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Conjunction, 29th SF/Fantasy Con

 
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Warhoon



Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 67
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:34 pm    Post subject: Conjunction, 29th SF/Fantasy Con Reply with quote

Hey everyone!

I'm on the organising committee for next year's national SF/F convention, Conjunction. You can check it out here: http://conjunction.sf.org.nz/
It will be held 21-24 March, 2008 (Easter weekend). The event will be held at the Copthorne Plimmer hotel, practically across the street from the Wargamer Supply shop at the BNZ building.

We're talking about programming ideas, and I'm into RPGs, so naturally I've been pushing the idea of adding a gaming track to the list. The details still need to be sorted, but it could be some demo games, RPGing, board / card games, LARPing...options are open. Even computer gaming is an option, though I don't know how we'd manage it.

Now, the question to you guys is: Would you be interested? By interested, I mean a.) would you be likely to attend? and b.) would some of you be interested in running some events at the Con?

Conjunction is $90 for the weekend, considerably more than KapCon, but there are 1-day memberships and it's conceivable we could slot all the gaming stuff on a single day to make it more feasible / attractive.

I've mentioned to many people individually that I'd like to see some of the individual communities out there (gamers, horror fans, anime, costumers, re-enacters, etc...) get together as a group more often, but it's a challenge to do it. Ive seen it work well at events like DragonCon, WorldCons and GenCons, but those are admittedlybigger markets with more options.

The national SF/Fantasy convention is not at it's core a gaming Con, nor is that what I am proposing. But, I do think gaming is part of the SF/Fantasy world and I personally think it would be great for gamers to have more of a presence at the national Con. Besides, it's a terrific opportunity for everyone to get together in a good facility for some serious gaming. In recent history, there has been some gaming at the SF cons, but it's quite low key. I'm suggesting to bump it up a bit more.

A disclaimer: The purpose here is not to create competition for KapCon or to overtax and already-busy gaming community. It may be that we have enough conventions and we just aren't interested in having an increased presence at the SF con, and if so that's understandable. But I wanted to start a dialogue and see where it goes...

What do you think?

Cheers,

William
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the cost of a 1-day membership, William? (Hi!)

Would the cost be reduced if you were running games / providing a service?

Edited to add: Ah, I see (from the website)

Day Membership: Fri ($25) Sat ($45) Sun ($45) Mon ($25)
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Paul



Joined: 19 Jan 2006
Posts: 855

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey be in touch with wargs maybe we can help put.

contact me or nasia and we will see what we can do to help.

Maybe this is a good venue for the larp that damon had proposed?

there are also other gamers whoa re usually keen once thigns have been announced to add to it all.

I think this is a great idea for cross polination with the other fandoms who will be there.

Who else from the wellington gamers attends these?
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artemis



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 718
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I certainly would not be adverse to turning up and running some boardgames or the like. I dont know if I would be willing to pay $90 but one day shouldnt be to bad.

If you are wanting rpg's then naturally they will need their own space. Its possible that you may be able to convince a couple of the Kapcon GMs rerun their games. Or possibly you could talk to the people driving the Games Demand room idea and see if they would be willing to set something similar up at your event. That may well be the most flexible way to handle it.

If there is anything WARGS can do to help (like announce it is coming up at meetings or whatever) please let us know.

Hugs

Nasia
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Warhoon



Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 67
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses, guys (and gals)...

In answer to a couple of the questions:

- Unfortunately, we cannot do any sort of reduced rates for programming participants...the only exceptions to that are the 'Guests of Honour'. Pretty much half of the Con attendees are also doing programming of some kind, so you can see why this isn't practical.

- LARPing has been done at the Nat SF con before, but it was before my arrival so I don't know details. I'm told it was quite fun, and they managed to get a good mix of people. A science-fiction based LARP would be awesome. We might even be able to tie it in with the masquerade event later in the evening. We have been talking about ways to make the masquerade / costume contest more 'interactive' and engaging, and this could be a good way to do it.

- I think we can allocate spaces for gaming. We have the majority (if not all) of the hotel. If we can identify the space needs, we can look at the floorplans and I can talk with the Concom about what rooms will work best.

- My job right now for the Concom is promotion, which includes rallying any support from businesses, clubs and other organisations. I would love to get some gaming shops there as dealers and possibly to demo some games and show off their wares.

I will also do my best to get to some WARGS meetings. Since I joined, I have not been back to another meeting. </sigh> My schedule is kinda a mess right now as we are trying to find a new place to live and the Wellington property market is unbelievable right now (and I have a picky partner who wants a 2 bathroom place -- virtually nonexistent!!!) Ugh.

Anyhow the point is I'll do my best to keep the communication flowing with you guys...and thanks for the ideas thus far!!!

Cheers,

~William
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TrollForHire



Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 397
Location: Under A Bridge

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have always thought that while there is a certain amount of overlap the sci fi hardcore aren't really fanatical gamers and they tend to choose one or the other and dedicate the majority of their time to it. This isn't an armageddon pop culture type con it's a real sci fi con for real sci fi fans, and a large part of that is literature, movies and even real SCIENCE. They quite often have a well know guest speaker and the scheduling of events is usually pretty stringent, so that even if something game like was coordinated there is bound to be something else at the same time that more people will want to see, thus reducing it's effectiveness.

The sci fi crowd, for the most part knows about the gaming meetings and certainly Kapcon as it's the biggest con of it's type in the country. If they wanted to attend they'd be there and while I'm sure there woud be limited interest I highly doubt anything would come of it.

As for a LARP, I'm certainly not going to put any effort into my fantastic ideas for a meeting such as this, knowing that the interest for it won't be high. If I do run a LARP one day it will be independant of any other organised event, and it will still be far better than anything Kapcon has produced. A LARP would only be successful at a sci fi con if it had a sci fi theme and even then it would have to be extremely detailed, and technically correct accoridng to the kanon of the chosen topic. It would also have to be more of a re-enactment with a subtle change to established plot, rather than a radical hypothetical scenario. Two things I find extremely limiting and unsatisfying in any LARP.

NZ as a whole, and in particular Wellington is too small to make a multi phased convention succesful. Armageddon is as close as you'll get but that's not even a real con as such. It's a financially motivated exploitation of fans that deliberately casts it's net over a wide range of subjects, while focusing on no particular one intensely. It produces second rate, often obscure pseudo-celebrities, many of whom have faded into obscurity, and charges through the nose at all levels. Kapcon and the National Sci Fi con are of a MUCH higher calibre and the two groups, while similar to the outside world (they are all geeks), are very different from each other, and have very different formats and overall aren't inclined to mix all that often. The cost of the Sci Fi con is much higher because it has a few more features and events and often has real, known, established guests and it uses a large commercial function centre based in the most convenient location for it's attendees, most of whom travel from all over the country (hence the hotel, where I believe they get slightly discounted room rates). The percentage of out-of-towners at the sci fi con far exceeds that of Kapcon, and this is further proof of the dedication and intensity of the sci fi fan.

I think it would be a GREAT idea to have some sort of prominant, but passive display (photos, reviews, vid clips, event calendar, flyers and email sign up forms) of the various aspects of Kapcon, perhaps even a representative giving a brief talk about it for those that are unaware, but to put a large amount of effort into promoting the event, or worse, setting up a gaming area that many attendees will think as invasive, irrelevant or unwelcome, would have very little if any benefit to kapcon or gaming as a whole. I know if a bunch of sci fi guys had a mini sci fi con or some sort of presentation at Kapcon, interest would be there but it would be brief and limited as we would all be focusing on our own interests - Gaming and LARP.

Now you may very well insist that everything I have said is utter rubbish but I am willing to stand behind my analysis and knowledge of both groups of people and should any amalgamation attempt be completely successful in enhancing the turnout at Kapcon I will quite happily eat my expensive imported "Indian Jones" hat. I am also sure that Williams' (Warhoon) extensive international experience of conventions will be of benefit to the sci fi con, however he may find the reality of the NZ/Wellington potential a little dissapointing.

Good luck to all involved anyway.
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Stephanie



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 401
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Damon,

I agree with a lot of what you said above, but there are a couple of things on which I differ. Anyway, some comments:

Quote:
This isn't an armageddon pop culture type con it's a real sci fi con for real sci fi fans, and a large part of that is literature, movies and even real SCIENCE.
Yeah. Armageddon is for pop culture, the SFCon is for people more interested in literature. Sometimes there'll be media guests, but writers, publishers and artists are much more common. There is a spread of topics - at this year's con there were a lot of panels on comics, and the two talks I enjoyed most were on the History of Magic as actually practised in the Western and Voudoun traditions.

Quote:
A LARP would only be successful at a sci fi con if it had a sci fi theme and even then it would have to be extremely detailed, and technically correct accoridng to the kanon of the chosen topic.
I was one of the organisers of the Larp that was run at the SFCon in 2005. It was a fantasy game set in a spider web, and all the characters were fairies. I had a lot of fun with set dressing and making wings. We had 20 characters and they looked like they enjoyed themselves. One of the main problems from what I can remember was a very strict time limit on access to the room, causing us to have a shorter than normal game time and having to pack out in an immense hurry.

Quote:
I think it would be a GREAT idea to have some sort of prominant, but passive display (photos, reviews, vid clips, event calendar, flyers and email sign up forms) of the various aspects of Kapcon, perhaps even a representative giving a brief talk about it for those that are unaware,
I think both of these are good ideas - I'm pretty sure setting up a display in the reception area and taking up one of the event slots with a talk on What KapCon Is And How Much You'd Enjoy Coming would be worthy things to do. It's also common for people to hang out in the foyer or in a bespoke gaming room playing with board games, so someone coming in to run board gaming and/or the Games On Demand idea that's being talked about for KapCon could also work well.

Quote:
The sci fi crowd, for the most part knows about the gaming meetings and certainly Kapcon as it's the biggest con of it's type in the country.
I never heard about Kapcon until I moved to Wellington, and I've been going to SFCons for years. It never hurts to tell people again, like.

Quote:
The cost of the Sci Fi con is much higher because it has a few more features and events and often has real, known, established guests and it uses a large commercial function centre based in the most convenient location for it's attendees,
Yep. Con attendees are often in their 30s and upwards and have commensurately more money than teenagers and 20 year olds. It's about 150 people staking out a hotel for a weekend to be silly in together. If anyone's wondering what it's like, check out a book called [i]Deep Secret] by Diana Wynne Jones, which has an SF Con in it.

Stephanie
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Tamahori



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 14
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking as a regular attendee at the SF National Convetions, I think some people are underestimating how many gamers do tend to show up at those. Oh, sure, it's far from a one-to-one match-up, but the overlap between gamers (of all types) and science-fiction / fantasy fans should not be underrated. (also medieval reenactment people, along with several other interesting groups.)

I'll note that last year's con in Auckland has Steve Jackson as the main guest of honor. He's mainly known for RPGs and a wide range of other games, and the various games he brought with him to show off seemed to be very popular. So yeah, I think there is an interest.

The LARP that got run at a con seemed to go fairly well, though did seem to suffer from one problem. I wasn't there, so I can't speak for what happened, I'm just going by talking to people who were at it.

In no way do I want to say anything bad about the people who put a lot of effort into setting that up, or making it what was, by all accounts, quite a fun time for all involved, but I did hear one reoccurring comment, and I have no idea if that ever made it back to people who might be involved in running anther LARP at a SF con, so I just thought I best mention it here.

About the only complaint I heard as such, was people having an issue with the LARP being part of the Modavia storyline. Some people seemed to have a bad case of 'feeling like they had stepped into somebody else's game where they were just there to watch everyone else'. I'm not in any way saying this was the intention of the people running it, I'm just saying I did hear this comment from several people.

It could have also been a side effect of having a mixture of regulars and novices, so the regular LARPers got right into things very quickly, and left the novices feeling like there was some deeper game going on that they weren't part of. Though I expect like any LARP, people were getting out of it what they put in. I was a total novice at Flight of the Hindenberg, and had a real blast.

So my recommendation is, if somebody wants to run a LARP at the next con, make sure it is a genuine one-off. Remember, a chunk of people will only find out about this / decide to go it it less then a day or two ahead of it happening, so plan characters for it appropriately.

The thing that happened with the other LARP of them having a 'and let's put costumes together for it' before it happened was inspired, and a good idea for anyone doing another one.

You'll have some people that are regulars at this kind of thing, so you can build characters for them, but assume the bulk of the people will be total novices, so make sure whatever 'rule system' you're using is simple and remember to explain things ahead of time.

Basically, plan around a My First LARP event.

Other then that? Ah, from what I can tell, the board-games that WGS brought along seemed to be popular, though you'd want to ask Rue how that worked out as they were manning the desk.

There is also a long tradition of there being a Settlers of Katarn 'tournament' running in the background at several cons.

I don't think I've heard of somebody running a full up RPG at a con, but it may have happened, and you could probably fit a Kapcon style 'one-off' in somewhere without too much trouble, especially if you don't mind grabbing one of the morning slots.

That's about all I can think of for the moment, I'm sure I'll have other rambles on the topic. 'How to make SF cons better' is something I spend some time thinking about, though I never get around to talking to anyone who runs them about these ideas, so not in any useful way.

-- Brett
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Stephanie



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 401
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamahori wrote:
About the only complaint I heard as such, was people having an issue with the LARP being part of the Modavia storyline. Some people seemed to have a bad case of 'feeling like they had stepped into somebody else's game where they were just there to watch everyone else'.
I'd put that down more to Cat's and my inexperience at running a locked-room theatre-style Larp, actually. Wink (1) Almost all of the material for that Larp was new and written for it especially. We'd set it in an area of the Mordavia universe that was known about but not well-developed, so we had a relatively free hand for what we could do, and there were only three players from the regular Mordavia campaign present who were playing prewritten characters like everyone else. We did feed information from that short game into the main campaign, but not really the other way around.

(1) There are different things you want to set the characters up to do, basically, and you need to write a lot more interconnections in the characters in order to maintain interest, because it's harder to program in external events, and the geography of the game is smaller and therefore of less interest to the players.
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Tamahori



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
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Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*nods* As I said, I wasn't there. I'm just going by comments I heard. I think there is room for another LARP at a natcon, but you need to plan it, in some ways, almost more carefully then a similar event at something like Kapcon, because you will probably have a much higher amount of novice players.

The impressions people get can be funny things. Smile

To be honest, I'd like to see more gaming stuff at the natcon, I think in some ways they need to widen their focus a little, because there is a problem, IMO, that I'm seeing the same people each year, so there isn't much 'new blood' showing up to them.

It's always a worry when you have a feeling that the average age of the natcon seems to be going up by a year, each year. Still, I may just be missing a lot.

-- Brett
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James P



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

150 people?

I visited the one in 2005 and there were more like 35 people.

The LARP was fun, though.

I also went to Conspiracy at the Airport Hotel back in 1995 and there were three dedicated gaming streams running as part of the events. The scifi con-going population (at least in Wellington) seems to have dwindled a lot since then, and seems to be aging, too.
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