Gen Con 2011 Report
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  1. #1
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    Gen Con 2011 Report

    It took a while, but I finally got around to whipping together a short Gen Con report.

    This year was my fifth Gen Con (I don't get to go often - it's a long way!) and each time it gets better. That's mainly due to the fact that each time I go, I know a few more people, and this year we weren't short of cool folks to hang out with!

    Our party of three made its way across the Atlantic ocean, battled flight delays and missed connections, for a journey time of 24 hours almost to the minute. We rolled into Indy at about 1am on the Thursday morning. This has happened every time we've done this - so in future we'll be aiming for a Tuesday arrival in the knowledge that it will actually be a Wednesday arrival. That way we won't miss the cool pre-Gen Con dinners and parties that we manage to miss every time. One year I missed not only WotC's 4E announcement dinner on the Wednesday night, but also a private EN World moderator game of D&D with Gary Gygax (something I'll always regret). Curse you, Dulles immigration lines!

    This year, though, I had the pleasure of chatting to Gail Gygax for a while when I bought my copy of Cheers Gary - the fundraiser book for the Gygax statue. She's a delightful, charming individual, and very friendly - more than happy to talk at length about her plans for the Gygax Memorial Fund, and more. It was a real pleasure talking to her.

    The ENnies went perfectly (even though I was at the bar at the time I supposed to be on stage - oops. Sorry guys!) You can see a full list of winners here. The ENnies are always one of my favourite parts of Gen Con; though many cynics profess their disapproval of awards ceremonies, I find it to be a happy, charming couple of hours crammed with the best game designers and publishers in the industry all in one room, gathered to celebrate the work of the writers, artists, and more who make all those products we love to read, listen to, and play with. It's just nice to say "thank you - and well done!", and sometimes I feel we could use more of that. The ENnies were organised to perfection by the new business manager, Tony Law, and hosted by the ever-charming Kevin "Piratecat" Kulp. I wish I had a tenth of that man's charisma!

    Gen Con is always four days crammed full of stuff. You don't get a moment's rest - but then again, you don't want one. From wandering the exhibit hall and marvelling at thousands upon thousands of products, to chatting with game designers and publishers, to playing in games of all kinds with friends old and new (and that's not even starting on the drinking and eating that goes on continually - you're never short of a few folks to have dinner with), the whole time is a whirlwind of activity. The only down side is that it ends rather abruptly on the Sunday evening, leaving you to acclimatize yourself to normal life again. Fortunately for us, real life was still a week away because we had a trip to NYC planned.

    I'm told there was a record number of attendees at Gen Con this year - over 36,000 of them! It didn't feel bigger to me, but my memory of past events may be hazy. It's been a while!

    So, what caught my eye? What was the best thing I saw? I think it was d20Pro. The d20Pro virtual game table booth was cool as heck. A touchscreen flat battlemap! The helpful chap running the booth at the time was happy to show us the features and answer questions - including the price tag, which was $7,500 for the full setup. A bit beyond my budget! It does work on laptops and the like also, but that's just nowhere near as freaking cool. The software was a bit buggy in demonstration, but it showed where this is going, and I can't wait until the hardware falls into a manageable price range.

    I was a little bemused by the WotC booth. It was more a booth for the new Neverwinter Facebook game, I think. I didn't see any product on display or any WotC staff (other than event organisers); though there was a big area sectioned off with a man dressed as a zombie wandering around. Talking of WotC staff, it was great to run into Rodney Thompson briefly at Scotty's bar/restaurant, and WotC freelancer and Eberron creator Keith Baker in the hotel lobby.

    This year was definitely more "hanging out with friends" than "industry-centric" for me. Probably the first year I've gone with no commitments other than the ENnies, and it was a pleasant change - I got to have fun, instead of working! It was great to catch up with people I hadn't seen in years, and it's great how it seems like no time has passed. A couple of people I hadn't seen in, like, nine years - but it seemed like just yesterday.

    All in all, a good year! I don't know when I'll get to go back - probably a good few years, but I'll be looking forward to it!

  2. #2
    Hello Morrus. I'm the guy responsible for the technology in the multitouch tables that d20pro was demoing. Figured I'd offer some details and news regarding the current state of the table post PAX Prime.

    The table is called the Locus and is available from Geek Chic in either a 40-inch or 60-inch flavor. They are still working up the sales literature for the table so I thought I'd chime in with what I know from the technology end.

    First off, we've succeeded in getting the price tag down to a reasonable number. The 40-inch Locus is priced at $4,250 while the 60-inch version is priced at $8,500. These are 12-touch devices with upgrade options to bring them both up to 32-touches ($4,850 and $9,250 respectively).

    The tables use 1080p (1920x1080) screens which can connect to any PC (Windows or Mac) with an open USB, for touch, and video out (HDMI preferred). Packaged with d20pro, the system is sufficiently capable "as is" for running d20 or 4e games. We are looking into several board game and video game options for including as part of the standard package.

    Currently d20pro does not know what to do with our multitouch events. This means that d20pro is operating on our table using mouse emulation -- effectively duo touch. MindGene has committed to introducing multitouch support for their virtual table software and my company will be shipping our touch screens with copies of d20pro currently.

    That being said, I've run MapTools, Fanatsy Grounds as well as d20pro on our touch hardware without incident, purely in mouse emulation mode. d20pro has certainly been our performer which is one of the primary reasons we settled on this software as our primary focus.

    If there is interest, I may be able to convince my players to allow me to record an example session or two.

    I'll be posting more information on my company's website over the course of the next month (Sept. 2011). Additionally, I have various videos posted to my youtube channel for those interested in some low production quality multitouch content.

    Enjoy and happy gaming!
    Last edited by grimjack2600; Tuesday, 6th September, 2011 at 02:32 AM.

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