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Monday, November 26, 2012

New Zealand Trip Diary: Part 1

After a very pleasant 12 hour flight on Air New Zealand (which, as an aside, is so Lord of the Rings themed it was a bit embarrassing), I touched down in Auckland.  Mike and James picked me up, and we went to a local cafe to chat.  Conversation ran the gamut, and I was happy that we all got on swimmingly.

Afterwards, Mike and I hung out for a bit before heading over to check out a game club in Western Auckland.  There I met Damien, Chris Townley, and Dan Linder.  The guys had rented a community center and set up 5 gaming tables.  Warmahordes and Malifaux were the main events, but I was also privy to one of the most exciting games of X-Wing I've witnessed!

Afterwards, we headed to the Battlefront Office for a brief tour.  The office is divided into 2 main sections.  Upstairs is the design office where the majority of the work on the books and the website occurs.  There is an open floor plan promoting collaboration, and a massive wall of reference material.  Downstairs is the photo studio, warehouse, and playtesting area.  Drawers upon drawers of studio models adorn the wall, and the 10 or so playtest tables are setup ready to go to and hit hard every Monday night.

Immediately, I am struck by a few things- the design office seems like a very creative place.  The resources available at your fingertips and proximity to co-workers seems to excite a certain energy.  As I type this on Monday morning, everyone seems genuinely excited and enthusiastic (After a good bit of ribbing Chris Townley for his mistakes with Darth Vader, that is).  Likewise, the downstairs is well organized.  The Battlefront team is in the process of cataloging all of their miniatures, and it was rather exciting to see all of the models I recognize from the books sitting out.

Immediately I am a bit struck by the open terrain boards in the playtesting areas.  Through conversation, I've come to find that the Kiwis do approach terrain quite different than us Yanks (or at least the I-95 crew inspired tables), which is very interesting to me.  I will expand on this thought later of course, but my initial impression was "wow, these playtesting tables are much lighter than I am used to".

The design area
We ended the night with a beer at a nearby bar where Wayne explained the intricacies of Cricket to me.  I think I like it.  After that, a delicious meal courtesy of Mike's wife Caroline with a traditional NZ desert (Pavlova Pie) pretty much sealed it for me.  By this point I was fairly exhausted and turned in, ready to get started bright and early.

Here's a photo dump from my first day.  First up is the gaming I witnessed followed by some shots form around the BF studio.  You may be interested in some of those.

Hello, what have we here?

Reference wall

Phil's eccentric workstation


FoW Studio Masters

An Example of Italians

Doesn't this look particularly Asian?

Playtesting boards

Part of the warehouse

This just in...

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