We started with a small-but-decent group of about 6-8 people, but it grew as the hour went along -- by the end, we had over 20 folks there, some standing in the back, which was very gratifying. I was a bit nervous, and started with a too-fast (and probably slightly eye-glazing) burble about the history of the project and roughly what it is, but after about ten minutes I managed to take a breath and encourage folks to ask questions.
As planned, we did an exercise of, "Let's write a LARP!" Fortunately, as I'd hoped, Christian was in the audience, so I could just say, "Mike -- give me a game!", to which the answer was Mike McAfee's Funeral. Of course, we didn't write very much content in the twenty minutes we had: one Character (Mike's corpse), and two Bluesheets (Being Dead, for Mike, and Mourners, which was some smart-aleck's response to, "What does a Bluesheet look like if there are no Characters in it?"). But it was a fun interactive exercise, and I think helped folks understand that it's pretty quick and easy to add properties and build your Models on the fly.
The main takeaway was that Apps will be dead-critical. Everyone agreed that the flexibility of Querki was very neat, and some folks were very appreciative of the fact that it's so easy to customize the Space to suit your particular game's needs, but most agreed that they were much more likely to start with a canned LARP Design App than try to construct it from scratch themselves. That matched my expectations. Nobody really *wants* a new platform -- what they want is the things that can be built *on* that platform. That's fine: the business plan already assumes that 99% of users will mostly work from Apps.
A bit later in the afternoon, we had a compare-and-contrast session about game-writing tools, with me talking about Querki; Nat talking about Vellum (and the European project Larpwriter), and Ken talking about GameTeX.
It was actually fascinating, seeing how we had each attacked similar problems. On the Flexibility scale, Querki was agreed to be the most-flexible and least-handholding, with Larpwriter as the most prescriptive. Querki is, so far, mainly focused on the design and writing stages (since those are my passions); GameTeX turns out to be *vastly* more powerful on the production side, with a strong emphasis on final layout (being a TeX variant), enough so that I half-seriously remarked that we might someday explore the possibility of using GameTeX as an output format. Vellum was somewhere in-between, although actually more like Querki at the conceptual level than I had expected.
Some additional interesting questions were raised, including one that hadn't occurred to me: can you do automated gender-switching, for when you're recasting a game? I think the answer for Querki is yes, but doing it *well* is likely to be an interesting problem. (GameTeX does do it, but it apparently took a good deal of effort to get right.)
Overall, it was a great time, and I'm going to have to make room for NELCO in my schedule in the future: it's a good mellow weekend of talking about LARP with other creators, and provided me with lots of good food for thought...