Origins 2016 Recap & Game Components Update
Greetings, Fellow Traders!
I’ve been to Columbus and back, spending four very full days at Origins, the national tabletop game convention. Will and Jesse (my two sons and two valuable members of the Emperor’s Privy Council) went with me.
Our principal objectives were to demonstrate Star Traders and to sit down with the people who will be manufacturing the game. That, and since we were there, take the opportunity to play a few other games … which were all valuable research opportunities.
Special Thanks to the Malted Meeple
We were “headquartered” at the Malted Meeple booth in the Exhibit Hall, where we ran demos Saturday and Sunday. I really appreciate the Malted Meeple making space available to us — thanks to Jim, Karrington and Savannah! And I got to play other games in development, including Kung Fu Zoo (a dice-flicking arena game … seriously!) and #Storytags (hash-tagging stories that each player relates). Congratulations to #Storytags — they just announced a deal with a publisher. And I’m looking forward to the edited version (on YouTube) of the podcast that Jeremiah and Scott recorded at the booth on Sunday. In the meantime, here’s the initial version:
We also got a chance to play Star Traders a few other times, out in the open gaming area. We had the new board and Trader’s Luck cards (I think the cards are nailed down now, and we’ve only got a couple more authors to sort out), and we had the new Personality cards with character art on them.
We also had clay prototypes of new d4 contract markers. We’ve played several games with them now, and while they make finding pick-up and delivery worlds easier, a normal d4 is wider at the base than we’d like it to be, sometimes making it difficult to place among the station rings. We’re going to try narrowing one side down, and opening up the space around the closer worlds on the gameboard a bit more.
And we’ve decided to run the Personality cards larger, to allow more room for the character art and text. Combining that with fewer player mats (since we now won’t need a player mat for each Personality) means a tidier and better looking game for you guys. We’ve also been able to make additional improvements to the components that we think you all will enjoy.
Speaking of components, we’ve begun pre-press verification on files, the first step toward actual printing and publication. More slowly than we had wanted, but it’s happening! And while I was galavanting around Origins, our artists were busy crunching on Personality and Cargo art — it’s all getting done.
Chatting with Long-Time Designer Friends
It’s been about thirty years since I was last at Origins. With the renaissance of board games, there are plenty of game designers still going strong that I hadn’t seen in that long, and it was great to be able to introduce them to Will and Jesse — the new generation of gamers. Just among the members of the Academy of Adventure Gaming’s Hall of Fame, we were able to chat with:
- Lou Zocchi (creator of the 100-sided Zocchihedron); the boys grabbed one of his new 24-sided roll-anything dice
- Darwin Bromley, who wasn’t all that interesting to the boys until he mentioned designing the train game Empire Builder, at which point Will suddenly realized he was talking to one of his gaming heroes (Darwin was also key in getting Settlers of Catan into the U.S.)
- Mike Stackpole (Flying Buffalo designer and author of some of the most popular Battletech and Star Wars novels; my favorite Stackpole series is the Age of Discovery trilogy)
- Rick Loomis (who started Flying Buffalo, which ran play-by-mail games long before there was an internet, and which published Tunnels & Trolls, Nuclear War and other classics)
Origins and Gencon are both great to attend, because you get a chance to talk to the people who actually create the games — there are far fewer marketing guys and far more designers than at the electronic game conventions I’ve attended over the past few years. Having said that, I don’t know if I’ll have time to attend Gencon or Dragon Con (over Labor Day), but we’ll let you know if we’re able to get to either of those shows.
Meanwhile, back to the pixel mines! I have another twenty authors to write up for the lore book, and those last component tweaks, and we’ll have a game!