In which I catch up on recent events and look forward to giving this blog a bit of a makeover.
Never make promises you can’t keep, and never write blog posts with “Part 1” in the title unless you’ve already written Part 2. That’s the lesson. Few will mourn my still-unwritten report on the UK Games Expo, but I did have a great time and meet lots of old and new friends. A few highlights:
- The Playtest Zone organised by Rob Harris was a big success. This was where I spent most of my time, helping Rob, Chris, Katarina and Matt keep order. The two days recorded over 100 playtests of a fantastic variety of prototypes. I got some excellent feedback and reaction to my game Runaway Rabbits, including an amazingly raucous playtest which piqued the interest of Lookout Games’ Hanno Girke who just happened to be passing.
- Tony Boydell and his partners at Surprised Stare Games, Charlie and Alan Paull, were all there proudly showing off the latest prototypes of Snowdonia, which they will be co-publishing this year with Lookout Games. This is a fantastic and highly deserved success for them all, and it really could not have happened to nicer people. Watch out for Snowdonia at Essen!
- There was success for two gents of the UK games world: Gavin Birmbaum of Cubiko, and Tony Hopwood of Hopwood Games. Both won a gong at the UK Games Expo Award: Gavin for Foundation, and Tony for Zoom-Zoom Ka-Boom!!. Bravo, chaps — and I hope to see you both again next year.
- Elsewhere on the show floor it was great to chat with a variety of other games designers and publishers: Pete Burley of Burley Games, Sean Byrne of Wildcard Games, Jeremy Galilee of Arctic Fox, John Yianni of Gen42 Games and Tony Carr of Mynd Games, to name just a few.
- The aforementioned half a pint of cider was provided by Sam Mercer in the bar of the Strathallan Hotel sometime after midnight on the Saturday night. Sam described our conversation as “a proper serious bar conversation about emergent gameplay with meta-game limits and forced choices of players in abstract games”. I don’t know about any of that, but I did enjoy the conversation and the drink, so thank you Sam!
- And, finally, I was of course thrilled to see Divinare at the Expo. It was great to meet Esdevium’s Mike Budd and some of his team, including Chris who spent the whole two days demoing the game to the punters. While at the Expo I did a fun interview about the game with Michael Fox (YouTube).
Since its publication in April, the response to Divinare has been very positive and incredibly gratifying. I have been slightly obsessively monitoring its progress in the BGG rankings. Today its BGG rank stands at an entirely creditable 1874. It entered the rankings on 14th May at a lowly 4217, and has been steadily climbing ever since, although the rate of progress has inevitably slowed. BGG now lists almost 60,000 games of which just over 8000 have enough ratings to be formally ranked. I think, therefore, that any position in the top 2000 ain’t too shabby!
Looking ahead, I want to make this blog more useful to me and hopefully more interesting to others. The big problem with keeping a blog is all that troublesome writing, so I’ll try and keep posts short and to the point (under 300 words if I can — in stark contrast to this post!). I’m neither a big consumer nor a big fan of long-form writing on the web, and my guess is that most other people aren’t either. I’m not ruling out the occasional feature-length piece, but I want to be able to write more frequently about my own game designs and the design and playtesting process, and I think limiting my writing ambitions — and my own tendency to parenthesize and over-write almost every sentence! — will help that happen.