Con Report: Origins 2011 – Day 1

As I told you a few days ago, today was the first day of Origins 2011. Last year, Origins had the honor of being the first convention I had ever attended. It was a fantastic time, and I really got a chance to expand my gaming horizons. How would this year stack up? Read on an find out.

A Change has Happened

I have learned so much about game and gaming in that last year that it borders on ridiculous.  Additionally, I have met a bunch of people who work and play in the gaming industry, thanks to both the convention-going and through Twitter. When I went to Pax East this year, I spent the majority of my time hanging out with people, chatting about all things gaming and generally having a fantastic time. Given that I spent most of my time at Origins 2010 running around like a chicken with its head cut off, going from game to game with few breaks. This year, that was all different.

However, I should start at the beginning.

I first had to pick up my badge for the convention. Well, I didn’t really have to, as I hadn’t been planning on attending official seminars or playing in any official games. Still, it’s what you do at a convention when you’ve pre-registered for a convention. I didn’t see a sign or anything that directed me as to where I should get my press pass, so I went to customer service…

…who told me to go to the pre-reg line…

…who told me to go to Special Services…

…where I waited for 25 minutes (in a line of 4-5 people)…

…to be told to go to the Convention Office…

…where I waited another 10 minutes to get my badge.

Ugh.

Now, conventions like Pax East set an almost unattainably high bar for convention organization, so it isn’t really fair to compare the two shows. Also, it’s Wednesday of Origins (which is only sort-of the first day, even though there are scheduled events) and the volunteers are still being told how to do everything. Still, the hoops I had to jump through to complete what ended up being a super-simple process were stupid. It’s simple: if you’re going to offer events on Wednesday, train your volunteers the day before. Or have signs pointing people in the right direction. *sigh*

Following that, I happened to run into Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue of Evil Hat Productions. We sat and chatted for a bit (much as we did at Pax East), and then Fred pulled out the playtest of Zepplin Armada, a tabletop card game that they are in the process of development. The game was super-cool. You’ve got a flagship with special abilities that you want to protect. You build up an armada of zepplins (duh) in a 3×2 grid and do battle with your opponents. You play attack cards, which can be stopped or diverted with some very interesting effects. There are also event cards that can change up the formation of your armada or change the damage output that your zepplins do.

I’m not usually a card/board game guy (hence why I stopped reviewing them here on TitC), but this one really grabbed my interest. Much later in the day, I heard someone mention that they were going to go get in on another playtest of the game, and I immediately wanted to go check it out again. Definitely something I’m going to plan on buying when it sees its release.

Following that, I grabbed some lunch and then met up with Sean Preston of Reality Blurs, and basically spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out with him and a bunch of other guys from Pinnacle Entertainment. Aside from some awesome conversations (seeing a theme here?), we spent a good chunk of that time playing a Fiasco playset that Sean wrote called Innsmouth Confidential. I didn’t have the presence of mind to set down my voice recorder to grab the audio of the session, but it was a blast. Sean took all of the mythos goodness from Lovecraft’s famous city and mixed it with the things-are-going-to-get-royally-messed-up mentality of Fiasco. It was a great game. He should be publishing it soon, so look for it.

My day ended up with (wait for it)… more great conversations with great gaming people. I got to meet Ken Hite, and I had to keep myself from squeeing with joy when it happened.  And I think that is a good way to sum up what today was for me: I got to talk to amazing people about the games we all love.

Last year, I had the amazing(?) realization that game designers are just people. It’s a very simplistic statement when it comes down to it, but there is a certain amount of hero-worship that goes on when it comes to thinking about the people that design and work on RPGs. Well, now I’m having the opportunity to hang out with these people and talk with them. It’s kind of amazing. I really hope that this post didn’t come off as just a whole bunch of name-dropping, but since I’m relaying the events of my day, and those are the people with whom I talked, I hope you’ll give me some leeway.

Tomorrow, I’m going to hit up the Exhibition Hall as soon as it opens (need to get a copy of the Fiasco Companion), try to get into a setting design panel with Ken Hite, run a Deadlands game at 3pm, and generally spend the evening relaxing with friends. It should be a great day.

If there’s anything you want  me to check out and report back on, let me know. Here is me Twitter page. Hit me up.

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