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.

“Fixing” Dreamation
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3 thoughts on ““Fixing” Dreamation

  • February 25, 2009 at 11:02 am

    …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.

    Seriously. It seems like it would be trivial to digitize the whole affair.

    So the authors spend X amount of time with each group, hob-nob a bit, and move on.

    I’ve heard that Luke at some point did something like this. He would float from table to table – each playing its own BW game – to answer question and preside over conflicts. As it was described to me, he may have actually been GM-ing each game.

    For other designers – who do not have a bountiful supply of nervous energy – it may work better if each table has its own GM, and the designer wanders between each, answering occasional tough questions. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gauge how many GMs a game may need on stand-by, unless you already have registration info.

  • February 25, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Yeah Phil, it’s hard to predict what would work best as a way to share one guy’s time across multiple games. I think having, say, three games at the same time, each with its own GM, and letting the Fred Hicks/Luke Crane guy move between them and spend a little time with each table would work, although it isn’t perfect. I’d just set it up in advance as “let’s do three sessions of DRYH; you three guys prep and GM them, each is different and cool, and they must run in the same slot.”

    One benefit of this is that it will require us to step up and run stuff. If you’ve played DRYH at Dreamation in the past, and run it at home, maybe it’s time you volunteered to run a session. We’ll need lots of GMs, which is great.

  • February 26, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Perhaps slots with designer participation could be labeled as such.

    It would temper the fanboyism that seems to create part of the imbalance.

    Basically if I run DRYH at Dreamation (no matter how much I excel at running it) I’m not going to get the 27 sign ups that Fred did. But if three slots of DRYH were sloted for the same time, with Designer Partiicpation listed, all three slots would probably benefit from increased enrollment.

    And as a GM, knowing Fred had my back would be a comfort. Sounds win-win to me.

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