To understand this entry I’d recommend looking at my adventures during UKGE (UK Games Expo) 2021 by clicking here. For UKGE 2022, which finished today, I resolved to have a quieter and more relaxed experience. This was a good move and has done wonders for my motivation.
My priority was to catch up with the friends I made last year: on the Saturday, a dozen or more Virtual Playtesters had taken up the best table in Hall 3 and networked the night away. This was significantly more difficult this year with the UKGE back in full swing, as the crowds and rival evening-time commitments were back. But look at me moaning again: I just wrote UKGE is back! It didn’t go bust, didn’t get forgotten during the pandemic. Hats off to Richard, Tony and the team, and thank you for bringing us all back together. That’s the most important takeaway from this year.
I did manage to meet Conan Daly of Hexheart Games (click here). Last year I didn’t get a chance to play his big game set in a rapidly contracting hex-based galaxy. I found him and his beautiful prototypes at the Playtest UK stand and jumped into what turned out to be his other hex-based game set in a rapidly expanding galaxy. Also at the Playtest UK stand were members of the Dorset Tabletop Creators – we had successfully pre-arranged a meeting to discuss potential events in Bournemouth and Poole. I got a playtest of Olympus in (more on that in a future post), and Jim was playtesting, volunteering at the stand and nipping over to the Hilton to run his RPGs (Role-Playing Games). I had hoped to meet my friends from Entoyment but, due to time restrictions, met only Stewart and his friend John (both were involved recently in an “alpha-testing” game project which I’m very intrigued by).
Regarding “business”, I resolved to make it to more of the smaller conventions in the coming year, and was especially pleased to hear about January’s Playtest UK Fest (click here). I spoke to several designers with pre-arranged meetings with publishers, beyond just the “speed-dating” event. The trick seems to be to have a catalogue of games to show them in one sitting. “I might change the theme of this one each time”, said Ellie, “depending on what that specific publisher is interested in” (or words to that effect). This is an intriguing position to be in, and within my reach if I want it. I followed up on the idea of writing fiction set in game universes, and was informed it was “really hard” and required authors to be published already:
“We have over fifty authors on our books, and we don’t use all of them.”
“Fifty?! I can only see one on this book.”
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.
Game Design and Product Design
In my last post I argued that game design and product design are separate disciplines. This has come up twice since: first in a post by Samuel from Imaginary Sword Games (click here) which argued that product design could be integrated into game design from the very start of the project; second in a UKGE presentation by Tyler from Panda Game Manufacturing (click here). In a room full of game designers, Tyler broke down the aspects of game design most relevant to products, and argued that good product design is also good game design (both benefit from a reduced complexity and variety of components, for example). He suggested starting a project with its price tag, then working out what its box dimensions should be, then board size, card size, graphic design and art style. A question at the end of the presentation put a smile on our faces: what about an immersive detective game, in which each component needs to feel like an authentic piece of evidence from the time period? “We need fifty unique components and only one of each: the exact opposite of what you are suggesting.” Tyler reassured them that the requirements of the player experience should always take precedence.
After the seminar I looked with envy at the people chilling out and painting. I’ll do this next time, and try to play a few more games.
My only mistake of the weekend was to remove Zeus from the God Deck at the start of the playtest (I didn’t want his card-based bonus to cause confusion, as it had in the last playtest). This was useful but clearly angered the King of the Gods: by the time I got back to Bournemouth on Saturday night, it was in the grip of a ferocious thunderstorm. I’ll have to appease him by getting him back to the table as soon as possible.