Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thinner and busier

This blog is becoming more of 6 monthly update than a regular diary.  It is true that the older one gets the less time there is in a day, and the less energy there is to do stuff in that shorter time. Bugger.

Since February, John & I have been doing intermittent fasting for 2 days a week, with the odd exception when I was away travelling or overseas.  It really works. We've both lost around 10 kg (John closer to 12). This has necessitated some previously unthinkable possibilities, like having to have extra holes bored into my favourite leather belt to hold my jeans up, being able to wear skinny jeans I had given up on and so on.  The fasting itself is manageable as long as I plan ahead what to eat on those days and don't get caught in a ravenous state next to tempting goodies.
Games work and some film scanning has been keeping me busy.  I've also taken on the unpaid job of chairing the NZ Games Association.

SchilMil is at a milestone, having just signed several artists to do the design work on boxes, cards and game boards for our two new projects: Granny Wars: the card game of Tit for Tat, and Manifest - a strategy game of shipping, cargo, pirates and other trouble at sea. We are aiming to get the first published and available before Xmas. Manifest won't be manufactured until the middle of next year. 

We'll be shortly launching a PledgeMe campaign to seek the funds upfront for Granny Wars. The rewards will include the right to have your own granny or granddad honoured by being caricatured on one the game cards. Watch this space.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fast track

Happy New year.
I don't know where the last three months went. Did anyone see them flying past?

For Xmas and new year, John & I enjoyed a 10 day break in Australia, staying with my niece in Somerville and also visiting friends in Melbourne.  It was great to catch up with fmaily including my brother Nigel and Jackie who had escaped from the wintry UK. The day we left to return to NZ temperatures soared to a very uncomfortable 42C with a strong wind that made standing near an open door feel like being in a blast furnace.
Little Mia gives her aunty a paint job

A surreptitious New Year moment saw me read a piece in the Guardian by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame. The gist of it was it can't be natural or healthy to eat well all the time. He went on to explain why he is experimenting with the 'Fast Diet'. No, its not a quick way to lose weight, but stop, yes it is, but that's not the point. The Fast Diet is about Intermittent Fasting, or 5:2 - five days of normal devil-may-care consumption and 2 days a week on a severely limited 500 calories. 
My curiosity piqued, I went on to watch the BBC Horizon documentary in which Dr Michael Mossley searches the western world for healthy ways to fast, concluding that 5:2 is both healthy and manageable. He cited benefits to include lower BP, cholesterol, blood glucose, IGF-1 as well as weight loss. After just 2 weeks on it (4 fasting days under my belt), my belt is a lot looser having lost 6kg. I also feel a lot more energetic.  Just as well cos there's a lot happening here.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Hugh poncders whether to fast today
Our FilmScan business has taken off with wind in its sails. After several years of ticking along slowly the new web site seems to have jolted it to a new level. Some days we have both been scanning flat out to keep up with the demand.  It all helps put food on the table now that I am a self-employed game designer with no day job to go to....

Julia and I (aka SchilMil Games) are busy making preparations for our first Trade Show as well as prototyping some new games ready for testing. We have a stand at the Australian Toy & Hobby Fair March 3-6th in Melbourne. Our aim is to expose the games to retailers and hopefully get a deal with one or more distribution companies. Wish us luck. If all goes well we could be adding exporting goods onto our new skills learning curve.

In the meantime John & I venturing down to the deep southernmost part of New Zealand for a few days to visit Tamsin who lives on the edge of Fiordland - a birthday treat for me - she has promised to make me a special cake!

I am now on Twitter @nzmeerkat

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mischievous times ahead

Our ship came in today. 1,000 boxes of Kenakalan to clear customs and be delivered to SchilMil early next week.  I did a stock take recently and we have managed to sell, donate and otherwise dispose of 250 of the 1,000 Komodos and about the same for Raid the Pantry. Now we are starting to re-focus our efforts into finding retail outlets outside NZ. Exciting times ahead.

Oh and guess what everyone will be getting for Christmas this year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Picking up the pace

Now that my commitment to the University has completely stopped I feel more like a full-time Game Designer. Not a lot of time spent has been designing games lately though. What with sales visits, packing parcels up, laying up artwork for promotional meterial and new websites, theres no time left for games.

It's all good though. And the fruits of our efforts ripened today with the Kenakalan website going live. That game shipment is now mid-ocean on a cargo ship called Cape Manuel. Thousands of mischievous monkeys are headed for Auckland where a cosy warehouse awaits them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Celebration time

Well I'm not sure how these things normally pan out but it seems like things are moving quickly and positively for SchilMil games. We've existed as a company for a bit over a year and had our first products available on sale in NZ for 3 months.

This week we heard that Komodo has won 2 awards:

   New Game of the Year 2012
   Children's Choice award 2012

We are over the moon.

Other causes to celebrate: we received our first order from Whitcoulls. This is the Kiwi equivalent of WH Smith.

And pictures arrived from China showing the Kenakalan printing has progressed and assembly is about to start - so they are ahead of schedule and the game will be here in time for pre-Xmas sales.

And the sun is shining.

And I discovered the band called Alt-J and their beautiful song 'Tessellate'. Catch the video here.

Joy all round really.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kenakalan on its way

Yep. Watch your backs: the wicked monkeys are coming.

The team of Schil and Mil hurtled to the finishing line this week and uploaded all the artwork for Game no3 to the manufacturer. Kenakalan is Indonesian & Malay for Mischief. The subtitle of the game is "Monkey Mischief".

Here is a sneak preview of the box and one of the six player shop front boards.

 Now I can get my life back but I've temporarily forgotten what it consisted of!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I've spent the last hour trying to retrieve this blog from its hijackers. The URL was redirecting to an advertisement site called It turned out it was caused by one of my sidebar widgets called "Show Recent Comments". I've no idea how that got corrupted as it had been there for a couple of years.  I deleted the widget and all was well again.

In other news, am phsycially and mentally exhausted after a long week. Scanned 2,500 ancient slides to earn some dosh and then spent the weekend at Board Games by the Bay playing games and promoting SchilMil Games.

In recent weeks we've had some sucess with promoting Komodo and Raid the Pantry: an audio review on Radio New Zealand, two written reviews (in Australia and the USA), and an order for Komodo from Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand) in Wellington.

We are also making good progress with testing and planning the manufacture of Kenakalan, about which more will be revealed in due course.  Now off to bed for a well-earned and long sleep.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dodgy trucks and shameless promotion

Last Thurday fourteen months of toil, sweat, financial and emotional investment culminated in a truck that threatened to topple over and demolish our neighbours wall! Thanks to some quick reactions and wooden chocks, the truck was stabilised, the contents secured and ferried in many car bootloads into its secure warehouse.

Now I can happily say "The Games Are Here, Come and Get Your Komodos and Pantries".

Shameless promotional videos follow. The online store is live.The hard work now commences.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our creations are sailing closer

Thanks to modern technology, we've been able to track the progress of 'our' cargo ship, across the seas. The Cosco Yingkou is currently in Brisbane and is due in Auckland this Friday. Excitement mounts as our pallets of games get closer.

We've been extremely busy: fine-tuning the online store, seeing potential retailers and blogging from the Komodos' view (letters home to his mum).

All the retailers that we've had face-to-face meetings with so far have placed orders for one or other, or both games, including the gift shop at Auckland Zoo. This makes for a very positive atmosphere around company HQ (aka 'upstairs').  Now we just need to get the shipment through customs and into the warehouse (aka 'the shed').

Monday Julia and I went down to Hamilton for the day for the New Zealand Toy fair. Fairly small I think as these events go but a good learning experience and networking opportunity. Can't help thinking though that we'd be better off spending our money at a trade show in a bigger market, such as Australia or Europe.

Strange to think our creations are on board this ship.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yes Indeed

A crazy weekend ....We took the chance for a half-price trip to Great Barrier Island on the car ferry. It started as a nice trip with blue skies and dolphins skimming alongside us until....we hit open water at the top of the Coromandel. My stomach heaved for the next hour as I locked myself in the loo and retched my way across the channel. I have never been so seasick in my life.

All well once we got there. Scenery beautiful. We walked into the bush for the hot pool in the river experience at Kaitoke, met some weird and wonderful Barrier locals and explored most of the island.

On Sunday I took the chance of a quick flight home (21 mins to North Shore airfield) instead of 5 hours in open water. This was a good move as I got home without upset and in plenty of time for a cuppa and change of clothes before heading to see Yes in concert. John unfortunately missed the show as the ferry was late.

The show was better than expected given that a) I've never seen them live before and b) only three of the band are original members. I was surprised to learn that the lead singer Jon Davison was having his first outing with the band.  I filmed a few clips before I got told off by security. I've strung them together into a 13 minute montage here.