If we’re not Facebook friends or following me on Twitter. you might have wondered where I’ve been — it’s been a couple of months since I’ve written a new post. Where the hell you been, Chris?

In short, Düsseldorf, Germany from mid-September to the end of October. As I type this: Brussels, Belgium.

Why Düsseldorf? It’s the nearest major city to Essen, Germany — the home of the biggest tabletop / board game convention in the world. That was held at the end of October, and I spent most of our non-traveling time working on my games — defusing bombs, finding a murderer, telling crazy travel stories, making tacos, and of course, Pirate Grannies. From playtesting to printing and prepping rules, my games took up most of my time…

We did travel around Düsseldorf and the surrounding German state (North Rhine-Westphalia), and some of those places will be coming to the blog soon. We’ll be traveling through Amsterdam and Bulgaria in the coming weeks, so definitely look for more travel stuff coming soon…

For now, let’s take a look at Essen Spiel, the four-day gaming conference. If you’re into games, consider this a look at what’s new in the world of games. If you’re not, consider this a ‘random pictures’ sort of post.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Essen’s hauptbahnhof (main train station) has some of the most interesting mood lighting I’ve ever seen in a train station….

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Just one of the many places to sit down and play… whatever it is you want. There never seemed to be enough room for everyone, however — one hall could take 20 minutes to cross because there were that many people in the hall.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

One of the nominees for the Spiel des Jahres this year, the German ‘game of the year’ award that’s as close to an Emmy or a Grammy as this industry gets. The version above is the ‘several-times-larger-than-normal’ version used as a demo at events like this, and could easily accommodate several people around the table…

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Dice can be like gamer jewelry or bling, so naturally there are plenty of colors and styles.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Yes, someone really did make a game about flying cheese — more accurately, using those spoons on the left to catapult yellow blocks of ‘cheese’ around the game. A lot of kid-friendly games have a dexterity element like this.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Oversized versions of the game in question definitely grab the eye. In what looked like a party game, one where each player gave a single-word clue to the blindfolded person. This particular demo was being given entirely in German, so it was hard to follow along much closer than that…

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

This one didn’t require as much explanation, though.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Ten separate scenes from the Disney universe weighs in at 40,320 pieces — supposedly the Guinness World Record for the most pieces in a commercially available puzzle.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Aww, yeah — one of the new Star Trek games!

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

While halls 1 and 3 were chances to see the biggest names in the industry, halls 6, 7, and 8 were chances to take in plenty of newcomers. This board is also the gamebag that stores the pieces.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

Yes, there’s even a game for Cat Ladies.

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

As the convention began winding down, more than a few sales began happening… At some point, someone thought the world needed a deck box of Grumpy Cat…

Where the hell you been, Chris? On making games, going to Essen Spiel, and what's next ()

The last day of the conference featured quite a few people in costumes or cosplaying of some kind… Good times.

So what’s next? I pitched my games to quite a few publishers, so now it’s the hardest part: waiting. There’s plenty of writing to catch up, of course, and lots of other pictures taken recently to look through…

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Also published on Medium.