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Gen Con 2006 in a Nutshell 89

Posted by Zonk
from the jesus-saves-takes-half-damage dept.
Another year, another trip into the heart of dorkness. Gen Con Indy 2006 was marked, not so much by the big releases (because there weren't that many this year), but by changes in the wind. Several newer systems were in their second year, garnering praise for their continued quality. Some games that we saw last year weren't even around this year. Others were just not doing as well as their creators would have hoped. The focus, though, was entirely on the games ... and next year's convention. The talk in the halls and on the exhibit hall floor, when not about dice and mechanics, surrounded what Gen Con will be like next year and the changes that videogames will bring to the event. Read on for my comments about what I saw this year, what worked, what didn't, and a few words on what might result from next year's changes.
The most notable launch this year (if only by force of advertising alone) was Wizards of the Coast's (WotC) Dreamblade. A 'collectable miniatures' game, WotC is building on their experience with the D&D and Star Wars miniature games to try for another hit along the lines of Magic: The Gathering. You can't doubt their sincerity: a $20K tournament was held at the convention, and $1000 mini-tournaments are going to be held across the country in the coming weeks. It's difficult to describe the 'genre' of the game, but the gent demoing the title at the Wizards booth likened it to a cross between Magic and Chess. In Dreamblade, you take on the role of a Psionic master, creating creatures out of dreamstuff. Strange and twisted nightmares are summoned onto a board. You advance these creatures across the board, trying to hold certain areas while simultaneously destroying your opponent's. The game is broken up into discrete turns, and a game session has a limited number of turns before it is over. The mechanics seemed very simple to pick up, but there was a good deal of strategy inherent in the interaction between board, creatures, and players.

Last year's con report had me talking about another Wizards launch, a card game called Hecatomb. You may recall me saying 'The quick Demo I had the chance to take in wasn't enough to make me run off and buy it, but I look forward to taking a closer look in the future.' Hecatomb has since joined the creepy creatures it portrayed in deathless slumber. Just one year later, a friend bought eight starter sets of last year's 'next big thing' from a dealer for $10 and a trio of lollipops. I imagine the game died because of poor sales, but I couldn't tell you for sure what happened there. If anyone has details, please share. As surprised as I was this year to learn Hecatomb had already succumbed to market forces, I was even more surprised to see them launching a new game so soon afterwards. Dreamblade has a weightier feel than Hecatomb did last year, though. While I don't think it will be replacing D&D minis any time soon, I also have the feeling it won't be gone by the time Gen Con Indy 2007 rolls around.

Beyond card games, last year also saw the launch of a few powerhouses in the table-top roleplaying market. Shadowrun 4th edition, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd edition, and Mage: The Awakening all took the stage, to varying amounts of applause. A year later, and each of them has been well received by their intended audiences. The superhero title Mutants and Masterminds has had brisk sales as gamers come to love its very different approach to the d20 system. New supplements include a GM's guide, a campaign setting, and a brand-new powers book. Mage, as successor to White Wolf's 'Ascension' line, continues to impress old and new gamers alike. A new sister product was on offer at the con, Promethean: the Created. Promethean is a storytelling game about crafted creatures, golems or monstrosities from the labs of Frankensteinian scientists. I didn't have a chance to catch a demo, but a flip through the book and initial player reactions would indicate White Wolf is living up to its usual level of quality. Shadowrun has had a somewhat slow year, product-wise, but FanPro was offering a major release at their booth: Street Magic. This first real look at magic in the 2070s answers a lot of questions, and begins to get players and GMs into the feel of the reworked setting. From talking to the folks at their booth, and observing games around the con, adoption of the refined 4th edition rules has been a huge success. Having run a campaign with the new rules, I can definitely vouch for their simplicity and transparency.

Another 'continuing success' story revolves around the booth manned by the buccaneers of Privateer Press. Publishers of the tactical miniatures games Warmachine and Hordes, as well as the RPG setting Iron Kingoms, Privateer runs a bustling booth. As it's usually packed with enthusiastic fans, I've never really had the chance to check out their products. I'm very much late to the party, but I finally had the chance to take in some demos and I wanted to be sure to mention them. I'm not much of a wargamer, but the high-fantasy-meets-steampunk on the battlefield feel of their titles was enough to turn my head. Warmachine's uncomplicated game mechanics made a demo a highly enjoyable experience, and the incredible detail the figurines sport is something all lead-crafters should strive for. Beyond the simplicity of their wargaming offerings, I also had the chance to enjoy a session of the Iron Kingdoms RPG. Despite its D&D roots, the title felt very different from many 'traditional high fantasy' games I've played. In an industry built around new takes on old concepts, it was great to see the lengths they've gone to in order to step beyond what we think of as Dungeons and Dragons.

There were some brand-new products and announcements in the offing this year as well. An announcement I heard mentioned several times as I walked the hall is next year's plan to reintroduce the d20 Star Wars RPG. The discontinued product line is going to be relaunched, with a slimmed-down rules system and a lot of detail dropped into the game's tweaks. The reappearance of Runequest was a smaller, but just as appreciated, product event. The new line by Mongoose is a relaunch of the 1978 Chaosium title, with industry heavyweights like Robin Laws and Kenneth Hite contributing material. RuneQuest was a predecessor game for some of the most popular titles in the industry today, and so it will be very interesting to see how the new rules and setting appeal to gamers of today. The largest launch at the con, if only by virtue of physical size, was the Ptolus campaign setting from Malhavoc Press. Weighing in at over 700 pages, the book feels almost brobdingnagian to hold; just finding a comfortable position to read the thing was something of a challenge. It's well worth the effort, though. The depth of information, quality of production, and freshness of the setting are inspiring. At $120, it's certainly not for everyone, but it made quite an impression at an overall fairly quiet convention.

Two previews this year may have dipped below the radar for some convention attendees, if only by virtue of the challenges in playing them. While not yet officially launched, the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game and the EVE: Second Genesis Collectible Card Game were visible from many places in the convention hall. Actually getting the chance to learn more about them, though, was something of a trial. In point of fact, I didn't get the chance to play either of them. I can't really fault EVE's creators for my lack of information: EVE's double-decker booth had an intimidatingly long line for much of the convention. I go to Gen Con primarily to play games, and I just never had the time to wait around. If anyone has first-hand experience with CCP's newest endeavor, please feel free to share. The WoW CCG, on the other hand, was actually being demoed by appointment only. I didn't make the cut. If you're interested in the game itself, Upper Deck has a Gen Con blog, which ran for much of last weekend. In between the sycophantic statements, the author talks about some fairly interesting game mechanics that I'm sure would have been really interesting to check out.

If you'd rather your gaming be electronic in nature, there were several titles showing on the exhibit hall floor. A harbinger of next year's hoped-for flood, the few titles showing typified the computer games of years past: based in roleplaying and for roleplayers. Unsurprisingly, Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) was there again this year. A much less enthusiastic crowd surrounded their booth; the game's launch left few who hadn't already been exposed to the game and desperately wanted to play. Despite the lack of a fervent crowd, Turbine was proudly showing off the next module for the title and seemed to be honestly seeking player feedback on where to go next. There were several developers on-hand speaking to the con-goers, and the one that came up to me began 'Hi there. Do you have any complaints about the game?' While I'm still not sure about where they've gone with DDO, it's good to see they're honestly seeking input on what they've done so far. Mythic, on the other side of a wall from Turbine, was far less interested in such feedback. Their booth was staffed by PR and marketing hires; while perfectly nice and very willing to walk me through a demo of Warhammer Online, my technical questions about the game went over their heads. I wasn't very impressed, either with Mythic's showing or with the game itself. The buzz around the convention seemed to be that it is 'too much' of a World of Warcraft (WoW) ripoff. The thematic links between Warhammer and WoW are obvious, but Mythic didn't seem terribly interested in distancing itself from the millions-strong Blizzard title. Another very familiar face was Neverwinter Nights 2, the unapologetic sequel to the 2002 Bioware title. Essentially 'just' a prettier version of the first game, with updates to the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules-set, it was still one of the most popular PC games at the convention. The module construction tool was available for perusal as well. While I only had a few minutes to slap together a bare-bones adventure, the whole experience was very intuitive. They've obviously made some major improvements over the Aurora set, and have made the members of the (still-active) Neverwinter community very pleased.

Pleased would also be the best way to describe my reaction to the highly original Pirates of the Burning Sea, (PotBS) which I got to have my first hands-on time with at the convention. Far from 'yet another boring fantasy knock-off', PotBS is going to have Massive gamers yarring in delight when it launches. Ship combat is fast paced, while still remaining highly strategic. There are a number of factions to fight for or against, and a highly involved PvP system that will allow for real 'ownership' of the game world. Pirates was far and away the highlight of my Gen Con experience, and I'm very much looking forward its commercial launch. They're announcing their ship date on the 25th of the month, at PAX, and I certainly hope it's sooner rather than later. A quirky, already available title also on the show floor was the engaging Pox Nora. Essentially an online fantasy miniatures game, Pox is priced at the appealing level of free. Gameplay is a one-on-one skirmish between two players. They pit their randomly assigned figurine armies against each other, taking control of strategic areas of the game board while trying to destroy the other player's units and structures. It's a little odd to get used to at first, but I highly recommend giving it a try if you have some free time.

Free time was the last thing I had this past weekend. As with every year I barely managed to scratch the surface of what was going on around the con. I didn't make it to the ENnies again, and so wasn't there to see table-top gaming's awards show make legends of products and people. I was particularly glad to see that Paizo's Shackled City Adventure Path got several firm nods. The new editions of Shadowrun and Mutants and Masterminds were also highly lauded. I picked up the new Order of the Stick book, No Cure for the Paladin Blues, but didn't have a chance to play the OOTS card/board game. The reaction from a few people I spoke to was kind of 'eh', but they sold out their entire stock on the first day of the convention just the same. I played the live action corridor romp True Dungeon again this year, and this time around it just plain old sucked eggs. My group made it to the last room perfectly fine (where we died, which is to be expected), but the entire event felt poorly planned and executed compared to previous experiences. I will definitely not be playing again next year. I also didn't have the inclination or finances to buy one of the two massive D&D figurines Wizards of the Coast was showing off at the convention. The Gargantuan Black Dragon, already available, stood wing-to-wing with the as yet unreleased Colossal Red. Along with the enormous Cthulu HorrorClix figure (another game I didn't get to play this con), they ensured there were many people lugging around too-big boxes for much of the event. I also didn't get a chance to see the screenings of The Gamers 2, or attend the Videogames Live concert that coincided with the weekend's festivities. There's always so much going on at Gen Con, it's a yearly trial to prioritize what 'has' to be done.

One thing I did get to see was a trailer for Dungeon Runners, one of the new 'free' games that NCSoft is developing. The presence of videogames was notably larger this year, with a room set aside for the videogaming tournaments and a large screen in one of the main hallways displaying trailers for upcoming titles. Last year (and in years previous) videogames were relegated to some out-of-the-way corner of the convention, as more traditional gaming types retained the attention of advertisers, companies, and attendees. All of these elements were signs of things to come. As you've no doubt heard by this point, the downsizing of E3 next year has resulted in a number of pretenders to the throne. Gen Con LLC has announced their intention to try for the crown. Gen Con So Cal will be moved to the LA Convention center next year, and Indy is going to be offering an additional 43,000 square feet to videogame publishers and developers that would like to get some face time with the pen-and-paper set. Opinions were decidedly mixed at the convention, and I have to say that I'm more than a little trepidacious about what these changes might mean for the 'best four days in gaming'.

The Indy convention is the successor to the con held in Milwaukee for many years. It has always held a place of honor as the 'con of cons', but that place is no longer assured. I simply can't see game publishers wanting to trek out to the Midwest, when there is a perfectly good alternative a few months later on the West coast. I'm definitely biased, being a midwesterner myself, but I hate to think of the tradition of Gen Con being tossed aside in a bid for videogaming advertising dollars. Gen Con has always been about wargaming, pen and paper RPGs, miniatures, card games ... it's nerdy and 'uncool', to be sure, but for the people who care about such things this convention has always been a place they could call 'home'. The cover for this year's events booklet even bought into that sentiment, saying in as many words "Welcome to Gen Con ... Welcome Home!"

The slick production values of an E3-like spectacle have no place in the world of shoulder-dragon-wearing gamer hippies, chicks in chainmail bikinis, and smelly dorks chortling over the latest escapades of Drizzt Do' Urden. If videogames come to Gen Con on their terms, with bright lights and booth babes, the Gen Con that I've enjoyed for so many years will be over and done with. If Peter Adkinson and Co. are serious about incorporating electronic gaming into this pen-and-paper palace, they're going to need to bring videogames to us on our terms. Keep things friendly, keep them relatively quiet, and speak honestly about what you have to offer. The future of Gen Con will be written in the events of 2007 and despite my fears I'll be there for yet another year of dice, cards, and German board games. It is, after all, a little piece of home.
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Gen Con 2006 in a Nutshell

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:35PM (#15936361) Homepage Journal

    I always like a Convention that heralds the next convention as the really big news of this convention.

  • by night_flyer (453866) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:37PM (#15936368) Homepage
    "next year's plan to reintroduce the d20 Star Wars RPG. The discontinued product line is going to be relaunched, with a slimmed-down rules system and a lot of detail dropped into the game's tweaks."

    I imagine if the new streamlined rules work/sell well enough for the new Star Wars, I would not be suprised to see the same rules in DnD 4.0
  • by reimero (194707) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:38PM (#15936379)
    This year, it seemed to me that Gencon was more "corporate," in an "out to make a buck" sort of way (as opposed to Origins, which was "out to break even.") I tend to compare Gencon and Origins side-by-side, since they're fairly close in size, scope and locale. I do think this was one of the better Gencons in recent memory, but I couldn't help but observe an interesting trend: it seems like vendors are going toward either Origins or Gencon, but many are not doing both. For instance, neither Wizards of the Coast nor Upper Deck were present at all at Origins but were a major presence at Gencon. Conversely, Decipher and 8-Foot Llama were entirely absent from Gencon. And Looney Labs, who had a large suite at Origins, had a corner of a shared booth at Gencon.
    • by Troy Baer (1395)
      Decipher was at Origins this year? I sure as heck didn't see 'em.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by zestymonkey (78271)
        Decipher likely couldn't afford to be at GenCon if in fact they weren't there. The company is a skeleton of its former self, with a core designer located far away from the office in Norfolk. They are reduced to two licenses with marginal value. All of their attempts to capture the kiddie gaming market failed.

        Decipher is somewhat indicative of the gaming industry in general. It's always been a fringe business, subject to the increase of cost of living, no matter how many gamers finance their addiction on cre
    • by BMonger (68213)
      Can't say why WotC wasn't at Origins but I'm pretty sure WotC runs Gen-Con these days which would explain why they were there out of the two. That may even be why they weren't at the other.
    • by Yekrats (116068) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:26PM (#15937092) Homepage
      I can probably speak for the Eight Foot Llama guys. I'm a game designer and shared a booth with him in the past, and I've done most of their artwork for them.

      Booths are pretty expensive at Gencon: $1000 for a 10x10' area at the cheapest, last I checked. I think Jim Doherty (head llama-herder) just had to make a business decision: Origins or GenCon. Since Origins is closer to him, and more boardgame-oriented, I think he chose that.

      I think it's a "dirty little secret" that most booths at GenCon don't break even. I tried it two years with my company <cheap plug> Dogtown Games [dogtowngames.com] </cheap plug>. It's very hard for the companies to "make booth". That is, to make enough money to cover your expenses plus the cost of the booth. It helps if you have the "hit of Gencon".

      Now, mind you, I know that some companies out there are making money hand over fist. However, most companies there, I think, use it as advertising. If you have a presence and shake enough hands, people will buy your games through external sources. It boosts sales, even if not directly.

      More troubling to me is Eagle Games recently declaring bankruptcy, who were known for their gargantuan big-box games.
      • by Yekrats (116068)
        I might add... to be fair, some of the indie designers that I talked to at Gencon seemed to be doing better this year than in past years. Wallets seemed to be opening up a bit more freely.
  • by andrewman327 (635952) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:41PM (#15936394) Homepage Journal
    There were several developers on-hand speaking to the con-goers, and the one that came up to me began 'Hi there. Do you have any complaints about the game?'
    I can only imagine what the response would be if Microsoft did this for any of its software.

    Althought the reactons to DDO have been mild at best, by seeking consumer input they are much more likely to improve it in future iterations. Corporations pay lots of money to learn about their markets; it is nice to see this company cutting out the middleman and asking directly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I totally agree with you. I play DDO on a pretty regular basis, and while it still has its flaws, they have steadily improved the game play in every update, which come out about every 3-4 weeks. They also listen well to player feedback on the forums and have reacted to it, as one of the updates about a month ago improved the already useful interface for players Looking for Group or Looking for More (the one thing I found WoW to be severely lacking, especially for players looking to run the lower level dung
    • by Com2Kid (142006)

      I can only imagine what the response would be if Microsoft did this for any of its software.

      Oddly enough, the MSDN Search Team did exactly this in their blog.

      After the unanimous "it sucks!" comments came through though, I haven't seen anything else out of them!

      Microsoft has been eliciting a lot of user feedback on products as of late. That is the entire point of all these open betas they are holding. Microsoft also holds a ton of focus group tests, and many of their programmers do have actively maintained

  • by jbarr (2233) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:43PM (#15936407) Homepage
    ...200 pound women walking around in chainmail bikinis... ...Hoards of dorks excited about RPG games... ...Being excited about being one of those dorks...

    We really had lots of fun. Haven't been back in probably 20 years...
    • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:30PM (#15936676)
      I got my Dad to take me to Gen Con in those days when I was about ... 10 or 12, maybe? I have no idea how I talked him into it now ... I think maybe he was able to schedule some work thing in the area at the same time (in those days, you really could drop your kid off somewhere for a few hours, honest!).

      What I was struck by was how *nice* everybody was to me. I was the youngest one in every group I played with, and though a few jokes went over my head (and they *thought* a few others went over my head ...) everybody went out of their way to make me feel welcome and not be pissed off that I was there. It's still a fond (if fuzzy) memory.
  • by CheddarHead (811916) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:43PM (#15936408)
    You keep using that phrase. I don't think it means what you think it means.
  • I'm an avid gamer, and Shadowrun's my flat-out favorite system ever created. (I like it because, not in spite of, its weirdnesses, so take what I say with a pound or two of salt.)

    FanPro has turned it from an obscure cult favorite into an attempt at mass-market appeal. The system has gotten moronically simple (yay for newbies, boo for old-timers) and much of the flavor of the game has been replaced by "XTREME attitude!"

    And we've got a Shadowrun first person shooter in the works, for God's sake...

    RIP, Shadowr
    • by bartkusa (827611)
      Mass-market appeal is a good thing. FanPro is making the game to make money, not to make your circle-jerk gaming community happy.

      I'm new to Shadowrun 4th, and the system is very easy to pick up and learn. It makes sense. This is good because it doesn't make it a pain in the ass to introduce people to the game, thereby increasing the size of the audience, the size of the hobby, and the probability for future supplements.

      I'm not familiar with the previous tone of Shadowrun setting material, but there's

      • by Ichoran (106539)
        It depends what you want out of your game. If you want to pick it up, play the kinds of characters you're supposed to for a few sessions, and then move on to something else, SR4 is probably better than earlier versions. It's simple to pick up, and by the time you've figured out enough of the shockingly problematic aspects of the rules, you're done, and are playing some other game.

        Earlier versions of SR had remarkable flexibility for a non-generic game setting (i.e. not Rifts, not HERO), due to the core me
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I did not get to make it to Gencon this year, but you missed the real good stuff... The Forge booth. This booth (at least among RPG companies) did third in sales this year (next to Wizards and White Wolf), and the funny thing is - they aren't a company, just a ragtag assembly of independent game designers. The games at the Forge booth are tremendously interesting, far more cutting edge than any new edition or new mainstream game released this year. It's really, really good stuff - you should check it out ne
    • by curlif (318086)

      The Forge booth was awesome this year (full disclosure: I worked the Indie Press Revolution [indiepressrevolution.com] chunk of it, running sales). The main draw, as ever, is that half of the booth is taken up by demo space with 10-20 minute tasters of all the games on sale run by the game designers, and the booth is hopping all convention long.

      Although alone among exhibitors to publish sales results [indie-rpgs.com], the idea that the Forge came in third after WW and WotC is alas, conjecture [livejournal.com] contested by Paizo and probably Palladium - although who

  • by twl1973 (877541) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:01PM (#15936521) Journal
    Regarding WoW and Warhammer Online:

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/04/10 [penny-arcade.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hausenwulf (956554)
      The idea that Warhammer Online is a rip-off of WoW is too funny. Unfortunately, most people won't know or care which game came first.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        They both have more or less the same thematic influences (granted, WoW devs have actually cited WFB as an influence, right? but it's largely irrelevant IMO) and WoW came out before WO. WO's gameplay is allegedly awfully close to WoW, but then, I haven't played either one. Regardless, if that is true, then I think it's safe to say that they're copying each other.
        • by vjmurphy (190266)
          And WoW's gameplay is awfully close to Everquest's. I mean, how many "run up to monster, press attack buttons repeatedly" variants can there be?
          • by drinkypoo (153816)
            Well, it is true that there's only a handful of innately innovative games, because after the innovation, all that's left is evolution. Thus, Dune 2, adventure (both games with this title), pong, pac-man, and a small handful of others get this tag. Everyone else just has to rely on being fun :)
  • You know what type of person is writing this article, when there aren't even any pictures of hot booth babes.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Pdj79 (807149)
      Not that I am trying to defend his masculinity (or should I say "manhood"), but perhaps the reason the author didn't include pictures of hot booth babes because, in all honesty, there weren't that many. Sure, there were some cute girls handing out free swag (and the Wench booth had some smokin' women in leather get-ups) and what not, but in comparison to E3 booth babes...GenCon looked more like a Wal-Mart at 2AM. There were hotter attendees than booth operators.
      • by sunwukong (412560)
        GenCon looked more like a Wal-Mart at 2AM. There were hotter attendees than booth operators.

        Dammit .... that's got to be the worst mental image, ever!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by flooey (695860)
      You know what type of person is writing this article, when there aren't even any pictures of hot booth babes.

      You know what type of person is writing this article, when the article is about Gen Con.
      • Here is a little something [flickr.com] for ya...
        • by Pdj79 (807149)
          That's the babe from the Wench booth I was referring to a couple posts up. My one gripe is that she chose to wear a white thong under the getup...come on...you gotta rock the hot pink underneath black leather. On a side note, I found myself looking through all the pics hoping to catch a glimpse of me somewhere in the crowd. Oh well.
  • by conform (55925) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:07PM (#15936544)
    I worked as a judge at the Dreamblade release event (436 players, competing for large amounts of cash with a game that the majority of them had never played before. It was... an adventure), and attended the Q&A with the Wizards of the Coast staff that took place the day before.

    D&D Minis and Dreamblade are separate products, and the success of one won't really affect the other. It was noted at the Q&A that obligations to the brands for both D&D and Star Wars minis make it implausible to push those games in a direction that would make them suitable for a highly competitive tournament direction. A big part of the vision for Dreamblade was a game where the rules/gameplay and the IP situation would be suitable for a (large, cash prize) competitive environment.

    It's also worth noting that this is a far different vision than Hecatomb had.

    The game is fun. I'm not a minis gamer, so I don't know how that crowd will take it, but I'd describe it more as a collectible board game. It's got an interesting opening-midgame-endgame progression, where the objectives change significantly. Strategy seems subtle and non-obvious. I think it has potential.

    Only time will tell, obviously.

    I am confident that there will be large (prize-pool-wise, at least) Dreamblade events at next year's GenCon. Four releases (including the one premiered last week) are completed; one more is almost finished, and the 6th set is currently in development. The staff that Wizards has on development of the game and on organized play are the heavy hitters: it's the same people who are running the Pro Tour for Magic. Obviously, if the game flops, they'll discontinue it, but every sign I see suggests that they're going to take time to try to build this game and help it succeed.

    The big question in my mind is whether the game is simple and attractive enough for casual gamers to enjoy. The artwork and flavor are definitely there, but the game may play a little too slowly. Folks who worked on the game insist that once you learn how to play, games should only take 20-30 minutes, but I have some lingering scepticism about that.
    • I tried the online demo, and the game seems kind of "forced." I really liked the idea behind it, but the game just sort of falls flat. I guess if they want to succeed, they should have a lame anime cartoon to support it, like Beyblade, Pokemon or Yu Gi Oh!
    • A collectible board game? Isn't that what Dragon Dice was, before TSR quietly smothered it in the night? Engineering and lots and lots of money aside, I think Dreamblade has a good chance of going the same way, not because of any complexity it might have, but for sheer fiddliness.

      You can stick a deck of Magic cards in a pocket, but a game that requires you to tote a box of potentially fragile miniatures, maps and rules booklets really doesn't lend itself to the same sort of impulse buying or pick-up games

    • "A big part of the vision for Dreamblade was a game where the rules/gameplay and the IP situation would be suitable for a (large, cash prize) competitive environment."
      "The game is fun"

      Once the "large cash prize" players get down to serious analysis I doubt seriously whether it will remain "fun".

    • Actually I think Dreamblade is great. The "Chess meets magic" quote is spot on. I have also found that I like it over other collectible games due to the fact that with a starter pack and a booster you can beat most anyone who has spent less then $200 on the game. Of course, as with all games of this nature, winning becomes significantly easier when you can put together multiple "decks" for different situations (aka spend a few paychecks on flushing out your minis). Still, lots of fun. I plan to get involved
  • Man, that thing [slashdot.org] looks so fake. Where are the specular highlights and bump-mapping? What is this? Last gen?

  • "Man, that thing [slashdot.org] looks so fake." What do you think would come out of a genetic manipulation convention? A bunny with four eyes? oh no, that'd put bunnies in a superior position to mankind. -please note I'm not stupid. Gen is not for genetic. It's for ehh.. uhh... It's for something else!
  • Good interview with the guy from Eve Online and the card game, about 45 mins in.

    http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/26414 [gamerswithjobs.com]
  • No mention of Mechwarrior miniatures? What about the new colossal class Ares 'Mechs? Am I blind or was there not even a mention of WizKids anywhere in there?
    • Forget mechwarrior - no mention of the complete relaunch of Battletech, either. Ah well.
      • by ACQ (966887)
        True. It is a sad time. Star Trek has lost steam the last few years. Mechwarrior seems to be losing steam. Gotta make way for the Stargates and Battlestars. That's okay, I love them too. None of this really matters in the end anyway. I'll still have my miniatures long after Mechwarrior is given the axe.
    • by Mithrandir (3459)
      Cthulu HoroClix is Wizkids. But, as another MechWarrior fan, it's not surprising that they didn't mention much about it. There's not much "new" in the system, just another release coming at the end of next month and Ares. Ares hasn't changed the rules at much, except for the multiple dial setup, unlike the Age of Destruction did. They just made stuff bigger. Most of this is at the noise level for gamers that don't know the systems.
  • That Pox Nora looks cool, and free to get you started/addicted. Thanks for mentioning it!
    • by Yuioup (452151)
      I have a sister named Nora.

      All of a sudden it doesn't sound so fun anymore...

      Y
  • Let's not forget FanPro and Classic Battletech...

    A very good show with some excellent VW pods.

    Some up close and personal:

    http://www.evilnet.net/GenCon06.shtml

    http://propwash.txf.com/images/Gencon06stuff/

    go down about 2/3 the way... NUKE BOARD!!!

    http://battlezone.invisionzone.com/index.php?showt opic=248
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:29PM (#15937117) Homepage Journal
    As a group of con attendees I was with headed over to the nearby Ram brewpub for dinner, we were mildly startled to see that Privateer Press had redone the front page of their menu for them.

    Tarrasque burgers. Yummy.

    I was mainly there for the Robotech panels, having to do with the upcoming Shadow Chronicles movie. Had a hell of a time, wrote about it here [terrania.us].
  • My wife and I just came through an addictive run with Oblivion and we're both wondering: Among Gamers Who Know (that would be you folks), what are the options for one-on-one, Dungeons-and-Dragons-style role playing games?

    • Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 would probably be a good bet.
    • by Arivia (783328)
      Stay far, far away from 3e D&D itself --- the challenge balancing system is anathema to solo play unless you really, really know what you're doing.
    • My wife and I just came through an addictive run with Oblivion and we're both wondering: Among Gamers Who Know (that would be you folks), what are the options for one-on-one, Dungeons-and-Dragons-style role playing games?

      We do that all the time at home, on the road, etc. It's story-telling with very occasional dice-slinging when we have the time, but its mostly story-telling. When we put the family on the road for a long trip the kids are in the back with a movie and we can sit up front passing the time

  • by Dracos (107777) on Friday August 18, 2006 @05:15PM (#15937339)

    Video and other electrinic games do not belong at GenCon. The tabletop gaming market shrinks year after year (some say by as much as 10% yearly), and video games are a major factor in that, along with lack of time, and increasing social isolation.

    Two related analogies I must present yet again, the significance of which will be apparent to most gamers on /.:

    • Wizards of the Coast is to tabletop gaming as Microsoft is to software
    • d20 is to game systems as Windows is to operating systems

    WotC is the self-declared king of the gaming market. They, like MS, try to have a presence in every niche created by others, with lackluster, seldom innovative products which survive only because of their marketing budgets. Fortunately, there's very little FUD in the gaming industry.

    d20 is one of the worst systems ever developed. Rather than fix all of the inherent problems in D&D, d20 relies on most of them, and throws in some dirty hacks on top. The d20 and OGL licenses are both laughable from an "open source" standpoint. All the "games" built around d20 are really little more than desktop themes. Here is the prime example of WotC using their marketing clout to make a bad product the core of an industry. I still can't wait for d20 to die.

    • d20 is one of the worst systems ever developed. Rather than fix all of the inherent problems in D&D, d20 relies on most of them, and throws in some dirty hacks on top. The d20 and OGL licenses are both laughable from an "open source" standpoint. All the "games" built around d20 are really little more than desktop themes. Here is the prime example of WotC using their marketing clout to make a bad product the core of an industry. I still can't wait for d20 to die.

      Obviously you have not played too many

      • I can't imagine D20 being the worst system. It's not as if it includes rules for anal circumference [primaryerror.net] (warning: review contains a link to Tubgirl, although it's very heavily warned about and is probably less mind-hurting than the game they're reviewing). Then there's that magnificent game of tolerance and peace, RaHoWa [primaryerror.net]... There are some brilliant D20/OGL games out there - Iron Heroes is neat, and Arcana Unear^H^H^H^H^HEvolved is a good new take on D&D. Then there's Mutants & Masterminds, a very co
        • by msoya (599813)
          Ah. Slashdot stripped out the paragraphs. I'm far too used to posting on forums which handle paragraphs on their own, apologies for the ugly block of text.
  • CCGs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigdavex (155746) on Friday August 18, 2006 @05:23PM (#15937378)
    I'm a casual role-playing geek who took up poker in '03. The collectible card games seem like a natural intersection of those interests, but I never really got the bug.

    Anyway, I wandered into the CCG area at Gencon this year, just to see the decorations and such. I was immediately struck by how much different the CCG players looked from the other gamers. They were card players: siblings to poker players; very, very distant cousins to role players. Their air was solemn and businesslike. They didn't dress like dorks.

    On the whole, they didn't look very happy. It makes me rethink my devotion to poker.

  • I worked the first three days (nights? what do you call 8pm to 8am shifts?) of GenCon as a judge for Magic: The Gathering. The only new CCG that caught my interest was Eve; I picked up a small pile of cards but haven't had a chance to play yet. Thanks for the link to the rulebook, I've been looking for it. The most over-hyped CCG seemed to be Spoils; from the glimpse I caught it looked like a M:TG paraody along the lines of Havoc: The Bothering but with more play depth and a "stupid humor" theme. Bleh.
  • Was there a hero quest booth? that game owned.

    • by JoshDM (741866)
      You mean the old HeroQuest? That name is scrapped; it got recycled for a role-playing game that has nothing to do with the Milton Bradley (MB) board of yore. I loved Advanced HeroQuest, which also came out from Games Workshop and allowed you to add the MB HeroQuest board and accessories to it's vast Diablo-like system.
  • I pre-ordered (a sort of off term, considering they've already shipped the pre-orders) a mega-pack of the Eve CCG. It came with two starter decks, Gallente and Caldari, and a box of 24 boosters. I've played it with my friends about 10 times now, so I've gotten a pretty good feel for it.

    It's pretty simple, and very easy to teach. One game is all you need to get the hang of it. All of a card's powers are explained right on the card, and the home regions have a handy turn-order reference. They added a nice
  • by x_man (63452) on Friday August 18, 2006 @05:56PM (#15937549)
    For those looking for a next generation game, check out Attack Vector: Tactical - http://www.adastragames.com/products/adastra/av.ht ml [adastragames.com]

    These guys were giving demo games at Gen Con. It's the most realistic space combat game I've ever played. Full 3-dimensional movement, Newtonian physics and everything from laser fire to thrust has been accurately modeled. For example, when you fire a laser at a ship, you hit the area of the ship facing the laser. Equipment in that area of the ship is what takes damage. When you exceed the hull depth of that area and still have damage points remaining from the laser, you proceed through the ship to the next area for damage calculation. You can actually have lasers entering and exiting a ship, doing the requisite damage to areas they pass through. And don't even get me started on missiles, coil guns and nuclear warheads.

    I should add that this is not a game for beginners. It's a demanding game with charts and look-up tables, but it's oh so wonderful the first time you maneuver your 5000 ton Rafik Mk1 onto just the right attack vector and let loose your firepower into the enemy's soft underbelly! So if you think D20 is for simpletons, give this game a try.
    • by Troy Baer (1395)
      I went through one of Ad Astra's Attack Vector: Tactical demos at Origins, and frankly I found its gameplay to be way too complex to be much fun. If I wanted to think that hard about orbital mechanics, I'd just pull out the book from the orbital mechanics class that I took as an undergrad. OTOH, a buddy of mine (who is much more into minis and tabletop wargaming than I am) absolutely loves the game.
    • These guys were giving demo games at Gen Con. It's the most realistic space combat game I've ever played. Full 3-dimensional movement, Newtonian physics and everything from laser fire to thrust has been accurately modeled. For example, when you fire a laser at a ship, you hit the area of the ship facing the laser.

      Wow, that was pretty good of them. To have built multi-tonnage warships - invent powerful enough lasers to be used as weapons. Then blow the hell out of their new warships just to "accruately"

  • From TFA

    The buzz around the convention seemed to be that it is 'too much' of a World of Warcraft (WoW) ripoff. The thematic links between Warhammer and WoW are obvious, but Mythic didn't seem terribly interested in distancing itself from the millions-strong Blizzard title.

    And why should they distance themselves? It was Blizzard who borrowed from the WH mythology when creating Warcraft. And outside of that, there isn't much variation in any of the fantasy-themed MMOs...skill advancement, talents and s

  • This guy I know had his book debut at GenCON 2006

    Mother Hydra's Mythos Rhymes [dagonindustries.com].

    It was a pretty novel idea, combining Cthulhu Mythos and nursery rhymes.

  • Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course. I think you were unfair, though, Zonk. DDO is launched. Of course the Turbies are looking for feedback. WAR is still more than a YEAR from launch. We're still designing the damn thing. What you were seeing at Gencon was the PRE-ALPHA build from before E3. There's nothing done enough to give feedback ON other than a general sense of whether or not we're on the right track. And getting that kind of information is what we're doing at these different shows. We'r
  • by nexex (256614)
    What does the Gen in Gencon mean? :)
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Gen in GenCon refers to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, which was where the con was originally held, when it started. Besides Indy, it has also been in Milwaukee, as the article states... not sure if its been anywhere else :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CorwinRathe (996396)
      If I'm remembering it right it stands for Geneva Convention. As the very first Con's were in Lake Geneva, Wis. And only went to Milwaukee latter when the convention grew larger.
  • I would like to confirm that this was a great GenCon - we finally got pictures of Drysc and Tseric.

    http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a172/Sheshie/?ac tion=view&current=GenCon06.jpg&refPage=&imgAnch=im gAnch1 [photobucket.com]
  • Man, I gotta agree. This was my first year at GenCon and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Ram (especially with it's gaming theme!) was aweseome. As was the Claddagh Pub, though don't get me started on the prices for mead there. I don't think they were that used to serving it! Even if I did get thrown in Klingon Jail it was worth the trip and I'll definitely do it again. If you weren't able to see everything you wanted to, you might want to take a look at: GenCon (Almost) Live [dragonslanding.com]. A bunch of the gaming podcasters

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