Gen Con was something that we had hoped to go to some day, but when we saw the news that it was cancelled due to COVID-19 we filed that idea away for next year. To be honest, we hadn’t even talked much about going to Gen Con this year since we had just started working on The Stifling Dark so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment.
What we didn’t realize was that only the in-person portion of the event was cancelled and that Gen Con Online was taking its place. That was a bit of a miss on our part. And by that, I specifically mean Ethan. It was all Ethan’s fault.
Thankfully, I received an email from a coworker that Gen Con Online was happening. Unfortunately, that email came on July 10th. For those who aren’t familiar with Gen Con timelines, that was 3 days before event registration opened. Cue emergency company meeting.
After much discussion, we decided to submit for eight events throughout the weekend and see what happened. The Gen Con team was kind enough to let us list the events for free instead of the regular $2 charge because we are still in the playtesting phase, so off we went!
Little did we know that over half of our events would “sell out” within the first few hours of registration, and that all of them would be full before registration even closed. Based on the level of interest we saw from these registrations we also signed up for the First Exposure Playtest Online (FEPO) option.
For those who are keeping track, we went from having zero knowledge of Gen Con Online to having 12 four-player sessions and being booked virtually all day every day, all in the matter of a week. Needless to say, our workload had just gotten a bit bigger.
The next few days were spent discussing schedules – who was going to be available to lead each session, how many of us should be in each session, etc. Oh, and then there’s this thing called our day jobs. Spoiler alert: this is not our full-time job (as much as we wish it could be). We decided to take off work the Thursday and Friday of Gen Con to make sure we could all be present throughout the convention.
As mentioned in our previous post, we had already been playtesting the game, but we had to step it up a bit. We had been playtesting about once a week up until this point, but we have since upped it to 3-4 times a week in preparation for Gen Con.
We typically have two different “tunings” prepared for each session so that we can feed two birds with one scone. There are still some mechanics we’re working through, particularly for the Adversary, so it’s very helpful to be able to test out two different options in one night and then talk about them during our next meeting. Side note – if you want to blame someone for that scone quote, blame my coworker, not me.
Speaking of playtesting, we also had to revisit our note-taking process. We had been doing a good job of keeping detailed feedback from our playtesters, but we weren’t collecting a ton of stats about the actual game. We collected the basics like game length, winners, etc., but we didn’t get super detailed.
Since we were about to have 48 strangers play our game over the course of three and a half days, we decided we needed to beef up our notes a bit. We migrated to only using a document to also using a spreadsheet, which tracked a number of lower-level details, such as how many times the Adversary took certain actions (and in what round they were taken). This new data will allow us to perform even more analysis on how things are panning out and will help us further balance the game.
All that said, we are super excited to participate in our first Gen Con and look forward to many more in the future. If you are one of the people that signed up to play, thank you for being willing to try a board game you’ve heard absolutely nothing about! If not, we’ll forgive you. Just this time though.
See you in (less than) two weeks!