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Matchmaking System for (Tabletop) Games at PAX

flatlineflatline Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in PAX Archive
Ok, so I sent this to FatherFletch (I'm assuming he's still the lead for Tabletop Gaming at PAX), but since I'm not looking to make any money off this idea, I'll post it here for comments/criticisms from the general forum population at large.


Problem: We are trying to help people at PAX that are LFG (Looking For Group) to play with.

Unless you come with enough friends to play, you basically have to hang out in the tabletop area hoping you meet some other people that want to play the same game as you, post your contact info on the forums and pray for a bite, be willing to play anything, etc. This isn't necessarily bad - meeting new gamers is always good. But it can be frustrating when there is so much else to do at the con and you can't seem to find anyone to play with. You could twitter/facebook/etc a call for players, but odds are most of the people on your friends lists you would have already asked directly, right? It boils down to - we want to spend more time playing games, and less time finding the people to play with. It also promotes making new friends (yay).


Solution: Our solution is (perhaps typically) a little convoluted and technology heavy, but hopefully it can make tabletop gaming at PAX more organized and fun (or at least spur others to come up with similar ideas). Basic plan would be to have a server in the tabletop area running some custom scripts, essentially acting as a Matchmaking service. Attendees could use their phone, laptop, or an on-site terminal to create entries in the system. You could say "I want to play one of these games: SmallWorld, Munchkin, Call of Cthulhu, D&D4e. I'm available Saturday from 2pm til 9pm." and people would be able to view/search through the postings. You could also make an entry that basically says "I am running a game of Shadowrun 4th edition at 10pm Friday, we have 2 open slots" and people would also be able to search those openings, by game, time, number of open slots, etc.

Once enough players have expressed interest/agreed on a game, the system can email/SMS them to remind them when/where the game is going to be. This way you don't even have to give out your phone number to strangers to stay in contact. Given enough time to work on it, this system could even schedule out tables - you could get an SMS like: "6 players signed on for your D&D4e dungeon crawl. Table 17 in Rm 203 is reserved for you at 8:30pm"


Misc: Equipment-wise, it wouldn't be free, but the server could be almost any computer (like a 10 year old Pentium even). There would probably also need to be a couple 'dumb' terminals there, although you might be able to get away with just having people use their phones/computers through a public-facing web interface. Lastly, to make it really cool, you could hook up a couple plasma TVs around the tabletop area that display information from the server - what games are starting soon/where, what games need a player, whatever you want. Kind of like the Panic Status Board (http://www.panic.com/blog/2010/03/th...-status-board/), but, amazingly, even geekier.



What do you think? Completely unnecessary, or possibly revolutionary? Would you bother to use this or keep doing what you've done in the past? I'm certainly open to suggestions, questions, or explanations of why this would never work.

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Posts

  • Gene ParmesanGene Parmesan Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    That would be fantastic! Last PAX I played a few games with new people, but something like this could save from the hours I lost looking for a game. I'm all in for this

    Gene Parmesan on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    When I was younger and went to some RPG conventions, there was always a main table with sign up sheets detailing the location and time of the games. Does this not happen at PAX? Is it just random tables and you have to happen upon something?

    Esh on
  • MyDcmbrMyDcmbr PEWPEWPEW!!! America's WangRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think that is an amazing idea. All I hope is that someone is playing AD&D 2nd edition , since that is the only D&D I actually ever got to play.

    Maybe I should buy a 4th ed player handbook and affiliate myself now ya?

    MyDcmbr on
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  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    When I was younger and went to some RPG conventions, there was always a main table with sign up sheets detailing the location and time of the games. Does this not happen at PAX? Is it just random tables and you have to happen upon something?

    I didn't investigate fully at PAX East, which was my first PAX, but my observations indicated that the only events that had actual signups were the officially-sanctioned ones, like the Magic Booster Drafts or the D&D Dark Sun Preview crawl. I'm talking more about "pick-up" games that are more or less spontaneous.

    There was a Tabletop Library with a ton of different games, where you could go and borrow one (for free) to play with whomever you wanted. The issue was finding this nebulous "whomever" with which to play.

    There was a thread going re: Tabletop games at PAX East (http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=107300&page=6), wherein people started posting their emails and asking for people to contact them to setup games (Pandemic is one I remember seeing). The idea here is to have a centralized place, on-site at the con, to streamline this process - I imagine only a fraction of the attendees have ever been on these forums.

    flatline on
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  • atiariatiari Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    flatline wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    When I was younger and went to some RPG conventions, there was always a main table with sign up sheets detailing the location and time of the games. Does this not happen at PAX? Is it just random tables and you have to happen upon something?

    I didn't investigate fully at PAX East, which was my first PAX, but my observations indicated that the only events that had actual signups were the officially-sanctioned ones, like the Magic Booster Drafts or the D&D Dark Sun Preview crawl. I'm talking more about "pick-up" games that are more or less spontaneous.

    There was a Tabletop Library with a ton of different games, where you could go and borrow one (for free) to play with whomever you wanted. The issue was finding this nebulous "whomever" with which to play.

    There was a thread going re: Tabletop games at PAX East (http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=107300&page=6), wherein people started posting their emails and asking for people to contact them to setup games (Pandemic is one I remember seeing). The idea here is to have a centralized place, on-site at the con, to streamline this process - I imagine only a fraction of the attendees have ever been on these forums.

    I created and hosted the Pre-PAX gaming night at the Sheraton for PAX East. It went well and did not require anyone to do anything other than show up, or show up with their game(s) of choice. Even those without games/decks/books were able to easily slide into games as many people brought extras.

    I'll be doing the same for PAX Prime again this year. And truthfully if you cannot find any games going on at PAX Prime during the show itself just take a peek at the Sheraton.

    atiari on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    atiari wrote: »
    flatline wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    When I was younger and went to some RPG conventions, there was always a main table with sign up sheets detailing the location and time of the games. Does this not happen at PAX? Is it just random tables and you have to happen upon something?

    I didn't investigate fully at PAX East, which was my first PAX, but my observations indicated that the only events that had actual signups were the officially-sanctioned ones, like the Magic Booster Drafts or the D&D Dark Sun Preview crawl. I'm talking more about "pick-up" games that are more or less spontaneous.

    There was a Tabletop Library with a ton of different games, where you could go and borrow one (for free) to play with whomever you wanted. The issue was finding this nebulous "whomever" with which to play.

    There was a thread going re: Tabletop games at PAX East (http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=107300&page=6), wherein people started posting their emails and asking for people to contact them to setup games (Pandemic is one I remember seeing). The idea here is to have a centralized place, on-site at the con, to streamline this process - I imagine only a fraction of the attendees have ever been on these forums.

    I created and hosted the Pre-PAX gaming night at the Sheraton for PAX East. It went well and did not require anyone to do anything other than show up, or show up with their game(s) of choice. Even those without games/decks/books were able to easily slide into games as many people brought extras.

    I'll be doing the same for PAX Prime again this year. And truthfully if you cannot find any games going on at PAX Prime during the show itself just take a peek at the Sheraton.

    Oh awesome. I'll be staying in the Sheraton so I can just pop downstairs or wherever. Will there be a thread here about where exactly they'll be or are you just going to set up shop in the lobby?

    Esh on
  • mspencermspencer PAX [ENFORCER] Council Bluffs, IARegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I definitely want to help make this happen -- I'll be sure this discussion is mirrored in the tabletop ideas and suggestions thread on our private forum.

    Fundamentally it's a weird problem to solve, because peoples' plans change and they might go off and do something different and not bother to tell the system about the change. Also because information flow can become difficult: actual phone calls within a crowded convention center tend to be reliable, but texts can be delayed, and Internet traffic can be terribly unreliable.

    The "LFG area" and "LFG whiteboard" solutions are actually surprisingly elegant but their reach is limited. People who show up and spend time advertising a game or spend time looking are really likely to want to play a game ASAP. But there's a great deal of risk that you might spend time attempting to organize a game and fail.

    I've tried to argue for a PAX-time Asterisk PBX for various attendee scheduling and game match-making information services. Maybe I should try to put together a case for one again.

    mspencer on
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  • HotSakeHotSake Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    *sigh* Oh the things we could do with RFID-equipped badges and a DB of interests, plus SMS notification that a compatible gamer is also in tabletop...

    HotSake on
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  • atiariatiari Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    atiari wrote: »
    flatline wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    When I was younger and went to some RPG conventions, there was always a main table with sign up sheets detailing the location and time of the games. Does this not happen at PAX? Is it just random tables and you have to happen upon something?

    I didn't investigate fully at PAX East, which was my first PAX, but my observations indicated that the only events that had actual signups were the officially-sanctioned ones, like the Magic Booster Drafts or the D&D Dark Sun Preview crawl. I'm talking more about "pick-up" games that are more or less spontaneous.

    There was a Tabletop Library with a ton of different games, where you could go and borrow one (for free) to play with whomever you wanted. The issue was finding this nebulous "whomever" with which to play.

    There was a thread going re: Tabletop games at PAX East (http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=107300&page=6), wherein people started posting their emails and asking for people to contact them to setup games (Pandemic is one I remember seeing). The idea here is to have a centralized place, on-site at the con, to streamline this process - I imagine only a fraction of the attendees have ever been on these forums.

    I created and hosted the Pre-PAX gaming night at the Sheraton for PAX East. It went well and did not require anyone to do anything other than show up, or show up with their game(s) of choice. Even those without games/decks/books were able to easily slide into games as many people brought extras.

    I'll be doing the same for PAX Prime again this year. And truthfully if you cannot find any games going on at PAX Prime during the show itself just take a peek at the Sheraton.

    Oh awesome. I'll be staying in the Sheraton so I can just pop downstairs or wherever. Will there be a thread here about where exactly they'll be or are you just going to set up shop in the lobby?

    There will be a thread closer to the show. In the meantime I'll be posting more ideas/suggestions/etc in a thread I already opened in these forums, so keep your eyes open.

    atiari on
  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    HotSake wrote: »
    *sigh* Oh the things we could do with RFID-equipped badges and a DB of interests, plus SMS notification that a compatible gamer is also in tabletop...

    Well, we're working on the system to map neural activity to rpg preferences, but unfortunately we weren't able to get a reading from anyone that enjoys White Wolf games.

    :winky:

    I'll be here all week.

    flatline on
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  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    mspencer wrote: »
    I definitely want to help make this happen -- I'll be sure this discussion is mirrored in the tabletop ideas and suggestions thread on our private forum.

    Fundamentally it's a weird problem to solve, because peoples' plans change and they might go off and do something different and not bother to tell the system about the change. Also because information flow can become difficult: actual phone calls within a crowded convention center tend to be reliable, but texts can be delayed, and Internet traffic can be terribly unreliable.

    The "LFG area" and "LFG whiteboard" solutions are actually surprisingly elegant but their reach is limited. People who show up and spend time advertising a game or spend time looking are really likely to want to play a game ASAP. But there's a great deal of risk that you might spend time attempting to organize a game and fail.

    I've tried to argue for a PAX-time Asterisk PBX for various attendee scheduling and game match-making information services. Maybe I should try to put together a case for one again.

    You bring up very valid points; I hadn't considered the delayed delivery of texts (it didn't seem to be much of a problem for me at East). The way I see it, this system would probably work in two different ways for two types of games.

    First case is a traditional pen&paper RPG. Let's say you don't have a group to play D&D with back home in Duluth, so you get together with some new PAX-pals and run a pre-gen adventure or two. Or maybe you have a group, but you want to try out the new dungeon you've been working on and see if everything gels. This type of game benefits from (although doesn't absolutely require) prior knowledge of the system, as well as some type of planning by at least one of the participants. This type of game I would see people making plans for hours beforehand, or even days/weeks before PAX. The sessions are likely to last a bit longer than some of the other games as well.

    Then you have a game like Munchkin. You can teach someone to play D&D fairly easily, but Munchkin is just loads simpler. It doesn't require anyone to write an adventure or plan anything in advance other than how much of a dick they want to be. I'm not saying people wouldn't arrange games of Munchkin ahead of time, but I could see it being a much more spur-of-the-moment thing. "Oh, hey, we both just put down an interest in Munchkin. Let's get another and have a go."

    flatline on
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  • WormdundeeWormdundee Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Haha yeah, texts can be really delayed. I got a text inviting me to a dinner while I was on the way back home. It was delayed by over a day.

    Wormdundee on
  • atiariatiari Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    flatline wrote: »
    mspencer wrote: »
    I definitely want to help make this happen -- I'll be sure this discussion is mirrored in the tabletop ideas and suggestions thread on our private forum.

    Fundamentally it's a weird problem to solve, because peoples' plans change and they might go off and do something different and not bother to tell the system about the change. Also because information flow can become difficult: actual phone calls within a crowded convention center tend to be reliable, but texts can be delayed, and Internet traffic can be terribly unreliable.

    The "LFG area" and "LFG whiteboard" solutions are actually surprisingly elegant but their reach is limited. People who show up and spend time advertising a game or spend time looking are really likely to want to play a game ASAP. But there's a great deal of risk that you might spend time attempting to organize a game and fail.

    I've tried to argue for a PAX-time Asterisk PBX for various attendee scheduling and game match-making information services. Maybe I should try to put together a case for one again.

    You bring up very valid points; I hadn't considered the delayed delivery of texts (it didn't seem to be much of a problem for me at East). The way I see it, this system would probably work in two different ways for two types of games.

    First case is a traditional pen&paper RPG. Let's say you don't have a group to play D&D with back home in Duluth, so you get together with some new PAX-pals and run a pre-gen adventure or two. Or maybe you have a group, but you want to try out the new dungeon you've been working on and see if everything gels. This type of game benefits from (although doesn't absolutely require) prior knowledge of the system, as well as some type of planning by at least one of the participants. This type of game I would see people making plans for hours beforehand, or even days/weeks before PAX. The sessions are likely to last a bit longer than some of the other games as well.

    Then you have a game like Munchkin. You can teach someone to play D&D fairly easily, but Munchkin is just loads simpler. It doesn't require anyone to write an adventure or plan anything in advance other than how much of a dick they want to be. I'm not saying people wouldn't arrange games of Munchkin ahead of time, but I could see it being a much more spur-of-the-moment thing. "Oh, hey, we both just put down an interest in Munchkin. Let's get another and have a go."

    At PAX East we had Munchkin, Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Battlestar Galactica, and more all up and running. Some were simple to learn, some complex. What made the Pre-PAX gaming night such a success was the fact that everyone asked passers-by to pull up a chair and learn a new game. My friend, my business partner and I were all sucked into Munchkin when we got back from dinner on Thursday. By the end of the first game we fell in love and the next day at the show we ALL bought a copy.

    What makes PAX unique is that everyone is so friendly and willing to teach others how to play their favorite game. Truthfully I am not sure how necessary a system like this, to pair experienced players together, is necessary.

    atiari on
  • ArcoArco Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think a LFG/LFM system would be amazing.

    There were tons of times when I had a few hours to kill and I would have loved nothing more than to play (insert game here), but finding people to play with consumed most of my time. That, or I just bailed on the whole idea because I knew it would be difficult to find people. I've had amazing times playing with random people at PAX, but it can be difficult to make that happen.

    I think the original vision is great. People use devices or terminals on-site to browse through available games or make their own, and the system sends out texts/e-mails to alert the players, plus broadcasts to a few TVs in and around the tabletop area.

    The only thing I think would enhance that idea is a chat room. Something like userplane would be perfectly adequate. Here's something I did in 2 minutes with a free account:
    userplane.jpg

    This would allow people to peek in, see what's going on, chat with people, and connect on the spot, instead of waiting for the system to put them in touch with each other. If someone has a game that they're hosting at 2:30, they could hop into the lobby system and put the game into the LFM room if they wanted more players. They could have their laptop on the table while they're playing the game to catch people and go, "Hey, we're in here and we need one more!"

    This would take care of passers-by and service the "what's up at this very moment" kind of urge to play, and the original idea for the system would service the more scheduled stuff.

    Arco on
    Like this, not like the gas station.
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  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    atiari wrote: »
    What makes PAX unique is that everyone is so friendly and willing to teach others how to play their favorite game. Truthfully I am not sure how necessary a system like this, to pair experienced players together, is necessary.

    It might not be necessary; that's part of the reason I posed the question here in the first place. Truthfully, I had no idea about your Pre-PAX gaming night, which sounds like it was six kinds of rad. Unfortunately, I was staying at the Park Plaza (I'm assuming the Sheraton was close to Hynes?) and I didn't join these forums until after PAX. I'm curious how many people were involved throughout the weekend - even 500 wouldn't really be that many, taken against the total attendance of PAX. I believe WotC had over 1,000 people play through the various D&D sessions, with tons more not getting a chance due to limited signups and massive waits for the Delve tables.

    Despite the luck that plenty had in meeting new people and learning new games, the fact remains that during PAX, it was my experience that a lot of time was wasted waiting to find people to play with. From what I've read on the tubes since then, I'm not alone in that particular feeling. Obviously, if you are up for playing anything, you are going to have more luck (+2 bonus to roll if you're extroverted, which I'd say is actually more of us than you'd expect from this type of con).

    Those of us who were hoping to meet fellow enthusiasts of less popular titles, like my AD&D homey above, could have spent the whole weekend asking random people and never gotten a full group together. Yeah, we could have settled for a game of SmallWorld or AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!, which would have been a blasty, but not exactly what we were looking for.

    I am by no means saying that this LFG system would become The One True Way - we would still allow attendees to organize their own games in the Olde Way (at least for now) - but providing a tool to help connect the introverted fans of obscure games seems noble and just to me.

    flatline on
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  • HotSakeHotSake Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I suppose a whiteboard is the easiest solution, though certainly not the most comprehensive. A step up would be a single dumb terminal with simple scheduling software, so you could go in beforehand and block out some time to be in tabletop, along with a list of games you'd like to play. Others could then see the schedule and remember in their own particular way to show up at that time. Yet another layer of complexity would be adding a notification system, etc.

    Really, it comes down to how much floor/wall space can we use, how complex a system to people want/need, and who has the time/will to make it happen?

    HotSake on
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  • SingolloSingollo Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Like MSpencer said we would love to make the best LFG system we can. With that said We had a white board and we had a twitter tag. Though both need some improvement which is why all the ideas from the big thread of suggestions and those form here will be looked at.

    Singollo on
  • mintyduckmintyduck Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    We used the twitter tag frequently, but only managed to get one successful game out of it. I'd definitely be happy to try something new (or in addition to it).

    mintyduck on
  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Singollo wrote: »
    Like MSpencer said we would love to make the best LFG system we can. With that said We had a white board and we had a twitter tag. Though both need some improvement which is why all the ideas from the big thread of suggestions and those form here will be looked at.

    I didn't see the whiteboard - although truth be told when I was in the Tabletop Library my eyes were glued the entire time to the SurfaceScapes demo. I also didn't know about the twitter tag (was it perchance written on the whiteboard?).

    Although the twitter tag may have been helpful, in general I find twitter to be more useful during the con for things like official announcements and FYIs. It's too hard to follow every person who's tweeting #PAX stuff. I thought about trying to go to a tweetup or two while I was in Boston, but there was so much to do at PAX that checking twitter became a burden (this is compounded by the fact that I'm still rocking an EDGE iPhone).

    Twitter can provide good results I suppose, but I don't do public tweets, for one thing, which severely limits the people I can reach (basically like 12 friends). The idea for this LFG system is that it is a well-publicized, centralized place targeted specifically for this function. A twitter tag, if well known, would serve to organize your target audience, but doesn't really provide the search functionality that I think would be key, and once you find a game you'd have to go back and delete your previous tweets (bc there would be no guarantee that people see your tweet an hour later saying "we're good to go, game closed").

    flatline on
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  • ArcoArco Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think the key to this system's success is the lack of attention on the part of the attendees. You can get games all weekend long if you spend your entire weekend looking for games. I've seen people standing around in the TT area with giant signs that say "LFM for __________!"

    I'm sure that works, but for the rest of us the tedious and often time consuming process of getting people together is a big turn-off. It's the same thing that prevented people from doing the 1-70 dungeons in WoW before the cross-realm LFG tool. It took at least 30 minutes of spamming and running around to finally get a group together, and usually it never panned out. Why go through all that trouble when you can just do more quests? Even if the dungeon is totally awesome, it's rarely worth the time and energy.

    This system would remove the tedious, energy wasting part. Instead of standing around and begging people to play, you just put your game/name in the system and wait. You can go off and do other things, and if enough people come together to play, the system lets you know. It would put you in touch with people that you might not otherwise see - people checking the tool from other parts of the convention center or while you aren't there. In fact, the proposed system is a lot LIKE the cross-realm LFG tool in WoW. =P

    I think if this system were publicized and the attendees knew it existed, it would be very successful. I think that would be the only thing stopping it from working.

    Arco on
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  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Arco wrote: »
    In fact, the proposed system is a lot LIKE the cross-realm LFG tool in WoW. =P

    *blink*

    There's a cross-realm LFG in WoW now? When was that added? That sounds really usef...

    What am I saying?

    NO. STOP! I quit for a reason! Stopstopstopstop!

    :?

    flatline on
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  • ArcoArco Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Oh yeah, man. Dungeons and raids, matches you with tanks, healers, and DPS so you have the proper balance in the group. It's nuts.

    But that's way off topic. ;)

    Arco on
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  • atiariatiari Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    flatline,

    The reason I picked the Sheraton is because of the central location to the convention center. People seriously came from hotels that were blocks and blocks away to come play. It really was amazing. Unfortunately it will not be an option next year because they are moving to a larger convention center :/

    PAX Prime though will still make use of the Sheraton for the gaming night. It is actually going to be utilized in some form by the organizers, though it is unsure for exactly what. Point is that since it is right next to the WSCTC (please tell me I got the acronym right) it makes a great location for people to come play. There should also be a lot more tabletop (PnP as well as TCG) space for Prime. When I went in 08 I remember that the tabletop area was actually across and down the street a little from the main building, but it is all connected.

    With all that being said, I still see your point about the usefulness of a LFG system. Could be useful. I would love to invite everyone who is looking at utilizing the system to drop on by the gaming night at the Sheraton. I'm still hammering out details, and it will also depend a bit on the Pre-PAX Dinner since I do not want to set the time too early. But this is off-topic. Look for my thread on the gaming night if you want more info there.



    A nifty use for the LFG system may be to organize some of the non-standard formats of games. MTG has a ton, D+D rolled out those new Miniatures not long ago, and other off-the-beaten-path type formats.

    atiari on
  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Arco wrote: »
    Oh yeah, man. Dungeons and raids, matches you with tanks, healers, and DPS so you have the proper balance in the group. It's nuts.

    But that's way off topic. ;)

    Yeah, you basically just brought a keg over to an alcoholic's house. I just finished (last night) building a new i7/5850 gaming rig.

    MUST NOT INSTALL WOW.

    flatline on
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  • ReedtekReedtek Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    First time poster here. :?

    I saw someone mention using Twitter hashtags earlier in the thread.

    Would it be possible just to use a regular twitter account as the actual whiteboard type environment, have everyone follow it and make a specific list for it to keep it from getting lost in any of the other tweets they follow? People could mention the account in a tweet with what they are looking for and then the person watching the main account could just retweet it.

    If I am right it, everyone following would get it, including the person who sent the initial LFG, so they know it went out.

    The only problem I foresee is that it might require someone to manually monitor the account to do the retweets unless there is some kind of automated program (think bot) that will retweet instead and someone could just monitor the tweets occasionally to make sure it's not getting abused. I am fairly sure there is such a program, I just don't know where to get it.

    Also, you could make different types of LFG, say a tabletop, a card game, dice, DS/PSP, etc..

    Let me know what you guys think

    Reedtek on
  • gilby123gilby123 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The downside of using Twitter is connectivity issues. I know Intel supposedly used it for their card guys at East this year, but my phone would get nothing for reception unless I was on the 2nd floor or higher. Kind of annoying when in a wheelchair to keep going up and down floors, so I gave up on that fast. I'd rather see something used right there, computer or whiteboard or projection screen or whatever.

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  • undeadundead Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I have chatted with the tabletop manager about an idea I had. It's more about the GM's advertising their demos than it is for players looking for random games, but it runs on the same principle (demo at x time looking for players).

    There's a couple of problems that need to be sorted out first.
    1. The con is moving. It won't be in the Hynes next time and nobody knows what the layout is going to look like in the BCEC.
    2. The philosophy of PAX for open gaming is just that. It's open. It's up to you to grab tablespace/floorspace to play. For us GMs, this is a big problem. I may want to run a demo at 8pm, but in order to do that I have to hold the spot from the minute the doors open until the demo (I should point out that this is for us GMs who are not in the main game company booths (EX: SJ Games, Looney Labs, Days Of Wonder, etc.)). This is highly unlikely to be altered.
    3. TTHQ is a fairly cramped room, and we're all talking about putting up a huge whiteboard or computer terminals in it. I would not go with this. A simple printed stack of sheets stapled together and left on the desk with all the scheduled demos (or a stack for each company) is more than enough for people to look through. I know it's not the easiest and quickest but it's a lot easier to get TTHQ to accept the paper sheets than a large whiteboard or computer terminals.
    4. GMs need to do more to advertise. I was in 107 for almost the entire convention (took a 4 hour break on Sunday to check out the rest of the convention, but the rest of the time, I lived in 107). I had a Frag Gold stand outside the door, and there was a Munchkin stand there for a while as well. That isn't enough, though. The main booth should know where its GMs are and advertise them. The main booth should know what games those GMs have. The GM needs to make a display of sorts to show what they have.
    5. This is something I was doing in 107, and it's something I wish I'd see more GMs doing. If you came into 107 with an SJ Game and I spotted you, even though I was already running a demo of one game, when that group was good go to go and playing on their own, I'd come over to you and explain who I was and that I could teach you how to play the game you had checked out. Other times I'd give out Munchkin bookmarks to people playing SJ Games. And I wasn't limiting myself to SJ Games, either. A few groups brought in Porto Rico and I would show them how to play it as well if I wasn't doing anything else.

    It really is too early to start talking about this, though. I was going to start a GM thread in September as I figure that's about the time they'll start talking about splitting up the space (I'm limited to East. I can't make it to Prime).

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  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    undead wrote: »
    I have chatted with the tabletop manager about an idea I had. It's more about the GM's advertising their demos than it is for players looking for random games, but it runs on the same principle (demo at x time looking for players).

    There's a couple of problems that need to be sorted out first.
    1. The con is moving. It won't be in the Hynes next time and nobody knows what the layout is going to look like in the BCEC.
    2. The philosophy of PAX for open gaming is just that. It's open. It's up to you to grab tablespace/floorspace to play. For us GMs, this is a big problem. I may want to run a demo at 8pm, but in order to do that I have to hold the spot from the minute the doors open until the demo (I should point out that this is for us GMs who are not in the main game company booths (EX: SJ Games, Looney Labs, Days Of Wonder, etc.)). This is highly unlikely to be altered.
    3. TTHQ is a fairly cramped room, and we're all talking about putting up a huge whiteboard or computer terminals in it. I would not go with this. A simple printed stack of sheets stapled together and left on the desk with all the scheduled demos (or a stack for each company) is more than enough for people to look through. I know it's not the easiest and quickest but it's a lot easier to get TTHQ to accept the paper sheets than a large whiteboard or computer terminals.
    4. GMs need to do more to advertise. I was in 107 for almost the entire convention (took a 4 hour break on Sunday to check out the rest of the convention, but the rest of the time, I lived in 107). I had a Frag Gold stand outside the door, and there was a Munchkin stand there for a while as well. That isn't enough, though. The main booth should know where its GMs are and advertise them. The main booth should know what games those GMs have. The GM needs to make a display of sorts to show what they have.
    5. This is something I was doing in 107, and it's something I wish I'd see more GMs doing. If you came into 107 with an SJ Game and I spotted you, even though I was already running a demo of one game, when that group was good go to go and playing on their own, I'd come over to you and explain who I was and that I could teach you how to play the game you had checked out. Other times I'd give out Munchkin bookmarks to people playing SJ Games. And I wasn't limiting myself to SJ Games, either. A few groups brought in Porto Rico and I would show them how to play it as well if I wasn't doing anything else.

    It really is too early to start talking about this, though. I was going to start a GM thread in September as I figure that's about the time they'll start talking about splitting up the space (I'm limited to East. I can't make it to Prime).

    Thanks for your input, although I tend to disagree with some of your points. I don't see this topic as being too early, because if it were implemented, it would be for any/all PAX sites. I'm not sure yet if I will be able to make it to PAX Prime, but I think a solution like this should be universal if its done at all.

    Your point number 4 is almost exactly what this particular solution is trying to eliminate - I had tons of fun at the rest of the con, so the idea of hanging out all day in TTHQ makes me a sad panda. I'm trying to find a way for the casual gamer to eliminate some of the gruntwork involved in getting a game together, so he/she/it can spend 4 hours at panels and the exhibition hall and then show up after lunch and already have some games lined up, bypassing the 'lag' inherent in the current system.

    I'm not really sure what you mean by GM demos - people teaching others their game systems? My idea originated from the player side of things, but I was hoping its design would lend itself to either use. Your suggestion of having printouts available listing games doesn't really make sense to me, since this system is trying to address the creation/population of relatively impromptu games.

    I will of course concede that TTHQ is small and might not be 'big' enough in the eyes of the organizers to merit additional space or resources. That would be sad, but it's not something I can control - except by making suggestions like this and hoping enough people support it that the organizers take note.

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  • undeadundead Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Good points, but yes, we are looking at it from two different angles. You're looking at it from the casual gamers side, I'm looking at it from the GMs side (GM = person representing company x by demoing their games).
    As such, the points I made make sense for GMs (centralized spot for people to go who want to be able to find a game and play and put it right in their schedule, as opposed to running around looking for players). Point #4 is key for this as it doesn't do anyone much good if I want to demo a particular game and you don't know it's happening.
    As such, I'm looking for random players to come in and play, much the same way as you, but I'm looking to schedulize my day as a GM and let all of you know about it (I'll be demoing for more than half the day, easily, where what you are talking about can as simple as one game for an hour or a string of games for a day).
    Looking at it from that point of view, the paper solution is the best. It takes the least space. Then again, this can be done just as easily at the company booth the GM represents, although people in other threads have asked for such a thing to be in TTHQ.
    For GMs, waiting is a better option right now to start, for we have to chat with the company honchos about space. It makes a difference how far away you are from your company's booth, for example. Nobody knows what the layout is going to be, and until that info is released, we really can't do much in this regard.
    I am planning, however, when the time is right, to start a thread for GMs to try and put an independent schedule together (it won't be printed in the main program and it's not sponsored by the convention) and find a way to let the attendees see it and use it to plan out their day, but that won't be until at least September or so, for that's about when I figure the info the GMs need will be announced.

    undead on
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  • ArcoArco Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    undead wrote: »
    Good points, but yes, we are looking at it from two different angles. You're looking at it from the casual gamers side, I'm looking at it from the GMs side (GM = person representing company x by demoing their games).

    While your points about the GM perspective are totally valid, and it's awesome what you and the other reps from the game companies are doing, I feel like it's worth pointing out that the vast majority of us don't share your perspective. The thread was originally started as a way to brainstorm better methods of bringing gamers together, not better ways for GMs to organize their weekend. Please don't take that as me being snarky or dismissive. I'm simply pointing it out, and perhaps suggesting that your point of view would be more relevant in another thread (something which you're already aware of, I think).

    As far as the original topic goes, paper only goes so far. It's just a stapled together whiteboard that can be passed among people.

    I think the OP's main points were thus:

    1) To play lots of games in the TT area during PAX, one has to spend just as much time finding players as they do playing games. This is bad.

    2) Point 1) necessarily means that your PAX experience is somewhat neutered, because you are spending valuable PAX minutes looking for players instead of either playing or doing other fun PAX things. This is also bad.

    3) A system like the one proposed, which would allow PAXers to create and join games throughout the weekend both from TTHQ and remotely, and most importantly notify players when their games are full and ready to be played either by e-mail, SMS, or a display in the TT area, would minimize the negative effects of points 1) and 2), increase the amount of games played and the exposure of the TT area to the general PAX population, and reduce the bottlenecking in TTHQ/checkout by allowing people to browse/join/create games remotely, anywhere on site. This is all good. (Such a system cannot be accomplished without computers or other electronics.)

    I agree with all 3 of those points, and I think that implementing a system like the one envisioned in point 3) would be awesome on all levels.

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  • undeadundead Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Perfectly alright. Something I remember on the original topic from before:

    I don't remember who started it and I didn't actually log into it to check, but someone on the forum, before the convention ran, set up a non-official schedule of games (people that brought in their own games that were planning on running them during the convention), along with other non-official events. I don't remember where he posted it on-line, though (may have been Google, but not sure).

    I point this out as I believe it would be much easier for people with Ipods, etc., to check such a site before arriving at TTHQ. This limits the amount of people that would need to look up events via a computer (although some system needs to be in place for people without said electronic devices).
    Keep in mind, though, that the layout in the Hynes made it hard for anyone to find an open game. I don't know wherer tabletop is going to be in the BCEC, but if it's more centralized, it can only make it easier for anyone to find a game to jump into.

    undead on
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  • mspencermspencer PAX [ENFORCER] Council Bluffs, IARegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    There's also a larger problem of: are there a lot of attendees who have interest in or love for tabletop gaming, but don't know how to get that itch scratched? Maybe TTHQ looks intimidating, or looks like you have to pay something to play. Maybe the tabletop free play and demo rooms look like they're in-use or that you're interrupting something if you go in there, so people don't feel comfortable sitting down at an empty table if there are people gaming nearby.

    While I'm not involved in the specific plans (yet), from what I've heard we are planning on having more signage and "promotional" material.

    Also I agree about it never being too early. There's certainly a several-week period after each PAX where people need a chance to wind down and recover, but after that I think it's never too early. It's really easy to wait until PAX is a little closer, a little closer, and then suddenly it's right around the corner and plans are locked in and unchangeable.

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  • gilby123gilby123 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I will agree that the Hynes was about as sub-optimal for tabletop gaming as there could be. So many teeny rooms across two floors. I know looking in each Friday night with a friend, we were baffled as to where to go, how to hop in a game, etc. We ended up finally hopping in a game in one of the last rooms we poked our head into, as the people were actively looking for 2 more players.

    I think for board games in particular, perhaps using an idea borrowed from a smaller day game convention here, where there's a small area in plain sight where people can sort of hold up a game they want to play. Usually, this alone generates interest enough within a minute or two that the players gather and quickly wander off to find a play spot.

    I also like the idea of a schedule of some sort. Online is fine, provided the cell reception is much better at the new place than it was on the first floor of the Hynes.

    gilby123 on
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  • undeadundead Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I attend the convention you're talking about. It's actually set up exactly the way Pax's tabletop section is (few demos in the morning and the rest of the games are free play). It works because it's contained in one huge room.
    And yes, it's that easy to simply stand in the middle of the floor, hold up a game, and let the players come to you.
    Such a set-up also makes it easier for people who want to learn how to play new games. Every time I attend that convention I always learn at least 2 (sometimes 3) new games.

    I don't know if tabletop will be in one huge room in the BCEC, though. You have to plan for both scenarios, in this case.

    As far as the tablespace issue went in the Hynes, the problem wasn't the tablespace, it was the lack of chairs. People were taking them from one room and carrying them into an adjacent room. This resulted in half of the room I was in being empty but the hallway being full of people playing a game on the floor.

    undead on
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  • ArcoArco Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    mspencer wrote: »
    There's also a larger problem of: are there a lot of attendees who have interest in or love for tabletop gaming, but don't know how to get that itch scratched? Maybe TTHQ looks intimidating, or looks like you have to pay something to play. Maybe the tabletop free play and demo rooms look like they're in-use or that you're interrupting something if you go in there, so people don't feel comfortable sitting down at an empty table if there are people gaming nearby.

    While I'm not involved in the specific plans (yet), from what I've heard we are planning on having more signage and "promotional" material.

    Also I agree about it never being too early. There's certainly a several-week period after each PAX where people need a chance to wind down and recover, but after that I think it's never too early. It's really easy to wait until PAX is a little closer, a little closer, and then suddenly it's right around the corner and plans are locked in and unchangeable.

    I agree entirely about tabletop games being a little intimidating. I don't think anyone thinks that they have to pay something, it's just a little overwhelming. Even with a video game you've never played before, it's still a video game. You use the controller. It's familiar territory. Tabletop games have dice, counters, cards, meeples, figurines, more dice, boards, spinners, confusing nomenclature, and there's definitely a steep learning curve for a lot of them, which is something that can be very detrimental to new players attempting to join in a game.

    I don't think a LFG/LFM system will necessarily alleviate this problem, but I wholeheartedly agree that it is a problem that keeps lots of people from breaking into the world of tabletop gaming and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

    Arco on
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  • flatlineflatline Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I wasn't able to make it out for PAX Prime this year. Just wondering if there were any new additions or if TTHQ was pretty much the same?

    FatherFletch actually did end up PMing me about 2 months ago but I haven't logged into the forums since May (until today). Hopefully some improvements will be made. I plan on participating in even more events at PAX:E 2011, so any streamlining that can be done will help me spend less time waiting and more time gaming!

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