Earlier this month, I went time-traveling. Three hours into the past, to the fantastic and crazy theme park that is Las Vegas, Nevada.
I was invited to be a Guest at NeonCon and had heard good things about Neoncon 2009, so decided to add another convention to my 2010 schedule. Why not, right?
Here are some of the things I enjoyed at Neoncon 2010:
Smaller con = more opportunities
If big cons like Origins or GenCon aren’t your vibe, you might like Neoncon. Everything for the con is in the same hallway of the Tropicana hotel and your room is a quick trip up the elevator.
Looking to lunch with guests and pick their brains? It probably won’t happen at the big cons (unless you get really lucky; Dave and I had a delightful lunch with Monte Cook at Origins!), but it can definitely happen at Neoncon.
Want to chill at Barcon with the people who designed your favorite indie games? It happened at Neoncon, and everyone was welcome to hang out and drink. (Or not drink. I’m not much of a drinker, myself.)
The same opportunities are there gaming-wise. Want to play in a game run by the person who designed it? You can do that at Neoncon.
The CreativeU track had so many excellent talks, seminars, and workshops by industry folks. I attended quite a few of them and learned a lot! While I’m not a game designer or a publisher, as a player it’s always fascinating to hear about the blood, sweat, tears, and alcohol that goes into the games I play.
- Ryan Macklin & Lenny Balsera‘s Q&A on the Dresden Files RPG. We learned a lot about Evil Hat Productions as a company and all the work that goes into developing an RPG based on a well-loved series of novels.
- Adam Jury & Brennan Taylor’s talk on what goes into publishing game books, from working with artists to page layouts to print runs from 50 to 5,000.
- Brennan Taylor‘s Fantasy Heartbreaker talk. Seriously, if you think your game is going to revolutionize the way people play fantasy RPGs, you’ll want to watch this one when it hits YouTube.
- Josh Roby‘s Designing for Decisions taught me a lot about the things game designers consider when creating a game system.
- Ryan Macklin’s GMing workshop, during which I played the part of “stunt player.” We discussed such awesome things as how to engage wallflowers, how to calm a hostile player (and how to kick them out if they continue to be an issue), ways to encourage roleplay, getting players invested in the campaign world, and way more. Seriously, if you see this on the schedule at any other convention, you need to go. Don’t let the audience participation thing scare you away; Ryan doesn’t bite (hard).
Scheduling for CreativeU was up in the air as late as the first day of the convention. My own event (Dating Doctor Clinic) was one of the misplaced events, and as such, I only ended up with two participants.
It was a bit disheartening to see such great and informative sessions being delivered to audiences in the single digits. I hope that as Neoncon’s general attendance grows, so does the attendance at the CreativeU seminars.
The Goal of a Green(er) Con
It’s impossible to have a totally paper-free con, but Neoncon has taken a step in that direction through their unique swag policy. Instead of everyone getting a bag full of postcards and flyers that inevitably gets thrown away, Neoncon has a Swag Store and Swag Bucks.
Convention sponsors donated games, books, dice, and other swag to the Neoncon Swag Store, which was located in the vendor area of the hall. Staffers wandered the gaming area passing out $5 swag bucks to GMs, who then awarded them to notable players. Collect up your bucks and use them to buy things you actually want in the Swag Store. Pretty sweet.
There Once Was A Mythender…
While at Neoncon, I had the opportunity to playtest Ryan Macklin’s as-of-yet-unpublished RPG Mythender. If you like the idea of playing the badassedest of badasses, of killing gods and then eating a sandwich cuz that’s just what you do every day, you’ll love Mythender. If you like rolling more dice than should ever be in one hand at one time, you’ll love Mythender. If you want to play a half-shaman who shapeshifts into a bear that shoots killer bees from her mouth and wants nothing more than to kill her bear-goddess mother because she eats babies to get power… *cough* Wait, that stuff doesn’t have to apply. But that was my character and it was AWESOME.
I’m very excited for Ryan to finish developing Mythender and get it published already. It makes an epic and amazing one-shot game (a real table-pleaser for cons!), but has potential for campaign play that makes me tingly just thinking about it. So, do the RPG world a favor and every month or so, poke Ryan and ask him how Mythender is going. For me. For you. For everyone who has wanted to poke Thor in the eye.
A Break From Cons…
With Neoncon behind me, I’ve got a bit of a break in my convention travels. I’ll be sticking close to home until D&D Experience (DDXP) in late January.