cardsheets have been printed! And we were there to see it! And
they look great! Everything is on schedule for our official release
this Halloween. Yay!
Our card printer is Carta Mundi, headquartered in Belgium
but with a "local" office in Tennessee. They print
practically everything, including Magic and Pokemon and lots
and lots of Uno, plus Fluxx,
and now Chrononauts. And while they may have some problems in
the past, they really seem to have their act together now. Many
weeks ago, they said they'd be printing the fronts of the cardsheets
for us on September 25th, with the backs being done the next
day, and since they seemed so confident and we had enough time
to plan for it, we decided to take a road trip down there and
see the job being done, live and in person. And true to their
word, our cards were printed, right on schedule, and they came
out looking simply spectacular!
This was our first visit to see one of our card games being
actually printed, and as you might expect, it was very cool.
The equipment they use to print these huge card sheets, and automatically
slice them up into stacks of cards, is most impressive. And while
this was in many ways a vacation for us, it was good for us to
be there... by being on scene as they started printing each new
sheet, we were able to examine samples in real-time and point
out any printing flaws we found. They do great work, so there
wasn't much to find, but Alison noticed at least one genuine
glitch, earning her a "good catch" from the guy who
runs the machines.
The sheets won't be sliced up into cards for a week or two,
due to drying times and other scheduling issues, so as soon as
we had a complete set of finished sheets in hand, we scissored
them up and Kristin and Alison and I played the first game with
the real cards right there on the coffee table in Customer Lounge
B. They printed the boxes later that day, and we cut once of
those up too, so although it's imperfect and has uneven edges
and square-cornered cards, I'm now in possession of a real deck
in a real box and I'm really really psyched about it.
We spent two days in Kingsport TN, overseeing the factory
work and being taken out to lunch by the sales team, but we lodged
with friends in Asheville NC, a 90-minute drive away. Most of
our time away from the factory was spent hanging out with Erskin
and Marcella, and their housemates Liam and Jess. (Marcella is
the one on the right, above; Liam isn't pictured, but will be
familiar to those who went to Origins: he won several medals
in the Big Experiment,
which is where we finally met Erskin and Marcella in person as
we first arrived in Asheville, our friends had lit up their porch
with a balloon-based "Welcome Looneys" sign; similarly,
when we arrived at Carta Mundi, white letters on their special
events board in the lobby said "Welcome Kristin Looney /
Chrononauts / Looney Labs". Here's
a picture of the balloons; when I asked if I could take pictures
inside Carta Mundi's facility, they said no, so the only picture
I have of the factory is this external view.
We had a great time hanging out with Erskin and Marcella and
Liam and Jess, and we greatly enjoyed visiting Asheville as well.
It's a really cool town, with a wonderful, funky personality,
entirely surrounded by beautiful mountains. We did some shopping
in their comfortable downtown area and dined in several of their
cool local restaurants, including McGuffey's, where the menus
are styled like old fashioned children's reading textbook, and
the Mellow Mushroom pizza parlor, a place filled with stunning
psychedelic artwork and bowling balls embedded in the walls.
And of course, we also played a lot of games. A new one for
us was Harvest Moon, on the Nintento 64, known among friends
as The Farming Game. Since we're a Mac/Playstation household,
we'd not had a chance to experience this particular gaming treat
before. Distinctively Japanese, it's a charming and unexpectedly
addictive sim-game focusing on a farmer and his local community.
Our Asheville friends have clearly spent an extraordinary amount
of time exploring this remarkably rich virtual world, and we
(and in particular, Alison) became instantly hooked on it as
well. It's amazing. The experience left me planning to finally
put an N64 on my Xmas list, but Alison has made it clear that
she's going to go right out and buy one for herself this very
weekend. "I want to play the Farming Game," she says
with quiet intensity. Repeatedly.
During the drive south, and again on the way back north, we
stopped off in Charlottesville to visit with Jeff and Judy (my
brother and his wife) and James and Sharon (their 3+ year old
twins). On the way down, we just stopped off with dinner and
an awkward piece of furniture that really needed to be transported
in a big vehicle like our van; but on the way back we stayed
for a longer visit, and got to spend some quality time with the
twins, who are currently mastering both the power of speech and
the use of toilets. We had a great time playing with the kids
yesterday, and even got to share in their first experience with
a board game. They had recently acquired Clue: Little Detective,
which is basically just Candyland set in a spooky house, but
with one addition: the "Boo!" card, which causes you
to lose a turn card. The "Boo" card turned out to be
their favorite thing to receive, since at their age, the thrill
of being scared is much greater than that of mere victory. Ah,
We also gave Sharon a special gift since she's my Goddaughter
and we're forging a tradition called Sharon's Day, a special
event each year that she doesn't have to share with her brother.
For the first time, this was actually understood by the kids,
and it became a sad moment for James -- a lesson in the inequities
of life. Sharon however was delighted. With great sincerity she
proclaimed of the zippered, plush peanut butter and jelly sandwich
we'd given her, "This is a good gift." She even took
it to bed with her that night, an action regarded by the local
experts as indicative of true gift satisfaction. After the kids
were in bed, we hooked up their computer and stereo equipment
for them, as we always do when they move, which they just did.
Hopefully this will be the last time, at least for a long while...
their new house is nice and big, with a great yard and a garden,
in a great neighborhood, walking distance from the High School
they'll eventually attend, which Jeff made a point of showing
us during a long walk with the kids in the afternoon sunshine.
It was a great day at the end of a great week and my only
regret about it is that I didn't take any pictures during Sharon's
Day. I guess I wanted to focus on being social rather than making
it a media event. Well, that's a mistake I won't make next year.
And luckily, I saw Jeff taking some photos here and there during
the day... if he gets something good, perhaps I'll retrofit this
page to include it, as I'm still planning to do soon to last
week's page. The good news there is that most of my missing
photos finally turned up, and the one roll that's still AWOL
is the least important of the bunch.