Last year I popped in on the Saturday, stayed for *maybe* two hours and left.
This year I arrived on Saturday afternoon about 6pm (which was later than planned due to very pleasent afternoon and company in Oxford re: Dave and Marysa's wedding) and left at almost 7pm on the Sunday. Considering I had planned (even on Saturday) to leave after lunch the next day this can be taken as either:
a) I was very busy
b) I really enjoyed the con
c) both of the above
This may surprise people that know my thoughts on previous GenCons but the answer was actually 'c' - both of the above. I had a really good time at this years show. Now part of that will very much be down to the people and the amount of meetings I had, but a large proporation will be down to the fact that it was a lot better than previous events. They had more people, the trade hall was busier (I didn't talk to a single trader that hadn't had a good show this year), the signage EXISTED (which was a major issue last year) and the show had a (gasp) BUZZ! Which is something that has been a bit lacking in previous years too.
I'm not going to say it was without issues, but those issues were a lot more minor than those from previous events and Horsemen do seem to have listened to much of the criticism previously aimed at them and improved things in many areas.
Highlights were many but some choice ones include:
Talking to lemuriapress (Erik Mona, Paizo), mytholder (Gareth Hanrahan, Mongoose) and others late into the night about the state of the industry, our predictions on what will happen in the next 2-5 years and how to best weather it and try and get new blood into the scene.
Bumping into a very old school friend, Simon English, whom I first met and RPG'd with when we were 13 years old and spending lots of time chatting and catching up.
Playtesting a new secret project card game which zencadet is developing for another secret project which involves a prominent and well known artist, zencadet and yours truly.
Finally getting my hands on a print copy of Pathfinder Beta! (it sold out before I could blink at GenCon Indy so I was very glad to have a second chance to grab a copy!)
Lots of great talks/meetings with a variety of people including Mel Chester (Pagan Angel) and Matthew Sprange (Mongoose Publishing) regarding a variety of topics.
Being told that rumours were 'abound' at the show that I was looking at taking over the GenCon UK license in two years time.
Having davywavy come up to me very late on the Saturday night to tell me how he thought I *should* be running the show because Horsemen weren't professionals or businessmen - and then having me introduce to him the owner of Horsemen (whop run GenCon UK) whom I'd been talking to when Dave joined our conversation to give us his opinions on them :p (That was very amusing for me - but credit where credit is due Dave stuck by his words even after finding out who he was also talking to and Mark accepted the criticisms without getting upset).
Going for a good pub lunch with Mark and Sean from Horsemen to talk about the event, the events future and how to make it the show that the UK, the gamers and the industry deserves. I'll go on record by saying that I do think Horsemen have learnt a lot over the last few years and are certainly willing to take onboard comments, criticisms and ideas on how to make the show bigger and better - and I think they are heading in the right direction.
All in all I had a really great time at the show and part of me wishes I had been for the whole four days had I not had other engagements. Yes, I will admit that I am very surprised to be saying that. I'm looking forward to seeing what other feedback from the show I see and hear but I really do think this year was a marked improvement on last years event and I really do hope we see the show continue to move forward and improve.