So, how was my GenCon 2012? I guess that depends on perspective, but of course, hindsight is wonderful.
One of the things I wrote about before I left for GenCon Indy in this post was the fact that there were certain things I wanted to do at the convention. For the most part, I think I accomplished what I set out to do.
First off, I managed once more to pack relatively light for the convention, with just a smaller suitcase, a carry-on bag, and a bag with my diabetes meds and some food snacks and the like. The bags turned out to still be pretty heavy for me, given the condition of my health (more on that below), although my back and the bulging disc didn't come back to haunt me until Saturday evening. The shipping home of some of the loot that I purchased and received, the luggage didn't weigh significantly more than it did when I arrived in Indy, and I was pleased about this. The problem was that my shoulders and neck were stressed from whatever's been going on with me health-wise the last few months, and carry hand luggage, carry-on bags, and stuff to carry things around the convention didn't help those parts of my body. Still, I endured. :) I'm glad I took the extra pairs of underwear, socks, and t-shirts, since I figured that I would need them in the Indianapolis heat, but it turned out to be more of a problem with my health that this benefited, and for that I'm glad that I took all that stuff. The weather in Indy was positively chilly for this time of year, hitting the mid-20s Celsius for the most part, though the humidity was high at times.
When it comes to my health issues, well... I managed to take care of myself and my health pretty much. I adhered to the "3-2-1 Rule" for the convention, managing to get more than 4 hours of sleep most nights I was there, and taking sitz baths in addition to the morning shower, and I felt pretty clean much of the time. I drank a lot of water and stayed hydrated, even with the quantity of Tylenol that I was taking for the head, neck, and throat problems that I was suffering from, and I also started taking some Robaxcet on Saturday evening after the business on the way to TGI Friday's. I made sure I ate the three meals per day - breakfast, lunch, and supper - and supplemented that with snacks twice a day (thanks to the food we'd picked up at Marsh for that purpose), but even so, lost 12.5 pounds over the course of the convention. I washed my hands and face as I needed to, and used hand sanitiser, but still came down with con crud (or perhaps it was merely an aggravation of whatever's been wrong with me the last few months.
From a health standpoint, I think the biggest thing that I thought was going to hinder me at GenCon Indy this year was going to be my bowels and the diarrhea, as well as the (ongoing) problem with my neck, throat, and chest. To be honest, the diarrhea was typically during the morning hours with a few upsets here and there along the way, but since I was running in games during the noon-to-four and 8 pm-to-midnight slots, it turned out not be all that much of a bother during the games I ran, though there were a few "episodes" where I thought they would interfere with the games I was going to run. The neck, throat, and chest problems turned out to be pretty minor along the way, though when I started feeling it again somewhat in my chest on Sunday evening, well... If there was a real problem during the convention health-wise, it was more a matter of having the ear problems that caused me to lose my balance. This was almost critical during the flight to Indy when I almost fell down the escalator, but I did lose my balance a few times at other moments that I wish I could forget. But let's not dwell on health aspects.
Lastly, there's the pacing. I like to think that I've learned from every GenCon Indy that I've been to more and more about how to deal with this, as one just can't see everything, and so one has to make the most of what one can see while one is there. While the walking limitations weren't too severe this year, the fact that I had to run the four Primeval RPG games over the course of the Thursday and Friday really hindered my seeing everything that I wanted to see at the convention. It was a good thing that I'm an early riser, so getting up early didn't bother me too much, although the lack of sleep that one gets at conventions anyway makes things a bit tougher. I really expected to feel like a pile of crap on Saturday, and was amazed how...chipper I was that day, for lack of a better term, although I started to flag that night after the incident on the way to the restaurant. That said, I have to say that I was really glad that I got a chance on Saturday morning to get to play a couple of rounds of the Shadows of Esteren combat system (though I think I forgot to mention that in the Saturday report) and got into two Broken Rooms games on the Saturday and Sunday. The sample combats of Shadows of Esteren really gave me a better feel for that part of the game, and made me content with putting a campaign together, and the two games of Broken Rooms motivated me so much more to run a game that I might have sat on the fence about running. (I really hope I get to play both of them, too!)
I had a good time wandering around the convention, and was pleased that spross snapped some pretty nice photos of various things this year. There was this bit where one fellow was actually making a dragon out of balloons, blowing them up each individually. Here's an early photo of it.
And here's the second shot of the complete dragon...
As I understood it, there was actually an auction/raffle where someone got to "kill the dragon" by exploding the balloons one at a time. It took the guy three days to create the dragon, and something like an hour for someone to destroy it. But it was still lovely to look at.
There were quite a few folks in costume at the convention, and here's three of my favourite photos that spross took.
Ah, well...that was four. The two steampunk sets just had lots of lovely detail to them, the Sailor Moon stuff was just cute, and the Musketeer and aide were very nice costumes and had some good detail to them. I saw all kinds of other costumes that were great, including a wookie on stilts, a very buxom Power Girl, a lovely Zatanna, a Dalek wandering the halls, and so many costumes that were great but that I didn't recognise (I'm obviously out of touch with the medium to some extent. Sad but true!).
One of the real highlights of this convention for me was seeing some of the folks that I like in the gaming industry every year. GenCon is the place to do that. There were all my friends from the Cubicle 7 crew and gaming folks (too numerous to list here), as well as meeting mytholder and Edel, of course, but it was a pleasure to see Robin D. Laws, Beth Lewis, and simonjrogers of Pelgrane Press once more; supersech, lena_of_fargo, and Jeff Combos of Exile Games, and some of my other friends and acquaintances including Bob Bretz, Shawn Hilton, and definitely Kate Masters. Lovely also seeing Matt Somers, Jamie Gooch, and nearside of Greymalkin Designs. It was also good meeting some of the new folks, including Valentin, Nelyhann, and Clovis of Shadows of Esteren fame, Florrent and Neko, the folks behind Yggdrasill, who were there from 7ieme Cercle, and others too numerous to mention.
The Exhibit Hall was as usual, massive. Larger than I remember the one from 2011. The division of the Hall into sections, with relatively wide aisles and good lighting, continued this year, and seemed even more obvious to me, suggesting that it had been expanded on. One of the things that impressed me is the division of the Hall into seeming sections, and the relatively wide aisles and good lighting in all parts of the Hall. The largest exhibits and booths were the Lego, Mayfair, and Fantasy Flight Games areas, as well as the Art Show and Authors' Avenue as well as Entrepreneurs' Avenue. Most of the game manufacturers were there, with some exceptions, but there were also folks selling game accessories, steampunk clothes and gear, kilts and other items associated with the culture, t-shirts, buttons, Doctor Who merchandise, and...well, you name it, you could probably find it here. Some of the stuff that I saw really impressed me, but I had come to GenCon Indy to purchase specific gaming stuff that I was looking for (primarily Shadows of Esteren, Primeval RPG, and Broken Rooms) as well as some t-shirts, and that's what I did. I did get a few other things, including the last two The Laundry releases, and I caved in on the game when I saw Yggdrasill, but pretty much stuck to my guns on the purchases. Mind you, they still ran me a pretty penny or so.
While I did get to sit in for a bit and watch some of the games that folks were running in the Cubicle 7 room (notably The Laundry, Airship Pirates, The One Ring, and even a bit of Primeval RPG), I was glad that I actually played a couple of games of Broken Rooms and Deadfellas, as well as the combat example of Shadows of Esteren. I didn't get to see or go to any of the Seminars that were going on that I was interested in, although I did see some of the action going on in the constantly operating (or so it seemed) Games on Demand area. Lots of interesting games that I could have just jumped at the chance to play in, but time did not allow. Furthermore, because I didn't have a mobile phone or access to a computer at the convention, I couldn't really arrange to meet folks at pre-designated locations and times; for this reason, my socialising at the convention suffered somewhat, but I hope that this won't bite me in the ass when it comes to any business I may get out of this experience, as to be honest, my back/hip/leg pain got in the way of this to a large extent. Am I sorry about the stuff I didn't get to see or do? Sure, but again it comes down to making sure you pace yourself as well as the health and other restrictions that you have on you. And I'm proud to say that I stuck to my own limits and physical limitations.
The hotel... well, I really didn't want to stay in the JW Marriott Hotel during the stay at GenCon this year, simply because I was more comfortable in the Omni Severin when we had stayed there, but there were advantages to this, notably that when I ran games late until midnight in JW 206, I merely had to go upstairs to the hotel room to crash for the night. But gods, was this hotel expensive (and I'm not just talking about the food in the restaurants). The less said about that, the better. The other thing that got to me was that the Omni Severin was a bit removed from the main hotels of the JW Marriott and the ICC, and so was somewhat quieter, and I really didn't deal well with the large crowds that occupied the JW seemingly day and night, and the sheer crowds down in the bar and lounge. All of that said, this hotel was *comfortable*, and the services and amenities were spectacular. 'Nuff said about the hotel.
As for what I bought, well... Aside from the t-shirts that I promised myself (and I didn't buy as many as I might have, as I didn't find the selection for the most part to my taste), I went toGenCon this year looking for particular products. I bought all of the products that I had wanted to purchase, made one serious impulse buy (but I'm seriously impressed with that game now!), and bought some 12-sided dice, some dinosaur 6-sided dice, and some red markers that I can use for Primeval RPG games on the road. (They worked like a charm in the games that I ran.) There were a couple of other games that I could easily have bought on impulse, but I came to GenCon with a budget (that got sorely stretched a bit this year), and I managed to stick to it pretty well. And besides, there was the limit of what I could carry the suitcase and carry-on luggage and how much I could ship home by UPS. I'll leave you with the photographic evidence of what I managed to get at GenCon this year.
The dice and markers that I bought are not in the photos, of course. If you're curious or have any questions about the stuff that I bought up, please don't hesitate to ask about it in the Comments. I'll only be more than happy to oblige. :)
Do I have any regrets about this year's GenCon Indy? Of course I do. I wish I could have met up with and spent some time with friends from Twitter and LiveJournal, both old and new. I wish I could have played in a few more games, bringing my total up to around 8 hours of actual play (I managed to get in some 4 hours worth, plus the Esteren combat bit). I wish I could have seen the other 60-65% of the Exhibit Hall that I missed out on. I wish I could have attended two Seminars in particular. I wish I had had a bit more money to spend on some of the books whose authors could be found in Authors' Avenue. I wish I could have found a copy of Bunnies & Burrows for a reasonable price. I wish I had managed to eat breakfast at Le Peep one morning that I was there, but things just didn't suit my doing that this year. I wish that I had been able to get to the Chronicle City booth and meet angusabranson (since he was never at the Cubicle 7 booth back in the day when I was at GenCon). I wish I could have met up with a few more of the folks I've grown to know and love on the 'net, but some of them were not at Indy this year. :( I wish I had not been suffering from whatever is wrong with my ears/neck/throat/chest. But most of all, I wish I had not come home with con crud!
With that said, there are several fond memories that I have of this convention that I will treasure. But I'm not going to talk about them here. Suffice to say, ">GenCon Indy 2012 was a great convention for the most part, and had some real highlights. While I had some problems at the convention, I enjoyed myself for the most part, but am somewhat relieved that I can't do this convention every year (unless one of the game companies flies me in to it! :)) Just too expensive to do every year, between the airfare and the hotel room costs. And the fact that one has to book rooms so early.
Goddess, but I miss my old and new friends from GenCon already!
And that's it. GenCon 2012 is now well and truly a wrap for me, other than all the great reading material I've got from the convention. And the memories, of course.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.