Spiel Hall EntranceThe “Internationale Spieletage 2014” in Essen (short version: Spiel’14), the second big convention of the year (after GenCon) is over and we had another great and busy show. Many new CC3 users were added to the fold, and I talked to a lot of users, answering specific questions, helping with technical problems and demoing new stuff (yes, including CC3+). Here’s the report I prepared for Simon and Mark on my return.

I arrived at Spiel on Wednesday as usual, and picked up Gordon on the way to help me set up. Unfortunately the tables I had ordered from the Messe where not there - apparently some other exhibitor nicked them for their own booth - so we had to leave part for Thursday morning when the replacement furniture was there. Not a big problem, we were quickly done before the show opened.

Setup completeI wasn't too thrilled with our booth placement, as we were in the middle of mostly LARP booths, and the big booth across the aisle blocked part of the view unto our place. I'll try to talk to Merz Verlag next year to get us more among the pen & paper rpgs again. Those are pretty scattered around the hall though, with lots of space taken up by food & drink places. The same hall layout as last year was in use, with some moving around.

But my concerns seemed unfounded, as both Thursday and Friday proved pretty busy, both being busier than the respective days in 2013 by a good margin. Saturday was weird. We had a few very early customers and then nothing at all until well into the afternoon, when it suddenly picked up again. Overall it came out to slightly less than last year. Sunday was the quietest day, as is often the case, but we also did quite a bit better than last year. We had a big train drivers' strike on the weekend, which led to a shortage of parking space around the halls on Saturday. This probably had an effect on attendance, but I can't really say how much. Saturday did seem somewhat less crowded than previous years.

CC3+ sample mapThe vast majority of customers were new to CC3. More than 80% of sales included a CC3, and only very few of those were people upgrading from CC2 Pro. The Mike Schley/13th Age sample map I had on the table drew quite a lot of positive remarks and we told a lot of people about the upcoming CC3+.

The Free Annual with every order certainly provided the impetus for some people to buy at the show. As you can see from the numbers, Annual Vol 6 was a very popular choice - because of the Herwin Wielink isometric dungeon style. The big example map of that on the wall drew a lot of interest and it was nice to be able to tell people "buy CC3 and choose this as your free Annual" and you're set to draw this.

Demo computerThe Starter Bundle remains very popular, with some people swapping in a Character Artist or Cosmographer for either City or Dungeon Designer. Some people went for the 4 for 3 bundle from there, basically getting another product for a few more Euros.

I demoed quite a bit, mostly CC3, DD3, CD3, CC3+, Cosmographer, Character Artist, FT3 and Perspectives, in about this order of demand. Comments from existing users were mostly favourable, with only a very few "it is too difficult" concerns.

Gordon and Carsten were a great help as always. I even had a third helper on Saturday (Michael), but since it was a bit quieter than usual, that wasn't really necessary at all. Take down on Sunday evening was done in lightning speed. As the exhibitor parking was right below the halls, we just carried the stuff to the car. I was out of the halls and away 20 minutes after closing time.

 

GenConThe bags are packed and we are ready to head out across the pond to Indianapolis. What for? GenCon of course, the best four days in gaming!

As always ProFantasy will be sharing the booth with Pelgrane Press. Like last year we are right at the front of the hall: Booth 101 across from Paizo and Pathfinder. Come find us there, to get the latest products and news. See you in Indy!

RPC Germany 2014After a one year hiatus, ProFantasy will be at RPC Germany again next weekend (May 10th and 11th). Meet us in Cologne, Messe Deuz, hall 5.2 on aisle B, booth 036.

RPC2012 CostumesThe RPC is a role-playing convention spanning various media, from computer games, via tabletop rpgs to live-action role-playing, and includes a renaissance fair (medieval market). One of its most striking aspects is the number of people in stunning costumes walking the halls.

We’ll have Symbol Set 4 – The Dungeons of Schley at the booth (fresh from the printers), as well as our other recent releases: Character Artist 3 and The Cartographer’s Annual Vol 7.

ProFantasy PosterSo, “Spiel”, you ask, how is it, the biggest games fair in the world? It’s big: more than 150,000 visitors, 828 exhibitors from 39 countries (numbers from 2013), 4 days of gaming madness. You’ll also notice that I’m not using “convention” to describe Spiel, since it differs from events like GenCon or Dragonmeet, in that playing games itself is not the primary focus. Sure, a lot of gaming does happen, but the main activity is presenting, selling and buying games.

The BoothI’ve been working the ProFantasy booth at Spiel since 2000, first helping out, and then from 2002, running it. Its four days from Thursday to Sunday alway go by in a whizz and whir of activity. ProFantasy usually has a booth in the “Role-playing and Import Games” hall, which in recent years also holds a lot of LARP supplies and miniature games. Boardgaming is a much more mainstream activity in Germany than in other countries, and accordingly many visitors to Spiel are families and “casual” gamers.

Explaining CC3Role-playing is much smaller segment of that hobby, and our hall attracts only part of the great Spiel crowd. You notice that in the differences between the weekdays and the weekend. On Thursday on Friday, the hall is much quieter and we have time for detailed chats with individual customers, but on the weekend the aisles are sometimes thronged with people just glancing at the booths and pushing through. The other halls are often dominated by the large publisher’s enormous exhibits where they present the newest releases. But there are also a lot of retailer booths and smaller publishers tucked away between the large booths and in the corners.

The ThrongIf you want to visit Spiel and have a good chance to play some nice boardgames, come early. The seating for demo games is limited and it can be hard to find an open spot for the more popular games. Coming on Thursday or Friday also helps, as the halls are less busy. On the other hand if you come to buy games the Sunday is the best for you can sometimes find a good deal as the merchants are eager to get rid of their stock. But beware, the most sought after releases tend to sell out quickly on the earlier days.

[Photography by Gordon Gurray]


Oh, and one thing is very different from conventions in the US like GenCon. We have beer booths in the hall!
Beer at Spiel

Dragonmeet GM OfferProFantasy will be at Dragonmeet, London’s friendliest gaming convention, coming Saturday (December 7th). We are looking forward to a day of games, seminars, chat and general gaming goodness.

We are also doing a special offer to support all those people running public games at Dragonmeet. If you are a GM hosting a game at the convention you get 50% off any purchase of ProFantasy and Noteboard products.

If you want to hear myself (Ralf) talk about maps, paper minis, and the Noteboard, join the seminar “Multimedia in Gaming” (12pm to 12:30pm in the Council Chamber) which also features composer James Semple and artist Andrew Hepworth.

The bags are packed, stock and supplied enroute, hectic activity is slowly giving way to contemplative travel mood… meaning GenCon is around the corner.

If you are one of the lucky visitors, come find us at booth (#101) directly across the big Paizo booth. We are sharing with our sister company Pelgrane Press. Stop by pick up the latest Annuals, any other products you might be missing, a demo of Character Artist 3 or just a quick chat about mapping.
Gencon Booth Location

Please bear with us if we respond a little more slowly in the coming days than usual. GenCon takes a lot of attention and energy.

Prince George BC
October 20-21

NPC-Con 2012 is the 3rd gaming convention we have held here in Prince George with a focus on table top gaming. Primarily for Role Playing Games and Board games. This year, we also added two new features to our Con relevant to gaming: tabletop war gaming and Fantasy Map Making. The Map Making addition took the form of a how-to tutorial on how to use Campaign Cartographer 3 done by Dominic (Nick) Pelletier, known on the Profantasy Forum by the user name ‘bearclaw’.

Nick used many of his own map works as examples of how to do many of the basic functions such as adding landmasses, rivers etc. to an overland map; snaps and connecting tools on a dungeon map; sheets and effects; zooming tools; symbols; and how to edit entities. Time limits made it so that he was unable to demonstrate how to use layers, manual drawing tools or printing of maps.

The mapping session was well attended with several of the attendees saying that they came to the Con specifically for the tutorial on how to use Campaign Cartographer 3. All in all, the session went for just under two hours.

All of us at NPC-Con want to extend an extra special thank you to Profantasy for providing three door prizes for our mapping tutorial. The attendees were eager for these prizes and they made a wonderful addition to the Con. Next year, we fully plan on adding more mapping events to our con and are very thankful to Profantasy for supporting our small northern gaming Con.

By Dominic (Nick) Pelletier

It’s time again for the world largest boardgame fair in Essen, Germany. This Thursday Spiel’12 opens its halls – and ProFantasy will be there.

See us in Hall 6, booth 6-711. Stop by to say hi, chat, get a CC3 demo, check out our new releases (Symbol Set 3 – Modern v3, Tome of Ultimate Mapping v3) and get a preview of the upcoming Perspectives 3 and Character Artist 3 artwork. See you there!

Over the last five years the RPC (Role Play Convention) has grown to be Germany largest roleplaying convention. Spiel in Essen is still much bigger, but where it is mostly a boardgaming affair the RPC is about evenly split between computer gaming, LARP and pen and paper rpgs. As this is much closer to our software’s audience, we decided it was time that we gave the RPC a try. I had visited the show for the past three years and knew roughly what to expect, but you never really know how a show turns out until you try it.

I was a bit upset, when after registering in January it took the organizers until April to get back to us with confirmation and details – and the Profantasy booth suddenly sat smack in the middle of the computer gaming area. But from there communication with and help from the organizers was excellent. They were very responsive to my questions and concerns and we got moved into the proper pen&paper area very quickly.

Cologne is close enough to my hometown (about 50 mins drive) that I didn’t need to get accommodation near the show. In contrast to Essen, exhibitor parking and set access to the halls is very convenient, and I was able to do the setup in a relaxed manner on Friday night, without driving through heavy traffic and worrying about closing times. All equipment we had ordered was on site, in good condition, and we were able to create a nice and professional looking booth.

The show had changed halls from last year and while this provided ample space, it had one drawback: Computer gaming was in the same hall as the other exhibitors, and those booths are VERY loud. Luckily we were far enough away so that it didn’t bother us too much, I heard many visitors complain about the noise on Saturday. It seemed like they toned it down a bit on Sunday. Apart from that the atmosphere was more relaxed than in Essen. Everybody was very friendly and one of the highlights of the show are the many costumed people (exhibitors and visitors).

Due to significantly less visitors (organizers claim 30,000 and 120,000 visitors respectively) and large aisles there were never any jams (as there are sometimes in Essen). But questions, sales and demos did keep me busy throughout both days, so that I was glad about the occasional breather when Gordon and Michael (my helpers on Saturday and Sunday respectively) took care of the booth. The only boring stretch was the last two hours on Saturday – the halls were basically dead after 6pm and the show went on to 8pm, unnecessarily in my opinion.

When I started doing shows for Profantasy i tt used to be that current customers used these occasions to buy the new things we had on offer or stock up with add-ons they hadn’t pruchased yet. These types of sales are basically gone – with few exceptions people buy these things online. The Internet and credit cards (or Paypal) have seen to that. Most sales nowadays are to new customers (which is a good thing) who have either never seen Campaign Cartographer before or who have heard about it and want to take a look at it before buying. Of our sales at the show 90% included a CC3 – meaning they were to new customers, or people getting back into it after CC2.

Responses were good from both old users and the ones who saw it for the first time. I had one guy just walk up and thank me enthusiastically for our software – he was using CC3, Fractal Terrains 3 and Cosmographer 3 for great effect in his Sci-Fi campaign he said. Another customer complained about how hard it had been to use CC2 when he tried it years back, but was happy to purchase CC3 after I showed him the improvements in the user interface.

I unexpectedly met Herwin Wielink (fantasy-maps.com) at the show (he drove over from Amsterdam) and we had a nice talk about mapping and fantasy cartography.

The “Wall of Maps” continues to be the biggest pull for customers walking by the booth – we got many awed comments – but the little dungeon diorama I had on the table also got quite a bit of attention. Many people inquired about how it was done, what materials I used, and so on. As most of the interested people were new to CC3, demoing was mostly limited to CC3, CD3 and DD3, with the occasional bit of Cosmographer and Fractal Terrains thrown in.

Taking the booth down was quick and painless on Saturday evening. Michael was there to help, and we were done and away in 30 minutes. Doing a 2-day show is also a lot less stressful than a 4-day one. The 1-hour drive to and fro is a bit annoying of course, but at least I get to be home each night. Of course I was tired after the show, but overall a lot less exhausted than after Spiel or GenCon. As it looks, I’d be happy to do the RPC next year again.

Photographs by Gordon Gurray

RPC Germany 2012 in Cologne

This weekend is Germany’s largest RPG convention in Cologne, the RPC Germany 2012 “Dark Waters”.

For the first time Profantasy will have a booth at that convention. Look for us in Hall 10, booth c-067. Come visit us and we’ll be happy to demo our software and answer any questions you might have.