Thursday, May 16, 2013

NSKN @ 2 years

A bit more than two years ago I was registering the name NSKN Legendary Games, embarking, together with some of my friends, on an unexpected and amazing journey. I had big plans and little knowledge, but it seemed that designing and publishing board games is the right thing to do. Two years later I can confirm that I made the right decision and, even if this proves to be a much tougher journey that I could have ever expected, it is worth every moment.

Anniversaries are not only moments of joy and celebration, but also good opportunities to remember, because "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (G. Santayana).

But the history of NSKN did not start only 2 years ago. It goes back another year or so into the past, when the idea of making board games sparked in my head.  That is the true beginning...

Jun 2010 - Warriors & Traders prototype, second version. Looking back at this it feels like ancient history, like it happened 500 years ago. Looking at the prototypes we are making today, it feels childish, but deep inside I know that had it not been for this one game, NSKN would not be what it is today.

It took another 14 versions if I remember correctly and one year of play-testing before Warriors & Traders was ready for printing, but hard work and good friends to exploit were the key to making it happen (there are so many people that I want to thank for their help and for believing in this project, but that is beyond the purpose of this post).

Apr 2011 - The last play-test of Warriors & Traders. Soon after we established NSKN, while our graphic designers were doing their magic, preparing the final version, ready to print.

The summer of 2011 was one full of planning and hoping, we were about to go to our first Spiel Essen, we had no idea how the distribution was working and until the very last moment we were afraid that the games might be late (it had happened to the biggest names in the industry) and we will simply be eight people in an empty booth showing people a big... smile.

Oct 2011 - Spiel Essen - In the end, everything was fine, NSKN came to Essen with Warriors & Traders, a game well received by both the public and the distribution companies.

Spiel '11 was an event I will never forget. I still get goosebumps when I go think about the amount of people we talked to, that we ran out of games several time and we had to drive back and forth from Germany to Belgium to bring more. It was indeed a magical time, one to remember every time something went so wrong that I wanted to quit and never look back.

By the end of 2011 we had already sold a significant quantity of Warriors & Traders, covering most of Europe and North America and reaching game stores as far as Thailand and Japan. What we were still missing was the direct connection with the gamin community, but we were about to take care of that aspect too.

While still busy and focused on selling Warriors & Traders, I was secretly working on another big game, Exodus: Proxima Centauri, though back then it carried a completely different name.

Jan 2012 - GobCon - This was our first contact with gamers in a local convention and it was a blast and not only because it was in Italy - the country of amazing food and wine - but because of the people I met and the friends I've made. This was also the starting point of the first expansion in the history of NSKN, Warriors & Traders: Italia, developed especially for the organizers of GobCon.

Feb 2012 - The prototype of Exodus: Proxima Centauri was ready. I had worked on it for half a year, I had learned physics and read books in the process, but all my effort was rewarded with good feedback after the first session.

And how many designers out there can honestly say that for their first test of a sci-fi game they had good feedback from an all-girl team? :)

Apr 2012 - NSKN was celebrating 1 year. We had cake, and Champagne, we recalled the good moments of the year that had passed and we made plans for the future.

By then, Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Wild Fun West were both tested, working quite well and it was just a matter of time and fixing the details before NSKN was ready to publish two new games.

And that is the first part of our little saga... The second part is coming soon.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

How to chose your holiday destination

Long time no hear! After two years of working like crazy I felt that the line has been crossed. The winter in Poland was absolutely out of the ordinary this year. The first three months were OK. Winter, you know, cold, snowy, rainy and so freakishly dark outside most of the day. Anyway, this would be still acceptable if only after all this winter sadness ... less winter came. However mother nature had a different plan and it brought us more winter sadness! It was the end of March when the temperature dropped to -10°C with heavy snowfall and wind outside our windows, letting us know that winter was not going to leave us neither easily nor soon. And you could feel that your heaters are on the limit! They may be able to get you to April... but then what? 

I have to be honest with you, I am completely weather dependent. When it's sunny outside, birds are singing and there is a rainbow on the sky - oh yeah! I feel the power! (and yes, I do sing "I got the power!", when I wake up with this picture outside of my window).

So I went to discover the sunny side of the earth, with the sneaky thought in my head: "When I come back it should get better in here. Maybe", and here comes the bold thought, "there will be Spring already in Poland."
(Just as a spoiler I will tell you now that when I landed back in Poland I sang "I got the power" again.) 

However, choosing holidays destinations was not easy. The winter was long, so you can imagine that I've played quite many board games and you know how they work - they move one's imagination! 

?? Should I go to Mexico and see Chichen Itza, Palenque, Uxmal, Tikal, Yaxchilan, as while playing Tzolkin I hanged on all those new places to discover?  This game, Tzolkin, put so much curiosity in my head! 

?? Maybe some place with nice beaches, white sand and palm trees? - Thank you Merchants & Marauders! Thank you Hawaii!

?? Or, or... I know ... something more exotic! Like in Ming Dynasty... Asia?? Asia!!

?? For adventure in dungeons with torches and magical blue potion in one pocket and a silver dagger in another I was not ready yet! Who knows, maybe in the summer... Winter and dungeons sounded too extreme in my head. Thou Descent: Journeys in the Dark filled the gap perfectly!

?? For Cosmic Encounter and Race for the Galaxy I was totally not prepared. What do I know about cosmos? What if Exodus will come and hey! what will you actually do if you discover a new form of life? Space definitely seemed too much to handle.

So Asia it was, without my gaming preferences I needed sun and I needed it immediately. Long story short - the trip was wonderful. It was long enough to detached from all the responsibilities, clear my mind and see things from a new perspective. I am now loaded with new ideas, my mind is nearly exploding! This year will bring a Perfect Storm and Praetor and W: The Board Game at least. We're planning to fit in all this also re-dressing of Exodus: Proxima Centauri this year. So, as I said, long story short - let me get back to work... I wanted to share with you that there are wonderful board games coming up this year from NSKN. And yes, I am genuinely smiling while writing this... ha! Wait till you play them!

Now, all our thoughts are focused on the preparation for the UK Games Expo 2013 on the 24th - 26th of May in Birmingham. We are printing, cutting and gluing prototypes so you can enjoy playing freshly made prototypes with Andrei and I there. Many more thing are going on at the same time.. World is never asleep and especially board gamers! So I hope to see you there!

As a conclusion of my adventure I want to share with you this picture. Some of you maybe have seen it already, as I shared it a few seconds after taking it ;-). However it is so mind blowing... imagine seeing this in reality!

Enjoy! And let your mind wonder!

Captured while wondering on the streets of Yogyakarta


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