Had a great time at Origins this past week. Living in Columbus, has its advantages - one being I didn't need to stay in a hotel in order to attend Origins; I could just take a 20 minute bus ride and be at the convention center.
This was my tenth year and my daughter's fourth (as a player, not just taking her through the vendors' hall). As always, we had a good time.
Registration was very smooth. Since we could come down on Wednesday afternoon we didn't have to wait in line. Of course, being a teacher (homeschool) I was able to use the teachers' line which was empty. The staff was very friendly and helpful, even going to the preregistered line to retrieve my daughter's pass so I wouldn't need to stand in line twice. The bag of goodies wasn't as full as in years past, but that isn't the fault of Origins but a sign of the times as companies cut back on promos in order to save money. Since it was the 4th of July, we didn't stay to play any games because of family commitments, but it was nice to see so many events running on Wednesday. If the convention is going to pay for the facilities they might as well be used.
Thursday morning my daughter and I caught an early bus so we could get to the Three Dragon Ante tournament. We both really enjoy that game. Unfortunately, the neither the judge nor any other players arrived - a problem with a 9:00am game on the Thursday. We had no problem turning in our ticket for generic coins, though. We then went up to Looney Labs Big Experiment room to visit with friends and play some open games. We were able to spend some time teaching Aquarius to some new players. Then it was down to the vender's hall. We usually try to go on Thursday, in order to avoid the crowds and catch the dealers when they are fresh. The hall was less full then in the past and also missing many of the big companies. Out of the Box, Paizo, Zman, Privateer, Day of Wonder, GMT,were there, but many others had only a token display in a booth with a group of other companies (like Fantasy Flight/Atlas/Steve Jackson/DorkStorm Press) or just a case display like WizKids. I realize it is expensive to come to a convention and that GenCon is larger, but 10 - 12 thousand gamers at Origins is not a small number. These are hard core gamers, the people that spend lots of money on games, run game clubs, and teach others games. And there is only about a 25% overlap between the two conventions, so here are 8000 potential customers they are missing. The dealers I talked to said that attendance seemed to be down, but sales were up - so less people but we were buying more. I know I was. So thanks to the companies that came.
We had a good time trying out new games and discovering ones we hadn't known about. The Out of the Box booth is always alot of fun - we purchased the new 10 Days in Asia to go with the rest of the series we own. Picked up a pack of the 10th anniversary Fluxx expansion cards from Looney Labs. Found a copy of Hollywood Blockbuster which I had been looking for from Troll and Toad. Snapped up Duel in the Dark from Zman Games (thanks for bringing that to the show - its nice to have a company release a new product at Origins instead of GenCon). Bought a lot of Gamers Aid products at Paizo (cool things that we don't need but are really fun to have for D&D); and had a good time playing Stonehenge (a future purchase) and the Kobold dungeon (my daughter had a winning key). Plus lots of little things from other vendors.
Friday started with a game of the Great Chili Cookoff (bad players and a ref who didn't know his game hurt). Then a really fun game of Battlestations by Gorilla Games. I purchased it last year, but didn't have a chance to play it - glad I did. Now I need to get some of the expansions.
Finished the day with a viewing of the Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Definitely the highlight of the con. We've loved the Gamers but this is a 100x better. Excellent production value and a lot of fun, and funny! We've been anxiously waiting for the release of the DVD, but I'm glad we got to see it first on a large screen with an audience of fellow gamers. My daughter's mouth hurt afterwards from laughing so much. Now Dead Gentlemen Prod. needs to find a distributor and get it out on DVD.
Saturday morning my daughter had a seminar on Designing Adventures. Not really very good. She got some ideas, but the presenter was not up to the task. The seminar idea is a good one in theory, but the ones we've been to in the past all have the same problem - the presenters may be professional game designers, but they aren't speakers. No outline, no visual aids, no handouts. Someone sitting on the table at the front of the room and just talking vaguely about the subject in general is not a good seminar - even a free one. After that we had a game of Heroscape and finished up the day with a session of Cleopatra.
Of course there where the meeting of friends (both old and new), playing of demo games , and one of our favorite Origin pastimes - people watching.
We'll be back next year.