This will be my 10th GenCon (I started in ’97, and missed ’98, ’01, and ’08), and every year for the past several years registration has been a whirlwind of testicle-smashing pain.
Not this year.
It started off looking pretty shitty — the site’s interface for event searches, and especially for sorting, sucks. Without gencon.highprogrammer.com , my group would have had a much poorer reg experience. And I whined about event reg all morning on Twitter .
But as it stood, after the expected five minutes of chugging at 3:00 pm EST, we had a good experience overall. We tag-team registering for four people (with two of us on the phone, buying tickets), which makes things more challenging — but we still got 3/4 of our events on the first pass.
By 3:15 EST, the server was moving much more smoothly — nothing was timing out, and while progress bars filled slowly, everything worked nicely for us. That was unexpected, and I know folks behind the scenes were working hard to make that happen (see the Gen_Con Twitter feed  for more details).
With some pre-planning (a three-tiered, prioritized list of events) plus the use of High Programmer’s sortable listings, we were able to round out our schedule with events that sound like fun — and wrap things up by 3:31 EST.
In 2006, after my worst GenCon event reg experience ever, I wrote Peter Adkison Hates Us: An Open Letter About GenCon Registration . Peter responded , and I found 2007’s registration better, but still fundamentally unacceptable  — 90 minutes is a loooong time.
I missed GenCon ’08, but I’ve heard there were issues. I expected issues this year, but finishing in 30 minutes with a good event list — and the added challenge of registering for four people — makes me a pretty happy camper.
There’s still room for improvement, but mainly on the interface and sorting fronts; the system needs to allow you to sort by start time, as well as perform other basic, Excel-like operations. In terms of server performance, though, I don’t expect much more than what I got this year — which is pretty awesome.
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, and I didn’t reg for any True Dungeon stuff — I’m sure people had a wide range of experieneces with event reg this year, from better than mine to much, much shittier. But I wanted to give credit where credit is due: this was solid.
Nice work, Peter, coincidence , and the rest of the GenCon registration team. Improve the usability of the site, keep up the server performance and backend — and thank you for a good registration experience.
For our readers, how was your registration experience? We’ve been sounding off in real time in the comments on Phil’s article, RUBI’s Big Day , but I thought I’d open this one up for post-reg discussion.