Sandy Petersen

Chief Creative Officer, Barking Lizards Technologies

Designer Perspective Sandy Petersen.jpg

Sandy Petersen is a prolific game designer whose career includes games such as DOOM (1993), DOOM II (1994), Quake (1996), Age of Empires (1997), AOE: Rise of Rome (1998), AOE: Ages of Kings (1999), AOE: The Conquerors (2000), Age of Mythology (2002), AOM: The Titans (2003), Age of Empires III (2005), and Call of Cthulhu (1981), a paper role-playing game based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft. He has worked as a game designer at studios including Microprose, id Software, and Ensemble Studios – Microsoft. Sandy also designed and published Cthulhu Wars (2013), a successful crowd-funded boardgame.

On getting into the game industry: I backed into it by accident. I took up a job typesetting for a game company to fund my college years and ended up turning an avocation into a vocation.

On favorite games:

  • Contract Bridge: Best card game ever, bar none. It features many different ways to excel, which means not all good players are good in the same way, so games become clashes of different styles.
  • Cosmic Encounter: This was the first game to instigate the concept of different players having different abilities. This has become a mainstay of computer games (such as Civilization), but Cosmic Encounter’s simple auto balancing system still rules supreme as the finest use of this concept.
  • World in Flames 5th Edition: Something deep within my soul forces me to replay all of World War II every year or two by using this huge retro-style war game. There’s no excuse for it, really.
  • Civilization (the board game): Civilization brings the economy to the forefront in a way that few games have done successfully. Every decision you make in Civilization affects your economy for better or worse, and the card trading is a blast.
  • Runequest: Runequest is my favorite role-playing game.

An astute reader will notice that none of my five favorites are computer games. I didn’t realize this until after I’d written them down, but it’s probably not a coincidence.

Advice to designers: Be familiar with all types of games, not just computer games.