Audio Report: DunDraCon, Goodman Games and Troll Lord

Allan’s interview with two D20 survivors – Goodman Games and Troll Lord games, respectively – is the meat of this show. We also report on DDC more generally, and threaten to talk about lots of other stuff. Get with it.


  1. Mike, I’ll be downloading this new podcast when I have a broadband connection back home (slow dial-up connection here at the hotel).

    I wanted to drop the Ogre Cave guys a line about Games Expo (Veritas Games Company is here). Today was a setup day for exhibitors but did have some scheduled retailer sessions. It looked like a ghost town (like a small local con in terms of retailer turnout). Tomorrow will be the telling day — it’s the first big retailer-oriented day with an open exhibit hall.

    Tonight some booths I expected to be large were actually pretty small. While lots of publishers are in attendance, one company that had huge booths at GTS and GenCon has a 10′ x 10′ booth at this show. I suspect that some people are sort of “testing the waters” on this show and saving up for GTS next month. I’ll let you guys know later if the booths end up as impressive as GTS and GenCon booths. I’m doubting it. The total exhibit space seems much smaller for some reason than I remembered GTS being (but perhaps that’s just a trick of seeing the exhibit hall in assembly mode instead of with finished booths).

    The presentations for publishers are very solid and are easily as good or better than what I’ve seen at GTS. Games Expo specifically has retailer, publisher, and general interest presentation tracks. They were more to my interest, and the audiences today were fairly engaged. Games Expo does, however, have many more infomercial sorts of presentations from companies who have a “solution” to sell to retailers or publishers. Some interesting services, so that’s not all bad. Jim Long (formerly of WizKids and now with Red Juggernaut) gave some interesting presentations on producing plastics in China and raising venture capital.

    Games Expo has done a lot more to reach out to small publishers to give them some space to exhibit at. There’s also a lot more scheduled demo opportunities at this show than I felt were available last year at GTS.

    Mike, you’d be happy with the coverage indie games are getting at the presentations. There are seminars on POD (clearly targeting indie rpg publishers) and there are whole sessions dedicated to helping retailers learn how to sell indie games.

    I’m hoping that Games Expo is huge (so that our money wasn’t wasted). And I now that the folks over at MSM putting on the show have worked hard to make it happen.

    If Mike requests additional info (from a vendor perspective) re: our experience at Games Expo I’ll post more as the week progresses. Otherwise the Ogre Cave 3 and all fans of the show are encouraged to stop by booth 905 at Games Expo to say hello to another fan of this fine show, Lee Valentine of Veritas Games Company, LLC.

    I look forward to listening to your podcast when I get back to a real internet connection.

    Signing out for now. Let me know if you want more on Games Expo, Mike, in case you don’t have Chris or someone else from the Cave on site.


  2. Thanks for the update, Lee. By all means, keep us informed! None of the Cave dwellers are attending Games Expo, so we’ll be relying on advance scouts such as yourself for a summary of the show as it unfolds – or implodes.

  3. Yes, this is awesome. Thanks so much, Lee.

    I wasn’t familiar with Red Juggernaut, so I hit their page and it turns out they have a product planned called Mansuba. So, they’re my new favorite publisher. HELL YES MANSUBA

  4. Yes, Chris, that was my blog. Here’s the relevent bit:

    “This year I also think D&D minis may begin their decline. I think the majority of the purchasers have been roleplayers to date. DDM as a game barely seems to be a blip. Now that the minis have been available for a few years, I suspect most roleplaying purchasers have robust collections that give them most of the figs they need. The number of folks who will buy a full case on release will drop and instead they will buy the specific models they need from a new set on the secondary market. Of course, if set runs get smaller the secondary market will also suffer.

    What WotC really needs to do to keep sales up is take the minis from being optional RPG accessories to mandatory ones. I don’t know what their plans are, but I would not be surprised if 4th edition takes a form that ties minis even tighter to the RPG experience. This will certainly make many fans howl if it happens. However, I’m betting that that collectible minis are making WotC a lot more money than D&D books at the moment, which means the tail may now be wagging the dog. Considering the attitude of many RPG R&D people when WotC first got into miniatures, this is supremely ironic.”

  5. Speaking for myself (and Chris H and I banter this around on the just Episode 14 of 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction), if I need to buy my D&D minis on the 2ndary market, I just take a pass (which is exactly what I’ve done).

    Part of the reason I’m excited to see Reaper coming out with their own non-collectible. I love to see competition.

    Ogres: Another nice show – you gotta stop hiding these. DDC was about a month ago now. Your fans want the content. I suspect I’m not the only one who wants to hear more OC more often and more timely. My razzing aside, that’s a good thing.

    Of course, thanks for the shout-out for both 2d6 and for my DDC event. I’d be happy to join you to talk about it’s evolution, although I’d say Wayne (my co-GM) and I have bashed the system(s) over time to fit our vision of the event, and not the other way around. I suspect you meant as much. Incidentally, we’ll be at KublaCon this May with another Samurai Epic.

  6. OK, Games Expo day 2. Boy, the logistics are a clusterf*** here. Games Expo was supposed to provide free transportation from the Orleans to the South Point (two recommended hotels). Supposedly the South Point was much more expensive. Turns out that the shuttle was non-existent yesterday and few people were well-informed about the shuttle today. Taxi roundtrip is $50.00 between the locations. We are all checking one by one and found that the South Point is actually no more expensive than the Orleans and everyone is fleeing the far distant Orleans like rats from a sinking ship.

    Retailer turn out is really poor from our perspective. Almost everyone I talked to agreed. The gossip is 400 retailers pre-registered, but I’d be shocked if there were more than 100 retailers in the whole room during much of today, and it looked more like 50 at some points. We are getting to spend some quality time with retailers who pass by our booths. So some business is getting done. Inter-publisher communication is good, though. Pretty much every exhibitor that brought multiple people is turning half of them (or more) loose to roam to demo at other people’s booths or to just chat. People were sitting around and moping in one section of the room. The “pay per hour” Arenas designed to allow people to have long tables with chairs to do extended play sessions of their games were a joke; people were just invading the areas and chatting since nothing was going on there.

    Several smaller exhibitors who couldn’t afford both Games Expo and GTS gambled on the hype of Games Expo and several were lamenting their decision. We may be able to go to GTS, but we’re hardly a huge publisher and this is cramping our budget.

    We had reports of some people who hadn’t even been confirmed as presenters being listed in the program as presenters and being shanghaied into service on next to no notice.

    The exhibit hall looks very impressive when it’s setup. One cool thing: Gametown. It’s a section of tiny 6′ x 6′ booths with a cool back drop which is a 2D cityscape sculpture dividing up the booths. Very cool idea for publishers on a budget. GTS should adopt this instantly without discussion.

    Tomorrow will probably be a partial loss as well. I and other publishers are already making plans to go to each other’s booths to demo games so we don’t die of boredom, but rumor has it that Wed. and Thurs. may get salvaged. Apparently people involved in National Games Week are getting discounted 2-day admissions on those days. So we may pick up more people tomorrow.

    Unless this turns around, I can’t imagine going to this show again. I respect Mark Simmons, but this is as expensive as GTS with little return on our investment.

    Saw the Stonehenge components today, and they look interesting. Haven’t got a demo yet. But since it’s mentioned on the cave, I’ll try to report back if I have a chance.

    I saw one absolutely show-stopping bit of self-promotion done today that also helped salvage the afternoon. Fun & Games, Inc. he makers of XIG (a wonderful kid’s jigsaw puzzle game) did a human slot machine give away. A lady from Gut Bustin’ Games(?) helped. Basically they had a facade with a giant lever. Three people were behind the machine with noise makers and bags of fruit. The noise makers sounded like a slot machine’s dials rotating. Each of the three people “inside” the machine had bags of fruit and were pulling out fruit at random and giving away free copies of their game everytime all three people pulled matching fruit. When they didn’t match they still poured chocolates out from a slot. This went on for a full hour. They were giving free tickets to everyone. One guy was stealing his partner’s apple and eating a bit everytime the apple came up. It was hilarious if you can imagine the scene. It shut down our corner of the hall as exhibitors and retailers alike were attracted by the mayhem and decided to participate. If we weren’t paying so damn much money this would have been a great way to end the day.

    More tomorrow. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

    My only hope is that the cave will bestow on me the title of an honorary mini-ogre if I keep this up πŸ™‚

    Take care, folks.

    Lee Valentine, out for now.

  7. OK, today Games Expo was not as good as the GAMA Trade Show, but it was MUCH better. There were actually some retailers and some distributors’ buyers roaming the hall.

    Everyone I talked to agreed that it was still slow, but it wasn’t so slow as to be laughable. It actually felt like a professional trade show (albeit a first year show). So day 1 and 2 were poor, but day 3 was good though not great.

    Exhibitors were still wandering to each other’s booths, but they were much more likely to stick close by their booths in case business needed to be transacted.

    I was glad to see that the show managed to draw in some retailers from Canada and some distributors (Hobbygames and Esdevium) from the UK.

    Saw some other neat games today: Worldwide Imports had a 4-player mancala set, which is a neat twist on a traditional favorite. Found out Stonehenge is gonna cost about $50.00. That is a little pricey given the look of the game, which is professional but not “wow!” looking. Still, it seems to be very versatile.

    3AM Games had a prototype of a crazy Universal Studios-style monster game called Silver Scream which is definitely a game to watch.

    Paizo is going to be releasing an expansion to Kill Dr. Lucky called “Kill Dr. Lucky and His Little Dog Too” which will feature a doggy pawn and rules on moving him around and how he interacts with the good doctor. Sounds like it features some fun variants.

    I’ll keep in touch.

    Lee, over and out.

  8. Lee: you continue to be awesome.

    Pook: if it isn’t already in the feed, there’s a serious problem. I will try and get it fixed tomorrow.

  9. I have to say, I’m glad to hear that Games Expo didn’t deliver and I hope it dies a quick death. No malice towards the folks behind it, but let’s be honest — this isn’t a response to industry demand but an attempt to destroy and replace GTS.

    There is no way that having two comparable trade shows in the same place within a month of each other is healthier. Either one of them goes under or else the publishers and channels that want to connect have a harder and more expensive time doing so.

  10. OK, so today was the last day of Games Expo. I felt it was summed up when more than an hour before the day closed out everyone was packing up. It was just dead in there today. We made 2 or 3 good retail contacts today. I’ll tell you what the show was good for:

    1) getting to know other designers — generally there’s no time to talk during GTS, and this show was so slow that people went out of there way to meet each other;

    2) the GPA had an unofficial meeting there and I think some positive things will come of it as many of us are motivated into making the GPA a destination like the Forge, only much larger;

    3) it was good to get A LOT of face time with individual retailers;

    4) it was an AWESOME show if you were a retailer — you could go up to any exhibitor at any time and stay an hour there;

    5) it probably had better presentation sessions than the GAMA Trade Show, as GAMA continues to be too retailer focused while Games Expo made real attempts at reaching out to new publishers in the presentation tracks;

    6) it had a really great way to provide some display space on the cheap for small press publishers — it was called Gametown.

    About the only really good thing today (other than the few retailers and the other exhibitors) was not Games Expo itself but a restaurant coupon I found which got me hash browns, toast, 2 eggs, and a steak for FREE!

    I think GTS should not mock Games Expo (leave that to the rest of us who blew tons of money). GTS should instead learn from some of the good things listed above, and GAMA should really increase its focus on small press publishers.

    Other than wasting my own company’s money (which we really didn’t have to waste) I was most sad for some of the other small press publishers who had to gamble on Games Expo vs. GTS. Some gambled wrong and will miss their most important outreach opportunity toward retailers for 2007.

    Games Expo was more hype than opportunity in so many ways. Because a Borders buyer and another big box buyer pre-registered the staff had added advertised somewhere (if memory serves, somebody double check me on this) that hundreds upon hundreds of stores would be represented, when really there were not that many individual stores represented who had an interest in what the hobby game industry has to offer.

    One controversial thing Games Expo did that I liked was they allowed members of the public who were basically alpha gamers to come in on the last day or two of the show. No sales. Just demonstrations and discussion. While you can demo all day at GENCON, nothing replaces getting extended face time with alpha gamers. I wish there had been more of them there.

    Games Expo had an AMAZING room full of miniatures on display. I only saw it for a few minutes. Games Expo blew the logistics and failed to get a critical mass of retailers. The show over-advertised what it was, but it had a number of things that we, the publishers and attendees, should demand of GTS and other trade shows in the future.

    Many at GAMA rejoiced. Many small publishers wept and there was gnashing of teeth. So ends Games Expo 2007.

    So ends my threadjacking. I can’t wait to get home and listen to the podcast, guys. Feel free to Skype me at veritasgames if you guys have questions.

    To the Ogre Cave staff, I hope my reports from Games Expo were of some interest to you and to the listeners of the Cave.

    Best regards,
    Lee Valentine

  11. Dang Lee..

    Thats was the best report I have read on the show yet. I seriously appreciate the insight. A lot of people in this industry blow a lot of sunshine up Mark Simmons poop hole, and I am glad you didn’t.

    As for the Gencon thing. AWESOME idea. Seriously sad that it was announced so shortly before the show in the greater scheme of things. I already booked a flight for origins, and made room arrangements. Bummer. Had I known sooner, I may have gone to gencon instead. foo. Helluva an idea though

  12. Out-friggin’-standing. Thanks for the firsthand account, Lee. We’ll have to take your measurements before declaring you an Ogre of course, though mini-Ogre is entirely doable. πŸ™‚

  13. Quote: “Found out Stonehenge is gonna cost about $50.00. That is a little pricey given the look of the game, which is professional but not “wow!” looking. Still, it seems to be very versatile.”

    Hey Lee! Thanks for coming by our booth, and the mentions in the blog! I’d like to point out that the Stonehenge bits you saw at Games Expo were pre-production prototypes; the colors of the pieces will change to solid red and blue and such (the ones on display were pleasant pastel colors, they looked like they were carved out of wedding mints…) and the game board itself will be higher quality (the ones on display hadn’t been cured yet and were a bit warpy.) You want a professional look? Check it out next month when it hits shelves, then I guarantee you’ll say “WOW!” with gusto πŸ™‚

    Thanks! – Phil
    Sales Manager, Paizo Publishing

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