I write this as September ends, looking back on a busy month both game-wise and and working on other stuff… A quick rundown, as always.

Where is Chris now?

Skopje, Macedonia — during September we spent two weeks in Podgorica, Montenegro (a pleasant city to live in but perhaps the least touristy European capital we’ve ever been to), a week in Prishtina, Kosovo (which featured a newer board game cafe across the street from where we stayed!), and currently Skopje.

What games are you playtesting?

(Since I’ve shifted all the games in development to one page, it’s easier to enjoy them all in one fell swoop!)

  • Defuse got some great playtesting while in Prishtina — and some of the feedback from them led to fixing a issue I’ve had with one of the game’s roles. While the current version needs more playtesting (and what game doesn’t?!), I’m a lot happier with the dichotomy of the good guys vs. bad guys now.

  • Unicorn Zoo was a crowd favorite — apparently I disappointed some of the playtesters by not bringing it back for a third time. There was some feedback related to the card design to make a few things clearer, and thanks to a couple of playtesters who seemed determined to break the game, we found a few edge cases and loopholes that got worked out.
  • Secret Recipe wasn’t really this group’s favorite, but we found a few weak spots that make it a better game. They found a loophole I put a patch on, but it’ll be worth seeing if there’s a more elegant way to solve the problem.
  • Who Shot the Sheriff? got a few rounds in as well. With the playtesters in Prishtina we made a rule that had been in playtesting a permanent part of the game.

  • A new game currently code-named Bangkok got its first look by anyone outside my house. It’s based on real-life places seen throughout the city, and is my first game design directly based on my personal travels.

What’s happening behind the scenes?

Earlier in the month I was reaching out to publishers who are attending Essen, confirming appointments and refining games where I can. There’s a part of my brain that just doesn’t get the memo about not creating new games or working on new ideas when there are more complete ideas that need work as well.

(A quick pro-tip for all the other designers out there: the Tabletop Together tool freakin’ rocks — the tool shows what games are coming to Essen, and game/publisher information links to Board Game Geek’s pages for them. Since official Essen information is rarely available until just weeks before the event, you’re relying on unofficial information to know a publisher’s going to be there, or perhaps a list from the previous year.

What’s the next big thing?

Essen is just a few weeks away, so obviously that’s my next big thing. I’ll need to follow-up with the publishers I’ve reached out that haven’t responded yet, and sometime in mid-October I’ll need to feel like the versions of the game are at a state that won’t change until after Essen. There will also need to be some serious print jobs in the works for the publishers that want prototypes, but that’ll have to wait until just before I leave for Germany (luggage space is always at a premium!).