Friday 30 July 2010

Gaming shop tournament ideas

So here's an idea I've had.

As my shop is very small there's not a lot of room for massive tournaments, but I want to attract some gaming attention and have put in a small round gaming table, like this:

As you can see there's not a heck of a lot of space.

So here's my idea. Every local gaming club selects a player. That player comes to the shop and matches his wits in a small three-room dungeon with other selected players from other clubs, all with pregenerated character so that they balance. The character surviving the dungeon wins. If more than one survives, the one with the most XP wins. If it's a tie - they duel! This is also the case if they all die. The winner gets a free game for their club and a little plastic trophy with 'woohoo!' inscribed on it, and a picture on the shop wall. The games are bi-monthly.

It's small and needs some little house rules, and I have no idea what system to use, but it would be a lot of fun.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 5

So, there I was, sitting in the empty shop waiting on deliveries. I even got there early in case the delivery guys came, and waited and waited and waited... I was so bored.

I even started to draw up some new 'Hard Sixes' logos, just for the hell of it.

And then it all came! All at once! The games and books and counter and wall hooks and book stands... it was like Christmas, except that none of it belonged to me. Straight away I Put the stuff up on the shelves and checked it all off.

So, now my shelves look like this:

And this:

And after acquiring an old magazine display unit that a fellow shop owner was throwing out, I've even got a place for a lot of the free RPG games and other stuff.

Tomorrow, my till arrives. I've also got my pricing gun so I can price up my stock tomorrow. All things being well, I might even be able to start trading next Monday.

Bloody hell. It's really happening!

Monday 26 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 4

Monday, and I've managed to get some insanely cheap shelves into the shop. At £9.99 each and standing tall and proud, they've filled the gap under the windows really nicely.

There was one catch, however - I had to transport them from the store where I purchased them to my unit... by train. That's 20 plus kilos of kit carried by hand to the station, then from the station to the shop. Yes, it was heavy. Yes, I did have to stop every hundred feet or so. Yes, I am in a lot of pain right now. But it was neccessary, and I managed to do it.

Following my amazing feat of strength and endurance I then put up the first of many posters, kindly donated by my good friend Mark Newbold of It now sits proudly on the main wall.

After all that I managed to verify the delivery of my counter and my first stock order (all to be here by Wednesday) then I got on the train and headed home.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up by emailing all the primary gaming clubs in the UK, follow-up calls for orders and deliveries, and to complain to the telecommunications people that not only did they get the installation date of the line wrong they have also got the company name wrong. Apparently we're called 'Hard Fixes'.


Sunday 25 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 3

It's the little things in life that slow you down. You think you've planned for everything but nothing ever goes to plan, and almost 100% of the time it's the fault of other people.

I've sorted out everything the shop needs - counter, shelves, till, even a phone/broadband line - and in almost every case there is a delay in delivering. The counter will hopefully be here by the end of next week, and the telecommuniocations providers have shafted me by putting back my connection by one whole week. Some rather loud and annoyed ranting ensued.

With all this in mind the official opening date of Hard Sixes is now:

10:00am to 5:00pm

It would have been next Saturday - should have been next Saturday - but events out of my control have forced me back. We'll probably be trading before then, but officially this is out opening date.

The normal opening times are Mon-Fri 10:00am to 4:30pm, Saturdays 9:30am to 5:00pm, Sundays Closed.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 2

The first display items for the shop arrived today. A pair of fluffy dice air fresheners graciously donated by my lovely wife:

And then the three shelving units we'll be using for the RPGs and Boardgames arrived. Took me a couple of hours but they all went up really well.

Looking good. I also cheekily cut out some of the more generic artwork from this month's issue of 'White Dwarf' magazine and stuck them up on the windows to help generate interest.

Tonight I've been going over my order for the first lot of stock and it's not looking great, to be honest. I've quashed my bias towards certain games and made sure I'm ordering stock that will attract an eclectic mix of customers. I'm taking care of the RPGs and Richard the board and wargames. We'll also be looking into CCGs but we can top up the budget with them if neccesary. I've also got a few items in my personal collection I'm willing to donate to help fill out the shelves. Add to that items from other collectors I know and I'm looking to get in some great stock that'll appeal to everyone.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

The construction of a gaming shop - Part 1

Painting. Painting. And... more painting.

The initial project, after sorting out suppliers and display units, was painting the shop to a desired colour. I wasn't sure the off-pink salmoncolour the shop was currently coloured was going to go down well with consumers. My wife, bless her heart, chose a nice bright yet unobtrusive colour that would blend well into the background after posters, art and shelving were put up.
It went well. We got it done in about four hours, although when I go back in today there'll no doubt be more touching up to be done. As it stands at the moment, though, the painting is done and finished.
Just to make sure people knew what we were doing, I put little signs up in the windows:

Saturday 17 July 2010

New Shop Venture Continues!!!

'Hard Sixes', the hobby gaming shop I'm opening with my friend Richard, is going full guns. The shop itself has now been secured and I have the keys - the rather simple job of redecorating begins today. The shop is in good condition so I think the painting will only take a day or so. Then it's bringing in the shelves, counter, tables, till and then finally stock.

I want to make sure that the shop itself does not only cater to the existing hobby crowd. It will be primarily for them - they'll be my bread and butter after all - but I need to make sure that I'm bringing new blood into the hobby. Those times I've walked into shops and seen an assistant sitting bored behind the counter... they could be using that time to organise events, get kids interested, think about ways to bring new and old gamers together. Contacting colleges, universities, gaming groups, all kinds of things.

This is going to be a job for me, first and foremost. The contents of the shop will not be my own private collection. It's also not a hangout for my gaming friends. I want them there, that's for sure, but it has to be for the right reasons. The last thing I want is for someone interested in the hobby to walk into the shop and then walk right out again when they see everyone in there staring at them with suspicion, like they just walkd into a private club.

These are my plans, my dreams. I'm going to be there six days a week every week for the foreseeable future. I want to make sure I don't waste any of that time.

Friday 9 July 2010

'HARD SIXES' - A new hobby gaming shop

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to my new business -


In partnership with my good friend Richard Williams, I will soon be opening a small retail shop and online store to sell boardgames, wargames, roleplaying games and card games. Our driving business ethic is to not only serve the existing customer base but to draw new blood into the hobby with convention appearances, gaming days, workshops and our own expo event days.

We should be open for business by the 30th of this month, so I'll be sure to let you all know when it happens.

How exciting!!!!

Wednesday 7 July 2010

If I was in charge...

... these films would be in production RIGHT NOW!

A new Mad Max movie with the same production team (or as close as dammit) but starring Sam Worthington. Yeah? can you see it? Can you see Sam in the cop leathers nailing bikers in his 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe? Sorry - his V8 Interceptor?

I know I can. Sam would be the perfect for the restart of the Mad Max movies, though Tom Hardy, the guy they have in mind according to, will no doubt do an excellent job as he's a great actor. But Sam Worthington, man! I don't care how much Clash of the Titans sucked, he'd be perfect for it.

Then, I'd give Clint Eastwood a call for him to direct a new 'Man With No Name' spaghetti western, with Hugh Jackman playing the dude himself.

Oh, come on - don't tell me you don't see it. Watch 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' and don't try and tell me the scene where Blondie's hair is all stuck up when he rolls down the sand dune after being dragged along by Tuco doesn't make him look like Wolverine.

You know I'm right, Hollywood. You bloody well do.

Have a look at the video below (not for kids, I have to warn you!). This is how the new Mad Max movie should be made: hands-on with no CGI or dodgy computer effects. Real. Solid. Oh, and the moment at 4:25 in is possibly the greatest 'F*** you!' cinema moment ever, without the need for words. Just look at the carnage that one shot causes!

Monday 5 July 2010

Conan Kicks Kaboose!

I first read Conan waaaay back when I was a wee nipper. I read a few of the short stories in between reading the 'Lord of the Rings' books and I remember really enjoying them. I don't really remember what happened in the stories - it was so long ago - and my image of Conan ended up being defined by the Arnold movies and the Marvel comics, both of which didn't bowl me over (though I do like the original Conan movie for what it is).

As I was having trouble appreciating fantasy works other than 'The Lord of the Rings' (as I mentioned in a previous post) I decided to pick up Conan again in the form of the Chronicles book, which I purchased last year but never got around to properly reading. I did say in my previous post that even Howard couldn't satiate my need for good fantasy fiction, but since I read him a long time ago as a teenager and didn't really immerse myself in his world I decided to have another stab.

Why the flagnar didn't I read this before?

It's bloody brilliant. The mood, the atmosphere, the sheer visceral in-your-face-ness of it all. All these ridiculous notions of a bare-chested furry-pants wearing bodybuilder have been struck from my mind. The world is so evocative and involving I want to run a roleplaying game there right now! The sheer size of the background of it all shocked me and it gives you all the info you need to travel the world that Howard envisioned. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Could this be the setting that saves me from total LotR domination? That is yet to be seen, but at the moment I've not compared Howard to Tolkien in any way. That's a good sign.

I also read the life history of Howard in the back of the book, from his beginnings to his tragic end. Man, it is a real sad story and kind of made me down, but reading the work he produced... God, the man was good.

Nice one, Bob.

Saturday 3 July 2010

EVE Online

Ah, crap.

Now don't get me wrong - EVE Online is a beautiful game. In fact, it's probably the perfect game for MMO players who want to zip around the cosmos doing things with a spaceship that geeks can only dream about.

The thing is, that's pretty much all you can do. I'm sure there's more to it than the few things I did in the short time I spent on the trial I downloaded, it's just that I want to play a game that draws me in with stuff to do. I never got that from EVE Online. You see, I want the same kind of experience I got from World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online - I want to be able to run around as a character and be able to relate to my avatar in some small way. I also want to be able to travel to other places in my own starship, actually climb into my vessel and take off and land and dock and leave planets under my own steam and not have to watch loading screens do it for me...

Yeah, this has turned into more of a wish list of what I want to see in a science fiction MMO rather than a critique of EVE. Honestly, EVE looks like a good game. For those of you who want something different from an MMO I'd recommend you check it out. It just wasn't for me and my rather definitive requirements.

Thursday 1 July 2010

The Great MMO Search

With Warhammer Online 'in server transition' (and bugging me no end because there still been no answer from anyone regarding the problems I talked about in my last post) I decided to have a search around the internet to see if there are any other MMOs worth checking out.

First of all me and the wife had a look at 'Guild wars' and downloaded the free trial.

Considering that you pay for the game and that's it - there's no monthly fee - it's a pretty good deal. It's pretty to look at, easy to play and quite well made. The thing is... there's just no atmosphere. Nothing to draw you in to the game. It's all a bit of a fireworks display, with pretty colours and noises, but ultimately it's a bit hollow. The price is excellent, I just don't see the longevity in it. Also, there's this Manga-esque feel to it, and I'm sick to the back teeth of a parrot with Manga-influenced designs.

From there I moved on to the 'Star Wars Galaxies' free trial.

The graphics suck. The control and combat interface is pretty rubbish. The handling of starships and speeders blows and the character models are a little dicey. Still... it is Star Wars, and I've been playing this for the last three hours. Although it's a bit ropey it's atmospheric and fun. I'm limited as to what I can do with my trial account but if I'm still having fun with it after the fourteen days, and if Warhammer Online doesn't sort their shit out, I might consider playing it on a regular basis.

Warhammer Offline

I've only been playing Warhammer Online for a month and already it appears things are going to poop.

It was announced, quite suddenly, on the 24th June that GOA would no longer be hosting the servers that run the game and that all the server responsibilities would be handed over to Mythic. That's fine. They said:

'Over the next few weeks we will be working very closely with the Mythic Team to ensure you all get settled as smoothly as possible. We wish to assure you that all characters, guilds and account information will be migrated to Mythic servers and will be available to present and past players.'

So I ordered two prepaid 60-day gaming cards, one for me and one for my wife, so that we could carry on playing. Suddenly, on the 28th June, this announcement appears on the front page of the warhammer Europe website:

'Tomorrow morning, we will transfer player’s data to Mythic, which will require a short server maintenance.'

That was quick! So what happens to the prepaid time cards I just spent more than £30 on and haven't used yet?

Nobody can tell me! I contacted Billing Support and they told me to read the FAQs on the website, which tells me nothing. I've posted on the official forums (I'm 'Swordsong') and practically begged for an answer, or at least an indication, and as of yet have heard nothing. From what I can tell, GOA have suspended their prepaid system, but does that apply to the cards already out there? Nobody can tell me!

I love Warhammer. I like MMOs. I figured the combination of my favourite fantasy setting and an online game would be a marraige made in heaven.

Yeah, right.