Monday, February 20, 2012

OrcCon 2012: Great Success!

Fortress Victor: A vast array of guardians, both digital and cybernetic.
The defenses were later manned by fierce valkyrie warriors.
Just wanted to let everyone know we had a great time running a table with Ars Victor at OrcCon yesterday.  We didn't get a ton of e-mail sign-ups, but I got to spend a lot of time speaking to many learned individuals about the industry.

Read more about the saga...

A 32.33 Percentage Chance of Survival
She is like a cheerful, bloodthirsty, were-poodle.
"Leeeeroy Jenkins!" was the battle-cry that put us on the road in Ventura at 8:30.  We had cunningly decided to stay up past midnight the night before, "gettin' our Vic on" at my house.  We were therefore appropriately bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when we finally settled on to the 101 South.

We made it down to the LAX Sheraton a little after 9:30.  We had a really easy setup.  I managed to draw on some deep intuition and managed to pull up to the door right next to the exhibitor's hall.  Yay!

We got one of the corner tables, across from Seth's massively sexy end display.  Our setup (as you can see from the picture above) consisted of:

  • A TV screen, running a short slideshow that pimped the game.
  • A laptop, with a browser open to the email signup page.
  • A full setup of Prototype-1B, that we played throughout the day.

Aly prepares to destroy her opponent.
Opening move: bitch-slap with the reference card.
After we got everything setup, Aly and Josh started up a game while I attempted to engage the punters. As I talk about later, this was not really the time or place for such a thing.  A fisher of gamers, I was not: many lines were cast, but few bites were had.

The folks we did talk to were awesome, and we got a lot of good feedback on the game.  We talked to a couple of people we think could be prospective local reps, spreading the glory of Ars Victor across the People's Republic of California.

The Godfathers of Gaming
I talked with Roger MacGowan, an old friend of my father's.  He was working the GMT Games booth.  Roger's art is amazing, and has decorated several decades worth of board games.  He runs his own site, C3I Ops.  It's got a ton of fleshy gamerporn -- they cover new game releases, a lot of game-related media.  I'm a GMT superfan.  They publish some of my favorite games -- Twilight Struggle, Sword of Rome, and Command & Colors: Ancients.

We were also visited by Alan Emerich and Nathan Hansen of Victory Point Games.  There was a vaguely mafia-esque moment there, as Roger leans over to Alan and says, "this is Rich DeBaun's kid.  Remember Rich DeBaun?"  These two guys are some of the true O.G.'s (Original Grognards) of the industry.  I have dim memories of them from cons during my childhood, from when I was knee-high to a Battle Droid Mech.

"That piece?  That piece right there?
That's the one that's going to kick your ass."
(Nathan was actually very nice and did not shit-talk at all)
We attempted to take pictures, but large men in black suits quickly hustled away our photographer, and he was not seen again.

Nathan stuck around and played a game of Ars Victor.  He's a developer at Victory Point, and quickly grasped Ars Victor.  He then demo'd one of his own games with us: Battle of Four Armies (also on BGG),  It's a brilliant little mini-game that plays in half an hour with two to four players.  He told me he originally designed it on the spur of the moment for an RPG session he was running.  We played it, and we bought a copy!

At Least We Got Chicken
All in all, I'm really glad we did this.  Like I mentioned before, this was a last-minute decision.  We had less than two weeks' preparation, and our only real objectives were to generate buzz and gather e-mail addresses for our announcement list.

I wouldn't claim that we did particularly well at either of our main goals: I think we got 3 or 4 e-mail addresses, and we didn't get a ton of foot traffic that stopped and chatted.  I suspected this, going in -- the dealer room is not the best place to demo a game.  People go to the dealer hall to buy things, squeezing it into their schedule in between a Fairy Princess of Yarlgarlmar LARP session and a Forgotten Dice Warriors of the Lost Ancient Dragon Realms tournament.  They don't come to the dealer hall to lounge about trying new games.

It is possible the forehead was too formidable.
That's natural, folks, not prosthetic!
The real value came from some of the discussions we had with people in the industry.  We talked with people involved with the event, with industry media, and with people with experience in the production chain.  We didn't pretend to be experts in the game industry, but we clearly weren't some half-assed operation.  As a result, we got a lot of deep, practical advice on industry-specific topics relating to production, marketing, and distribution of Ars Victor.  I had at least one "ah-ha" moment, where I felt like I just noticed a large, many-dollar-deep mistake that had been lurking down the path.

Gamex Will Rock
Apart from everything else, the other great thing is that there will be a lot less uncertainty when planning for Gamex, in May.  We've worked the site, and we've worked with the event staff.  We know what to expect, and we can get right down to business.

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