Gen Con 2010 – Day 1 Update

Gen Con 2010 – Day 1 Update

Water Street Bridge entertains people as they head into the Exhibition Hall at Gen Con 2010. A comely wench sells CDs.
Water Street Bridge entertains people as they head into the Exhibition Hall at Gen Con 2010. A comely wench sells CDs.

Gen Con is packed full of entertainers, in one form or another, but some of the most visible are the singers. There aren’t many of them, but they do stand out … mostly because they’re playing musical instruments.

In this case, it was the musical stylings of Dan the Bard and Water Street Bridge, carefully positioned in the high traffic areas right outside of the Exhibition Hall. Dan the Bard seems to be taking a page from the Old Spice Guy promotional playbook, as his business card indicates that he is “Now accepting commissions for songs about characters and campaigns!” Now you, too, can have your half-elf bard

Dan the Bard entertains at Gen Con
Dan the Bard entertains at Gen Con

While the entertainment is great, it doesn’t look like any of the big media guests show up until tomorrow. Sorry, no Wil Wheaton or “The Guild” cast members today … although at one point, I did believe that I passed Mo Rocca in a hallway. (And, it turns out, I may very well have been right. From his Twitter feed, @MoRocca said, about 7 hours ago  “At #GenCon in Indianapolis. Far more authentically nerdy than ComicCon. That’s a compliment.”)

This gave me an opportunity to head into the Exhibition Hall and poke around the periphery a bit. I was able to check in with a couple of old friends from last year.

First, I talked with the folks over at the Shard RPG to see what fun they had coming. It turns out their game of Eastern mythology-based anthropomorphic animals (it’s a lot cooler than that just made it sound, honest) is going strong, and they’re expecting to have their new supplement, Magic and Martial Arts, out by Christmas. Their own website doesn’t even have this information yet, they said, but they had a preliminary copy of the book available. It looks like it will really expand the possibilities of the game in great ways.

colonial-gothicAnother old favorite that I checked in on was Colonial Gothic. They have loads of stuff in the works, to expand on their RPG set in the period of the American Revolution. One recent release is the Gazetteer, a guide to the original 13 colonies. Coming soon is a similar supplement covering “New France” – Canada and Louisiana. The goal is to expand the setting materials to include other regions, such as the Caribbean, and presumably Spanish territories on the mainland as well.  

Flames of Freedom: Boston Besieged represents the game’s first adventure module. It is the first in a four-part series, and they hope to release one book each year. The first book covers (as the title suggests) the historical siege of Boston. Due out next year is the second book in the adventure series, which will focus on Philadelphia.

I did make it to one panel today, a presentation by former Wizards of the Coast lawyer Brian Lewis (of Rosen Lewis PLLC), who spoke about intellectual property considerations and protections for game designers. This is one of the men who helped create the concept (and legality) of the D20 Open Gaming License, so it was a very cool talk. (Cool being a decidedly relative concept when talking about intellectual property legislation, of course.) For those interested in designing a game, he definitely recommends filing for a “common law trademark” and also filing for copyright on your game. These are relatively inexpensive, and if the game begins to take off you can then focus on the patent and “registered trademark” options. Also, it’s good to use non-disclosure agreements.

If you do happen to want to design your own game, there are several organizations at Gen Con which may be of interest to you.

  • The Game Crafter allows you to create your own game (card game, board game, RPG, etc.) with minimal fuss, through a pretty easy online interface. The control of the game development and design is entirely in your hands.
  • Open Design, a system in use by Kobold Quarterly, allows anyone to become a “patron” for a game product and get involved with the design of the game. According to their promotional materials, “Open Design adventures are made through a process of creative collaboration between experienced designers and the freshest new talent in the gaming community. As a patron, you can participate in project discussiosn and brainstorms, read design essays, and have the opportunity to playtest and review material. If you’re a senior patron, you can suggest NPCs and monsters, or even write whole sections.” If you want to get some quick and dirty experience designing a game product, shelling out the money for a patronage slot might be an option.
  • Flashpoint: The Academy of Media Arts and Sciences, located in Chicago, is an option available for those interested more in the computer gaming or visual arts end of things, and those who have a bit more time and money to commit to the learning process. They had a demo running of a game designed by some freshmen in their program and, while I didn’t play it, I have to say that it looked fun. In both graphics and overall play style, it looked a bit like Pitfall mixed with the original Super Mario Brothers … which may not sound that impressive, but keep in mind that these are freshmen in the program.

There are likely more such companies around the convention, as well. I only made it around the periphery, really, and still have to get to the heart of the Exhibition Hall. Tomorrow: Author’s Avenue, Writer’s Symposium, the Art Show, possibly Wil Wheaton & Felicia Day, and, of course, more games. You can follow as the day progresses on my Twitter feed, @azjauthor.

Finally, lest anyone think that today was all “work,” we did let our hair down a bit … but it’s okay, the baby made it out alive.

My wife, Amber, offers the pure of heart to supplicate the dragon.
My wife, Amber, offers the pure of heart (but foul of diaper) to supplicate the dragon.
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