Thursday, August 13, 2009

GenCon Running Liveblog: Day 1

Hello, and Greetings from Gen Con Indy! We'll be updating with news and pics through the day! You're welcome to comment and request coverage of various products and booths--after all, this is for you!

Check back throughout the day as this article is updated. You can also follow RPG Blog 2's updates on theRPGsite (caution: contains some strong language) and Twitter. Enjoy!

(Follow links for photos)

We were up early. We ended up waking up at 0500 and heading downtown to the convention. After waiting all year, there's simply no tolerance for waiting a minute longer. We wanted to be there, even if it's hanging out around the exhibit hall.

There's such a thrill, coming in the the convention center! Gen Con! As always, I kissed the ground of Gen Con in thanksgiving. I try to pick a clean spot, but no there's guarantees in life.

8:36 I'll be trying to get into the dealer hall soon, but for now, we are checking out the Battletech Pods! There's already a crowd for the puppies, and I have to admit, they look awesome.

9:51 The doors open in 10 minutes, but I was able to get in an hour beforehand, to try to get a few shots before the madness started. WotC had a pretty good line going already (with Very Important Gamers allowed in before the general populace), but Paizo was crazy.

Mind you, this is a full hour before regular attendees get into the hall.

Jason Buhlman informed me that the display area the Pathfinder books were on is comprised of more Pathfinder books. Cubits, he said. He started to measure in cubits. He said they brought thousands. Talked to Erik Mona briefly, but he was slammed with requests.

I couldn't get a look at the back of the Geist book, as they had it under pretty heavy guard (not out with the other books--too precious, I suppose!). Will try again later.

Fat Dragon's Ultimate GM Screen is tremendous. Will be heading back there soon.

Eclipse Phase is out. Expected a bigger to-do/display about it, but maybe that's the difference between online buzz and reality.

Fantasy Flight has a really nice display, and it sounds like they'll really be pushing the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy!

More in a bit. Time to walk around a bit more...

11:10: People have now been in the Paizo line for an hour, to purchase Pathfinder. One thing to remember is that while companies may have policies that folks disagree with, many of the game designers have worked together before. Saw a couple of WotC folks shaking hands with the Paizo folks, congratulating them. That's how it should be.

Spoke to Bruce Cordell at WotC. He confirmed really the only big thing they have for this year's show is the setting announcement for this next year. He said, "looks like it's all Pathfinder", with a laugh, nodding towards the huge line. Nice guy--said he had a lot of fun hanging out with ChattyDM and his game last night.

Here's a shot of Eclipse Phase. The Catalyst guys seemed to hem and haw when I asked to take a pic. Not my first dance, but was still mildly surprised.

11:18: Here's some pics of Pinnacle's Weird War II for Savage Worlds.

Here's the Paizo Line. Note the Paizo sign in the distance--it goes all the way around.

12:11: Holy cow, folks. My buddy was in line 1 hour, 10 minutes for Pathfinder. Cooling our heels for a minute.

Gaming Paper seems to be getting some notice. Cool idea. 30 square feet of nice-quality gaming paper for $4. Nice when you want to save that awesome dungeon design from last night. The gentlemen selling it actually makes paper for a living, and is also a gamer. This is how these sorts of things come about.

Here's a pic of Geist, and White Wolf staff.

3:33pm: A lot of the first day is taken up with scouting and meeting old friends.

Just played in a 15-minute Pathfinder demo. Great fun!

The Kenzer booth doesn't have demos in booth this year, which is a bummer. Talked to Mark Plemmons, until a man in a kilt interrupted like I wasn't standing there.

The Dragon Age game and Green Ronin booths are right next to one another. Interesting bit of cross-marketing. I took plenty of photos, which I will post up in a bit. Honestly, maybe it's just when I hit them, but the GR booth seemed a bit slow.

Stopped by Mongoose! Earthdawn and FantasyCraft are both up! They had a nice flow of traffic when I was around.

The Forge and IPR booths are split this year, so both are much smaller. Ron Edwards challenged Pundit to an iron-cage rhetoric match (not really).

Went back to the FFG booth, but no one was running the 3e demo. Was told the same bit on the Warhammer 3e, so nothing else to report. Honestly, the amount of attention Fantasy Flight gives to RPGs here is underwhelming. All you really see are board games, board games, board games.

Hirst Model Arts do a nice job presenting what you can do with your molds.

I have a panel starting shortly--I'll be doing a big update tonight, though, so stay tuned!


There were a lot of booths that were just briefly scouted today, with all intentions of hitting them tomorrow. I’ll also be playing in one of the “Return to the Tower of Gygax”, something my circle and I have really been looking forward to.

Col. Lou Zocchi no longer runs Gamescience, but he is still here. He’s a Gen Con Guest of Honor, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in that spot. Phil Vecchione from Gnome Stew said his entire group has converted to Gamescience dice. Soooo many Gamescience dice, glowing from a flashing LED display! Lou is still doing his bit, and the Gamescience both has easily quadrupled in size from last year. I make sure to tell the Colonel every year how much seeing him at Gen Con means.


OK, so clearly, today belonged to Pathfinder. There were a few copies left in the Paizo booth when I left. I’m sure they’ll restock, but I’m not sure how long they’ll last. Obviously, one day does not make a product a success, but the enthusiasm is definitely there.

I think there’s definitely a bit of grumbling over the Forge/Indie Press Revolution booth split. Ron Edwards was at one, the IPR guys at the other, and it seemed kinda standoffish. I know there was the whole earlier in the year with Professor Edwards and his disagreement with IPR’s business model or what have you, but it made both booths seem tiny compared to previous years.

Luke Crane’s Burning Wheel booth did not get the latest Burning Wheel product. I heard that he will have 50 copies at most, but they were still enroute. This is not uncommon for publishers in the first day or so of Gen Con.

Crystal Caste had an inflatable d20. Something useless, most likely, but I still desired it. They’re always a fun booth to visit.

Good panel with the RPG Bloggers Network. Got to meet folks like Purple Pawn and Newbie DM. Jeff from the Bone Scroll also hung out with us for part of the day.

You don’t realize what a wide selection Goodman Games has until you see their booth. I saw Rob Conley’s Points of Light II. I think they could do with a layout that has things not just laid out, but more vertical and featured. Just my 2 cents.

Gareth Skarka at the C7/Adamant Booth said that in just a few short hours, he had sold 56 pdf copies of his Pathfinder accessory, Tome of Secrets, through RPGNow. Here's a shot of that and Savage Mars.

The Cubicle 7 folks also told me the Qin Game Master's screen is somewhere over the Pacific, but they had a copy there.

Who ya gonna call?

Yes, the Battletech Pods are awesome.

Here's a shot of Green Ronin's Dragon Age promo and a shot of their proximity to the Dragon Age booth itself, if that tells you anything about their priorities going forward re: Dragon Age.

Belly dancers, singing pirates, and a Ghostbuster. I love Gen Con.

OK, for buzz, I have to be honest. I try to talk to folks about what they’re buying this year. Aside from Pathfinder, most people were at best undecided. The Battletech Pods were pretty busy, but my main focus at the convention is gaming stuff. There were some minor waves for Savage Worlds products, and Gaming Paper, and dice are always popular, but I think this is a crowd this year that’s very undecided about where to put their money. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


Aaron said...

Hey, if you have time to go back to Cubicle 7 later, do you think you could ask them about the Doctor Who RPG?


Zachary The First said...

I'll sure try. They have a big banner/poster up for it.

Jeff Tillotson said...

I've never been to GenCon. I understand why people are in line for number of that book. But why is there a line to Pinnacle?

Zachary The First said...

Well, people get excited. For Savage Worlds, Pinnacle is release Weird War II and Fantasy Companion. Guess people wanted first crack at it!

Aaron said...

I... I have never desired dice as much as I do now. I want, no, I NEED to go to GenCon next year just for the GameScience booth.

Zachary The First said...

Go while you can...while Col. Lou is still attending! Use that picture for motivation! :)

Rob Lang said...

Many thanks for doing this, Zach. It's great to read through all the hum and drum when you can't be there. It's almost like being there but not quite! :)

When you're at C7, see if you can get a piccy of the staff for me, thanks!

Mike said...

If you stop by the Goodman Games booth, check out the 1st edition AD&D module "convention special" - "Talons of the Horned King". I think you might like it.

Then again, I wrote it, so I'm a little biased. :)

Fred Hicks (Evil Hat Productions) said...

Hey, Zachary, about this:

I think there’s definitely a bit of grumbling over the Forge/Indie Press Revolution booth split.

Is there specific grumbling you can cite? I haven't heard any on the intertubes, but I'm not in person there at the show.

Ron Edwards was at one, the IPR guys at the other, and it seemed kinda standoffish. I know there was the whole earlier in the year with Professor Edwards and his disagreement with IPR’s business model or what have you, but it made both booths seem tiny compared to previous years.

First off, the kerfluffle with Ron had little to do with the booth split.

The booth split has been in discussion, amicably, for two years -- both Brennan and Ron have been on board with the idea that it needed to happen.

We were originally going to split it in 2008, but since Brennan couldn't make it to the summer cons that year, plus a few other factors, we didn't feel ready to do it when it came time to decide. But it's been a plan since 2007, this just happens to be the first year it actually happened. :)

On the IPR side, I've talked with Brennan and confirmed that IPR's footprint is the same physical size as it was before. The Forge Booth used to be a 20'x20' space, with a 10'x20' space used for the IPR driven sales venue, and the other 10'x20' space used for the Forge booth's demo areas. This year, IPR's booth is a 10'x20' space, so the IPR portion is the same size as last year. I totally agree that it might have a psychological effect of *seeming* smaller, but the actual physical dimensions haven't changed for that part of things.

I have no idea what the Forge booth looks like this year -- no pictures have surfaced yet!

Anonymous said...

Sgt. Lou needs to stop representing himself as a Colonel. His little State Defense Force rank isn't an actual military-awarded rank. Zocchi was a non-com, and deserves as much respect and honor for that as an actual officer would, but to misrepresent himself as such borders on criminal.

Zachary The First said...

@Anonymous: Col. Lou is, like me, a retired USAF non-com. He also holds the rank of Colonel in the Alabama State Defense Force, the state militia for that state. I'm fine with the man's service to one of our states, our hobby, and his country.

I appreciate you sharing your opinion on the matter, but if you don't mind, could we move any further discussion on this to email (if you have anything further to say?). I really would hate to clutter up the thread with that sort of negativity, and would appreciate it very much.


On the IPR side. I asked about the Forge booth, and got sort of an uncomfortable hemming and hawing, and not what I'd call a cheery pointing towards their relative location. I certainly don't want to start a crapstorm over it, and fully prepared to accept that perhaps the fellow was having a bad day, or I caught him at a bad time. I know there's lots of folks who have good friends represented at several of the indie booths.

Thanks for the clarification on the split. I know the "diaspora" had been a discussion in previous years--just coincidence, then, that this part of it happened at the same as the unpleasantness from earlier in the year.

I think with the booth, the perceived difference is not having as much of a demo area. I'm used to a lot more tables.

On a more positive note, S7S is very striking on the shelf! Jeremy Keller is also tempting me with the print copy of Chronica Feudalis (which I have the pdf of).

Fred Hicks (Evil Hat Productions) said...

Thanks for the detail. I wonder who hemmed and hawed. :)