GenCon – Part 3 (Thursday Morning, 8/13/2009)

Warning: Lots of name dropping in this post. It is absolutely done to make me look and feel important. The sake of clarity has also been given minor consideration.

Twitter was still down (read: Twitterific was being a piece and I didn’t feel like banging on it) so we’re getting into hard-to-remember-and-sporadically-accounted-for time here. By the evening I was tweeting like a bandit so it should be better then.

The Line of Death!

Zach was up and out before I had even hopped in the shower. Some ridiculous thing like an 8AM game to get into. Justin and myself rolled out around 10:00 to hit the dealers room, expecting crowds but not insane lines. This is what we found:

My first reaction was “oh crap” but then I asked someone in line and it turned out the weren’t waiting to get into the dealers room, but to buy badges. After we passed by them and made it right into the dealers room the sentiment changed to “suckers!” filled will frivolity and mirth.

Dealers room action.

First stop seemed to be a booth babe. I’m not sure how this happened but Justin was already getting his ass kicked at Ro Sham Bo (more pictures of that over here: http://mrboy.livejournal.com/51302.html)

Catalyst Labs: Merchant, Adam Jury and Shadowrun. Oh my!

We meandered to the Catalyst Labs booth, which was pretty awesome all by itself. A lovely young lady (I didn’t catch her name) was demoing “Merchant” a game that hasn’t been released yet. The game was clearly a promo (labels stuck to normal playing cards rather than printed) but was one of the better games I saw at the con. I would have picked it up if it was done.

Basic premise. There are six possible markets that might buy fur, cotton, indigo, and other commodities. Goal is to get the right commodities on your ships and then sell them while still it is most beneficial to you and least to your opponents. The game has and interesting back and forth strategy that encourages you to have different goods when you’re selling (so that only you get the money) but the same goods when other players are selling (so you get a piece of their action). This means copying someone won’t work but neither will doing the opposite of them. I really liked it.

After that we met Adam Jury (thanks to the Mohawk it was easy to find him). Very cool guy. We talked a little about Eclipse Phase (apparently sold out within minutes of the Dealer Room opening), game production in general and the Shadowrun anniversary edition. I had seen it before at EndGame but I must say that is one beautiful book.

Getting Indie with it.

Much meandering followed (including a stop a Game Crafters who look like a great place to prototype games, though probably too expensive for actual production) until we settled on the IPR booth.

That is when I knew I had arrived at Mecca. Within about a 20’ radius I met Brennan Taylor (owner of IPR, author of Mortal Coil and How We Came to Live Here), Paul Tevis (Have Games Will Travel and author of Penny for My Thoughts), Joe McDonald (author of Ribbon Drive and Perfect), and John Wick (the list is too long and if you don’t know the games he’s made, I question why you’re reading my journal). So, yeah, I got to bask in an utter fanboy couple of moments.

From the sounds of it Paul got two KILLER ideas for Penny. The first is NDA NDA NDA NDA. And the second is even better because it capitalizes on the memory triggers using NDA NDA. Does Paul actually care if I spread the ideas around? I’m not sure, but I think it is good form to let him announce them in his own time. Suffice to say, I had a blast talking with him about the game and about Gen Con.

John is the kind of guy that makes me want to make games because a) he loves his games. He loves making them, he loves talking about them and he loves playing them. B) He is totally encouraging of other people to do the same. If Luke Crane has a Game Design Inspiration spell cast on him, John Wick glows with Game Design Inspiration, 10’ Radius. We talked about some of his new projects Shotgun Diaries (handmade game that I brought home, as much an artifact as it is a game), his Cthulhu adventures (apparently real heartbreakers) and the HotBlooded LARP. I also picked up My Monster as another game to play with the kids.

Conceptual Game Design Panel

I was chilling at the Burning Wheel booth with Thor Olavsrud and Alexander Newman (who demonstrated ACTION CASTLE for us, for our enjoyment and death) when Jared Sorensen popped in and said he was heading to do a panel with Luke Crane on conceptual game design. My spidy-sense when off and told me I should be at this panel.

As it turns out, I was right and wrong. The panel was great. Jared and Luke introduced their three questions (What is your game about? How does it do that? What behaviors does your game reward?). I had heard those questions several times and seen people answer them, but it was cool to see Jared and Luke hash it out using the age old example of D. The wrong part for me was not mind controlling them into picking me for my game concept. As is someone came up with a Greek Heroes game that sounded a awful lot like Dungeons and Dragons where reputation replaces level. The guys gave some good advice, specifically taking some of the cultural baggage attached to Greek Mythology and attaching that to the game in a mechanical fashion (gaining favor or enmity of the gods for example). It was a good round of questioning I was just bummed that I had to leave (for True Dungeon) and wasn’t able to pitch 15 minutes. In retrospect I think I’ll try and contact them and pitch the idea online and see if they are down for putting it through the questions.

Next post… Thursday afternoon starting with True Dungeon.