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General Forge Forums => Conventions => Topic started by: iago on August 22, 2007, 08:27:17 AM



Title: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: iago on August 22, 2007, 08:27:17 AM
The Forge booth was definitely interesting, and I'm glad we have the post-mortem thread going for that.  That said, I think it's possible others may be considering launching their own satellite booths for next year, and I'm interested in finding out what we can all learn about this year's satellites in order to assemble a "guide to leaving the nest" for 2008...

Probably the most visible example of success was the PlayCollective booth.  Visually strong, well-designed, well-positioned and well-constructed.  I want to hear what it took to put that together, what the costs of the booth and materials were like so folks can do thumbnail budgets for 2008, what was done that worked, what was done that didn't.

Costs-wise, I think I can figure on the following items needing to be covered in a booth budget:

- The booth space itself
- Banners/Visual Identity Elements
- Shelving
- Demo space/tables
- Padded flooring
- Promotional items (I loved the proliferation of small buttons and stickers this year)

Logistics-wise, I am curious about:

- The process of acquisition and transportation of the elements from the previous list
- Scheduling of staff in the booth
- Achieving a feeling of equality / addressing elements of inequality (such as a big/strong seller partnered with multiple not-as-strong sellers, product-wise)
- The satellite demo process
- Partnerships with other booths
- Things I'm forgetting

So, Diaspor-ites, what can you tell us?


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Judd on August 22, 2007, 08:50:30 AM
Great thread, Fred and great questions.

We are still digesting and figuring out how the con went for us.  After this digestion is complete, I'll definitely be all over this thread.

I will say that I could not have chosen a better spot if I'd been able to pick the spot myself.  That corner slot was wonderful.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Luke on August 22, 2007, 09:05:21 AM
The Burning Dead booth cost

$1200 for the booth
$300 for the furniture
$400 for internet
$110 for power

$2010 all told.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: TonyLB on August 23, 2007, 08:27:17 AM
- The process of acquisition and transportation of the elements from the previous list
Acquisition:  Easy.  Transport:  Hard.

Getting everything there, established, then broken and gone ... that's a major big deal.  I saw WotC carting around these massive boxes labelled "Corner demo area" and the like.  Damn, I envy those boxes.  Get everything in one place, load it into a U-Haul, pull it out with a forklift and unpack it right at the booth?  Day-umn.  I bet they have formed foam blocks to put things in to.  Swank.

Us?  We sorta scurried around like worker ants on amphetamines, and somehow made things happen.  It was easier than it might have been, I suppose, but harder than I expected.

Key thing:  If you follow someone with one of the George Fern hand-trucks and say "Hey, if we help you unload that can we have it when you're done?" eventually someone will say "Yes."  I'm'a gonna remember that trick.

- Scheduling of staff in the booth
This was easy-peasy for us, but I think that's in part because we were viewing it from the point of view of "When are you not allowed to fill up cubic footage in our cramped area?" and everyone was like "Well, okay ... if I must, I'll go out and enjoy the greatest roleplaying convention in the world."  They were eager to take shifts, but understood that there were compensations to being off.  So we just divided things up, and tore off into the con.

- Achieving a feeling of equality / addressing elements of inequality (such as a big/strong seller partnered with multiple not-as-strong sellers, product-wise)
This seemed pretty easy too.  Some games sold better than others, but all designers were naturally equals.  It's sort of like troupe-style in Ars Magica.  Yeah, you may be playing the grogs, but that doesn't make you a second-class member of your game group.

- The satellite demo process
Can you elaborate your question here?  We demo games.  We often close sales.  Money flows in.  What part of that process are you asking about?

- Partnerships with other booths
Communications among the booths this year was not all that I would have liked.  In fact, it appears to have been all but non-existent.  That's sort of to be expected ... this was the year, I think, when people get accustomed to the idea that there are distinct entities, that they effect each other, and that some effort is going to need to be made on communication.  Next year, we'll see if that bears fruit.


I hope this all helps!


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: iago on August 23, 2007, 09:11:14 AM
Yep.  By asking about the satellite demo process, I'm implying things like:

- Compare/contrast with demoing at the Forge booth in years past
- What had to be done differently vs. Forge booth
- In essence, what are the Different Things Due To Being In A Different Booth that can be extrapolated, observed, commented upon


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Jason Morningstar on August 23, 2007, 09:19:24 AM
I'm very interested in alternate models and experiences - for example, none of the "diaspora" booths had space for people to sit down.  Was this a big deal?  If not, that's a logistical/spatial factor that can be factored in.  The Forge booth can learn from that, too.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: TonyLB on August 23, 2007, 09:27:09 AM
Yep.  By asking about the satellite demo process, I'm implying things like:

- Compare/contrast with demoing at the Forge booth in years past
- What had to be done differently vs. Forge booth
- In essence, what are the Different Things Due To Being In A Different Booth that can be extrapolated, observed, commented upon
Ahhh ... I think that there's so much variation in Forge demos that I can't really draw a median position and say "This is how we differ from the archetypal Forge demo."

I mean ... seriously now ... the idea of getting demoes down to fifteen minutes?  Ron put that out there last year, and people scrambled like hell to make it happen.  The notion of demoing a toy version of your system in order to get across the feel?  That happened over the course of the last year.  Beautiful, laminated prepared materials and mnemonic aids?  Entirely a recent development.

I think the whole demo thing is too much of a moving target right now for me to make comparisons.  I do believe that there are wonderful and untapped potentials in presenting demoes, and that we've barely scratched the surface of all that could be done.  Why shouldn't demoes be enjoyable on their own merits?  Must their primary purpose be educating consumers?  Or can their purpose be something else ... like pulling people into a sense of community?  I suspect that the format can do far more than we give it credit for.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: TonyLB on August 23, 2007, 09:29:21 AM
I'm very interested in alternate models and experiences - for example, none of the "diaspora" booths had space for people to sit down.  Was this a big deal?  If not, that's a logistical/spatial factor that can be factored in.  The Forge booth can learn from that, too.
I had one couple who asked for (and was provided with) chairs.  They were, bar none, the most disinterested, lackadaisical, downright ANNOYING customers any of us had to demo for all convention long.

Which is ... y'know ... not a statistical sample.  There are many nice people who have to play down at that level ... folks in wheelchairs, for a start!  But ... that one sour experience made me very happy with the overall idea of standing demoes.  It seems to keep people on-point.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: GreatWolf on August 23, 2007, 11:55:30 AM
Which is ... y'know ... not a statistical sample.  There are many nice people who have to play down at that level ... folks in wheelchairs, for a start!  But ... that one sour experience made me very happy with the overall idea of standing demoes.  It seems to keep people on-point.

Anecdotal point:  I demoed Shock: at the Play Collective booth.  I really enjoyed the standing demo table.  It seemed quite friendly and engaging.  I'm trying to figure out specific reasons why this was the case, but I'm not really sure.  Maybe it's because it felt like we were all standing around in a group, talking about a cool game.  That's a different vibe than sitting down at a demo table.  So, at least for the Play Collective booth, it worked out nicely.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: JustinB on August 23, 2007, 12:56:35 PM
Which is ... y'know ... not a statistical sample.  There are many nice people who have to play down at that level ... folks in wheelchairs, for a start!  But ... that one sour experience made me very happy with the overall idea of standing demoes.  It seems to keep people on-point.

Anecdotal point:  I demoed Shock: at the Play Collective booth.  I really enjoyed the standing demo table.  It seemed quite friendly and engaging.  I'm trying to figure out specific reasons why this was the case, but I'm not really sure.  Maybe it's because it felt like we were all standing around in a group, talking about a cool game.  That's a different vibe than sitting down at a demo table.  So, at least for the Play Collective booth, it worked out nicely.


Having seen the demo tables at other RPG/board game booths, I think that standing demos work best for card games especially and then for board games. Games that you could, conceivably play in say 15 minutes-45 minutes. Sitting tables seem to work better for RPGs, if only because they remind people of actually playing an RPG. But that's just my observation.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Luke on August 23, 2007, 03:58:30 PM
I deliberately set up our booth so there'd be no sitting around. First, there's just no space for it. The small booth gets crowded so quickly. Second, as I've learned from past cons, it just ends up with the booth staff sitting around and looking deflated.

I was very pleased with our set up and flow at our booth. I was not pleased with non-staff folks hanging out at the booth.

However, our sales were down this year* and it felt like we could close a sale on a demo. So you know.

-L

*It should be noted that my standards are very high. According to the IPR numbers, we would have come in 2nd place behind SotC.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Robert Bohl on August 28, 2007, 09:18:19 PM
The not-sitting thing is key, for the reasons Luke mentions. It was hell on my feet but it's good, subtle communication to the demoee that they're going to be in and out quickly.

One of the key reasons why the diaspora thing works, though, has to do with knowing the games. Play Collective had only about a dozen books and it was still the end of the con before I could give the log line for all of them, and the demo for most of them. I can't imagine being at the Forge booth and feeling obligated (because I would) to be able to talk about 200 different games.

Setup, breakdown, planning, etc., was crazy and hectic for Play Collective, but it was fun and effective. It was easy to get so excited about merchandising the books when Joshua went and art-directed the best-looking booth at the convention for us.

There is a 1000 word version of this that I sent in email, but that seems too extreme.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 29, 2007, 02:29:11 AM
Hello,

I've been thinking about this for a while, so it's great actually to have the first "fly be free" GenCon over with so I can look over the booths. Part of my conclusion is that this year is quite likely a honeymoon for post-Forge diaspora or spin-off booths, whatever we want to call them.

Why a honeymoon? Well, because the novelty factor will be gone next year. "Oh my, Vincent and friends have a booth!" That's great, but when all is said and done, it's just a booth among many, and the primary draw is for people who already know them.

The Forge booth is successful because it did, and does, provide a unique experience in the exhibitor's hall for a con-goer. Not only that, it's possible to learn what that experience is for, by being there. Creator ownership and profit, design resulting from personal visions and clear thinking, and mutualism - those are all on display, if "display" is the right word for a plethora of quick-play demo experiences.

What will make a new booth, post-Forge, successful, now that this honeymoon is over? I have no idea of specifics, but in general, I don't think it can rely on familiarity with Forge culture (look! it's us! we're over here now!), nor on being basically an outlet or extension of sales at the Forge booth (whether the specific game sales are shared across the booths doesn't matter to this point). The lesson of the Forge booth, to me, is that a successful endeavor at GenCon does more than merely show people books. It provides an experience which teaches or informs - the person gets a strong, accurate idea of what that group of people publishes games for, and/or how they create and publish games, and also how their games reflect and represent that. Buying a game, therefore, becomes participatory in a real, breathing phenomenon.

I'm going to single out the Play Collective booth for some comments. As a first-time booth, and in comparison to the typical GenCon booth, it was great, but I am quite concerned about how sustainable it is for next year. I say this because after visiting it and seeing it in action for four days, I have no idea what this "play collective" is. All I know is that Vincent, Em, Joshua, Judd, Malcolm, Meg, and Tony bought a booth together. Is that a "collective?" Is that represented in their games? Does a customer know or learn this?

If the Play Collective actually means anything, and is more than just a way for people who were kicked out of the Forge booth to clump together in a kind of panic - and bluntly, this description does apply in part to the booth's origin - then what is that something? There is a play collective in Massachusetts: Vincent, Em, Meg, Joshua, and others are all role-players together and often design their games in close, even interpenetrating rounds of playtest and bouncing ideas off one another. But is that what the booth is about? This year, the answer didn't matter,and just being friends and getting a booth together is enough. Next year, I think it will matter greatly.

Why a "play collective" of individual, one-or-two person companies? Why not a big company called Play Collective? What is the actual relationship between (1) the close friendships and close interactions of real play among these people, and (2) highly personal, individually published games? Why does Meg have Night Sky Games, and Vincent have Lumpley Games, when the two of them are married, play together all the time, and playtest and vet any game that either publishes? Why is it a play collective and not a publishing collective? Can it be that the latter isn't such a good idea, and yet one can actually maintain the benefits of the former?

I know the answer to these questions because I know the people. But does the booth provide that answer? I think such a booth would be amazing ... because it models a successful social practice for play, design, and publishing. Could a booth be designed which lets people walk away saying, "Hey, we could do that!" instead of the less-likely-to-succeed "Hey, let's all be in a company together!"

It may be, that a given idea for a booth is going to lead to hard decisions. If my booth is to be about X, and if a publisher who is my friend (and who cannot or doesn't want to be at the Forge booth) doesn't match with X ... I should consider saying "no" to including him in the booth. Harsh words, I know. I hope that my chosen word "consider" is recognized.

The danger that I foresee, and I hope it never happens to anyone who strikes out on their own from the Forge booth, is to rely solely on the game itself and association with the mother-ship. "Hey, I'm Bob, and these are my two friends. We have a game we wrote! It's great! We used to be at the Forge booth!" with a big friendly grin. This is nothing more than what any RPG booth does in the exhibitor hall, just juiced up a little with enthusiasm. It offers nothing of what I'm talking about in this post. It may do well the first time out - when people from all the related booths cruise around all of them and buy stuff, when activities like the Passport funnel other con-goers around.

I used the term "mother-ship" in that paragraph for a reason. As a nickname, it's amusing. But as a real model for running a new booth, it's a disastrous concept. One's booth needs to have a vision of its own, to be successful over time. If your booth is just "a little bit of Forge/IPR over here," I anticipate maybe one good year, at most. And maybe this last year was the only chance for that.

It may well be, too, that a publisher says, "You know, my game is at the Forge/IPR booth, and that's OK with me," and just goes to GenCon and has a good time - maybe playing a bit at that booth, maybe GMing up a storm at Games on Demand, or hell, doing whatever he or she wants. Matt Wilson, you did that, right? I didn't get to chat with you much, but my impression was that it was pretty satisfying for you. My call, at this point, is that this option is a better default than a new booth - if one hasn't thought about what the booth is for, what it will be like, and what it offers besides just grins, books, and an association with the Forge.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: TonyLB on August 29, 2007, 05:32:23 AM
I'm going to single out the Play Collective booth for some comments. As a first-time booth, and in comparison to the typical GenCon booth, it was great, but I am quite concerned about how sustainable it is for next year.
One of the topics that I look forward to addressing in the year to come is how the various entities communicate with and about each other.  For a long time there has really only been the Forge booth, and so there was no group-to-group communication.  All communication (and everybody's roles) were relative to a single entity.  Habits formed ... and some of them aren't well-adapted to the new situation.

For instance, Ron, sweeping in with a knowing attitude and laying out the failings of the year past and the plans for the year to come ... that flies much better when you're talking about the Forge than when you're talking about someone else's booth.  The communication, no matter how well-meaning, implies a certain role that you don't fill relative to our booth.

Now you've never had to think about that distinction before.  None of us has.  I think that going forward, though, we'll either become more and more aware of these issues, or we'll become more and more angry at each other.  I prefer the former.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Robert Bohl on August 29, 2007, 05:34:05 AM
I'm a little confused on how the Forge booth presence works. I thought that people who weren't there for the first or second time couldn't be represented there. Clearly I've misunderstood something. Is it the case that your book can be there but you can't?


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Judd on August 29, 2007, 05:39:25 AM
I'm a little confused on how the Forge booth presence works. I thought that people who weren't there for the first or second time couldn't be represented there. Clearly I've misunderstood something. Is it the case that your book can be there but you can't?

But your book would still be at IPR, you just wouldn't be there to demo it.

Ron brings up some really interesting points that I'm still, frankly, sorting out.

More later, very possibly much later.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Michael S. Miller on August 29, 2007, 06:29:55 AM
It may well be, too, that a publisher says, "You know, my game is at the Forge/IPR booth, and that's OK with me," and just goes to GenCon and has a good time - maybe playing a bit at that booth, maybe GMing up a storm at Games on Demand, or hell, doing whatever he or she wants. Matt Wilson, you did that, right? I didn't get to chat with you much, but my impression was that it was pretty satisfying for you. My call, at this point, is that this option is a better default than a new booth - if one hasn't thought about what the booth is for, what it will be like, and what it offers besides just grins, books, and an association with the Forge.

That was me, this year. I bought into no booth, but With Great Power... was still available through IPR (as are all of IPR's products). IPR took a bigger percentage than they would have if I had bought into the booth, but I didn't have to pay for a buy-in or an exhibitor badge. Running scheduled events for the Indie Games Explosion meant that I was able to get a GM's badge for free. In 2006, I was part of the Forge/IPR booth and sold 19 copies of my game while talking about and demoing my own and other people's games all day long, plus running scheduled games. In 2007, I sold 10 copies of WGP... just by running scheduled games and enjoying myself at the con.

Being boothless, particularly if you don't have a new game to push is a very viable option, as I mentioned on the Post-mortem thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24610.msg239362#msg239362).

EDITED to add: I would have had to sell more than twice as many books to justify the cost of a booth buy-in and badge, even if I had been eligible. For me, boothlessness was more enjoyable AND cost-effective.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Gregor Hutton on August 29, 2007, 06:40:19 AM
Just to clarify, the Forge booth attitude this year was that your book could be on the booth even if you were not a member of IPR, see the case of My Life With Master.

Matt Wilson and Michael Miller took the year off from being on a booth, and from talking with them at GenCon it seemed a good choice for both of them.

I have done my two years on the Forge Booth and I am considering what I'm going to do next year. I plan to be at GenCon for sure. Whether I am on a booth or not is something I am mulling over. I had a few discussions with other designers that I share a lot of commonality with, so there are options. I want to make the right one, and I find Ron's post very helpful in that regard.

I see it not as him telling me, or anyone, what to do, but rather sharing his opinion on it, which I something I'm mindful to listen to.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Paul Czege on August 29, 2007, 06:40:36 AM
I'm a little confused on how the Forge booth presence works. I thought that people who weren't there for the first or second time couldn't be represented there. Clearly I've misunderstood something. Is it the case that your book can be there but you can't?

If you'd already done two years at the Forge booth, your games could be sold at the booth (and My Life with Master and Bacchanal were), but you could not otherwise participate (i.e. no exhibitor badge through the booth and no running demos at the booth). You could only participate at the booth if it was your first or second year.

Paul


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on August 29, 2007, 06:52:52 AM
Ron, I don't actually understand what you're asking, but let me guess and see if this is an answer:

It's the Playcollective because we want to focus on play, not the vagaries of publishing.

We're separate companies because *that* part is about publishing independently.

We cherry picked the people for the Collective because they bring energy and have reputations. Some of us got in for other reasons, like we bring energy and can design banners. Some folks, we wanted to collaborate with but either were doing something else already or had a different vision.

So the answer is, I think, that we need some literature and graphics that make this clear next year: we're an association of independent publishers who share a vision grown out of mutual play, and if you like one of our games, you'll likely enjoy another one.

I pretty much agree with Tony, incidentally, that, hey, we're over here doing something, and you're in no position to give unsolicited advice. On the other hand, I take the questions in the spirit they're given because a) I'm interested in your opinion anyway, whatever the formal arrangement, and b) our experiences will be useful for others as they get their shit together for next year.

Incidentally, this booth was in early planning stages before last Gen Con ended. It would have been different if everyone had been pushed out of the nest, to be sure, but while the final lineup changed a bunch, it's fundamentally what we were envisioning last August.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ben Lehman on August 29, 2007, 07:31:08 AM
Ron, correct me if I'm wrong: your thesis here is basically that there's no room for evolution on the Forge booth concept -- that you can't be "the Forge booth, but better in these particular ways" (say, in terms of stocking, personal experience, demo handling, etc.) and also be a successful booth. Thus, in order for a booth to be successful at GenCon, you need to totally new concept (like the Ashcan Front had.)

I'm not sure that's trivially obvious. Why do you think someone couldn't just do you one better on your own booth?

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 29, 2007, 07:50:54 AM
Obviously more clarity is needed. Or perhaps emotions are running high and it will be useless. We'll see.

1. Tony, I am telling no one what to do. I am providing my observations and judgments, which can be ignored as anyone sees fit. We're talking about business in this forum, and you guys carried out a business practice. It is absolutely fair game for scrutiny and discussion. You're an example because you exist, just like any other publisher and any other booth. Regardless of anyone's conclusions, the essence of independent publishing is that you can do what you want anyway, so there's no skin off your nose.

2.  Ben, I have no idea how you constructed that bizarre interpretation. I said absolutely nothing about whether a booth may or may not emulate the Forge booth procedures like demos or whatever. This isn't about permission for anything. Everything about your paraphrase is wrong.

3. Joshua, I am not asking for any answers. All of my sentences ending in question marks in my post are rhetorical. They're questions I think that all booth owners should ask themselves, substituting whatever cool title or equivalent concepts for their proposed booth that they've planned. If you think they're attacks, criticisms, or challenges, then you're incorrect. You do not have to answer anything and I need no clarification of the questions' answers. As I said, I know the answers.

This is the Forge's Publishing forum. If you publish, you've come under the the lens of shared discussion, and there is no escape from being singled out. Talk of who has the right to say what may matter at other websites, but here, it does not. Here, the lens is all that matters. Leave your ego at the door.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Paul Czege on August 29, 2007, 07:51:58 AM
I remember Vincent pitching Universalis to parents with strollers a couple of years ago: "It's a game you can play with your kids." My reading of Ron's point is that you succeed as a booth when you present a unique value proposition. Most of the Playcollective booth participants integrate games, game design, family, and friendships in a powerful way that probably a lot of gamers struggle to accomplish. Imagine if the Playcollective booth and products were focused on selling that unique life solution. Would it be a more or less compelling booth?

Paul


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 29, 2007, 07:56:41 AM
Hi Paul,

That is a correct reading of my post. Again, to be clear, it is not specific advice for the Play Collective, it is an example of what any people with a booth at GenCon may do well to ask themselves ... and again, this is regarding 2008 and beyond. Nothing I've said concerns 2007, which was the honeymoon year.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on August 29, 2007, 07:59:11 AM
Gnarly, Paul.

Ron, I'm'a chalk this up to Stupid Internet. I don't think these are attacks. Also, you happen to have literally caught us in the middle of discussion (and, honestly, added some pressure to it) in other channels. We're just barely looking at our cost/returns, like, as of a couple of hours ago, and still counting stock and sharing stories.

We'll have concrete observations, anecdotes, and numbers later, all of which we hope will be useful to new krewes starting a thing. We'll probably have more questions for them to answer for themselves, too.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ben Lehman on August 29, 2007, 08:06:32 AM
Ron: Huh. My reading of your post is Paul's reading. I don't know where you got any crap like permissions or whatever from.

My only point is that there's an assumption imbedded in there: that a booth's value could not simply be "like the Forge booth, but more fun for reasons x, y, or z." I look at that assumption and go "that might be true, but I'm not sure it is at all, could you elaborate on why that's true?"

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on August 29, 2007, 08:23:33 AM
The Internet is making us all bad people.

Ron, I'm sorry if I sounded defensive. Maybe that's how I was feeling. I don't feel that way now.

My answers, like your questions, are examples. They're real answers and out of order, but maybe I'll go through and answer them point by point a little later.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 29, 2007, 08:27:36 AM
Joshua, cool.

Ben, that assumption you've stated isn't embedded. It's not present at all. If someone wanted to do "like the Forge booth, but better," even without an x, y, and z, that is of course entirely possible. I have no monopoly on the quality of a booth.

What I said (I hate having to type that) is that I don't think that a booth will do well, in the future, simply to self-identify as "we were at the Forge booth before," to offer books without anything else going on, and therefore be, effectively, further shelf space from the already-existing Forge booth. This point applies if the books are duplicated at the current IPR shelf or not. That is not the same thing as "being like the Forge booth" (which you are apparently reading it to mean). I am talking about not doing anything, Forge-booth-like or not.

Any cries of "we didn't do that," or whatever, are not to the point. Just in case anyone's about to type something of the sort. That point is general, and not aimed at anyone regarding booths from 2007.

I can't make it any clearer than that.

Robert, I missed following up on your question. Gregor and the others who've answered you are right. The whole business about being with the booth only for two years applied to buy-ins for exhibitor badges - for people, and for the associated demonstration play. It has nothing to do with books. All books carried by IPR are there, and any book which has been at the Forge booth in the past is also welcome to be there, subject to permission from me. That last bit probably won't ever need to be applied, but I reserved in case of some terribly funky situation, and because open guarantees are asking for trouble.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 29, 2007, 08:28:54 AM
Oops! Stupidity. I wrote "Publishing forum" in my little iron-fisted paragraph up there, didn't I?

Conventions forum. Conventions. Geez.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ben Lehman on August 29, 2007, 09:09:28 AM
Ron: Very clear. Thanks.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Robert Bohl on August 29, 2007, 09:49:24 AM
I think that the ability to know every game and every demo, without adding anything else, makes any spinoff booth qualitatively different from the Forge/IPR booth. I'm intrigued by the notion of being more than just another indie booth, certainly. I'd like to add to what we do for next year. That said, we were pretty thoroughly busy this year just demoing, roping, and selling. Obviously this is pretty soon in the process and we are certainly having internal discussions about it, but I don't know where we'd get the time or room to do more, nor what we'd do.



Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: TonyLB on August 29, 2007, 09:54:50 AM
If I may?

Communication gets trickier the more we're trying to communicate from more and more different perspectives and priorities.

My charitable reading skills are, actually, pretty damn good.  I got what you were saying, Ron.  You make good points, and I'm certainly thinking about them.

But as the snarl here has, I hope, pointed out ... talking about these things becomes more challenging as our community becomes more complicated.  The question of whether it's okay for you to single out another group as an example of how you fear people are going to fail ... that's not a trivial question.

Like I said, I think this next year is going to involve all of us learning how to communicate in this new terrain, and developing ... well, for want of a better term, social mores about how these groups function within our larger community.  I expect it to be a fascinating process, but I also expect to see more little traffic jams like this one as we go forward.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 29, 2007, 10:28:07 AM
Robert, it's true: you guys were busy as hell. That definitely makes a key point: there is no way for a single booth to "do it all." I miss the ashcan-heavy, garage-band content of the 2002 booth. But we can't preserve that as a consistent feature of the glossier, shelved, developed IPR booth; trying to do it only disadvantages the ashcans and confuses customers. I'd sure enjoy see anyone take anything they do like about the Forge booth, from whatever year or experiences they had there, and beef it up to 11 at their own booth or con activity. I'd also like to see anyone doing something new, too, that has nothing to do with the Forge booth's history, but is perfect for them. 

Tony, I've reviewed the thread carefully, to the best of my ability separating myself as moderator from myself as participant. Sometimes, when I've done that kind of review, I've discovered that I-the-participant was a butt-head and needed to be moderated, badly. This time, here's my conclusion.

I'm going to disagree with you about the nature of this thread and the topic. The only snarl I see is some snap emotional reactions, all of which have been reflected upon and revised by their authors. I don't think that has anything to do with an expanded scope or topic for communication, nor does it have anything to do with my specific communication. It was a momentary lapse of reason which is perfectly understandable, and it is OK, and now we're all moving on, with no blood and no foul. There is no "lesson" to be learned about the changing community or how we should be speaking to one another. There is only the ongoing rule at the Forge that reason alone yields meaning, here.

What I posted was both relevant and clear. If someone else posts relevant and clear critique about anything else at the con, it's fine too. Discourse requires fearless critique, not concern about toes and egos. Fairness is important. But cushioning is not.

The Indie Passport topic is an excellent example, in part because not every publisher involved liked it. If Luke, for instance, had censored himself about his experiences with the Passport out of some misbegotten value concerning "the community," then we'd have no insight, no basis for discussion at all. What he posted was appropriate, fair, and relevant - and I have no doubt at all that Fred is thinkin' up a storm about it, rather than having some kind of threatened emotional reaction about it. (In fact, I know so, 'cause Fred started a great new thread.)

I'd like to see further discussions, ideas, and insights about running one's own booth, with a strong eye out for 2008. That's what Fred posted this thread topic for. Let's really do it.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: iago on August 29, 2007, 10:42:08 AM
I'd like to see further discussions, ideas, and insights about running one's own booth, with a strong eye out for 2008. That's what Fred posted this thread topic for. Let's really do it.

This is in fact exactly what I posted the topic for. :)

I'm excited by the PlayCollective booth and the Burning Wheel booth because they provided a very polished feel.  I see them as exploring the "pro" edge of the diaspora.

I'm excited by the Ashcan Front because it seems to have succeeded in its goals, and provided a useful "categorization" of games-in-development.  It strikes me as a booth that changes all other booths by its presence, by becoming a magnet for that sort of product.

But not being on the ground with any of those booths (or others), I don't feel like I *understand* them, so it's my hope that this thread can collect all the various on-the-ground observations and lessons and resources necessary to enhance and replicate their successes in 2008.  The posts so far have done that some, but more is better. :)


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Robert Bohl on August 29, 2007, 10:48:33 AM
Fred, is there anything else specifically you'd like to know about Play Collective that hasn't been addressed yet? Some of the stuff is still being sussed out by us but if there's any more context I can provide I'd like to do so.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Lance D. Allen on August 29, 2007, 03:22:02 PM
Fred,

would I be wrong in guessing that you're looking for a sort of "lessons learned" discourse here? Basically, people who put together a booth, especially but not limited to a new booth, should be talking about things they've tried that worked as well as they hoped, better than they hoped, not as good as they hoped, or didn't work at all. Some of these lessons learned may not apply to people considering putting together a booth in the next year or two, but it will allow them to better make that decision, being better informed.

My slow ass is still a little bit from publishing. When I finally get to putting out a product and can afford to have a GenCon presence, my first option will probably be to look into either the Ashcan Front or the Forge, so the lessons learned here will not be something I may specifically need, but I would very much like to know what people tried, and how it worked out.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: iago on August 29, 2007, 04:55:32 PM
would I be wrong in guessing that you're looking for a sort of "lessons learned" discourse here? Basically, people who put together a booth, especially but not limited to a new booth, should be talking about things they've tried that worked as well as they hoped, better than they hoped, not as good as they hoped, or didn't work at all. Some of these lessons learned may not apply to people considering putting together a booth in the next year or two, but it will allow them to better make that decision, being better informed.

That's exactly what I'm looking for. Everyone personally learned something, I hope, by being part of a satellite booth this year; some of them have spoken up already.  I hunger for more.

Ultimately, if this goes "right", the thread could be used as a sort of "diaspora booth cookbook", or at the least a source of inspiration and experience.  Selfishly, if I ever wanted to do, say, an Evil Hat booth, this is where I'd hope to start.


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Paul Czege on August 31, 2007, 05:28:44 AM
Matt Wilson, you did that, right? I didn't get to chat with you much, but my impression was that it was pretty satisfying for you.

Matt Wilson and Michael Miller took the year off from being on a booth, and from talking with them at GenCon it seemed a good choice for both of them.

Just to clarify, Michael Miller was not attached to any booth as an exhibitor this year, as he's written about to this thread. But Matt Wilson participated with The Ashcan Front.

Paul


Title: Re: GenCon: Launching a Satellite Booth
Post by: Gregor Hutton on August 31, 2007, 08:29:28 AM
D'oh! Yes! With Galactic, which I picked up.