I'm back from GenCon Indy 2008, after 13 hours of driving. Here are my own, very subjective impressions.
-- The convention was very well-attended. Industry insider gossip has the attendance at 5 or 6 percent above last year, which is pretty impressive given the jump in gas prices.
-- One way the fans saved money was by not spending it in the dealer room. It wasn't a bad year, but nobody I talked to said it was fantastic, either. Certainly not the best sales year ever, despite the bigger crowds.
-- There wasn't really any one single "gotta-have" product this year. Fantasy Flight Games had their Battlestar Galactica board game, and Privateer Press had Monsterpocalypse. Wizards of the Coast, of course, had the Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons -- but that's been out in stores for months already. I don't think this is a bad thing, really. "Must-have" products in the past have sucked all the oxygen (i.e. dollars) out of the dealer room for everyone else.
-- The most heavily-promoted item was Champions Online. Pretty much every flat surface in downtown Indianapolis had a Champions Online logo plastered on it. Rather impressive for an online game which won't even go live until 2009.
-- In the roleplaying section, I was impressed enough by A Dirty World by Greg Stolze to buy a copy.
-- Best meal: Mexican-style red snapper stuffed with octopus and shrimp at Huachinango, on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Heartily recommended.
-- Worst meal: breakfast at a Bob Evans restaurant in Dayton on the homeward leg. Biscuits with the consistency of an art eraser, sausage patties cooked to hockey-puck toughness, a mix of underdone and overdone potatoes on the side, and coffee like weed killer. The place to have breakfast if you're planning a tri-state murder spree and want to get in the right frame of mind.
-- Best side trip: The Air Force Museum in Dayton. I could have spent a week there instead of two hours on Monday morning. Also qualifies for Best Juxtaposition: the Wright Flyer replica hanging opposite an F-22 Raptor in the Modern Flight gallery.