12 Things I Learned at GenCon

edited August 2011 in Story Games
1. All of the people I gamed with are awesome. Not merely good -- awesome.
2. Eating only when hungry works out well, but keep a bit of emergency chow in the bag.
3. Traveling without electronics I know I won't need works out well, and means I can get through security checkpoints faster, and with fewer bins.
4. That said, and with apologies to all, next time I really must bring the wheeled suitcase for the main shopping run. I tried to do without this time, and my knees are still paying for this, as in going up and down stairs hurts them. Today is Monday. My shopping run was Thursday, and ended at 1 pm, when I sent most of the loot home via the friendly UPS booth.
5. The further one gets from the action, even on the same streets, the less crowded the restaurant. Josh and I had no wait to get into Ruth Chris on Friday night during prime dinner hours.
6. About those five hour energy drinks -- there is danged well a crash at the end, and I only had half a bottle. While it did prevent dozing in the middle of a game, I'm going to have to find a different way to do that.
7. Pre-convention research really pays off. I had a focused list of the booths to check out and the things to buy. The online walk through of the Exhibit Hall, even though it was utterly bare bones, using a map, not the actual territory, meant that I knew my way around most areas. I only got lost once, which leads to...
8. Yes, Virginia, it really does take 20-30 minutes to go from the Exhibit Hall to the JW Marriott, at least if one is set on avoiding going outdoors, which I was. (I also allowed 25 minutes for the trip, so I was fine.)
9. Signing up for no or few events (i.e., 3 or fewer) is totally viable, especially if you like impromptu demos. Once you have scheduled events, pick up gaming becomes harder to coordinate. This doesn't mean one shouldn't sign up for events, but it's a trade off.
10. I need to be more focused in my roleplaying. I don't suck, but it's more like tossing a bucket of paint at the target. I generally do hit the target, often really accurately, but I also slosh beyond the target, and I'd like to rein that in.
11. It is harder not to corpse in tabletop than in a larp. In a larp, people generally save the laughter and praise for after the game. In a tabletop, this is not always the case.
12. Simon Rogers of Pelgrane really, really gets good customer service.

Comments

  • Did you buy 'eight things'?

    Were they the same 8 things you expected to buy?
  • edited August 2011
    6. About those five hour energy drinks -- there is danged well a crash at the end, and I only had half a bottle. While it did prevent dozing in the middle of a game, I'm going to have to find a different way to do that.

    On the basis of nothing more than this line, I'm going to speculate that you perhaps have a bit of a vitamin B deficiency. The biggest benefit of the 5 hour energy is the mega doses of B, which can have all kinds of strange effects if you normally don't get sufficient B. I found after about a week of drinking half a bottle daily, my B had leveled off and could cut back to every other day, then one a week...now about 1 a month.

    I suspect you could get the same effect from Vitamin B supplements, but its hard to find liquid vitamin B and the pills are rubish whereas the 5hour Energies are ubiquitous.
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: Valamir... and the pills are rubbish whereas the 5hour Energies are ubiquitous.
    Rubbish, why? (out of pure curiosity)
  • edited August 2011
    On the basis of nothing more than this line, I'm going to speculate that you perhaps have a bit of a vitamin B deficiency.
    That's probably true.
  • I learned that running four games over three days is a lot harder than running two or three games over three days (as I'm used to doing at Strategicon). I basically only had Sunday for exhibit hall walking-through. The rest of my time felt like it was monopolized by the four games I ran. I only played in three games, so seven games total. At Strategicon, I normally do seven games total in three days (running two or three), but then again there's really nothing to do there but run and play games. The shopping is no better than my FLGS (but without the familiar faces behind the counter).

    Next year, assuming I'm going again next year, I'm cutting back on scheduled stuff for sure. I never even found Games On Demand until Sunday afternoon.
  • Posted By: Todd LDid you buy 'eight things'?

    Were they the same 8 things you expected to buy?
    I had a long post on this, and my login expired, so short version:

    I bought rather more than eight things.
    I bought most of the things on my list. Most of the things on my list I didn't buy weren't available.
    I cracked and picked up Burning Wheel Gold. At $25, it's one of the best deals out there.
    I got Amaranthine, which was on my "check it out" list, and I am totally loving it.
    I bought a few things that, ah, weren't exactly on my list.
    I meant every one of my purchases.
  • Posted By: Lisa Padol11. It is harder not to corpse in tabletop than in a larp.
    I have to ask, what does "corpse" mean in this context?
  • Posted By: Mike_OlsonI learned that running four games over three days is a lot harder than running two or three games over three days.
    I hear you.
    I usually book myself solid with games, and still find time to shop, but this year, I had two event tickets. One turned into a refund (GM didn't show, and I'm hoping it wasn't an unexpected crisis-had-to-cancel-vacation situation), and one I returned because it got in the way of other things. I picked up an actual event ticket for Morgan Ellis' "In For A Penny Dreadful", which was a total blast, but everything else I played I did on generics. 4 GoD games, the Kerberos Fate game, the Laundry game I genericed into, the Call of Cthulhu game that only took generics, and the Amaranthine demo, which didn't require a ticket. Hm, except for the Kerberos Fate and CoC games, things ran roughly two hours.
  • Posted By: Lisa PadolI picked up an actual event ticket for Morgan Ellis' "In For A Penny Dreadful", which was a total blast, but everything else I played I did on generics.
    Really glad you got to play FATE Kerberos, and even gladder that you had such a good time. Morgan's a great GM.
  • Posted By: Mike_OlsonMorgan's a great GM.
    He's also a great player! He was the hardholder in an Apocalypse World game I ran and it was so, so fun to watch him try to keep everything from spiraling out of control. At first he was sort of a hapless buffoon, but by mid-session we all got to see who he really was1.

    1 He was a guy who would carve out your eyes if you betrayed him.
  • I learned that:

    - This year's Gen Con was a huge success for many people. Attendance was way up. People had record Thursday / Friday sales.

    - Taking Emergency C every day kept me from getting sick even though I was around a lot of sick people.

    - Taking lozenges, eating apples, and breathing deeply from my stomach kept my voice intact.

    - When you take a lot of risks, you will eventually get burned. I got burned a lot. BUT in every situation I learned quite a bit.

    - Games on Demand is excellent and Gen Con needs it!

    - Indianapolis is full of welcoming people and the food is pretty good if you take the time to explore / research.

    - Gen Con is expensive for non-attendees. You have to pay extra if you want a microphone for your seminar?

    - Gen Con is change. Wizards and White Wolf had a diminished presence. Smaller companies rose up.

    - Wizards of the Coast is strange. They hired a PR company to run their booth (or Hasbro hired them to manage PR for all of Hasbro). The PR staff didn't know much about D&D, most products were behind glass cases, you couldn't buy anything, and they didn't know very basic information (when and where can I buy your new hot products).

    - I love my Gen Con friends.

    - Gen Con seminars, like games, can be hit or miss BUT with seminars, you can easily walk out of one and join another in progress with little effort. I had a great time attending seminars.

    - Paizo continued to dominate.

    - Pelgrane Press is one of the friendliest companies at Gen Con. And their products rock as well.

    - The Mouse Guard Box set is stunning. Everything I wanted (except more dice). Burning Wheel Gold was very deservedly successful.

    - Stealing Cthulhu is a gem. I immediately read it on the trip back home.

    - Clarity is important. I was going to buy 4 copies of Dungeon World for myself and friends but it was unclear if it was an Ashcan, a full game, a starter game, or something else. The book itself may have said what it was but it had a rubber band around it that I didn't want to remove to find out. I know I will eventually buy it (I've already played a few times).

    - Kagematsu is in demand (at least among my circle of friends). But I couldn't find it for sale anywhere.

    - Freemarket is very underrated. It's a brilliant game.

    - Many wonderful, intelligent, caring, sweet people attend Gen Con and it is a pleasure to be in their company.
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: Jason Morningstar
    He's also a great player! He was the hardholder in an Apocalypse World game I ran and it was so, so fun to watch him try to keep everything from spiraling out of control. At first he was sort of a hapless buffoon, but by mid-session we all got to see who he really was1.

    1He was a guy who would carve out your eyes if you betrayed him.
    Oh, absolutely. I only get to play with him a few times a year at the Strategicons in LA, but he always brings it.

    And not to speak for him, but he said that game of AW was the best he'd ever been in. He came back to our room that night and said he'd played AW with Jason Morningstar and Bulldogs! with Brennan Taylor at Games On Demand, and I was like, "Man, I gotta find this room...."
  • Also:

    - I didn't think it was possible for a game to affect me so deeply that I will actually cry! I was wrong. Our Sunday night Unknown Armies game had 4 (out of 7 of us) crying at some point.
  • Posted By: jenskot
    - Kagematsu is in demand (at least among my circle of friends). But I couldn't find it for sale anywhere.
    Kagematsu is where I got all my copies.
    Although it would be nice to see the Pirate Jenny booth return to GenCon.
  • Posted By: Mike_OlsonOh, absolutely. I only get to play with him a few times a year at the Strategicons in LA, but he always brings it.

    And not to speak for him, but he said that game of AW was the best he'd ever been in. He came back to our room that night and said he'd played AW with Jason Morningstar and Bulldogs! with Brennan Taylor at Games On Demand, and I was like, "Man, I gotta find this room...."

    Yeah that was the best Apocalypse World game I've played, I not only understand the game and the world better, but I also approached how I played it differently as well, and everything just kinda clicked. Thanks for running it Jason, I also have to thank Sean and Karen for keeping things spiraling out of control.

    And Mike I can see your confusion, I was very happy to chat away and evangelize the Games on Demand room, but I actually only got to play one game there and it was one I ran. However I was mostly in the Crowne Plaza and the Pennsylvania Station hallway so I often would pop my head into Games on Demand to see what was going on. Brennan Taylor and Bulldogs! was really just the most visible creator running his own game example thanks to his kick ass TransGalaxy Class-D Freighter Captain costume, so I probably mentioned him. I think it was one of the other San Diego guys who actually got to play a Bulldogs! game with him, and that's the source of the confusion. And the AW game was actually an after hours game, but it did get set up while waiting around Games on Demand.

    Morgan.
  • Posted By: Accounting for TastePosted By: Lisa Padol11. It is harder not to corpse in tabletop than in a larp.
    I have to ask, what does "corpse" mean in this context?

    To break character, usually, I gather, by breaking into laughter. There were points where I was laughing so hard that it was painful and the tears were pouring down my face.
  • Posted By: jenskot
    - Indianapolis is full of welcoming people and the food is pretty good if you take the time to explore / research.
    Oh? What did you find?
    - Pelgrane Press is one of the friendliest companies at Gen Con. And their products rock as well.
    Oh yes! Definitely.
  • Posted By: jenskotAlso:

    - I didn't think it was possible for a game to affect me so deeply that I will actually cry! I was wrong. Our Sunday night Unknown Armies game had 4 (out of 7 of us) crying at some point.
    Todd Furler, right?
  • 1. Xenophobia is strangling the hobby.
    2. Gregor Hutton is hilarious.
    3. All the best conversations take place after GenCon ends.
    4. Indy is a terrible place to eat. I'm glad to be back in NYC (Walk to a Korean seafood hot pot place that's open until 2am? Sure!).
    5. It's probably cheaper to rent an apartment downstown during the con and just ship our books/stay there.
    6. Anyone under 18 should be tagged as such and/or not allowed to dress like a prostitute.
    7. Steampunk continues to be a terrible fad.
    8. The Gothsicles never fail to entertain (and the new album is out today so check it out).
    9. It's good to be a free agent at a game con.
    10. BWHQ are magnificent bastards and Jake is probably going to kill one of us in our sleep some day.
    11. My five-minute FreeMarket demo: "OK, ready for some hardcore transhuman SF? We're going to bake a cake."
    12. Gelflings, bitch.
  • Posted By: mcellisAnd Mike I can see your confusion, I was very happy to chat away and evangelize the Games on Demand room, but I actually only got to play one game there and it was one I ran. However I was mostly in the Crowne Plaza and the Pennsylvania Station hallway so I often would pop my head into Games on Demand to see what was going on.

    Morgan.
    I was in the same boat. I ran one game Thursday evening and never managed to hook up at the right time or right GMs to play later. It was still fun drop by and spell the guys at the table for a moment so they could grab a bite or take a break and evangelize these cool games.

    I'm specifically sorry about the mix up that effected you on Thursday evening. My typing skills on a phone are not what they should be. B-)
  • Posted By: Jared A. Sorensen1. Xenophobia is strangling the hobby.
    Explain!
    Posted By: Jared A. Sorensen5. It's probably cheaper to rent an apartment downstown during the con and just ship our books/stay there.
    Jerry Greyson and I did this last year: There are folks opening their houses as timeshares. The house was pimping and only 2 miles away from the con. But, that means that materials still have to be driven from house to con. Also - and I was surprised on this point - if I'm "on" for that many hours a day/night, I need to crash for an hour in the afternoon: Usually a 30 min nap with padding on either end just to chill. At a remote apartment/house further than a few blocks away that becomes impossible unless you have a friend that will lend you her room.
    There's good and bad there, mostly good tho.
    Posted By: jenskot- When you take a lot of risks, you will eventually get burned. I got burned a lot. BUT in every situation I learned quite a bit.
    So, did you have any incidents as interesting as the Infamous Pickle Juice Guy from 2007?
    Search for "Pickle".

    -Andy
  • Posted By: Lisa PadolPosted By: jenskotAlso:

    - I didn't think it was possible for a game to affect me so deeply that I will actually cry! I was wrong. Our Sunday night Unknown Armies game had 4 (out of 7 of us) crying at some point.
    Todd Furler, right?

    Yes!
  • Posted By: AndyPosted By: jenskot- When you take a lot of risks, you will eventually get burned. I got burned a lot. BUT in every situation I learned quite a bit.
    So, did you have any incidents as interesting as theInfamous Pickle Juice Guyfrom 2007?

    That's hard to say but I'm tempted to say yes! Although less on the amusing front and more on the "this is sad" front.

    A few I feel uncomfortable talking about online as to not hurt anyone's feelings (no one who posts here).

    Let's just say, for now, that some of my gaming experiences felt more like parodies of stereotypes rather than real life.
  • 1) I saved a lot of money and time skipping the sit-down restaurants and picking up food at stands only when hunger took me.
    2) My gencon posse, after two years of my absence, is still awesome. Possibly even more awesome.
    3) Judging by the size of crowds, the dealers HAVE to be doing better than when I was last at GenCon in 08.
    4) My daughter, despite my fears she is not enough into gaming to enjoy GenCon, loved it and demanded more games next time.
    5) Though official games are less likely to be a blast than off-grid games with the Circvs posse, I have much more to bring the official games.
    6) I need to learn to be a bit less cautious in purchases. I still regret not grabbing Ashen Stars while I was there.
    7) I still have my FATE Mojo. My FATE Rocket Corps game drew applause and eager hopes that I would run it again next year.
    8) I need to list my games earlier.
    8a) Which means decide what I want to run earlier.
    9) Old School Hack (and variants) is fun
    10) Packing washer-based counters in your suitcase is apparently an open invitation to the TSA to mess up the contents of said suitcase. I opened my suitcase to find counters, Alea adhesive pads, and paper clips all over my suitcase.
    11) The innate friendliness and happiness of the gaming world at gencon is so much different than the nastiness of the online gaming world I can scarcely reconcile them.
    12) By two indicators I came upon at on en route from GenCon, D&D 4e dosn't seem to be doing so hot.
    13) Next year I MUST do housing registration first day. Staying at the Sheraton is too far.
  • edited August 2011
    Posted By: mcellis
    I think it was one of the other San Diego guys who actually got to play a Bulldogs! game with him, and that's the source of the confusion. And the AW game was actually an after hours game, but it did get set up while waiting around Games on Demand.

    Morgan.
    I was the San Diego guy that got to play Bulldogs with Brennan :) I've been wanting to play games with the creators for awhile and have been trying for that last 3 years and this is the first year that it happened (with the exception of the short game of Ganokagok with Bill last year).

    I haunted Game on Demand Friday evening, most of Saturday and a little Sunday afternoon with plans to possibly run something (I had Technoir, Fiasco, and Fate Kerberos ready) and mostly just wanted to play as soon as a cool new game got posted. I did run Fiasco Sunday afternoon a GoD and having been self taught found out I was doing something things wrong. So, awesome that I now know how to run Fiasco correctly.

    Few things I learned:

    1. If your interested in popular places like the Stake-n-Shake or the Ram they are almost empty during off hours. Managed to get into the Ram bar area with no wait around 4 on Friday.

    2. Non-scheduled games are a lot more fun than scheduled game (for me).

    3. Even when you say "I'm just going to buy PDFs from now on" there is no resisting the dealers room.

    4. Packing a snack and mint is extremely helpful.

    5. Dungeon crawls can be fun with the right game.
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