We're always busy at Hub Games, but this week seems to have been a beast already... and it's only Wednesday. The need to get Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr into its final state and ready to print is a deadline that's looming ever nearer, but Monday also saw me (Michael) and Rory heading to France for a very speedy visit with game buyers from around the world to pitch Holding On to them. At a time where every minute counts, taking a day away from the office to travel to a different country was a big decision, but when it means there's even the smallest potential for a simultaneous multi-language release in October, it was a chance we couldn't turn down. So we found ourselves on a 4am bus from Belfast to Dublin on Monday morning for a flight to Paris-Orly, then in a taxi out to a hotel that gave off a very Cabin in the Woods vibe...
We had some time, so took the opportunity to work more on ordering the rules we're currently using, then met with the buyers for dinner. This was followed by us sitting down with a couple of groups and playing through the first Scenario of Holding On. The reception, thankfully, was pretty positive overall, and after another night of very little sleep, we were back in a taxi, then plane, then bus back to the Office by 11am on Tuesday. So yeah... the very definition of a flying visit!
Like I said, as we get closer to the print deadline, every minute counts. We're very happy with how the game functions, so now is the time of final tweaks and layouts. Yesterday's development meeting saw us give a final sign off to even more elements - the board is finalised, various cards are done and dusted... but there's still a fair bit to do before we can say that Holding On is ready to roll. When I've spoken with publishers and designers before they've often told me that it's the final 5% that takes up the most of your processing time, and I can guarantee that is most definitely true for us right now.
We did decide on the final cover of the game, by the way. There may be a couple of tiny adjustments, but we're going for this kind of thing:
We're looking at tightening up the narrative here and there, changing the odd sentence to give it more impact. We're altering the occasional icon, making sure that it's clear and visible in every instance where it appears, whether that's in the rulebook or on a card. We're pulling together the renders for the back of the box and set-up examples (the photo above will be used by Mike, our King of Renders, to make a 3D image to put in the rulebook). We're laying out the rules in a slightly different order to ensure that the flow makes sense... lots of small things, all of which need attention. The vast majority of people probably wouldn't notice the difference between 'this red' and 'that red' but for us, the devil is very much in the details. These tiny touches will all (hopefully) combine to make the Holding On experience the best it can be, even if many of them aren't immediately apparent. However, if you scratch the surface, we hope you'll be surprised at the subtle things we're doing to improve every play of Holding On.
So, what have we got on our To Do list for this week? Well, it's mainly a final sweep through the Narrative Deck (which is the bit that explains the game's various Scenarios) and reordering the rules then finalising their layout. Next week is ensuring that the final little details are included in the art throughout the game and signing off even more elements. Over the coming weeks we'll be unveiling more and more parts of the game - the bits we can show off, anyway! - and will also be bringing advance copies for people to play at Origins, UK Games Expo and Gen Con. Busy busy! We'll see you next week!