Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Did You Saw The Saw?

Olazábal and The Saw at UKGE.
Picture by I Play Red, thanks!
It was early morning. Olazábal was walking through corridors, alert, finger ready to pull the power button of her circular saw. She soon spotted a familiar, tall figure with grey hair. “It’s time to introduce The Saw to him..”, Olazábal thought. She approached the figure with determined steps. She pulled the trigger and The Saw started spinning with a hissing sound. “Remember me?” she asked, grinning and pointing at the guy, with The Saw. “OMG! What is that?” Rahdo asked with a surprised smile.

The Making of Olazábal

In Perdition’s Mouth one of the heroes, Olazábal, is a female dwarf. She has a circular saw, powered by steam, as a weapon. For almost a year I have been preparing an Olazábal costume. The clothes and the beard were the easy part. You might remember her from the Kickstarter video of Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift Revised Edition. The weapon was trickier to do.

These machines are
just so beautiful!
A box in our car has all kinds of cogwheels and pipes for the saw but I had lacked inspiration for building it. I found the inspiration in The Technical Museum in Brno, which had big, working, steam machines! The sunny days in Czechia gave me time to spray paint cogwheels, pressure meters and the shoulder pads I had bought from Modena Play. Of course, the lack of proper tools made the build a bit demanding and I ended up finishing the saw with duct tape (at least it was orange!).

SteampunkAndFantasy had the latex wrench.
They also had some nice steampunk corsets
- but unfortunately Olazábal does not wear one...
Pyrkon and its great variation of handcrafts provided me with the one missing part for the costume: a latex wrench. Olazábal was finally ready to enter the crowded corridors of the cult of board gamers at UKGE.

Network With Faces

Good business networks are something you really need in the board game industry. It is not enough that you have a great game idea, perhaps even new mechanics to present. You need good graphics, previews, reviews, retailers and, of course, the buyers. UKGE was an excellent place to build our network.

Rahdo listening the idea of Darwinning!
This time I was without the beard.
I really liked meeting Rahdo. He made a preview of Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift when it was first on Kickstarter. He was very happy to see how far we had got with the game. I asked if he would have time to learn about Darwinning!. He noticed my lunch fruits and answered: “Only if you give me a banana, I need something to eat.” So he got his banana, and learned that there is a humorous card game coming that he can soon review.

Giles Pound makes reviews, podcasts and blogs on his site, Both Sides of My Table. It is always nice to present games to people who really love gaming. It’s even better if you can provide them with something new. You can check here what Giles has to say about Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift!

Jamie Noble, the artist of
the original 
Olazábal art.
After UKGE we drove north, to meet Paul “Catweazel” Tunaley. We really like his learn-to-play videos. During a nice dinner of Indian food we had a good talk about board games and upcoming videos.

Tristan Hall has designed
new scenario for 
and her friends in PM:RE.
Even though all reviewers are important for our business, really, I most enjoy meeting the players. The people who stop at the booth just to tell us “I’m your backer, I really like your  games”. They are the reason why we are in this business. It’s great to meet those happy faces.

Come And Meet Us!

“I dropped my pledge and I’ve been regretting that ever since. I came to fix my error.” A guy said to me at our booth, as he bought Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift. Yeah, that happens. If you have made such an error, or have missed our games and campaigns for other reasons, don’t worry! Our tour continues, just come and meet us!

Our current schedule for the next few months is:

Berlin Brettspiele Con, Germany 21.-22.7.
Brussels Game Festival, Belgium 24.-26.8.
Jokos, Spain 21.-23.9. (please don’t let it snow…)
Cordoba, Spain 11.-13.10.
Essen Spiel, Germany 25.-28.10.
Spielwiesn, Germany, 16.-18.11.
And some more...

Do send us a hint if you know a good convention!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Safe Sweating

Sylvia presenting PM:AR in Pyrkon.
Our booth is behind the crib,” I told Tomasz ja Sylvia from For2players.  They carried our game boxes to the booth. We had 15 minutes to set everything up before the doors opened to the public. The baby in the crib at the neighbouring booth was playing happily, while his mother and other exhibitors and retailers were setting up their displays. 15 minutes was all we needed. Soon the aisle was filled with fantasy creatures, pokemon, warriors and happy people offering “free hugs” on their signs. Pyrkon, an amazing fantasy festival, had started.

The Other Rulebook

Our booth in UKGE was
nicely located close to
our PM:RE manufacturer.
Two weeks after Pyrkon we were carrying games to our booth in Birmingham, for UKGE. Our son was stopped at the door: no minors allowed! I was stunned and the memories of Nuremberg surfaced. I had re-read the exhibitors guide for UKGE just the night before to check set-up times and other instructions and hadn’t found any age limits.

It was in the other rulebook, the rules of the NEC, which I hadn’t read since in March. That one had the age limits and safety regulations. I was soon told that we were breaking several of them. The worst thing was that we were wearing sandals, due to the nice, sunny weather. It was mandatory to have shoes that cover your feet. Luckily we had managed to smuggle most of our stuff to the booth in our sandals, so we just left the exhibiting hall.

Saved by Rubber Boots

The problem was that the safety regulations of the erection phase extended to the area for the press preview. Väinö and I were supposed to present our games there within an hour for the large crows of press people. I managed to get permission for Väinö to enter, with proper shoes. All our other shoes were in our caravan at the camping site but the two of us had rubber boots in the car. So we put the rubber boots on and ran to set up our playing cards and flyers. I know that all the journalists didn’t have “proper shoes” when they walked around checking new games. Man, was I feeling safe sweating in the rubber boots behind our table!

UKGE during the time when sandals were ok.
At UKGE, any time other than the public opening times was considered “building and restocking time” = safety regulation time. So every morning our exhibitor son was forced to wait at the front gate for the convention to open and he had to leave the hall right after closing time.
I remembered the baby in his crib in Pyrkon. We are in the EU - even the British are for a while - and one easily thinks we have the same rules. This tour has taught us, though, that each country is different. Each organization is different. Each board game convention is different. In some countries people can work and be safe with fewer rules.

In Pyrkon we were allowed to camp in the fair area.
That was nice - but noisy because the fantasy parties lasted all night long.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Bloody Business

Something's bloody wrong here!
Something was bothering me, but I couldn’t find out what it was. We had received the first print proofs of Perdition’s Mouth: Abyssal Rift Revised Edition from the manufacturer, LongPack Games. The table was covered with big paper sheets and original maps of PM:AR. At first glance the print proofs of maps had looked fine. But just to be sure, I checked every square and compared those to the original maps. It was the map ”Small Nest” where the truth finally hit me: the blood on the floor was grey!

We hunted the missing blood colour for hours. Eventually we found out that one specific effect in a layer in Photoshop files acted differently in CS5 vs. CS5.5. The error could be fixed only with version CS5.5, and only one of our team members had that. Fortunately he had time to help. Making the maps requires several technical steps and it took us two days to fix everything. Still, it was a relief to find and fix the error before actual production.

Nostalgic Moments

We had busy May: development week in Vienna and then 3 conventions in 3 different countries. From Vienna we headed straight north, to Brno. There was a small gaming weekend in a local board game bar. One of our team members, David, lives in Brno, and it was great to meet him again. We had two extra hours before the event, and we used those in the Technical Museum. I could have stayed there the whole day after I found the computer with Bubble Bobble! Oh, what a nostalgic moment!

It was kind of nostalgic to hear the Finnish language, too. A Finnish couple stayed at the same camping place near Brno. They had a boy, a few years younger than ours, but also named Väinö. While the two Väinös were playing, we parents had time to compare traveling experiences and - because Finland is such a small country – to find common friends. The lady was Finnish sculptor Heli Ryhänen, she knew the artists of my home village and had taught my cousin.

Murphy Strikes Again

Many people thought our problems with car and caravan ended when there were none mentioned in latests blog entries. The three flat tyres we had in Italy just didn’t seem like news. Mr. Murphy obviously agreed and created new tricks when we entered Poland, on our way to Pyrkon.

Polish roads are narrow, curvy and bumpy. A bit more bumpy than other countries. So somewhere in the middle of a Polish country road, we heard a loud crash. We stopped and found our 6 meter long awning lying on the road side. It required some geometrical appraisal and strong muscles to get that thing in the caravan. We found out that the distance from the end of our bed to the kitchen window is exactly same as our awning.

My dearest friend, Google, was again helpful. I couldn’t believe my eyes when my search gave me a 24/7 caravan repair shop just 40 km away in the direction we were going. Well, they didn’t speak any English there. And Google navigation directed us to the wrong place. But after three phone calls (mixing English and German), one false address and navigation based on a Facebook page, we eventually found the repair shop on a suburban backyard. There was an Ukrainian worker, no common language. He understood the problem after seeing the muddy and scratched awning on the kitchen table and the empty holders outside the caravan. It was soon fixed and costed less than 30 euros.

So Family Multamäki beat Mr. Murphy again, fast and furious. Murphy made his revenge the next morning and ripped one mudguard off the caravan with the help of bushes at the campsite. But who needs mudguards, anyway.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Rest rooms and rooms without rest

It was small, but totally in a wrong place...
The thunderstorm was a welcome surprise. We’d been suffering 30 degree temperatures for days, sweating in the car for hours, driving from Italy to Slovenia. Now it was raining and lightning was brightening the sky every now and then. We had found a nice campsite in a nature reserve near the Postojna cave. I run through the pouring rain to a toilet building. I locked the door, sat down and... saw a snake on the floor. It was staring at me, licking the air with its tongue. Thunder roared close by. ”My life is a horror movie...”

Tricky Toilets

Toilet at a gas station in France.
If you press the wrong button,
you might end up to space...
During this tour I have seen a great variation of toilets. Even the ones in motorway rest places have usually been nice and clean. In Finland the public toilets often look like a health hazard. Earlier this year, in France, I talked with a service patrol that takes care of the motorway rest places, ”aires”. They had noticed our Finnish registration number and wanted to congratulate us. This was during the Olympic games and Finland had just won a medal in skiing. One of them was dreaming of driving to Finland with a caravan. What odd dreams people have!

Campsites usually have toilets and showers. But there is a big variation of what that means in practice. Some toilets don’t have paper, at all. Or it is in big rolls outside the toilet. It’s something you learn to check. After the incident in Slovenia, I started to also check the floor and corners for intruders. Fortunately, I have only found butterflies so far.

Our campsite in Modena had toilets without seats. You know, the type where you squat down and hope that you don’t pee on your pants. Only the handicapped toilet had a proper seat. So I decided to be one for a week. Don’t get me wrong. As a Lappish girl and after spending a lot of time on fishing or hunting trips in the wilderness, I’m used to ”bush-pee” while hundreds of mosquitos admire my butt. But in the civilized world I would like to have some comfort.
Restaurant toilet in St. Gaudens, France.

Five Star Shower

Five stars: Camping Bozanov.
Many campsites charge for warm water, especially during the winter time. So you need coins or tokens to have a shower. Usually you then get 4 minutes of water, which might – or might not – be warm. I have started to really appreciate the ability to adjust the water temperature.

I hate showers with movement detectors, because the movement detectors hate me. After desperately waving my hands in front of a detector I might get water for 3 seconds. In the Alps, the shower lights worked with a movement detector. So I ended up having a shower in the dark, no matter what kind of acrobatic movements I tried to do in that one square meter cubicle.

The most beautiful toilet and shower I have found in a campsite is in the Czech Republic, near the Polish border, at Camping Bozanov. When I went to take a picture of the shower room for this blog, there was a lady drying her hair. It must look weird when someone is taking a picture out of a shower. So I felt a bit embarrassed, and quickly explained what I was doing and why. ”I totally agree, this is 5 star class!” she replied and helped to keep a door open so I could take my pictures. She was British, worked in a campsite, but had taken a year off and was now traveling with her husband. What an interesting way to spend a year...

Notice in a toilet, Camping Vienna.


I survived the Slovenian toilet without snake bites. I didn't even scream! (Because I was too scared even to breath...) When I told the receptionist about the snake, he didn't seem surprised. If you have a campsite in a nature reserve, you have to accept visiting animals also.

PPS. So many events and so little time to write. I try to catch up now that we have a summer break in conventions and both Darwinning! and PM:RE in production.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Sleepless in Italy

Our first stop in Italy, Dro and Camping Paolino
Ding-dong. I was lying in my bed and listened the church bells. Central and Southern Europe is filled with churches and their bells make a loud noice. Every hour, the most annoying ones every 15 minutes. Ding-a-ling-clang-dong. Three times. So it was three o’clock. AM. I can’t even count how many times I have woken up in the middle of night because of church bells. No matter were we in Germany, France, Spain or Switzerland. But this time I hadn’t woken up. I was in Italy and at 3 am just about to go to sleep.

Boardgames for Dogs and Robots

We came to Italy for Modena PLAY. This was the tenth time PLAY was arranged. The event has grown a lot, but has managed to maintain a relaxed atmosphere. What was surprising to me, was the opening hours. In Italy, most of the activity begins after 6pm, so the fair is open until 8 pm. On Saturday the fair was open 11 hours!

From the very first day it was clear that Italian gamers like cosplay. We soon got used to gladiators, faeries, robots and stormtroopers that kept passing the booth. Unlike in any other convention, the doors were open also to four legged friends. You had to be careful when moving in the crowd not to stumble on a labradorian retriever laying relaxed in the middle of an aisle.

We met many of our Italian gamers and the resellers we have been working with. It was also great to meet MarcoValtriani who is one of the quest designers in Perdition’s Mouth Revised Edition. And also our dear friend Dagmar de Cassan – this was the third time during our tour!
Marco Valtriani and Timo in Modena PLAY.

Midnight Hobbies

Pietro played Darwinning with a dragon
- a special Kickstarter species
designed by Dagmar de Cassan.
After PLAY we had two weeks of gaming events booked with local gaming clubs, thanks to our translator Fabio and to Pietro Cremona. Pietro and his players were one of the many play test groups for Perdition’s Mouth. We wanted to get their opinion of Darwinning, too. Of course we were also spreading the happy news of soon available Italian version of Perdition’s Mouth Revised Edition.

These gaming events were in the evening. In Finland that would be ”soon after 6pm”. But in Italy, it meant ”starting after dinner, at 9pm”. In the first evening I was too tired to join in, so Timo and Väinö went together. I woke up half past midnight, and they were still not back. It was pouring rain, so I was a bit worried and phoned to Timo. I heard they had just left the event– and it would still take over half an hour for driving. After second evening we noticed that these evenings were too late for Väinö. Even if we didn’t have to wake up early in the morning, this changed schedule was tiring.

It was the third evening, when I got in bed at 3am. Even if we were demoing the introduction scenario of Perdition’s Mouth, the plays took many hours. I honestly can’t understand how our Italian players were able to wake up to work after these hobby evenings. But I’m starting to understand the afternoon siesta…

Missing Sauna and Speed

Adjusting to caravan life has been surprisingly easy. I mean, I haven’t really missed anything. Except sauna. Surprisingly we found one at a camping place next to Lake Garda. It was heated just for us, no extra charge. It had nice temperature of +80 C and we were allowed to throw water on the stove. The only minus side was, that the water in the bucket had some eucalyptus drops in it. Way too much eucalyptus. We changed the water twice, rinsed the bucket, and then it was possible to have proper ”löyly”.

In Italy we have also missed proper internet. Most of the camping places do not offer wifi, at least not for free. And even with money, the speed of data transfer is depressingly slow. There are data limits for the free roaming. When we have two games under production and a lot graphics to transfer, the lack of fibre optic is really noticeable.

Lake Garda.

Cheers for Sausages

We had also booked a vacation in Rome. In our case, vacation does not mean ”time when you do not have work”. It means ”time when you can relax a bit more”. Timo’s parents came also to Rome and offered to accommodate Väinö in their hotel. So me and Timo were able to spend some time together.

It was sunny, temperature nice +25. We bought a barbecue, an outdoor mattress, some sausages and good rucola salad from Lidl. We opened up a bottle of champagne. A proper champagne, that Timo had got as a present almost 20 years ago. We ate our dinner from plastic plates, under the sun roof and listened to extremely loud pigeons. That I would a call a proper vacation!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Old and New Boardgames

I felt thirsty. For the last hour I had been talking non-stop, as we were having the final livestream for Darwinning!’s Kickstarter campaign. During the two campaign weeks we made livestreams from 5 different countries. In the end, we got 101 backers and managed to successfully fund the game. Big thanks to all backers!

I gave a small piece of paper to a bartender. In the paper there was text ”bon boisson” and I got a small plastic cup of wine. We were in Switzerland and the organisers of Ludesco had provided us a nice pile of ”bon boisson” papers. In Finland you couldn’t have had an event for the whole family with alcohol drinks. At least you couldn’t walk around with your wine mug and minors (or alcohol drinkers) would have had to be segregated behind a fence... 

Yet, during the Ludesco weekend I didn’t see any drunken persons. Even if there was beer and wine available all the time. In Finland that wouldn’t have been possible, either.

Donkey Alarm

Ludesco was a well organized gaming event with tournaments, game library and prototype presentations, held in La Chaux de Fonds. We had a named contact person, Nils, whom I had met earlier in other conventions. He is half Swedish, so I was able to use my Swedish skills when solving issues. It felt really weird: to be in French speaking part of Switzerland and ”prata svenska” with a local.

We had also two our team members, Andrea and Sebastien, with us. They helped with all the other locals, who didn’t speak any Swedish or English. We accommodated them in our caravan at a camping place close by. (I have told you, it is a BIG caravan!) La Cibourg was a small camping area with a fairy tale style decorations. We didn’t need any alarm clock because the owners donkey woke everybody up at 9 when demanding breakfast.

During the weekend it started to snow, again. Not so special when you are high in the mountains, but still something that was not in the forecasts. I seems the clouds just keep following us – let’s see if the pattern continues through out the year.

Gaming from Generation to the Next

After Ludesco we drove to Germany to Ratinger Spieletage. Another whole family gaming event. Actually it felt like a whole town gaming event! So many people in different ages kept walking by and stopped to play Darwinning, Perdition’s Mouth and Black Hat.

This time we didn’t have any German speaking team members to help us. Luckily most of the people understood English. We offered, of course, also Finnish guidance, more or less as a joke. I guess we were rather surprised when one father told his kids would prefer that! We found out that Ratingen has quite large Finnish speaking community and even a school where Finnish is taught as one subject. Nokia had a factory there earlier, so many Finns moved to live there.

On our way towards East, to our warehouse, we stopped for a history lesson. Saalburg used to be on the north border of the imperium of Rome. This rebuilt fortress provides a lot of information of Rome’s history and has a small museum with surprisingly many artefacts. In the museum we saw an ancient Roman board game. Even the ancient Romans knew how to best spend their spare time!

Pit-Stop and New Records

At the warehouse waited a parcel from Finland...
We went to our warehouse in Leipzig to change winter clothes to summer clothes and winter tires to summer tires. We had booked a time for tire change at a caravan service – two weeks in advance. But when we arrived, the obviously-too-stressed-out-worker announced they have no time for us. He told that in German, but the message was clearly understandable. Customers service point of view felt still a bit neglected, though.

We had to get the tires changed because we were heading south and usage of winter tires was no longer allowed. So we kindly asked for a jack – and got one. Have you ever changed tires to a 2,5 tons caravan? Well, luckily Timo had had some experience when the tire went of... We spent 2,5 hours on a parking lot in a sunshine, sweating. It was not as fast as in Formula 1 races, but damn it, we made it!

In Portugal the Happy Shops guys, Frank and Sven, kindly asked us for a visit. Their company premises are in Merseburg, close to Leipzig. I immediately fell in love with the meeple shaped garden lamps in their yard! We had a nice couple of days with business and board games. About the business I can tell you that we have now a SpieleSchmiede campaign for the German version of Hideout expansion to Perdition’s Mouth! And about the board games I can tell that they lost to an eleven year old. Three times.

It felt good to meet same people again. When the scenery keeps changing all the time, a little repetition of the old and known is only good.