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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 160 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [GenCon] I will not settle for Evening Gaming Only :-)  (Read 3969 times)
Andy Kitkowski
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« on: May 11, 2005, 07:22:59 PM »

So, it looks like I'll be coming to the Con this year again, for at least three, if not all four days. Gaming in the evenings is fun and excellent, but it only exposes me to some 3-4 games (and groups) max during the con.

My plan is this, and currently the focus is on Booth Monkeys and Buy-ins:

We often find ourselves with too many people in the booth.  So someone takes a walk around for a few hours, or gets something to eat, or takes a rest and comes back.  I think on Saturday I ended up leaving the booth for over half the day so that I wouldn't be in the way (and still closed a bunch of sales, but that's another story).

During that time, we could be doing some gaming.  Hell, even sales-centered "Train the Trainer" gaming.

I'm looking at all sorts of upcoming games or games that I don't know how to play (Polaris, With Great Power New Version, Nine Worlds, some of the NPA games, etc), other games that I want to learn "better" so I'm more confident in running demos of them (DitV, Universalis, My Life With Master, KPFS, BW Revised), and games which I'm very confident in running for a quick 15-minute demo or more of (Dust Devils, PTA, TSOY, etc).

What I'm thinking of is this: Once the Final List of booth monkeys comes out, and the final list of buy-ins is released, I'm thinking of making a schedule for gaming during the Vendor's Hall Open times.  This gaming would take place at the nearest open gaming table area near the Forge Booth, so that people can be found in an emergency.

Basically, two major things in mind:

Route 1: Train the Trainer 15-minute one-shots:  Basically, 4-5 Booth Monkeys and Buy-in Folks (people who would be In The Way if they were hanging around the booth during that time) break off from the rest of the folks.  One of the designers runs his or her "15 minute Forge Booth demo" for the rest of the folks.  They talk about the games, get rules clarifications, take notes if needed, etc. Then, the next designer takes the lead and runs HIS 15 minute demo, etc.  In 45 minutes or so, you have 8-10 people who can pretty much competently run two simple 10-15 minute scenario for new folks.  Do it for a couple hours, with different groups of people, and that's a lot of training, and moreso that's a lot of GAMING (albeit quick gaming) for the folks working the booth!

Now, this wouldn't be micromanaged or anything.  It would be a rather informal schedule of folks who want to learn Game X, and thus play it together for 15-30 minutes during the time they would be normally be away from the Forge Booth (because of crowding), wandering around the dealer's hall dice booths or eating that nasty fucking GenCon pizza. Informal.  Cooperative.  

Route 2: The other plan that I'm rolling around is a slightly more formal "half day shift" thing for the booth monkeys... for a few hours people are working the Forge Booth, for a few hours they wander around buying cool shit, and for a few hours (like up to 4 or so) they're playing LONGER sessions of the aforementioned designer-run games, like I'm thinking 2-hour shots.  That's slightly more satisfying gaming-wise, and leads to more familiarity with the game for running demos.

Ideally, we'd be doing all this stuff on Wednesday afternoon, but since not a ton of people are going to be there that day, we can probably just go ahead and make better use of the time that we'd be away from the booth- Not just for the Booth's Sake (which is definitely there, inasmuch as we learn games to teach to customers), but for our sake (so we're not having to choose, nightly, the One Game Session you will be able to play that day).

Oh, and with the above I directed it pretty much towards the people working the booth (since they're the ones putting a lot of time into GenCon which takes away from potential gaming time), but I can totally see Forge folks not working the booth getting in on the above action as well. Just head on over to the area where you see a mass of Forge dudes spread over 2-3 tables in the gaming area of the dealer's hall, and ask to sit in the session.

Any thoughts?  Any already confirmed Booth Monkeys or Designers up for this?  Again, this isn't about making up a strict booth schedule or anything like that, it's more like scheduling the downtime for booth folks, so that they can get in more gami...ahem, training.

My stake:  I don't want to be a Booth Monkey again in a situation like last year, where someone holds up a copy of Nine Worlds, and we have to run down Matt S cause he's the only one who knows how to play it (or Fastlane, PTA, etc).  Or someone else holds up a copy of My Life With Master, and a bunch of us look at each other and hesitate, and instead call on Paul, because we've read it, but not comfortable enough to run it, etc.

Stake Two: After a day of waking up early and standing and talking all day, then going out for a nice dinner and conversation with Forge buddies, then back to the rooms for gaming.. there's only usually enough energy left for one game that night. Maybe two, but you'll be feeling it the next day.  This way, we've got gaming going on during the day and the night.

-Andy
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2005, 07:27:53 PM »

What Andy said.

Best,
Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2005, 07:50:46 PM »

I'm absolutely for this.  I'll point out that it is also a virtuous cycle, from the point of view of game designers:  If you manage to get a few people trained well enough to cover for you at the booth then it makes it much easier to train the next batch of people (because someone's covering for you).

Now, that having been said... after a little bit of training, I don't see any reason why the booth monkeys in question would need a game's designer there if they wanted to continue their session, or to train other people.  Transmission of rules by oral culture is pretty deeply ingrained in the gamer mindset, right?  And, frankly, removing the designer does tend to throw the remaining monkeys into the deep end of the swimming pool in terms of handling the game.  Better to do that in a controlled, low-risk environment than when customers are watching impatiently.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2005, 07:55:08 PM »

Abso-fucking-lutely.

yrs--
--Ben
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2005, 07:55:34 PM »

If there are any Booth Monkey Tutorials that are going to be scheduled, I'd love to see 'em.

For instance, I'd love to see Ron's Booth Monkey tutorial on Sorcerer before I run the game.

Vincent's demo for DitV is really simple and fast, easy to learn.  I went through it once a year ago and whenever I start a new group on Dogs, I use it.
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Keith Senkowski
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2005, 08:27:04 PM »

That pizza does suck ass.  

One other thing would be to point out the selling points of each game.  Last year I made a mental cheat sheet of shit while watching other folks schill their shit.  That way I could blurt out the relevant bullshit for folks if the designer or anyone more familiar with the book was not around.  Of course some shit just sells itself.

Keith
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2005, 05:46:28 AM »

Kicking rad - Rock on Andy!

Bob's got a good idea too- anyone showing should come up with a list of like 5 or 6 selling points.
"Plays great with small groups"
"Excellent for one shots, low prep"
"Mechanics that bolster attention grabbing stories!"

That way, we can talk intelligently about the game even if we don't know it (Which is a boat I'll be in for a while) and direct the throngs of excited customers to the nearest open demo of it.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2005, 09:17:08 AM »

Thanks, Andy. This would be ideal.  I'd looove to be able to get some training in a bunch of the games, to be better able to run them & simply sell them.  The list of schill phrases would be keen too.  

Speaking of which, was there something like a Forge Booth game menu that got put together last year? A sheet with a blurb about each game to help people focus in on what kind of games the customer might want to play?  Am I dreaming that? Are there plans for one again? If not yet, and folks are interested, I'd be happy to coordinate it.

best,
Em
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2005, 12:51:10 PM »

Cool.  Looks like there's some interest behind this.  

As soon as a semifinal list of Monkeys and Buyins gets released, and we get an idea of "max capacity" for the booth, I'll start on making that schedule.

A followup:
Quote from: Judd
For instance, I'd love to see Ron's Booth Monkey tutorial on Sorcerer before I run the game.

Vincent's demo for DitV is really simple and fast, easy to learn. I went through it once a year ago and whenever I start a new group on Dogs, I use it.


Absolutely. Maybe I'll bug some of the Buy-ins to perhaps ready a "demo pack" in advance if they can, or at least some pointers.  That way, by the time we show up in Indianapolis we'll at least have something rolling around in our heads, even if we don't completely have the system down yet.

Ex: Paul's MLWM demo that he ran was fucking genious.  If any of us ran a demo game, it was "run this game as-is, just in a really short time period" (exception was Ben/Jasper/Calder's staged TROS demo, which was also remarkable).  Paul, IIRC, had eveyone make up a master, and one minion, and each player controlled that minion for one scene, then curtains.  Fast, inclusive, and you get an idea of what's going on.  If any other designers have tricks to running a "15 minute demo" of their game, I'd love to see it.

Also, this stuff is important for me to have in advance, if possible.  I remember Matt S (not to pick on you, Matt :-) ) handing me his Dust Devils demo pack to run Right Away, and it was this huge affair with a complex relationship map and all sorts of background events and tie-ins and character complications.  Essentially, it was a one+ hour session.  I had to excuse myself for ten minutes, and come back to run a modified scenario which amounted to "y'all enter a saloon and eventually shoot/punch people", which was hella fun, played on the Devil, and easily wrapped up in 15-20 minutes.

Currently, after rolling it around in my mind, I think the best way to do this is in 60 to 90 minute long sessions, with a quick Q/A and followup. 60-90 minutes gives us a solid taste of the game, a fun mini "real" roleplaying experience with a couple of buddies for people chained to the booth, and leaves time afterwards to reflect on the game, plan your own scenario, etc.

And I'll also try to contact the designers who are attending as Buy-ins a month before to see if they have a demo session or two that they usually run, that they could maybe wrap up into PDF. I'll combine it into a ZIP and hand it to the other Booth Monkeys and designers. You won't have to do "homework" or anything like that, but if you want to have a demo to run from, you'll have it, without a lot of prep work.

On "Selling Points": Absolutely.  I think this needs its own thread though, once we know who's buying in.  Then we can get folks to chime in what they think the selling points of their game are, and again combine them and give them to everyone attending.

On "Game Menu": Great idea. Let's take the pressure off of Luke this year by not making him do it and pay for it like last year.  Emily's volunteering for it?  Rock on, it's yours.  Maybe start a thread here once we have a Buy-in count, and work from there.

I guess that's it for now.  We'll reconvene once we get the Semi-final list of attendees.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2005, 01:13:47 PM »

Man, I'd have to play more indie-rpgs? With more of the Forge Booth folks? What kind of fool do you take me for, Kitowski!

Yah, I'll be there.

Mike
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Emily Care
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2005, 04:08:18 PM »

Quote
On "Game Menu": Great idea.

I concur. Sounds like Luke's got the menu covered.  Thanks for doing this, Luke. It sounds like a great resource.  Please do let me know if I can help.

best,
Em
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Allan
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2005, 02:58:18 PM »

I'm all over this.  I'm pretty new here, and I don't know much about the other designers games.  I know they know nothing about mine.  Is there an example of a good demo primer and what info is required for the Game Menu?
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Nev the Deranged
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2005, 03:20:49 AM »

Three words:

Oh. Hell. Yes.

Sign me up for all of the above ^_^

Brilliant work, Andy, I'd been poking around after something like this for some time. You da man.
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