My game Thornwood: School of Magics got accepted into the PAX Australia Collaboratory which is a cool initiative where they provide a space and some advertisement for playtesting your in development games and give you a couple of 3 day passes to the convention for the trouble.
So now I'm thinking about how best to present my game in a convention type environment. I've got two lots of four hours to run the game, and ideally i'd run two 2 hour sessions each day.
I know some general advice, but I feel like some of it conflicts a bit with my game. For example having premade characters for the players is often the way to go, but part of my character creation process is a way for the players to express what sorts of play they are interested in and what struggles they'd like their characters to face. I find this usually gives me a lot to latch onto when I'm running the game, and its a great way to get consent ahead of time for things that come up in the game. I'm thinking I might prep most of the characters beforehand (its a very simple process anyway) but still leave room for one or two of those choices.
Another thing I'm worried about is how on rails to make it. The game is designed to be a bit of a sandbox where you get to live out life at a magical school and learn spells / make friends etc. with an extended mystery running in the background that comes to a climax near the end of a school year if not solved before then. This kind of longterm sandboxy play might not be the best way to present the game? On the other hand, giving people a taste of the possibilities and making it kind of a taste test session rather than a full scenario with a beginning middle and end might be exciting and tantalising (I've run a few sessions that were like this and they went pretty well, nothing completely wild happened, there certainly wasn't a beginning middle and end, but there were lots of fun vignettes and the players really drove the experience with their choices)
Should I try to present a short contained mystery perhaps? I could probably make that work within the confines of the game. Or should I make the game essentially a teaser, playing the game how it would be played normally and showing how it works and how fun it can be without trying to make it one contained experience.
Am I just getting caught up in thinking my game is Super Special(tm) and need to just take the conventional (haha) convention game advice on board?
Do you have any advice for me for running a convention game? Especially one that might not be suited to a traditional oneshot experience?
P.S. Feel free to reach out if you're heading to PAX Aus as well!