This year I actually attended the entirety of Origins, as opposed to my quick trip last year. In addition to working the booth for Cubicle 7 Entertainment, I attempted to run 5 events. Here are a few things I learned during Origins this year.
1. The Con really starts Friday night. I had the misfortune of thinking that Origins ran an extra day (in reality, only events are open on Wednesday; the Dealer Hall opens on Thursday) and I spent most of Tuesday twiddling my thumbs (well, that and an epic 2-mile walk to Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Fudge Haus – both well worth the walk!). Attendance seemed light until late Friday, no doubt due to school still being in session. I was overall event coordinator for Cubicle 7 and we cancelled two Doctor Who games on Thursday – not a single player showed (we also cancelled two Victoriana events, but see point 2).
2. If you’re running events, check that they are correct. Flipping through the event guide isn’t enough – all three of my Victoriana games were properly listed in the book, but they were all entered incorrectly in the computer database. We also cancelled a World War Cthulhu event several weeks ago yet the players weren’t informed. Apparently we were in good company – Guest of Honor Mike Mearls arrived to find that all of his seminars were accidentally omitted.
3. Origins is about one-third the size of GenCon and many events ran under maximum. It’s very easy to join games with generics.
4. Once again, food was easy to find. I was able to grab lunch from various vendors in the North Market with little trouble, and there weren’t any long waits at the various restaurants we went to for dinner.
5. Everybody goes to the 2nd Floor bar at the Hyatt.
6. As the writer of the Doctor Who event, I had a chance to sit and watch another GM run it. From both GMing and scenario-designer perspectives, this was very cool! I gained valuable insight on how I write my adventures and how easy (or difficult) it is for a GM to improvise based on what I’ve written when the players inevitably turn left when I thought they’d go right.
7. A lot of industry people don’t go to Origins, but those that do have more time to speak with you. If you really want to meet someone and you have the opportunity to see them at Origins rather than GenCon, do so!
Overall, I still stand by my declaration that if you want to play games, Origins is your con. If you want to see brand new products and meet industry people, GenCon is still the better choice.
How about you? I read that Origins attendance was up by about a quarter this year; if you’re a regular Origins attendee did you notice anything different? If this was your first time, how was it? Can you compare it to GenCon? Did going to Origins make you want to attend GenCon (or, conversely, swear off Gen Con)?