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Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the hows and whys of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, as well as discuss game history, game design and game players.

We post a new Ludology episode every other week. In these episodes, hosts Emma Larkins and Gil Hova (sometimes with Professor Scott Rogers) deep-dive into a single topic within game design, often with a well-regarded guest from the game industry. We generally focus on tabletop game design (mainly board games and RPGs), but we often pull in experts from all forms of games, from video games to slot machines.

On weeks where there is no flagship Ludology episode, we will alternate between two smaller mini-sodes.

GameTek is a long-running feature from the Dice Tower podcast by Ludology co-founder Geoff Engelstein that explores the math and science behind games.  GameTek Classic episodes were once broadcast on The Dice Tower podcast, while other GameTek episodes were recorded specially for Ludology.

Biography of a Board Game is a series hosted by Scott Rogers that explores the history behind classic and modern board games. It was once on The Dice Tower, but has since moved full-time to Ludology.

We aim for most Ludology episodes to be timeless, so you are welcome to explore our entire catalog. Most of it should age quite well. The podcast was started in 2011 by Geoff Engelstein and Ryan Sturm, with Mike Fitzgerald taking over for Ryan in 2015. Gil joined the show in 2017 when Mike stepped aside, and Emma joined in 2019 when Geoff ended his tenure as host.

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Apr 18, 2021

Emma and Gil sit down with Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games and Galactic Raptor Games to discuss designing solo modes for games, the merits of "bots" in solo games, and how these bots tend to be named "Steve."

SHOW NOTES

2m00s: Carla's first published game Super Hack Override.

4m53s: We spoke with Morten Monrad Pedersen on Ludology 154 - Leave Me Alone! about using Automa to make solo versions of games.

7m02s: Sarah Reed is a game designer, disability advocate, and all-around excellent person. 

11m00s: The Cat Lady implementation for iOS and Android.

18m20s: Just a quick reminder that we’re talking about the digital implementation of the game Cat Lady, as opposed to Carla’s tabletop AIs. AI difficulty levels are more common in apps than they are in tabletop games. 

19m45s: The Splendor digital implementation is sadly no longer available.

20m34s: Gil mentions the solo mode that comes in the tabletop version of It’s a Wonderful World. Emma mentions the solo mode from the Galaxy Trucker app.

21m13s: Calico

21m47s: Gil forgets to mention that Friedemann Friese included an “achievement sheet” in Copycat.

23m49s: Race for the Galaxy. We chatted with Theresa Duringer, CEO of Temple Gates, who developed the app, in Ludology 177 - AI AI, Captain! 

24m26s: We're talking about the COIN (Counterinsurgencies) series of games, which have asymmetry built into them. Usually, each faction has a bot that allows many or all factions to be present in the game, even at a low player count. We talked to Volko Ruhnke, who began the series, in Ludology 178 - COIN Operated.

24m56s: The virtual gaming platform Tabletop Simulator.

26m54s: The three-body problem.

27m19s: Power Grid: The Robots

28m33s: Dune: Imperium, Smartphone Inc.

29m21s: Gil's second published game Battle Merchants.

31m24s: The Networks

33m10s: The underrated but absolutely amazing Fantasy Realms. 

34m49s: Seven Wonders and Alhambra. We discussed desicion scales in games with Matt Wolfe in Ludology 157 - Come Scale Away.

35m36s: Abandon All Artichokes

36m51s: Skull, Space Dealer

37m33s: Weird Giraffe's upcoming games: Sara Perry's Gift of Tulips, and Fertessa Alysse's Wicked & Wise.

40m12s: Tokaido

48m02s: Carla's company with Dan Letzring, Galactic Raptor. Dan also runs Letiman Games.

51m45s: Bunny Kingdom, Root. We interviewed Root's designer, Cole Wehrle, most recently on Ludology 222 - Johnny Fairplay.

53m07s: Charterstone, Feudum

55m48s: The free cardmaking program nanDECK.

56m59s: The often-linked conditions of Narcolepsy and Cataplexy.

1h05m58s: "Tony" here is designer, podcast host, and excellent person Tony Miller.

1h09m09s: Carla’s website, Discord, and Twitter.