Back from GTS

I’ve been back from this year’s GTS for almost a week, so it’s past time I chipped in my con report. In short, I had a great, fast trip, met many people, saw a lot of friends, and did some business.

I flew out of O’Hare on Sunday afternoon and got into Las Vegas early Sunday evening. I checked into Bally’s at their new airport check-in desk, right in the baggage claim area, then jumped on a shuttle to take me to the hotel. Once there, I went straight to my room and unpacked, then walked downstairs for my first meeting at 7:30 PM.

I had drinks with John Zinser of AEG and Darren Orange of Reactor 88 Studios about the Brave New World movie in the works. If all goes well, there should be some footage to see this summer.

Afterward, John, Darren, and I met up with Christian Moore, Sean Lashgari (of Hidden City Games), and Ken Hite for dinner. We had a good meal, and there was a movement toward having a late night afterward. I begged off and escaped to my room to type instead.

I still had a little bit of work to go on the Mutant Chronicles novelization, and with a meeting with the folks from Paradox Entertainment the next day, I couldn’t blow it off. I shackled myself to the desk in my room and typed until I started to nod off at the keyboard, sometime after midnight local time.

About that time, my roommate—Marcus King of Titan Games—showed up. He ran back downstairs for a bit, and I kept typing until I realized the words coming out of my fingers made no sense. I hopped into bed for a few hours and got up before 7 AM, just as Marcus was leaving the room again.

I got cleaned up and starting typing again, and I finished the book at 9 AM. I e-mailed it off to Joakim Zetterberg at Paradox, then went downstairs to grab coffee, a pastry, and my badge, not necessarily in that order.

After sorting all that out, I made my way up to the 26th floor for my first seminar, “Getting Your Game Published.” Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions—the man behind Free RPG Day—joined me, and we made a fine Abbot and Costello team. We come from different perspectives but have a lot of respect for each other, and it really clicked. The guys at recorded the whole thing and promise to have it (and all of the other GTS seminars) up on the web soon.

When that was done, I answered questions in the hallway until I had to run off to my 12:30 meeting with Fred Malmberg, Leigh Stone, and Joakiim Zetterberg from Paradox Entertainment. They showed me all sorts of cool stuff for the Mutant Chronicles movie, and we promised to work with each other again soon if we can.

Then I dashed back upstairs for my 2 PM seminar, “Career Freelancing.” I ran solo on this one, but it was still a lot of fun, chock full of good questions. I prefer to run my seminars less as lectures and more as question and answer sessions. Each group I meet is different, and I’d rather get them the information they want instead of shoving details at them they may not want to know.

Afterward, I got to chatting with Lincoln Stollard, who’s interested in games as art. While I do this for a living, that’s a subject near to my heart, so we had plenty to talk about, and he ended up joining me and a pack of other people for dinner.

A crew of us rallied in the lounge outside of the exhibit hall at 5 PM to head over to the Rio for the legendary seafood buffet. I’ve been to Vegas countless times since my first GTS back in 1988 or so, but I’d never taken part in this. We had something like 15 people at dinner, including John and Michelle Nephew of Atlas Games, Hal Mangold, Bill Bodden, and Nicole Lindroos of Green Ronin, Mike Stackpole, James Mishler and Joyce Greenholdt of Comics & Games Retailer, John and Judith Kovalic, Ken Hite, Rachel (formerly with GAMA, whose last name I can’t recall), and a friend of the Kovalics. Nicole has pictures up on her Flickr account for all to enjoy.

After dinner, we rolled back to Bally’s and had some drinks in what became known as the Square Bar. (It’s shaped that way. It’s not us. Honest.) There I ran into many friends. Sometime after midnight, a crew of us took off with Christian Moore, Ryan Dancey, and Luke Peterschmidt to visit their latest business venture: Eden, a gentlemen’s club.

Not to protest too much, but I hadn’t voluntarily been in such a place since my bachelor party. Still, it’s not every day I get to say, “Let’s go to my buddies’ club in Vegas,” so off we went.

The crowd was light and the girls thin, but considering it was after midnight on a Monday night, I couldn’t have expected more. We sat in the VIP section, and I got a fast education on what goes into running such a place. I caught up with Scott Magner, who bought me an Irish coffee just as I was starting to nod off. Eventually we took off and made it back to Bally’s. After another drink at the Square Bar, it was off to bed about 4 AM.

The next morning, I got up and met Lincoln at 10 AM for an interview for a book he’s working on. I had a lunch meeting scheduled with Scott Haring at 11, but a young freelancer called me up and asked if she could ask me a few questions first. I cleared pushing my meeting with Scott back fifteen minutes and chatted with her fast. After that, Scott and I grabbed a fast lunch and caught up for a bit until the show floor opened at noon.

I didn’t have much time, so I breezed through the exhibit hall as fast as I could. I chatted with lots of friends, saw some cool new things, and had a couple business meetings I can’t quite yet talk about. A couple of the more interesting announcements included Green Ronin landing the license to publish an RPG based on A Song of Fire and Ice and also a deluxe version of Faery’s Tale. Nothing looked like the Next Big Thing, except maybe the Star Wars Pocket Model TCG or the Chaotic CCG straight from 4Kids.

As the hall closed down, I managed to see every last booth. Then I rallied with Hal, Ken, Lincoln, and Dan Tibbles for a quick dinner at Paris. You’d be hard pressed to find a more interesting group to chat with over good food. Afterward, I had a few drinks at the Square Bar.

About 10 PM, I said my good-byes and ran up to my room to grab my suitcase and backpack. A few minutes later, I was in a cab heading for the airport and my 11:56 PM flight. I got back home safe and sound the next day.

It was a fast, packed trip. I wish I could have spent more time at the show, but duties at home called louder. Now I’m back at my desk, digging hard into my next novel (Rumble in the Jungle) and dreaming of the summer cons to come. Hope to see you there!