So this weekend Cam and I made our way to the LARP awareness party full of trepidation and concerned that we were about a hundred miles away from being ready. This was, after all, our first foray into the world of trading, LARPtronics is brand new to the market and we weren’t exactly well known faces at these kind of events. With a growing sense of preparedness, however, we made our way to the awards in high spirits despite the weariness of the 4am finishes that the previous week had bought. We were given even more time to get up to speed by the awful traffic that battled us all the way to the larp awards. We had, like puss in boots journeying off from the Marquis de Carabas, expected streets paved with gold. It was not so. We arrived tired, hungry and with but moments to get our stall set out and the demo ready for the gathering crowd of worthies that waited in anticipation of our wares.
Our intention was to run a very fixed and “by the book” demonstration for what we expected to be a handful of people as it was early o’clock for the Friday evening. We didn’t really know what to expect on layout and after a brief tour by Ian of Having a Larp fame we ended up in the breakfast bar surrounded by a much larger group than we expected. A lot of folk were also crafters of Larp kit of many years and the many expectant faces looked far too keen. We were nervous. As it turned out all of the kit worked well, there were lots of OOoh’s and AAaah’s and people were extremely keen to join in with our demonstrations: The Beast Boxes worked perfectly: Showing us how people using them can make things react to certain types of “Beasts” and particularly how exciting people found the responsive props specifically the “Daemon Hunters” Monocle and the “Undead Detecting” Lanterns.
What people seemed to find most eye opening were the props behaving differently based on external influences: The Monocles second lens coming down when a Human form Daemon entered the room and then popping back up and “going banana’s” was soundly applauded as was the lanterns changing to different colours, when surrounded by four Undead, dependant on which Undead was closest. We watched, we talked to the audience and we learnt. Then we bought out what was our pinnacle achievement in the Gauntlet. The gauntlet as a piece of armour was made by Dragon Armouries and is a particularly nice piece but we were there to show off the internals, how it was built to interact with other devices, and to show how sophisticated our firmware could be..
The tech performed well – though hilarity ensued when it became clear that although Cam had defined the gestures and written the code, he couldn’t remember them at all.. Also, this audience was our first attempt to teach others the gestures, so a learning process was involved which we got much better at as the weekend progressed. Bringing individuals up to the front to have a go did have some successes though, with several spells cast:
“Light” which resulted in a bright strip of light on the far edge of the arm for illuminating surroundings, and a duller “reading light” facing the caster. Casting it again turned it off.
“Shield” which created a shimmering blue pattern across the gauntlet for a period of time, which in future could protect the caster from “strike” effects.
The balance between “making the spells easy to cast” and “not accidentally casting the spells when you are doing other things” is something that we will continue to work on for future firmware releases of the Gauntlet, though it was demonstrated that once aptitude with the gauntlet was achieved and you had the knack, the sequences worked very well. The Gauntlet worked seamlessly with the rest of the kit. The strike pattern rippled down the gauntlet and as it “left” the hand of the controller the lanterns and other devices flared up. The same principal worked for “detect magic” which could be cast by the monocle or the gauntlet resulting in all devices that are marked as “magical” responding with a yellow glow/flicker
Post demo we were swamped by questions and individuals talking about how the tech could evolve their game and quite frequently discussions on building an entire game around it. This became the feature of the weekend, wherever we went and whatever we were doing there were people wanting to talk to us about how to involve the tech in their game and more importantly for us every single person representing a game that spoke to us said more or less the same thing: “We need this in our game”. We got really busy, really quickly, but what’s more; we were made to feel very welcome by everyone and ended up chatting the Friday night away with lots of folk, sharing a few beers and postulating on where the hobby could go next and we don’t just mean LARPtronics.
We got watch Roy Smallpage’s excellent short video titled “10 seconds before” with popcorn supplied by Mark Cordory, whilst enjoying the company of the Scourge and relieve some Mythlore memories whilst talking about all the games that we have played in the last thirty years. And that was about all we had time for until after the LARP awards had actually happened. We climbed into bed on Saturday morning at about three and were up by seven for breakfast, a shower and onto the stall. We had never demo’d before and we were not ready for the onslaught that came. Six o’clock and the awards ceremony were on us before we knew it.
Throughout the day the demo’s went down pretty much as they had done the night before with all who saw the kit and spoke to us full of the froth for the new world of possibilities before them. I suppose our crowning moment was when Johnny Ball came to the stall and expressed his excitement at meeting fellow science chaps. We may have come over all school boyish and accepted his kind offer to participate in our demonstrations although he was not, we suspect, expecting to be portraying a Daemon and hilarity, as is often said, ensued. Our final part of the day was to have a visit from labyrinthe who had equally had a busy day. We have been talking for a while and it was a chance to meet up and have a run through what we do which has led to our first meeting with a system to talk about installation of kit at their site.
Tired and weary we stumbled into the hall for the awards and then stumbled back to cannibalise our stall for tables and chairs to sit at. The week and the day had left us pretty pooped, so much so that Cam went to bed exhausted, but then couldn’t sleep due all the exciting new ideas bubbling in his mind. Stephen stayed up and watched the show and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Ian did an outstanding job throughout the weekend: The hotel was a great choice, Johnny Ball was an inspired guest, the Hall layout seemed good, in fact our only complaint was that we just couldn’t find the time to get away from the stall to meet the systems and other traders. Stephen ended up staying up till 4 trying to emulate the meeting of traders and took a lot of orders for kit so it seems we walk away from the weekend calling it a success.
To take it one step further we learned a lot from all the people that took the time to sit and talk to us, so much so that the journey home in the car had a lot less talk about traffic and a lot more animated talk about what we could do next.
In our next blog we will be telling you all about where we are going next, and what our focus will be for products and new developments and it is just around the corner. Until then: Thanks to all involved in running the weekend and to everyone that we met, we had a Foxes and Crows time and are looking forward to the next time we can make a fair or convention.
All at LARPtronics