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Convention Coverage: GenCon 1999
Dates:Thursday, August 5th through Sunday, August 8th
Location: Midwest Express Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Event Management: Wizards of the Coast
Required System:Your feet and a willingness to have some fun.
Author:Michael Ahlf      Date: August 8th 1999
Page: 4
Game Overview:

Day Three:Today was Gaming day. First, I had a chat with developers of "The Stone", an online game featuring puzzles and a chance to interact with others solving truly challenging brain teasers, with clues to a larger mystery (a "Mystery of the Stone") revealed every time you solve a smaller one. Next, I tried to enter my scheduled Ice Age block Magic tournament: alas, this was not to be, as the cards for the sealed deck arrangement had not arrived. I went to FASA's booth instead, and spent the morning playing their demo of BattleTech (large robot combat, off of which the Mechwarrior computer games and Kesmai's Online Multiplayer BattleTech are based). The afternoon went a bit more smoothly, with the press conference featuring Walter Koenig and Claudia Christian going well, with Precedence Entertainment announcing several new lines of card games, most notably a Terminator-based CCG. I also was able to confirm that they are at least looking into online CCG's similar to Sanctum and Chron-X, although no formal information can be given yet. I headed back to the exhibitor's floor after the conference, in time to catch the end of Sony's Chron-X championship (complete with StormTrooper guards): it was a pleasant experience even though the cards were on computer screens. I headed on over to 3DFX's booth, to discuss their upcoming products, and was given the promise that 3DFX _will_ have the fastest 32-bit performance of any card in its next chipset just as they boast the fastest 16-bit now, even though they are late on 32-bit implementation compared to some of their competitors. I was also informed that Nvidia stopped supplying reference drivers to STB once the 3DFX/STB merger occurred (pretty obvious since it would mean giving 3DFX their source code), and that unfortunately means that all owners of non-3DFX-based STB cards are pretty much out of luck for new drivers, unless they are willing to sacrifice their extra features and use NVidia reference drivers. Once that was finished, I made my way to the Urza Block sealed deck Magic tournament. My luck ran out in the draw, however, and so I did not do very well.

Day Four:: Wrapup day, pure and simple. There wasn't much left to be done -- I went through a puzzle as the folks at The Stone were kind enough to give me a walkthrough of how it works. Basically, users log in using the six symbols on their $20 pendant, and then pick a puzzle from the front menu. Each puzzle is fairly complex: the example I was shown could conceivably have used a search engine, online newspaper clippings and homepage searches, as well as the Stone's own message channels and chat forums, to dig up the eventual answer (hint: Finnegan's Wake, the puzzle, involves Quarks. Not the bar on Deep Space Nine, the miniature subatomic particles).

Games I saw and talked about today:

  • The Stone -- online puzzle game, by Abject Modernity Internet Creations.

  • BattleTech, by Fasa. Pen-and-paper large robot combat.

  • Chron-X, Sony's Online-only CCG.

  • Must-see/do events for tomorrow are:

    Where I'll Be:

    In Bed. (hehe) And because you all love them -- PICTURES!!!!

    Stephen from Cyber Warrior demonstrates
    the "Fountain of Rubies".
    The long line to get in. Ouch.
    Wizard's Wagon's best-selling shirt.

    "Gotta Squish 'Em All"
    The Stone -- a great online puzzle.
    The setting for a bunch of big
    robots to beat on each other.

    Walter Koenig announces that the solution to the
    Tomb Raider CCG's puzzle is:
    "Walter Koenig needs a job."
    Mr. Koenig and Ms. Christian field questions.

    Imperial StormTroopers guard the
    Chron-X tournament.
    The two StormTroopers, close up.
    It appears that Imperial StormTroopers
    don't like cameras flashing.

    Back to the day two information.

    Gencon '99

    Added:  Sunday, August 15, 1999
    Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

    Page: 4/10

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