Thoughts by Bez

I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.

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AQs: What do I think of digital cons?

Bez Shahriari
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For me (in maybe chronological order (I'm not double-checking dates) and from a perspective of someone demoing unless stated otherwise):

CONPULSION (a small con to replace an Edinburgh con the week of lockdown)
+ assembled really quickly
+ a nice seminar chat
+ playing a game with a stranger over zoom felt vaguely like demoing a game irl.
+ Made a sale.
- lots of sitting around/downtime

PROTOSPIEL ONLINE
Included though it's not really a typical con.

+ some 'breakout rooms' allowed me to feel connected to a couple of folk. It wasn't JUST playtesting.
+ I appreciated the focus on using video so we would see each other. Many playtesting places don't do this.
- generic tech issues. Reminded me that online stuff can glitch due to connections and can be just as tiring as IRL stuff (or actually MORE tiring for me).

CONDEMIC (by Donald Dennis of OBG and others)
+ played with Scott Nicholson and other folk I'd never have seen irl
- organising games was tricky. Scott has to abandon their game and joined mine. And then I abandoned one of the later things I'd planned.

VIRTUAL GRIDCON
+ playing with a few lovely folk I know
- most of the events were focused on TT/TTS and that doesn't really interest me much


UKGE:
I streamed for about 8hrs/day, with a featured topic (or UKGE chat) in morning, then constant demos after a 30 min break.

+ chatting on a seminar in Twitch, there was great chat
+ Having 3 'main screens' contributed to the above.
+ integration with Twitch/discord allowing publishers to make a pretty page
+ the discord did a decent job of bringing folk together. the 'queue' bit allowed folk to have fun in a very easy way.
- I got fewer folk on my own Twitch than I did during 'Bez Day' streaming. I found it difficult to get folk for stuff. I decided at this point that a single weekend for everyone makes little sense.


TRICON (attendee only):
I tried for a couple of hours to make the tech work but I couldn't. It was literally unusable for me.

SHELFAPALOOZA
+ a fun idea with a bunch of streams raiding each other, so there was a continuous 24-hour/day focus
+ the scavenger hunt by nona
+ a nice discord focus
- I felt like there were again too many things going on for the number of attendees. My event ran, but I know a couple that had to be cancelled.

SHUX (viewer only)
+ great content
+ busy chat in the main stream
- didn't really feel super-special.
- the 'secondary' streams seemed overly quiet.

ESSEN (attendee only):
+ some great streams
- no central hub
- way too expensive (imo) for publishers to be worth it to smaller publishers.

BEZ & FRIENDS GAME DAY (obviously I'm biased...)
+ I feel like focusing on exactly one game and one stream at any one time kinda worked.
+ Having 15 folk all playing one partygame (in Discord), most of whom were on video, actually kinda felt like an 'event'.
- could have been better promoted
- some games would have been better to at least teach/demo online, so that folk who can't use TT could at least see Alan's game played.


MY OVERALL THOUGHTS:
+ being able to have folk typing when others are speaking actually means that Q&A works really smoothly in general
+ if folk are on video, it can really help make it feel like folk are together
+ obviously, it's great to be part of US-based stuff
- I actually want fewer things going on. It actually helps there be 'convening' and meeting of folk over an extended time. I want to 'accidentally' run into the same folk over the course of the event.
- With a con, the popular bit has a max occupancy. You will go try other things and smaller things will be 'stumbled upon'. There is nothing like that sort of 'browsing' here. That's bad from both a pub and an attendee perspective. Any publisher who has an ad at the start of their Twitch, I'm probably not gonna wait 20-30s just to glimpse something I might not want. I think there needs to be a really good 'menu' to show what's going on.
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Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:35 pm
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About Cannes FiJ (not the games)

Bez Shahriari
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There were some great games at Cannes. Of course there were. Festival International de Jeux was happening.

But before I go on about the games, I'd like to talk about some of my personal highlights/notes.
===============
Quick personal overview:
===============


Thursday - wandering around the hall. Only 'professionals' are allowed in. It's a chance to see games before it all gets busy on Fri/Sat/Sunday. I also did a little bit of business meetings. And a snack-swapping meeting with Rodney Smith.

I watched the prize-giving ceremony and it was a lot of fun this year! Partially because I could now understand 20% of what was said (as opposed to 4% last year) and also because it was a LOT shorter. There was still time for some brilliant videos, a bit of celebration, and a few jokes. But it was kept relatively short and we were done after an hour.

Friday - I had 2 business meetings to pitch games and both companies expressed interest in my [untitled speed-matching game]. Company B was also interested in Seize the Power and Flip & Spell. We will see what comes of that.

Friday (and Saturday and Sunday) I also ran a tournament for Yogi. Using Nate's idea of having one identical deck per player. It really speeds up the game, and also eliminates the luck. On Sat/Sun, I made this only happen for the last 2 rounds rather than the entire tournament. It was too much work to re-organise 10 decks into order.

There is a prototype-playing event each night (from 10pm until 3am-ish) but I chose to not go at all this year, because I'm still not physically 100%. And I'd rather have my energy for mornings and meetings.

I ended up hanging out with some Gigamic folk and playing games, since the company put me (and all the waged demonstrators/employees) in the same hotel.

Saturday - Swordfighting. Playing games. Running a Yogi tournament. Bought one game. Chatting with Gigamic folk before bed.

Sunday - Swordfighting. Playing games. Running a Yogi tournament. Bought a 4 more games (2 because they were ridiculously cheap - €2.75 for both!). Was given 2 presents.

===============
People:
===============


It was lovely to be remembered by Tom Vua, author of Jungle Speed, which facilitated so many memories and was the centre-point of my 29th birthday party celebrations, some years ago. We had a few chats about games, snacks, and conventions.

I also saw Christine of Toutilix and there were a couple of other folk who remembered me from last year (probably because I wear a lot of red).

The Gigamic people were all pleasant to me, but so were the demonstrators at nearly every other stand. I was very interested to learn that demonstrators at Iello and Gigamic were working together to make a BG Cafe. A lovely Josephine from Act in Games gave me a free copy of '10 dice' to play at home talk about later. I guess the point is that people here, like in the UK BG industry, do seem to have a lovely habit of working together in harmony.

Of course, any friendships here are muddied by the desire for business relationships. But it is certainly an amicable environment.

Like most places, happily.

===============
Local differences:
===============


It's worth noting that FiJ, like nearly all French gaming events, is a 'festival' rather than a convention. The public is allowed to enter for free. If you were local, you could even pop in later in the day (after 12:30pm) and not have to queue. If you wanted to get in near the opening time of 10am, you either had to wait in a very long queue (with airport-style security) or pay a fee for an early access ticket.

There was a room for folk to leave big bags and pushchairs, which weren't really allowed inside. As with last year, there was an equal number of both. I met a mum struggling to learn Dragonimo, having never really played boardgames before. Not wanting to come in for very long, but bringing their child for a couple of hrs.

Free entry. Pushchair storage. This is accessibility in action.

The food was, by contrast, a bit limited. And most folk weren't allowed to bring in food (only a bottle of water). UKGE and Airecon are certainly the leaders when I compare Spiel, FiJ, and all the UK cons.

However, since it's in the centre of a city, you are able to visit a nearly Monoprix if you want cheap snacks for lunch. Literally 5 minutes' walk from the venue you will find cheap supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and of course bakeries where you can buy almond croissants that are far better than anything I ever found outside France.

It's worth talking about the location. It's very sunny here. That is a reasonable reason to visit if yu live in a sad, gloomy place like, say, London.

The Festival Hall itself is an interesting shape/setup. It was confusing for me last year, as it's not square. One half of the lower hall has odd numbers on one side and even on the other - reminiscent of many streets. I still don't understand the upstairs system, but that part is a lot easier to walk around anyway.

Upstairs, you will find games that are suitable for children. Some of them are also interesting for adults - you'll find abstract strategy along with the partygames and super-simple things. There are also educational toys and puzzles. One area was dedicated to showing off the As D'Or (the top 12 games of the year as decided by a committee).

Downstairs is everything else. Apart from the As D'Or, there is virtually no crossover. LARP-style sword battles to participate in! RPGs! Adult party games (both as in rude ones, and as in stuff that an 8y.o. would struggle with). Strategic games. RPGs.

It was notable how few eurogames and strategic games I saw compared to UKGE or Spiel. It's a bit of a different flavour here. What BGG-users would call 'mid-weight' was basically the upper limit.

Talking about the As D'Or (but not the games yet), I'd like to talk about how FiJ really works hard to make the awards feel important. 3 awards (children, general, expert) and 4 nominees for each. A big ceremony with specially-recorded video footage. A lot of posters - not just for the area upstairs, but also 2 areas downstairs.

Overall, it was really great to see so many new games. Many will not ever come out in English. The market is definitely not yet globally homogenised.

If I can give an overall impression to the convention, it would simply be this: it was great. I had fun. You definitely need to know French - it's more of a 'local' convention, unlike Spiel. But if you're interested in making an effort to try boardgames with a slightly different flavour, head over.

I'd love to come back for FiJ 2021.
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Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:52 am
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Spielwarrenmesse (Nuremberg Toy Fair): What I did well/will change.

Bez Shahriari
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For over a week after the event, I wasn't doing much work. Just the bare minimum. Horrible sickness with headaches, coughing, and occasional dizziness. It's now been over 2 weeks. My health isn't 100% yet. But I'm about to go to FIJ tomorrow. So it's time to reflect.


===============


What did I do well?

I saw everything.


Yes, nearly all the games, as we would define them, are in Hall 10. There were a few other gaming stands I found outside there - Djeco, HABA, and a bunch of lesser-known folk. Even outside of these gaming stands, there was so much to see.

Reasons this is worth doing:
FUN
I got to ride a mechanical horse, have a balloon filled with my own things, lie on a lovely soft couch made of stuffed toys, and play with a musical marble-run.

INSPIRATION
As the toy and game markets become more and more intertwined, there is an increasing potential to draw inspiration, whether direct or indirect. There are so many new technologies all around us, as well as all the wonderful colours and patterns. This is a great way to feel energised. I guess maybe having fun really leads to inspiration, if we do it in a mindful way? That's probably too big a separate discussion.

CONTACTS
Whilst wandering the other halls, I saw other companies I'd like to work with someday, and also just met some super-cool people.

I approached places that I had a game for and asked if I could have an appointment.

I didn't always get one. But asking took some courage, and one of those meetings may well pay off.

I took games with me.

I took a prototype, which I marginally improved before my first meeting. I also took W++ deluxe and Kitty Cataclysm, to sort out potential international deals.

I bought a machine.

If you come to my stand at UKGE, you will see this machine in action. It's not a reasonable financial investment. But I was reminded that it's important to have a bit of a 'whimsy budget'. If I'm self-publishing and running a business I hope to sometimes have fun with it!

I plan to do all of that stuff again in 2021, except for buying the machine. Unless I find something even more amazing of course.

What would I like to do differently?

Contact folk faster.


I only started getting in touch with folk 2 weeks after the show. Part of this was an extreme sickness. I do feel like this is an issue though.

Contact folk ahead of the show.

There are some companies I'd love to work with one day, and I haven't had a chance to pitch. I feel like it's mainly a case of being proactive and making those meetings.

Have more prototypes.

This year (2020), I'd like to spend more time working on stuff with a view to ultimately getting other folk to publish them. It's just a question of attitude. I want to continue making new ELL decks, supporting Kitty Cataclysm (unless it gets licensed), and occasionally self-publishing another small thing. But it's become clear to me that the part I enjoy (and want to keep doing) does not involve logistics or marketing.

Yes, I'd like to keep showing off stuff and selling stuff at conventions, but I can do that regardless of who publishes my stuff.

===============
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Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:44 pm
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What would I change about Yogi?

Bez Shahriari
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Hindsight is 2020.

What would I change about Yogi, if I could go back in time?

Let me ignore the art/product design and just focus on the game rules/card instructions.

Yogi Guru offered a better idea for group play. Each group draws as many cards as they have players in their team. This slightly balances things if some teams are different sizes. Of course, I'd have liked that to be in the original game.

Otherwise, I don't think the rules could really be improved. I'm not saying that my game is the best out there, but I don't think it could be a better version of itself. In Ludology, Mike Fitzgeraldclaimed that every can be simplified. That's probably true (at least for published games), but there's certainly a point when any simplification will clearly worsen the game.

I would definitely remove 'Hand on a knee' if I were to go back in time. Maybe replace it with 'this card touching forehead' or 'this card touching back', both of which appear in Yogi Guru.

In Yogi, the ONLY card to involve the lower body is 'hand on a knee' and by removing that one card, the original game would have been playable by a wheelchair user.

Otherwise, I'm happy with all the instructions as a whole.

I'm really happy that I got the additional year of 'playtesting' time by publishing In A Bind first. Honestly, it took me nearly a year to realise that 'Right hand right of right elbow' is way too confusing and has no business being in the game. The replacement - 'Right hand above left hand' was inspired by the art that had already been commisioned. That worked out really well.
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Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:32 am
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On Organisation and running competitions

Bez Shahriari
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I continue to run an annual design competition for the ELL deck. By which I mean that I have now done it twice and plan to continue until I retire.

Running a competition is not the easiest thing. And each competition will have unique considerations.

For the ELL deck, I want to motivate people to make games. Ideally, I'd be giving feedback to everyone straight away, playing everything a bit more, giving out some more feedback, and then doing some sort of run-down of the top few folk sometime later. But that all requires organisation.

On my BGG designer page, I admit that disorganisation is one of my failings. But admitting a failing doesn't make it OK. It's something I need to work at.

There was one game submitted with rules that I just couldn't understand. I showed it to two other designers and we just couldn't work it out. Ideally, I'd have put up the rules in a google document and commented on all the confusing bits, so that the designer could clarify.

Through a mixture of embarrassment, uncertainty as to how to proceed, and general disorganisation, I didn't do that. I still want to. At this point, all I can hope is that they feel inclined to rewrite and resubmit in time for the 2020 competition.

Again, I'm aware that as I want Stuff By Bez to become semi-respected, I really need to get help and also get my own shit in order.

One form of organisation is simply not doing things - admitting that there's no time to do it and you have other priorities. I entered one design contest this year and - after the initial confirmation email - I never got any other messages. It felt a little disappointing and a far cry from some other contests. Part of the reason for entering a contest is to get feedback. But at a certain point, you won't have the time...

I'm aware that the people entering my design contest will have had to ponder my deck. They put in more effort and I feel duty-bound to give them more insightful feedback. Of course, building up things too much is how I got to the point that one designer didn't get any feedback until now.

I hope that with time I can improve the process. I did have some help - David Brain and Tom Coldron (both of whom are 'banned' from the competition) agreed to judge. I played all-but-one of the games several times and pondered them all. I rewrote the instructions for my favourites so David and Tom could play them without bias. These were good practices. But each year, I hope it will run a little smoother. People deserve better.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who read this far. Soon, I'll let you know about my top 5 before revealing the actual winner.

Hopefully I've given you some assurance that the process, as disorganised as it is, is fairly thorough. I take this very seriously.
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Mon Jan 6, 2020 3:32 am
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Essen Spiel 2019 retrospective

Bez Shahriari
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I'm about to head to Glasgow Games Festival tomorrow and I've still not fully unpacked all the boxes from Essen.

Time to unpack and repack!

Time to take stock!

(If not now, then it'll probably just be yet another thing I never do.)

It started with a worry that I might not go at all. Shame. Embarrasment. I couldn't find my passport. I wondered if I'd just go to Dover, have a day out, then take the train back. I wondered if Jason would have to be around on their own.

Thanks to the encouragement of Alan and Charlie Paull, I looked in my bag one more time. The same bag I had looked in twice already, before spending an entire night turning over my room.

In the recesses of the bag, I found my passport. I could go to Essen!


Biggest failure/lesson learned:

For some time, I've been running 2pm events. In the past the winner has won everything I've designed that I can get hold of.

At Spiel 2019, the winner (each day) won:
In A Bind
In A Bind Expansions
In A Bind Jr
Wibbell++
Wibbell++ Deluxe
Kitty Cataclysm
Purrsonality Cards
Yogi
Yogi Guru

That's quite the stack, and I think that the disparity between such a giant stack for first place and nothing for 2nd place led to some overly-competitive behaviour, too much emphasis on the winner, and some real disappointment at coming 2nd.

A year ago, it was only 5 things. In the past year, my published output has almost doubled.

I need to 'flatten' the prize structure. For Glasgow Games Festival and Dragonmeet, the winner will get only 1 more thing than the 2nd-place. Hopefully I can shift the focus away from the prizes and towards the event itself.

Biggest achievement
I taught a Kitty Cataclysm. Played a game against 'hypothetical Alez. Played (and beat) the interviewer. All within 5 minutes.

brilliant things

driving in with Alan and Charlie

Playing games on the way back on the Ferry. Kawaii was specially great fun.

Trading games.

Tasting mead.

Spiral potato.

Jason's support.

People coming to say hello.

Having someone to take all my unsold games and simplify my life.

A lockable room.

Selling out of Purrsonality cards!

Demoing Yogi Guru to BGG. I had a foot on the table. Then Beth had a foot on the table. Then we pretty much collapsed in laughter.

Learning that Yogi Guru had sold out.

Doing a video with Helle and Line.

Seeing Jorge, who has done a wonderful job with David Brain's forthcoming game.

The duck at the Essen HBF.

New tastes from the local supermarket.

Glimpsing new games on Wednesday.

After-hours parties.

Showing off stuff. Having people enjoy my stuff. Having people buy my stuff. It's validating. It's why I make stuff. I hope they keep enjoying my stuff for years to come.

Running 2pm events. For the most part, the reason I do these is so that folk can have fun. For the most part, that's what happened. I hope that a few tweaks can help that happen even more consistently.

Trading sweets.

Meeting the Cardboard Kid.

Emma. Elizabeth. New faces. Old faces. A couple whose names I remembered. One whose name I mixed up. Most I'd just forgotten and didn't even attempt. People.

VIP lounge on the ferry. There are macaroons.

Teaching Wibbell in German. Thanks to Rob who taught me well last year.

Having a group play Wibbell and Categorickell in Hungarian. They bought a deck because both games worked very well.

other lessons
Sometimes, a smaller table is more useful. Chairs are good. Plan the space.




Sales/numbers

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I took around 120 KC, 120 Wibbell++ deluxe, 26 KC expansions, and 84 W++ original.

Thanks to an agreement with someone else at the show (to take any stock I had remaining at the end, for them to distribute across EU), I came back with none of them. That was convenient.

I also sold 24 KC to one shop.

Sales to the general public:
KC - 95ish
KC purrsonality cards - 26 (sold out middle of Sunday)
W++ deluxe - 80ish
W++ - 40ish

My costs:
- air bnb for 2 Tues-Mon
- travel for 2 from UK to Essen and Dusseldorf to Essen each day
- some food
- printing costs of games sold and given away
- 2x3m stand

My privileges/help:
- alan & charlie were again super-amazing and gave me a lift.
- Jason

I almost broke even.


So, how was it?

It was good.

It was tiring.

Personally, it was a rush of endorphins. Exhilirating, energising, exciting.

So much to see and yet I barely left the stand.

At times, it was soul-destroying. People walked past and I questioned myself. Was I being pushy? Did my games have any worth? Did I have any worth?

At times, I could barely believe how much folk were enjoying my things.

It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions. As a designer, having people enjoy my things is so wonderful and it can become an addiction. Specially at a larger convention, where I can have several groups playing my games at once, it's such a massive high. And then - during the momentary lulls - I'm an addict, searching for my next hit.

I want to be in the middle of the people. Somehow, I can be a star in my own little island. As long as I don't compare myself too unfavourably, I can find some satisfactin. I can find some achievements. I have made some things to be proud of and I'm proud to share them with others.

Although, it wasn't just me, was it? Tom Coldron made Categorickell. Jason helped me. All the playtesters. David Brain's constant lessons in design.

People make me stronger. People give me value. People.

I'm fucking glad that I found that passport.
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Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:16 am
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My favourite conventions of 2018, from a biased viewpoint.

Bez Shahriari
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Ordered approximately in order of how much I personally enjoyed being there.

Incredibly biased as my enjoyment is mainly a factor of my own personal experiences, how well I managed my own time, and how far I had to travel (from North London). This might not indicate how much fun you will/won't have at any of these cons.

Bear in mind that ALL the cons mentioned below are fantastic (although I'm biased).

BGDevCon 3, Enfield, London

This is the convention that I set up with Andy Yiangou. We also had the help of Matthew Dunstan and a bunch of speakers. I did a small KS, decided that there were enough folk to justify it, and then arranged a day full of short talks, discussions and a 'speed designing' event.

There's a great community of designers in the UK and whilst there are now enough playtests going on in London, there aren't many opportunities for folk to come and NOT playtest. For most of the day, games aren't even allowed, except for the ones that folk ended up co-designing on the day. And even those weren't playtested. The 'speed design' sessions were more about meeting with folk and deciding whether you'd like to continue/start a codesign with them or not.

My favourite parts were the group circle discussions, with a few heartfelt rants.

The short talks taught us about different approaches to design, accessibility for dyslexia, how to stay positive, how to pitch, etc.

I hope we can have another BGDevCon in 2019 on 17th August (the day before the monthly Sunday playtest).

UKGE, Birmingham

UK Games Expo was my first convention, back in 2011. Since then, it's grown exponentially and I think 2019 will perhaps be the first year with no growth in space (given the uncertainty that Brexit provides).

I volunteered every year, until 2016 when I bought a stand to sell In A Bind. In 2017, having licensed IAB to Gigamic, I had one last hurrah as a volunteer. It was fun. I got to be an ambassador. I recommend everyone volunteer if able.

Walking around, I realised that my relationship had changed with the con, with the games, with the attendees and with the traders. The UKGE will continue to change, as will I, as will our relationship.

In 2018, I had a 10m^2 space, 3 demo tables, 1 stock table that occasionally got used for a demo, and 1 table specifically for folk to draw cats. More importantly, I had 7 amazing volunteers. Thanks to my volunteers, I was able to focus on the high-level operations. Everyone working for me learned the games well and learned how to demo them exactly as I'd hoped. Despite the stand being constantly busy, the wealth of people made it incredibly relaxed. As well as having a volunteer at each table, there was someone wandering around explaining the rules of the cat wall, or teaching the principles of a game that had already started.

Thanks to my volunteers, I was almost as busy as I could be, and never felt any stress. The entire convention was a rush of energy and adrenaline.

In 2019, I'm planning to have a larger space. It might be the last ever appearance of the full Cat Gallery. If you're interested in demoing my stuff half of each day (in return for accommodation, games, snacks and good times) please get in touch.

Bastion, Conwy, North Wales

In 2018, Yvonne very kindly invited me to attend this small Welsh con. A Youth Hostel - normally closed in January - is opened specially for this convention. You can either stay in one of the dorm rooms or - if you live locally - just come over to play games.

For me, this was the first time I'd ever attended a con 'just' as an attendee. Not as a trader. Not as a volunteer. Not as a speaker/organiser. Just going and having no responsibilities.

I will also say that this con has a lovely atmosphere. There is a communal kitchen for everyone to cook in. After getting yourself out of your room in the morning, you can go downstairs and immediately be in the company of other friendly folk who want to play games. It's fantastic. If you don't want to take off your pyjamas yet, no-one will judge you. It's totally feasible to make yourself breakfast (in a teapot) and then eat it whilst playing a new game with new friends.

The small attendance (50-100) helps foster this atmosphere. By the end of the 3 days, you might know everyone's face. People bring their own games to share. There is a sense of respect and companionship.

I am looking forward to attending again in just a few weeks!

Uncon, Kent

I only went to the spring one, as I couldn't financially justify the 2nd one in the year (not to mention my delayed projects needed finishing).

This con was the birth of the 2pm event and for that alone, it gets a high spot on the list. From Uncon onwards, I have had (and plan to have) a 2pm event every day at every ticketed con I attend as a trader.

On Sunday, Giant In A Bind was played for - probably - the last ever time at a con. There was a big crowd enjoying the game and prizes (a copy of everything I've ever had mass-produced) were given away.

The con itself was very bright, using a school as a location and with a roof that let in plenty of natural light.

As a trader, it was a bit quieter than I'd have liked, but I did get to teach someone Handbuildell (a unique thing for a con) and even had time to play a game just for the fun of it.

Also, it's quite close to the seaside, which meant that I could go on a lovely seaside walk the day before.

Airecon, Harrogate

I have strong memories of Airecon - I attended in 2016 after my first Essen and though they were wildly different in scale, I enjoyed both. Probably Airecon a little bit more, but I'm biased given the Giant In A Bind.

In 2018, the convention moved location again. An abundance of open-gaming space, a trade area, demo area, and LOTS of events.

I personally helped out with the giant Wits & Wagers tournament and gave a talk, as well as continuing my 2pm tournaments.

Not only did I have the chance to demo and sell, I also got to play a few games after trading finished - something I don't always get to do.

I'll be returning in 2019 and am helping Mark to arrange an hour of the most ridiculous games we can conceive. Mark is lovely.

Diceni, Norwich

A boardgames festival. Not a convention - where folk buy tickets to attend - but simply a collection of traders and demo folk in a freely accessible area.

Not quite a 'market', folk had more expectations of being able to actually play games. And I do enjoy showing off my stuff.

There was so much more representation of older folk & women. It's the only place I've been where the attendees mirrored the demographics outside. Almost entirely white, but that's just how most of the UK is outside of London.

I think that this is one of the few events where I actually turned a profit. A profit small enough that I spent it on a nice meal before leaving the city, but still an achievement worth celebrating.

My 2pm event was difficult to get folk for. In future, I won't run 2pm events at non-ticketed cons, as most folk pass through rather than staying the day, so getting folk to come over at a particular time is hard.

Generally, my games worked well for the casual audience. Specially Quintupell and Yogi. I also got to meet Becky/Kelly from Boardgames in Bed.

I'd love to go again if the organisers have space for me but I know that their space is limited.

Dragonmeet, London

This was a lovely 'last con of the year' for me. I had a big team of 7 volunteers, which meant that we were able to facilitate a LOT of fun.
For most of the day, I had 2 tables occupied by folk playing my stuff. For short while, I could see 3 tables full of about 20 folk playing my things. I got to do a talk (about intended emotional reactions to games) and some folk said it was good. Stelio helped me develop a brand new Wibbell++ game, which I would be happy to make a future core game. At the end of the day, I had an extended converation with a fellow designer that felt incredibly meaningful to me.

Since the con was only 1 day, I had 2 back-to-back events. First, an event for + and +‽. Then a Wibbell++ 'triathlon' (that actually features a 'surprise' 4th game at the end for the finalists). In theory, this made sense. But the finalists in the 2nd event had just learned 6 games within the space of an hour. And 5 of them were frantic realtime things that didn't allow for any time to relax and decompress. Either event would have gone really well. Both together were just 'good' - it was just slightly too tricky for the 2 players to internalise the rules for the 6th game.

I think that - in future - I'm going to avoid teaching so many games to folk, specially under the pressure of a prize event. I might do 2 events next year, but not if one of them features 4 wildly divergent games. Kitty Cataclysm and + as 2 separate events would be OK.

Other than that, I feel like everything went amazingly well. I plan to come back in 2019.

Spieltage, Essen, Germany

Very busy.

I made an unfortunately large loss in 2018, despite selling slightly more copies of Wibbell++ than I did in 2017. I blame the price of the hotel (as opposed to the Air BNB) and the furniture (which is handled badly by the con compared to literally every UK convention I've been at).

In 2019, of course I'll go again. But being on my own was far too exhausting.

Next year I'll hopefully have a few full-time volunteers and just consider it a big marketing expense. I will spend more - to accommodate volunteers and get more stuff over somehow - but hopefully earn more as well - since I'll have 2-4 new things to sell.

Highlights in 2018 involved learning to teach (and play) Wibbell in German and getting on the BGG livestream.

And finally eating a twirly potato.

Tabletop Gaming Live, London

A new convention run by the magazine folk.

I got to sit on a couple of panels (one about diversity and one about comedy in games). I had some great volunteers. That was fun to do.

Denholm volunteered for me and I subsequently hired them a day a week to help me finish my projects. Great result. I'm not totally counting that as part of the experience though. Yes, I'm aware of my own inconsistencies...

Very big corridors. Properly accessible for wheelchair users.

The prettiest halls I've ever played a game in.

From a business perspective, I'd have liked more attendees. Despite not paying for accommodation and cycling/walking over when able, I still made a small loss. But it was worth it for the number sold in terms of marketing.

I need to sort my finances but planning to go again in 2019.

NOTABLE RUNNERS UP

London Anime & Gaming Convention (Summer), London

More cosplay than any other con I attend. A very different demographic. You could see the difference in the cats that people drew.

I only put up a small fraction of the Cat Gallery but it almost ran itself and seemed like a real attraction.

I've been going to LAGC for several years - originally I went as a volunteer and ran LOTS of demo games for the Indie Game Alliance. This year, I went 'just' to promote myself. It wasn't super-busy. I had help only to cover me when I was doing a talk, and I didn't feel like I needed much more. Folk had fun. I had meaningful conversations.

There's a disco each night.

I've confirmed my attendance for the LAGC Summer con.

City of Games

Originally, I bought a ticket for myself but I was then invited along as a trader.

One notable thing is that the room seemed to be the PERFECT size. There were times when the room only had one table free. It was never quiet. Great atmosphere.

Still need to work out whether I'm going to this or the LAGC winter con as unfortunately they clash. I need to decide soon.

Tabletop Scotland, Perth

Did my 'BGDesign 101' talk for the last time. Had Nicola as a lovely volunteer. Spent literally 6 hrs affixing cat pictures to the wall, despite the help I was given.

Great to see a big convention starting in Scotland.

Slightly out-of-the-way via public transport, but a lovely place. Got to explore the city a bit the day before.

I plan to go again, but have been told there is no space for the Cat Gallery. Frankly, I'm relieved.

Glasgow Games Festival, Glasgow

Organised by my friend Nick Pitman. 2 rooms full of folk playing games and a few traders/demo tables.

Since I have a place to stay in Glasgow, which obviously helps keep costs down, I think it'd just about make financial sense for me to go again in 2019.

There was a lovely level of attendees - busy enough that I was teaching/running games almost all the time I was there. Quiet enough that with just 1 fantastic volunteer I could happily take 40 minutes to wander around, get interviewed, go to the local Poundland, and buy some snacks.

It's not somewhere I expect to sell loads of games. But it's a place I was able to test out some games. Next year, I'll mainly hope that I get to test 'The Conversation' and any Wibbell++ games that are ready enough. (Specially the winner of the 2019 Wibbell++ design competition.)
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Wed Jan 2, 2019 4:13 pm
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10 things I'm proud of last week

Bez Shahriari
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Taking Sunday off
Maybe a weird thing to be proud of, but running my own business is something that occupies a lot of my thoughts. It's super-tempting to check my email and social media several times a day, even though I might not reply right away.

It's tempting to push myself to always do more.

I'm proud that I took time off - from Saturday evening until Sunday night - and I want to try to do this every 3 weeks minimum, regardless of what else I feel I have to do. Ideally one day a week once I feel I can afford it. No guilt.

Recorded another #BGWB show
I asked Andy if we could record, then I did so.

It took me a lot longer than usual to sort out the volumes, as I was speaking more loudly and we were on the same channel. In future, I'll avoid that for back-and-forth stuff.

I'm proud that I am making time to do this every week.

This blog
Talking about things I do regularly, I'm coming close to 200 posts. I've not yet missed a day. And I was organised enough to write multiple blog posts on Saturday. Inspired by Adam Porter, I'm starting some lists, which I may continue for a while.

swimming
I do enjoy this sometimes. I like stretching out my body. I like being submerged in water, knowing I can get up and breathe.

I went swimming on Monday/Friday. I want to increase my exercise but this is a start

getting up early on Tuesday/Friday

I used to have so much trouble waking up for work. I would sleep in regularly when working for Tesco. As time went on, I improved. I think over the course of a year at my most recent mundane job, I slept in once.

Even though I love being at work, getting up is still something I hate. And often I don't get as much sleep as I'd like. So I'll applaud myself for getting up early enough to do a quick bit of rules-reading, pondering & then swimming before I got to the Royal Festival Hall for playtesting.

typing up the Yogi 2 cards & sending them to Gigamic
(And also a couple of playtesters on my end.)

emailing a US distributor
Emails sometimes make me feel nervous. But I did it.

Sorting out Essen transport
I am going again, thanks to the kindness of Alan/Charlie Paull. Well done to me for writing another email that just had to be written.

working on the W++ games
Even though all I promised was to ponder the games, a few of them required a bit of fairly substantial (but quick) development to go from being good to great. This wasn't something I could do for most of them, but I could do for many. I'm proud I could do that.

I'm proud of the system itself. I'm proud to have a friend and colleague like David Brain who is so knowledgable and willing to offer their opinion and guidance.

GGG
This is an old game of mine that should be coming in 2019/2020 from another publisher. I'm proud that I wrote the email about it, checking in with the publisher, and then did a little bit of tweaking of the files based on the year or so since I last edited them.
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Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:00 pm
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Things I have achieved last year / Things I want to do next year.

Bez Shahriari
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10+ things I'm proud of:

- Yogi being in 11+ languages.
- having performed burlesque
- written a couple of blog posts that folk seem to have generally enjoyed.
- gotten 1111 followers on Twitter.
- been hired by ACG and did some good work
- had an amazing stand with brilliant volunteers at UKGE
- been to 3 new (to me) conventions (Diceni, City of Kings, Uncon) and 10ish others, and I continue to engage with new folk.
- had a whole bunch of positive reviews for Wibbell++
- if I'm claiming some responsibility (as the instigator) for W++, I can say I'm proud of the quality of submissions. Honestly, I feel like the top 2 are both so amazing that one should be the core game this year and another next year. Or maybe I need to have more than 1 new core game. Anyway, I'm blown away and also proud of the reception that it's had.
- I 'finished' 4 good games for the W++ deck.
- I got Kitty Cataclysm to a good state mechanically. Even though there are problems (like every single game in the world) and the art will be hated by some, at least I can be somewhat proud that the balance and game experience was being enjoyed for the last few months of testing. Hopefully some folk will really like it when I finally get it mass-produced.
- I invented +, which I think is a good design.
- I've been on a good portion of the podcasts that I love, are active, and actually have guests on. That kinda blows my mind.
- doing the internet radio show, semi-regularly. I think more than half of them are OK.


I guess I'm not a shit person. As John Brieger said, that's nice to know.

I just want to do a bit more non-BG stuff.

Things I hope to do more of next year:

- exercise
- dancing
- painting
- reading (not on a screen)
- making musical noises
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Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:29 am
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Why do a podcast?

Bez Shahriari
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- self promotion
- desire to help others
- desire to share oneself
- access to folk you admire/want to talk to
- routine encourages talking to friends
- routine encourages time to think/ponder
- practicing talking

I think those are all the reasons, but - as always - let me know if I missed something.

self promotion


Recently, I was on 3 podcasts. 5 Games for Doomsday, On Board Games, and Boardgame Design Lab.

I want people to know who I am. I want people to maybe try out Wibbell++ and other things.

When folk are running a KS, a bunch of podcasts and reviews and articles in the run-up will help. After being exposed so may times to an idea, people will start to think of it as a valid thing and may check it out.


desire to help others


Maybe you've got some knowledge/experience to share.

Maybe you want to tell others about games and either warn them away from certain titles, or steer them towards others.

Maybe you want to pass on design tips. Or strategy tips.

Maybe you've been to a bunch of conventions and can pass on advice - for designers, publishers or gamers to maximise their own good times.

Or maybe you are just letting folk live vicariously through you.

desire to share oneself


This is a bit more of an egotistical spin on the previous point, but I think it's definitely part of my motivation.

When folk appreciate something I've done, there's validation. I'm sharing part of myself and when folk enjoy it, that suggests that I - by association - also have some intrinsic value.

access to folk you admire/want to talk to


I got to chat to Ambie and Emma Larkins. I will soon be talking to Jamey Stegmaier.

Talking to people like this is an absolute joy.

I don't think I'd have had such fascinating conversations with Ambie/Emma if it weren't for my internet radio show.

I'm almost 100% sure that Jamey wouldn't be agreeing to talk to me for nearly an hour if there wasn't the expectation that I'd then be sharing their words with the world (and essentially helping promote Jamey a tiny bit).

routine encourages talking to friends


Sometimes, you have a friend that you'd like to talk to. But you don't make time.

I used to chat to Ben Neumann once a week for a month or so whilst we were recording the podcast that never went online. Eventually, we realised that neither of us was going to take the time to post it and we stopped.

Why? We were both getting value out of our conversations. Sometimes, a podcast forces a schedule and it's just fun to talk to folk that are either existing friends, or who might soon become friends.

I know that Donald Dennis/Erik Dewey of OBG have mentioned this as a real reason for podcasting.

routine encourages time to think/ponder


For me, there is some of this aspect in all my solo episodes. I get a chance to just ramble and talk out loud and solidify my thoughts.

When talking to someone else, you can also get some of this.

practicing talking


I guess maybe you want to practise talking with fewer fillers, pauses, controlling your tone/pitch more carefully or whatever.

It's useful to record yourself and listen back. Noticing things about how you speak and maybe trying to improve your elocution.


learning? etc.


Learning seems like a subset of getting to talk to other folk or pondering yourself.

Maybe you do it a podcast for fun. Maybe you do it to learn. Maybe you do it for validation, or human connection, or for bragging rights, or 'networking'. Maybe you want to have the silly joy of saying things to a person 'live' and seeing how they respond.

The access to folk you admire/want to talk to covers all of that. Everything can be subdivided.

We could subdivide the yearning for human connection and write a PhD about that one aspect.

But you can only delve so far, given finite time.

This is where I stop, but - as I say - your input/conversation is always welcome. :-)
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Tue Aug 7, 2018 12:07 pm
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