GaryCon XI: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (Feedback)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Bront, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. Bront

    Bront Level 0 Character

    Happy Aftercon everyone!

    I had a blast, but things could have been better. Wanted to share some feedback, and give others a chance to do so as well.

    For the record, I had 10 4 hour events scheduled that all got labeled as featured events, as well as I scheduled 9 other events for 2 other people as well. More on that later.

    The Good:
    • Caroline, Dave, Luke, and Skip (and probably at least one other person who I forgot their name) were all very helpful in helping me organize our group's games. Luke was extra helpful in an issue that I noticed with my events. I appreciate their general responsiveness.
    • With a request, I was able to keep the same table for the entire con. I realize this isn't always an option, but they accommodated me, which made a con where I had 2 1 hour breaks each day bearable as I didn't need to clean up as much in between events.
    • The Forum tables were significantly better this year. They were spaced out well, and sound barriers in Forum C were good, and Forum A/B looked better than last year. The con felt open and moving around wasn't a chore.
    • There apparently was a Forum HQ! (I have some bad about this to). Staff in the forum was nice, or would have been if I'd known about it before Sunday at 10 AM.
    • Food in the Forum was warmer, and better than it had been. Most of the servers were great, the pizza and food got there hot, and was usually arrived at a reasonable time.
    • GM Services was great at the Forum. Much better than last year.
    • My games that ran were fun, and I met lots of people.
    • I appreciated the ability to pick up badges for some of my other GMs.

    The Bad:
    • The Forum HQ was hidden so well that I was unaware they existed till Sunday around 10 AM. No one in the GM lounge or at registration knew they even existed. They also did not have an event turn in box, though they did accept event sheets/tickets.
    • People scheduled at the Forums were likely to never be able to make it to the Dealer Hall. The Dealer Hall hours of 10-5 made it difficulty if there was only an hour break between games to get to from the Forums, where you often had less than an hour window to get there during a heavy traffic time. The only reason I got to the dealers hall at all was one of my events ended early by design (request from players) on Sunday, and I got about 20 minutes to browse, and some vendors had already packed up.
    • I was unable to get food service on Sunday in the Forums. I don't know if that was expected or a problem.
    • GM Registration was noted to be a special line, and instead was a second line GMs had to wait in. I felt penalized while registering as a GM as I had to wait longer than people who simply played.
    • GM T-Shirt awards changing from 16 to 18 hours. That confused 2 people I know who ran 16 hours expecting a T-Shirt. It wasn't their big reason for running, but it was odd how it was handled with a correction on site. (Didn't affect me directly, but was odd to explain to someone on Saturday why they didn't get a shirt).
    The Ugly:
    • I got royally screwed by the "Featured Event" system. I ran 10 events, all of them got marked as Featured, and as a result, more than half of them had less than 3 signups before they expanded the number of featured events people could register, but by then it was too late.
    • Beyond the above note, 6 of my events were part of a series of living campaign modules. I had a large number of people who showed up complain about being unable to preregister, and then did not play as many of my events as they had wished because they couldn't sign up to more, and had scheduled something else instead. A few players even were angry at me for making them "Featured Events" till I explained I had no control over this.
    • A result of the "Featured Event" issue, I had one event that did not run with one person showing up (I got him in another event, so he was taken care of), and had many tables of 3-4 players who got recruited when I had been offering 7 prereg slots.
    • Luke was nice enough to move all the events that were not full to regular events, and I'm greatfull for that, but it was too late. It significantly impacted my enjoyment of the con for 2 days, and the organization I run those events for is considering not running events again next year as a result. Similar events our group scheduled that were not marked as "Featured" all had full sign up at preregistration and most of them ran with 5+ players.
    • I had one order take over 80 minutes, which went from eating between games to interrupting the game I was running, with no other explanation or anyone coming over to talk to me (despite having my flag up for 50 minutes after I had waited 30). Food service simply disappeared from around 1:20 to 3 PM on Thursday in the Forum.
    • I had one waiter who didn't return my credit card till the third time I asked him about it. I had talked to 3 other waiters and the staff in the common Forum area. I may do cash only next time, though often Wait staff didn't have cash on them either.
    So, that's my experience. The Forum experience was significantly better than last year, I had fun, and think I'll be back, but I had some issues I hope could be addressed.

    I offer this thread as constructive criticism. I am not trying to be mean spirited or say it sucked. These are areas I think the Con can improve on, as well as what I felt it did right, and I hope they take them that way.

    - Tim B
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  2. SoulCatcher78

    SoulCatcher78 Level 0 Character

    In the spirit of sharing here's my list:

    The Good:
    • Early check in at the hotel. I make it a habit of arriving early for events like this so I can get a close in parking place for loading and unloading the vehicle. This year was no exception and we even made a pit stop at Bruno's before arriving.
    • Hotel staff. Everyone I interacted with was both polite and helpful. I can't give them a higher recommendation than that and it will ensure my repeat business at the Grand Geneva.
    • Table service in the Forums was much better this year and there was rarely much of a wait once you got that flag up.
    • Breakfast station by the forums...amazing. I'm not sure if they did that last year but once I noticed it (Thursday morning) it became my go to option so I could bring my breakfast with me and do my set up and last minute prep for my morning sessions all at once.
    • I wasn't too sure about a room in building 3 but it turned out to be a perfect distance between the forum and the lobby/dealer area.
    • Running 12 hours of games and playing in another 24 hours with some of the best players and GMs the world has to offer. I was a privilege to be in your company for those 4 days and I'm already planning next year :)
    • Saturday cultural many great people and things to drink all in once place. While it got pretty loud (a hallway full of RPG players + alcohol = quick noise escalation) it was one of my top 5 moments to be surrounded by my tribe.
    The Bad:
    • I choose not to leave the hotel during the convention so this is more of a Meh than a bad. Limited menu at the cafe. There were the same entree items for the entire convention (some of which they were running out of by Saturday...Fried Chicken I'm looking at you).
    • Drafty room. While I didn't spend more time in my room then necessary (sleep, shower, drop one bag off and grab another) it stayed chilly. The upside is that the small fridge was not a limiting factor in keeping drinks cold (just set them by the window).
    The Ugly:
    • I honestly can't think of anything.
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  3. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    I also noticed a substantial improvement in food service. The waits for someone to take my order were much shorter than last year or the year before when it could be a couple hours before someone on the wait staff came into a playing area. I think the longest I had to wait to place an order was maybe 20 minutes and that was unusual. The food also came out very quickly every time I ordered (and no weird cold patches in the middle of hot pizzas!). Big, big improvements.

    The salad prices are still scandalous, though.
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  4. glamcrist

    glamcrist Footpad

    While the food was drastically better, my experience with wait times ran somewhat counter to yours. Twice the flag was up for 2+ hours, and I never got a response in less than 30. Were you in the forum mostly like Bront and Soulcatcher? I remember having problems with wait times in the Forum last year but not up at the other rooms, I wonder if that flipped this year.
  5. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    I was in the main areas as well as the forums. My experiences were the same at either end of the facility. Maybe you just got unlucky? I could tell the system was working much better even if there is still room for improvement.
  6. Bront

    Bront Level 0 Character

    I had a few long waits in the Forums, and a few short waits, and occasionally staff asking without the flag being up. I found there were dead times (2-4 PM waits were noticeably longer).
  7. dndgeek

    dndgeek Troubadour

    FYI: all rooms have thermostats, we kept our room 1t 75 most of the week
  8. stahlnee

    stahlnee Spellbinder

    Ran into one noise issue Friday evening playing in Evergreen 3. There was a point where one GM was coordination between 4 or more tables at the same time instead of with each table individually. This disrupted other games in the room when it occurred. Recommend moving multiple table events to between 12am and 8am
  9. Aaron Wilbers

    Aaron Wilbers Level 0 Character

    I can't say I understand the feature event setup. I would have played in some of those half empty games if they weren't locked away from my lowly silver badge status making me sign up for less attractive games.

    For me at GC#1
    The good - Damn near everything. Great D&D tourneys, playing Chainmail on teh sand table, Spotted Cow, playing in Bill Webb's S&W game and having a blast as he ran a game for 20 people like it was 8. Meeting Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley. Badger Games wall of Otherworld minis.

    The bad - Well the celebration of Greyhawk event was more a "how to publish RPG stuff and how to build a community". Had very little IMO to do with GH lore or materials. There was some but by far it was about publishing and self publishing and all that. A waste of 2 gaming hours to be honest. The shirts situation. They didn't start selling until 10AM on Thursday. If you were gaming until noon you pretty much had no XL or XXL left. I ended up finding a long sleeve XL shirt later they must have pulled out of a box thankfully. Next year I'll buy in advance.

    The Ugly - Me Sunday morning. I was too shot to attend my CoC game. I headed home around noon. Oh and the weather. Crappy.

    New plans for next year and new strategies.
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  10. JasonM

    JasonM Level 0 Character

    First timer here. I gotta say, this was such a great experience.

    The Good:
    • 39 hours of gaming and 4 hours of seminars!
    • The people I met across the board were awesome, both players and GMs. I honestly can't say enough good things about the people.
    • Kind of a follow-on to the above... the sense of community. Between here, the facebook group, and discord, this all contributed to the overall con experience and helped create a greater sense of community. It all had a small town feel to it, if that makes any sense. Because of this small town feel, being able to put faces to names from social media ("hey, I just played in a game with you!") was pretty cool and something that isn't all that realistic in a larger con like GenCon.
    • Some great vendors and artists! Shout out there to Black Oak Workshop (I think I bought all of their dice and bags) and Journeyman Studios from whom I was lucky enough to score two of his originals, having had great conversations with them and other vendors.
    • The hotel staff was very helpful and friendly.
    • I won a large mounted poster of some Fred Saberhagen Appendix N book covers at the Goodman raffle on Sunday afternoon!
    The Bad (not really):
    • I had to scramble on Sunday afternoon to figure how I was going to ship a large mounted poster of some Fred Saberhagen Appendix N book covers that I won at the Goodman raffle!
    • Not really bad but it would have been helpful if the exhibit halls opened at 9am instead of 10am. It was a struggle at times, given a packed schedule and most of my games in the forums. Yet still I managed to put a hurting on my credit card, so maybe the hours were a good thing.
    • No menu options table side if you're trying to do low carb, but that's my problem not anybody else's and I don't expect to be catered to for my dietary choices.
    • Not enough hours in the day to fit in all the events I wanted to. Can somebody do something about this for next year?
    The Ugly:
    • One drunk belligerent guy handing out a "fuck you" to anybody who passed him in the vicinity of building 4 near the lobby late Saturday night (technically I was gifted with an "and fuck you too" as I walked by after he dished a "fuck you" to somebody else walking by). People who can't handle their liquor probably shouldn't drink.
    My con experience was great! I have no complaints about any of it. Thanks so much to all who made it happen: the organizers, the GMs, the vendors, and all the amazing people I had the privilege to game with! I am so looking forward to next year!
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
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  11. Aaron Wilbers

    Aaron Wilbers Level 0 Character

    I do keto so i just ate the wings which didn't seem breaded. Though I drank so much spotted cow I knocked myself out and put on 5 pounds of water. Thankfully at this point I can drop back in pretty quick and I'm back to my goal weight. As bad as Miller Lite is I wish it was at con price since its 3 carbs per 12 oz. SC is probably 15.
  12. JasonM

    JasonM Level 0 Character

    I'll have to check out the wings for myself next time. I had asked one of the table servers if the wings were breaded and she replied that they were so I didn't even try them. She was nice enough to get me a chicken caesar salad without croutons but while edible it really wasn't any good. I had done some shopping at Target on Tuesday though so for the most part I was alright. Cheese sticks and one or two quest bars a day did most of the work while gaming.
  13. Aaron Wilbers

    Aaron Wilbers Level 0 Character

    If they did it wasn't much, and at that point both nights I had drank a lot of beer so I may have misjudged them.
  14. rickwins

    rickwins Level 0 Character

    Well this looks fun.

    Good -
    • Getting in early on Wednesday, lunch at Daddy Maxwell's including pie. 10% Discount at Bruno's
    • Garycon open module was good. It was fun running the games even in the early mornings. I hope the players had as much fun as I did. I think my favorite part was having a player figure out a trap, I dropped a bunch of dice and then told him that the door opened.
    • I got to play in a premier event with Duck, we had fun.
    • Ultimate Werewolf was fun, we had a pre determined place to play. I bought 2 big bags of candy to bribe players and Laura took over so I could sleep enough to DM in the morning.
    • Costumes, it was a blast dressing up as Presto from the D&D cartoon, a villager from the Werewolf game and finally Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible
    • Seeing so many people from previous Garycons. This was my 10th in a row.
    • My friend being able to drive my son over on Friday to join the fun and avoid my wife having to drive back and forth.
    • Not having enough time in the day to run games, hang out with old friends, make new friends, eat, and sleep. Sleeping and eating were sacrificed 1st.
    • Food in the forums were hit and miss on quality
    • Having so many people to talk to that my beer sometimes got warm.
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  15. EOTB

    EOTB Level 0 Character

    Food service was better this year - I ordered table service a couple of times in the wargaming room and the food arrived piping hot.

    My suggestions for making a great con even better:

    1. Please don't make a DM's event featured without their permission (presuming they're not a special guest of the con, etc.) For someone to put a lot of work into a game and then have it frozen out because most people don't have the currency to buy-in doesn't help DMs or gamers. I'm not sure why it's felt it helps the con. But sometimes at GaryCon it feels like offering to run an on-grid game is asking for a lot more trouble than running an off-grid one. I don't know if the con is aware of this dynamic, but I know some good DMs who are just arranging games for next year already that won't hit the registration system at all, because of the impacts of limited signups for their games.

    2. Setting the mad hotel rush for the exact time when people are taking their kids to school on the west coast was unnecessary. Why not just let us buy our badge for next year, and reserve a room, on the last day of the con? Why funnel 3,000 people through one web address and one phone number at the exact same time?

    Thanks for listening, and for putting on a great show.
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  16. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    I think the issue with featured events is they need to have enough so everyone can use the featured event tickets they get with their badges. The con needs revenue and gets revenue by selling badges. More expensive badges have to come with perqs. The biggest perq available is increased access to high demand events. The con is trapped by its access economy. If they reduce the number of featured events, they either have to reduce the number of premium badges (thereby losing revenue) or come up with a new perq justifying the cost of a premium badge.
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  17. francisca

    francisca Troubadour

    See, that the experience I had last year, but it was much better this year.
  18. francisca

    francisca Troubadour

    I agree, but on the other hand, guys like Bront should be able to say "Don't make my events featured, please." and have that request honored.
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  19. SoulCatcher78

    SoulCatcher78 Level 0 Character

    I've been able to get a gold badge for my two trips X and XI) and have only chosen I featured event each year (Jen Brinkmans lankhmar DCC games each year). The FE doesn't sway me as much as early registration does so that alone justifies the higher cost. Everyone has their own reasons for attending so I'm sure some see an increased number of FE opportunities as a reason to spend more,just not all of us.
  20. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    Agreed. The con needs new/additional perqs so they can reduce the number of featured events.

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