– live and kicking

22 to 25 October saw the SSG team at, albeit from the comfort of our own home-offices / lounge / library / other (insert here).

Although had its disadvantages, in that we couldn’t actually meet actual people in actual person, we did achieve an impressive amount of live streaming. Impressive, bearing in mind that the only previous live streams we had run ourselves were a couple of toes-in-the-water at Virtually Expo. All of these are available on our Twitch stream at, but it may be easier to get them from YouTube. We have a channel there too, now; just search for Surprised Stare Games.

A History of Surprises

Under the admirable chairmanship of actor, wordsmith, game reviewer and apocalypse-juggler Ben Maddox (see 5G4D), Tony, Charlie and I rummaged through the attic-spaces of SSG’s history and back catalogue of games. This perambulation into the past took 4 sessions of live streaming, and it seemed, at the time at least, to provide an entertaining and informative account of SSG’s first 20 years. It was also a celebration of Tony’s massive contribution to SSG over the years, in the light of our decision to part company. Tony will now plough his own intrepid furrough, while Charlie and I continue to build on SSG’s 20 year old foundations. To find out more about all of this, have a listen to the recordings of A History of Surprises. game design live streams

In addition to our inward-looking history streams, we talked to quite a few famous guests about many aspects of game design. We had a lot of fun making these videos over the 4 days of – see what you think!

Creating Differently – Bez Shahriari and Alan Paull talk about their different approaches to game design. We look at “doing what we want to do”, design versus development, iteration and testing, amongst other things.

Ideas into Mechanisms – Rob Harper and Alan Paull chat about how we convert ideas into practical game mechanics. We use as our main example our latest prototype of Snails & Grails, a weird medieval themed adventure game that we are designing with David J Mortimer.

Remaking Kingmaker – Alan Paull presents a live stream about the re-development of Kingmaker for Gibsons Games (to date). Aided by two notable playtesters, Mike Oliver and Peter Piggott, Alan explains the reasoning behind the current prototype of the classic 1974 board game, originally designed by Andrew McNeil. The session contains a look at the new short format game on Tabletopia. Mike and Peter offer their views on the changes, and we have a few questions from the audience.

Greater Than The Sum of its Parts – Alan Paull and Tony Boydell chat with famous designers Brett Gilbert and Matt Dunstan about the pluses and perils of co-designing games. Brett and Matt collaborated on, amongst other things, the award-winning Elysium (2015), and the recent game Chocolate Factory (with David Digby).

What makes a good wargame? – Alan Paull and Graeme Tate muse on this age-old question, in relation to board wargames. We defined what we meant by ‘wargame’, then looked at and chewed over some criteria that might be used to determine a ‘good’ one, using examples both old and new.

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