I'm Dustin Snyder of Baldman Games, and I'm the guy who was running the HQ area for the D&D Next Playtest at GenCon.
I can't speak to individual playtest experiences, nor am I very good at number crunching and theory, so I can't really dive into the debate about what's good/bad (besides saying I really like D&D Next so far - but that's a personal evaluation, nothing more).
What I can, hopefully, shed some light on is how the playtest worked (or was supposed to work?) at GenCon.
Each ticketed session was an hour and a half in length - and the first 30 minutes was a semi-guided character creation run by several of our GMs/Judges.
From there, each group of players had one hour to run through six potential scenarios that are part of the "Reclaiming Blingdenstone" adventure we had at the show (an adventure that I'm told will be going out to playtesters in the near future - if it hasn't already, I'm a bit behind on e-mail).
So, my first concern is that the timing seems to be off. If the reviewer ran through two sessions, he would have had an hour of creation time, and two hours of playtest time - not the four hours he claims. Then again, time flies when you're having fun, so I'll count that as a win.
There has been some feedback - rightly so - that our judges weren't prepared to "go off the rail" (paraphrasing) and that there were few, if any, NPCs to interact with.
We would have LOVED to run everyone through four hours (heck, even TWO hours) of playtest time - but given the sheer volume of people (we seated over 2,400 seats in four days time), it couldn't be done - not without a hundred or so volunteers stepping up to run the playtest (and about four times the space we had to work with). At smaller shows (the upcoming Winter Fantasy (formerly D&D Experience) and Origins), we run longer playtests, to everyone's advantage. GenCon just wasn't gonna make it possible.
With that limited time comes limited playtest options, which is unfortunate, but we did our best to keep it fun.
With those paramaters in mind, if you have any feedback (positive OR negative) on your D&D experiences (For RPGA/4th Edition or for the Playtest, or Dungeon Command) at GenCon 2012 - we want to hear about it.
The two places to provide feedback are:
The first link there sends feedback straight to WotC on the assorted events they offered.
My e-mail address, on the other hand, is more for any specific comments you may have about how we handled (or mishandled?) events. Have a GM you loved or hated? Tell me about it (names help, if you can recall). Was signage confusing? Lemme hear it. Were you one of the unlucky few who found your playtest slot was oversold on Sunday? Yeah, lemme know - I can't do much but offer you a personal apology, but I'm happy to do that.
I hope this sheds a little light on the way things ran at GenCon - but I'll keep an eye on the thread to answer any additional questions/concerns that crop up.
Thanks in advance for any feedback (good or bad) that you have.