, um, have playtested the game. So with that many people have tested, it’s just been crazy. And so we just got back from. Unpubbed Prime in Baltimore, um, and had three different playtests of it there, um, and people were asking about when is this going to be available?

[00:10:26] When can I buy it? And so, um, so that’s very good. And a lot of the things we have are just like cleaning up and, working with an illustrator, we’ve found someone great.

[00:10:37] We’re now like breathing, holding our breath. And so I think the episodes this season will speak to our journey a little bit and the people we’re talking and, but it universally, this is a thing that you just have to go through yourselves and you have to go through it for the first time and, you know, and just, experience it, and you can plan and your best and try to plan your best.

[00:10:58] And we’re going to try to do it the smart way.

Coming later this season

[00:11:01] Michael: The episodes to follow this we’re going to be exploring a lot of the different thinking and craft and, uh, uh, emotions and obstacles involved with the logistics of getting the game into people’s hands. So if we are building unintentionally this kind of narrative arc where last season we’re talking to a whole bunch of people who are involved in making games and designing different kinds of games from zero to their first play test here, it almost seems that we’re going from play test and beyond the.

[00:11:36] And I think folks are going to find this incredibly interesting. Um, what seems to be true is that, gosh, unless you’re, you know, like a, a triple-A funded like a publisher, a lot of these folks are just people like us. And we’re figuring it out in a co-evolutionary way together. And one of the things I think we’re really excited to be able to do is to pick the minds of people who’ve already been there.

[00:12:03] I think this is going to be our best season. I thought last season was our best season since, and the interviews that we have already kind of like in the hopper and scheduled are going to be like super informative.

[00:12:14] Um, and fun with the reintroduction of like, d12, the return of rapid protobot, and uh, and our amazing, our consistently amazing theme music.

[00:12:25] Shoutout to Zach Lubow, who Gave us the idea. The last thing he said before he left our table. You should call this thirst. I went and found my journal entry for December 2nd 2023.

[00:12:43] Tim: I’m making a sticker right now, Zach, so you know that this will get added.

[00:12:50] Michael: said First testimonial of thirst in writing. It was a hard earned pleasure to be the first vampire killed ever You

[00:13:01] Tim: That’s a pretty good one. That’s a pretty good one.

[00:13:04] I’ve been talking to Ben in Effect Games on TikTok. He’s amazing. You can follow him. He told us how to make this as close to real as possible.

[00:13:14] So we print on glossy cardstock. And then okay, let’s print on sticky paper and then mount that sticky paper to like, um, paperboard or, you know, kind of foam core, cut it out.

[00:13:24] Michael: The goal is to emulate as close to a real experience as possible before we actually begin production and selling where you feel like you’re unboxing the game and you have the things and you’re also very importantly playing by.

[00:13:41] Yourself and your friends and not being guided how to play by Me or tim kind of like staring over your shoulder.

What folks should follow

[00:13:48] Michael: Where, where can people find design thinking games, the podcast, they’ll definitely want to subscribe because by the time we released this guy, we’ve already produced almost all of the episodes.

[00:14:01] And so the cadence of these interviews are going to be coming out like with such professional consistency that you’ll want to be on the feed, Tim, where can they find design thinking games?

[00:14:13] Tim: Um, you can always go to designthinkinggames. com and it is on every podcatcher of choice, except Google Podcast because they’re going away. But if you’ve opened Google Podcast recently, they’ve now said like, you need to migrate to YouTube Music.

[00:14:30] Michael: Oh

[00:14:31] Tim: Yeah. And they’re like, you gotta go to YouTube music. Um, are you going? Because you won’t be after this date. And yeah, Android is literally just bam,

[00:14:41] Michael: Yeah, they’re gonna, they’re retiring that like they did with like, Google Reader.

[00:14:45] Tim: Yeah. So, uh, so yeah, I’ve already migrated over to my podcasts are on YouTube music, where you can also find us

[00:14:53] Michael: Probably, our most active social media is TikTok, where Tim puts his face out on the internet in a way that I don’t. Um, and it’s actually like a really good account because, Tim plays a shit ton of games and it’s not just self-promo, um, and of course through us, the gatekeepers of all board game TikTok, you can find, uh, uh, a myriad of different creators.

[00:15:17] Tim: The bullshit is so deep now.

[00:15:18] Michael: What, say you wrap? Yeah. What say you rapid proto Bot?

[00:15:27] Michael: I think one of the, one of the gems that didn’t come out, uh, that, that didn’t get the play that I really think it deserves from last season is the design thinking games, audio drama that we dripped out through the end of the episodes and I think compiled together on like a TikTok or something.

[00:15:44] Um, excellent piece of art. I think, um, in which effectively, your heroes, Mike, Tim, and Rapid Protobot end up at a board game conference that is taken over by LARPers and their too powerful imagination. Um, and, uh, and , if it’s not clear, we’re a fucking gem and you should follow us and share us, uh, as much as you can, because we don’t need, like, we don’t need like assholes like Hasbro or whatever, stealing any more of the spotlight, support indie creators, support Tim and Michael, support Design Thinking Games in 2024.

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