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LotRO: Gen Con Roundup 2008


Stratics' Finest
Stratics Veteran
Stratics Legend
Gen Con Roundup 2008

It's time for the Gen Con 2008 Roundup, complete with pictures and a recap of all the exciting times had by the Turbine crew and our players at this year's Gen Con Indy! We had a great turnout of guests and players, and had a wonderful time meeting everyone, demoing upcoming features, and talking about what's in store for our three Turbine games. Read on for the day-by-day Gen Con Roundup!​
Day 1: Ready for Gen Con

For visitors to the convention, their exciting day starts on Thursday when Gen Con is officially open for business. Little do they know that the day before, it's complete chaos as vendors and exhibitors - including us - are hard at work preparing for the ensuing weekend of fun! Behind the scenes, workers piece together the beautiful booths, organize their stocks, and decorate for the occasion. The vendor hall becomes a perilous maze of crates, pallets, merchandise, and boxes as you work your way from one end to the other trying to get to your own booth. The Turbine crew (some of them running on caffeine, not sleep) clambers all around the booth to get things ready for the show. Boxes are unpacked, computers are set up, hundreds of T-shirts are sorted and bundled, and free trial cards are placed around the stations. It's hard work, but our crew works together, and everyone lends a hand! After the final touches are put on our booth, we have just enough time to take a peak at other festivities around the convention, and prepare for opening day!

"The best part for me, honestly, was meeting other people in the industry and connecting on both a professional and personal level. It is rare outside of Turbine to find such a great group of people to share such a memorable event with. At Turbine I am given a great opportunity to travel the world and release our games to other countries, but for some reason this trip to Indianapolis has been my best one yet. That is really saying something." - Existed

Day 2: The Opening Ceremony!

Gamers amass at the convention hall entrance, waiting for the Gen Con staff to throw open the doors and allow anxious gamers to take in the sights and sounds of the vendor hall. Merchandise and demos take place all day in the vendor hall, and Gen Con attendees select from many types of merchandise. Dice and roleplaying books; Swords of metal and swords of foam; costume pieces; board games; trading cards; there's so much to see and so little time!

While the exhibit hall is huge, it's only a part of the excitement of Gen Con. Spreading over multiple city blocks, activities sprawl through the vendor hall, the convention center, and into neighboring hotels! Long after the exhibit hall closes for the night, it's not uncommon to find movie screenings, LARPs, trading card tournaments, and roleplaying games going on until the crack of dawn. The city of Indianapolis is prepared for the invasion of gamers, and welcomes them with open arms and decorative signs. Gen Con has invaded Indianapolis since 2003, and many local business owners try to make the convention-goers feel right at home. Restaurants sell commemorative Gen Con T-shirts, or change the names of their menu items to fit the theme of dragons, wizards, hobbits, and even the occasional Klingon. Everywhere you look, the streets and shops are filled with badge-wielding event attendees on their way to the next activity.

Gen Con has always been a haven for many genres of gaming, and this year was no exception. Anime, Fantasy, Video games, Board games, LARPs, Pen & Paper Roleplaying, Sci-fi, Steam punk, and more all converge in a colorful display of fabulous costumes. As you look around the convention, you never know what will come wandering by. Patience was almost overtaken by a Half-life Head-crab! Stormtroopers gave the Turbine booth an Imperial inspection. Even Jack Sparrow made the rounds to sweet talk some free trial cards from our Event Administrator. Several existing and upcoming video games sported booths with swag, including Turbine!

Our giant monk stared down at visitors from across the vendor hall, daring anyone to approach. Fortunately he wasn't too intimidating, for the booth was alive with guests from the time the vendor hall opened to the time it closed. The Turbine team demonstrated The Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Asheron's Call. Players learned about upcoming features for all three games, such as DDO's Module 8, LOTRO's upcoming expansion Mines of Moria, and the Asheron's Call 100th update! From existing players to brand new customers, and even the media, all the booth staff were kept very busy with visitor questions and requests for T-shirts and free-trial cards. As guests took the reigns at our demo stations, trailers for the games cycled at the front of the booth. Turbine was even part of a Gencon scavenger hunt, where guests could get their punch card stamped for doing a demo of one of our games, and be entered to win a prize! By the end of the day, our voices were scratchy from talking with so many people for so long, and it was very exhausting. Fortunately here at Turbine, we're "powered by our fans," and nowhere is that more true than at a gaming show. The chance to meet with the players is very energizing, and just as the work starts to take its toll on our energy, we'd be greeted by one of our players telling us how happy they were to see us at the convention. Soon it would be time for a party to show the players just how much we appreciate them!

"I had an absolute blast meeting with all the current and (hopefully) future players of DDO. I look forward to Gen Con every year for that reason alone. Seeing how much you enjoy this game that we work so passionately on is very gratifying and makes it worth all the time and effort. I hope to see more of you at Gen Con next year!" - Eldorudo

Day 3: The Player Party @ Jillian's!

Day 3 on the show floor is a great time, though we're starting to feel the effects of the previous two days. Before the floor opens, Patience snuck away to a nearby station with Rock Band - her voice was scratchy from the day before and breaks a couple of times, but she still managed to nail those expert vocals. Frelorn was looking a little ragged, but Tolero was smiling away, as energetic as always. We're swarmed with gamers when the doors open, and realize that some of the people who were playing our games for the first time yesterday are back today to pick up their new characters where they left off!

"This having been my very first trip to Gen Con, I will say that it blew all of my expectations away. From the staff to the fans, everything about this show was fun. I am looking forward to next year already!" - Frelorn

Friday night our players descended on Jillian's like a giant raid! Word on the show floor had spread like wildfire, and a mass of gamers came prowling for the Turbine party. The entire downstairs was teeming with AC, DDO, and LOTRO players all itching to get their hands on our special party shirts. While visitors to the Turbine booth could get a free Monk shirt, those who attended the Jillian's party got a crack at our special Dragon shirts, and our LOTRO shirts (Enjoy those shirts... Turbine team member Existed risked his life and limb to get those shirts to the party)! Once the crew had sorted the shirts, prepared the Jillian's staff, and set the tables with free-trial cards, it was time to party! The Turbine team mixed and mingled with guests all night, handing out shirts, and making sure everyone was enjoying the free food and drinks. The size of our crowd made it a little too difficult for us to do our favorite party games this year, but that didn't stop us from having a great time with the players! Players got to chat with Senior DDO Producer Kate Paiz, have a few drinks while they chatted with Exited, enjoy some food with Eldorudo, and mingle with all the staff. Patience chatted with familiar forum faces like TheStormKing, Angelina Rayne, Artie, Vincente, and lots more! Tolero pounced guests with a challenge to make Monk handwraps (some wrapped more successfully than others). When you're talking with the players, it's easy to lose track of time, and Frelorn almost entirely ignored his biological bathroom needs just so he could have a riveting conversation with AC players to reminisce about good times and discussed the excitement of the upcoming 100th update. While the Turbine crew mingled with guests, players were busy bringing their own brand of fun to the party.

Several players dressed for the occasion with special shirts, such as the StormKing and LordDamax who each came equipped with DDO and LOTRO themed T-shirts of their own making. Shaamis ran a raffle for any players from his server to get a chance to pull a special item from a grab bag, and have it sent to their character! Jaggie had hand-crafted special DDO pins, which she passed out to players and staff alike. Players did game dances to the music from our video clip (which Jillian's was kind enough to show on all the bar monitors). Players from last year's Jillian's party shook hands for a second time around! No party is complete without a fire, when one of the Jillian's staff accidentally tipped over a chafing dish that was heating the snacks, setting fire to the floor and part of a table cloth. Fortunately the flames were doused out quickly, and no further mishaps befell the party. Patience joked about the incident that it was a Lore-master, and Tolero's Monk handwraps soon were referred to as "the burn victims". Players from Silverlode, Sarlona, and Verdantine servers were in strong show at the party, and players from all three games exchanged knowledge to teach each other about the fun they have in all three of the games. As the party wound down, and guests said good night, some players and staff opted to hit the town and dance the night away, adorned in their LOTRO and DDO shirts!

“This was my first Gen Con, and I had a blast meeting all of our players from the Midwest (and further!). I came back loaded with D20s to give away as gifts (and a set of dice for me!) and lots of great memories of the convention, the party at Jillian’s, and most of all the stories from our players about their adventures in our games. Everyone was really excited to get some hands-on with the new DDO player experience, and the number one question from LOTRO players was, “When’s Moria coming out?!” - Patience

Day 4: More Show Fun!*

By Saturday, the convention is in full swing, with constant events and constant trips to the Turbine booth. Among the players, the Turbine booth became "home base", and players could frequently be seen using our location as a landmark for meeting up with friends - who they then showed the game demos before their next Gencon activity! Some of the Turbine crew took breaks to interview with the media, and even the resident fansite podcast DDOCast. Players learned much information about the games, and press articles continued to pour out from the Gen Con, including articles at:

"This was the first Gen Con where Turbine had its own booth, and it was great to see all the excitement around Mod 8’s upcoming new character generation, new player experience, and hireling features. Stormreach’s NPCs are about to enter the dungeon, and I can’t wait!" - Mindflayer

Back on the home front, players on the forums anxiously awaited word of what surprises lay in store for them this year, talking about upcoming features. Bit by bit, players attending the convention would report back with interesting things they found out. From the forums to the booth at the convention, everyone was abuzz about exciting things coming for our players in all three games!

Elsewhere in the convention, Gen Con buzz continues. The gladiator arena is always a great place to watch novice and experience LARPers try their hand at combat. Wizards of the Coast's new 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons naturally draws attention for the Gen Con. A highlight of the convention was the memorial d20 in honor of the late great Gary Gygax, and at noon, a moment of silence. Several of our players could be seen "rolling a d20 for Gary" on the show floor. The costume parade was filled with a variety of competitors this year, everything from anime to starwars, and even popular video game personas. (Lookout! There's that head-crab again!)

Gen Con wasn't the only crowd however - the city of Indianapolis was also giving tours of their new Lucus Oil Stadium. Gamers and sports fans filled the streets, eying one another with looks of amusement. The Turbine crew received Colts hats from an Asheron's Call player, though whether any of us are brave enough to wear them here in the home of the New England Patriots is yet to be seen. Overall, the crowds were in good spirits, and a good time was had by all!

At the end of the evening, it was time for the parties to start. There was a Steampunk themed dance for Gen Con attendees, as well as the notorious White Wolf party. Other industry and private parties sprinkled various bars, and Turbine staff and players could be seen milling from one gathering to the next.

"The thing I really love about Gen Con is the after-hours. You go to a dance club or a sports bar and recognize players, authors, artists, or vendors away from their booth, all cutting loose and being themselves. Sometimes you see a shy person, who's normally very quiet, out busting a move on the dance floor in ways you wouldn't have imagined (or your comrades busting a move in ways you wish you could forget). The best part is seeing gamers who normally are wallflowers being more open because they're comfortable in a crowd of people who share common interests with them. It's all part of the fun of Gen Con!" - Tolero

Day 5: Parting is such sweet sorrow

As the show draws to a close, a few of us get the chance to stealth away and watch some of the festivities, or make last minute shopping stops. The final day of the exhibitor hall is always crazy, as booths try to unload as much of their stock as possible so they don't have to lug it back home. Pickings are slimmer, but great deals can be found for persistent shoppers! Even in the final hours though, the Turbine booth had visitors to tend to. The last of the T-shirt supply is finally given way, but throughout the day many people can be spotted in the crowds wearing their Mines of Moria, Dragon, or Monk shirts.

Many players stopped back by the booth for one last visit with the Turbine team members, and to peruse the exhibitor hall. We were very glad to see such a strong turnout of our fans, and being able to spend time with the players keeps us going in those last hours of the event. At last the show draws to a close: the card house towers are torn down; the mangas are tucked away; dice are stuffed back into bags; DDR and Rock Band games are powered down; and the Turbine team begins the trek back to Boston.

"It was amazing getting the chance to meet our players face to face – hearing first hand what our players love about the game really reinforces for me the core elements of what DDO is, and it is always great to get feedback on where players are hoping the game will go, or what in their current experience isn’t satisfying. As my first Gen Con, it was also really fun to see all the enthusiasm around D&D and the other tabletop games, and to just generally soak up the fun atmosphere. Thanks to everyone who came and talked to me – it really was my pleasure to meet you all!" - Kate Paiz*

But this is not the end of our journey...

We're looking forward to seeing players again out on the west coast at PAX! Be sure to visit us at our booth, and at the player party at Gameworks. More shirts, more Turbine guests, and more good times with our fans!

Did you attend Gen Con and/or the Turbine party at Jillians? Share your memories of Gen Con by clicking here ! Also be sure to visit our Gen Con image gallery by clicking here !