Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


And just like that...

it's over. GTS technically still runs seminars tomorrow but as far as I can tell, the show is done today. They tried a new format where Monday was set-up day for exhibitors while retailers had seminars, then exhibit hall hours were Tuesday and Wednesday, then more seminars on Thursday. On Tuesday and Wednesday there were free lunch and dinner buffets offered in a room all but adjoining the exhibit hall. GAMA really did everything they could to encourage attendees not to wander off from the show.

Tuesday we saw a lot of people and they were quite interested in everything we had to tell them. We talked with a ton of retailers about Song of Ice and Fire, Wild Cards, Free RPG Day, the four Origins Awards Semifinalist products from our catalog and more. We made new contacts in retail, foreign distribution, translation, licensing and printing. We packed a lot into a short time but I really feel like we walked out of here with a lot of valuable face time with actually interested parties. Very few people coming by just looking for free stuff and many people coming by to give us props and tell us how much they like what we're doing and how well it does in their stores. Nothing to complain about.

The biggest question that came up time and time again: What is Green Ronin doing about 4E? I gave my stock reply that we don't know what we're going to do until we see the final license and WotC issues it's actual terms and shows us the GSL and the SRD but it was an unsatisfactory answer for everyone concerned. We got lots of support from people anxious to see us continue with our OGL games and heard from a distressing number of people from the retail and distribution tiers who are feeling really uncertain about the upcoming edition of D&D. Even outside of the OGL/GSL issues, many retailers and some distributors kept repeating that they still really don't have a good feel for what 4E is going to be like and they feel frustrated that the message out of WotC seems to be "Well, it's D&D! That's enough!"

Poor Scott Rouse was clearly in a terribly position as people kept asking him for clarifications he doesn't have and assurances he is not in a position to give. He handled himself gracefully every time I saw him and I do believe he's been forthright about what the state of things is but there's no getting around the fact that his job has put him in a really hard position and his job hasn't been made any easier by the recent announcements about the GSL.

But enough about that! I'm meeting the rest of Team GR in a few minutes for dinner and then I'm going to make an effort to kick up my heels a bit and socialize with whoever still remains in town tonight. I've done precious little of that with anyone other than my Green Ronin homies so far. Viva Las Vegas!

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Live from Vegas

Pramas and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas before the GAMA Trade Show officially kicked off. Gabe "Mondo" Vega is eve expanding his ConQuest gaming convention empire and this year he kicked off ConQuest Vegas. We came down to show our support. They had a lovely space up on the 26th floor of Bally's (rooms with a view!) where the GTS seminars have been held. In the future I hope to be a bit more involved than we were this year (the lead-up to Vegas coincided with having to get a lot of other things under control around GRHQ and Chez Ronin). We may even make an appearance down at the next ConQuest franchise: ConQuest Reno in November. We'll see.

Pramas and I were here early on Saturday and couldn't yet check into our room so we went over to enjoy brunch at the Las Vegas incarnation of Thomas Keller's Bouchon . Really good idea. Great food, relaxing atmosphere, and it killed just the right amount of time to allow us to go back to Bally's and check into our room. We've also enjoyed meals at Wing Lei at the Wynn (the only Michelin starred Chinese restaurant in America, where we enjoyed the Peking duck tasting menu) and Michael Mina's Seablue over at the MGM. We also made a trip over to the Stage Deli at Caesar's Palace before Pramas had to pack up and hit the airport. So, the eating's been alright so far. Ha.

Chris heads home tonight to rejoin Kate, who has had a grand little adventure of her own bouncing around to various friends and hitting going away parties and Passover dinners, among other excitements. We waited all day to see if there were going to be any further announcements of clarifications on the situation with the GSL but we didn't glean any further information. No one we've talked to seems eager to sign on for 4E support current conditions. It seems like WotC has cast somewhat of a pall over things as retailers and distributors (not just third party publishers) try to make sense of what's happening and try to predict what the gaming landscape is going to look like in six to nine months time. At least one RPG liquidator is already offering to buy up any and all d20 products publishers will be forbidden to sell after the end of the year. Meanwhile I've already seen an absolutely adorable book that I can't wait to snap up from Atlas Games. I look forward to seeing more stuff tomorrow when the exhibit halls are set up for real.

Will try to find time to get some of my food photos posted this week but it may all wait until I get home. Damned getting older. 9:30 in Vegas and I'm dead tired (and the exhibit hall hasn't even opened yet!). For now, this is all the news I can think to report.

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GTS 07 is a wrap

So instead of making it down to Vegas by noonish on Sunday, I got bumped to a later flight and didn't arrive in my room until after midnight. The airline treated me well, though, and I got an upgrade to first class, enough meal vouchers to treat myself to a nice meal at Anthony's Seafood in the airport, and a voucher for a free future ticket.

Monday we didn't get our booth set up because tables and our graphics case had not yet been delivered to the booth, so we did what we could and then went out for a team bonding experience at The Gun Store, where we shot an assortment of automatic and/or futuristic assault weapons. It wasn't quite as fun as the last time, when they let us swap weapons with each other so we each got to try a couple of different guns but I think the outing was still a success. I know I had fun blowing the head off a gold-chain-wearing "scumbag" (our clerk's description) with a weapon our chaperon described as "the gun that Israeli housewives take to market." That whole macho gun-nut thing is really not my scene and I chuckled that despite my commie-pinko leanings I was able to illicit a couple of "good job"s with my gun handling from our chaperon.

At the show itself Green Ronin made our Song of Ice and Fire announcement, as well as the announcement that we're partnering with Firefly Games to do Faery's Tale Deluxe. We also handed out a few advanced copies of our new Walk the Plank card game, which I personally just love. All of these events were greeted with enthusiasm and interest from virtually everyone who stopped by to talk with us. Hoorah! I also got a peek at the development of the Hero Lab interface for Green Ronin's products.

I sat on a panel that I agreed to participate in because I thought I was going to moderate. Instead, Steve Wieck from One Book Shelf moderated and I was asked to speak a bit, though I think I really only spoke about GR things once, between Sean Patrick Fannon's Project '77 (A Manifesto for the Game Industry, not to be confused with Project 77 the Irish hip hop outfit or Project 77 the web designers) and Luke Crane's stories from the realm of those who self-identify as "indy" games publishers. When I did have a chance to speak, I thought it was more appropriate and helpful to the attending retailers to point them at Goodman Games brilliant Click-to-Brick Conversion program. What can I say, I guess I'm just not self-serving enough to insist on bending the conversation to being about me me me.

Overall I thought GTS 2007 was a clear success. People were happy (some deliriously so) with the hotel (both for accommodations and for hang-out spaces) and the convention center venue itself. I'm just personally glad to be done with the two and a half years of bitching and whining about the fucking Riviera and all the hyperbole about how it was dangerous to let your female employees walk the streets alone there blah blah blah. It's done, Bally's is superior (now that GAMA is not being held to an unrealistic room rate cap of $99/night and can actually contract with places of Bally's caliber) and even the union guys who worked the show were downright nice on the few occasions I had to deal with them. Overwhelmingly the gossip and speculation at the show revolved around WotC, while I'll comment on more in a separate blog post I think. Additionally there were distributor mergers and a couple more smaller or specific niche distributors who have gone out of business and absent retailers who either made the poor decision to attend Games Expo instead of GTS or just flat went out of business. The industry is "depressed" and WotC's current maneuvers (especially combined with their general policy of remaining closed mouthed about the changes that are ever more clearly on the horizon) is fueling interesting reactions, varying from cautious optimism to outright panic to full-blown paranoia.

I'm sure more events from the week will come to me in dribs and drabs now that I'm home and planted in front of a computer again. For now, I have a few thousand e-mails to catch up on and a family to reconnect with.

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Vegas Bound

Catching Shuttle Express in 7 hours. As always, I'm certain I'm forgetting something and I'm going to sleep like hell tonight if the last 17 years or so of history are anything to go by. Amped up before a trip I can't get to sleep when I should and always wake up every few hours, anxiously checking the clock. Gah. Hate that.

Decided not to take my computer, so I probably won't have any updates until I get back on Friday.

We'll have a couple of press releases going out at the show, and we'll have advanced copies of our new card game, Walk the Plank, to show off. Excited about that one.

Now, my sad attempt at sleep begins.

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Vegas Bound

Catching Shuttle Express in 7 hours. As always, I'm certain I'm forgetting something and I'm going to sleep like hell tonight if the last 17 years or so of history are anything to go by. Amped up before a trip I can't get to sleep when I should and always wake up every few hours, anxiously checking the clock. Gah. Hate that.

Decided not to take my computer, so I probably won't have any updates until I get back on Friday.

We'll have a couple of press releases going out at the show, and we'll have advanced copies of our new card game, Walk the Plank, to show off. Excited about that one.

Now, my sad attempt at sleep begins.

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The New, New, New (NEW!) Origins Awards

It's that time of the year again. Every spring around this time, after the initial deadline for the Origins Awards has passed and been extended and passed again, someone in the game industry wakes up and says, "Hey, the rules are different! What's going on?!" sparking the annual round of "We fixed it!"/"You broke it!"/"Who cares?" bickering as people take sides (or don't) and eventually some sort of awards based on some criteria are handed out to greater or lesser fanfare.

This year, once again, the people who have not yet had their months of futile and unappreciated work burned to the ground take up the same cries of, "Just give it a chance, just wait and see, this time we've really got it!" This year, for at least the sixth time in the last ten years, the Origins Awards have been restructured, re-defined, re-positioned and (they hope) re-branded.

This year GAMA is making no bones about it, the Origins Awards are to promote Origins. This philosophy has been bouncing around out there for a while but it has finally won out as the dominant vision for the awards. This means the pretense that the Origins Awards are somehow selecting the "best" games or even "favorite" games has been largely thrown aside in favor of a system that the organization hopes will generate publicity. Of course, if some good games are rewarded in the process, all the better but the inability to reach even a working consensus about what constitutes an exceptional game deserving of recognition by peers and players alike has unquestionably brought the awards to the point of being an unabashed marketing tool first and foremost.

The GAMA and Origins and AAGAD websites remain unintuitive and incomplete (for example, there's apparently an "Origins New Release Award" but the page about it is blank and the page on submissions merely says "Origins Awards policies are presently under review. They will be published shortly."), but ICv2 has a summary of the new, new, NEW Origins Awards process here.

I've had things to say about the Origins Awards in the past. I don't really have that much to say anymore, except to observe the passing of another year, another round of changes, another series of hoops to jump through (meaning forms to fill out, samples to pack and mail, CDs with logos and cover shots to provide and whatever else). Some people will bother, some people find the awards so tainted that it's not worth the effort. Awards of some sort will be handed out. People will hold them up and say yay, or not.

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Origins Update

Man, I've been SO busy. No time for blogging at this convention so far.

Tuesday we left for Columbus, arriving after midnight. We'd had a hellish connection in Dallas, where we had about 15 minutes to get from the last row of our crowded plane across the entire gigantic horseshoe-shaped Dallas/Ft.Worth airport. I'll go into more detail on that some other time. Suffice to say that we made the flight but our luggage did not.

The hotel we're in is brand new and we're very pleased. Because we had to check in with the staff several times due to our late-night arrival, the multiple deliveries for us, and our missing luggage, the staff knows us on sight. They've been extremely sweet and good-natured about not only our needs but handling the large influx of gamers at the hotel. Thumbs up to the staff of the Drury Inn.

Wednesday night was the GAMA general meeting and the GAMA elections. The meeting was well-attended and it seems that I can work with everyone who was elected this year, so that was very good news.

Thursday was the frist day of the show, which I thought was well attended for a Thursday. I was in and out of the booth for much of the day, so I don't have a sense of how sales went but I feel pleased at the level of exposure we've had. Our demos have been going off without a hitch as well, which is always a blessed relief.

Thursday night was the GAMA Board meeting, with the new Board of Directors. Very pleasant and productive meeting, with lots of good reports on the convention from the GAMA staff.

Friday I rearranged my schedule to have time enough to go on an outting to a waterpark with Kate, Mary, and Miranda. Good fun, though I did get a brutal sunburn on my back and shoulders. Luckily, the sunburn didn't show from under my dress for the Origins Awards.

The ceremony is another subject deserving its own entry, so I'll just say that it went off remarkably well considering how many last minute things were snafu'd. At the end of the ceremony I was announced as the new Chair of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design, and to my stunned amazement received an embarrassingly long standing ovation from the attendees. Congratulations and condolences were offered after the show, and now the hard part begins.

Two more days of show, though today is half-over as I write this. Kate went with Mary and Miranda to the zoo and aquarium as part of the "Spouse Track" of offerings for the non-gaming family members of the gamers who attend the convention. Tomorrow I'm intending to take some of my off-time from the booth to take Kate to COSI, which is a really fun museum, great for kids.

We're not flying home until Monday night, so I intend to relax for as long as I can get away with on Monday before check-out. More updates are likely to happen then.

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