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I recently reviewed Old World: a strange twist on the 4X genre. It’s a blend of Crusader Kings politics and relationships and Civilisation, focusing on the ancient world. After a while on the Epic Store, it finally released on Steam in May. You can check out my impressions review of Old World here:

I recently reached out to Mohawk Games for an interview about Old World: here are their answers!

First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you do?

I am a video game designer and programmer who specializes in PC strategy games. I worked on the Civilization series from 2000-2007, designing Civ 3 and Civ 4. I started Mohawk Games in 2012 and have worked on Offworld Trading Company and Old World since then.

What does being a game designer actually mean?

A strategy game designer is primarily responsible for the rules that govern the game. For Old World, that means how movement, combat, city production, character development, the event system, and so on, work. We spend a lot of time working with the programmers, artists, and writers to make sure that their work matches the game’s design aesthetic. Ultimately, we need to be an advocate for the player’s experience and enjoyment of the game, so we need to spend a lot of time gauging player response after the game has been released.

There has been a great deal of controversy in recent years about micro transactions
in gaming. Not so much an opinion, but why do games tend to cut out content to sell
later as DLC and lootboxes? Is it to do with development costs? Or is it time
related?

DLC helps studios navigate the ups and downs of game development by providing work for people between projects. Old World has taken six years of dev time so far, and the first couple years only required a small handful of artists and programmers. Similarly, our new project doesn’t require a large team, so DLC provides a way for us to keep our team working on Old World until the new game ramps up.

Tell us about your current project.

Old World is a turn-based historical 4X game set in Classical Antiquity. In the game, you start as a specific leader, such as Cyrus of Persia or Hatshepsut of Egypt, and each turn you get a year older. Eventually, you will die and your heir will take over, which makes character development just as important a part of the game as traditional 4X mechanics.

As anyone who creates anything, we must all deal with criticism from consumers.
How do you go about it particularly in the prolific and viral standard of gaming
today?

Learning to deal with negative feedback is a necessity of being a game designer; there is no way to improve one’s game without internalizing that your players understand your game better than you do. They will be the ones spending hundreds of hours with the game and all without the ideal version of the game that’s in your head. 

What advice would you give budding developers into taking the plunge into game
design?

Find a way to work on the types of games that you are passionate about – game design is very difficult without a strong desire and interest in the game being built. You need to know your genre and field better than the average developer on your team as you are the ultimate voice for what the player wants in the game.

If you still have time to play video games, what are some of your favorite ones to
play?

I probably play more board games than video games when I have time, and some of my recent favorites are Through the Ages, The Mind, The Crew, High Society, and Mascerade.

What inspires you to do what you do?

Hearing from players who enjoy our games is always rewarding, especially from modders who are inspired enough to work to improve and extend our games just out of pure passion for their ideas.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of the job is both the financial uncertainty between projects and the length of time it takes to finish games, which can sometimes drain the initial drive and passion the team has for a project.

What lessons have you learned from your first game?

The most important lesson I learned from my first game is that you don’t really know anything about your game until you’ve put it in front of real players who don’t know you and will give you genuine feedback. That’s one of the reasons why I love Early Access because it shortens the period of time during development when you are working without true feedback from the real world.

What are your future project(s)?

I’d love to tell you my future projects but I’m not 100% sure what they will be and, even if I was, I’m also not allowed to do so! But, yes, there will be future projects.

If you couldn’t be an game developer, what ideal job would you like to do?

That’s a good question – I considered being a music journalist during college but that seemed like an even more unlikely road than making video games!

What is your ideal video game if money and time was no object?

I’ve always dreamed of making a game where one side was playing a coop team-based shooter while the opponent was a single person playing what looks like a RTS where s/he sent waves of AI troops against these human-controlled heroes. It’s essentially making two games at once, so definitely beyond the scope of a typical indie studio like ours.

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TheThousandScar

Author/Blogger/Cartographer/Streamer/Narrative Game Writer/I play far too many games. twitch.tv/diabound111 | thousandscarsblog.wordpress.com

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