Countdown to GenCon 2012

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finally Gaming Again

The internet is a wonderful place sometimes. I have little to no ability to play in a local game, but I have just recently started two online games that fit my life perfectly.  I'm also really enjoying myself.

The first is @DnDPrincessAria's Real Time D&D.  This game is done as a play-by-skype-chat game with an Obsidian Portal site to keep everything together.  It's designed for those of us who love the hobby, but don't have a lot of time to play.  A few minutes every few days, and thanks to the internet we're adventuring.  DnDPrincessAria has placed us in a truly high fantasy world using the D&D 3.5 system.  While I don't own any 3.5 material, I do play Pathfinder so making a character was no problem.  I am playing Ryfar, a Fetchling rogue sniper with his trusty repeating crossbow.  That character was made with Pathfinder rules, but I altered the skills to correctly fit the 3.5 edition character sheet that was available on Obsidian Portal.  So far, I've been the only player able to get a few sessions in, but that should change now that summer is near.  I can't wait to see where this goes as others get more involved.  DnDPrincessAria has a lot of GMing experience, and it shows in how she handles this odd game format. I also like that the world itself is a collaborative work, with players adding location details with story hooks.

My second game is my challenging game.  @MilwaukeeJoe is running the fourthcore weekly Grind4E as a play-by-blog-post game.  This is a great format for this challenging delve, and I'm really having a blast even though we just started.  The blog is at http://grind4e.blogspot.com, and it's really set up nicely.  The players seem to all be experienced gamers ready not only for the challenge, but also ready to really roleplay it.  By adding a "tech" section to any post, there's an easy way to separate meta talk from in character sections, and everyone is taking advantage of this.  Playing is really like being part of an interactive novel.  Right now we're not in a very good position, and I'm going to be pleased if I survive this first chamber.

Despite my lack of a local game, I've found places to play thanks to the work of these two fine DMs.  I really appreciate all the work they're putting into this, and I'm glad to be playing again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Current Gen Con Schedule

Now that the dust has settled, I figured I'd post my Gen Con schedule for anyone interested.  I know there are a couple of you out there that I definitely want to meet up with, and a few that have scheduled some of the same games as me.


View Gen Con Locations in a larger map

Wednesday


Wednesday is technically trade day at Gen Con, and the convention hasn't really started yet.  That's just a technicality though.  A lot of folks will already be in town, and unofficial gaming starts up Tuesday for the most part.  My  current plan is to get down town pretty early and game with Kentucky Fried Gamers for most of Wednesday.  They set up in The Ram and Scotty's Brewhouse and game from morning into the night.  At some point in this day, I'll take a break and get myself checked into my hotel room and retrieve my badge and event tickets from will call.  Might also stop gaming to meet folks as they come in.  Overall, it's a casual day and I hope to meet a lot of people and have a good time doing some open gaming.

Thursday:

Thursday I hope to not be too hung over from Wednesday :).

Time Event Location
10 am - noon True Dungeon: The Lair of The Sea Lich (Puzzle Oriented) Marriott Ballroom
4 pm - 6 pm Tower of Gygax JW Marriott, 303
10 pm - 4 am Tower of Gygax Presents: The Howling Hills JW Marriott, 303

Thursday morning I'm getting my True Dungeon run out of the way.  I'm really psyched that I got in this year, and I'm hoping it'll start the convention off with a bang.  I've got a pretty big slot open between noon and 4 in which I plan to head over to the dealers' hall and wander through it.  I've got plenty of time to stop and play a demo game if I find something really interesting.  I'll also grab some food in this window, and hopefully meet up with more friends.  If someone happens to be playing an open game, I may just join that too.  Finally, if I feel like it, I might run an hour or so of the RPGA D&D delve.  I wanted to make sure I got a good bit of time for Tower of Gygax, so I went ahead and got tickets for a two hour slot.  Once this is done, I plan on going and grabbing some dinner.  Hopefully I will have met enough folks that I won't be eating alone. This would also be a great time to grab a beer. I can't have too much to drink, because I have to be back at the JW for the overnight Lich event with the Tower of Gygax folks.  @saveversusdeath is running this event, so I know it's going to be a blast.  After that, it's off to catch a few precious Z's.

Friday

Friday is Pathfinder day.

Time Event Location
8 am - 1 pm First Steps, Part II - To Delve the Dungeon DeepICC 231-234, Paizo HQ
7 pm - midnight Gen Con Special: Blood Under AbsalomICC 231-234, Paizo HQ

I'm a little miffed that I didn't get into the first adventure in the First Steps series.  That's just the way it happens with Gen Con scheduling though.  I may stop by Paizo HQ and see if there's any way I can get to play this prior to 8 am Friday.  In any case, I'm planning on starting a Dwarf Cleric I've made in this game, and if he is as fun to play as I think he'll be, he will be my new main Pathfinder Society character. I'm not sure what the special event is going to look like, but I've got a monk I can use if it's more combat oriented.  I've got a huge block of time on Friday for open gaming, hanging with friends, hitting the dealer hall, and anything else that strikes my fancy.  I'm pretty glad it worked out this way.  There's going to be so many things to do that I didn't want to have the majority of my time locked down with pre-scheduled events.

Saturday

Saturday is all over the place

Time Event Location
8 am - noon SND01: Revenge of the Iron LichCrowne Plaza, Conrail Station, 1
1 pm - 2 pm TerrorWerks 2011: The Holy CodeICC, 107-110
4 pm - 8 pm The Lost Logbook of Wei PeiCrowne Plaza, Pennsylvania Station B, 4

Up early again on Saturday morning for some FourthCore D&D.  I've been looking forward to playing this for a while, and I'm eager to tackle this adventure.  Many energy drinks will be consumed to jolt me into working form I suspect. I've got a short lunch break after this, then it's off to TerrorWerks.  This sounds like the Sci Fi horror equivalent of True Dungeon, and I'm eager to try my hand at this.  Once that's completed, I collapse...or not.  I've got a two hour slot where I'll probably try to get some more food in me and maybe rest and hang out with friends.  At 4 pm I've got one of the games that I'm trying out at Gen Con: Hollow Earth Expeditions.  This looks like a lot of good, clean (or not) fun.  It's a tropical setting adventure, so I'm hoping I can really send my mind on vacation with this one.  I've left Saturday night free for socializing and open gaming, but probably not much sleep.

Sunday

I live here.  There's no reason for me to stop gaming Sunday.  I'm going to pack up, check out of the hotel, then back for more gaming.

Time Event Location
8 am - 1 pm First Steps, Part III - A Vision of BetrayalICC 231-234, Paizo HQ
2 pm - 4 pm Arkham HorrorICC Hall E, White, C-D

Today, I finish up my Pathfinder series, and try out Arkham Horror.  Arkham Horror will be another new game for me.  It looks pretty cool, and I've wanted to give it a try for a while.  It's also a nice, quiet way to end Gen Con.  I'm sure I'll be sad it's over, but I'll also be ready to hit my bed at home for a marathon sleep session.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Gen Con Event Registration Process: A Few Observations

Today was the big day...event registration day for Gen Con.  At noon eastern time, the floodgates opened and everyone who really wanted to make sure they got their events descended on the registration servers en mass. Apparently there were some 3000 or more wishlists submitted right away, and I have to say that for the sudden load the process went fairly well overall.

This year, the wish list process was fine tuned quite a bit from my understanding.  I participated in the test, and while things looked promising there were certainly a few improvements to be made.  By the time the wish list function and event catalog went live last week, they fixed all of the issues I saw. While they certainly could use some more browsing options on the event catalog to make it more friendly and useful, I was able to find what I wanted in plenty of time and fine tune my wishlist.  The way scheduling occurred, when you submit your wishlist it was put in a queue in the order in which lists hit the registrations server(s).  One can argue about the fairness of this until the cows come home, but honestly someone is always going to feel that they got cheated due to their personal circumstances.  I, for instance, had to work today.  In order to submit my list at the correct time, I had to arrange with my supervisors to reschedule my lunch so I would be sure to get to an area I could access the internet in time to be ready to hit the button at noon (a Panera Bread in my case). I was lucky that I was able to do this. Do I think that this was unfair? No. It's just how things are, and it makes it fair for the widest possible group of people. One point to the Gen Con staff for the submission method...It meets the needs of most people.

Back to discussions of the wish list.  This year, instead of having the True Dungeon and TerrorWerks events scheduled first followed by everything else, everything was submitted at once. They decided this year they had a method and the capacity to handle the load.  True Dungeon is very clearly the most difficult event to get in to. While they are taking more people per run this year (and I believe they added runs) it's still way too popular to accommodate everyone.  This made organizing your wish list important if you wanted to get a True Dungeon event.  To create a wish list, you browse events in the catalog, and add events to the list by requesting tickets.  You can get tickets for yourself, or you and your friends.  You can chose to schedule the event with the most tickets you can get, or only if you can get all the tickets you request.  Also, if an item higher on the list conflicts in any way with a lower priority item, the lower priority item is not scheduled at all if you manage to get tickets for the high priority event.  The list is processed from top to bottom when it gets to the front of the queue.  Knowing all this, my strategy was to put all my True Dungeon events at the top.  I picked three different times I wanted (first choice on top).  Within these 3 time frames, I picked 2 combat, 2 puzzle, and 2 dragon runs because I could do this with them all overlapping. I sub ordered them combat, puzzle, dragon.  Doing it this way, when my list hit it would try to process all the TD items in my favorite time slot first, from most desirable to least desirable format. As soon as I got a ticket in that time, all the others past that would be rejected because of overlap.  It would then process my next favorite time slot the same way, and finally my least favorite time slot.  I figured this was the best way to get into a True Dungeon game.  I also made the first run in the whole show my first choice figuring some people would not even be at the con yet so I would have the least competition for that time.  Past my TD events, I placed a TerrorWerks run on my list, followed by 3 Pathfinder events that were a part of a series. The rest, I just ordered most desired to least, and had no overlap. I figured any time that I didn't get a desired event I could try for something later, or leave open for the exhibitors hall and open gaming.

When I hit my submit button at noon plus a second or three, it looked like it was proceeding, but did not return a place in the queue. I was too patient here. I should have resubmitted almost immediately, but I let my browser chug for 4 minutes instead. When I finally got smart and hit the button again, I was 1500th in line.  That's just how these things go. I was depressed, but what can you do?  The queue then seemed to freeze up at about 1471..PANIC! Thanks to Gen Con's responsiveness on twitter I was soon comfortable that even though my browser wasn't updating, my list was still in the queue. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes of trying to get a status back through the flood of requests to the server I was rewarded with a cart of tickets.  My strategy certainly paid off.  I got one True Dungeon game in every one of the time slots I'd tried for (2 puzzle, 1 combat).  I also got my TerrorWerks and everything else I wanted. The only thing I didn't get was the first game in the Pathfinder series. That was kind of a bummer, and a quick search showed me I wasn't going to get a replacement unless I wanted to play the games out of order. I'll just suffer through missing the first round. It's a small inconvenience for an otherwise flawless registration process. I had a huge hole in my schedule, so I went back later and added another event to partially fill the hole (Tower of Gygax...a classic I hear :) ). Now I have good times to visit the exhibitors hall, and for food, and open gaming. I'm happy with how it's turned out.  I had no issues with paying for my purchases within the two hours that my tickets were held in my cart. I rejected 2 of my True Dungeon tickets, deciding to free them so others would get a chance rather than me taking multiple runs.  Also, they're expensive so this saves me some money.

I really have to applaud the Gen Con staff for the way this went.  Overall it was pretty smooth.  There may or may not have been better ways to architect the solution for this registration, but what they did worked pretty well.  Now I just kick back, and try to wait for the next few months until Gen Con arrives.  I may go stir crazy. :)