As you might already know, we built Roll20 as a way for Riley, Richard, and myself (Nolan) to keep in touch across long distances. Now Roll20 is huge… over a million users, enough income to employ us and several key contractors, and so on. Big enough that if we really wanted to, we could probably move closer and establish offices and the like… but we kind of enjoy having to rely on the program, as it keeps us honest users. That said, we still really, really like getting together in person as well, and Gen Con over the past few years has served as one of the best chances to do that.
Here are some thoughts from our team on their favorite Gen Con experiences:
Steve Koontz, Programmer
_ As many of you experienced the early morning will call line for Gen Con was just shorter than the Nile river. Thankfully we were surrounded by Roll20 fans who recognized us from our snazzy Roll20 duds. About halfway down the line and around the third feature request, a gentleman in the group ahead of ours politely interrupted._
He apologized but wanted to take the chance to thank us for making Roll20 and letting him stay connected with his friends. This is a sentiment we hear often and echoes my own love for what Roll20 represents. While it’s always awesome to hear stories like this there was something more fervent in this man’s tone and expression. He explained he was a military officer who had been deployed to Afghanistan. It turns out Roll20 was one of the few pieces of software that would run on his archaic field computer and it allowed him to see his friends back home and continuing gaming as a badly needed outlet during his service.
I had never imagined reconnecting friends from inside a desert bunker in a war zone but it put in perspective from the safe air conditioned office I’m sitting in now how lucky we all are to have table top gaming and the opportunities modern technology has given us to share our love of imagination and storytelling.
Adam Koebel, Game Master in Residence:
GenCon has always been about community, for me. Game designers I only ever see at cons, old friends, people playing games. My favourite GenCon 2015 memory isn’t one thing but the hundred little conversations with fans of Roll20 and the shows we’ve been doing. Posing for photos and answering questions from people who were excited not only about what we’ve been doing but enthusiastic about getting out there, finding some other nerds and starting their own campaigns. That’s the best part, for me. Seeing the community grow and flourish.
Richard Zayas, Co-Founder, Finances
_ Anyone at Gen Con this year knows the hobby is growing. It was self-evident. We see this as our user numbers and hours played grow from week to week, but seeing the mobs of people just clamoring to game with each other is a reassuring sight._
Gen Con is enormous, not in just in size but duration (best four days in gaming). With so many events and excitement going on most people, including myself, get caught up in what I’m missing out on. There was ALWAYS another fan to meet up with or game to squeeze in. But the few quiet moments the Roll20 team had together not worrying about, bug fixes or help tickets, would be the highlight for me this year.
Riley Dutton, Co-Founder, Programmer
Do you want me to be honest about my favorite part of Gen Con? It was dinner at St. Elmo’s! I guess I should explain that a bit… we first did Gen Con in 2012 (when we probably had about 5,000 users). Only Richard and I were able to go… it was last minute, we barely got a panel together, and there were only about twenty people who came to the panel. Afterwards, a fellow named Keith came up and said he’d missed our Kickstarter but he wanted to do something for us; he had reservations to this famous steakhouse (that had even been on Parks & Rec!) and due to some friends having to cancel wanted to see if we’d come. IT IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD. The next year, we returned the favor and bought Keith dinner, now we’re to our fourth fancy St. Elmo’s meal at Gen Con with mega-Pro-user Keith, and it’s always a great bonding experience / food coma. I look forward to that gaming-friendly dinner year-round.
Stephanie Powell, Community Manager:
My favorite part of Gen Con was our panel. Getting questions and feedback from the community members in that sort of excited atmosphere was invaluable. It was a very cool experience to actually see our what our community is like in real life.
That leaves me, right? Well, I’ll play wrap-up… dying twice in True Dungeon, drinking too much alongside pre/during/post-ENnies festivities, and simply getting to PLAY SOME GAMES (Dominion and Spyfall having the clearest blocks of time). And a huge THANK YOU to those who voted in the ENnies, surging us to our third consecutive win.
Gen Con and Indianapolis are always a really joyful thing, and the chance to hang out with the community (and the rad people I get to work with on making this thing great) is something special. Thanks to everyone who’s made this experience so magical.
But now it’s back to work! We’re hoping to have a mini-update fixing a few dangling redesign items and refining the Jukebox in the coming months, so stay tuned…