CanCon and all the things!
So let’s get it out of the way right off the bat.
I met Martin Freaking Wallace at CanCon.
I knew he was going to be there because a few people told me, but I still was tongue tied when I met him. I totally fumbled my approach. You could see in his eyes that I was making a fool out of myself. But like any geek, I persisted and ended up learning how to play AuZtralia, his new game, and asking him tons of questions.
But I’ll walk this back a little bit.
I’ve always wondered why I have fangirl reactions to people like Martin Wallace. Why do I idolise smart people? I thought about this a lot. I think it’s because I grew up poor in the Philippines. When you grow up poor, often it meant that you wouldn’t be able to get an education. To me, being smart was a way out of that poverty and so I gravitated towards people who were good at what they did. It didn’t matter if it was poetry or maths or design. If you excelled at something I worshipped at your feet.
And what did it mean to worship at Martin Wallace’s feet.
It meant I asked him how he designed games. He was explaining this to us while eating a chicken leg. I remember it vividly because the juxtaposition of somebody talking about something so extraordinary with something so mundane was a bit disorienting. So as he was chewing on his chicken, he was saying that he often starts with theme, and that he creates the world that the game exists in before he even thinks about mechanics. Because he starts with the world, he has to think of ways for the mechanics to flow naturally from that space, an internal logic of sorts. From our conversations, I grew to know that he is a history buff and because of that lens that he sees the world with, even in the fantastical worlds he created he likes, as best as he can, to ground things in reality. The only comparison I can make is with the movie District 9. What happens when insect like aliens fall to Earth? It would mean that the government would put them in internment camps because history has shown that humans fear the unknown. Martin weaves the same kind of story in his games. There is a pairing of something extraordinary with the ordinary, like him and his chicken leg.
This is where AuZtralia fits in that worldview. It’s an alternate history where the Old Ones were not eradicated from Australia. The farmers, who live in the outback then have to live their normal lives, plant corn, take care of sheep, while armed to their teeth because Shoggoths can appear any minute. People will find it very weird. But it’s a great kind of weird because it’s unique. I really can say that there is no game like it out there.
He said that he shopped the game around and it was pushed back until finally he found Amanda of SchilMil games. Which is pretty lucky for us because now we will get to enjoy the game. I loved the game so much that I volunteered to help Amanda spread the word about it. I just thought about emailing her and offering my help. But also on top of that, I also worship at the feet of Amanda. How could I not? She’s a one-woman publishing company and was the Chair of Mensa!
And before I lose you in all this serious talk, I want to say oh yes I played all the games ☺
Martin’s top secret new game. All I can say is that it’s a theme I love and I can’t believe it was a prototype because it was better than most games with that theme and mechanic in the market. I am so sad it will take a while before I get to play the full game.
My Game Haul
Unboxing Videos and arriving at Cancon