Codename Punk and How to Kickstart a Baby

It's Essen season in the board game industry and all eyes are turned to Germany. The big scandal this year is that one of the major European component suppliers has fallen behind on their orders and, as a result, a lot of highly anticipated games are delayed and won't be available at the industry's biggest trade show. This is devastating for some small publishers for whom that may be their only title this year. Fortunately, Valley Games is unaffected. They've run afoul of late deliveries in previous years so this time around they made sure to fly everything out to Germany a month in advance and warehouse it there so it would be ready and waiting for them when they arrived yesterday. Here's wishing them luck and some great international exposure for Two by Two.

Closer to home, I signed my name to a new board game contract today. You can find it on my Board Games page under the codename "Punk." I assign codenames to my games so I can speak about them publicly without divulging too much about their nature. Publishers like to maintain their own marketing and announcement schedules, for instance, and generally prefer not to let the cat out of the bag too early. Also, game titles and even subject matter can often change after being signed to a publisher so referring to the title of the prototype can often be confusing. Two By Two was originally called Noah's Ark, for instance, and then was shortened to Noah before finally settling into its current form. The codenames always have some relation to the game which can occasionally be teased out but the meaning is often personal in nature, there as a simple mnemonic to help me keep track of which is which.

I should also mention that I had a great time at FallCon down in Calgary this past weekend and playtested a couple of excellent new game designs from my good friend Gordon Hamilton, which I'll be polishing up and sending out to publishers on his behalf. Not to be outdone, two other designer friends of mine, Alan Biggs and Roberta Taylor were finalists in FallCon's brand new Canadian Game Design contest. Alan's entry, That Flipping Property Game, is a wonderful real estate strategy game that he's been slowly perfecting since I first met him back in 2008. He stripped it down to the bare bones earlier this year and then built it back up from scratch - a hard job to do but well-worth it as it plays beautifully now. Roberta's entry, Octopus' Garden, ultimately took home the prize with its wonderfully engaging gameplay and excellent theme (the players are octopi attempting to build themselves the most beautiful underwater garden). Roberta lives in a fairly remote corner of northern BC that had just suffered a huge windstorm the week previous (her guest's car was crushed by a falling tree, another fell within a meter of the house, power was out for a week, etc) so it was a wonder she was able to make it out to accept the award. I'm glad she did and I look forward to seeing the game in print soon.

Last but certainly not least, I want to shout out to an old friend Erin O'Connor, who I got to know back in my theatre days. There's been a lot of buzz about a site called Kickstarter in the indie board game publishing scene, with a number of publishers using it as an innovative way to raise funding for their projects. Well Erin and her husband have turned to a similar site to raise money for an entirely different sort of project: a round of In-Vitro Fertilization to help them have a child. It's an expensive process and they asked all of their friends and family for help. Make a donation and you can be entered in a raffle for knitted goods, have your document edited, be the star of your very own short story, receive some seeds from France, have your genealogy researched in the UK, gain an invite to a kitchen party fiddle fest, receive your very own signed copy of Two by Two, and more. Check out their site and see if there's something you'd like to do to help.

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