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

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

  1. jim

    jim Level 0 Character

    Early registration, a t-shirt, and a stadium cup made the gold badge worth it for me. The extra featured events were nice, but not my reason for going with gold.
    SoulCatcher78 likes this.
  2. Bront

    Bront Level 0 Character

    They tried not to make living events Featured. But failed.

    At the moment that looks to be enough of an ussis it looks like our group may not return. We accounted for 15 seven player events and I ran an additional 4 unrelated 6 man events (I had 40 hours judging booked myself, 36 ran and one failed entirely due to prereg issues caused by Featured Events) and had talk of ramping up next year, but the featured event thing violates our charter, and definitely soured my experience greatly.

    This is also the second year I've had this issue with my events not filling due to being premier events. Last year I had 4 half full events of 4 I ran because people who wanted to play couldn't sign up and grabbed other events instead.

    No other con does this, and it penalizes game masters like me. Where's my reward for running a Featured Event? All I did is have hard work and my time wasted instead.
  3. gizmomathboy

    gizmomathboy Spellbinder

    I do agree that it sucks for all of a GM's events to be Featured without their input.

    I can see why the Con would want some to be Featured but I do think there really needs to be some sort of track record to tag all of them as Featured. I think especially so for a first time unless they have some serious following. Bront, I have no clue where you fall in that spectrum of geek celebrity.
  4. Bront

    Bront Level 0 Character

    RE celebrity, I did write 9 of the 10 modules I ran, someone else ran one of my modules twice, and I'm a contributing writer for the Umerican Survival Guide line for DCC (published by Shield of Faith Studios). I also coordinated 9 other events for 2 other GMs.

    To compare, the writer and mastermind of Umerica, Reid, had none of his 4 events listed as featured.

    Edit: Just to be clear, I mostly enjoyed myself, but I had a lot of undue stress added having several events with 1 or 0 preregisters, particularly when multiple people had told me, "I would have signed up but it wouldn't let me, so I didn't sign up for any of your events and scheduled other things, but I'd have rather played in yours." Given it was a pilot to see if the group that runs those particular events to see if we'd continue to run things at GaryCon and plan more events in force, and the featured event thing made that likely a no-go.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
  5. Mitch the Bard

    Mitch the Bard Level 0 Character

    I get what you are saying, and yes, the really expensive tickets coming with, what is it, 6? featured events - amazing stuff and part of the reason to pay as much for the elite tickets, but in truth, they could do without the Featured events at all - as I have learned that the true value of the premium badges is registering early - you pay more to get in the events you want...just thinking outside the box here, about you make all events equal, no premiums - and those that are gold get to register for 2 events a week prior to the silvers - the platinums get to register for 4 events two weeks early - silvers get to register for one event...then after that, everyone registers for all the rest of their events at the same time - this would allow the people to determine what is and what is not a featured event by what sells out on the early registrations
  6. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    I'm sold. I think part of the reason the featured event economy isn't working is because it was created back when we only had 300-350 attendees. Inertia has kept the economy in place. Now they sell something like 2,000 silver badges. That requires 2,000+ featured event seats. Your (and others') suggestion to just go to a straight earlier registration date is a good idea. Limiting the number of events premium badge holders can sign up for before the silvers jump in the pool is an elegant substitute for what the featured events are trying to accomplish.
  7. Muddy

    Muddy Level 0 Character

    The Good

    It was my first time at Garycon, and I haven't played for years. It was a wonderful experience. It is difficult to run an event of this size, and to have everything go smoothly, and from what I have read, to have some of the problems worked out from previous years, a commendable achievement. I had a tremendous amount of fun and already have a room reserved for next year.

    The staff was wonderful and incredibly helpful, both pre con and during the convention. The hotel staff were wonderful and had only glowing things to say about the attendees. The DMs were great, and enthusiastic, and for the most part so were the players.

    Table service was fine, food was acceptable and reasonably priced for the occasion.

    The shuttle from the off site hotel (Comfort Inn? I don't even remember) was great, and my experience would have been much worse without it. Their staff was fabulous as well. The room was fine.

    The could be better

    I too expected one line for DMs and was surprised when I had to get into a second line. If the second DM line had been long I would have been disappointed to say the least.

    The purpose and process of collecting tags and the page of players names wasn't really explained, I turned everything in, but didn't feel like I understood what I was doing or why. Understanding the system may help compliance here.

    The table top events DM to player communication doesn't seem to work well. I know I didn't get one message from my DM, and that one of my players didn't get a message from me. It's hard to know what is going on there but something isn't quite right.

    I was surprised to see the photos of celebs at the con after the con. It isn't a big deal to me, and maybe it was because I spent a lot of time in the forums, but I felt like I didn't know much of what was going on outside of the games I was in.

    It was also difficult to know how to fit non game events into the schedule, because I don't think they show up on TTE. There were some I saw that were of interest, but when I put the filter on (seminar maybe?) they didn't show up – I only knew about them because I had seen something on Facebook. I would have been nice to have them incorporated to facilitate overall day planning.

    Please schedule the movies - Blackmoor and on on - for the evening, when things are slowing down and people are burning out. The evening games suffered because of low energy. and some low key offerings would be appreciated in the evening, I think.

    I would second the thoughts about the featured events, it seems they should be used sparingly. The tiered badges seem enough.

    Something could be done to encourage “repeat business” for DM's. Not to help fill games but to build community and to help the DM know at least in part the group. I like the idea of an invite only, or way for a DM to hold a few spots for invited players. The off schedule games won't really help here, if for example, I have a game that I'd like to have four specific players in, and also have four open spots.

    The number of required sessions for DM benefits seems a bit much. Maybe a tiered thing like the badges would work, this could be tied into the point above. Running a second session might allow me to hold two spots for players or something like that.

    I understand the need to give higher cost badges more privileges, but this needs to be balanced with the understanding that some players simply can't afford those badges, and so should be balanced with the concern for building community over the years.

    The Bad - N/A

    The Ugly - N/A

    Overall it was a great experience. It made me wish I had hitch hiked out to Lake Geneva as a kid for a few games in the 70's and met Gary.

    Thanks again to him, his family, and to every who make this experience possible.
    Tim Neppel, Scott308 and Poindexter like this.
  8. Bront

    Bront Level 0 Character

    That's easy. Only list it as open for 4 and ask for a table for 8 in the notes. Then write in the 4 players who show up that you didn't require to sign up.

    I don't think Tabletop Events allows for reserve seating by GM or else you can ask the staff to reserve the seats.

    most of the rewards are pretty standard for a big con, if not more generous than usual. The change from 16 to 18 hours for the shirt with no warning was rough and odd. 18? That's an odd number, and even the staff didn't know (I have emails with a few staffers organizing GMs that mentioned shirts for 16 hours of GMing).

    Also, not quoted, regarding Table Top Events and on site events: I agree GaryCon doesn't handle on site event sign up or listings well. Some of it is just on the events being so spread out, and others is on it focusing on pre-registration with featured events. It's big enough a con booklet isn't a lot of help for finding events.

    On suggestion regarding ticket collection, why not fill the registration sheet up with "Generic" Tickets. The players just fill in the game and turn them into the GM if they didn't pre-register. It frees people up to try for games that might appear sold out, and saves a lot of paperwork headaches for GMs having to ask for badge numbers. Since the sheet is blank otherwise anyway, it's a non issue from a paper perspective.
    Jarlaxle likes this.
  9. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    Depending on which non-game events you are referring to, they may have been listed on the Gary Con website. For example, I believe the time and location for the charity auction was announced on the website, but was not an event showing up on TTE.
  10. Melf

    Melf Administrator Staff Member

    Just FYI for you all discussing sustains and improves for Gary Con. We read through and look for issues and especially love some of the great ideas for resolving them. I think we can find a way to incorporate some changes that will mitigate the perceived featured event penalty for the hardworking GMs out there. And TTE can reserve some seats and open them on specific dates. SO we can tier the available seats for certain highly desirable games to enable access for all badge levels. This way all attendees have the opportunity. A Gold badge will have a higher likelihood than a Silver badge, but there will be some available and I think that is a good thing.

    So thank you for taking the time to share your experiences good and bad- its very helpful.

    Game On!
  11. Melf

    Melf Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Tim,

    Sounds like you had a pretty poor experience and I'm sorry that those issues plagued you. Overall I think most attendees and GMs had a positive experience but I know that doesn't mean that everyone had a great time. If you decide to return there are a few changes in the works for 2020 that you may be interested in.

    1. No more Featured Events! We were aware that this was a contentious area for a few reasons and we worked up what I think is a good system. All events are treated the same. Instead of regulating games by type, we will regulate the number of seats at each event by registration group. Premier has access to 50% of the seats, then Platinum reg opens up to 65%, Gold reg has 80% and Standard reg has 100% of the seats available to all. This method eliminates the GM concerns about restricting players at their table, ensures that some seats are available at every game for all attendees and retains the benefits of early reg for those that purchase a Gold or higher badge.

    2. GM shirts. I'll take a look at that. I let the team make the decision on reward levels. If 18 is a bridge too far or seems unfair- we can reduce it. We do invest a lot into our GMs with the concierge service, GM lounge, custom t-shirts and badge credits. But we know that GMs are the backbone of the con. Without great games you don't have a gaming convention.

    3. Food wait times. The Grand is improving each year but we keep growing and expanding. We are their largest convention (outside of a snowmobile event which is mostly outdoor and food stands) and the only one with tableside service vice banquet service. They believe that having a special coinage system will improve efficiency. Apparently a lot of time is spent running to process cards or get change. So we are working on Gary Con Coinage that can be used to pay for food and drink. This will mean some changes to pricing on the food. I would like for things to be all in whole dollar amounts and to include the tip- so no guessing. The price you see is the price you pay. And in my opinion, we have negotiated a very good price on the food and beverage compared to their standard rates or those of other large venue concessions.

    And thanks for the feedback. The staff really works hard to do a good job, but we cant be everywhere and know everything. Having you guys tell us whats going wrong and offering suggestions is helpful.


    Poindexter likes this.
  12. gmbarry

    gmbarry Footpad

    I am not sure if eliminating the feature events is better, of course it does mean I can sign up for what would only be considered featured in the past (Ward, Cook, Gygaxs....) and ignore any other games that would not be run by GOHs

    Of course this leaves the average GM who has little reputation to have empty seats. And is this by the game or overall ? in the past the Celebity game was only attended by Premier and Platinum, is that 1 or 2 seats restricted to the Silver ?

    And if I am a gold, can I go in when the silver register to grab a seat that was not opened to me as a gold ?

    Sounds a bit more drastic than stating "If you do not want your event to be a featured event, we will honor the request"
  13. Melf

    Melf Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Greg,

    I just posted on a separate thead. But yes if you have a gold badge you can start registering for games during gold reg and continue to add games as they become available. No system is perfect but we believe this is an improvement that will make the experience better for most people overall.

  14. francisca

    francisca Troubadour

    16 seems to be standard, which represents 4x 4 hours slots. I find that to be fair. Personally, the t-shirt is not enough to induce me to run 5x 4 hour events, or 3x 6 hour events. I'm sure those who DM the entire con don't see this as a problem. YMMV, of course.
    dndgeek, Jarlaxle and Melf like this.
  15. eightbits

    eightbits Level 0 Character

    I think the con should stay out of coinage. It's just going to complicate things for the attendees, especially with the pre- and post-con exchanges that will have to happen. And as mediocre and expensive as the food is, I already don't use table service much. Having to deal with currency exchange would dissuade me from using table service entirely. Since the coinage system is really for the hotel and not for the con, the payment system should be handled by the hotel. With tips and tax built-in to the menu prices, this becomes incredibly easy.

    Everyone that wants to buy food can get a hotel key card. The wait staff can carry a card reader on their belts or to order-taking tablets to read the key cards for billing purposes. Since they're key cards, there are no credit card processing times. A single swipe of the key card and you're done.

    For those who have a room at the hotel, the reader would simply bill the room directly like room service. Payment would be handled normally at checkout. For those who don't get a room, the hotel can still issue them a key card that is tied to their credit card/check card but not to a room. Table-service-only key cards would have their balances charged to the credit card after the con has ended. More accurately, they would be charged after the closing of table service on the last day, even if the con continues for a few hours. If an attendee wants to leave early, they can of course go to the front desk to close out table-service-only key cards manually.

    Since cards can be automatically disabled and do not need to be returned to the hotel, there's no need for follow up by the con attendees. The hotel gets a system they can use for other events if/when they start offering table service to them and the con doesn't have to do a thing.

    Additionally, if the wait staff enter orders into tablets and only swipe the key card for payment when the food is delivered, the hotel can get extra tracking information to improve their service. Every single time I ordered hot food at the last con, it was delivered near room temperature about 20 - 30 minutes later. This kind of tracking information can help them identify bottlenecks and improve their service to reduce that. The use of tablets can also send the orders back to the kitchen immediately further reducing delay.

    Using this system, the hotel could also accept cash, exact change only. Keep all prices on even $1 boundaries for simplicity. If you choose to pay in cash, have exact change or be prepared to hand over excess cash as an extra tip because no money will be returned to you.
    Jarlaxle and Poindexter like this.
  16. mwisconsin

    mwisconsin Administrator Staff Member

    This is essentially the way we do business here at WDW, but with one caveat: Biometric scanning to reduce fraud. In your system, the one big vulnerability is that the guest leaves the card sitting on a table (which happens all the time). Someone picks it up, flags down a server, and orders the surf and turf.
    Poindexter likes this.
  17. mordrin

    mordrin Spellbinder Staff Member

    Minotaur & Aboleth?
  18. eightbits

    eightbits Level 0 Character

    I understand the vulnerabilities, but that's the same problem with someone leaving cash or credit card on the table. And since people can still use cash with this system, if they're absent minded enough to lay their key card on the table, then they can use cash instead. And as soon as they know their key card is missing, they can report it to the hotel and disable it just like they do with credit cards. I'm not looking for a system the protects people from themselves, just one that doesn't put even more burden on the con attendees to use the service. If it does increase the burden, the demand for table service might shrink to the point that the hotel to thinks it's not worth the effort and stops providing it.
    Jarlaxle likes this.
  19. Melf

    Melf Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the feedback Rich
  20. Melf

    Melf Administrator Staff Member

    Gary Con would pay the price. If we don't meet the minimums then it is a line item charge added to the bill :(

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