The Good & The Bad

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mcdaldno
Posts: 62
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 7:31 pm

The Good & The Bad

Post by mcdaldno » July 25th, 2011, 4:43 pm

Hey GPNW organizers,

That was a really fun convention.

Whenever I walk away from Go Play, the little analytical green man who lives inside my brain immediately starts comparing it to other Go Play's, and other conventions, asking the question, "Was this the best convention ever?" Sometimes I want him to shut up, but other times he has valuable critique to bring to the table. He and I had some conversations about what we liked and disliked about this year's Go Play. I wanted to share a couple bullet points, in case it's helpful for organizing next year.

I'm posting it now while it's still fresh in my mind, but after the post-con glow has faded.

THINGS THAT ROCKED

1. I really liked gaming outside, in that little courtyard area. Cool breezes and totally accessible.
2. The con organizers were, as always, friendly and approachable. I love being greeted by friendly faces as I pick up my badge.
3. The shirts were awesome. My crush on John Harper persists.
4. The friday night feast was amazing.
5. As a publisher, I loved being able to just set up some product on a table, and accept money on the honour system. I hope this continues to be the case in years future, as it's simple and awesome.

THINGS I MISSED

1. I felt like there was a pervasive sense of community at Freehold Theatre, and again at Hugo House. I felt like that was less true this year. If I had to guess, I'd attribute this partially to ambiance (being in a fluorescent-lit conference centre), partially to growing attendee numbers, and partially to a (perceived?) reduced emphasis on pre-gaming group huddles.
2. I loved that the drink coolers were out all weekend at the Hugo House. It contributed to a feeling of camaraderie and community. I was sad that it wasn't available all day Saturday and Sunday this year. Obviously drinks aren't free... but if there were a "Donate to the drink coolers" option presented when people buy their tickets, I'd totally donate to it.

THINGS I ACTIVELY DISLIKED

1. Fluorescent lighting in conference center rooms. I feel frantic and tired under these conditions. Others expressed a similar frustration.

THINGS I HOPE FOR NEXT YEAR

1. I hope that GPNW is held in a cozy environment with good lighting, and ideally windows allowing naturally airflow into each room. I would happily pay more on my badge ($5-10 more for the weekend, say) if it meant playing in an environment that felt energizing.
2. I hope that GPNW has access to convenient outdoor gaming space again. That rocked.
3. I hope that more emphasis is put on establishing connections and camaraderie, and helping people meet new people. More group huddles, etc.
4. Since Brendan's been doing big group-game things for the past two years now, I think it'd be awesome if folks worked with him to create an icebreaking game that got people meeting new people.

STEPPING ON UP
Since I just tossed out a huge amount of "This is how I'd do it" statements, it's only fair that I step up and offer to help implement some of them. Without ado:

1. I'd be happy to be one of the Donut Leaders, and lead the donut for 2-5 of the slots next year.
2. I'd be happy to be an organizer for next year. I don't live in Seattle, but there are plenty of things that wouldn't require me to, I imagine.
If the GPNW team wants to take me up on either of those things, my email address is mcdaldno, and it's a gmail account.

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Ben Robbins
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Location: Seattle
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Re: The Good & The Bad

Post by Ben Robbins » July 26th, 2011, 2:42 am

Yay Joe! I loves me some post-mortem.

I agreed to do the Friday night donut (because who can resist Tony and his puppy dog eyes?!?) but honestly I should have just volunteered to do them all. Or as many as would be helpful. It's trickier than it looks. I get practice doing similar drills at Story Games Seattle every week, which really helps. Doing it for your very first time in the midst of the con is kind of high pressure. We need a more formal training session or something.

Tony and I were talking about the donut that kind of fell apart (SAT-03) and the reasons are actually pretty simple in hindsight: because it's already midway through Saturday, it's easy to assume that everyone already knows the procedure, but the numbers tell another story. SAT-02 was a Lottery, so no one saw the donut then. SAT-01 is the crack of dawn, so most people wouldn't be there. Then add that there are always new arrivals on Saturday, plus the idea that even Friday night only about half the crowd was in the donut, and suddenly SAT-03 is the very first donut most people have been in. So instead of a quick "you know how this works" we need a full, brass tacks kind of spiel.

My mea culpa from the Friday night donut was outdoors acoustics. I didn't factor in how much harder it would be to hear me in the booming out-of-doors, particularly in a circle where some folks were always behind me. I should have clustered everyone and faced them to do the intro, then formed the circle.

I didn't get to game outdoors but it did look frickin sweet. I think that ratcheted up the venue-win by about 200%. Of course, last year we _thought_ we were going to have outdoor gaming in the park across the street from Hugo House, but the weather disagreed. Sun this year was magic luck.

I'd also add that I've kind of fallen out of love with the two short Saturday afternoon slots. 2.5 hours is a killer, particularly when you slice out time for picking a game, getting settled, doing introductions, etc. It feels rushed. Even 3 hrs instead of 2.5 would be a huge help, because that extra time is going straight to gaming. I have no idea how the rest of the schedule would have to shift to work that kind of change, but that's my reaction.

Brendan
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Name: Brendan Adkins
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Re: The Good & The Bad

Post by Brendan » July 26th, 2011, 11:07 pm

I wish there were a way to move the 2.5-hour slot into Sunday afternoon (and magically squeeze those two hours into Saturday). By the end of the con I'm usually exhausted enough that a board game is about all the commitment I can muster.

THINGS I LOVED
- Seeing all you kids I only get to game with once a year. GPNW is a consistent reminder of how lucky I am.
- Gaming outdoors! Whoever made the right sacrifices to the Imperator of Seattle, thank you.

THINGS I LIKED
- Apparently some people had heat problems in the big room, but I actually thought the space this year was much more temperate than either Freehold or Hugo. Same went for noise levels. I know!
- Restrooms. Nontrivial.
- Ditto the little in-room water coolers.
- The shirt--maybe my favorite yet--and being able to make "pick an indie game from the merch table" one of the Grudge Mansion prizes.
- The games!

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Joe, I like your idea about an icebreaker game. I've mentioned that I'm going to try and bribe organizers next year to have an idea of the layout, and I'd be very interested in coordinating on something simpler but larger-scale for Friday night or Saturday morning.
- I thought Ogre's group doing "IRON BURNING WHEEL" all day Sunday was kind of fantastic. That's commitment! I don't know if I'd ever participate, just because I'm always worried about missed opportunities at GPNW, but it would be cool to have that all-day game as a designated slot for the brave.

John Powell
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Joined: April 29th, 2010, 10:32 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: The Good & The Bad

Post by John Powell » July 29th, 2011, 9:08 am

I'll admit to being shy about running the donut. My two slots were Sat-01 and SAT-02. I intentionally delayed starting the first donut because I was the only organizer present and it seemed a lot of folks were still streaming in at 9:00-9:05. When I went in to start the donut at 9:10, folks present had already self-organized. I really only had to make sure a few stragglers got into the games they wanted, but I ended up taking 6 players into my Icons game, which in retrospect was probably too many.

So SAT-02 was my first ever real donut. I was stressed and not nearly as smooth as Ben, but I felt successful in that no gamer was left behind.

Joe - thanks for starting this thread off with such an excellent post. Ben and Brendan too.

Tony, Philip and I are looking hard right now for a site next year that has more of the great things past sites have had, and less of the not-so-great. Al Fresco gaming is definitely high on the list.

Folks from out of town: How was the hotel?

nemomeme
Posts: 72
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 5:29 pm
Name: Matthew
Location: Portland

Re: The Good & The Bad

Post by nemomeme » August 2nd, 2011, 4:54 pm

The hotel was just fine.

I don't know that I'm ready to help be an organizer for next year, but I would otherwise echo each of Joe's ROCKED/MISSED/DISLIKED/HOPE bullet points.

I did feel that this year that there were not quite enough people prepared to run games as in previous years, a subtle shift in the attendees perhaps, as the organizers and previous attendees reach out to include more new faces. I ran two scheduled games and was prepared during the lottery slot to run a third. On the STEPPING ON UP front, though it's not my preferred mode, I will plan to run more games next year.

I've never been a fan of the 2 1/2 hour slots. Last year I played in a cross-session AW game. This year I went lottery in one session for a demo-mode of Mist Robed Gate and napped, observed and socialized in the second short slot. If those slots remain, I'll continue to do something similar. That or boardgames. Two and a half hours is not enough time for most role-playing games.

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