October proved to be just as busy as September, not least because of all the prep for Essen, which – at time of posting – had just started.
The first big show is under our belt: Tabletop Gaming Live
Coming only 4 weeks after Tabletop Scotland there was a frightening amount to be done to get the game from Lego prototype to an attractive looking production game. As I wrote last time, it was all a bit nail-bitingly close but I am glad to say we did it!
It was not only a huge success but a very useful learning experience. We knew going into it we were going to make mistakes, but we also knew that this show would give us an opportunity to fix a lot of things before Essen.
First, we’ve got branded tablecloths, which look way better than the sheets I’d picked up on the Friday before Tabletop Gaming Live. Quite against my original intuitions, dark colours are nearly always better for this sort of thing and less surprising, grey was a bit drab. Second we’ve got more banners now so it doesn’t look quite as sparse, a problem on the stand the first time. Lastly – and by far most importantly – it’s gave us the feedback to develop a demo game which far better showcases the fun of Magnate. Our first demo felt a bit flat because it didn’t incorporate the market crash dynamics: a crucial part of the game. Now we’re starting the game much further in, its far more engaging. Apologies to everyone who didn’t get to experience the full fun on Day 1!
I don’t want to make it sound like it was all mistakes though. People were very complimentary about our prototype. We signed-up lots of people to the Kickstarter, I got to catch-up with lots of friendly folk from twitter I’d been keen to meet for a while and we had a lot well known reviewers drop-by; not least Efka of No Pun Included with whom I had a good chat about the explosion of solo games and what it means for design and the industry.
A special shout-out is also in order to Tom Black, my demoer throughout the event. He did two solid days of pretty much non-stop Magnate demoing. if you’ve never done it, you may not realise how incredibly tiring it is. So well done Tom! Thankfully the poor lad doesn’t have to work to the same intensity at Essen, given our much larger team.
I didn’t get to personally experience much of the wider show at Tabletop Gaming Live as I was on our stand almost all of it’s two day span. But most of what I heard was very positive. Clearly it worked for the organisers too: Within days it was announced it would be back in the same venue next year. It all makes sense; London has been crying out for a show on this scale for a long time and the magazine’s team did the city proud.
The only small gripe I had is that Alexandra Palace is still (as it has always been) a terrible place to get to unless you live in North London and drive; especially at the weekend when direct trains from the South to near-ish Finsbury Park don’t run. Even though I’m based in London and UKGE take place in Birmingham, UKGE is actually the logistically simpler, more convenient of the two and doesn’t take that much longer to get to. I would guess Olympia is just out of Tabletop Gaming’s budget, but I really hope they explore other possibilities for future years. That being said, I probably will be back, even if (begrudgingly) I get a hotel just to make it convenient.
New boxart underway
I’ve been pretty happy with our placeholder boxart so far, but in the end it is still just a placeholder; created by me from a picture of Chicago with a lot of screwing around in Photoshop. I’ve not been desperate to change it because it’s done the job it needed to: convey something of the feeling I was going for. But it’s not good enough for our Kickstarter campaign.
After a few attempts, it looks like we’re finally getting somewhere with it. We’ve found a excellent artist whose style is a good fit and really got the concept I want. She’s already bringing her unique flair to it and doing things I wouldn’t have thought of: just what I am looking for in an artist. I can’t share too much just yet, but I hope to post some concept work so you can see it develop. Stay tuned!
We were mostly happy with what we had at Tabletop Gaming Live so there hasn’t been too much to change. The main fixes we’ve done this time are to shrink the size of the giant A3 economy board into a more production-friendly (and crucially, table friendly) A4 and make the new tenant tokens less ugly by having the right size stickers.
We’re also trying out a different colour for the retail tenants and buildings; changing them to light blue (pictured). At present, retail is red, which, combined with the others to my eye makes Magnate look a little too “childlike” to my eye. It’s also not one of the standard recognisable “zoning” colours. Given that retail and office tenants both want the same other tenants to be connected to (lots and lots of homes!) I also think there may be a positive benefit to having them in a different shade of blue as far as rules grok-ability goes. I don’t think the red is right, but I’m not sure this teal colour is quite right either. Sky blue?
I don’t think its going to be any better as far as colour blindness goes, but we’ve already committed to the principle that, for every component, colour is never the only distinguishing feature. For Magnate, I think this is the best approach that keeps the game as accessible as possible
WE’RE AT ESSEN!
Did I mention we were at Essen at some point? I *think* I did at *some* point.
Well for once, that’s where we literally are, right now. When this post goes live, I will probably be manically rushing around our stand telling people about why they should play this awesome game.
Prep has gone really well: we had a successful drive over on Tuesday, the stand is all set-up and I have 4 excellent demoers ready to show the game off. Once again, the sheer scale of this show is blowing all of our tiny minds. When you wander from one massive hall to another, and another and another, all jam-packed with stands (more than 1100 exhibitors are here!) it really does take your breath away. To be honest, seeing the joy in the first timers faces as they see it is just as fun.
Now it’s all head-down to make this thing happen! Wish me luck.
As a reminder, we’re available the rest of the today at the show (till 7pm) then again 10-7 Friday and Saturday and 10-6 on Sunday. If you’re at Essen this year it would be wonderful to see you!