MACE 2015: Am I getting too old?

I write about MACE in multiple places but this is where I write about me and my feelings – a place to vent.  Most people don’t want to read about how the sausage is made.  They just want it cooked and served up.  In the case of MACE, give the players “What, Where and When” and they are happy, for the most part.  Sometimes they don’t need a When as much as as a What and Where.  I try to provide that in the most organized fashion possible.  But I am human, last time I checked, and I go through a lot organizing these things.  So here is my vent after my 16th MACE, take it or leave it.

MACE 2015 was a very mixed bag for me personally this year.  I realize that a lot of it I put on myself, but in the end, I have to ask myself “am I getting too old for this?” I am not unhappy about how things went at MACE.  However as I develop this system, as we get more and more new people with more and more expectations, I begin to wonder if I can continue doing it.  Every time I develop a new aspect of OGRe or feel like I have reached a new high in the level of service, organization and games we provide, I get a few people expecting more.  And of course, when I can’t meet that expectation, I get attitude and complaints.  Can’t people be happy with what they get?  I already provide way more than most any other gaming con our size!

So that kind of defined the second half of my MACE experience in 2015.  The first half was far more positive and pleasant.  But it gradually got more and more frustrating because we had a massive crowd.  The new attendance record was quite apparent.  Only one of my games made out of 3, and that was only because I changed in the last week or so to something more popular.  I wanted to play Hegemonic, I Spy  and Legendary Planet (D&D 5) but replaced Hegemonic with Fortress America  because I did not find time to read the rules for Hegemonic.  Fortress America was quite fun despite losing as America.  My opponents were very intelligent and worked well together to coordinate a success invasion of the US.   I also got to play Sheriff of Nottingham which I bought in the dealers room. I saw it played on Geeks & Sundry with Will Wheaton.  It was a blast!!  Got to play it twice, and the second time was even more awesome!

The first day went by fast because we had so many people come in.  Lots of gaming was going on and we had a ton of first timers.  We were slammed for a good while there.  Heath and Megan both were amazing help. This year marked the first time I left OGRe open (I decided that last minute).  I developed a specific tool to be able to keep up with the registrations so that I could update my physical representation of the schedule – the posters.  In the end, it worked pretty well.  There are a few minor things I need to add or tweak but I think it worked well overall.

The one problem I spotted in my system is only obvious at MACE.  All the other events are smaller (although MACE West is definitely getting bigger).  The posters are getting way to confusing and big.  Even I could not find things fast enough.  It’s a forest for the trees kind of thing.   Fixing means making them bigger, with more breaks between time slots.  That may cause more problems than it solves but I may not have any choice.

I encouraged more and more people to go online although my site is still not 100% friendly with phones.  That tiny screen is just too small for what I am designing for.  I do what I can but people need to bring tablets or laptops and do it online from their room or home.  This is where I got some of my first complaints and where I got the first feeling that people felt entitled to all this service I was providing.

Saturday was another busy day.  I had to put out a few minor fires, help people around to find their tables and schmoozed a little.  We were slammed again but my volunteers stepped up.  This is also where I learned a hard lesson about one of the changes I made.  I placed organized play in with non-organized play because I knew organized play would not fill that room.  Unfortunately, they do not mix and I should have put organized play in their own room.  Next year, things will change.

By early afternoon, I was beat.  I decided to close gaming registration at 6 PM simply because I was done.  This was a big risk because I had never done it before.  I have scheduled myself for games Sat night but I was always in ear shot of the table and I had volunteers.  I did not have anyone to cover it so I went ahead and closed it.  Of course, someone was standing there asking if anyone would be there at 8 for the next slot.  I told folks to use the online app.  Of course, I got attitude.  It was subtle but enough for me to notice.  I went to eat supper and at the same time, make sure OGRe was working well enough to be left alone.  Suddenly it closed.  There is something out of sync between the MySQL date system and the PHP date – they must be getting it from two different places.  I sent most of the dinner break troubleshooting that.  By the end, I came up with a temporary solution and also a plan to write a permanent solution.  Why did I not think of that before??

After that frustrating time, I was really done.  I cancelled my game since there was only 2 players, and found a game to sit in.  I love Savage Saturday night.  Savage Worlds is just a fun game.  I sat at a table that needed players and got to play with good friends.  That was the highlight of the weekend.

Sunday is “zombie” day where you just let things flow and pack up.  We had a couple of new people come in but unfortunately I was done and they were on their own.  I hate I could not help them but all my stuff was already packed up and I am not really prepared to help anyone on Sunday.  Especially after the weekend we already had.  But other than that, the morning flowed OK.  Closing registration at 6 PM would a good idea.  I plan to do that with MACE in the future and maybe MACE West.

The odd thing is that Id id not go through the “postpartum” depression I normally do.  I was glad it was over and I was very satisfied with the weekend.  That could be good or it could be bad.  Am I getting to old for this?  I did get a little testy at times because I really get tired of the dumb questions.  But I also get tired of my little minor mistakes that tend to explode into messes at the con.

I got a lot of compliments but I wonder what the new people thought.  Many of the old love my system are have adjusted to it.  But what about the new people?

Board gaming and especially pick-up board gaming is really trending now.  Nest year I expect a lot more space for that kind of thing.  D&D Adventurers League is really picking up while Pathfinder Society is pretty much staying the same.  I plan to focus on the former a little more in our events.

Next is MACE East, then MACE West and then ConGregate and possibly something new.  Still waiting for agreements to be made and if all goes through, I will be returning to a place I never thought I would. We’ll see.

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