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