Origins 2018 Roundup

Published on 2018-06-23

The Origins Game Fair is a medium-large convention (17,000 or so people) in Columbus Ohio that BPG tends to go to every year. Usually we help out in the Games on Demand room to earn our badges and support Indie Press Revolution, who sells our games. Origins is, for reasons I don’t exactly understand, a pretty relaxed affair and it is usually a pleasure to attend. 

BPG Demo Booth

This year, in part because of the financial cushion Drip support provides, we went the extra step of having our very own demo booth! This was a lot of work, but also very rewarding. We felt extremely legit, had a place to hang out and hob-nob with friends and fellow designers, and we had the chance to demo all our games to interested and interesting people. We still sold through IPR, but they were right around the corner—and our presence really drove sales. IPR sold out of Fiasco, The Warren, and Night Witches pretty fast. It was really fun to show off our games, including Star Crossed—we brought a tumbling block tower and asked Kickstarter backers to sign it! 

The Bully Pulpit Games Booth Team
The Bully Pulpit Games Booth Team


People were eager to learn more about what we are doing with Fiasco, and the reaction was universally positive. We left Origins more excited than ever about the revision. I’ll lay out the details in a separate post, and I’m anxious to hear what you all think. The brief answer is that we’re refactoring the game to make it play faster and be more accessible—the new version will retain the mechanical structure of the original game (why mess with that?) while streamlining play and creating new and weird opportunities for Fiasco enthusiasts to do their thing. 

The Roach

At Origins the BPG team also met with our friend Jay Treat, who is taking a strange and contradictory pile of notes and using them to revise our oldest published game, The Shab Al-Hiri Roach. Now called simply The Roach, it will be a fun and engaging social deduction party game with all the academic horror and black humor you’d expect. Looking back on the original game is both instructive and terrifying - as written, it takes about six hours to play. There are many definitions of madness, I guess. The new version will shave at least five hours off that, while delivering the same horrible and hilarious time.

Playing Games

Personally I played fewer games than I usually do, but that’s because of the booth. I got in three games of Ross Cowman’s BFF, which I love, and one game each of Thorny Games’ Xenolanguage (Deep in alpha playtest), Evil Hat’s Tachyon Squadron, and Lumpley’s Dogs in the Vineyard. On the side, I also infected Origins with Tim Hutchings’ wonderful game Apollo 47, which I highly recommend.*

Oh! And TBD Improv of Columbus put on a Ghost Court show, which was literally just playing Ghost Court on stage (with extra ... singing?), and I got to play the bailiff. It was surreal and hilarious.

Lessons Learned

It wasn’t all perfect - Origins has a history of shaky management and exciting methods of communicating, which resulted in some stress at Games on Demand and on the show floor. BPG straight-up does not attend shows without harassment policies, and Origins has a solid one on paper, but this year some friends got harassed anyway. Our people on the inside say GAMA is working hard to be better. We’re discussing our experiences with their staff. 

And in less important matters, selling out sounds wonderful but it means we could have sold more if we’d had the books to sell, which is a tough lesson for 2019. We’re already committed to going back. See you there!