When we decided to do an online convention to replace our COVID-canceled in-person event scheduled for July 24-26, we were, um, nervous. As they say, "technology is great--until it isn't!" But we're so pleased (and relieved!) to report that the technology was great, and the community-building camaraderie was even greater for PLAAY-NOT-CON 2020! Here's a quick recap, all times are Mountain Daylight Time...
Phase one of the not-con was held on a dedicated PLAAY-NOT-CON 2020 Facebook Group page we set up about a month ahead of time. We used this as a central clearing house for information, including pre-con surveys, links for downloads and question-fielding. On the day of the event, it became a hub for game reports and running commentary. To say that it worked well was an understatement--it definitely created a convention-like "buzz" with a constant stream of updates, scores, photos, and fun. You can check out the PLAAY-NOT-CON 2020 Facebook Group Page here. We've turned off commenting, but you can scroll through the posts and get a feel for how things went!
Each of the current 30 MLB teams was represented with a .500 team from their past and six "vintage" teams have been added, displaced franchise cities. Here's the list of all 36 teams, along with an explanation of how the tournament worked. Over 100 PLAAY gamers took part, each choosing their favorite .500 team. We then created a balanced schedule, assigning everyone a team to play against their chosen favorite so that all 36 teams were represented. Everyone played a two-game series, and each if team won one game, a third game was played. All results were submitted by noon, here are the final standings. The top two teams from each league—1997 Colorado and 1980 Oakland—were matched up in our Time Machine Tournament Title Game, which was streamed live on the PLAAY Games YouTube Channel at the conclusion of Saturday's events. Watch the full game here.
We were joined by special guests Al Wilson, Bob Hansen and Travis Jansen for this presentation. Each guest spoke from their experience on the finer points/hidden secrets/common stumbling blocks of making your own game "bling." Streamed on the PLAAY Games YouTube Channel, you can watch the archived video footage here.
Our featured course for this year's tournament was a fictional course, Yellowstone National Golf Course! It was designed to make you feel like you were on vacation while playing golf. Each PLAAY Gamer chose a card representing a pro golfer profile from the six profiles we made available in special Yellowstone-themed golfer cards. We ran the tournament online just like we did in person at the last two PLAAY-DOT-CON conventions, except that we practiced "social distancing!" Each gamer played his/her two rounds of golf solo, off-line. We had a plan for a sudden-death playoff, streamed live at the end of the day but we didn't need to implement it as our tournament was won outright by Giorgio Salvadego, who shot an amazing two-round seven under-par 133. Here's the final leaderboard for the 2020 PLAAY-NOT-CON PLAAY Gamer Open Golf Tournament...
Renowned game designer (Baseball Highlights 2045, Mystery Rummy, Diamonds, etc.) and PLAAY Gamer, Mike helped us close out the day with a discussion on game design principles in general and how they apply to sports games in particular. You can watch the archived video footage here.
We streamed this on the PLAAY Games YouTube channel, starting with the Time Machine Tournament Title game, and wrapping up with some prize giveaways
The second day of our Not-Con was designed to be more interactive, with gamers playing head-to-head games on a special Discord server we set up prior to the event. Sam Avallone did a great job of getting this set up and ready for action. Participants were assigned to specific rooms, with non-participants encouraged to wander around and take in the action. Same as day one, we had two separate head-to-head game events scheduled for day two. In between the game events, we had two special webinar events. "A Visit to the PLAAY Games Museum" gave viewers a glimpse of some of Thea early prototypes, play-test materials and even some failed game ideas. Finally, there was an hour-long "Sports Game Design 101" webinar, hosted by Keith Avallone, talking about his design philosophies and principles integrated into PLAAY Games.
We had over 50 people who signed up to play, so we divided into four separate leagues. The RED, BLUE and ORANGE leagues each had four divisions of four teams each. The GREEN league was a single division, five-team league. Everyone was assigned a FURY HARDBALL team, played everyone else in their division head-to head. The team with the most wins won the division, and the four division winners for each league met in the league's Championship Room to decide the title. Here are the results from each league. After the event, we reached out to each of the league champions to see if there was interest in an inter-league championship playoff round—there was! We got everyone together on Thursday night after the convention and settled the matter. You can watch the archived Platinum Inter-League Championship video stream here.
Again, over 50 people signed up to play in this event, using the Series ONE College Football Colossus team cards, which were created specifically for this event. Everyone specified in advance what mode of SECOND SEASON they preferred: full-play, express or a mix of both. We had some epic games for sure. None more epic than the Burger Hut London Beefeater Bowl game played between Auburn (Chris Day) And Ohio State (Paul Salzgeber). OSU grabbed the lead with seconds left to play, leaving Auburn time for a Hail Mary pass. On that play, OSU was flagged for pass interference, giving Auburn an untimed down from the OSU 35. From there, Wes Byrum booted a 51-yard field goal to win the game for Auburn! WOW!
The final bowl game results can be found here. Our "panel of sportswriters" (i.e., those in the PLAAY community) did not have a consensus Nationl Champion of the Ages. It came down to Penn State or Auburn. Auburn played five bowl games--remember, all games were against fellow undefeated national champions--and won four of them. Penn State played in just one bowl game--but it was against Auburn, and they won (in overtime 24-17). So we decided to have a "winner-takes-the-crown" rematch, The Ultimate National Championship Bowl Game, streamed live on the PLAAY Game YouTube Channel. It was a thriller, for sure! Auburn held off a late Penn Stat rally to win 24-21. You can watch the video here.
At the end of the two-day event, we were thrilled at the response and enthusiasm. While we hope to return to in-person get-togethers, gathering online allowed us to keep the community spirit alive and allowed us to engage with double (or more) the number of gamers available for a live event. For those who made time to be part of the fun, we're deeply grateful. We're definitely planning to do more such online events down the road! Stay tuned!
Questions? Comments? Let us know!