Well, in 2020, all the cons are apparently developed by James Halliday… I did not really participate in Gen Con Online earlier this summer (as I had IRL work to do), and Castle Tricon is my first real venture into the online gaming convention space. This particular con is normally held in a real castle with real people, but of course, this year that can’t be. So, the game companies that normally meet at the castle decided to develop a virtual world to show off their new games. CGE, Horrible Guild and HeidelBÄR have joined forces for a full weekend of gaming. It really makes me feel like I’m in the OASIS of Ready Player One…
The convention is open to anyone this weekend – and you can get your ticket here: https://www.castletricon.com/
It is free to the public for Saturday Sept 26 and Sunday Sept 27, 10 AM CET–2 AM CET. That’s 4AM US Eastern time until 8PM US Eastern Time
Thursday was set aside as a media day, and I had the ability to take a half day off from work to explore this virtual world/con and talk with some old friends.
The virtual world is divided into four parts – central spawn area and three demo areas, each belonging to one of the companies, HeidelBÄR Games, Czech Games Edition, and Horrible Guild. In this virtual world, you will get your own avatar and can use the client to video chat with people. One thing to note – in order to join the world, you’ll have to be using a PC or Mac computer, and you have to download their proprietary software (About 350MB).
Each of the companies has their own area.
CGE has demos of Under Falling Skies, Lost Ruins of Arnak and Codenames Online
Horrible has demos of Unicorn Fever, Railroad Ink and Vampire: The Masquerade
HeidelBÄR has demos of Spicy, Coyote and Ananzi.
Games are played via Tabletopia, and that whole process is integrated into the virtual world. You don’t even need to have a previously created Tabletopia account – it will just all work! Each game board has a demo person available to explain the game as well as help you navigate Tabletopia’s interface if you haven’t done that before.
When you enter the world, you are in a central spawn area. From here you can chat with other people (as it seems to be a natural gathering place) or you can wander around to the different areas. If you ever get lost, just look for an avatar that is in a virtual shirt from one of the companies – they are scattered about the world, and they will be ready to help you with whatever you need.
You get to pick your own avatar, and you can rename yourself.
There is also a directory of people who are online at any given moment, and there is an internal messaging system to send anyone a message.
You are pretty much free to roam about as you like – you can see things in the distance with hovering labels over everything – and there is plenty of helpful signage to make sure you do not get lost…
For me, I actually found the virtual world a bit annoying. I had issues moving around, and like in Tabletopia, I was never zoomed in or out enough. You can apparently hold down the right mouse button to look around better, but I mean, this just complicated things for me. maybe I’m just too old fashioned. I also found it annoying to be obstructed by campfires and teepees and rocks and whatever else was in my way. Maybe I’m just too impatient. I would rather just be able to click into the room that I want to be in – not wander around for 2 minutes trying to get there. (A word of wadning too – if you fly around in CGE-World, and then suddenly try to walk without land underneath you, you can end up in an eternal fall and have to respawn!)
But on the other hand, by moving around in this virtual world – you really do get a little sense of being somewhere else. There are things to explore, people to meet. If you see a bunch of people standing in one of the chat circles, you can jump in and join them.
My son, looking over my shoulder, though thought it was pretty cool, and I think he’s definitely going to sign up for the weekend now…
I also had to take time to change out of my pajamas. While your camera is not always on, as you walk thru the yellow chat zones, your camera and mic are instantly turned on…
But, all that aside, it is a neat idea. a great way to chat with people, learn about new games and maybe even get one played. Each of the companies also has a stage where you can see some new videos or games in progress. I couldn’t find a schedule anywhere for what was going to happen on the stages, but maybe one will appear later on!
For a first look on a non-crowded Press day, I was impressed with the setup. Everything works great, and the big test will come this weekend when the place is (hopefully) full of gamers. My contacts at Horrible say there are over 1,000 registered users so far, but they are hopeful that more will sign up. There is no cost, and it looks to be a great way to learn about the new games!
Who knows? Maybe this is the way of the future for all gaming conventions!
If you’re interested, please check it out. You can get your free ticket here: https://www.castletricon.com/
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor