Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Catan for iPhone is here

Mine's downloading this very minute. :) You can read a review on CNet, but, I mean, it's Catan. You should just get it.

There are a growing number if board games making the jump over to the iPhone. As a development platform, it sort of mirrors the indie element of the current designer board gaming scene, because an independent designer can learn the ropes of iPhone development, submit an app, and almost instantly be selling it on the App Store.

There's a version of Werewolf designed by Kory Heath, as well as 3 Reiner Knizia apps - Poison, Robot Master, and Knights of Charlemagne. Poison is one I really like as a board game, so it'll be interesting to see how it makes the translation over to iPhone.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weird, Wild Stuff

I'm back home from Essen, and I don't even know where to begin. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen, a world different than the Origins or E3s that I've attended. For one thing, it was big, airy, and brightly lit. For another was BIG. It is the largest in the world, literally more than 10 times the size of our conventions. I don't think I've gotten such a workout in all my gym time this year combined. If you're thinking of attending, I recommend training for it. :)

All in all, I conducted over 14 interviews, including:

  • Nick Medinger (
  • Matt Leacock (Pandemic)
  • Nick Kellet (GiftTRAP)
  • Gordon and Fraser Lamont (Snow Tails)
  • Reiner Knizia (Lost Cities, Poison, LotR: The Confrontation, and a few hundred others)
  • Klaus & Guido Teuber (Settlers of Catan)
  • Donald X. Vaccarino (Dominion)
  • Christophe Boelinger (Dungeon Twister)
  • Mark Kaufmann (Days of Wonder)
  • Alexander Yeager (Mayfair Games)

I barely ate, and barely slept. I saw amazing sights, from a life-size foozball table to chainmail bikinis and finger-skateboarding. I got lost for a couple hours, had the best beef and mushroom stew I've ever tasted from one of the food booths, and thronged with the mass of humanity traveling the halls. The sound of the crowd was on par with Niagra Falls.

It was a surreal sort of wonderland, and I already want to go back. As I was sitting at the airport terminal, the following song struck me as a fitting farewell:

Goodbye Song - Yo Gabba Gabba!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Twas the night before Essen

I leave tomorrow night for the annual SPIEL fair in Essen, Germany, home to the Spiel des Jahres award, also known as the "Academy Awards of the designer gaming industry."

I prefer to talk about interviews for the film once I have them completed and in-hand, so I won't jinx myself by listing the ones I've got lined up for this week, but for even a casual designer board gamer, they'll ring a bell when I do. :)

I've spent the day getting the equipment organized and packed. There's no cutting corners here just because its millions of miles away; in fact, specifically because of that, I've got more to bring than I did for the Ohio gathering. I need outlet adapters, backup lighting options, and so forth. Another thing that's new this time around is a few yards of nice fabric. You never can tell what you'll be faced with for interview space, so I feel much more secure bringing my own impromptu backdrops. It's yet again more weight, though.

At some point I'll get to packing clothes and other non-necessities. I'm not planning on bringing back any specific games, but I'm trying to leave myself as much luggage space as possible, just in case. Oh, who are we kidding? Something like 500 new games debut at Essen each year. There's no WAY I'm not coming back with as many as will fit in my suitcase!

Monday, October 5, 2009

It Has Begun

Last Friday night, finding myself kid-free, I sat down at the diningroom table, and started editing. Actually taking pieces of interviews and splicing them alongside pieces of other interviews, to create a coherent and entertaining stream.

And it was fun, really fun! Making rudimentary sequences in Vegas Video is easy. Adding in the cutaways, supporting images, and proper blendings, that makes up the actual learning curve.

Then on Saturday, I took a trip down to Boston to visit Greg Lam, owner of Pair-of-Dice Games. It was a great interview. I say that a lot, I know, but it was! I had a blast, and we even went on a trip to one of his sources for game materials, a little Asian grocery store nearby. I got to play a heated 3-person round of his Chopstick Game. And then, to top it all off, we went down to a little shop that makes good bubble tea, and I had my very first bubble tea! Two of them, actually, a Thai tea and a lychee version. They were excellent.

Sunday had me back on the laptop editing footage, working on a "couples that game together" type segment in addition to the "collection sizes" sequence I did Friday night. Both will be expanded as I gather more interviews, but already, one could almost say these segments are looking like a film.

All this stimulation resulted in horrible nights' sleeps both nights, since my brain just would not shut down. Can't say I mind, though, I'm on a roll!