My somewhat disjointed GenCon After-Action Report

Holy cow! GREAT year to be the BattleTech and Shadowrun people at GenCon!

First things first. The booth. For those of you who’ve seen the
FanPro booth in recent years, you know we had a fairly…spare…booth.
Some tables, some plastic shelving, and if we were lucky, foam padding
for the floor. Also, it was tight as hell back there.

This year, the Catalyst booth was exactly that. A booth.

We had a (IIRC) 4×4 area where all the product was sold from. And a
huge pyramid of boxed sets. Even the freebie stuff had it’s own space.

The Sales Area and PyramidThen,
to break up the booth a bit, and give people some space to walk through
and look at things, we had the CamoSpecs guys plunked right down in the
center, giving people an awesome view of their incredible diorama.

Booth Picture 2Finally,
towards the back of the booth, we actually had demo area. YUP! Real
live space from which to run demos of BattleTech and Shadowrun.

Booth Picture 3So
we had an ungodly amount of space this year, all of which was covered
in Catalyst’s black and acid-green foam flooring (your feet still hurt
at the end of the day, but on bare concrete, you hurt all the way up
into the knees, hips and back). And we used every inch to the
fullest.Now, before I get into a breakdown on the rest of the con, I
need to apologize in advance. I was a somewhat scattered mess at the
Con. Don’t know why. But I seemed to be firing a few cylinders short
the entire weekend. So forgive me for the lack of extensive pics
(brought the camera and left the charger), but I had to
economize.Myself, Peter Smith, Ken “Kid Chameleon” Horner (the lovely
individual in the demo area pic above), and Ted “Gleep” Penn (far right
of the sales area pic) rolled out of Chicago on Wednesday morning about
5AM on our way to Fort Wayne to pick up a truck and haul several
pallets of product down for Catalyst.We picked up the truck and, after
a small object lesson on why to NEVER trust online mapping for fine
directions, we arrived at Alliance’s warehouse. got our skids and
rolled on to Indy. Once we arrived, we were greeted by the FINE union
employees at the loading docks who told us we were going to have to
head to the staging yard and wait until they had a dock for us. So we
had a bit of downtime, caught the Shadowrun contingent bringing in
stuff of their own. Finally we got to hand unload the truck…as we’d
unfortunately been given a truck with a gate too low for a dock.

As mentioned above, first impression of the booth was something approximating “Holy Cow”.

I then rolled on to the Embassy Suites. Nice rooms, free breakfast,
and a LOUSY layout. If you stay there, take the stairs to get down if
you can. The elevators are an exercise in futility and gamer-funk. And
you can’t get out of the building directly without taking an escalator.

Thursday, bright and early…10:00 A.M. (man, I get better sleep at
the cons than I do in real life!), the exhibit hall opened. And, while
I’d love to say that the booth was bum-rushed and cleaned out in under
an hour, it wasn’t. However, it was still busy as hell throughout the
day. Sales were steady, lots of people gawping at the diorama, and the
demo area ran nearly non-stop.

The actual BattleTech area was kinda pushed out of the way this
year, much to our annoyance. Still, we were directly off an escalator
in rooms 203 and 204 (back behind where we’d been in previous years),
and the events ran nearly non-stop the entire weekend. Massive kudos to
Chris “Bones” Trossen, Chris “Chunga” Smith, Rick Remer, and all the
rest of the guys who I can’t remember off the top of my head, but are
no less appreciated for their efforts. These are the guys who made sure
BattleTech REALLY never disappeared at ANY point throughout the various
transitions in the last 10 years.

Afterwards was the obligatory dinner in the local food court.
Shooting the breeze, and just generally taking digs at each other to
avoid showing how well we really get along.

Sightings throughout the day.

Kevin Killiany and family,Phaedra Weldon, Loren Coleman, Heather
Coleman, Randall Bills, Tara Bills, Jason Schmetzer, Jason Hardy, Mike
Stackpole, David Stansel-Garner, Troy Stansel-Garner, Trent Garner,
Oystein Tvedten, Ben “Ghost Bear” Rome, Paul Sjardin, Songuru, Nick
“PropWash” Smith, Klaus Scherwinski, Rob “Sprite” Boyle, Herb Beas.

Then, late night, I wound up roaming around the “more interesting”
parts of downtown Indy looking for a supermarket to keep us in water.
The command had come from on high (Heather Coleman can be QUITE
intimidating when she’s of a mind to be). The number of cases shall be
ten, and it shall be called Dasani…and I answered the call.

Friday was nearly as busy as the day before. Lots of people, lots of positive buzz from everyone I spoke with and demoed for.

That evening we had the BattleCorps dinner. And OH MY GOD we had a
lot of people this year! Normally, we have around 20-25 people. This
year, we had nearly double that, and the poor wait staff ran themselves

Some of us ducked out a bit early to attend the ENnie awards. We had
four nominations this year. One for Shadowrun’s Street Magic, one for
Total Warfare (Best Regalia???), and not one, but TWO for the CBT Quick
Start rules.

Neither Street Magic or Total Warfare collected an award,
unfortunately. The competition in their categories was stiff as hell
though. So, while not winning sucked, it wasn’t as if they lost to some
inferior product.

HOWEVER, the Quick Start rules collected a Silver for Best Free
Product. Then it went on to collect a Gold for Best Electronic product.
Much to even Randall’s surprise.

Saturday, busy, busy, busy. Everyone was looking spiffy in their
Catalyst T-shirts. Ducked out at one to hit the “What’s Up With
BattleTech” seminar (wanted to attend the unified “What’s Up With FASA FANPRO

Catalyst” event, but I was busy giving demos at the time). Apparently
the GenCon scheduling group screwed up, and we’d been moved to a teensy
little room. Even so, we coped. Additional sightings, Steve Mohan.

Here’s the highlights of the talk.

Herb, the God of Nukes, is taking over as line developer for CBT.
Randall is still staying on as a senior developer who’s going to be
floating between the CBT and Shadowrun propertie, as well as doing his
own writing.

Upcoming products for this year.

  • Jihad Hotspots 3072
  • Interstellar Players II

Products planned for 2008.

  • Tactical Operations (Jumpships, warships, space stations, etc).
  • Revised CBT RPG
  • Wolf and Blake (Next Starterbook)
  • The next handbook (Periphery States)

The fiction anthology should be out around the end of year as well.
It WAS scheduled for much earlier this year, but the whole “Starting Up
Catalyst” thing kinda kicked our plans out the window a bit. It’s
currently in layout.

For Commando events, Martial Olympiad, between October and December.

As noted at the talks, Microsoft owns all electronic rights to CBT
and Shadowrun computer games. Catalyst, unfortunately, has NOTHING they
can do about pushing CBT computer games into the future.

However, Nick “PropWash” Smith announced that he and Microsoft had
agreed to release an old alpha copy of the PC BattleTech game as a free
download. This is a program that was being worked on at FASA
Interactive around the time that the unit was sold off to Microsoft.

Is Battletechnology going to become canon? NO.

Does Randall hate LAMs? No. He just doesn’t feel they fit the aesthetic that BattleTech has created.

Will Catalyst be releasing the old house books on PDF? Yep! It’s
just very time and work intensive, not to mention the fact that
original books actually need to be destroyed to create the PDF files.

Is Catalyst considering podcasting? Yes, they’re looking in to it.

Will someone be revising Warship costs? Nope.

Will the Proliferation Cycle be finishing up sometime soon? Yes. Now
that Catalyst is off the ground and running, the authors can return to
a more normal release cycle.

In-store events: Return of the Wolves. August 20th.

The 1st track will be running mostly between September and November.

In the October-November time frame, there’ll be two semi-tied
events. The Hunt, which is a traditional BattleTech game. Then, The
Breakout, an Aerotech event. These events are Commando-only. Also
upcoming, Vengeance Gambit II.

That evening, Iron Writer 2007.

Iron Writer 2007

I attended, but I was so scatter-brained this weekend, I couldn’t even
justify turning in the page worth that I was able to complete. And
never let it be said that the guys at Catalyst are afraid of voicing
their opinions. =)

Dave giving MY reaction to my abortive attempt at Iron Writer 2007Lots
of Good Stuff going up soon though.And afterwards, Catalyst brought in
around 40 pizzas for the BattleTech and Shadowrun gaming areas. As a
gesture of thanks to the GMs for all their hard work (these guys work
harder and longer hours at the cons than they do in real life, all for
a “hobby”).Sunday, my GOD! It’s almost over! We actually RAN OUT of
Quick-Start rules. We also sold out of Augmentation for Shadowrun. Lots
of swag trading going around, and we kept going right up to the final
bell.So, my impressions of GenCon 2007 for Catalyst games. A VERY good
con and a hell of a debut for a company that’s been in the game
publishing business for only two months. It’s not yet known if we broke
even cash-wise, but we sold a LOT of product and the ship-home bundle
is going to be significantly smaller than what came in to Indy.

And, already, we’ve learned from this con. Next year, there’s already plans for a bigger, better booth, and more GM support.

What’ve *I* learned from this con? To get my frickin’ head together!
My airheadedness cost me more than anything else this weekend. Most of
the problems were due to being crazy-busy at work just prior to the
con. Next year, I’m taking the day before (Tuesday, since Wednesday is
setup day), and the day after the con off, just so I can make sure my
head is clear for the event.

Ah well. Another year, another GenCon put to rest.

If you’re looking for more pictures of the event, you can find them here for general GenCon CBT pics and here for the Iron Writer event.