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Diary of a First-Time Designer – #14 Holibots

First-Time Designer - Holibots

Join me on my continuing multi-part series as Martin and I attempt to turn our jumble of half-conceived brain sparks into our first fully functioning board game.

Part 14 – Holibots

It was time for a holiday!

Martin and I began our journey at the start of March when the idea for LAST STAND first popped into my head on a drive home from work. Since then we had worked pretty solidly, getting our game into presentable shape for the UK Games Expo which acted as a motivating deadline.

Now, with the Expo dust settling and armed with the information gathered that would likely inform quite a big update to our game, it was time for a bit of a breather.

Cornwall is one of my favourite places on earth and has a thriving tabletop gaming community. I decided to plan a holiday where I would hop around the south east of the UK using AirBnB, making sure to get connected with other board game communities through the online Meetup website. I initially planned to stop at Bristol first and re-visit Chance & Counters but that ultimately fell through. I’d definitively recommend them though. As a result, I looked for playtest meetups and one was happening in Plymouth that suited my journey plan. Running every four weeks, it took place at the Marina bar on a Monday night.

There I met Tony, Chris, Andrew and Nick who were all happy to get involved with the game. Andrew (pictured on the right) heads up InGameUK, which focuses on promoting the hobby in addition to trading long, forgotten treasures. I was impressed by Andrew’s enthusiasm to support games in development and his Facebook page is well worth a look, with a solid reportage on the recent Spiel Essen.

After we played LAST STAND, in-which similar feedback was given to the Expo playtest, one of the other guys brought out a game he’d been developing. It centred on a royal banquet where you played cards that then shifted the card grid on the table with the aim of getting to the top table where the royal family were seated. Nearest comparison would be Hand of the King, I think. It seemed near-complete to me, short of some art and design.

After a great evening of games I headed down to Cornwall the next morning. I was keen to return to a board game night I had attended in Heartlands, near to Redruth. It can be found on a Cornish mining heritage site that had benefited from Big Lottery funding. As a bid writer myself, I can see how it was a stroke of genius to include the Red River cafe, our gaming venue, to satisfy the ‘how will you continue to fund this project beyond the life of the grant?’ question you often get in applications. I was happy to return as the food was great, the company excellent and I even had the chance to introduce members to my favourite game: The Pursuit of Happiness.

I had found the group through the social gathering website Meetup the previous year. I think Meetup is a brilliant system and especially useful to people like myself who don’t find social situations easy. Before you even go to an event you can find out pretty much everything you need to know before attending and you can message the administrator with questions. It takes a lot of the sting out of meeting new people and there is something to be said about knowing the people attending will share a common interest.

I also believe the growth of our industry has been influenced by Meetup as the hobby is mostly populated by people who struggle socially. I’ve used it a great deal locally, finding various tabletop evenings which have subsequently introduced me to people I now call friends. It’s made for geeks like us and I encourage anyone reading this to get signed up!

I really enjoyed my holiday, full of my favourite things. With all the changes that were likely to be made, it was time to return home and have a long chat with my co-designer, Martin.

Next time in the First-Time Designer series – Ch-ch-ch-ch-challenges