synDCon 2013 – For Gamers, By Gamers
The synDCon is an annual event hosted by the online gaming community known as The Syndicate (www.LLTS.org). It began back in 2002 and has been held annually ever since. The 12th annual event just occurred this month in Washington, DC – the city where synDCon began. Each year a different city has been picked from across the United States or Canada and to that city the entire conference went. The circuit reset this year for the synDCon with its horde of over 200 Syndicate members, developers, guests and their families invading Fairfax, VA, a suburb of Washington, DC.
One of the most anticipated features of each synDCon is developer participation. Since The Syndicate does a great deal of consulting, testing and focus group feedback for MMO developers, synDCon provides a great platform to put faces to names and to have live, interactive sessions on a scale and intensity that is hard to equal simply by using traditional online methods.
This year at synDCon, Richard Garriott came to talk about Shroud of the Avatar to obtain feedback from the crowd on features and plans for the game. Roberts Space Industries came to talk about Star Citizen. Zenimax came to talk about Elder Scrolls Online. City State Entertainment had a large presence to discuss Camelot Unchained. Bonnie Armstrong (also known as Messana to UO players), the Electronic Arts producer for Ultima Online, came with some of the development team to discuss the current state and future plans of UO along with Ultima Forever Stratics has already revealed nuggets of information from that session as Taylor, one of the Senior Leaders of that network, was also present and tweeting some gems of information such as the upcoming Halloween ‘heads on a stick’ event.
The UO team was able to come hang out with everyone to discuss the game and their shared passion for Ultima Online in a more relaxed setting – a huge barbecue lunch. The cookout itself was catered by Syndicate member Rob who owns his own restaurant, In10se-BBQ out of Maryland. For several hours the team was able to eat, talk UO and eat some more. It was a great time hanging out and just talk about whatever ideas, concerns or thoughts were on the player’s minds.
Another big event at synDCon is the annual raffle. Tickets are sold throughout the five day event with winners drawn for several hundred prizes on Sunday. Alienware, a big sponsor of synDCon, not only set up a LAN gaming room, they also donated gaming-rigs (computers built just for gaming) to the raffle. This year’s raffle also featured items from Coolermaster, Zenimax, Blizzard, Turbine, Electronic Arts, Stardock, CCP, Codemasters, FunCom, Hi-Rez, Petroglyph, Carbine, Meteor, Qualcomm, ArenaNet, Obsidian, Microsoft, Digital Extremes, Trion, Western Digital, KingsIsle, DJs Toys, custom made shields and swords, and more. Proceeds go to benefit Youth Opportunity Unlimited and the American Cancer Society.
With synDCon 2013 in the books, planning for the 2014 event is already underway. By then games such as Shroud of the Avatar will be live. Everquest Next will be much closer and deeply into the testing phase. Elder Scrolls will have captured the attention of many Syndicate members and other players with months of leveling, pvp and raiding under their belts. Star Citizen will be close to launch as will Camelot Unchained. The MMO space continues to be vibrant and active. Games like Ultima Online continue to draw in players even as it reaches 16 years of live play. Games like EverQuest Next and Star Citizen seek to push the boundaries to create a bright future. Camelot Unchained seeks to cater to specific tastes (like Realm v Realm pvp) and could popularize that growing part of the market. After almost 18 years as an online community, The Syndicate remains excited about the continued evolution of the online gaming industry. Thank you to all of our guests and sponsors who helped make synDCon-2013 a success! See you all next year!