Metatopia 2016

Once again, it is time for Metatopia. This is a pretty special gaming convention as it offers game designers a venue for trying new games by providing them with a pool of playtesters. For players, it provides a glimpse at possible up and coming games that are in various states of development. In addition to the actual gaming, there is a lot of industry networking and a variety of panels discussing game design, editing, project development, and in this age, crowdfunding.

As someone who isn’t able to attend Origins or Gen Con, it is the next best thing as I’ve been able to meet some of the people whose names are on my favorite games, like Kenneth Hite, Cam Banks, and Fred Hicks.

(Sidebar: Because the industry is actually very small in comparison to other media, it is much easier to meet many of the big names and meeting them in such a small venue brings about a certain level of familiarity. I find this somewhat awkward to navigate at times as when I say hello to Cam Banks, he asks that I call him Cam. While I know Cam from sitting in on some of his playtests and have interacted with him enough on Twitter that he has also followed me, I don’t want to presume a friendship where one might not exist. The same goes with some of the industry people that live in New Jersey. Just because I’ve interacted with John Adamus, I wouldn’t want to presume a relationship where one doesn’t exist. At the most, I would put myself on the level of acquaintance. Sidebar over)

My plans for attending Metatopia this year were impacted by a few things like life. So as I write this, I may not be getting back to the con for the rest of the weekend but I’m happy that I got to attend on Friday. I only attended two events but they definitely scratched an itch.

I got to sit in on a very special TimeWatch scenario playtest run by the author himself, Kevin Kulp. TimeWatch is the game of pulp, time travelling adventure from Pelgrane Press. I met Kevin Kulp at Metatopia 2013 where we played in someone else’s psychic spy RPG and didn’t realize he was also one of the authors of Owl Hoot Trail. I had a great time playing with him and then I heard that he was an awesome GM. So I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to play in a game run by him. Mr. Kulp is a great GM and the scenario was an incredible amount of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing the published version of this scenario.

The other game was an alpha playtest of a Powered by the Apocalypse spy game called Deep Cover. As an alpha, it was very barebones and was more a test of the basic moves than anything else. I told the author that I had been looking for a PbtA game that emulated the espionage genre. While some of the recent cyberpunk-like hacks have elements of the genre, I really wanted to see one dedicated to it. The author was aiming to emulate games like Metal Gear Solid. It is very hard for me to judge this as it was a very early iteration. I hope to see more of it as it is developed.

And that was it for me. I hope I get to go again this year but I’ll definitely plan better for next year. If you have the chance to go, it is really a great experience.


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