- So, you might know Soren Johnson for being the lead designer of Civilization IV at Firaxis - and you may also remember that he recently joined EA/Maxis to join the admirable brain trust working on Will Wright's Spore.

Most recently, on his Designer-Notes blog, he's been discussing the eight greatest mistakes in game design - that's the first part with four of them, there's also a second part, which I had to wait for before posting this, curses.

In any case, fine mistakes they are - including 'Hard-core game conventions' in Part 1 (No, not PAX, but: "One of the most common pitfalls for a game designer is to fear that the game is not hard enough. This fear often leads to hard-core game conventions, like restrictive save systems and unlockable content, that only put roadblocks in the way of the mainstream gamer who is just looking to have a good time.")

Probably the most controversial is 'Putting Story In The Wrong Places' in Part 2, which starts out like this: "I still want to make my point, though. I don't like story in games. I don't like the boring cut-scenes. I don't like the stereotyped characters. I don't like the plots that I have no control over (and, sorry, the Bioware you-are-either-God-or-Satan twists count too). I especially don't like it when games stop me from fast-forwarding through the crappy dialogue (I'm looking at you, Japan). But what I really hate is when a story gets stuck somewhere it really doesn't belong. Like in a strategy game." Read and gesticulate wildly, go on!

[An aside - it would be worth doing a little employee map on the sheer amount of hyper-intelligent eggheads employed at Maxis nowadays - it really is the Google of developers in terms of attracting brilliant minds, from Chris Hecker to Chaim Gingold and beyond.]