Happy GenCon to all and to all a goodnight...
7 August 2016
Greetings, From GenCon 2016!
I love GenCon! There is no doubt about it. Even (yes, even) when I have to get up at 5am to ensure I can commute in, find parking, and grab a coffee before my 8am slot. It did help this year that I never really stayed up for a late slot. Yet, I’ve gone those late nights coupled to early mornings and I know that it would have made no difference. To those of you out there who have never made it to GenCon, the show is a must – a bucket list item. Find some friends and bring your own food to save the cost. Grab a few tickets ahead of time and then allow yourself to be immersed in the experience. Remember, next year GenCon is 50 (yes, that’s fifty, it’s not a typo). Who would have thought a convention that sprung from the mythos of D&D would have ever attracted 70,000 eager tabletop gamers to Indianapolis?
As I prepare to set out on my return leg Road Trip for Roadtrip! I thought I’d share the top three things I learned this year. Tomorrow, my posts From the Road continue as I chronicle the second half of my epic adventure.
Take time for yourself. That may seem like an odd lesson given that you perhaps view attending GenCon as a vacation. I would say it’s as much of a vacation as family trip is. In other words, it’s not a Hawaiian Holiday. You will not return rested. For those of us who combine work and play, this sentiment is even more imperative. Last year, I worked non-stop; I was here alone again too. And, by the end of the con, I was just running on empty. Don’t get me wrong, in fact, I do love all aspects of game design. I learned a great deal and I made important connections. However, by the time I left, I felt like some of the magic was missing. This year, I intentionally played a couple Pathfinder Society slots and attended a few Paizo seminars. Those few hours allowed the magic to return. And when the magic returns, so too did my energy, creativity and joy. So, whatever it is, never (ever) give it up when you allow yourself to explore other aspects of the gaming world.
Play and test in odd slots. Be open to playing at 8am on a Sunday. Play through dinner. Just pick unusual times. Perhaps not for every slot, but for some. Here’s why. There is something to be said for those who show up at 8am or other odd hours. No, they are not con-zombies. In fact, my absolute best playtests at First Exposure Playtest Hall two years in a row now have been during off hours. By ‘best’ I do not mean that the playtesters just spoon fed me honeyed words. Rather I mean that the they were engaged and productive, constructive dialogue occurred. I have found this true at other types of events as well, like the GM who volunteers to run an RPG or a panelist at a seminar. They may be tired, but, it’s always fun on some level. So, get out there at those odd times, it will enrich your experience.
Allow a 20% cost buffer for your Kickstarter. That is, once you’ve tallied all the known costs, add more. As I said this is a buffer, not some hidden profit. Explain it to your backers, of course. In one seminar and during two separate conversations I had with industry folks, they all said to be sure to add approximately 20% padding. If you’ve done your homework properly, why? Well, because something, and hopefully only one thing, will go wrong. You may have made an error in production, your shipment may get inspected, your graphic design costs may be higher than you calculated, or any number of other unpredictable circumstances. If you are concerned about padding the budget, well then figure out a way to reinvest that money back into the game after all costs are said and done so that you can provide added content to your backers as a reward for believing in you.
That’s it for now! I’ve got to get ready for an 800 mile driving leg tomorrow. I’ll be posting my next This Week’s Roadtrip! in two weeks with the results from my GenCon Roadtrip! playests. Thank you GenCon playtesters! Don’t forget, tomorrow my From the Road blog renews as I make my way back across the country, through ten more states, 9 more sites and more than 3,000 more miles!
Again, Roadtrip! is nothing without your support! Thank you!