Last year I was pretty direct in my criticism of RTX 2017. I tried very hard to be even handed, pointing out both the good and the bad, but for me it was extremely difficult to get past the bad in my head to really acknowledge the good. If you look hard enough, you can probably find that post.
This year, I didn't really know what to expect. I was more than willing to see what was going to happen with security. To me, it seemed like a pretty brilliant move to open up security several hours before it was even possible to do anything. It would completely solve the awkward issue of people paying to get into the expo hall an hour early and not even getting in at the official start time from last year.
Also, I loved the fact that so many good panels were scheduled against each other. I know that pisses some people off, but to me it was a brilliant way of making it easier (possible) to actually go to the panels you really wanted, no matter what badge level you had.
Before going in, my only real concern was something most people probably don't care about. The platinum/plus/whatever lounge was looking like there would be zero improvement over the previous year, which was a bummer, because I'd spent a ton of time emailing a bunch of people trying convince everyone I could that that room absolutely needed someone in charge who could do things like change streams and help people out where needed.
When RTX 2018 started, the thing I was most struck by was the complete lack of drama. Everything was easy. I didn't totally love that people were being made to wait in line outside for the early FunHaus panel, but the simple fact was that there was absolutely zero reason to wait in that line if you didn't want to, because you could get into the panel even after the line was completely done. And hell, you even had a shot at some truly stellar seats during the yellow tag seat shifts that happened a few minutes before the panel started.
This was, as far as I could tell, true of every single panel I attended both Friday and Saturday. Even the Saturday AH panel was engineered to let stragglers in, which has historically been famous for being impossible to see without waiting 4 hours in line or longer. But that makes sense, because to visit that panel, you were officially making a decision between AH, Always Open, SP7, and even RVB, all of which either overlapped or started without any time to rush from venue to venue. Hell, I even got a seat in the main room to watch AH vs FH, which I don't think has ever happened before.
Ultimately, this scheduling limited the number of panels you could go to, but that limit had already existed in the past, only now the limit was in our choice, not based on factors out of our control.
Given the nature of these panels, I didn't really feel the need to visit the lounge as much. In years past, it's effectively been the sad overflow room. Now it really was a lounge. But this year either someone was listening to me or a decision was made independently to go ahead and place a guardian in the room, and it was fantastic. I visited during the Friday AH panel, and without any prompting (that I saw, it's possible somebody asked before I thought about it), the guardian switched it over from commercials to AH. It was exactly what I was hoping for.
Meanwhile, the RTX app was brilliantly giving me announcements about panel and line availability on a regular basis. Whoever was in charge of inputting and counting that stuff was doing brilliantly and coordinating brilliantly, and I want to give them a big hug. In my head, there's a room somewhere in the convention center staffed with all the people from a Jason Bourne movie, except their only job is to monitor how much space is available at large panels.
Even the nights have been brilliant. I saw Blood Fest and Kinda Funny Stand Up (If Greg Miller ever reads this, congrats on the baby, and Rock Chalk!). I missed the platinum party (turns out they don't let you in if you show up at 12:10 to a party that ended at 12, who knew!?), but I haven't heard anything negative. I was assuming First Night was going to be chaotic, and I haven't even heard any negatives about that. It's just amazing.
As long as Sunday is even vaguely as good as everything else, I'll say right here and right now that the 2018 RTX has been the best RTX ever put on by the company, save for maybe the original 500 person RTX that I missed. Hats off to @Bethany, @nicolew, @SailorTweek, @Chelsea, the guardians, and all the people I didn't talk to or forgot I talked to about this year or last year. You've outdone yourselves in the best way possible. You took any negative expectations I may have had and absolutely blew them out of the water.