So, after you’ve traumatised said introvert the year before, whats the best way to totaly destroy him?  How about getting him to present a talk about a topic he’s still very new to (Shenandoah was the first time I’d studied UX/UI), to a bunch of highly skilled professionals, some of whom have been working in the field a good deal longer than him!

Really, this is pathetic.

I can’t emphasise just how terrbile I was. Funnily enough, half an hour before I was feeling quite confident. I knew my stuff, knew I could explain it and knew that I had met most of the crowd before.

As it happened the crowd was more than double the size I was expecting, was joined by students from a local game design course, it was videoed, the room wasn’t the way I’d imagined it in my head and I just mentally fell apart. I’d printed all my notes out, practised with them and knew how long it would take. But I was shaking so much I couldn’t hold them still so decided to use my iPad, which contained a slightly abridged version. Unfortunately my iPad is old and holding it in the wrong place can reset the screen position, sometimes stepping forward or backward in a document. So while I was holding on for dear life, every time I looked down, I was looking at something different that made no sense what so ever. I was excruciatingly embarrassed during the whole thing. Thankfully our Creative Director, who has an easy, natural charm, just breezed through his part and the crowd were lapping it up while I hid at the back.

Then we had a break, during which I tried my best to meet people eyes without wimpering.

I then gave a short talk about the benefits of paper protyping (which was unfortunate as the only anecdote I had proved it had been wholy inadequate!) and we then proceeded to … paper prototype.

Afterwards I slunk off and lay down, trying to gain some semblance of composure, while downstairs there was a bit of a buffet. Eventually I got the nerve to show my face and through out that evening the embarrassment slowly ebbed. It was informally agreed that in future it might be best if I write the talk and our CD presents it. Sounds like a plan.


So … HOW 16

This years Home of Wargamers was at Castel di Pannone near Milan.

A fully restored medieval castle dating back to the 9th century. Stunning place.


Our room

The interior painting was mind boggling . . what we often just considered to be fancy floral ( beautiful period looking ) wallpaper was actually hand painted. Floor to ceiling . . including the ceilings. Not just the big halls and conference rooms but every ..  single .. room .. bedrooms, hallways, dining rooms .. just stunning.


(not my photograph .. the one I took is drowned in rain)

But thats not why were were there.

Naturally most of it is highly confidential, some of it slightly confidential and some of it just plain secret, but with the increase in size of Slitherine there are more and more fantastic projects and opportunities in the wings and some seriously tallented developers on board.


The first day was taken up with talks about the company and the industry, past, present and future, our tools, services and about the team. That evening .. big medieval meal and then .. in truth I can’t remember that evening .. not because of any thing I’d imbibed, but the days where crammed with so much going on.


Couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people


My morning ritual

The next day started with a hearty breakfast, followed by some interesting talks from possible collaborators. The afternoon was hell, as already described. The evening was spent with a quiz, eating and drinking till about 5 in the morning with some lovely guys from Romania and, I think, Canada.


Our team came third in the quiz. Second if I hadn’t been trying to over compensate for earlier events. 🙁


EARLY the next morning I was woken up 10mins before a meeting. An ever so slight panic but I just made it, espresso in hand, and it went well. The rest of the day was spent in meetings and viewing various projects. They all looked really cool and more than one I wished I’d been involved in. Sadly, after this, it was a long drive back to the airport, in the rain, a plane to Gatwick and then several trains back to Chesterfield.


Waiting at St Pancras for the Sheffield train.

While Slitherine, the publisher, is quite small, the Slitherine Group, which includes Slitherine, AGEOD, Matrix, Shenandoah and some well know on-line websites is bigger, the family of developers is bigger still so these yearly meetings are invaluable, if for nothing other than forging relationships, networking and ensuring we all feel part of a whole despite living on (nearly) every continent.

I just hope to god they don’t make me do another talk.