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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 Erica Bouyouris, Gil Hova, Scott Rogers, and Sen-Foong Lim 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 escape rooms 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. Emma left in 2021, and Erica and Sen joined us.

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Sep 5, 2021

Scott sits down with Erica, Gil, and Sen to discuss the design and making of his newest game, Alien: Fate of the Nostromo. We also discuss designing to an IP, and how to make a horror game.


0m58s: The original Alien film

1m31s: The other board game based on the film Alien. Scott is not counting board games influenced by the film without the official license, like Nemesis or The Awful Green Things From Outer Space. He’s also only counting games based specifically on the original film, so board games based on any of the sequels, like Aliens, or Alien vs. Predator, do not count.

1m38s: The “Optimus Prime Conundrum” is a term coined by the legendary and wonderful podcast Flip the Table. It describes a situation where a game breaks the IP it’s based on by allowing multiple copies of one character. This was coined in their very first episode, in which they reviewed the Transformers Adventure Game, where each player gets to play a separate version of Optimus Prime. 

2m00s: The publisher Ravensburger. Note that Scott pronounces it “Ray-vensburger”, while the other hosts pronounce it “Rah-vensburger”.

3m34s: The films Elf, Home Alone, and Gremlins, and the animated series Gargoyles.

8h25m: The Topps Alien trading card set.

11m15s: The Betrayal games.

14m11s: Back to the Future: Dice through Time.

16m06s: The film Ten Little Indians, also known as And Then There Were None. There have been several versions of this film, all based on an Agatha Christie novel.

28m59s: Scott is correct in that Alien is the first film to provide a genuine “cat scare” - that is, a jump scare that turns out to just be a harmless cat. The so-called “cat scare,” in which the source of a jump scare turns out to be something ordinary, appeared 35 years before Alien. TV Tropes credits it to producer Val Lewton, in his 1942 film Cat People.  However, despite the film’s name, the source of the scare was a bus, not a cat. Note that one month after Alien’s wide release in the US, The Amityville Horror came out; it also featured a cat-powered “cat scare.” Perhaps between these two films, the cliche was solidified. 

34m15s: The Horrified games: Horrified and Horrified: American Monsters. A short checklists of cryptids: Bigfoot, Mothman, Windigo, and the Jersey Devil. 

36m39s: Camp Grizzly

37m17s: Clue/Cluedo, 1313 Dead End Drive

39m19s: Dread

39m51s: Kingdom: Death Monster

41m03s: Peter Jackson's "splatstick" film Braindead (released in North America as Dead Alive)

42m49s: Dixit, Weird Stories, Unspeakable Words

44m03s: Final Girl

45m05s: Mansions of Madness

47m47s: Geoff's book Achievement Relocked, Ico, Death Stranding, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Aerith from Final Fantasy VII

49m15s: Nyctophobia, Ten Candles, Vampire Hunter, Waldschattenspiel/Shadows in the Forest

51m39s: Apocrypha, the World of Darkness series of games (including Vampire: The Masquerade)

53m33s: Erica’s news: Disney Sidekicks, Rat Queens: To the Slaughter

54m29s: Sen’s news: Avatar Legends RPG

55m16s: Gil's news: GameTek on the global shipping snarl, Weird Stories