Ah, the Côte d’Azur… Where dreams are born, beers are ridiculously expensive, and the rich and famous walk the red carpet. For weeks, I’d been looking forward to doing some networking and jetsetting in the South of France.
On the morning of my departure though, several heavy storms were sweeping across Belgium. On one end of the country, people’s basements were overflooding and on the other, shingles were flying off of people’s roofs. Naturally, this caused lots of delays with public transport, as well.
Off to a Great Start
Because of the emergency weather conditions, public transport was considerably delayed. My train to the airport arrived late, and I managed to stumble through the airport gate exactly 1 minute before it closed. I was literally the last person on the plane as I rushed across the tarmac, the wind and rain lashing at my face. It was close, but I had made it!
We still had to wait inside the plane for an entire hour before take-off, because there was a problem with one of the engines… I didn’t let it get to me though.
After all, I was going to Cannes, baby!!
A little under two hours later, I was rewarded for all my struggles. From the plane we could already see that the skies in Nice were blue and the weather was a sunny 19°C. I ended up spending two wonderful days in Nice before hopping on the train to Cannes, where all the magic was about to happen..
Visiting Clients New and Old
I arrived in Cannes on Wednesday, one day before the start of the festival. People were already lining up at the ticket office to pick up their professional badges and complementary tote bags. Everyone was already in good spirits, and I ended up spending the rest of the day admiring the amazing coastline.
The next morning, my batteries were fully recharged. Thursday is the opening day of the fair, and it’s dedicated solely to professionals. The general public isn’t allowed in until Friday, so it was the perfect time to casually stroll past the booths and have some informal conversations.
I dropped by some of our clients’ booths, and it was fulfilling to see some of the games The Geeky Pen has been working on over the past year. I ran into my contact Ludovic at the Helvetiq booth, and he showed me the final versions of Oh My Ring! (which we localized into English, Spanish, Italian and Dutch), and Art Robbery (Spanish).
Next stop: the team over at Geek Attitude Games. I’ve been working for these guys since 2016 and it’s always been a breeze. They invite me over to their headquarters whenever they have new prototypes, and since they’re Belgian, they’re always up for a few beers. They were showing off their brand new releases Aquarena (for which we did English, Dutch and German) and Magellan (English, Dutch), a card game with an interesting twist on bidding.
Last but not least, a special place in my heart goes out to Midnight Murder Mysteries by Multifaces Éditions. I’ve been working on and off on the English version of the game for a few years now, and it’s definitely a labor of love on the part of the publisher.
Players are detectives on a cruise ship, trying to solve a murder that takes place around midnight. They have to figure out who was the culprit, under what circumstances the victim died, and what the killer’s motive was. They do this by interrogating suspects, bribing each other for information, and cross-referencing the evidence they find.
Midnight Murder Mysteries comes with over a dozen cases in the base box, and we’re constantly working on new cases for the expansions as the crowdfunding launch date for the second edition draws closer. People who enjoy detective style adventure games should definitely keep an eye out for this game when it launches on Kickstarter later this year.
Eyecatchers of the Fair
There were also two games I was desperate to try. IKI is the latest release from Sorry We Are French, which The Geeky Pen translated into Dutch for Geronimo Games.
IKI is actually a modern-day reprint of a game from 2015, with upgraded components. The game takes place in Japan’s Edo era: players are moving around a marketplace in a rondel-style fashion, hiring merchants, constructing buildings and trying to put out fires.
Then there’s Living Forest by Ludonaute, which we translated into Dutch for Asmodee. Both games were nominated for the As d’Or: the French game of the year award. On Friday night during the award ceremony, Living Forest actually won the family game category!
Living Forest is a family game that combines deck building and push-your-luck. You can keep drawing cards from your deck as much as you want but if you bust, you basically lose half of your turn. There are plenty of ways to mitigate that though, and there are three very different ways to win the game.
City Games, Debates and Other Quirkiness
What’s so special about the Festival International de Jeux (FIJ) is that Cannes is a relatively small town, and the festival’s atmosphere was palpable as I was walking around the city.
Billboards were present all around town to let people know there’s something special going on, and you could even play an outdoor version of Micro Macro Crime City, by looking out for signs and scanning QR codes near several of the city’s important sightseeing locations.
On Friday, there were also a number of interesting panels and debates. We attended one about Instagram and board gaming, and discovered that many publishers are starting to realize the value of this social media platform for advertising.
But the FIJ offers more than the traditional publisher booths. There were tournaments with fun prizes, a booth with retro arcade games, and even initiation lessons on how to fight with a lightsaber.
Conclusions After a Week of Heavy Networking
I spent many hours running from one booth to the next, setting up meetings, handing out tons of business cards and meeting some amazing and passionate designers and publishers. I arrived back home tired but satisfied, and guess what – even the weather had cleared up!
My week at the Côte d’Azur was absolutely magical – better than I could have ever imagined! It’s safe to say that The Geeky Pen will be attending the festival every year from here on out.
Besides, I made a new friend… So I definitely have to return next year to tell him all about the crazy adventures we’ve been up to!