Show cover of Ludology


Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the how’s and why’s of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, and discusses game history, game design and game players. Ludology is part of The Dice Tower Network, the premier board game media network.


Ludology 295 - Relationship Goals
Erica and Sen bring Daryl Andrews onto the show to discuss his role as Head of Talent at Maestro Media, pitching games to publishers in general, and the importance of relationships in the industry. 
45:46 3/20/23
Ludology 294 - State of the Industry 2023
Erica and Sen welcome Eric Lang, a self-identified Born-Again Mass Market Guy, to Ludology in order to review what the tabletop industry went through in 2022 and where he thinks it's headed in 2023. Eric brings a wealth of information to the discussion, having a quarter century of experience in the business of making games.
91:11 3/5/23
Ludology 293 - Color Me Fascinated
Erica and Sen welcome Tim Devine of Dice Up Games, designer of Color My Quest: A Colour & Cut Roleplaying Game, to Ludology to discuss designing RPGs for families as well as safety and calibration tools for children who roleplay.
58:32 2/19/23
Ludology 292 - State of the Art
Erica and Sen welcome artist Kwanchai Moriya to the show to discuss his process, his advice for new artists trying to break into the tabletop industry, his take AI Image Generators, and his New Year's Resolution for 2023.
62:33 2/5/23
Ludology 291 - Curiouser and Curiouser
Erica and Sen talk to Michelle Rundbacken and Yacine Merzouk, the fine purveyors of the Society of Curiosities, about their bespoke puzzle experiences that bridge the gap between the physical and the digital as well as their up-coming B&B escape experience!
54:12 1/20/23
Ludology 290 There's A Game Designer For That!
Where are some of the places that game design skills come in handy? Erica and Sen talk to Nick Metzler, who has designed games for traditional publishers like Spin Master, murder mysteries in a castle for over a hundred wedding guests, and challenges on reality TV shows like Survivor!
67:14 1/9/23
Ludology 289 - Cat's Got Your Tongue
Erica and Sen discuss how "Boop!", a new cat-themed 2-player game, became rethemed from an abstract game with the game's designer, Scott Brady. Scott tells us how the theme was integral in shaping the final product.
48:45 12/11/22
Ludology 288 - From the Console to the Tabletop
Sen and Erica talk with Pat Marino, designer behind Cup Head: Fast Rolling Dice Game and other titles from The Op, about translating videogames over to the hobby gaming and mass market gaming spaces.
47:40 11/27/22
Ludology 287 - Culture Vultures
Erica and Sen meet up with Jason Perez (Shelf Stories, cultural consultant on Puerto Rico 1897) to talk about cultural consultation, define some of the most prominent terms, and talk about how we can design better games while considering cultural impact.   Timestamp Note Link 00:00:50 Shelf Stories  00:01:20 Puerto Rico 1897  00:09:30 Uncle Ben dies  00:09:35 Batman’s parents get shot 00:12:58 Andreas Seyfarth  00:13:01 Reiner Knizia  0015:05 Jason’s critique of Lost Ruins of  Arnak  00:15:15 Feast for Odin  00:15:20 Raiders of the North Sea  0016:40 Puerto Rico’s Power Outage Issues  00:24:15 Cafe con leche  00:24:34 In The Heights 00:29:21 “I Wish” songs  00:29:49 Boriken  00:30:01 The Taino people  00:32:06 Risk  00:33:01 Liz Davidson (Beyond Solitaire)  00:33:06 Jason Matthews (Twilight Struggle)  00:36:43 Chip Theory Games  00:37:53 Unconscious Mind  00:40:06 Jason’s Discussions re: the Designer Diary for Gorinto 00:46:00 Dicetower’s Skymines vs. Mombassa Comparison  00:48:27 Ludology Episode with James Mendez Hodes “Orc-kay Computer”  00:49:56 Root  00:50:16 Tauren and Native American Imagery  00:52:01 Owl Pizza Chef  00:52:16 The X-Men as :GBT Champions: From Outcasts to Elites  00:55:02 Bruno Faidutti’s article on Postcolonial Catan  0055:28 Cascadia  0056:43 Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”  00:56:45 Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”  00:57:18 The Wedding Singer’s rendition of “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”  00:57:30 Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States”  00:58:28 The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”  01:01:24 Tostones  01:01:33 Maduros  01:02:39 Greg Loring-Albright  01:03:01 One Stop Co-op Shop 
65:03 11/13/22
Ludology 287 - Comfy and Cozy Designs
Sen and Erica chat with Roberta Taylor about her games, diving deeper into Creature Comforts and the upcoming Maple Valley, specifically. They discuss cozy games and Roberta's philosophy towards design. Roberta's BGG Page:
52:10 10/30/22
GameTek Classic 285.5 - The Sweet Spot
Geoff discusses what he calls the "Sweet Spot" in games, and how it can help your design.
05:35 10/23/22
Ludology 285 - Unmatched Making
Sen and Erica chat with Brian Neff, the freelance developer who currently handles the Unmatched System for Restoration Games, about the process he uses for playtesting and balancing a game with an ever-expanding roster that boasts just under 40 playable characters to date. They chat about how both quantitative and qualitative data drive the development process and how the game's loyal community has been an invaluable part of the process. Timestamp Note Link 00:01:05 Restoration Games  00:01:49 Unmatched Game System  00:02:18 Bruce Lee  00:02:19 T-Rex  00:04:45 Alice  00:04:48 Moon Knight  00:07:00 Cerebus System  00:08:03 Star Wars Epic Duels  00:08:43 Tannhauser  00:0901 Magic: The Gathering  00:09:02 Yu-Gi-Oh  00:09:03 Hearthstone  00:09:13 Mondo  00:16:36 Noah  00:16:41 Rob Daviau  00:16:46 Justin Jacobson  00:17:20 The Invisible Man  00:18:21 Dr. Ellie Sattler  00:19:10 Beowulf  00:19:51 Yennenga  00:21:11 Little Red Riding Hood  00:23:57 Daredevil  00:29:01 Restoration Games Discord Server 00:30:55 Medusa  00:30:56 Bigfoot  00:31:10 Sherlock  00:32:57 Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Cloak & Dagger  00:34:55 Elektra  00:40:14 Bovine University  00:41:59 Colossus  00:43:49 Wakka  00:44:34 Unmatched Maker  00:46:27 When I Was A Young Warthog  00:46:42 Slice & Dice  00:48:03 Jawn  00:49:25 Willow Nightingale  00:5024 Juice Robinson 
52:37 10/16/22
Biography of a Board Game 284.5 - Chill: Black Morn Manor and Betrayal at House on the Hill
In this classic Biography of a Board Game, Scott takes a look at how the horror game Betrayal at House on the Hill came to be.
11:17 10/9/22
Ludology 284 - Spenser is Missing!
Erica and Sen talk with Spenser Starke about his game, Alice is Missing, and it's jump to the big screen. They discuss how to design cinematic narrative structure into tabletop games, calibration tools, and more! Timestamp Note Link 00:01:05 Alice Is Missing 00:01:17 Kids on Broom 00:01:20 Icarus 00:02:51 Dread 00:02:53 The Quiet Year 00:06:47 Life Is Strange 00:06:49 Oxenfree 00:06:50 Firewatch 00:08:25 Vox article 00:10:19 Hollywood Reporter article 00:11:10 Papergirls Cancelled 00:20:14 RPG Safety Toolkit 00:28:39 Chapman Film School 00:30:14 Three Act Structure 00:35:51 Joseph Campell’s Hero's Journey 00:35:59 Dan Harmon’s Story Circle 00:36:15 Save The Cat 00:36:44 Hamlet’s Hit Points 00:40:25 L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat 00:50:59 Ten Candles 00:53:09 Battleship 00:53:10 Clue 00:54:16 Image Comics 00:56:01 Blades in the Dark TV Show Announced 00:59:24 Game Night 00:59:43 Dune Imperium 01:02:30 Cash Cab 01:03:30 Powered By The Apocalypse is the best way to get started with tabletop roleplaying games 01:04:26 Wingspan 01:04:30 Succulent 01:04:33 Stardew Valley 01:04:59 Scythe 01:05:18 Tales From The Loop 01:06:34 Cameron Cuffe 01:06:50 Rupert Grint
68:49 10/2/22
GameTek Classic 283.5 - Blue
Geoff takes us through the history of the color blue, namely how difficult it is to make as a dye, and considers if we should value it above all other player colors.
06:10 9/25/22
Ludology 283 - Tools of the Trade
Erica, Gil, and Sen discuss some of the tools and processes they use at the various phases of designing a game from their varying perspectives of an in-house designer, a publisher, and freelance designer/developer.  SHOW NOTES: 00:08:31 DDS is an acronym for Detailed Design Specification 00:11:38 LucidChart browser-based flowcharting and more 00:18:43 Canva free online graphic design tool 00:19:13 Tabletop Simulator is a virtual tabletop (VTT) run on Steam  00:19:14 Tabletopia is a browser-based VTT 00:21:26 Also known as an MVP - a “Minimum Viable Prototype” 00:21:45 Filemaker Pro is a relational database  00:21:57 Nandeck is cardmaking software  00:22:05 Component Studio is a full game design suite that is hooked up to the Game Crafter 00:26:06 Adobe Creative Suite is the industry standard for the industry in terms of graphic design  00:27:54 Photopea is an online Photoshop equivalent for raster images 00:28:29 GIMP is an open source Photoshop equivalent 00:29:15 Inkscape is a free equivalent of Illustrator for vector images 00:29:57 The Affinity Suite is a one-time payment suite of graphic design and illustrative tools 00:36:46 Fiskars Rotary Cutter is Sen’s weapon of choice  00:37:13 Arc punches, square punches and corner punches, oh my! This is an example of a 1” arch punch: 00:41:36 Midjourney and Dall-e are prompt-based AI Art generators / 00:44:58 Some great sources for icons etc. 00:45:32 Face generating software ThisPersonDoesNotExist 00:48:46 Functional Fixedness is the psychological phenomena when a person cannot see any other use for an item because their initial understanding of how it’s used is the only way they think it can be used 00:49:10 Sunk Cost Fallacy occurs when a person will not make a change, even one that is likely to be highly beneficial, due to the perceived amount of time, money, effort, etc.they have already invested in the current strategy 00:55:58 You can record your screen right from Windows and MacOS
70:02 9/18/22
Biography of a Board Game Classic 282.5 - Cluedo
In this classic Biography of a Board Game, Scott takes us through the history of the game Cluedo, better known to Americans as Clue.
11:46 9/11/22
Ludology 282 - The Art of Marketing Yourself
Erica and Sen chat with game designer Mondo Davis about how to market yourself in the game industry.
46:31 9/4/22
GameTek Classic 281.5 - FPS FTW Part 2
Continuing the previous GameTek Classic, Geoff returns to the subject of AI in first-person shooters. Last time, we learned that researchers had engineered an FPS AI that could beat the best humans. This time, Geoff dives into the different strategies the AI tried, how it shifted over time to prefer distinct strategies, and what we can learn from this.
05:38 8/28/22
Ludology 281 - I Like Big Games and I Cannot Lie
Gil and Sen meet up with James Hudson of Druid City Games to discuss the pleasure of games that are big, sprawling productions.
63:18 8/21/22
Biography of a Board Game 280.5 - Kill Dr. Lucky
Scott takes us through the history of Kill Dr. Lucky, a game where, instead of trying to deduce the murder of a wealthy old man, you're trying to actually do the deed.
09:29 8/14/22
Ludology 280 - Refuse to Leave the Room
Erica and Sen talk with Dr. Tanya Pobuda about her groundbreaking research of representation in board games, the purpose of journalism, and her work in academia. SHOW NOTES 2m01s: Emma and Gil chatted with Dr. Mary Flanagan on Ludology 226 - Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo. 7m37s: Two seminal works in the theory behind fun and play are Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens and Roger Caillois' Man, Play, and Games. 27m05s: Analog Game Studies provides an academic, analytic look at non-digital games. 39m12s: Leonard Anetta's research paper The "I's" Have It: A Framework for Serious Educational Game Design. 43m34s: Elizabeth Sampat's book Empathy Engines: Design Games that are Personal, Political, and Profound.
88:34 8/7/22
GameTek Classic 279.5 - FPS FTW
In GameTek Classic 275.5 - MENACE, Geoff discussed a simple machine that anyone can build that can learn how to play tic-tac-toe competitively. Here, Geoff continues the conversation, this time with modern researchers using a neural network to teach a machine to play a first-person shooter video game, and the tweak they needed to make to see their AI become competitive with human players.
05:46 7/31/22
Ludology 279 - Two Princes
Erica and Gil discuss Erica's time so far working at Spinmaster, making mass-market games for kids and families. How is it different from making games for the hobby market? SHOW NOTES 0m43s: We recently chatted with Sydney Engelstein of Indie Boards & Cards in Ludology 274 - Indie 500, and with Carol Mertz of Exploding Kittens in Ludology 277 - Combustible Felines. 7m28s: The Rubiks brand of puzzles, toys, and games, centered around the world-famous Rubik's Cube. And the legendary brand of Gund plush toys. 19m04s: Kinetic Sand 33m39s: The marvelous game designer Maureen Hiron. 42m00s: Splendor, 7 Wonders, Sushi Go 56m10s: Busen Memo
65:32 7/24/22
Biography of a Board Game Classic 278.5 - Agricola
In this classic GameTek, Scott tells us about the history of Agricola, which sparked new life in worker-placement games.
11:53 7/17/22
Ludology 278 - Everyone's a Critic
Sen and Gil have a talk with game reviewer and critic Daniel Thurot of the marvelous game review site Space-Biff! about his distinctive style of writing, the difference between review and criticism, and theming in games. SHOW NOTES 4m48s: The Settlers of Zarahemla 5m26s: Roger Ebert was a movie critic; Gil remains a big fan of his writing. Also: Tom Chick (whom Dan interviewed on his own podcast), Tom Francis 14m55s: Fort 29m35s: The recent film Men 31m56s: Sen and Jay's game MIND MGMT 34m37s: Sen may be referring to The Long View Podcast  35m40s: Mike Barnes, There Will Be Games 44m06s: Frontierland is indeed a part of Disneyland (California), as well as the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld (Florida) 49m12s: Dan's review of Heading Forward. We had publisher Amabel Holland on Ludology 262 - This Guilty Podcast. 50m27s: Pope Alexander VI, Antipopes 52m37s: Charlie Theel, Matt Thrower, Thinker Themer 53m04s: That's about 1.2x1.2x0.9 meters.
55:19 7/10/22
GameTek 277.5 - Tabletop Network 2022
Geoff tells us about big changes in store for Tabletop Network 2022, and why he's so excited for it! This is an amazing show for game designers, and you can easily stay for BGG.CON immediately afterwards. Please consider attending!
12:33 7/3/22
Ludology 277 - Combustible Felines
Sen and Gil chat with game designer Carol Mertz, senior game designer at Exploding Kittens. Carol has worked on many Exploding Kittens games, like Hand To Hand Wombat, Exploding Kittens: Recipe for Disaster, and Exploding Kittens: 2-Player Version. She's also known for her own designs, especially the wildly creative HELLCOUCH, the only couch co-op that uses an actual couch. SHOW NOTES 2m28s: We chatted with Sydney Engelstein of Indie Game Studios recently, on Ludology 274 - Indie 500.  17m28s: But Wait There's More, Bad Medicine 25m40s: We spoke with Mike Elliot in Ludology 256 - You're Big in Japan, and with Justin Gary in Ludology 207 - Card Advantage. 39m26s: Inhuman Conditions 45m08s: Pass the Buck: A Game of Corporate Responsibility Management 48m25s: The Pixel Pop festival. 57m02s: Hellcouch, and the customizable hardware board Arduino.
59:52 6/26/22
Biography of a Board Game Classic 276.5 - Bang
Scott rassles up the tangled history of the Western-themed social deduction game Bang!
07:55 6/19/22
Ludology 276 - Text Messages
Gil and Sen sit down with game designer and chronicler Aaron A. Reed to talk about his project 50 Years of Text Games, in which he covered one important game for each year between 1971 and 2020. The project will be made into a book. SHOW NOTES 2m21s: The Oregon Trail 3m13s: Gil mentions a bunch of games that Aaron wrote about: Adventure, Hunt the Wumpus, games made with Inform and Twine, 80 Days, Fallen London. 9m22s: Sen's childhood PET computer, Gil's childhood Panasonic computer 10m24s: The game Adventure, the company Infocom, and the rise of Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs). 14m16s: You can probably add board games like Gloomhaven to this list too! 17m28s: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game, with the infamous Babel Fish puzzle. Here is the text of the Infocom hint guide for that puzzle. Click "Next Answer" for the next step. Each step has spoilers, obviously! Also, Gil was wrong, it was "only" 30 steps. 18m33s: Myst 20m07s: Infocom's "feelies." Several fan sites have information on them; this is one. 20m38s: Infocom's game Suspended had a ridiculously cool cover; a plastic injection-molded face with cut-outs for the eyes. The eyes you see on the cover are printed on cardboard beneath the face. Because the images for the eyes are recessed, they will seem to follow you if you walk past the game on the shelf.  22m54s: Robert Lafore's "Interactive Fiction" 26m46s: St. Bride's School 30m45s: The Oz Project 33m09s: The digital game Façade. 36m00s: Adventuron, Choice of Games' ChoiceScript, Inkle 37m00s: So Far, Photopia, Galatea, Trinity 42m01s: The harrowing dramatic film The Sweet Hereafter, which was an inspiration for Photopia. 44m46s: The seminal ARG The Beast, created to promote the film AI 49m47s: Here's the article Gil was talking about. Also, Porpentine's game With Those We Love Alive 52m35s: PixelBerry's interactive romances Choices, of which The Freshman is a story in the game. 56m10s: Ludology 151, where Geoff and Gil discuss what a game actually is. 57m57s: Aaron's book Subcutanean, which is different for everyone who buys it. 58m51s: Sen is likely thinking of Cain's Jawbone, a puzzle released in 1934 by Edward Mathers, under the pseudonym Torquemada. 1h01m27s: Archives of the Sky 1h03m03s: The short IF game 9:05. It's really quick; play it if you can! 1h04m10s: Star Saga One: Beyond the Boundary. 1h05m05s: Above & Below, Near & Far, Tales of the Arabian Nights 1h06m02s: Aaron's 50 Years of Text Games book
67:16 6/12/22