[Gen Con Awesome] Well, look who came craaawling back. . .

edited August 2009 in Meetups / Conventions
Well, good MORNING! Do you have ANY idea what time it is? No, no, don't worry, you didn't wake us. We've been sitting up. Oh, I'm sorry, is YOUR HEAD KILLING YOU RIGHT NOW? Should we try to SPEAK SOFTER? SO sorry.

So, was it worth it? Was it worth worrying your mother and I out of 10 years' life between us? Well, what do you have to say for yourself? What was SO awesome?

Comments

  • I fell asleep before my plane took off out of Indianapolis. I don't remember taking off. I did wake up briefly at about 20,000 feet but quickly passed out again. I woke up shortly before landing. I didn't have a direct flight. I slept through most of my second leg, too. Then I went home and napped with my wife for a couple hours. Today, I am still tired. <=)

    It was worth it! I met many new people and had a great time. I made at least one meaningful new connection (with Matt Webber, who is awesome). I ran many games ON DEMAND. I reconnected, however briefly, with people I already know and adore.

    Awesomest moments for me, in no particular order:

    * Sushi with Matt
    * Running three indie game demos in two hours at GoD
    * Helping Emily figure out Epi's camera and laughing hysterically
    * Getting people jazzed about indie games and then hearing they went and bought the games
    * Gossip and venting about community bullshit with trusted friends

    Sadnesses:

    * I didn't play a single demo at any of the indie booths this year!
    * Being too tired to keep doing awesome things at Embassy Suites
    * Not being able to tell people where to buy My Life with Master at con
    * Carrying ~30 pounds of books between the Embassy Suites and the Omni every day (I said fuck it and took a $5 cab)
    * Seeing everyone get evacuated from the convention center when the fire alarms went off
  • 30 pounds of books?
    What did you carry, the whole Exalted line?
  • Rules, prep notes and print-outs, and materials for ten games. That includes a PHB and DMG for 4E. And dice, poker chips, glass beads, paper, pencils and markers, notecards, sticky notes... it's all surprisingly heavy.
  • I'm still in Indianapolis, waiting for my flight out. I have a cold and and am woozy. (I had to pass on all of last night's post-con festivities. I lounged in bed for three hours, and then slept for 10 in an effort to hit my real life running tomorrow morning.)

    Delights of the convention:

    Bumping into old friends I had lost contact with: Mike Nystul, Jordan Weisman, Bill Slavicsek, Mark Nau, and others.

    Meeting all sorts of folks I'd communicated with online but had never met before. If I spoke to you, you know who you are.

    A terrific conversation with Paul Czege about the new game he's working on that found us wandering in a large winding loop from one end of the convention hall to the other and back again

    A terrific conversation with Jake Norwood about the nature of ethical sociopaths and the difference between corporate management techniques and Army management techniques that started at the convention center, continued as we walked to a bar, then continued as we walked to the Embassy Suites, then continued as we walked back to his hotel to pick up his copy of Riddle of Steel, then continued as we as walked back to the Embassy Suites and finally ending when we settled down to play a game.

    Playing Gregor Hutton's 316 AD -- with Gregor Hutton running the game. And, in general, shooting the shit with Gregor Hutton. A great guy. And he wears plaid shirts and camouflage shorts, so he's like a walking tab of LSD. Gregor's descriptions of the grit and grime and pissin' rain of Scotland will stay with me a long time. The game was great, with lots of fun folks... but I have to say that the head-butting between Brennan Taylor's lazy, cowardly commander and my stern, reliable legionnaire was a highlight of gaming for me. It climaxed in Brennan's character finally stepping up to the plate at the last second in the last battle -- just as I decided to try to frag him with a well place spear toss... Great stuff. I think the game is a terrific piece of work.

    Playing Riddle of Steel with Jake Norwood running the game. I'd read it, but never had a chance to play it before. A real treat with, again, great players. And derived stats! It was like stepping into a mass done in Latin. The combat system really is as intriguing as every said. And, specifically for me, really nailed down the moment-by-moment color of the fights. I had to leave early because of an early breakfast meeting, but I had a blast.

    Having Luke Crane come up to me the morning after the Riddle of Steel game and say, "So. I heard you fled that Riddle of Steel game like a little girl."

    The demo I played of Kagematsu with the game's designer, Danielle Lewon. played a very innocent girl in the demo, who explained her love of a tapestry to Danielle's wandering samurai. I found myself touched by the innocent girl's innocence -- she was so sweet! -- no the type of character I usually play. A terrific bit of design using simple mechanics that evoke strong emotions.

    Helping to sell a copy of Mouse Guard when I was hanging out at the Burning Wheel booth.

    Running the Sorcerer Boot Camps at The Forge booth. I had two types of participants: those who hadn't played before, and those who had "but things really didn't work out." It was the second type that I enjoyed the most. I'd lay out how the GM sets up the game, runs character creation, and then play. Their eyes would light up and they'd go.... "Ohhhhhhhhhh!"

    Jordan Weisman walking me around the booth of Arcane Legions, his new miniatures game, and handing me a starter pack, the Roman and Egyptian calvary packs and and the Roman and Egyptian infantry packs to give to my nephews. I had told him that Ben and Graham love Heroscape and he said, "Oh, this game is going to blow Heroscape out of the water. Here, let's set your nephews up." (Sweet, right?) To his credit, the game is really cool. Jordan's game design has only been getting more specific and more elegant over the years. As Jordan said to me, "Look, when we buy a miniatures game, we buy it because we want LOTS of armies sweeping toward each other -- but the mechanics of most games make those battles too annoying to play." He's created a sweet miniatures game of epic battle with mechanics that make the miniatures and their unit bases part of the hit points and attack/defense mechanics. I highly recommend checking it out.

    Finding people who love the show DEXTER as much as I do.

    Sitting down at the IPR booth's table and having a guy who had just published his first game give me the run-down. It was just awesome remembering that feeling -- but being on the other side.

    A great conversation with Emily Care Boss about games, fiction and the value of boredom. (I said, "Boredom is good, because it prompts players to step up the game with more fiction." I'm not sure if Emily agrees with me, but it crystalized something I'd been thinking about for a while.)

    Getting a good night's sleep last night.
  • I enjoyed a lot and missed a lot. Specifically, because his posting this pinged me, I hate not having spent more time with Adam.

    I'm also still in Indy, waiting in the lobby of my hotel for my 6:44 pm flight.
  • Jake Norwood was there??

    And you played Riddle of Steel with him!!

    Damn you Kubasik! Damn you!

    I got the opportunity to meet Jake when he was still living in Utah, when I was still in the National Guard, and he was still a civilian. We didn't have enough time to play Riddle though. I'd really like to get back in touch with him, see how he's doin'.

    ...the other stuff was cool, too.
  • I got to play My Life With Master with Adam as the Master and Adam's friend Nikki and Phil Walton as my fellow minions. The trick to that game, I think, is a willingness to be emotionally demonstrative if not emotionally vulnerable; I wish I'd twigged to that sooner. There's an interesting structural parallel between MLWM and Ganakagok in the rotating spotlight on PCs, which in the former emphasizes the distance between the characters but in the latter highlights their connectedness.

    Speaking of Ganakagok, one awesome thing was running it at the Embassy Suites for Simon Rogers, Tony L-B, Steve "gbsteve" Dempsey, Brennan Taylor, and Anna Kreider. There were some really excellent moments in the fiction, which culminated in a titanic battle with the Father of Walruses in which Anna's warmongering zealot perished as the ice upon which they battled shattered beneath the weight of the monstrous creature, and Tony's crazed and lovelorn madwoman drowned swimming out to help Brennan's oathbound hunter. It was a nice climax to a fun game.

    I saw Tony running a ton of Misery Bubblegum, and got him to do his demo for me. It's really cool. I particularly enjoyed the cards that let you offer a pointed choice to a character to which they must pick one or the other or flee; I used that trick Sunday morning to challenge a Ganakagok player's shy apprentice shaman: the People were placating the bloated animals of the island with their own food, and it wasn't enough. So the animals demanded human flesh. When the head shaman refused, the animals killed and ate him, and then turned to the shy apprentice. "Do you accede to their demands?" I asked the player (who was having a tough time coming up with something) "Or do you refuse?" The player hesitated, and I remembered Tony's trick: "Or you could run away." The player--whose name was Dylan--seized on that. "That's what I do." And from there the rest of the game spun out. It was sweet.
  • Aw, you guys, that doesn't sound so. . .well, OK, that sounds pretty awesome. :)

    Just ask next time you borrow the keys, OK?
  • I feel better rested and more focused right now than I have in months.
  • Bill's game of Ganakagok certainly was a highlight for me. Somehow, even though I was exhausted by Sunday, Gen Con was still to short. So many people and so little time for each of them!
  • Posted By: tony dowlerI feel better rested and more focused right now than I have in months.
    While sometimes I lament the amount of money spent simply to BE at GenCon, I can't help but to remember that in the weeks following GC I'm usually in a euphoric haze, in sort of that "I'm still in college and I just got a new girlfriend" high.

    -Andy
  • edited August 2009
    Cool, guys. The main things that stand out as awesome to me in my black, jealous heart:

    Forging meaningful friendships, conversation with Paul Czege, AD 316 by Gregor Hutton, Scotland tutorial by Gregor Hutton, Sorceror boot camp (MAN, I need one a those!), the first-published-game feeling, Misery Bubblegum (OMG YES!), rest and focus, and post-con euphoria.

    Telling me more about any of those things would be totally cool.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • edited August 2009
    Awesomest moments for me, in no particular order:

    * Best game I played, hands down: Misery Bubblegum.
    * Grabbing everyone I could and making them go to IPR and buying Misery Bubblegum.
    * New Noodle place!
    * Pirate Jenny and Design Matters booth kicked my ass!
    * Hanging out at Games on Demand (which I think was a huge success this year).
    * Making many new friends.
    * Being surrounded by so many creative people.
    * Kagematsu selling out!
    * The Atomic Array and This Just In From Gencon almost live podcasts.
    * So many of my friends being recognized and being successful. Big shout out to Eppy!
    * Eating, drinking, and socializing with people more than gaming. Too many people to name. But you are all the reason I come to these conventions.
    * I didn’t realize Keith Senkowski, Alexander, and Brennan were going to be at Gencon. It was great seeing them!
    * Luke Crane going back through his list of "making games" and inserting the word "love" after designing and before publishing.
    * Jared’s Action Castle!!!!!!!!!
    * All of Jared and Luke’s seminars. Strangely they went from “we kick your ass” to “we give you lots of hugs”.
    * Playtesting Kevin’s new game.
    * Amy’s Empire of Dust looks fabulous!
    * Meeting over 8+ new people at Gencon that live in NYC! Some who have used nerdnyc to find their gaming groups and I have never heard of them!
    * Running Dogs in the Vineyard and Mouse Guard for people at Paizo and Wizards. I was bombarded with questions about the indie scene. And they kept coming back to me with games they bought from IPR… run… now! I did feel a bit like a dancing monkey!
    * Phil and I took turns roleplaying as Robin Laws to perfect my pitch for Monkey Dome.
    * The costume contest was grand. Our friend dressed up as the Lady of Pain!
    * Terrorworks was super fun. I would do it again next year. It was a LARP where you ran around shooting mutant monsters with airsoft pellet guns.
    * Winning Paizo’s Dungeon Delve!
    * The Rio Grande room was top notch. No hard sell. Plenty of games and space to play. Free food!
    * The Fantasy Flight, EA, and Bioware booths were loud and exciting!
    * Battlepods!
    * Met Brendan who owns a candy store in Texas run by carnies! And he GMed a bad ass Call of Cthulhu game with some of better looking handouts I’ve seen in a while.
    * This is the first Gencon after my sleep apnea was fixed. I was so full of energy I stayed up till 3-5am every night!

    Sadnesses:

    * I spent barely any time at the Embassy Suites. I feel like I missed out big time.
    * I didn’t see Paul Czege once! I only saw Ron once. And apparently I was standing twice next to Joe McDonald and didn’t realize who he was. Rahr!
    * I didn't play any demos.
    * We tried getting people to play Marvel Superheroes and there was definitely a strong anti old game vibe we received from many of the people we approached. At least 4 people had a “no way, you still play that” reaction.
    * Seeing Quickstart rules for large published non free games win best free game at the ENnies. Very lame. I talk to several people behind the scenes and there is a good chance this will not happen next year.
    * I like Dominion but I was sad to see it win the Dianna Awards. We played it a few times and figured out enough chain combos that someone’s turn would go on and on and on.
    * I played with a lot of disruptive players. We usually stick to the indie and cthulhu scenes where the ratio of disruptive players in the past has been low to non existent.
    * Leaving early on Sunday. We missed so many dinners and parties, I was bummed on the way home.
  • Posted By: jenskot* Running Dogs in the Vineyard and Mouse Guard for people at Paizo and Wizards. I was bombarded with questions about the indie scene. And they kept coming back to me with games they bought from IPR… run… now! I did feel a bit like a dancing monkey!
    WIN.
  • Hey, so... if you are on Gencon-contact-high and don't want to upset that, skip my post and any engagement with it.
    I was disappointed by Gencon. There was good, but not enough good to make the trip worthwhile.

    What was good:
    I got to forge really good relationships with the people at Design Matters (Nathan, Kevin, Eppy, Amy, Gregor) and re-connect with some additional people I think are cool (Ron Edwards, Paul Czege, Paul Tevis, Danielle, Emily C-B, Brennan, Tony L-B, Alexander Newman).
    I got to meet some cool new folks (Anna Kreider, Dro, Mick...on second thought, I'm not going to list them).
    I got to pass out review copies of Ribbon Drive to Robin Laws (who posted a shout-out that same evening) and to Ken Hite, as well as put some in the hands of Eero and IPR.
    I got to learn how to work in a relaxed, come-to-us, low-pressure environment (ie, Design Matters).
    I got to play Misery Bubblegum.

    The rest of the stuff that was good (seeing Ryan Macklin, Zach Greenvoss, Tony Dowler, meeting Zach's friends, playing the game of Shock: with Zach and his friends, playing Ribbon Drive with the same crew, being away from home and having the road trip experience) I could have easily done without Gencon there. I could have invested that same budget in catching a bus to Seattle and Portland, and it would have been better. I would have had fewer costs, less travel time, more comfort, better food options, less heat, more sleep and fewer annoying people to weed out to get to the good ones. So, I'm going to just go ahead and acknowledge that these particular "high points" would have happened without Gencon.

    So, what was bad:
    1.) Indianapolis smells like urine and is muggy and I don't ever want to go outside.
    1b.) Simultaneously, I hate spending whole days inside without a breath of fresh air.
    2.) I searched extensively for fruits and vegetables. There's no grocery store in the downtown core, according to hotel staff and my own investigations. You can buy bananas at Einstein's Bagels, but that's it for fruit (except for buying small bottles of juice, usually at a $2-4 price point). I managed to order a grand total of three meals with any real vegetables: one had rotten lettuce in the salad (no lie), one cost me $17 for a salad with chicken in it (Palamino's, and obviously I don't want to pay that much for some greens), and one was a cheap, good salad (Omni-Severen's hotel coffee shop has good, cheap salads!). Note that all of the vegetables I ate were in simple salads - that was all I could find.
    3.) My hotel and travel costs were really high.
    4.) I was delayed in the Indy airport for 2 hours flying out, and subsequently missed my connecting flight and spent the next 24 hours in the Chicago airport on standby with hundreds (literally) of other displaced travellers.
    5.) I managed to get in a grand total of 5 games over 4 days. 3 were good, and of those 3, 2 were with Portland folks. I didn't go primarily for play, but nevertheless I felt let down by how inaccessible play was. Games on Demand was a huge hike for something that might or might not pay off. Having to buy and use tickets for everything was yet another expense when I was strapped for cash already.
    6.) This is a super expensive convention. The combination of badge + generic/event tickets is super price-y, it's in the most costly season for travel and hotels, there's nowhere to buy groceries, booths are expensive, food is overpriced.
    7.) I don't feel like Gencon is "my people". I feel like certain localized parts of Gencon are "my people" (booths: Design Matters, Pirate Jenny, The Forge, IPR; gaming: Games on Demand, Embassy Suites), but there's a lot of weeding out to find them. I don't get a sense of community from the place, which is a big part of what I look to cons for. I didn't feel like talking to the average person who I bumped into or stood in line with. I didn't want the average person to talk to me.
    8.) I felt exhausted throughout. As already mentioned, the heat and lack of nutritious food was an issue that probably contributed to this. Also, 4 day length.
    9.) People who weren't there that I would have liked to see again or meet: Meg Baker, Vincent Baker, John Harper, Jason Morningstar, Clinton R. Nixon, Remi Treuer, Shreyas Sampat, Elizabeth Shoemaker, Malcolm Craig, Joshua Newman, Judd, Fred Hicks, Rob Donahue, Ben Lehman, Andy K, Guy Shalev. In short: a lot of the people that come to mind when I think "story games" weren't there, and this was a sad thing.

    In short: Everyone should know that Go Play NW is the best convention I've ever seen, it runs in late June, is in the gorgeous Seattle, has a great community feel, is a great size (~40-80), and costs $40 (with no need for "event tickets"). Gamestorm is a cool convention at the end of March in Portland (well, just outside), has lots of variety, a good sized indie contingent (~40 people, maybe up to 100?), has a small dealer hall that gets some traffic, and is tons of fun. I invite you all to those, because I want to see you but don't know that Gencon will be worth the investment again.
  • Joe,

    You're describing more-or-less my exact feelings upon my first Gen Con. Once I changed what I expected from the con I had a lot more fun at it. This is not to say you have to.
  • Cool, Rob.

    My first Gencon was a pretty awesome experience. I feel like this Gencon failed to live up to some of my memories.
    That said, I'm not ruling out expectation clash as part of what happened.

    The good can be summed up as: networking with people and forging new connections surrounding publishing and design.
    The bad can be summed up as: being trapped in an ugly, sweaty, inaccessible city without good food, clean water or a useful map.
  • Posted By: John HarperPosted By: jenskot* Running Dogs in the Vineyard and Mouse Guard for people at Paizo and Wizards. I was bombarded with questions about the indie scene. And they kept coming back to me with games they bought from IPR… run… now! I did feel a bit like a dancing monkey!
    WIN.

    Even bigger win: I was at the Wizards of the Coast Extravaganza panel (the second one). They talked about a new book called the PLayer Strategy Guide, how it would have all this stuff on making a good character, filling a role, etc. So I asked "what about making a good character to roleplay, not just stats." One of the lead designers (Wyatt?) said "Oh yeah, there'll be stuff on that. Both the DMG 2 and Player Strategy Guide will have stuff on player narrative control. We love lots of those indie games that share the narrative, we like that."

    Now it sounds like this is like 2 pages and a sidebar, and mostly in somewhat limited context, but hey: D&D is interested in having shared narrative.
  • Posted By: sagePosted By: John HarperPosted By: jenskot* Running Dogs in the Vineyard and Mouse Guard for people at Paizo and Wizards. I was bombarded with questions about the indie scene. And they kept coming back to me with games they bought from IPR… run… now! I did feel a bit like a dancing monkey!
    WIN.

    Even bigger win: I was at the Wizards of the Coast Extravaganza panel (the second one). They talked about a new book called the PLayer Strategy Guide, how it would have all this stuff on making a good character, filling a role, etc. So I asked "what about making a good character to roleplay, not just stats." One of the lead designers (Wyatt?) said "Oh yeah, there'll be stuff on that. Both the DMG 2 and Player Strategy Guide will have stuff onplayer narrative control. We love lots of those indie games that share the narrative, we like that."

    Now it sounds like this is like 2 pages and a sidebar, and mostly in somewhat limited context, but hey: D&D is interested in having shared narrative.

    Player Strategy Guide is going to have guest cover art by Gabe from Penny Arcade, which I thought was neat and will probably look super kick-ass. On top of that, I wonder who, at Wizards, is getting infected with this indie design stuff. That's really exciting, even if it goes nowhere.
  • Posted By: jenskot* Phil and I took turns roleplaying as Robin Laws to perfect my pitch for Monkey Dome.
    I think we came up with a new RPG while we did that: Pitch Your Game! My favorite moment was when I held your game as if it was soaked in some horrible substance and - in response - you threatened to choke me into unconsciousness.
  • I love you!
Sign In or Register to comment.