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Before | After

And that was The (Small) Weekend

I can say I was disappointed, as the dictionary definition of disappointed is:

dis·ap·point·ed (adj.) - Thwarted in hope, desire, or expectation.

While it was exactly what I expected, it didn't live up to my hopes or desires.

Total numbers according to St John was about 150 total. Since the last two years were each over 400, this means that this years was about a third. However, the numbers are actually worse than that. If you take out the miniatures gamers, and the Living gamers, and the CCG and CMG gamers, I doubt very much if the total number of actual roleplayers was over 20. I would expect more likely about 12.

My Paranoia game ran twice, once in the first session with 5 people and once in the last session with 6. However, one of the people in the first session was a GM who wasn't running anything that session, and one of the people in the last session was also a GM who wasn't running anything in that session, so that means only 9 "players" (ie paying players) in my game. I think the most times any of the RPG's ran was 2 or 3 times, and all the other games were 5 player ones.

My freeform didn't run at all. However, it is written, so I'll probably submit it for Unicon this year, that way I don't actually have to panic during the lead up to it.

However, I'm not blaming the organisers for any of this. They did a marvellous job with the time they had. Since half the committee quit in December, and then it took a while to replace the positions, I think they did well in the few months they had to organise it.

Also, they have put a lot of background infrastructure in place so that there shouldn't be these sorts of problems in the future. We can always hope.

On that note they are intending to have a meeting sometime in the next month or so to discuss what went wrong and how to improve it in the future. Travis and I chatted with the committee members a lot about suggestions, since we both have been to so many other conventions and we've seen how a number of other people do it. So, one of the things they are looking at is an on-line rego system, and both myself and Travis told them about AON. Damien, would you mind if I give them your contact details if they want to talk to you about AON (mainly how it works, that sort of thing)? If so, what contact details do you want me to give them?

So, what did I do at The BIG Weekend?

Turned up Friday evening after work to talk to them as they were setting up and doing late rego. Chatted with St John and Michael a bit.

Turned up first session on Saturday morning and ran my first session of The Reunion Mission, making most of the details up as I went along. One clone ended up completely dead about 10 minutes before the end of the game, and everyone else lost at least one clone.

Played board games the rest of the day (mainly Settlers of Catan, Roborally and Ticket To Ride) and went home about halfway through the last session.

Turned up near the end of the first session on Sunday and played more board games for most of the day. Almost had enough players to run Homeward Bound, but didn't quite, so it didn't happen and went home near the end of the last session.

Turned up near the end of the first session on Monday, and having actually remembered to go to a hole in the wall this time, actually had money so bought some Shadowrun books, and was given some Marvel Power Dice Starter boxes. Giant D6 for the win! :)

Then ran my other session of The Reunion Mission, using what I ran the first time as the plot line. This time we ended up on two completely dead, two on their last clone and two on their second last clone.

Then wandered back to the rego hall and helped pack up and clean up, followed by the shortest prize giving in memory (there were about a dozen people there, it didn't take long). After that Travis, St John and I wandered off to Cold Rock for the post con "party". No one else turned up.

Then home.

As for next year, I will submit some games to the next BIG Weekend (I already have a few ideas), whenever that happens to be.

Much as I hate to say it, I actually hope it doesn't run next year. People in Brisbane have gotten so complacent that the con will be running over the Labour Day long weekend, that I think it not running for a year might not be a bad idea, to hopefully wake people up to the fact that it needs volunteers to be on the committee and to run it, other wise it won't run at all.

Perhaps this years completely lack-lustre event will wake people up. I don't know.

I much prefer the southern conventions.

Comments

travisjhall
May. 10th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)

Yes, Ian, it's the same old story of one person or a very small group trying to do the work that should be distributed over a large group. Unfortunately, that is the culture that has developed amongst roleplayers generally in Brisbane - not all, obviously, but generally. The only way for this to get better, I believe, is for a lot of Brisbane roleplayers to change their attitude concerning this. It's a change that, if it is to happen, will take a long time. I don't count on the change ever coming.

You make an interesting point about the core of the QGG being miniature players. TBW2006 wasn't too bad for miniature gamers, I understand. For them, it was somewhat smaller than usual due to being organised so late, but there were something like 120 miniature gamers, and they enjoyed themselves. Also, TBW isn't their only event. There are Ork-tober Fest, Times of War and regular Games Night (with organised league play). TBW is significant due to it being the only roleplaying event in Brisbane. (Though, the Cam deserves a shout out here, since I believe they are still running LARPs regularly.) I don't see that the miniature gamers have much reason to worry about TBW falling apart, and it looks like the miniature gamers would probably put tournaments on the Labour Day weekend whatever happens with the roleplaying.

I think this is interesting, because it parallels what happened with roleplaying at Cancon. I attended Cancon 1999, which was one of the best roleplaying conventions I have ever attended. However, roleplaying was almost non-existant for Cancon 2000. The reason was, the Cancon committee was made up of non-roleplayers - mostly miniature gamers - and they were tired of trying to organise a good con for roleplayers. The Phenomenon organisers were the people who actually ran the roleplaying in 1999 (and I think there was no Pheno, as a distinct entity), but it was hard to find a good venue for roleplayers as well as the sheer number of miniature gamers. So, Cancon essentially cut the roleplayers loose to fend for themselves.

The happy ending to the story is that Arcanacon (a mostly roleplaying con) moved to the same weekend, and now the roleplayers go to Arc and most of the miniature gamers go to Cancon, and it's good for pretty much everyone. It shows that if roleplayers want something, they really need to do it for themselves. Working with miniature gamers is great as long as everyone is pulling in the same direction, but we have to remember that miniature gamers aren't looking for quite the same things at roleplayers.

hooly1138
May. 10th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC)
Travis,

Couldn't agree with the last half more. Miniatures gamers and RPGers are two distinct types of gamers. Sure there is a bit of cross over, but for the most part they do seperate things. This also goes for CCGers and some Collectible Miniatures Players.

From a ConOrg perspective, miniatures games are so much easier to organise. You have a list of atendees of 5 different games and there are no limitations on how many people can play other than how large the venue is. You get prizes for each event and trophies. You set up tables, provide terrain, and get a referee for each game plus some roving refs (the matchup being 1 backup ref for every 20-30 players). You just have people's badges to worry about then, point them in the direction of the game and wa-la. Little to no scheduling is required other than to ensure that you don't go over the numbers players you can have depending on how many tables can fit comfortably in the venue. The cost factor is also down being that you pay the fee once, and you fill it from there.

RPGs however are a little different, but that's just dependnant on how you look at it. Too much time I feel has been spent on catering to gamers needs at the expense of the organisers sanity. I personally don't know how John does it (especially with the flack he cops each year with people who don't appear to get what they want - mainlky because they registered a fews prior to the event). The solution to the problem is "first in first served" and uphold that. I personally like the way some US conventions do it in that they offer events on a set schedule, you buy either event specific tickets or generic tickets. GenCon is a good example. But I'm getting a little off topic. RPGs currently require rooms to be booked in advance, have scheduling issues, and are very resource heavy (i.e. you could fit 15 LARPers, or 25-30 CCG players in the same room for a much cheaper per head cost than an RPG which has a top of 6 players and a GM). The only upside is that RPG prize support usually comes from the manufacturers and at no cost to the event as opposed to minis who usually have to pay for the support (even if it is at 50-45% off).

So what is the solution for RPGers? Do we go to a system where RPGers pay more per session in order to provide for the venue? Do we go to a venue with open areas like the days of old? Do we do a system where GMs have the option at the start of having their games in open air or in private rooms, where its one cost for open air gaming, and a bit more for the rooms.

The later is what I would prefer, but I would be happy to hear what others have to say.

As a side note - Wouldn't it be nice to have this chat in a more open setting and include more opinions rather than inside of someone's BLOG??? If anyone can suggest such a place, let me know.
travisjhall
May. 10th, 2006 10:35 am (UTC)

Yes, miniatures tournaments are very easy to organise. I've occasionally encountered roleplayers who advocated ditching miniatures (and boardgames, and CCGs) in order to allow organisers to concentrate on getting roleplaying right. However, generally this doesn't really free up the organisers to any significant degree, because miniatures tournaments are so easy to organise. The miniatures gamers basically just show up, contribute to the rent and amuse themselves for three days. The only exception is that sometimes, a venue suitable for roleplayers may run out of space for miniature gaming (usually only if the tournament is very large).

So RPG con orgs might as well let miniature gamers come along as well (and CCGers, to a somewhat lesser extent). It doesn't work the other way around, though, both because roleplayers are so much harder to organise for and because so many good miniatures venues aren't good for roleplayers.

RPG organisational issues... I know exactly how John handles the scheduling. Back in the day, I taught him how to do that. (Frankly, though, I don't think he picked up everything I knew, and by now he has probably developed some techniques I didn't use.)

Down in Melbourne, where most of the cons I attend these days are held, scheduling is done on a sort of "first come, first serve" basis. However, conditions are more favourable for such a process. They have many more players attending, longer conventions with more sessions, and online registration that gives immediate feedback concerning scheduling. These factors make it much more likely that a session for an RPG will fill, without an organiser swapping things around to fit people in. They also force players who sign up on the day to talk to GMs themselves, to work out when they can play.

For smaller conventions without such a sophisticated prereg system, I still favour having an organiser schedule RPGs. Without it, you just wind up with two players in session A and two players in session B for a four-player game far too often. However, it also needs to be clear to roleplayers that the earlier they register, the better their chances of being scheduled into the games they want to play. If your entry arrives two days before the event, you get what the organiser puts you into, and say, "Thank you very much, sir." Maybe orgs should even refuse to pre-schedule anyone whose entry arrives less than a week before the con, and those people can wait in line with on-the-day registrations. On-the-day rego, of course, is completely first-come, first-serve.

You know, I did turn up and shoot John a "what the hell?" concerning my scheduling last year. When he told me what was what, though, I approved of his decisions. It was the best he could have done, given the restrictions (like my attending a wedding in the middle of the con).

When it comes to cost, I think many Brisbane gamers have come to expect far too small a fee for conventions. I think this is because they compare it to their home games, which are free, and so expect to pay something quite nominal for basically the same sort of game. The reasons for this expectation are an issue I won't address now, but the expectation is really quite unreasonable. The fee which is charged is what is required to cover the costs of the convention, and that's that. Take it or leave it (and I don't mind if you leave it), just don't whine about it.

I don't mind if costs go up to cover the expenses of RPG rooms. In fact, I mind so little that I pay said higher costs a couple of times each year. (TBW2006 was $23 for six sessons, max. Arc was $5 per session. Conquest was $6 per session. IIRC.) If some people want to cut costs by roleplaying in open areas, I don't mind, but I'd rather avoid it myself. I suppose you could do the hybrid format, if the organisers don't mind the extra complication.

As for a more inclusive place to have this conversation, we could take it to aus_gamers. That's what the community is for, after all. It's still LJ, but at least it is a part of LJ devoted to this.

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Desert Rose

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

I dream of fire
Those dreams are tied to a horse that will never tire
And in the flames
Her shadows play in the shape of a man's desire

This desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this

And as she turns
This way she moves in the logic of all my dreams
This fire burns
I realize that nothing's as it seems

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

I dream of rain
I lift my gaze to empty skies above
I close my eyes
This rare perfume is the sweet intoxication of her love

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

Sweet desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this

Sweet desert rose
This memory of Eden haunts us all
This desert flower
This rare perfume, is the sweet intoxication of the fall

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