filamena young

GenControversy

Made it to, through, and back from GenCon alive. Some candid impressions/highlights, in virtual stream of consciousness fashion (but with bullet points). As I type up these recollections I can’t help but feel like I’m forgetting dozens and dozens of things. Probably so, honestly, my mind feels shattered and, horror of horrors, I’ve got another convention to take on starting tomorrow. Still here’s what I can currently remember.

  • Many thanks to David and Filamena from Machine Age/Onyx Path for making our attendance possible. I think we still need to iron out some details if we’re going to go splits on a booth for next year, but the assist on the last day logistics was really clutch.
  • The overestimated initial print run of The Singularity System continues to be a large, heavy, expensive, inconvenient albatross around End Transmission’s proverbial neck. No surprises there.
  • As I’ve hinted in the past, GenCon is really not friendly to small companies. In fact, GenCon hates small companies. I think the real problem is their priority points system, which is a Catch 22 that would make Joseph Heller blush. Basically, the placement of your booth determines your sales. Exiled in “exhibitor siberia” in the far rear right corner like we were, you only see a tiny percentage of the foot traffic that you would if your booth was closer to front and center. What’s more, the people you see have passed through the entire commercial/retail gauntlet, and have become mentally jaded and financially exhausted. Your booth placement is determined by a Priority Points system. The more conescutive years you’ve been exhibiting at GenCon, and the more money you’ve put into Sponsoring GenCon (or so I gather, the specifics online are distressingly elusive and I’d appreciate any hot tips or leads into deciphering it all), the more Priority Points you have. The more Priority Points you have, the better your booth placement. But coming to GenCon consecutively is expensive, and expenses require revenue from sales. Ergo, your shitty booth placement means you lose money, and you must suffer through several consecutive years of losing money in order to qualify for slightly better booth placement and maybe stop losing money. It sucks, and what makes matters worse is that the Priority Points go only to the company that serves as the primary contact point with GenCon, the guys whose names are on the booth application. In this way, and because priority points seem to be non-transferable, the priority points system strongly discourages booth co-ops and booth sharing, a la the old Adept Press/Forge booth. So basically, End Transmission sat through a year of shitty placement and shitty sales, and because our booth didn’t SAY End Transmission on it, we don’t even have the priority points to show for it to improve our standing next year. Fuck.
  • We did not win an Ennie award. On the other hand, we were seriously overdressed, so I’ll take some consolation in that. Also it was a big honor and delight just to be nominated. And my condolences to the good folks at Hero Games, my understanding is they went 0 for 6 this year. Personally speaking, I was glad that there was a reasonably priced cash bar to dull the pain.
  • I actually met Kevin Siembieda, who is more or less virtually universally reviled on the internet, moreso than any other personality in gaming I can think of. Yet when I met him at the Palladium booth, the impression I was left with was that he was one of the sweetest, nicest people I had ever met. He signed my copies of Rifts UE and Chaos Earth, and even threw in a free promo copy of Northern Gun just because I was a guy that shook his hand and talked to him; that’s a big deal as certain game companies (*ahem*) are very stingy with free copies. I was blown away; my mind could not handle the paradox.
  • Actually played in an enjoyable convention game (for once), a World of Darkness joint called “Immanentize The Eschaton” (I was sold on the name) run by ceremonial magician, author, and podcaster James L. Wilber. One of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, although he denies it. I’m partway through his novel now.
  • Played my first ever game of BattleTech, kind of, and the Catalyst Demo Agent running the “boot camp” (as they call it) sold me. I think I might have a new fandom/addiction in the making. The BattleTech Starter Box Set proves incredibly difficult to find, however, not just at the convention exhibitor’s hall, but on the internet at large.
  • Shook hands and rapped with Dennis Detwiller, one of the creator of the Delta Green RPG/Campaign Setting which I’ve been in love with since high school. Swoon!
  • Grabbed Scott Holden of OneBookShelf at the DriveThruRPG Booth, talked his ear off about how freaking hard it is to be an indie publisher. He told me to follow up on the conversation and I intend to.
  • Concluding the “People I Met” saga, ran into the guys from Daydreamer Interactive. It was their first GenCon as Exhibitors also, just like us, and it seemed like they were having an even weekend than we were. Swapped them copies of Splinter, Phantasm(2010), and The Singularity System in exchange for soft and hardcover copies of their new post-apocalyptic RPG, Infinum, which looks gorgeous.
  • Oh yeah, we actually sold some books. Again, I’m not ashamed of our gross, and if it was just the booth cost to balance against, we’d have done better than break even. But when you factor in travel, lodging, shipping, and logistics, we’re deep in the red.
  • It seems like it is really nice to have an established following. No, I don’t mean us. Machine Age folks had tons of friends from the internet, pre-sold customers who’d heard of them from Kickstarter stopping by to pick up their books. I was mad jealous.
  • David and Filamena left before I could trade my games with them for a copy of Apothoesis Drive X, Amaranthine, and their two Kinko’s games about the apocalypse. I wanted to pick up ADX for Evan, but I wanted the rest for myself.
  • Given business cards by several printer/print consolidators/manufacturers who make cards and packaging and the like. Assuming I didn’t lose these cards, visions of designing board and/or card (collectible and/or deckbuilding) games are dancing through my head.
  • That brings me to the final category, stuff I bought: now the proud owner of a weird-ass set of novelty dice, including d5, d7, d14, d16, d18, d24, and so on. From the same place, purchased a “band of orcs” mini set that appears to be an orcish metal band; incredibly Shadowrun for something not associated with Shadowrun. Speaking of Shadowrun, in spite of my best intentions I picked up the $100.00 Limited Edition Shadowrun 5th Core Rulebook with red leather dragon-embossed cover and gold-leaf edged pages. To my credit, this is mitigated slightly by the fact that I did not purchase the $200 Mayan Edition. Purchased various apparel, which I won’t detail here; if you know me in real life then you can appreciate the dark nerdery of my wardrobe. I also bought an awesome looking indie RPG called Misspent Youth from IPR. It seems like it’s right up my alley, conceptually if not mechanically. And…honestly that’s just scratching the surface of the crap I bought, and I’m out of time to make this blog post. So maybe I’ll follow up with a “more crap I bought at GenCon” post, because there were some really interesting finds.
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Gen Con Is Right Around The Corner…Yikes!

So this time next week I’ll be deeply embroiled in the yearly melting pot/crazed extravaganza of gaming culture that is GenCon. This will be our third year in attendance. To run down previous GenCons…

2011: Went largely to help out CGL with GMing Shadowrun. Mikaela came along but was fully in the midst of experiencing extreme personal/family tragedy, and left early. End Transmission Games did not exist yet, and no effort was made to promote my own stuff.
2012:  No personal tragedies this year, but when Mikaela and I went we were both dreadfully physically ill with some terrible death plague. Especially me. We carted a ton of Splinter books, and tried to run some demos, but no one had heard about our demos and and we had nowhere to sell our books. Net loss to our fledgling company: just thousands and thousands of dollars. One demo was a complete no-show, and the next was a big success…but I don’t really know what I was expecting since we didn’t have a booth, and with the rate they go at, it didn’t seem like we’d ever be able to afford one.  Anyway, my full wrap-up of GenCon 2012 is here.

(It’s been a pattern since at least 2010 (pre-End Transmission, when we were just trying to promote Systems) that we go to conventions knowing we’ll lose money on it as a given, but hoping that the word of mouth we spread will make up for it. Then of course, we’re both too shy and socially reticent/awkward (news flash: other people are terrifying, and it’s even worse with fellow geeks) to be remotely extroverted enough to actually spread said word of mouth.)

This year, though, I like to think we’re locked, cocked, and ready to rock.

Here’s the rundown of End Transmission’s GenCon appearance this year, and the products we’ll have on offer.

* We’re sharing a booth in the mighty mighty dealer’s hall with David Hill and Filamena Young of Machine Age Productions. Specifically it is booth #1956 and we should be there most or all of the con. Stop by! We’ll have all the following there:

* Singularity System Core Rulebook.

* Singularity System Gameplay Modules Biotech and Wild Talents.

* Brand New, Never Before Sold Singularity System Gameplay Module: Firefight! This is The Singularity System’s main personal combat module, and it includes rules for personal combat, including new actions, new maneuvers, 40 new weapons, and new options for customizing personal weapons and armor. 

* S.P.L.I.N.T.E.R. 

* Ronnie award winning storygame Anathema.

* ENnie award nominated fan RPG Phantasm (2010).

* We’re running one demo of the Singularity System ourselves, from 3-7 at Room #302 in the JW Marriott on Friday. There will also be other demos running Friday Morning and Sunday Morning, location to be announced.

* We’ll be at the Ennie Awards Ceremony right after our demo, to watch Phantasm(2010) probably not win. 

That about covers it! See you there!