This Sunday, April 11th, will be a day that for many gamers will be punctuated with outbursts of both anger and joy.  For those of you attending GenCon this year, April 11th is Event Registration. GenCon registration is always frustrating, but with our tips, hopefully you will navigate through RUBI with ease, and possibly wind up with a few events that you were hoping for.

The most important thing you need to know about event registration are the times.  Rather than telling you, I will quote it from the last email from GenCon central:

The time is almost upon us! Event Pre-Registration opens on Sunday, April 11th . Here’s the opening schedule:True Dungeon tickets will go on sale at 12:00 noon (Eastern), all other event tickets will be available for purchase at 2:00 pm (Eastern).

The Goal

For those new to GenCon registration, it’s important to know what is at stake. The most popular events at GenCon, after the True Dungeon events, are the RPG events. The biggest problem with the RPG events is that the average event has only 4-6 players. Thus, in order to get a seat at a table, you need to get your tickets as quickly as possible, in the middle of the digital stampede, as your fellow gamers jam onto the RUBI system to get all their events at the same time.

The odds look pretty grim, but with a few tips, you can increase your speed to register for your events, which might make all the difference between you getting your seat at Dresden Files, and a fist full of generic tickets.

About RUBI

GenCon events are organized in a web-based portal called RUBI. The system controls the purchasing of the convention badges, and the registering of events. RUBI got a pretty good review last year, but it is still not perfect. So lets cover some of the basics about RUBI:

  • You need a badge to register for events–sounds obvious, but lets be clear, you need to have purchased an event badge in order to register for events. So before Sunday morning, if you have not purchased your badge, do it. Do not try to register for your badge on Sunday during event registration. According to the GenCon Facebook page: “Badges and Event Tickets cannot be purchased in the same transaction.”
  • True Dungeon Slams The Server–The True Dungeon game is so popular that RUBI opens 2 hours early for just registration for True Dungeon, and then opens up for everyone else. The net effect is that at the point when full registration opens, traffic is pretty high and the server is a bit sluggish. While over the years, the system has gotten better, there is still a performance hit, during peak traffic when full registration starts.

Planning For Event Registration

The key to getting through Event Registration is planning. There is nothing you can do about web traffic and server loads, so the only way you can speed things up for Event Registration is to be organized and prepared. Here are a few tips to help you get organized:

  • Do Your Homework–Before Sunday you should be reviewing the events list coming up with a list of events that you want. You need to get the Event List from the GenCon Community website.  The Event List is a CSV file which can be pulled into Excel or another spreadsheet. If you use Excel, take advantage of Auto Filters to navigate through the list.  In then end, you should have a list of event ID’s that you want to register for.
  • Have Backup Choices–Different events go faster than others. So make sure that your event choices have some depth, so that if you  go to pick an event and its sold out, you have another choice ready to go, so that you don’t lose any time registering.
  • Make A List–RUBI uses Event ID’s for locating events and selecting events. As a time saver, make an electronic list of Event ID’s that you want to register for, in something like Notepad or Excel. Then you can cut and past the ID’s into the RUBI webpage, which is going to be faster than typing them in.
  • Show Up Early–Get online before event registration and log into RUBI. While RUBI won’t let you buy tickets, it will allow you to log in. So make sure you are in the system and ready to start registering when the time comes.

A Stew Of Tips

Rather than just ramble on my own about event registration, I tossed out the question to the other Gnomes and got back some of their favorite tips. I present them to you with minimal editing:

Martin Ralya

  • Plan on at least 30-60 minutes, based on last year’s registration experience.
  • You need one person in front of a computer for every two people you’re trying to register for, and you should be on the phone or chatting over IM in order to deal with the inevitable falling-through of some of your selected events.
  • Events involving famous people or Call of Cthulhu generally go first, so plan on trying to grab them first if you’re interested in any.
  • Remember that unless you’re under ~22, you’ll likely want to get some sleep at the con — so don’t book events at 8:00 am unless you’re really committed to them, especially not if you plan on staying up late.

Walt Ciechanowski

  • Check descriptions. I had a buddy last year schedule 2 events that he wasn’t qualified to play (since he had to play in previous events first). Sometimes they’ll accommodate you anyway, but don’t count on it.
  • Don’t always count on “materials needed: no.” Some events I’ve been to with that qualification still expected me to walk in with dice and a ready-made character. If the event seems to be part of an established organization with a hierarchy of adventures, then you’re probably expected to be familiar with the rules and have your own character.
  • Factor in where you’re planning to stay. If you’re offsite, chances are that you won’t want to play in morning events, have a six-hour break, and then play in an evening game (in other words, treat the schedule like college; commuters group things differently than residents).
  • While sleeping in and getting to bed early are important, don’t schedule everything in the afternoon or you won’t have time to walk the dealer hall.
  • Have a good sense of where everything is and give yourself time to get from one event to the other. If you’re scheduling events back-to-back, try to get them in the same location.

Kurt “Telas” Schneider

  • Prioritize your list of events, making sure that you have enough time to get from one to the other, including meals and potty breaks.  Pare it down; there’s not enough time in four days to do it all.  Leave enough time to spend at least 4 hours in the Exhibit Hall, far more if you like to demo games.
  • Make sure that everyone you’re buying tickets for is a “friend”, and doesn’t have any scheduling conflicts with the events you’re buying.
  • Reloading and re-submitting does not make the server run any faster.
  • Don’t get frustrated, and don’t take it personally when you don’t get what you want.  Nobody does; it’s the nature of the beast.  Go vent on, if it makes you feel better.
  • Release any tickets you’re not going to use.  Please.  Don’t screw over another gamer because your friends “might want to attend”.
  • Go to all the Gnomish events.  Pretty please.

And on that point lets talk about….

Gnome Hosted Events

Once again, we Gnomes are getting out there to give a number of events and we would not be Gnomes if we were not pimping our own events.  Here is our modest list of events:

Friday 8/6:

  • 11:00-1:00 – SEM1013233 – Pimp My Game, a “bring us your problems” seminar with Patrick Benson.
  • 2:00-6:00 – RPG1013255 – A Stitch in Time, a multi-genre Savage Worlds game.

Saturday 8/7:

  • 10:00-12:00 – SEM1009173Eureka! Cooking Up Adventure Plots with Gnome Stew,Come learn about our first book, and hang with GnomeStew.
  • 1:00-3:00 – SEM1010602 – “With Great Power…” Leadership and the GM, a seminar on taking the reins.

Please look up the full details in the event listings, and please come and attend some all of the events.  We would love the chance to meet you in person.

Your Tips

We have shared with you some of our best tips (though not all of them, because there are only so many seats for Burning Wheel).  Now tell us some of your best tips.

Good luck registering this weekend. Here’s hoping you get all the events you want.