Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer, Agricola fanboy and jealous admirer of Carl Chudyk.

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A History Of Surprises - Part 4

Anthony Boydell
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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
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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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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!
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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:

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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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
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


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
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
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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Transmissions from the (Forced) Satellite Heart

Anthony Boydell
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Newent. Glos
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A gentle reminder:
From gallery of tonyboydell

The History is half an hour later than billed: 1530HRS


This no-Essen thing is just plain weird; I don't feel myself AT ALL. Indeed, I feel an intruder in my own home (and a bit like someone whose gonna come a cropper in The Final Destination movies) because I'm not supposed to be here!

I made up for it a bit by doing some SSG early doors - a particularly lovely interview/reminisce with Alan Paull and Ben Maddox on our Twitch feed - and then hanging around with a beer to celebrate the launch - and 30 mins later - the funding of the new Lookout Games Kickstarter campaign for Grand Austria Hotel:

From gallery of tonyboydell

I even put on my branded tee-shirt: the one Hanno and Klemens got for me in 2012 when Snowdonia was first released!


All good fun!

Anyway, back to my bitter nostalgia: as a Friday, the main 'geek' rush for SSG produce would've died down a little and I'd have about 20 euros left in my wallet: it's amazing how quickly you can absent yourself of 500 euros given 5 major Halls and a Galleria to wander around!

More streams and maybe some Discord-based bothering lie ahead today - just as soon as I can get the heavy morning of Work out the way! Until then, I'd encourage you to pop along to https://www.twitch.tv/surprisedstaregames (see above) and review yesterday's material...then have a look at these lovely photos of some thematically-linked Museum stock items I recently acquired:

From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


And then join us for some powerful SSG controversy around 15.30HRS (half an hour later than billed above).

*sigh* Back to the bitterness: Had this been a normal year, I would've packed light for this coming evening's Heavy Cardboard Meetup and notched up over 30,000 steps walking to, from and/or around the Messe/Martinstraße so far. I imagine my scrappy, printed MS-Excel list of pre-orders, Bateson pick-ups and promos would be mostly-scribbled out and I'd have moved on to the ad hoc, "That looks VERY cool!" products and started the family gift shopping in Lego/Tee-Shirt booth anger. This woeful state of affairs is intolerable.
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Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:15 am
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The Soft(back) Bulletin

Anthony Boydell
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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
Ah! Charity shops, how I have missed thee!

What with so many folks having spent much of the Spring inside, there's been a lot of 'clearing out' and it's taken until the Autumn for those donation-devouring dust-bowls (the Charity Shops) to open their doors: finally* - after a Summer of sorting and (probably) volunteer staff issues**

From gallery of tonyboydell


The Bible for people who revere railways over magic men in the sky; never to go anywhere without it on pain of corporate punishment.

From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


From gallery of tonyboydell


A reminder:
From gallery of tonyboydell


*(just in time to close again - for the Winter - as part of the circuit-breaker lockdowns, Tier 3 wotsits and/or whatever other buzzword horseshit blister-dribble our "Government" pops and squeezes out while it pretends to give a fuck)
**(most shop helpers are of a more advanced - and Covid vulnerable - age, sadly)
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Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:30 am
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