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Constructive Feedback - Unplugged 2017

zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
Please post your constructive feedback of the show here. Not liking things is fine! Being a dick about it is not!



  • kc2dptkc2dpt Registered User regular
    We had a great time. In this case "we" is me, my wife, my 10 yr old, and my 6 yr old. We only did Sunday as this was my youngest's first con and I wasn't sure how it would go.

    TLDR: All four of us had a great time.

    First, you couldn't throw a d20 without hitting an enforcer. They were EVERYWHERE! And they were all, every one we met, helpful and friendly. This removed a lot of stress as we didn't feel as lost or helpless as we might have otherwise. At one point me and one kid split off to go to an event and the plan was for the other two to join us in a short while. Oops! We forgot to say where we were going or how to get there. No problem, the nearest enforcer knew exactly. This was my first PAX and I read so much from the PA guys about how amazing the enforcers are and it is not hyperbole.

    The venue was appropriately sized. It felt like there was plenty to do and see and tons of people to play with, but without feeling crowded or oppressive. I love GenCon but there's so many people in that space you can't move quickly when you need to and sometimes you can't even move slowly.

    The app... let's just say I never figured it out. The schedule seemed to work fine. The messaging system worked sporadically. I never got replies to any of my posts. I never figured out how "connections" work or what "checked-in" means. Having the map in there was nice.

    I've been going to GenCon for years and the one thing I don't get there I always wanted is random pick-up games with strangers. And the lending library prices at GenCon are a real turn-off. The open play area at PAX was a dream come true for me. Big library of games. Hundreds of people looking for other people to play with. Free. I could easily spend 75% of a whole weekend in this section, with the remaining time split between shopping and eating. PAX Unplugged, in my own words, is a board game night that lasts for 3 straight days and has thousands of people. That is definitely something I want in my life. :D

    So I don't know what the other days were like, but Sunday was definitely kid friendly. Lots of dealers had kid-friends games for them to demo. We bought two and made notes on many more for future purchases. We missed the 10am kids games event (it was full), but an enforcer alerted me to the 3pm one and both kids had a great time.

    One of the things I love about GenCon is feeling that comfort of being amongst "my people". Somehow it was even moreso at PAX. Looking around at thousands of people and thinking, "These are all boardgamers!" was electrifying.

    As a final data point... I've been going to GenCon for 14 years and I've never made a friend there. I made a friend at PAX. That's noteworthy.

    P.S. - I've heard from a few people that signups and lines for events were less than optimal. I've never been big into scheduled events so for me this wasn't an issue. For me an ideal con lets me wander around and do stuff at my own pace and time. This con did. I think if the messaging part of the app was more robust, organizing impromptu pickup games would be easier and make scheduling things less of an issue.

  • mycombsmycombs Registered User new member
    Great Con, seemed like a smash success, so I can't wait for the return in 2018 (fingers crossed!) Here's my constructive criticism / things I'd like to see in 2018:
    1. Doubling / Tripling the size of the RPG area. There weren't enough spaces for demand, especially on Saturday. Also, lining up 2 hours before a game, just to get a spot at the table seems wrong. There must be some sort of way to do electronic registration?
    2. Adding more space for tabletop freeplay. Space at these tables was a premium. The Tournament tables / miniatures tables seemed a lot less popular. So maybe shifting some space around?
    3. Lending library was fantastic. The only downside was: groups would borrow a copy per member, so a 4-person group would take 4 games, and play one to ensure they had their favorite games checked-out for the day. Would be nice if it was a 1 game per-group rule (honor system?)
    4. Vendors staying open past 6pm. A few vendors were outside the "expo hall" area (Battlegrounds, et al) and were able to stay open for the entire day.
    5. Meeting points: it was really hard to meet with friends. Would love to have a few designated meeting points, and some signage on the columns like they do in theme park parking lots ("meet me under the d12 banner!")
    6. Entry / exit into the Con was excellent. I liked bring my own snacks and water, and being able to leave and come back so easily

    AnarCHrisDoverojprepo1Wolf of DresdenCanderson1989surettemouseydew
  • Grand DMGrand DM Registered User regular
    The Enforcer squad was great, huge thumbs up.

    Queue lines for Role-playing games? What a headache. Please add some sort of pre-registration option next year. This way players can have some semblance of a schedule. Waiting around is nothing more than dead time. I would also like to see a larger (and quieter) area setup for RPG open gaming. It's not the same as CCGs and board games.

    DM of three decades, tabletop game enthusiast, creativity aficionado, writer, zinester, proprietor of the #Gametavern, Plus Ultra.
  • nesbit37nesbit37 Registered User regular
    General: Personally the convention was good for me as someone just starting out with a game I want to launch via crowdfunding in about a year. I was able to meet several people, pick their brains, and exchange contact info and hopefully that will all turn into a continued relationship with them. At the very least I definitely learned things. I also was able to get about 10 playtests of the game in on Friday which was great, I had very little downtime between playtests and people were generally pleased with it. There were a couple that didn't seem to love it but I also don't think they were that into resource management games so there isn't much I can do about that. I was only able to really play one game which was from 10pm to midnight on Saturday of Clans of Caledonia. I was really glad to have been able to get that one in since I have been looking forward to trying it out. Will definitely have to pick it up when its finally available on the general market in a few months.

    Cons: I am not a fan of lines in general, and this being a line con I didn't like that aspect at all. I took videos of the lines of people waiting to play D&D on Saturday and Sunday and that just seems nuts to me waiting that much. I am glad we were able to do some signups for some of the tiers so people didn't have to wait as much but it still seemed like a huge a chunk of the day for those people. I also generally don't like how crazy lines made things for us in D&D administratively. Mustering was a nightmare and everyone was just constantly confused. I also really don't appreciate how PAX handled things for the TRI initiative (the main group handling D&D) and pretty much forcing them to run a crowdfunding campaign to fund running D&D at a convention. That is just insane to me and I am impressed they didn't just throw up their hands and walk away. There is no reason such a major draw to a tabletop convention should have so little support from the conventions parent company and be forced to pay for things in that stressful of a fashion for what is ultimately something that people expect at the convention. That is the biggest thing that frustrated me with this convention.

    PAX also didn't have much to do in the sense of scheduled things. It really needed more events, specifically games and special game related activities. Most things were just show up, wait in a line and see what happened. It really left a sense of ambiguity and that there wasn't much to do most of the time if you were a general attendee except try and find open space in the open gaming area and find others to play random board games with. There is a definite place for that at these cons but it shouldn't be the mainstay of your convention, and it felt like it was at PAX Unplugged.

    I talked to several vendors this morning about how they liked the show and learned that the RPG booths seemed to have decent sales but at least the board game exhibitors were not having such luck. They found that their demo tables were constantly packed but their sales were worse than just about any other con of this size (anecdotally). They postulated that this was because there was so little in the way of event planning that people were expecting to be entertained, so they just sat down to play demo games but really had no interest in buying and just wanted to fill their time. I don't know if that is really true or not but I heard it from multiple booths.
    I never thought I would say this but I really miss the carpets Gen Con has in the dealer hall after this show. They didn't lay down any carpets at this con in the expo hall and it just made walking that much more painful. This con was far harder on my feet than any other con of this approximate size I have been to before.

    I also didn't like that it just completely shut down at midnight. Something that went at least later, if not 24 hours, would have been much cooler and not feel as rushed.

    This isn't so much about PAX but the convention center. I have never seen a building more stingy with their power. Twist locks on all the outlets, really? Do you need to rent out those $5 phone charging batteries that badly???

    Pros: It was busy but not super packed, which meant there was a lot of opportunities to seek out specific people you wanted to hunt down and talk to them which was great for someone in a position like I am in.

    The Unpub was great and I really appreciate all of the effort John and others put into and those that came over to playtest everyone's games.

    I didn't want to like it, but I did kind of get into the pin collecting aspect they do a little bit.

    The first look area was great, it was nice to at least see, if not play, games that were just out from Essen and haven't hit the states yet.

    It was wonderful to see so much demand for D&D as well as so many new players. One of the Philly DMs was telling me how he has a full table of players who had never played before and they didn't even have dice. Things like that are great to hear.

    Overall: I know there are a lot of cons above but I really did enjoy myself overall. It is not my favorite con, of the 8sih or so cons I attend regularly I would put it at about 5th place, but I hope they learned a lot from this year. My main gripes emit from them using lines instead of tickets and not having enough events planned and seeming to rely on some (in my opinion) generally lack luster panels and external groups (like the TRI initiative running D&D) to provide the main focus of things for people to do. They have said they will be back and I will look forward to it next year. Rumor has it the D&D area will be increased in size significantly. While I hope that is true, I have concerns about us being able to get enough DMs and they better have a significantly improved option for us to fund D&D at this con next year.

  • LakbayLakbay Registered User new member
    edited November 2017
    I had fun but mostly through sheer luck I was able to line up at the perfect times to be able to chain attend Indie RPGs by Games on Demand all weekend.

    1. There definitely needs to be way more space for RPGs

    2. An easier way for people to sign up to GM games? I read stories that people wanted to run games but had no idea how to get a place on the schedule or put out there that they wanted to run something.

    Games on Demand had to turn away people who wanted to GM on Saturday because of a lack of tables and on Sunday I saw a person get pulled out of line because they couldn't find an extra GM besides him when I'm sure there were tons of people willing to run something just elsewhere. My friend wanted to play games but he ended up GM'ing something like 4 Games on Demand sessions. Not to mention people sitting in line for over 40 minutes just to get turned away.

    3. (Don't know how possible this is) Centralized registration. I heard it was first come first serve lines for D&D, Pathfinder did pre-reg on their warhorn from what someone told me, and I saw Call of Cthulu doing sign ups here on the unplugged forum and that seems really messy.

    Lakbay on
    Doverojprepo1Wolf of DresdenCanderson1989
  • redfield85redfield85 Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    -Queue room needs signs. There were none and no one knew where to line up for the two days we went early.
    -Classic Cardboard tournies need more than 2 copies of a game or less people in said tournies.
    -Tournament sign up in general needs to be more organized. They also need more people working the sign up area to make things go a lot faster.
    -Enforcers running tournies (in classic cardboard at least) need to know anything about the games they are running or someone needs to plan the tournies for them.

    I've been vocal on Twitter about this and I'll post our days here too.

    Day 1:
    The queue room was a joke and needs to be addressed. We showed up to no signs whatsoever and wanting to sign up for tournies. We get into the giant queue line and eventually discover a second line to our right. I go to ask about it and I'm told that is the line for tabletop tournies. Great.

    We line up there and are eventually taken to the Expo Hall by way of a single enforcer who was basically herding cats and we had to hope we kept our eye on the person in front of us as other people just cut in and out of our line.

    We get to the sign up area and are lined up. After standing around for a few minutes, we are told the line we are in isn't even the one we were looking for. So, we swap lines and my fiance has to go to the Classic Cardboard tourney area to sign up for stuff because she couldn't at this area.

    By the time I am almost at the front of the line to hand in our slips, there is an announcement that 11am tournies are to form a new line (because it is 10:40 or so). Eventually a stranger we met in line waved me down and said they also called 11:30 tournies to switch lines, which wasn't even announced to everyone.

    As that mess was occurring, my fiance struggled to find the Classic Cardboard room and the enforcer she asked didn't know where it was and asked her to pull out the app. After getting signed up, she tried to make her way back to me only to be turned away by security at the entrance for the tournies area (which had an entrance sign for just that).

    Day 2:
    Another day, another random queue room experience. The tourney sign up line was apparently gone, mixed with the expo queue. I asked an enforcer what was going to happen and he said they will siphon off near the classic cardboard room, only there was caution tape up so people would have to duck under and cut into the room. It was a mess, as we watched someone do just that and seemingly was almost stopped and not allowed into the room because the enforcer didn't see them bail out of the line.

    We signed up for the 11am Mall Madness tournament. They only had two copies of the game for a 16 person tournament, so we had to wait around for an hour to even get a shot at playing.

    I checked in multiple times with a single enforcer, each time him not remembering me. I saw a game was ending so I went to grab my fiance so we can get in only to come back and the game be full. That was fine. We will wait with the last 2 people and play in the next game. That time comes and a person shows up asking if this is the Mall Madness tournament. I asked if they were on the waitlist and they said no. So, we had 5 people for the final game, which the game only plays 4 people.

    The enforcer then tells us he let a waitlist person play in a previous game. Why? Who knows? He knew I and my fiance were waiting and the other two people were waiting literally at the table across from the tourney. So, I gave up my seat for the 5th person as the enforcer stumbled to think of a solution and apologized, which didn't matter and fixed nothing. My fiance and I were very excited for this tournament only for me to have to give up my seat to fix what was broken by incompetence.

    In the Yahtzee tournament, the enforcer running it seemed to wing how much they were to play each round and didn't know anything about the game itself. They wound up playing 3 games instead of 6 per round because it would've taken forever.

    And finally, there was a Scattergories tournament with 28 people and only 2 copies of the game.

    I assume it wasn't PAX supplying the classic tourney games since that Tiki Games or whoever sponsored that room, but there has to be some sort of organization to these things. The fact that enforcers don't switch positions means that each day was just the same unorganized mess.

    Don't get me wrong, we salvaged most of Unplugged and had a fun time, but growing pains or not, it was frustrating and disappointing with there being 4 other conventions under the Penny Arcade banner.
    mycombs wrote: »
    [*] Lending library was fantastic. The only downside was: groups would borrow a copy per member, so a 4-person group would take 4 games, and play one to ensure they had their favorite games checked-out for the day. Would be nice if it was a 1 game per-group rule (honor system?)

    I disagree with this. We had a 4-5 person group and would take out 2-3 games or so and try them all and bring them back when done. You can't punish legit renters with people that hog a game all day. And even then, if that is what they want to do, that is on them if they want to play only a few games all day while the rest of us broaden our horizon.

    We will be there next year for sure. We love board games. We love PAX. But waiting until 10:30am and not signing up for tournies is the way to go I guess unless signing up is more organized/made online. That is how we played it Sunday and we didn't seem to have any issues.

    Also, what is going on with tournament medals? Last East I didn't get a silver medal and the same happened at Unplugged for my fiance. I know they've had gold/silver/bronze in the past.

    redfield85 on
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  • Tempus1217Tempus1217 Registered User new member
    There were lots of enforcers, that is true. I got conflicting information from 4 different enforcers all less than 20 feet from each other, so either some walkie talkies for them to communicate with each other or better prepping of them? Some Enforcers stopped people getting into lines( autograph line for Patrick Rothfuss perfect example) others just let people walk right past them and cut into the line. I didn't have a negative experience with any Enforcer but there certainly seemed to be some confusion issues amongst them.

    Having Enforcers is great, Screens with Schedules of events and locations would be cool, the signs were cool but they were at ground level and hard to read/see at times without blocking traffic or already being blocked by a clump of people. In the Main Expo hall it wasn't really clear where to get tickets for games, having the guy demoing a game tell us to find the guy with the Man Bun to get tickets is really not the way to do it.

    The convention center charging 5.50 for a soda and 4.00 dollars for water also just drove people out of the convention hall to find beverages( not sure if there is much PAX can do about that though).

    Also I am going to assume it was a supply/demand issue as well but my son was unable to attend several sessions friday evening since apparently the workshop required tickets that could only be gotten at 10 am, that was explained NOWHERE.

    The line handling for the Acquisitions Inc show Saturday night was an absolute joke. you had people waiting in "line" starting at 5:30, right in front of a bunch of enforcers. other enforcers telling people they couldn't be in line yet since it didn't start until 6:30, again seemed like one hand had no clue what the other hand was doing which is frustrating.

    Overall I had a great time, my son was a little frustrated over the ticket thing friday night but he jumped right in and started playing demo games ( amazing how he liked all the most expensive games har har). Just hoping the cohesion is a little better next year, I will be back.

  • Dex DynamoDex Dynamo Registered User regular
    There really needs to be more support for RPGs, particularly those that aren't D&D, on several levels.

    The lack of a pre-scheduling system was incredibly frustrating. At other gaming conventions, if I want to run World Wide Wrestling on Friday at 8PM, I can fill out a form, or send an email, or something, and the con works with me to lock down a space and players. PAX not having that was a huge disappointment. Instead of spending my time before the con getting excited about the cool games I was going to run, I spent that time thinking "jeez, I hope people on Twitter saw my thing about running World Wide Wrestling, and I hope we can find a space to play."

    And speaking of, in my experience over the weekend (and maybe other people will feel differently), Tabletop Freeplay was hugely unsuited for RPGs, and there needs to be more space set aside for them. I did end up playing WWW Friday night--and I completely blew out my throat in doing so, and was completely unable to speak for half of Saturday. It was just so loud that to get my players to hear everything, I had to shout, and I had to shout for three hours straight. It's not as big a concern for board games, but RPGs are a conversational medium, and you need to be able to have a conversation to take advantage.

    I was really excited before the con to see Indie Games On Demand would be there--but was disappointed to learn they dropped their Boarding Pass system from GenCon, and was curious why they did that when it seemed to work really well. At GenCon, whenever you went up to Games on Demand in advance of a timeslot, they'd give you a piece of paper with a letter on it. Then, at 11:30, or whatever, they'd call "Boarding Pass X, come pick your game," and people would go up. It ensured that everyone got more or less a fair shot at playing, and no one had to wait an hour+ to get to play an RPG (which is how it turned out at PAX).

    Finally, more visibility into the RPG area would be great. It felt a little diminishing to get to the con and see the RPG area marked off with a literal orange scrap of paper taped to the big purple PAX sign.

  • AnarCHrisAnarCHris Trash Lord New York CityRegistered User regular
    1) More areas for freeplay. Wasn't awful, but Saturday was a pretty difficult day to learn anything new with the crowds and volume.
    2) Strengthen up panels. Seemed particularly weak in this area imo, YMMV.
    3) An artist ally. I know this sort of thing is foreign to Pax West/East/South, but I think an AA would do well with this crowd.

    Hopefully next year the building wont have to share space with the marathon. I dug the hell out of this show, and hopefully it can tweak a bit.

  • vituperavitupera Registered User new member
    Had a great time for the most part, I really enjoyed the selection of games available in tabletop freeplay, and I was pretty happy with the crowd density (though for the record I mostly stuck to freeplay, and did not get even get close to the one rpg I lined up for). Trying to meet up with people among the forest of tables was tedious, though. While the columns were labeled, they're too far apart to work very well as landmarks unless you're RIGHT underneath one. Since the tables were in a grid anyway, alphanumeric coordinates would help a lot.

    It was very loud in the hall, and I have no idea if you guys can do anything about that, but if the carpeting another poster mentioned is an option, that would certainly help.

  • screamingcitiesscreamingcities Registered User new member
    First off let me say I had a lot of fun at PAX, and really hope they continue the thing in Philly each year! The enforcers were awesome (never hard to find one, and they seemed to be hustling their butts off!) and everyone seemed really nice, and polite and happy (even on day three)! The crowd was great too- it was awesome being surrounded by so much energy and excitement.
    That said,however, I agree completely with those above saying there needs to be more done in the TTRPG area. It kind of felt like there were a few token D&D games and they all pretty much filled up early in the morning with people who waited in line for an hour or two prior to con opening time. I realize this is the first one of these, so there's a learning curve, and appreciate there is a place to send input!

    I'd like to see MORE GAMES. Even if all you wanted to play was D&D there didn't even feel like you had a lot of options. The demand was obviously there!

    I agree with those above saying they would like to see a better registration system. I was told on Saturday the games booked up by 10:30am, and people had already been in line for a while before official con opening. Maybe this would be mitigated by having more games- But wouldn't a pre-reg system give an idea about demand, and allow you to add more games to the lineup?

    The freeplay area was great- but kind of cramped, and hard to determine who was running open games.

    Lastly- the app pretty much did everything the guidebook did and more, so it's not an ISSUE persey, but why were the guidebooks all the way in the back like that instead of up near the registration area, or the entrance?

    Again all of this is realizing that it's the first year, so there will always be issues to iron out. I can't wait to see it next year and in the years to come! Thank you to the entire PAX team for putting on such a cool event, and bringing it to Philly!

  • mandaX31mandaX31 Registered User new member
    Loved being able to browse like GenCon but not nearly as overwhelmed. Liked seeing some of the "usual suspects" for RPG'ing accessories on site.. i.e. Level Up Dice, Wyrmwood, MDG..
    Free play area being massive! That was great!

    The Bad:
    Missed seeing Chessex on site :( Figure they'll come back next year with this growth (I'm hoping)

    I know I might be isolated in this, but the poor communication between Line enforcers and what was communicated to the fans.
    Critical Role panel - Matthew Mercer announces to the crowd they can line up for autographs for their meet and greet at 3:30pm for a 5pm session.

    Hundreds of Critical Role fans get to the queue area - Apathetic Line Enforcers say "Lines full, sorry!"... PRIOR TO 3:30pm

    Alpha/Geek & Sundry Team try to get some more people on line (they do).. The cast stayed until 8:30pm to get as many of their fans as possible.

    From what I've heard this is a recurring theme at Pax's. I honestly hope they look into a hybrid GenCon prereg to avoid people who travel specifically for one thing and miss out because the Line Enforcers were failboat.

    I couldn't really find someplace to do pickup D&D, the app really wasn't very helpful in that regard.. I also might have missed that, that's on me then.

  • stanshinnstanshinn Registered User new member
    (1) Having no ability to preregister for RPG games led to a really bad experience. I don't think I'll be back if they don't have some sort of ability to guarantee entry into at least a few games that I want to play. If you can't preregister for every game, at least do what Owlcon in Houston does -- they let you pick 3 things to preregister for, and the rest is a sort of lottery system. I had 5 buddies I attended with and they were only able to get into 1 RPG event the entire weekend that they wanted to get into.

    (2) Convention map was very confusing. It was 'abstract' and showed the different floors, but not how things connected. An actual map that showed the convention center at scale and showed how the levels connected would be very helpful. Absent this, I had to wait in line, ask how to get to a level, get pointed to a vague direction, go down escalators, ask again if this was the right area (it was not, I ended up in a Runners Marathon convention), go up to the prior floor, ask again, etc. Took 15 minutes just and multiple wrong turns just trying to find what an accurate, complete map would have shown me right away.

    (3) I didn't notice anything directing you to areas around the convention where you could eat. I presumed there would be food inside the convention, or food trucks outside, but there were neither. I had a friend from Philly who gave me advice on where to eat outside the convention center, but why not include it in the program?

    screamingcitiesDex DynamoDovero
  • ltgruntltgrunt Registered User regular
    Saturday night I had the same problem that I've seen for the past four years at East: The Acquisitions Incorporated line. Every time I check with the Enforcers for what time the queue will start for the Acq Inc show, and every single time I get there at the appointed time and find that they've already let a line start forming.

    The other issue I had was the signups for D&D Adventurer's League. I don't know if maybe we should be impressed that they managed to make it a huge mess in two different ways on two different days.

    I'm starting to wonder if online registration once the schedule is announced might be a good solution to both of these problems.

    I was happy with everything else at Unplugged. As a whole, the show seemed more relaxed and less crowded than what I'm used to at East. Whether that's because it's a different venue and style of show or just because it's the first year and tickets didn't sell out completely remains to be seen.

    Also, it was really great having the Reading Market so close. Getting good food at a reasonable price without having to take a hike to find a place was a welcome change. But holy cats, was that place bonkers crowded. I almost wish they had their own Enforcers.

  • Mercyd1403Mercyd1403 Registered User regular
    The Rpg area needs to be expanded, and I can't figure out why each table wasn't sectioned off like at Pax East. Those curtains really helped to cut down on the outside noise. I know Pax is first come first serve with a lot of things but the lines were a mess. Unplugged was fun and it is the first year so things can only go up.

  • BIHJackBIHJack Registered User new member

    My friend and I are both longtime Gencon attendees as well as having attended Origins and other PAX cons between us. I had an idea of what to expect after having attended PAX South and getting feedback from friends who've attended East and West. My expectations were, frankly, rather low; there'd be lines for everything and there wouldn't be as many events/activities as one might expect; we'd have to make our own fun. PAXUP met my expectations.

    I think the folks organizing PAX need to rethink the organizational issue of lines and to reconsider the structural issue of being a convention versus a trade exposition. I know 'expo' is the X part of PAX and when it comes to the video game industry, that's fine. I was at South when Nintendo launched the Switch and if you wanted to play Zelda before anyone else in North America, you waited in line for 3 hours. That's fine, that's their prerogative. It's not like you could hop over to another booth and play games on an unreleased system, right?

    Why is the distinction important? Because of this:
    nesbit37 wrote:
    I talked to several vendors this morning about how they liked the show and learned that the RPG booths seemed to have decent sales but at least the board game exhibitors were not having such luck. They found that their demo tables were constantly packed but their sales were worse than just about any other con of this size (anecdotally). They postulated that this was because there was so little in the way of event planning that people were expecting to be entertained, so they just sat down to play demo games but really had no interest in buying and just wanted to fill their time. I don't know if that is really true or not but I heard it from multiple booths.

    This is precisely what the difference is between a con and an expo.

    With that said, people don't need to wait hours and hours in line to play Dungeons & Dragons. People don't need to wait hours and hours to register for a board game or miniatures tourney. The most precious thing any of us have at a con is our time. We have 3 or 4 days to play games and then we head back home. The biggest sin that one can commit is wasting it. It's why we tell people coming to Gencon to get up and leave if they're in a game that they deem shitty, even if it cost a few tickets to get into.

    There was the issue before the con started of how to get in touch if we wanted to run games in the RPG freeplay area. How do we get a table? How do we let people know ahead of time what games we'll be running? What times will be available for us to run the games we wanna run? It was exceedingly difficult to discover information on any of these questions because the RPG activities are, essentially, subcontracted out. For example, TRI was doing D&D and it felt like PAX largely washed their hands of having any further involvement.

    My friend and I had a good time at PAXUP because we met up with internet friends and played games with them in the freeplay area. We did a couple panels, we did a couple tourneys, but waiting in lines to do those things ate up hours that could've been much better spent. We likely would've had more fun if we hadn't signed up for any events and that's something of an indictment, I feel. We had fun in spite of the con, not because of it.

    It was a weekend well spent, in the end, but if they persist in having lines and don't take an active hand in organizing RPG events, I can't see myself returning.

    nesbit37hailtothekaleredfield85Dex DynamoDoveroWolf of Dresden
  • jthom252jthom252 Duarte, CARegistered User regular
    Had a really good time but anything involving signups was pretty much a crapshoot, wanted to try Adventurers League but had no luck. Was especially bad on Saturday with the confusion from the 10 AM line being to told come back at noon. Felt bad for the enforcers having to bear the burnt of that.

    I had a pretty great experience just jumping into random games in the free play area, despite the frustration everyone I met was really friendly and pleasant. Was kind of surprised how small the lending library itself was but it never seemed to get exhausted.

    Hopefully PAX gets to take more advantage of the space, some of the stuff like the Main Theatre was awkward (though nice that you could see it from free play). The lack of panels was a bit of a downside and I wish the scheduling had been more lax for the Celebrity Secret Hitler one but I don't know how much of that is PAX versus the convention center. The Learn and Play area was pretty fun and I appreciate having that stuff for people not super well versed in board games like myself.

    The app changes were kind of mixed. I think the Digital Swag Bag was a decent idea but the whole pass / trash thing made no sense, especially since I just wanted to see everything on the list first and couldn't go back. The map was really confusing and should of pointed out where to go to the 1st from the 2nd, I'm sure I'm not the only one that ended up on the marathon side while trying to find a theater. The LFG/LFM stuff was really good too and I'd like to see that one expanded upon - I think the only downside is not enough people were using it that it made it reliable enough versus just wandering the floor and looking for cones.

    Unpub was really neat and I hope that somehow expands to future PAXs.

    Food didn't seem like a big deal since the terminal market was right there, but what's up with it closing at 6? Not really a PAX related thing just weird Philly stuff I guess.

  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2017
    mandaX31 wrote: »
    I know I might be isolated in this, but the poor communication between Line enforcers and what was communicated to the fans.
    Critical Role panel - Matthew Mercer announces to the crowd they can line up for autographs for their meet and greet at 3:30pm for a 5pm session.

    Hundreds of Critical Role fans get to the queue area - Apathetic Line Enforcers say "Lines full, sorry!"... PRIOR TO 3:30pm

    Alpha/Geek & Sundry Team try to get some more people on line (they do).. The cast stayed until 8:30pm to get as many of their fans as possible.

    From what I've heard this is a recurring theme at Pax's. I honestly hope they look into a hybrid GenCon prereg to avoid people who travel specifically for one thing and miss out because the Line Enforcers were failboat.
    One point I want to make about PAX and the enforcers running things like signing lines is that those enforcers cannot control what someone says to their fans. The enforcers work for PAX, not the random celebrity. If they are told by their management to start a line at a time, that's what they are going to do.

    zerzhul on
  • PowerNeinPowerNein Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Pros -

    Location was great. Proximity to Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown meant great food all weekend.

    PAX Enforcers! You folks were plentiful, helpful and pleasant.

    Tabletop Library was fantastic. Great selection of games, easy to access.

    Cascade Games and their Magic the Gathering events. Events were reasonably priced, well run, well prized and had enough judges on site. It's such a welcome change from the nightmare that is Pasttimes at GenCon. Kudos!

    Cons -

    Water access. I've never been to a Con without free and plentiful water stations. I was so used it, that I didn't even bring water with me on Day One, just my empty water bottle.

    Lines, Lines, Lines. Again, maybe I'm just used to the GenCon model of signing up in advance, but it seems crazy to me to wait on line 2 1/2 hours to play a 1 1/2 hour session. I understand the queue for panels, but for gaming it actually prevented me from attending some events.

    Signage. There needed to be waaaay more signage telling people where they could go for additional experiences. There were multiple occassions where I bumped into a friend and asked how their Con was going, and they tell me about a cool thing they did, and I was like "Where was that happening?" I feel like I missed out on stuff just because I didn't know where it was happening.

    Lastly, I know this isn't a PAX Unplugged issue per se: but there were an awful lot of companies there that were either (a) demoing games they didn't have for sale (Asmodee, Fantasy Flight) or selling games that you couldn't demo. Perhaps this was because of the concurrent BGG.con or because it was the inagural Unplugged, but I'd like to see companies with product for sale *and* demos together.

    All in all, it was fantastic 1st convention, and I look forward to another on next year (hopefully not on the same weekend as BGG.con)!!

    PowerNein on
  • TheOperationsExpertTheOperationsExpert Registered User regular
    PowerNein wrote: »
    Pros -

    Location was great. Proximity to Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown meant great food all weekend.

    PAX Enforcers! You folks were plentiful, helpful and pleasant.

    Tabletop Library was fantastic. Great selection of games, easy to access.

    Cascade Games and their Magic the Gathering events. Events were reasonably priced, well run, well prized and had enough judges on site. It's such a welcome change from the nightmare that is Pasttimes at GenCon. Kudos!

    Cons -

    Water access. I've never been to a Con without free and plentiful water stations. I was so used it, that I didn't even bring water with me on Day One, just my empty water bottle.

    Lines, Lines, Lines. Again, maybe I'm just used to the GenCon model of signing up in advance, but it seems crazy to me to wait on line 2 1/2 hours to play a 1 1/2 hour session. I understand the queue for panels, but for gaming it actually prevented me from attending some events.

    Signage. There needed to be waaaay more signage telling people where they could go for additional experiences. There were multiple occassions where I bumped into a friend and asked how their Con was going, and they tell me about a cool thing they did, and I was like "Where was that happening?" I feel like I missed out on stuff just because I didn't know where it was happening.

    Lastly, I know this isn't a PAX Unplugged issue per se: but there were an awful lot of companies there that were either (a) demoing games they didn't have for sale (Asmodee, Fantasy Flight) or selling games that you couldn't demo. Perhaps this was because of the concurrent BGG.con or because it was the inagural Unplugged, but I'd like to see companies with product for sale *and* demos together.

    All in all, it was fantastic 1st convention, and I look forward to another on next year (hopefully not on the same weekend as BGG.con)!!
    There was water on the first floor, but it was definitely difficult to access compared to other places. A water bottle is definitely important.

  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    I'm going to try and make this sensible and helpful for those who put together PAX, and want to start off by saying thank you!

    Some quick details to help understand my thoughts:
    I went all 3 days.
    I have never been to another PAX.
    I have only been to a trade show and Wizard World Philly previously, but only single days.
    I enjoy board games, but am not competitive or part of any larger local community. No local game store or group.
    I did not sign up for tournaments or desire to enter.

    General praise!
    I understand this is the first year and there are going to be unforeseen issues and problems that happen and it's not necessarily the problem, but the response that will determine how it is remembered. PAX staff and enforcers were AMAZING and helpful and handled things really well in every instance I had with them. Thank you for an amazing show!

    There were events everywhere, plenty of games, lots of tables, and fun in every direction. The panels were great. Every vendor I interacted with was friendly, helpful, and demos were fun.

    I had a fantastic time, and it was well worth the price of the ticket.

    Ticket buying
    The ticket buying, and add-ons option, went smoothly. The digital line worked well and I was able to purchase without a bunch of errors.

    Schedule/Vendor/Panel Announcements
    Maybe this wasn't as large of an impact since I had a 3 day pass, but it was in plenty of time to figure out what we wanted to do and when. I do know some people who scrambled for Saturday tickets once they found out there was an X-Wing tournament that day.

    I was forewarned that PAX is an exercise in lines. I expected that, I came prepared for that. I had good and poor experiences and I hope I can communicate them well.
    Line compacting - Forcing people in lines to stand shoulder to shoulder, front to back, felt like cattle in a full trailer. Maybe this works well for other PAX, when attendees are more likely to be playing on their cell phones, 3DS, etc; but it was terrible to try and play tabletop style games with other people. I brought about 5 small games, mostly card games, but you still need a surface to put the cards down. Perhaps some consideration towards this would be nice in the future. It would make lines much more accepted if you can then also spend your time in line also playing games. The worst experience was for nearly 2 hrs waiting for Acquisitions Inc we tried to play on the top of a backpack worn backwards and eventually gave up. I understand space becomes an issue, but not being able to sit down (was told by enforcers that sitting down was not permitted) and crammed so close together that the temperature rose and air became stale, was not fun. I had to leave at one point to get air because I was feeling dizzy. It was interesting though because everyone expected the line to fill immediately (as evidenced by everyone hovering, playing games at the tables closest to, and immediately crowding the line at 6:30. Then it didn't fill until almost show time. Not sure if it was just because of lower attendance, or more space than it seemed in the main theater.
    On the flip side, waiting in the morning was less crowded by the RPG area, and we were able to generally sit and play some games with others in line around us. We did have to move a few times, which disrupted things as they tried to reorganize and sort people, but wasn't bad.
    My hope is that this is what gets overhauled the most between this year and next. I think they did well splitting up lines for tournaments, main hall, theater, and RPG area on Saturday and Sunday.

    I did not register for many things, partially due to interest, and partly due to availability. I do not want to move towards all pre-show registration, but perhaps some more things should be.
    I know this was run by The Role Initiative, but perhaps you could pass this on or help companies that are doing registrations handle them more effectively. We tried to register for D&D AL Friday, but after Q&A the only time slots available were ones we couldn't make due to other places we needed to be. Saturday, we stood in the morning line around 8:30AM, and then was told at 9:55AM that the T1 spots for 11AM were full, and they would not take registrations for later sessions until the hour before they were scheduled to start. We tried 2 more times Saturday, and once again Sunday to register to find the line had filled and we weren't able to get into a session. I think it would have benefited from online pre-registration, or even just a screen or spot in the app that indicated space left and which sessions. The change on Saturday without warning was also poorly done since then we were in the back of any other line and ended up walking around the entire convention center to get into the expo hall because of how they were walking people in.
    I also tried to sign up for a Thornwatch spot, but even getting into the main hall around 10:15, seeing a tweet that space is left while approaching the booth, and then being told it's full, was a bit sad. Never ended up trying it out due to just doing a bunch of other things instead.
    Also tried to sign up for the megagame but arrived too late.

    I understand that no matter what the event will be, space is a limiting factor. You can't allow everyone to sign up for everything. However some of these events were so restrictive in their player count that arriving long before lines were technically starting was necessary to be able to get a spot. Unfortunately, I don't know what the solution would be for this, but just wanted to make sure I mentioned it.

    Expo Hall
    The expo hall was INCREDIBLE. The choice of vendors was great and I was happy with pretty much every one I interacted with. They were all helpful, eager to demo games, friendly, and we bought more than we had planned to. Lots of great games were shown and available for purchase.
    I think my one or two criticisms would be for the board game blind box that was sold, which formed a rush, traffic hindering line, and lots of trash as people opened them and dumped out what they got; and a few of the vendors who ended up getting lines for demos. Fog of Love worked this out decently well, (which this may have been enforcers doing it, I didn't see it happen) with putting lines on the floor for those waiting for a demo.
    I was very happy with how many vendors came with tables and ready to demo their games, and not just being a bunch of store fronts. Paizo didn't even bring product, just lots of demos and tables. I thought this was actually nice of them to be able to point people to either a FLGS or another vendor at PAX. Though the one copy of Starfinder a vendor brought sold quickly on Friday.

    Tabletop Freeplay
    There was so much gaming going on here it was crazy. So good, and my only wish might be for a few more tables. As people unpacked games, or ate food, or sat around sometimes the space would fill up and you couldn't find space for a group of 4 to play a game. The checkout/checkin process might need another station as the line got pretty long at times. The game selection was fantastic though. If you wanted to play a game, without being too picky about it, you had that option at any point during the whole weekend.
    I didn't see too many people using the LFT/LFG cones, maybe a handful during the weekend when I was looking for a game, but most of the LFG had already filled, and the LFT were games I wasn't familiar with, so I wasn't able to really benefit from those, but love the idea. Glad they were there and helpful for people.

    First Look
    This was really cool, and I was able to play one game, and watch a few others that became popular. I'm really pleased that these were able to make it to PAX and it would be awesome if it could be repeated each year. I understand that the logistics of getting unreleased games from Essen is difficult, but want to make sure it was greatly appreciated!

    I didn't do any tournaments, watch any tournaments, or really have much interest in them. I'm not great at any particular game that would prompt me to think it would be worth the time or buy-in to play in a tournament, but I was glad they were there for those who enjoy it. However, it seemed that for most of the day, a lot of those tables sat empty. It may be possible to instead condense this area down a bit and allow freeplay to have some more space?

    My previous 3 years of going to Wizard World on Fridays (which isn't their popular day, admittedly), there has been maybe 1 panel that sounded interesting and worth checking out. PAX, on the other hand, had so many great panels! There were many I didn't even get to attend but sounded great. Thank you to everyone who ran panels and came up with these great topics!
    The learn and play was wonderful, and I wish I could have seen them all.
    The main theater events were all great choices, and I hope many of them come back for future years.

    The maps were good, once you found out where you were on the map.
    It would be nice if there was a complete map that showed you how to get from the expo hall to the RPG/Dungeon/Dire Rat area, as we ended up in the wrong location twice.
    Tapping a vendor booth number and being shown the map where that was with a pin was the BEST. Returning to the expo hall for a specific vendor or trying to find that game we saw the day before was made so much easier by this.
    Having a few places that were clearly marked in the expo hall would be helpful to orient yourself. I benefited from being there previously, but it's easy to get turned around.

    This was invaluable. Thank you for this. It definitely struggled during the busier times, that or it was my cell service, but I would get blank pages with a reload icon from time to time, especially on Saturday. I know wifi at the convention center isn't very strong or available in most locations, so that makes it tougher.
    The LFG section seemed to work well pre-PAX, but once PAX started it kept showing "popular" things on the schedule and it made it harder to read the actual messages by people. Would prefer to keep it just messages, and maybe allow it to sort by room?
    If you could post to a room for Tabletop Freeplay, what game you were checking out and number of player spots open, that would be neat.
    It also would be nice to have more sorting options for the schedule. I had no interest in tournaments, but I couldn't remove them from the general schedule, so when our plans fell through and we started to look for what else was going on, you still have to scroll through a bunch of tournaments to try and find panels and other events happening. At least being able to turn tournaments on/off would be helpful since there were so many of them.

    Digital Swag Bag
    I know most things in swag bags are just ads and worthless, or at least most of the swag bags I've ever gotten have been this way. This one was not really any different. I got the free code for Star Realms, and then forgot about it until a vendor mentioned it had a $5 off coupon in it Sunday night, just before it all closed.
    So if it saved paper, then that's great, but it wasn't a very good system of, "Do you want this, yes/no" and then getting an e-mail of your "offers". It would be better if it was organized a bit like the vendor list, and just had a list of offers the vendors had and you could click through at will, rather than having to go through the whole list or e-mail of the offers.

    PAX XP
    This was a fun scavenger hunt. We found maybe half of them the first day, then had all but 3 on Saturday, and finally finished it Sunday. The vendors were definitely the most difficult. Some had it on their table (very hard to find/spot when people are standing around the table and you don't push up close), some hung low on a shelf behind the demo table, and one had it up high taped to it's signage/wall. It definitely made us look at and check every single sign we passed. Ironically it was the signature schedule that was the last one we found when it was the first sign we ever passed.

    Main Theater
    I know this is probably an issue with the convention center itself, but the main theater being 16:9 (to quote Matt Lees of SUSD) made the outer sets of chairs very poor seats and made very few seats good for actually looking at the stage. Yes, there were two large screens, but if I want to watch a screen then I can use Twitch. It also didn't help that it was flat seating, which you can't really change. I would probably suggest, if you had to use the same space next year, just turning the whole setup around and putting the stage to the left where people entered, and just have a longer area but everything is at least centered and in line with the stage. If the stage was maybe a few feet higher (don't know if that's feasible with the material they provided to make the stage) it would help with visibility as well. Sitting behind a tall guy for AI meant I ended up leaning towards the person to my right the entire show. They didn't seem to mind, but it could have been awkward and I was just trying to watch the show.
    Lastly, the tournament area could get VERY loud, which I'm sure you or someone on staff knows already, as they would be cheering or shouting during AI and it was hard to hear the stage sound at times and very distracting. Not sure if they could have relocated further to the other side of the expo hall (closer to hallway side) or something that would have been helpful or just because of shared space nothing would help much.

    The selection of merch was amazing. Everything a board gamer or tabletop gamer would enjoy. Glassware, playmats (though the design was a bit dizzying), deck box and sleeves, board game bag, dice tray, etc were all fantastic. The hoodie seemed a bit high priced though, which I would guess is an issue with how many were ordered and recouping those costs, but most of the rest of the merch was about what I would expect.

    Closing Thoughts
    Fantastic time, and I appreciate you taking criticism from the first day and trying to adjust and work things out more clearly for Saturday and Sunday. Yes, there are some issues, and no con is perfect, and I don't expect that and I know this was a lot of love and hard work to put this PAX together. I am very, very happy with it, and enjoyed going and would attend again. I'm sure there are more thoughts I have had and can't remember right now that I'll have to add later, but this is what I could get organized for today.


  • devslashbananadevslashbanana Registered User new member
    First and foremost, thank you for finally making an event that focuses on analog gaming. Its been my favorite part of every PAX that I have attended and one of the main reasons I attend GenCon every year.

    I liked the side-line at the Merch Lite booth for those of us who pre-ordered our merch when we got our badge. That was a nicer experience.

    The custom dice set I pre-ordered with my badge is hands down the best set of convention dice I have ever received. Please keep it up with the high quality stuff. GenCon always seems to miss the mark on their special dice sets, even if it is a full set of seven vs the three six-sided dice that PAX Unplugged had.

    I will reiterate on what several other people have already said: Lines.
    • The line situation to sign up for tournaments and to get into D&D sessions was so incredibly painful that I never successfully got into any of the tournaments I wanted, and my entire group of 20+ people opted to not even bother with the D&D sessions because our time was better spent playing games instead of waiting to play games.
    • The queuing line to get into the expo hall was also poorly executed. One of the things I like about GenCon is they will allow everyone to queue up outside all of the entrances to the expo hall so you don't have thousands of people funneling through a single doorway, then fanning out once inside. Queueing up to get in at 10am could have been done a lot differently so people who wanted to attend an early tournament, or an event on the main stage, could queue up for the entrance closest to those areas without having to go in near the vendor area then haul ass all the way to the far left side once they managed to get through the doorway.
    • As a followup to the queue line to get into the expo hall, they had police tape up at the beginning so people had to go through the whole queue. This wasn't a HUGE problem, except they would tear down the tape at 10:15 am and then everyone else who hadn't gone all the way through the queue was able to just pile in through the main entrance ahead of everyone who had gone all the way around the line and spent 40+ minutes following the rules. This was a slap in the face to many of us who saw it taken down just as we were finally about to get all the way through the line and into the expo hall.

    I would have loved to participate in the tournaments at PAX Unplugged this year, but in the end I still ended up having a lot of fun with my friends as we explored new games and made the most of what we could since none of us had the patience for any of the lines.

    I think PAX Unplugged could cherry-pick a few different processes from events like GenCon to make for a much better event. I look forward to future PAX Unplugged events, and fingers crossed you won't schedule it for the same weekend as another huge event like the Philly Marathon!!

  • Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeer MarylandRegistered User regular
    Disclaimer: I am an Enforcer. I do morning Line Management (I was the small but VERY LOUD one in the Queue room). I will not be commenting on our organization there because I am not a manager. I have also been to GenCon twice, and to various small sci-fi/fantasy conventions up and down the east coast.

    1. RPG needs to be at least five times as big. It was far, far, FAR too small, and I think for a convention like this, RPGs are a HUGE draw. I think we don't do as much RPG stuff at the other PAX-en because people are usually too busy with video games to go do something that can take two to five hours, but this con is ABOUT tabletop, and people often go TO PLAY RPGs, SPECIFICALLY. They go so they can try an RPG they've never tried before that they can't get their home group to run, to actually play because trying to get a home group together is like herding cats, etc. Moar RPG space.
    2. We absolutely need pre-con signup for RPGs. I know this isn't something PAX has done before, and I know that we will probably have issues with drop-outs since we don't tack on a fee like GenCon does (and I don't WANT to do that -- I am of the opinion that with a few exceptions like tournaments, everything except stuff you actually buy should be included in your badge), but the organizational issues with RPGs were beyond awful. As a line manager, it was a horrific headache for our department and for the RPG department. Same for MegaGames, who should also have pre-con signup and way more staff. Personally, I think we should have a hybrid system of some games that you sign up for before the con, an overflow line that starts at 20 minutes before pre-sign games start in case of no-shows (I was running a game Sunday afternoon and had six out of seven players cancel at the last second and had to go frantically rustle up players!), and then some games that have at-con signup like Games on Demand.
    3. A space for small indie RPG publishers (and maybe board game publishers too) to show off their stuff and run games. I heard that apparently ReedPop (not PA itself but the people who help us with logistics) were charging $500 / table per day, which is fine for a larger company that pulls a lot of revenue, but is impossible for, say, someone who has self-published a game, or a small group like Hydra Cooperative. There are SO MANY small indie publishers who are chomping at the bit to strut their stuff at Unplugged, and if we combined that with a much larger RPG space, it'd be good for everyone. Combined with this, what about a small space in the Diversity Lounge for appropriate publishers to actually RUN stuff? A rotating table for games about that kinda thing (my friend made but never quite finished/sold a card game called "Lesbians and Cats" that would be perfect for this sort of thing).
    4. More RPGs that aren't Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder, outside of Games On Demand, done with pre-registration. This is related to the above comment about small weird indie RPGs; if we had more of those, this would be partially solved. We had a wee bit in the form of the White Wolf stuff, but I really want to see more. Stuff like Shadowrun, Numenera, Traveller, Dread, Eclipse Phase, Paranoia, etc, would be fantastic.
    5. Personally, I'd also love to see an Old School Track where people would run both various forms of 1st Edition D&D (various forms of Basic and also Advanced) and 2nd Edition, along with Labyrinth Lord and Lamentations of the Flame Princess (eg, retroclones of old games), and then maybe even other RPGs from the 70s and 80s, like Champions, original Traveller, Ghostbusters, Empire of the Petal Throne, Gamma World... all that good old stuff. And then perhaps a few panels on the history of RPGs.
    6. Did I mention more RPGs and support for RPGs? THAT.

    See You Space Cowboy: a ttrpg about sad space bounty hunters
    Dex DynamoMercyd1403hailtothekaleltgruntWolf of DresdenDoverosurettemisskassSweendoggedlyviddrakuldragon
  • BekerBeker Child's Play Program Director SeattleRegistered User, Penny Arcade Staff regular
    Thank you all for the feedback. We do read all this. You should also get a feedback form to the email used to purchase tickets. Now that we have one of these under our belts we will see what needs to be tweaked to make the event even better for next year.

  • GrifterGrifter BermudaModerator mod
    I really enjoyed PAX Unplugged. I had to fly home on Sunday so missed that entire day, unfortunately. But that's not PA's fault at all.

    I enjoyed the host city quite a bit. The architecture and downtown location felt good. I was able to walk from my hotel at the Doubletree on South Broad to the convention centre and then walk to get food from a plethora of restaurants in the area easily. If the convention ever got boring, which it didn't for me, then there are many options nearby to go explore until the next panel, tourney or whatever started at PAX.

    I didn't like the main theatre being in the exhibit hall area. On Saturday I arrived at the queue hall just in time to see the Main Theatre line be escorted into the Exhibit Hall. Since I missed that I had to wait for the rest of the the place to be opened up. An enforcer told us to go to the Main Theatre doors, which were separate from the main doors at Hall A. However, they opened into the same exhibit hall. We were told that the doors would open at 10 to allow the tourney registration people to get to their sign up area and the main theatre people to get to their location. Just before 10:00 AM we were told that those doors wouldn't open until 10:30 AM and that we should proceed to the queue hall to gain entrance. After returning to the queue hall and walking around in a giant circle, as we were returned to the hallway leading back to the exhibit hall they took down the tape and everyone who was walking towards the queue hall was allowed to join in with the people who had already walked around the hall. The whole scenario felt really crappy and if I hadn't been able to get a seat in the main theatre for the create a strip panel with Mike and Jerry then I might have been pissed off enough to just leave. There were a lot of really upset people around me.

    I thought the app was cool. The updates on the lines in app were great. Being able to set your schedule in app was great. I didn't understand the connections thing. The digital swag bag didn't feel great. The map in the app was cool but numbering the booths doesn't help very much when the signs on the booths don't have numbers and the rows/columns aren't numbered either. The booth area wasn't huge but sometimes it was difficult to find what I was looking for.

    The queue hall itself wasn't very well thought out, IMO. I have seen the same thing done at San Diego Comic Convention but I think the SDCC space lends itself better to the situation. Leading groups of people down a long hallway separated by tape on the ground or a bunch of enforcers holding up caution tape just isn't ideal. The queue lines themselves were terribly labelled so that most people had to continually bother enforcers to figure out what was going on.

    I was thoroughly impressed with the wifi in the building. I generally had good signal and speed while there. That helped a lot.

    The dragon and dire rat theatres seemed rather secluded. I'd have liked to have the main theatre in the same area but I guess that amount of space just wasn't available. Also, the Main Theatre was way too wide. The people in the far right or far left seats were just not going to have fun and so whenever I was in there those seat sections were pretty much entirely empty. Again, the main theatre should have been relocated, IMO, and then made deeper rather than wider.

    Overall, the enforcers were kind and helpful. The location was great. The event was fun. I'm only pointing these things out because I want it to be even better than it already is.

  • GamerMontuGamerMontu Registered User new member
    First off, I'd like to say what a great overall experience I had at PAX Unplugged this weekend. Among the many things I enjoyed were:

    1) The Enforcers were wonderful! They were all super helpful, attentive, and often charming/funny. There was always an Enforcer in plain site, which was great because the space itself could be a bit overwhelming at times.

    2) The First Look area was amazing. The Enforcers who taught rules were always quick to come over and help, when needed, and fellow gamers did an excellent job of organizing games.

    3) The lending library, while a bit chaotic, was smoothly run. I was amazed at how many games were available, and how well the system seemed to work. As someone who attended by himself, I especially appreciated the cones for people looking for players, looking for teachers, etc. That made it easier for me to approach people and organize games.

    My constructive criticism echoes some of the things said above, but I hope I'll add a few new things too.

    1) The Convention Center is a labyrinthine space, and despite the online maps, I found it hard to navigate. In addition, the main Expo hall was sometimes a chaotic mess. I saw a lot of good signage for each section, but some kind of overall map, or overhead signage, might have been helpful.

    2) I know this may have been beyond your control, but if it's possible next year to get more copies of First Look games, that would be great. Also, some sort of wait list for each game would be nice. Games like Clans of Caledonia were nearly impossible to play unless you sat and waited for the current game to finish. And with a 3-hour game, and the only copy in the entire convention, that's difficult. Some people were unable to play at all merely due to bad timing. I was very lucky to be the first person there on Saturday morning so I could play Clans. Hopefully a time reservation system and/or wait list can be put into place next year.

    3) Tabletop tournament (non-RPG) registration and organization just didn't work very well. Just as one example, there were 15 seats available for each Agricola tournament, and two tournaments, which meant tickets sold out before 9 a.m. That would have been fine if 15 people showed up for each tournament. However, only 10 showed up for the first one and only 6 for the second. Thus, a lot of ticket collectors simply grabbed all the spots, leaving out a lot of people who really wanted to play. This also meant the games didn't really have good player numbers to ensure interesting games and a fair final. One Agricola tournament saw a 5-player game at one table and a 2-player game at the other table. In addition, as mentioned above, tournament organizers and Enforcers didn't always actually understand the games they were running. Playing three 5-player Agricola games and then a 3-player final is just bad, as 4/5 are the best player counts for Agricola. Some tournament games used card drafting, while others did not. Some used banned cards, while others did not. Even for a casual tournament (which was what I expected, and saw, at PAX), there could have just been a bit more structure.

    Here are my suggestions:

    a) Either do away with morning tournament registration and register on-site beginning 15 minutes before the tournament, first come first served, or make a rule that if a ticket holder doesn't show up 10 minutes prior to the start time, their ticket goes to someone waiting to play. Another option, though I imagine logistically difficult, would be to charge $1 per tournament registration ticket and then refund the $1 as long as the person actually shows up to the tournament. This way, the first 100 people in line at 8 a.m. wouldn't gobble up all the tickets to tournaments they don't even intend to play, leaving those of us who want to play tournaments out in the cold.

    b) Every event should have a "cheat sheet" for the Enforcer running it. First of all, PAX Unplugged organizers should consult tournament gaming regulars (I volunteer for this, if you're looking for volunteers) to determine the best player numbers and an optimal structure for a 2-round tournament (for example, Puerto Rico is best with 4 players, so 16 players per tournament, with a 4-player final, would be best). In addition, any information about banned cards, whether or not drafting is used in games, seating order issues, bidding for seats, etc., and any rules addenda that typically come up in tournament play, should be printed on the cheat sheet. This way, any Enforcer could still run a tournament *and* they would have all the information they needed to run it sensibly.

    I can totally appreciate that PAX Unplugged doesn't want to be a "hardcore" tournament conference. People who like super-competitive tourneys have plenty of options. However, it also felt weird to see a one-size-fits-all approach to tournaments. Essentially, the tournament structures seemed to be more about how many copies of a game and/or tables were available, rather than whether the players would have an experience they might expect of a tournament environment. If "tournament" means the same as "structured open gaming," why bother at all?

    Overall, I had a blast at PAX Unplugged and will definitely go next year, if it's in Philadelphia again. But it would be nice to see the tournaments run by people who know more about the games themselves, and tournament structures in general.

  • GreentinselGreentinsel Registered User new member
    Not having unplugged on the weekend of the marathon would be good for next year.

  • crazyg0od33crazyg0od33 Registered User new member
    edited November 2017
    So this was my first convention where I was able to actually "do" stuff - I've been to one CES, but that's mostly just walking and looking. I had a great time, personally!

    Most of my time was positive, but there were some negative bits (nothing major, just quality of life things) which are in agreement with most of what has been posted already:

    Definitely better water / drink access. The vendors in the expo hall wouldn't open till 11, but the hall opened at 10...and the water fountains on the upper floors barely put out any water.

    The doors to the escalators that come up right in front of the expo hall doors either need to be closed, or there needs to be MUCH better signage. Having a bunch of people who can get into that area early (myself included) with no idea that we would be herded BACK to the end of the line kinda sucks. I don't disagree with being at the back of the line, but it wasn't made very clear until close to opening, and if we were notified earlier, I would've gotten into line and into the hall quicker.

    Oh, and totally not on PAX, but was sad that CMON decided not to even demo Rising Sun on Sunday. I couldn't get to it on Saturday, as it seemed they were playing almost full games instead of quick demos, and was hoping to have a play on sunday. Oh well, next time.

    Besides that I have nothing but good things to say!
    nesbit37 wrote: »
    I talked to several vendors this morning about how they liked the show and learned that the RPG booths seemed to have decent sales but at least the board game exhibitors were not having such luck. They found that their demo tables were constantly packed but their sales were worse than just about any other con of this size (anecdotally). They postulated that this was because there was so little in the way of event planning that people were expecting to be entertained, so they just sat down to play demo games but really had no interest in buying and just wanted to fill their time. I don't know if that is really true or not but I heard it from multiple booths.

    For me, personally, I think it was the lack of great deals (which I know isn't the point of these), and having to weigh the benefits of buying at PAX vs ordering online. The two I'll use to compare are Dice Throne and Spirit Island. Dice Throne was $50. I had to weigh paying MSRP vs getting it now (it officially releases in January) and paying tax / shipping. I bought it because I thought that was a good deal.

    For Spirit Island, it was being sold @ $80, which I know is MSRP. But I have to weigh that against going online and ordering the re-print, which is able to be found for $55 or less. In this case, MSRP is not worth it to me. I think maybe some others thought the same? I can't speak for others though. But that wasn't a good deal for me.

    I also didn't see a ton of demos that also had the game for purchase (at least what I played), so that made it tough to buy things as well.

    And finally, the shops that were there had some deals on specific days only. I didn't have a 3 day pass, so if I couldn't be there on the one day a vendor decided to offer a discount, I missed out.

    I'm sure that more vendors will come and be more prepared next year though.
    Not having unplugged on the weekend of the marathon would be good for next year.

    Probably had the event booked a good amount of time in advance or had no other option for this year.

    crazyg0od33 on
  • kc2dptkc2dpt Registered User regular
    I had a thought today. Ever been to a casino poker room? They have a check in desk where you say what kind of game you're looking for and they put you on a list. There's a big screen which shows what games are being played and the queues for each game. I think a system like this could work really well for tabletop gaming. Let's say I want to host a game of Catan and I'm looking for a 1-3 more people. I go to the desk and they enter my game, how many I'm looking for, and then assign me a table number. I go wait at the table. Meanwhile, someone else looks at the big screen, sees there's a Catan game looking for people, and him and his buddy go to the desk and they assign them to my game and send them to my table. Maybe we decide to wait for the last spot to be filled. If another person gets assigned to our table, the desk sees my game is now full, marks it closed, and it drops off the list. If we decide to start with less than the max amount of people, I tell the desk and they mark it closed.

    You'd basically need a person with a laptop and a second monitor and a spreadsheet.

  • BIHJackBIHJack Registered User new member
    kc2dpt wrote:
    You'd basically need a person with a laptop and a second monitor and a spreadsheet.

    How about a mobile app that allows you to look at games that are currently looking for players?

  • kc2dptkc2dpt Registered User regular
    On an unrelated note, boardgaming and RPGs require different logistics. I know their both "tabletop", but there are real differences in their needs. RPGs need lower ambient volume than boardgames. A single boardgame session is usually much shorter than a single RPG session. Lots of RPG events like you to come prepared with an appropriate character, which requires foreknowledge of the event. I have many times in my life herded up random people for a boardgame. Only once have I done so for an RPG; it was fun, but it was all slapdash and off the top of my head.

    Maybe future PAX Unpluggeds will be solely boardgame focused, maybe solely RPG focused, or maybe continue to try to do both. If the latter, I think the two really need to be treated as two separate beasts happening in the same space. They have too disparate needs to be run as one thing.

    IMHO, of course.

  • RandomfoolRandomfool loofmodnar Rochester, NYRegistered User regular
    edited November 2017
    I had a great time as always at PAX. Next year, I'll get off my butt and plan a real barcrawl.
    • A bigger RPG area with more games and better registration. Registering the day of is fine but maybe handle it through the app or by scanning badges. The line for D&D registration was supposed to start an hour before the session but when we got there 20 mins early and there was already a line and the enforcer just sort of shrugged and said he was just going to roll with it.
    • TT HQ supplies felt a little sparse at times but we always found something to play. More copies of Captain Sonar in particular. I ended up buying a copy and had ~3 people come over and ask if I was going to return it soon.
    • More signs and maps, navigating around was a little confusing at first.
    • The digital swag bag was a neat idea for dealing with codes but I shuffled through a bunch of them trying to find a code for a booth and couldn't figure out how to go back and see what I'd skipped.
    • Insulating the Main Theatre a bit more and making it deeper rather than wide would have been nice. The edge sections were hard to see and hear from. Also clearly marking which side is the entrance and exit would have helped. It was weird to have to walk all the way to the end of the hall to enter the main theatre when there was an almost entirely empty section right by the "exit" .

    Randomfool on
    I do Pokecrawl things. Professor Team Instinct, Hufflepuff supporter.@loofmodnar

  • Slug_DCSlug_DC Registered User new member
    Thanks for a great con. Overall I had a blast.

    1. Great host city. Philly is a great town with tons of stuff to see and do and it is super convenient and central to the other major east-coast cities (D.C., Baltimore, New York and more). I look forward to coming back for hopefully many years.
    2. Amazing free play area and library system. Just great. It was awesome to see so many gamers playing so many different games and getting to try stuff that I may have never considered otherwise. Well done.
    3. Loved the (compared to some other big gaming cons) truncated vendor/expo area. The smaller size made the variety shine and encouraged me to check out everything, rather than overwhelming me with aisle on top of aisle of repetition. Every area had something fresh. Loved it.
    4. Wide aisles in general; do what you can to keep this! If you expand the vendor area make sure you keep the wide pathways! Despite it's size, GenCon's vendor hall feels constantly claustrophobic and honestly it's exhausting. I loved that I could move through your expo area and not feel like I was fighting the tide just to move from booth to booth.

    1. Try to pick a weekend next year that does not coincide with the Philadelphia Marathon. I know you can't account for every event going on in a given city, but a major city's marathon is a huge event. Road closures, traffic diversions, mobbed public transportation, and more because of the marathon all contributed to a lot of travel and logistics hassles for con-goers that could've easily been avoided. Not only that, but you'd be surprised how much overlap there is between the running and gaming communities!
    2. I'll echo what others above me have said; you absolutely need to do pre-registration for RPGs and the availability/number of events needs to be greater. Nobody in my group managed to get into a single RPG all weekend and that was disappointing. Let people pre-reg online for a specific game and time slot, and have some sort of system on site to offer no-show spots.
    3. Spread the queue throughout the venue. Having people queue up in one big line at one entrance might make for an impressive YouTube video, but aside from that it just causes headaches and confusion. If people want to get into the expo area, have a queue for that entrance. If people want to do early on-demand events, let them queue up at that entrance and so on. Having everyone queue at one single entrance before opening any of the other doors doesn't do anyone any good. You're making the line bigger for people who want to go right to the expo while hindering people who just want to get into early morning events or just want to start gaming.
    4. Get some speakers or a mic/PA system for your Magic the Gathering events folk. Signing up for an event then basically having to mill about for an hour waiting for one person to yell over the din that "Hey $event is starting!" is bad. When players sign up for an event they should be given an event number (Draft #34, Sealed Deck #12, etc.) and when it is ready to fire off someone should get on the PA and call, "All players signed up for event # please report to table #, we are ready to begin". It would eliminate a bunch of confusion, and clear up the crowd of people just hanging out in front of the registration tables.

    Overall I had a great time. I think this was very well done for a first time con and once you work out some of the logistical issues it'll be one of the best out there every year. Keep up the hard work and thanks once again for an awesome weekend. :)

  • jprepo1jprepo1 Registered User new member
    The Pros:

    -There was actually a lot of space while walking around! It wasn't completely a crush of people everywhere at all times, like some other Pax'es
    -The enforcers were generally helpful
    -Lots of different games and vendors

    What needs work:
    -The D&D section easily needed to be 3 to 4 times the size that it was, and while everyone knows Pax doesn't like to charge for games or do prereg, RPG's tend to really need it to avoid two hour lines and turning lots of people away, although the line issues were eventually (mostly) mitigated by aggressive hard and soft caps
    -The App/Maps: This was probably the thing that was the overall in most need of improvement, as it was not helpful at all in planning schedules for finding vendors/games
    -The communication between enforcers for the RPG division needed improvement, as they were often contradicting each other and the event runners, leading to several problems with lines for RPGs, Tournaments, Panels, etc..'

    Looking forward to next year.

  • justdannyjustdanny Registered User new member
    edited November 2017
    This was my first gaming focused convention ever, and I had a great time. I was there almost exclusively for tabletop RPGs, and the dealer's hall was great. I had a friend there almost exclusively for board games, and he was very impressed by the library and vendors. So good job on that. I didn't get lost at all either. And I'll put in a vote for more panels.

    I'll add my experience to what was already said about the tabletop RPGs: It did seem like there was trouble actually getting into games, which is why I volunteered to run games. It was not at all confusing. I just asked the nice, stressed out lady at the Games on Demand table about running games and she put me on the schedule. This was on Friday night, and I was on the schedule Saturday morning. On Saturday I was able to get additional slots to GM for Sunday. Maybe it was because they already had my info, because I can't imagine they would have turned away more GMs unless they simply didn't have space for them.

    And that was the big issue, space. Enough has been said about how you need more of it, so I will add a tougher demand: different kinds of space. Lots of smaller rooms instead of just one big one. Easier on people's vocal chords and might be a way to group game content thematically. Some deal with potentially sensitive topics, or simply wouldn't be suited to being played in a big, loud room with lots of people.

    I'm going to disagree about pre-registering for the games, at least for some of them. A pre-reg system would mostly attract people who were already gamers and favor more well known titles over indie RPGs. It would lock out just as many people, with the added "benefit" of telling people all the spots filled up weeks ago instead of this one spot filled up minutes ago. I ran a game of Hot Guys Making Out for a woman on Sunday afternoon with an improv background who said that was the first RPG she actually enjoyed. That is exactly the kind of game and person that I'm talking about. Even if a pre-reg system were heavily advertised, a lot of people would still miss it because that's how people are. They don't know what else is on the schedule, what their friends are doing, how hung over they'll be. Plus, it's a convention. People should be able to just drop in and play a game. Maybe with more GMs and space they can do both registrations and drop ins.

    justdanny on
  • StickmanInDCStickmanInDC Registered User new member
    TL;DR I came expecting a gaming convention, instead I got a PAX for people who like boardgames. Should have been obvious in hindsight, but the difference is subtle enough that my expectations were completely off.

    I'm a long-time Gencon attendee (as well as various regional cons), first time attending a PAX of any kind. Attended Saturday and Sunday, came with the intention of playing a few RPGs, some boardgames (hopefully one or two of the First Look games) and checking out the Exhibit Hall. Couple of comments:

    (and a preemptive caveat: these are purely *my* opinions. At the end of the day maybe I'm not the audience PAXUP is looking for. And that's OK. I'd just like to know that up front. So when I say, "If this doesn't change I wouldn't come back", maybe PAX is OK with that, and if so, I'm OK with that too. But I'd really, really *like* to come back if some things were done differently)

    The Good:
    - Really impressed by the size and diversity of the Exhibit Hall, especially for a first-year con. I guess the PAX name carries weight, but I wasn't expecting nearly that many vendors.
    - Enforcers were everywhere, and were super friendly. For that matter, everyone we met was friendly and helpful (including no less than three random people in the hallway who overheard us speculating as to where to get coffee and directed us to a Dunkin Donuts, a Starbucks, and an organic coffee place depending on what we were looking for). The attendees in general seemed more open and welcoming than other conventions I've been too.
    - While we didn't get a chance to use it, the boardgame library looked pretty large, and there were definitely some interesting games in the First Look section that I wish I could have tried.
    - The Classic Cardboard room was awesome, and definitely brought back some fond memories
    - I thought the "Learn to Play" area was a really cool idea - not something I'd seen before

    The Bad:
    - Lack of pre-registration for games, especially RPGs, is an absolute dealbreaker. Luckily I was pre-registered for two sessions of Pathfinder Society organized by the local PFS group outside of PAX. If it hadn't been for that I would probably have been really disappointed in the weekend. I go to game conventions for the games, so if I had in line for hours to get in, so that I could stand in line at RPG HQ, to find out that all the tables were already full, I probably would have turned around and left.
    - Same for the First Look games. If there's only one copy, and therefore only 20 people per day can play it, then let everyone else know so they don't waste their time standing around. Even if I had wanted to wait around for a game to finish, there really wasn't room in the First Look area to hover and wait
    - The RPG room either needed way fewer tables, or a noise-mitigation system (pipe and drape between the tables, white noise generators, etc) or both. It was really difficult to hear the GMs, even though they were shouting. (I feel bad for the GMs - I lost my voice by the end of the weekend, and I can only imagine most of them did as well). The difference in requirements between RPGs and tabletop games is more than "round table vs rectangular table".
    - The map was missing one critical piece of information - how the first floor related to the second floor and how to get from one to the other.
    - The aisles in the Exhibit Hall were a little narrow, and as a result got pretty crowded on Saturday. Gencon had the same issue as attendance grew, and widened the aisles by a foot or two - it made a noticeable difference in the frequency of traffic jams and gamer backpack assaults
    - Echo the suggestion that overhead signage in the Exhibit Hall would be nice
    - Thankfully I didn't have to line up for anything, because the lines looked like a train-wreck. I saw multiple lines in the queue hall over the course of the weekend, but with no signage I never did figure out what they were for or where they were going (or why there was one on either side of the hall, or how they differed from the lines in front of RPG HQ or The Workshop, or...)
    - While super-friendly, the few Enforcers I talked to generally weren't all that helpful because they hadn't been provided the information they needed on where things were, how they worked, when they started, etc.

    The Weird:
    - Me to Enforcer standing in front of RPG room: "Do you know where the Pathfinder games are being played?" Enforcer: "I don't know - you'd have to talk to the RPG guys." Me: "The RPG guys?" Enforcer: "Yeah, that table down the hall" (Are the "RPG guys" different from PAX?)
    - Me to Enforcer in purple shirt at RPG table: "Do you know where the Pathfinder games are being played?" Enforcer: "Is it on the schedule?" Me: "I'm signed up for a 2PM game, so yeah, I assume so" Enforcer: "Then it's probably in the RPG room somewhere" Me: "Do you not have a list of which game is at which table?" Enforcer: "Umm... not for that one, no. You can just go in and ask people." (How does the RPG HQ not know what's being played where?)
    - Me to Enforcers in purple shirts at a long table with clipboards at the door to the Classic Cardboard room: "Hi, I'd like to buy this game please" Enforcers: "Oh, we're with PAX. You need to talk to the guy in the Hawaiian shirt over there." (I thought I was *at* PAX... and who was the guy in the Hawaiian shirt?)
    - Several people overheard in the RPG room: "OH, I would totally have been willing to run a game of _______, but I didn't want to pay $500/day for a table" (Does PAX charge GMs to run games? Seems like they would *want* people to run games that attendees were interested in so that more people would buy badges...)

    Bottom line - I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and was impressed at the setup for a first-year con (kudos to PAX on that) but if there's no pre-registration in future years I probably wouldn't come back. In hindsight it should have been obvious from the fact that RPGs and Tabletop gaming were listed below a dozen events including Pin Trading, PAX XP, the Diversity Lounge, the PAX Arena (did this even exist?), etc on the website that this wasn't a traditional gaming-focused convention, but now I know! And hopefully it'll slide more in that direction based on feedback in future years!

  • FizzsterFizzster Registered User regular
    I would have to say most of the points I wanted to make were already made. Things like the Megagames and Workshop taking signups at 10AM for sessions as late as 7PM and beyond, without any notice of that fact, was a major turnoff for me. Additionally, the FEEL of PAX wasn't there. I don't know if it was because there were a lot of first timers, or what, but at East, I can walk up to a table that's playing a game I'm interested in, and they will either ask if I want to play, or at least include me in the conversation about what's going on in the game. I didn't get that AT ALL at this PAX. I know it's not the convention's fault, but the crowd seemed to run in their own little cliques. As a solo attendee, that wasn't very fun.

    Also, there was nothing going on after the hall closed. It felt DEAD after midnight, which is unfortunate. Most of the time at other PAX shows, I could walk into the hotel lobby and there would be a massive group of gamers all playing.

  • starrymeowstarrymeow Registered User new member
    I would suggest "suggesting" to vendors with products that may be bought from other sources to sell theirs below MSRP. Vendors Like CoolStuffInc almost sold out of all their boardgames by the end of the convention because they were undercutting publishers on the expo floor selling at full MSRP. One thing I also noticed is that barely any vendors discounted their products by the end of the convention, even the ones selling at full MSRP. Unfortunately, everyone has a smartphone that can and will find the best prices online. I had a large budget intended for buying games this past weekend, and most was given to Amazon.

    On the topic of training volunteers, I love what Child's Play stands for and I donate progressively more each PAX that I attend. However, I witnessed some Cookie Brigade volunteers that were unprofessional and bordered on extorting donations. Please provide more customer service training to newer volunteers for future Unplugged.

  • nolnacsnolnacs Registered User new member
    I'll start by saying that I really enjoyed everything I played. The quality was there, the quantity... not so much.

    • Location - having it in Philadelphia is awesome and I am not just saying that because I live in Philadelphia and was able to walk to and from the convention. The Reading Terminal Market is awesome and having it so close to the convention center makes it easy to get delicious food.
    • Free play for board games - this seemed to work pretty well
    • People - the enforcers as well as fellow con goers were all friendly and helpful

    • rpg sign up - so I was the guy who posted on Friday complaining about the lack of preregistration for rpgs. I was able to get into some on Saturday and Sunday but I still feel strongly that not having preregistration is a bad way to run a con with rpgs. I met many others who were unable to get into games. I've gone to Gen Con a couple of times and while their system is far from perfect, I would much prefer it over the Pax system - even with ticket cost. I'd gladly pay $4-6 per rpg to be actually guaranteed a slot to play instead of wasting my con time (for a three day badge that runs ~$1.33/hour) standing in line. Also, to respond to justdanny's concern about preregistration favoring the big names, in my experience, the hardest games to get into at Gen Con are the indie and small press games. You can always get a ticket to play D&D or Pathfinder, but it is tough to get a seat at games from the smaller presses. Preregistration also allows potential gms to think about games they may want to run and do some prep ahead of time. If I had known that it would be so bad, I would have prepped something to run. As it was, I still ran a session on Saturday night of a more improvisational game that didn't require much prep at all, but not all gms are as comfortable improvising.
    • rpg space - I'll echo the earlier comments that a large room filled with tables is not ideal for rpgs. I didn't lose my voice after running on Saturday night but it was pretty strained. Gen Con uses hotel meeting rooms for a lot of the rpg events. That would require people leaving the convention center, but I think it would be worth it to have a much better and easier game play experience.
    • Start time - why does Pax Unplugged not start until 10 AM? That makes it hard to fit in a morning rpg slot. Even a 9 am start time would make it much easier to run a morning session. Not everything would have to open that early. The exhibit hall could still open at 10, but having the rpg rooms available at 8 or 9 would be helpful.
    • Lines (in general) - seriously, standing in lines is terrible. I understand that there will always be some lines but to design a con around making people stand in line is kind of crazy given that people use vacation time and spend money (a lot of money for those coming from afar) to go to a con. On Saturday, I was in line for an hour and 15 minutes to get into a rpg on demand game. There were people there who were in line for 45+ minutes who didn't get into a game! 45 minutes! No game! How is that acceptable?

  • calankhcalankh Registered User new member
    edited November 2017
    Unplugged was my first PAX. My group and I (all first timers) had a great time when we were there Saturday. Really enjoyed the mix of panels and games, and just had a blast all around. Got to see the Make a Strip and AI shows, which were the things I would have been disappointed to miss.

    Couple things that would have made it even better:
    separation between the game vendors and the game developers. There were some games we were hoping to pick up that weren't at their dev booths, so we checked the vendor booths we found, but the ones that were in the main section of the Expo hall were rather cramped and hard to navigate. I'm sure we missed some too, since they were scattered around and it wasn't always clear from the exhibitor list who was a vendor and who was a game studio. It would have been nice to have all of them in one place. Likewise I'm sure I missed some of the various dice/miniature/coin/misc sellers, since they were scattered about. Even just coloring those booths on the map could be enough to make it easier to navigate.

    I know Saturday was crazy busy but it seemed like there were not enough copies of anything around. I would have liked if there was some way to actually demo the longer games for a round or two rather than all be full playthroughs. I just wanted to be able to test things enough to know if it was worth spending $60 for a game, but even though we kept stopping back at a booth we never got in.

    It was a little hard to find the panels vs everything else listed on the website and app--maybe a separate schedule for tournaments would make sense? In that vein, we'd wanted to watch the tournaments for some games but it was hard to tell where they were happening and the floor wasn't really set up for spectating at the tournament section, so updates to that would be nice.

    I think it was mentioned that the main theater would be bigger next year, but I'd also like to propose having it laid out differently--it seemed like it was much wider than it should have been for the depth, and the wide openings at the back let in the convention noise and made it hard to hear the actual panel if you were sitting in one of the edge sections.

    calankh on
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