Dreamation doesn’t really need much fixing, but Vinny Salzillo, who organizes and runs it, brought the indie community a list of concerns that he’d like help addressing. It’s to our mutual benefit to straighten this stuff out, even the bits that are not really our problem. So I have some suggestions, after each of his paraphrased concerns.
But before I start pontificating, one major thing that would be helpful all around is to migrate Vinny to a registration system that does not involve steam and punch cards. This isn’t our job but we know people and can make recommendations, and we should.
He doesn’t want to do things half-assed. Please don’t submit things that are unprofessional or poorly branded or sloppily presented.
Since we aggregate most of our games in advance, we can incorporate an editing pass before they are submitted. I’d be glad to do this and I bet we could even find someone competent to do it.
There were games scheduled for 4 people that had 27 people who wanted to play. This is bad for everybody. 3-4 person tables are disastrous for the system from his perspective and made his job harder. It breeds resentment because there is demand and people get turned away.
One idea is to follow the ALA author model – at ALA conventions, you get to hang out with authors and there is a lot of appeal to that, but they are few and the librarians are many. So the authors spend X amount of time with each group, hob-nob a bit, and move on. In game terms, this would mean the ever-popular Fred Hicks would arrange for three simultaneous games of Don’t Rest Your Head, and run none of them himself. Instead, he’d hang with group A at the beginning, move over to group B at the break, and do a post-mortem with group C. Everybody gets some Fred time. This isn’t ideal but it is one way to address the issue. I’m certain there are others. Honestly, this is the only thing on Vinny’s list that requires much thought.
He’d like people to produce a finished “module” explicitly for the convention. Make it unique and sexy, offer it multiple times simultaneously. Make it specific to the con, make each section unique, even if the game doesn’t need it (like carry, for example).
Part of the editing pass is making sure each event section has an evocative and unique title and that we highlight the Dreamation-only nature of it.
Playtests are problematic, because other designers get into them and shut out the general public, who are disappointed and frustrated. Part of the problem is that “pink badges” have priority and select these. His suggested solution is a “professional” track.
This is Vinny’s problem for the most part. If he privileges GMs less it goes away. Maybe that’s a fine line but I don’t think so – for the sake of argument, say that as a GM I am guaranteed one play slot of my choice but kicked to the bottom of the list otherwise. I am still happy, I still get to play How We Came To Live Here, and the rest is dumb luck or pick-up play or discovery. Personally I don’t want to playtest with a bunch of designer ponces.
So that’s it – I’m not suggesting these are the best solutions, but the magnitude of the challenge is not great. Let’s talk about it and fix it with a minimum of Internet drama.