Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gen Con

Gaming has been one of my favorite hobbies since 1983, when I first discovered Champions. Champions is the superhero roleplaying game that I played when I met my lifelong friends here in the Michiana area. Essentially you take the role of a superhero in a game of pretend, only instead of running around the yard with a towel around your neck, you sit around a table and use metal miniatures on a map, rolling dice to resolve actions, whether success or failure. There are hundreds of these games, from Dungeons & Dragons to Mutants & Masterminds, to Villains & Vigilantes. Gen Con is the ultimate experience for those who play roleplaying games, board games, even video games. This four-day convention is expected to draw 85,000 gamers this week, and today I was one of them.

My buddy Rob picked up a ticket for me when he was in Indianapolis on Thursday, which saved hours of waiting in line. He drove us down this morning and we walked right past hundreds of people standing in line.
I wanted to see the new Champions Online demonstration for myself. Champions Online will be an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game) that brings the characters that I've been squaring off with for 25 years to our computer screens, and it's being made by the same guys who brought us City of Heroes four years ago.

I got to talk to Steve Long, former attorney and gamer who used to belong to a Champions Amateur Press Alliance (APA) with me and several other Champions players. He bought the Hero Games property some years ago and has developed it well enough that it was snapped up by Cryptic Studios for its next project. He is very excited about this new project, as well as the upcoming 6th edition of the Hero System rules. I don't blame him. The character costume generator alone on this new game is simply amazing. It's quite an upgrade over CoH. You can literally watch the muscle tone of your character change as you move an onscreen slider. It's that detailed! Game play looks very fast, and there are comic book fonts on the screen in both word balloons and captions. Instead of fully painted characters like CoH has, Champions Online characters appear to be drawn with line art with colors that are a little flatter and more like comic book art. It makes for an effective illusion that you are playing in a comic book story.

Champions Online will be released as both an Xbox 360 and a PC game, and if you have the PC version, you can either use a special Xbox controller or your keyboard and mouse. This looks like fun!

I passed by the WizKids booth in time to see a live Heroclix demonstration too. And when I say live, I mean they used living people as the Heroclix! They had actors playing Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man (shown above), Daredevil, and Ms. Marvel. Each of them had a scaled up Heroclix dial, and a giant board to play on. They had little kids roll giant dice to resolve the actions. What a way to introduce them to the game!

Ms. Marvel apparently had the ability to withstand a giant wedgie. I'm not sure where that ability is on the dial, but she had it for the whole game!

I also picked up a book that I've been waiting for for quite some time. Green Ronin Publishing had advance copies of their Wild Cards sourcebook for Mutants & Masterminds. I'm really looking forward to reading this one!

I also had lunch with two of my teacher friends, one of whom having moved to Tennessee this summer. We ate at Buca di Beppo and had some amazing Italian food. I got to see several of my South Bend area gaming friends and even one of my CoH friends, Ben, who lives in New Jersey. When I got home, I got a huge hug from my daughter, whom I had not seen all day. I brought her back a pink stuffed bear dressed as a ballerina in a purple tutu. She loved it.

All in all, I'd say it was a great day.


KC Ryan said...

Sounds like a lot of fun.

I went to Gen Con, once, in its last year in Milwaukee, pretty much to go and see it before I got too old for the darn thing. Since I only play Champions, it hardly seemed worth it to go.

I was wrong.

Of course.

I had a great time. People were extraordinarily nice, I met a whole bunch of new friends, and the games were a lot of fun.

I might even go again sometime.

Great to see that Gen Con's still going strong! Long may it reign.

KC Ryan said...

Sounds like you really had a great time, Jim.

I went to Gen Con once - it was its last year in Milwaukee and I wanted to go before I got too old to enjoy it.

So I just decided to go on up there.

Great time. I only played Champions, but I met a ton of great people and just enjoyed the heck out of it.

If you live anywhere near Indianapolis, sounds like it's still the place to go in the summer. Long may it reign!