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ProFantasy Software will be at Dragonmeet 2012 (Kensington Town Hall, London) this Saturday (December 1st).

As always, I’m looking forward to this small, but extremely friendly convention that marks the end of the year’s convention circuit. I get to meet up with Simon and the Pelgrane crew, and it’s a nice chance to talk to some of our customers from the green and pleasant isle.

So if you’re in London on the weekend, stop by and say hello at the ProFantasy booth, which is immediately to the right as you enter the exhibitor’s hall.

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

Now that I’m safely back home, had a good night’s sleep (or two) and have sorted out all the boxes and stuff I brought back, I’m happy to report that it was another good year for ProFantasy at SPIEL. Games were played (few by me), fun was had (lots by me) and software was sold (by my stalwart helpers Gordon and Michael was well as me).

Spiel remains the huge affair that is has been with well over a 100,000 visitors (if not beyond 150,000). I’m sure they be announcing a new visitor record shortly. I get to see the usual mix of familiar faces and new people. It’s fun to hear “I wish this had been around when I was a GM!” from 30ish people. I can heartily assure them that our software WAS around when they were GMing.

We keep getting very good feedback from people using the software. One customer specifically congratulated us on the “excellent work with Symbol Set 3”. I am happy that the Annual Vol 5 was very popular (we almost sold out). Having a Jon Roberts Style map on the wall was one of the major drawing points and quite a few people took an Annual Vol 5 together with their CC3 purchase. Interestingly the popularity of DD3 and CD3 switched from last year, where City Designer was more popular. This time it was Dungeon Designer – perhaps in part because I had the big “Tendrils Oak Inn” poster not back on the wall, but lying on the table as a main display.

Map DisplayWe did sell some fewer core programs this year, but made up for it with more add-ons. Dioramas was more popular than usual, which have to do with me having the Dungeon Diorama from the January Annual on the table. SS3 Modern didn’t do quite as well as I had hoped because interest in modern settings seemed generally lower (fewer Shadowrun players than usual). In contrast, we did get several inquiries about Steampunk artwork – a genre that is apparently still on the rise. Some customers purchased the new Tome, but generally customer at the booth prefer a hard copy to a download only which I can’t put into their hands immediately (same as the current Annual subscription). Both are much more popular in our web store in comparison. We sold two of our posters (the Kuslik city and the Tendril’s Oak Inn) on Sunday to a very keen customer (he kept coming back and asking me for my display posters).

Demoing was mostly confined to CC3, DD3 and CD3 (more DD3 interest this time), with some Fractal Terrains, Dioramas and Cosmographer thrown in. While I switched to the Annual styles (e.g. the Jon Roberts style) a few times for demoing, the CC3 default Structures catalog is always good for a “Wow, that is VERY nice!” comment.

RaumschiffI was especially impressed with a perhaps 6 years old boy who created the map on the right. I demoed Cosmo 3 for his (much) older brother and he insisted on giving it a try as well. I gave him some pointers for the first few steps, then left him alone for 10 minutes or so. When I came back he had created this. I didn’t touch CC3 myself for this at all, except for exporting the map.

Overall I still think that the rpg part of Essen is slowly shrinking. The rpg hall (Hall 6) was definitely a bit smaller than last year (again), although most of that seemed to have been due to less LARP booths – the usual suspects of German rpg publishers and vendors were still there. Miniatures are also still strong, but a lot of “utility stuff” is creeping in, like card protectors for magic cards, carrying cases for miniatures and so on. Sunday had some rather quiet stretches, and the last hour before closing time is slow every day. I’d prefer a closing time of 6pm instead of 7pm (like at GenCon).

This year – due to it being school holidays – general attendance was high throughout, with a significant drop only in Sunday. Saturday of course remains the busiest day. This mostly affects the larger boardgame halls. While it was busier on Saturday in our hall too, we never had the kind of press that you get in the bigger halls. There are rumors that at least some of the halls will be torn down and rebuilt over the winter, but I’m not sure how much truth there is to this. It would certainly be nice for Hall 6, as it is getting a bit scruffy – and it is also rather dark compared to the other halls. And it would certainly benefit from easier access. Currently you have to walk quite a long way from the main entrance to get to the rpg hall.

I had Gordon at the booth to help me from Thursday to Saturday and Michael on Saturday and Sunday (giving me two helpers for the busiest day). They were invaluable as always. Apart from some strange problem of my usual adhesives not working on the booth walls anymore, setup and take down was smooth as always. If the Autobahn hadn’t been closed on my way home I’d have been home early.

I’m looking forward to next year’s SPIEL. See you there, boardgamers of the world.

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!

GenCon Indy 2012GenCon Indy is drawing near and it’s almost time to pack the suitcase for the trip to Indianapolis.

You’ll find ProFantasy Software at booth #1427 in the exhibitors hall. Checkout the exhibitors’ hall map here. We will have the new Symbol Set 3 – Modern for sale, as well as the new Tome of Ultimate Mapping (as a pdf) and last year’s Annual collection (Volume 5). You can also get a glimpse at the artwork for the upcoming Perspectives 3 and Character Artist 3.

We are looking forward to the show and hope to see as many users as possible!

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.

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FT3 Box

This Saturday (November 26th) is Dragonmeet time again. Profantasy and sister-company Pelgrane Press (both long-time sponsors) will be there, at London’s friendliest role-palying convention.

You’ll find us as you enter the dealer’s hall immediately to the right. I’ll be there, and if the Royal Mail delivers, so will the Fractal Terrains 3 boxes – and I’ll of course be happy to demo it. Stop by if you want a peek, buy or upgrade to FT3, or just want to pick up your pre-ordered FT3 box (bring your order number!).

There is a podcast interview with Ralf here with GMS Magazine – 14:00 in. They discuss using CC3 to create the Dragon Rage boardgame map (articles here), Dioramas, Fractal Terrains 3 and the Annuals. He also mentions the Tome – and Remy Monsen is working on a new version of that for our updated software.

The ProFantasy BoothAnother GenCon has come and gone – it seems in only the blink of an eye. While the show was good for ProFantasy, it wasn’t quite the spectacular success we’ve had in some previous years – sales declined about 10% from a very high base, and we are still one of the few companies which makes a modest profit from GenCon. While the fact that we didn’t have a finished new product this year (FT3 is only in beta) is part of the reason, selling software which can also quite easily be downloaded from the website gets just a bit harder each year, as broadband gets more and more common and people increasingly prefer the electronic-only version of software. Our website sales reflect this. We also get a post-Con blip as people who have seen the demo make their decision.
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