Thursday, August 18, 2011

GEN CON Indy 2011 Wrap Up...

Well, I went to Gen Con in Indy a couple of weeks ago and had a blast.  Its only the second time I've ever gone and made the trip from Richmond with Scadgrad, our GM from our regular gaming group.  We met up with one of the guys in our online Averlorn game and a few of their friends in Indy.  I went to Gen Con once before in Milwaukee back in the mid nineties while I was freelancing for ICE and had a blast then too.  During that time, I played in a bunch of RPG events, acted as an assistant GM for ICE for a few of their Rolemaster RPG events and manned the ICE booth several times to help them out which was really cool and added a lot to the experience.  

I have to say that Gen Con 2011 was very crowded but there was lots of stuff to do, things to see, things to buy and games to be played.  I signed up kind of late so missed out on most of the good game events but did manage to get into a few good seminars.  One seminar was put on by the guys from Xtreme Dungeon Mastery and it was hilarious - I haven't read their book yet but Tony tells me it is quite good.  It was all about throwing out the rule book when necessary, and doing what you have to do to have fun in the game which is, after all, the whole point of playing any game.

We also went to the PDF Publishing Seminar put on by Wolfgang Baur, Steve Russell from Rite Publishing and I think the third guy was from Super Genius Games but I didn't write his name down.  Tony and I went to this seminar because we have been contemplating doing some self published PDFs for a while now (he's an artist and graphic designer and a very good and creative GM and I'm a published game artist, architect and amateur writer) and wanted to get a bit of info on how to go about it and what's involved.  What amazed me from the seminar is that there are people out there (like Steve Russell among others) who actually publish PDF RPG products for a living.  They have actually turned this pursuit into a viable business and a full time job!  I never even thought that was possible but it is an interesting revelation.  They talked about all kinds of aspects of PDF publishing like frequency of publication (weekly, monthly or whatever), turning your PDFs into actual printed works through print on demand verses larger publishing runs, business aspects such as legal protection of your personal assets by setting up an LLC, accounting issues (don't overlook this important aspect of the business), price points for the sale of your product, marketing, subscription models, and distribution platforms such as Drive Thru RPG and the IPR (for Indy games) among others.  All in all it was a very insightful, informative, and well done presentation.

Joseph Browning at The OSR Booth
We also went on our daily tours of the convention floor and auction hall and visited all kinds of booths in search of  new or used game products, dice, and gaming accessories or to find out about all of the cool new games being published or produced which was a lot of fun.  I spent a lot of time at the OSR booth and checked out a bunch of new games and products from a number of established publishers and some newer ones as well.  I also had the opportunity to meet Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat Press.  We played through one of his modules in our Averlorn Campaign - you can read the recaps here: The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor.  Several of the guys bought new board games and we tried them out in the hotel room or the public areas of the hotel.  We also had a chance to play Swords and Wizardry White Box a few times and I have to say, I was impressed with it.  It was a lot of fun and seriously simple to play rules wise.  I was a bit skeptical about playing a 0E system at first but once you get over that and realize how easy it is, it really makes the game play fast, so we managed to get a lot done in only a few sessions.  Plus character creation is a breeze - we had new characters up and running in about 15-20 minutes.

I also spent some time networking and scouting out game companies in an effort to find some cartography work and met some really cool people in the RPG business.  I even ran into a few old friends from back in the ICE days.  All in all it was a lot of fun and I would really like to go again in the future if possible. 

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