We’re finally back from Gen Con and at least somewhat back to a sense of normality. This was our first major convention and our first as an exhibitor. It was, at points, exhilarating and draining, glorious and frustrating. But, undoubtedly, unforgettable.
Let’s start with that featured image right there. That’s the whole team right before the exhibit hall was set to open on Thursday. Front row, left to right: JR, Amilcar Cifuentes, and David. Back row: Jason, yours truly, Rob, Lindsay, Jenn, and Asdruval. Not pictured was the indefatigable McChuck, who took the photo, and, of course, Suzanne, who was back home running Gen Can’t. I have to admit, we’re looking pretty sweet in our Downforce jerseys. You can kinda see that pang of jealousy in Rob’s eye.
Stop. Rewind. Let’s go back to the beginning. Here’s a funny story:
Any exhibitor will tell you, one of the hardest things to do at a convention is deciding how much stock to bring. Bring too little, and you sell out early, missing sales and disappointing customers. Bring too much, and you’re basically paying for unsold games to take a round-trip journey to the convention and back to the warehouse. Neither is ideal. We weren’t sure what to do, but we decided to err on the side of bringing too many rather than too few. I put the request in with our fulfillment company. Ten minutes later, I emailed them back: I forgot to include the comp copies of Indulgence we were bringing for the Gen Con volunteers. That’s an extra 180 copies we were giving away. (Seriously, Gen Con volunteers are the best.) Well, you can probably see where this is going. We’re unloading the truck on Wednesday, and Lindsay keeps saying: We have too many games. Sure enough, they processed the corrected requisition as a separate second one. Essentially, we brought twice as much as we planned on.
This is what “too much” looks like:
And here’s me driving the truck:
To add to the fun, our booth decor company fumbled big time. We were supposed to have a gorgeous back display, some spiffy flooring, and a graphic-wrapped demo table. Here’s what we got instead of that:
Despite all of that, the team worked together and got the booth looking great:
That demo table was actually a Gametopper thanks to the timely generosity of Burky. And it worked great. FYI, they have a Kickstarter coming up, and you should seriously check it out. And check out those Stop Thief! donuts courtesy of General American Donut Co.
The exhibit halls opened up, and we expected a bit of a rush, but nothing like this. People swarmed the booth. We started rolling demos non-stop. There were two of us in the back ringing up transactions and bagging games. There were a couple more of us literally standing in the aisle taking cash/no-change orders by hand. JR taps me on the shoulder and points out to the aisle. The line is literally wrapped around the corner. I can’t see the end of it. I just put my head down and keep on demoing. A short time later, the madness dies down a bit. I catch my breath and take a look at my watch: It had been more than two hours! As it turns out, we sold two days worth of stock in those first two hours.
Sales were strong all day. It was great meeting all of the fans. It was a special treat meeting the Stop Thief! Kickstarter backers, who came for their promo cards.
The next day was notable for our big announcement at the Dice Tower Live show. We had been planning this for months. A little background: Tom and I were shooting the breeze a little while back, and he told me how he never gets surprised anymore, because he always knows the news ahead of time. Challenge accepted! I took it upon myself to make sure we gave him that surprise. Since we announced the formation of the company a year ago, Tom has been shouting for us to do Fireball Island. I kept telling him we couldn’t get the rights. (Truth told: It took us almost a full year to get the deal done.) I told him we were announcing something else. I brought Asdruval in to help us with the reveal. I enlisted Derek Porter on the inside to sneak the slide in for after the announcement. Well, here’s how it went down:
Basically, it was amazing. I think Tom really got a kick out of it.
No surprise, after the announcement, the booth got bonkers again. We had the Fireball Island banner and postcards out. People were coming by to grab them and ask us all kinds of questions. We knew people wanted us to bring it back, but the enthusiasm and the personal stories we heard just drove home what an exciting project this is for us. Here’s what the booth looked like then:
Shortly after that, we actually had a meeting set up with Noah of Game Trayz to discuss the new board design. It was fun, now that the cat was out of the bag, to be able to just plop down in the hallway like kids on Saturday morning and fiddle around with the game:
Friday night was our Team dinner. It was amazing. To be honest, the food was just okay. But we had the whole group there, including Mike Gray and Bond from Longshore, our publishing partner on Fireball Island. For three hours, we just enjoyed each other’s company. It was sometime during the meal it all seemed so real. This thing we had worked so hard on for the past year as an idea was now a real, working thing. I just collapsed into bed that night and kept replaying it over and over in my head.
The next day was just busy overall. Seemed like the exhibit hall was really bustling. No big rush like we had on day one, but a non-stop stream of demos and sales all day long. We got to wear our Fireball Island tropical shirts and hand out atomic fireball candies along with the postcards. We held our Blueprints seminar, and I was thrilled with the turnout. Lots of questions, so much so, that we had to cut people off after our allotted hour. I also took a ton of meetings with all sorts of folks: designers, publishers, distributors, media, and more. We were doing this all through the show, but Saturday seemed like wall-to-wall meetings. Lots of exciting stuff for the future.
The last day of the show was particularly wild. I had to catch an early flight myself because I had to teach school the next day. I felt bad leaving all the tear-down to the rest of the team, and I missed out on a real run through the exhibit hall to snag some games. But I’m also 100% sure that, if I had stayed, I would have been an absolute mess after everything got packed up. I was pretty emotional as it was.
It was an amazing ride. Something I’ll never forget. I’m very excited for the future and what we can do. In some ways, Gen Con was the fire in which Restoration Games was forged. Now, onto the next adventure.