Game Boy 008 – Terrace

“Game Boy” is a weekly column in which I write about being a game developer working in Montreal. You’ll find them all under this category, and it starts here.

I’ve now worked at Ubisoft Montréal for just over two years — my first day on the job was February 15, 2016, which is an easy date to remember since it was exactly a year before the release of the game I was hired to work on, For Honor (which released on the heart-filled February 14, 2017).

I quite enjoy working at the studio. After my first year on production, I moved over to a service team, which has also been a great experience — and it gives me a chance to work alongside a great many of our game projects, both in and out of Montreal. But the studio itself is also quite an interesting place to work in. Up until January of this year, I was working in the studio’s “main” building (yes, the studio is so big that it covers a collection of spaces in the Mile End neighborhood), called Peck. In January, our team moved over to one of the floors in a 12-story building on De Gaspé avenue.

One of my favorite things in this new space — apart from the great view we have of the city since we’re on the 12th floor — is the big open area that’s located near the location of my desk (and pictured above). With all those giant tables (and there’s another even larger one that you can’t see, in the foreground, along with a comfy couch and chairs), it’s just perfect for us to play various card games and board games either at lunch time or after work. I run a Magic: The Gathering league inside our team, and so most lunch times we’re using those long tables to play our matches. We also play other card games, as well as board games, like Gloomhaven, which I organize on a mostly weekly schedule. But I’m lucky not just for the nice space we’re afforded to play in, but also for the fact that I have so many colleagues I can convince to play with me — which I guess is not incredibly surprising when you consider that we work at a game studio.

But going back to Peck, the best feature of that 5-story building is the rooftop terrace. It’s open all summer (or rather from late spring to late fall), and on top of being a nice place to go hang out or to eat your lunch outside, the studio often organizes happy hours there — and for some of them, you can even bring a friend or family member along.

The reason I bring this up is because this week it was time for the annual winter happy hour, when they open the terrace for one special drink-up in the cold and snow. This was my third one, and although it was still pleasant — and I downed quite a few mugs of hot cider — I was a bit saddened by the lack of snow this year, although 0 degrees Celsius was definitely more agreeable than the -20 we got last year.

Oink Games


I’ve been on a card/board game kick of late — my wife suggested she’d like to play some with me, and so I went out and picked up a few things that I thought might be good for us to play (Hanabi, Sushi Go, The Hobbit Card Game, Mr. Jack Pocket, Art of War — I used to have a rather large collection back in Tokyo, but I sold it all to friends when I left, only keeping my two editions of Love Letter).

One thing I never paid much attention to while I was in Japan were card games made by Japanese designers (well, not counting games that have been published in the west, like the aforementioned Love Letter). Last week I posted about indie publisher Manifest Destiny, and as my wife was looking for info on games online, she pointed out all the lovely card games of Oink Games (they’ve also produced a few iOS games). Most if not all of their games seem to be pretty import friendly, as the card themselves don’t have any text on them, and so it’s just a matter of finding the rules in English.

Manifest Destiny


I love board games and card games, and strangely enough I’d never heard of Manifest Destiny, a Japanese indie publisher that makes tons of card games, most of them designed by a person who goes by the name Kuro (real name Yasushi Kuroda). A lot of them seem to have English releases (or are multilingual, with English PDFs you can download from their site), and the one you see pictured, Garden of Minions (a solitary game) is getting good buzz at SPIEL 2016.


It’s no secret that I love board games, and so when I first heard about this game – when it was going through its Kickstarter campaign – I was pretty excited about what it was promising: a beautiful digital board game experience that marries the best of physical board games and digital games. It came out today on Steam in “Early Access” form, and so I’ve only had a bit of time to play it so far, but I’m already having a really good time with it, even though I still don’t get yet how I should be approaching things (in terms of strategy). They really have done a fantastic job with the art, and I could really see this coming out as a beautiful physical board game as well. The one thing I will say is that this is something that I would really love to be able to play on iPad – but that’s just me being selfish, because I don’t tend to play games on my laptop much. I hear that it also really shines when playing in multiplayer (I’ve just played offline for now, to learn the game), so I’m looking forward to playing some matches with friends.


I bought the iOS version of this very popular board game a few months ago, but for some reason just never got around to playing it. One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that although I am happy to see so many physical board games get translated to iOS, I also don’t end up enjoying playing these games on mobile like I do on an actual physical board, with my friends beside me. For me, board gaming is as much a social thing as it is a game playing thing, and so it’s just not the kind of thing that I really want to be doing on mobile, alone. But I did give this a spin the other day, and I did have fun. The best thing to come out of these digital versions is that it’s usually a great way to learn how to play the game (instead of having to read through an instructional manual), and since they tend to be pretty cheap, it’s a good way to sample a game, before you decide whether you want to spend the $50+ on the physical version.