Everyone Needs A Shed

Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Father, Grandfather, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.

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Fingers crossed

Anthony Boydell
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Yesterday, then, the news that HABA have pulled out of 'live' conventions for the rest of the Year; hot on the heels of last week's Essen no-shows for 2F-Spiele / the Spring 'n'attendons pas' from Asmodee (and all of the brands that we love so much). This is, simultaneously, a Bad Thing(TM) - because it means no decent massive convention for a second year - and a Good Thing(TM) - because it further justifies my own own apprehensions about travelling to Germany.

Conversely, the small Events seem to be quite happy to pick things up again; despite a small number of 'Ooh, I've been pinged!' Track & Trace scares, it seems the UK Games Expo managed to beetle through with relative success: albeit as a shadow of it's usual self. I had a long conversation with pal Richard about his couple of days there and he was rather glowing about folks' adherence to masks, social distancing and general conscientious behaviour; this is great to hear - especially after the UKGE's original position of 'Do as thou wilt' in Q1, which firmly kiboshed a number of firms' attendance plans.

UKGE had approximately 10,000 unique visitors - about a third of the usual number - which, if extrapolated to Origins and GenCon (in terms of a 'drop off') would mean about 10,000 and 25,000 respectively; the latter sounds like it's pushing the boundary, though. Now...take 2019's Essen attendance of 208,000 (!) and we're talking 70,000: a truly monstrous - just over a Euro 2020 Wembley Stadium Final - number! So where is the physical and psychological cut-off point? For smaller conventions in the UK - Handycon (500), GridCon (300), Bastion (100) and my own Gathering of Chums (60-ish) - the prognosis would seem more positive; borne of word-of-mouth/friends attendance, there's better assurance that attendees will be sensible and considerate.

The barometer, I feel, will be Spring 2022 and - fingers crossed - the return of Leiriacon (500): it was the first Con to be Covid-cancelled (I had actually packed my suitcase for it when it was initially-postponed) and, should it go ahead, it would be a welcome marker of confidence and optimism: here's hoping, eh?

From gallery of tonyboydell
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Thu Aug 12, 2021 8:33 am
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Looks like Essen is a no-go for me again this year...

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan


Quote:

Thursday to Saturday, October 14th to 16th, the convention is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Sunday, October 17th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Access to the exhibition grounds will only be granted to persons who:
have been immunized against COVID-19 according to §3 of the Coronaschutzverordnung (Corona Virus Protection Ordinance) of North Rhine-Westphalia and who can present a corresponding proof of immunization valid on the respective day of the event when entering the exhibition area. (Vaccinated individuals are considered immunized as of the 15th day after completion of full vaccination with a vaccine licensed in the EU. In addition, persons are considered immunized if they have had an infection with COVID-19 (PCR-confirmed) less than 6 months ago and persons who have had an infection with COVID-19 (PCR-confirmed) more than 6 months ago and were subsequently vaccinated once with a COVID-19 vaccine.)
or

Persons who, on the respective day of the event, can present a negative test in accordance with §7 of the Coronaschutzverordnung (Corona Virus Protection Ordinance) that is no more than 48 hours old when entering the exhibition area (rapid test).
To gain access to the exhibition grounds, an EU Digital COVID Certificate documenting your immunization or negative test is required. This can also be presented in printed form for scanning. In any case, it must be a scannable and valid document with QR code.

For further information on the necessary EU Digital COVID Certificate, please use the following link:

https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-re...

Persons who cannot provide proof of COVID-19 immunization or a valid negative test in the form of an EU Digital Covid Certificate can be tested at any COVID-19 test center. All current test centers in the city of Essen can be found via the following link: https://geoportal.essen.de/testzentren/

Furthermore, medical grade protective face masks will be mandatory for visitors and exhibitors at SPIEL ’21.

Children 6 years and older must also be tested, vaccinated or recovered and wear a medical mouth and nose protection.

In addition to your admission ticket and your EU Digital COVID Certificate, please have your photo ID ready at the entrance.

If you suffer from acute, non-specific general symptoms, cold symptoms and respiratory symptoms, participation is unfortunately excluded.

If you enter Germany from another country, please ensure you observe the applicable entry requirements (e.g. quarantine and testing).
Don't much fancy booking accommodation and spending a day travelling to find that either
a) we won't be allowed to get tested OR
b) all of our UK paperwork etc is ignored (because we're the fucking UK) OR
c) some other reason to which we have no recourse and we're stuck having expended all that time and money without being able to see the show through.

It's just a monstrous risk to take, especially from the UK POV.
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Sat Aug 7, 2021 3:19 pm
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A History Of Surprises - Part 4

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan

Spiel.digital wasn't very good for most things WRT games and gaming but is WAS great for seeing people chat about things: my personal favourites were Alley Cat Games and Lookoutspiele (heckling from the peanut gallery).

For Surprised Stare Games Ltd, there was a well-stocked schedule of discussions and the chance to reflect on our 20 years together:

The End of the Beginning.
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Fri Oct 30, 2020 6:15 am
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A History Of Surprises - Part 3

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan

Spiel.digital wasn't very good for most things WRT games and gaming but is WAS great for seeing people chat about things: my personal favourites were Alley Cat Games and Lookoutspiele (heckling from the peanut gallery).

For Surprised Stare Games Ltd, there was a well-stocked schedule of discussions and the chance to reflect on our 20 years together:

Near Death Experience?!
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Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:15 am
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A History Of Surprises - Part 2

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Welcome...to my Shed!
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan

Spiel.digital wasn't very good for most things WRT games and gaming but is WAS great for seeing people chat about things: my personal favourites were Alley Cat Games and Lookoutspiele (heckling from the peanut gallery).

For Surprised Stare Games Ltd, there was a well-stocked schedule of discussions and the chance to reflect on our 20 years together:

Our Essen Origin Stories
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Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:15 am
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Let By-Cons be Bygones

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
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Welcome...to my Shed!
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan
Some pictures from Essens, passed; excuse me but I seem to have gotten some grit in my eye:

From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell
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Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:10 am
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A History Of Surprises - Part 1

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
Newent. Glos
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Welcome...to my Shed!
Avatar
Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan

Spiel.digital wasn't very good for most things WRT games and gaming but is WAS great for seeing people chat about things: my personal favourites were Alley Cat Games and Lookoutspiele (heckling from the peanut gallery).

For Surprised Stare Games Ltd, there was a well-stocked schedule of discussions and the chance to reflect on our 20 years together:

How it all began!
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Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:15 am
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The Biggest Con

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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Whatever that was that happened over the long weekend - Thursday to Sunday - it wasn't Essen Spiel 2020: Essen Spiel is so much more than an online catalogue with some randomly-shifting hexagons.

In many respects, the Spiel organisation has done exactly what it always does - every year - in that it provided an infrastructure within which companies are responsible for their own marketing, sales and decoration; the only thing that they left out was letting people come in; and, therein - my dear pals - is the absolute and complete 'rub'.

A series of Day 1 '404' errors does not replicate an excitable crowd pressing and pushing, calling and buzzing; no across-the-aisle "Halloo!"s, no "bumping into"s. No scurrying, no argy-bargy, no queues, no trolleys or cosplay, no meaty steam from the cafés. No hugs, no handshakes or fistbumps, no financial transactions, no arms aching from the carrying of oversized boxes. The sawing and hammering of a Wednesday 'build' was silenced; the careful weaving of vehicles between the flimsy stand frames absented. Without the physicality of people, it was a flat and empty experience: lonely, even.

But the Spiel.digital failed even in their basic raison d'être by providing an electronic infrastructure that was even worse than that of the UK Games Expo - and that, at least, had the excuse of having but a matter of weeks to cobble together!

Did no one think to remember how the physicality of a Hall architecture works? Each vendor allocated a position and a reference number, at the very least, and the geography of being adjacent to other vendors: had no one in the 'development team' every wandered those spaces and realised folks look around as they walk, they look up at the signs, they scan the tables and shelves of the booths they pass in case something should catch their eye?!

With an almost criminally-negligent paucity of Essen release previews on BGG and Tabletop Together, there's no way anyone would have enough information to enter the right text in to a bland search field so what we all needed - stuck in our living rooms - was the ability to browse: to wander through 3D-rendered Halls and happen upon hidden gems, a long-lost love or a multitude of surprises.

They could have utilised Steam and Epic Games and gods know how many other emulation tools to run a perfectly-serviceable 3D model of everything (on one's local machine) to give us that feeling of gliding along the pathways and peeking into the Stands: a virtual, clickable gallery of a Publisher's products with action icon links to their YouTube demo videos, simulator implementations and chat. Perhaps, a virtual TV monitor allowing you to access their live streams and discussions. Doorways to virtual meeting rooms (Zoom, Discord et al) for designer pitches and a Point-of-Sale for purchases - the latter preferably linked to a decent Warehousing operation.

Instead, we got a honkingly-shite shifting hex map and a couple of search filter boxes and fuck all else: a glorified hub of URLs. Of course, the companies still paid good money for all of this, while spending all of their time working out of someone else's (mostly-free) platforms anyway.

To be honest, it would've been better for everyone if Spiel.digital 2020 had never happened at all; indeed, the prospect of something similar having to be 'in place' next year too - a very REAL prospect - feels like it might the death knell for many small companies who just can't afford 600 euros for a lackadaisical webform. As I mentioned over the Summer, the pandemic has not only highlighted the separation of folk in the most stark manner imaginable but shown up the startling lack of imagination from the marketing and publicity sector of the Industry; this was a chance to establish a mechanism to expand attendance at major conventions without having to accommodate the physical numbers and they bottled it.

Quote:

tl;dr - Spiel.digital needs to be a sophisticated 3D 'game world' in which the public can meander freely. The virtual stands need to be explorable too: rendered attractively, products connected to audio and visual tools appropriately and supported by a point-of-sale/warehousing/dispatch function. Events need to be centrally-published and accessible through the attendee's personal calendar (with notifications).

And all of this needs to happen EVERY year from now on: hand-in-hand with those who can be there in person.
From gallery of tonyboydell

Tony's Grand Plan - 1


From gallery of tonyboydell

Tony's Grand Plan - 2


Perhaps if everyone stopped thinking of the webdev-ing of conventions as a solely 2020 thing, we might finally take them into the 21st Century?!
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Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:00 am
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Hit To Death In The Future Head(ing Off Into The Sunset)

Anthony Boydell
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan


And, so, we begin my final day as part of Surprised Stare Games Ltd.

Twenty one years ago, Alan and I sat in my living room playing Schoko & Co. - the first 'proper' Eurogame I ever played - and chatting about how we were going to go about publishing Coppertwaddle. As newly-fledged I.T. contractors, we both had a bit of spare cash - sloshing about and needing to be used up - and hit upon the Grand Plan.

We've been reminiscing a lot this weekend so, if you've not seen us already then dig out the videos, there's not much left to say: it's been amazing and rewarding and frustrating and exciting and enriching and difficult and exhausting and joyful and everything.

I feel tremendously sad; indeed, I shall probably cry a bit into a late evening beverage. This is the company I helped to create and nurture; it offered me the chance to develop and improve my game design and game play skills, it introduced me to some of the finest people in the whole, wide World (and some Americans too).

Next year at Spiel - if Spiel is happening at all next year - I shall be operating 'solo'; hopefully, I can blag an Exhibitor pass to get in to the Halls early to drink up the visceral anticipation of the set-up Wednesday and the exhausted, adrenalin crash of the Sunday evening. Nothing - apart from a continued pandemic and, of course, my eventual demise - is going to keep me away from that glorious City and that soul-surging festival of gaming: it is part of who I am now.
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Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:15 am
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(Internet) Clouds Taste Metallic

Anthony Boydell
United Kingdom
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Every homo sapiens needs an outbuilding within the curtelage of their property
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Welcome...to my Shed!
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Microbadge: I love Europe!Microbadge: 5 Games for Doomsday fanMicrobadge: Talk Talk fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.Microbadge: Klemens Franz fan
A gentle reminder:
From gallery of tonyboydell


Some days it seems that I've gotten myself lost in someone's grandparents attic and stolen away with an armful of their childhood distractions (not my grandparents' attic*, as that was filled with boxes of cigarillos and half-built Airfix kits).

From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell

'Bat' the weighted, paper cones in to the scoring holes - first to 100 points is the winner!


From gallery of tonyboydell


There's something rather pure about the formal box construction: no around the sides / underneath advertising or graphics and a lid that slips down to half the depth of the base: rather like a shirt or hat box would've done. All stacked up on a shelf, it would've looked rather official - no indication of the 'play' and 'fun' offered within those glossy, plain cartons.

From gallery of tonyboydell

Flick your balls at the perching avians: most 'downed' is the winner!


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell

I have a spare piece of 'scenery' that doesn't seem to belong anywhere!


Without a personalised inventory system, a well-stocked child would've had the Devil's own job finding his Safari from his L'Attaque, her Bom-Birds from her Winkle's Wedding. Not like now, where every available square inch is festooned with glorious branding and luscious font-age, eh?

From gallery of tonyboydell

A proper piece of tabletop history - this edition is from the early 1950s!


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell

More flicking fun for your fingers!




As for yesterday, in the virtual world of Spiel 2020, I eschewed the weird hexagonal bubble thing for more stream-based chitty-chats about Surprised Stare Games' history - this time the early Essen years withCoppertwaddle and Bloody Legacy:


https://www.twitch.tv/videos/779255325
From gallery of tonyboydell

Ben tries to coral the cupboard full of cats that is Alan, Charlie, Daniel and Tony


As per usual, I popped in to see the Lookout guys - talking about Cantaloop and Grand Austria Hotel** - then swooned over the dishy Brett J. Gilbert on the Alley Cat Games channel.

It's good to see my pals again but it's really no substitute.

*all this talk of 'attics' reminds me of a school pal of mine - Patrick 'Paddy' Martin - who lived in a Vicarage outside Monmouth and had a huge loft space; it contained books, records, toys and Christmas decorations but - more importantly - served as an arcade for shooting Action Men with air rifles. After we'd poured tomato ketchup in to their chest spaces. Boom and, indeed, splatter!

**Talking of GAH, the Kickstarter page has begun attracting the usual entitled, self-important wasps to it's delectable Jam Tart of an offering - complaining about prices, stretch goals they want but can't have, about the 12 picosecond delay in answering questions, about the inability to send 500 copies of the game at a 98% discount to Mars, about the lack of a rulebook translation (for free) into Elvish script and anything else of tiresome, niggling inconsequence. It's hilarious, truly.
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Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:15 am
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