House Con FAQ
What is a House Con?
It's like a House Party and a Gaming Convention went out, had a few drinks, and woke up the next morning and decided to get breakfast together. A House Con is run by an individual or small group for their gang of gaming buddies. It's like a gaming convention in that you hole up for the weekend with a bunch of other gamers and game all weekend, but unlike a gaming convention its a smaller group of people that probably all know each other already.
So how big is it?
That's an awfully personal question. Really a House Con can be any size you want, but for the purposes of using this site, there is a specific size we're aiming for. It should be big enough that you expect multiple games to be running side by side, but no so big that you wouldn't be happy playing in any one of those games.
You can certainly hold a smaller House Con, just grab some friends and game all weekend. But you don't really need this site for that. The point of this site is to help you organize which games are run when and with whom. If there's only one game running at a time, you could just use a piece of paper.
Much bigger and the algorithm might fall apart. The magic of this site is that game runners / GMs don't pick exactly when their games will run. Everyone looks at the whole list of games and ranks their favorites, then the algorithm takes over and assigns games to times and players to games to maximize the chances that everyone gets to play in their favorites. If your House Con is so huge that it's not reasonable for every player to rank every game, then maybe it's too big for this site. And maybe it's too big for one house, and maybe you shouldn't call it a House Con and just call it a Convention already.
My House Con usually has about 20-25 people, and we run around 15 games over 3 days, with 2-3 games running concurrently. House Cons with attendance anywhere from 10-100 would probably work fine.
What do I need to run my own House Con?
- Some Friends
- A House
- This Site
What if my house isn't big enough for all my friends?
Get a bigger house! For my own House Cons, I rent a large vacation house on the beach during the off season. Beach houses are surprisingly affordable when it's snowing out, and what do you care what the weather is like, you're going to be inside gaming all weekend. Or maybe hold it when it's nice out and do it outdoors at a camp site. Or ask around your local community - maybe there's a church, hall, or library that has enough room for you relatively inexpesively.
OK, so how do I use this site?
UPDATE! Check out the Videos Page to see more in-depth tutorials on how to use the site.
First, when you set up a new convention, you divide the time up into "slots" of the same duration. Any game should be able to run in any time slot. Typically a 4 hour slot is about right for any convention style game.
Next you open your convention to game submissions. GMs who want to run games list the details of their game like the name, description, and minimum and maximum number of players they can support. What they don't specify though is any specific time slot. GMs can specify specific time slots that the game can't possibly run in (if for example they won't be at the convention at that time), or what time slots they'd prefer their game to run in, but they're encouraged to leave as much wiggle room as possible.
You should think carefully about how many games you'll need to fill your convention. For my conventions, with around 20-25 attendees and 5 time slots, I shoot for around 15 total games. Most games my GMs run need 3-6 players, so expecting 3 games to run concurrently is about right for me.
Once you have all your games you can open up player game selection. At this point each player ranks the games they want to play in priority order. They put their favorite game at the top, then their next favorite, etc. Players are encouraged to list as many games as they're interested in -- the more the better! This also gives the system more wiggle room to find a schedule that works.
Finally, once all the players have submitted their preferences, you run the scheduler. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. You can specify how long to let it work for, and it will show updates on how good of a schedule it has produced. Schedules are scored on a golf-like point system - the lower the point total, the better the schedule. It shows a theoretical "best score" for you to compare to.
Once the scheduler is done it will present you with the three best schedules it was able to produce. You can now review the schedules and select the one you like the best, or delete them all and run the scheduler again. Once you have a schedule you like, select publish and send it out to all your players.
Once the schedule is published it can be viewed by any attendee at any time. You can pull the schedule up on your phone at the convention, or print it out to hang it up around the house.
How do I charge people to attend?
Whether you're hoping to make a small profit from your labors, or just want to defer the costs of renting your location, most convention hosts want to charge attendees a one-time fee. We call them "badges", even though we don't actually print badges since a HouseCon is small enough to remember everyone's names. Badge is just a word for paying a fee to attend, and makes sense to folks who have attended larger gaming conventions.
As of right now, the badge system is still in development. You can create badges and users must purchase one to attend, but the cost is always set to $0. At this time it's up to you to collect fees outside of the site (whether that's cash, check, PayPal, Venmo, whatever).
We're working on finding a partner to do the purchase processing part so your attendees can pay right through the site and we can send money your way. Our hope is to automate the entire thing: attendees pay, we collect a small service fee, and the rest is passed right back to the convention host. Check back soon as we get this feature under way.
What does it cost to use this site?
Our goal is to keep this site 100% free to all convention hosts. But of course there are expenses in hosting a site like this, and once badge purchasing is enabled there will be credit card processing fees to pay. We intend to wrap all that up into a simple service fee charged to users each tim they purchase a badge. Part of this service fee will go to our purchasing processor, and the rest will go directly to HouseCon.net.
Watch this space for further updates on the actual cost. Once we have a purchasing partner and have the integration working, we'll publish the actual fee schedule in the Pricing section so everyone knows what they're getting into before they sign up.
What if it doesn't work?
Please visit the support section and drop us a line. We'll be happy to review your convention and advice you on how to get the system to work best for you.