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The UK Games Expo from a designer's perspective

In the first of a series of posts about our experiences at the UK Games Expo here is a post from Dice Hospital's co-designer: Mike Nudd


Last week I had the pleasure to attend UK Games Expo at the Birmingham NEC, the largest hobby convention of the year in the UK (and soon to become one of the world’s largest).

As both a convention veteran and also a games designer I look forward to events like UKGE as an opportunity to conduct vital research on what games are being released, and how well they are being received. This year however I was very busy showcasing a number of my own games, so I only had a limited time to look around.

On Thursday and Friday I spent some time on the Braincrack Games stand demoing Lava Run: a light-hearted game with plenty of back-stabbing about goblins stealing treasure from the centre of a volcano and pushing each other into deadly lava. On Thursday afternoon I also ran two playtests of an as-yet-unsigned card-drafting game called Supervillainous (which is rather like 7 Wonders crossed with the animated film Despicable Me).

Much of my time was also spent doing press and demos for Dice Hospital, a game that I redesigned for Alley Cat Games. In fact I spent much of the week beforehand producing the prototype pieces of the game for Caezar, who was himself busy prepping for the show and posting out copies of his last game Cauldron Master.

Prior to the event Caezar had done a great job on Internet forums and social media generating interest in Dice Hospital, and I was slightly nervous about the game’s reception. However the reaction over the weekend was overwhelmingly positive, with many players queueing for free seats, and promising to buy the game already. We took structured feedback from hundreds of testers and will certainly be using the data to make it the best game possible ahead of our blind beta playtest and Kickstarter campaign launch.

Returning to the subject of research, standouts for me were glimpses of The Godfather (to be published by CMON) and First Martians (to be published by Portal Games), and I cannot wait to receive my backer copies of Sub Terra (Inside the Box) and Legends Untold (inspiring Games). I had a look at Nimbee (A-Muse-Ment), a potential rival to my previous game Waggle Dance, but wasn’t impressed. I also tried the new Doctor Who game from Gale Force Nine, but found it to be a very dry and simple game of dice manipulation that did not evoke the sense of adventure that I was hoping for. Speaking to other attendees, it seems there were many stories of both good and bad games, indicating the overall selection at the show was something of a mixed bag.

It’s true that I also attend UKGE for the people and here UKGE never disappoints. It was great to see old friends from past gaming lives, to network with fellow industry types, and to meet the many new fans of my games, including Dice Hospital. I hope to have a similar experience when I visit GenCon in the USA for the first time in August. If you see me there, then please say hi!

Mike Nudd

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