Tag Archive for con

Dragon*Con 2011 … is done.

If you were eagerly awaiting my day by day posts for Dragon*Con that I’ve done for the last few years, I’m sorry.  I decided this year not to do them.  I probably could have, but instead chose to focus on actually being at the con.  To find out what I was doing there, head to the MMORPG Track website and find the 7 posts I did about our programming.

Personally, I had a blast.  Our Saturday WoW Meet & Greet (the Darkmoon Faire) and the MMO Gathering of Heroes party were insane.  Lots of happy people and I was very proud to have helped make that happen.

Hotel reservation already made for next year (yes, the Sheraton and Hilton are taking reservations already) and I look forward to a year worth of planning to make 2012’s con even better.

Dragon*Con 2010: Lessons Learned

Each year at Dragon*Con, I like to think I notice things that can make the next year better.  So, here is what I got from this year.

  • Costumes do, in fact, make things more fun.
    I’ve been going to Dragon*Con, off and on, for … a lot of years.  I know the first year I went was after high school (graduated in 1992) but before leaving college (graduated 1998).  I’ve been about a dozen times and before this year the closest I’ve come to wearing a costume is to wear a t-shirt relating to something in fandom.  This year, however, I put on a tattoo shirt, one of those mesh things that makes it look like you have a full chest, back and sleeves of tattoos.  So simple, and yet it was the start of about a dozen dozen conversations.  That shirt will be making an appearance next year, and I’ve resolved that I will have a costume for every day next year.  I’ve said that before, but this time I mean it.
  • Food in the room doesn’t have to be crap.
    In previous years, the wife and I have brought down snacks and sandwich stuff (peanut butter & jelly, cold cuts and condiments), but this year we had a George Foreman Grill and hotdogs.  Next year we’ll probably expand that to burgers, both beef and veggie, and maybe more.  The biggest revelation, however, was that we didn’t have to actually bring down food.  There are two Publix stores within easy reach of the hotels that we could just hit up for supplies after getting downtown.  Next year, when we get down there on Thursday, we’ll just make a store run rather than haul all that stuff with us.
  • Bitter people are going to be bitter.
    Some folks apparently like to be angry. They’ve decided they hate something (even if it is entirely hypocritical) and not a thing you can say will change their mind. Once you have identified a bitter person who is entrenched in their bitterness, just walk away.  And if you can’t walk away, try to steer the conversation toward something that will make them walk away or at least to something they aren’t bitter about.
  • Working staff can be fun.
    I imagine that working registration and dealing with people who hate you because they blame you for the long line has got to suck.  But working a track can be an absolute blast if a) the rest of the staff is cool, b) the track is something you are interested in, and c) you don’t mind missing large chunks of the con.  Now, this may be my opinion and entirely biased, but the MMORPG Track staff is definitely cool.  And I love MMORPGs.  And I’ve been coming to con enough that I’m not really “missing” those chunks as much as I’ve seen them before.  Besides, the con is practically 24/7, so there is always time to see the sights.  Anyway, I had an absolute blast and look forward to working staff again next year.
  • Internet access is highway robbery unless you do something about it.
    Every year at con, I always want to be able to check email or browse the net, or even post my blog entries.  The host hotels typically charge around $12 to $15 per day for access.  This year, I was pointed toward Boingo.  If you happened to be staying in or spending lots of time in the Marriott Marquis, then signing up for Boingo’s $9.95 a month plan right before con and then cancelling it after is far far cheaper than paying the Marriott prices.  I don’t know if there are equivalents for the other hotels, but I tend to always stay in the Marriott.  I usually end up spending $60 on Internet access during con, so spending $10 instead was a nice savings.

And that appears to be all that I learned at this year’s con.

Dragon*Con 2010: The Aftermath

Day Four is done, and the con has drawn to a close.  The MMORPG Track’s final panels ran smooth, and it was great to have about forty people come by to tell us what we did right and wrong and looking forward toward next year at the Post MMOrtem.

Today, the day after, is about sleep and unpacking and staying off my feet as much as possible.

This year was my first on staff with Dragon*Con and the MMORPG Track, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it.  Not only are the track staff a great bunch of folks, and it helps that I really enjoy the subject matter, but just being a part of the staff just feels great.  I lost count of the number of times people asked me for help on where to find things or what was going on and I was able to help them out.  (It is also a testament to my many years of attendance and that I’m a giant schedule/map memorizing nerd that I knew what to answer most of the time.)  Plus, there are bonuses.  Like, you know when you are walking through the tunnel and you see some people stopping to take photos even though there are signs that say not to and you can’t do much but maybe yell at them?  Well, when I saw that, I just walked up, put my hand on their shoulder and said, “Hey, great costume, and you guys deserve to get photos, but you can’t do it in the tunnel. Please take it to one of the hotels on either end where there is more room.”  And the best part?  They listened and moved.  Not once did anyone ever give me a tough time, they just said sorry, smiled and moved.  Sure, a bonus like that doesn’t get you to skip lines, but it does earn you the gratitude of the dozens and dozens of people who were stuck in a slow tunnel thanks to the photo takers.  It feels good to help make the con a good experience for the people who attend.  I’m really looking forward to being a part of it again next year.

Well, maybe… on the last day, the wife and I got some Chinese food and I got quite possibly the best fortune ever.

Best Fortune Ever

click for full size version

Yep, that says I will be the President of a small country.  So, I might be busy.

Dragon*Con 2010: Day Four

And we comes to Day Four of Dragon*Con, the cruelest of Dragon*Con days.  Why?  Because most people don’t stay through Tuesday, seeing as how everything is done by 5pm (the panel schedule is so light that most people won’t find much to attend), it means they have to check out.  By noon.  Or 11am. Or whatever hour their hotel kicks them out.  And many people when faced with the dilemma of having their luggage sit in the holding area under bellhop guard or just proceeding out to the car and heading home will head home.  Checking out means Dragon*Con is over.

Where will I be today?  In the Sheraton, Savannah room, hiding.  We run a panel on legal issues in MMOs, another on Guild Wars 1 & 2, and our last panel of the con is where we talk about how the track did: what rocked, what sucked, and what we missed.

But what about yesterday?  The Guild panel was great.  Sandeep (Zaboo) and Jeff (Vork) are both great guys, oh and Sean Becker too (the director).  After that I took my annual tour around the exhibitors and dealers halls, things were bought, pictures will be posted in the aftermath post tomorrow.  I enjoyed the rest of my afternoon in my hotel room, trying to stay off my tired little feet.  But after not going to and later hearing about the Kingdom of Loathing party, I knew I had to go.  Plus, you know, last night of the con.  Essentially, it’s like going to a room party in a hotel, only you don’t have to have a secret handshake to get in, we post it in the schedule and invite everyone!  Day Three was a smashing success.

And look at that… I didn’t stumble into bed until nearly 5am and my 8am post is only 45 minutes late.  I am a con warrior!

Dragon*Con 2010: Day Zero

It’s Thursday, where are you?  If you are local to Atlanta and pre-registered for Dragon*Con, your answer should be, “Reading this on my phone from the line.” because pre-registration badge pick-up just started.  Pre-regs get a nice solid 6 hour jump on everyone else this year, so hopefully that will help with the lines.

Preparation for con is always a big deal.  You have to make sure you pack everything.  Technically there are a few shops around, but mostly tiny stores with seriously jacked up prices.  There is a Publix about 8 or 10 blocks away, but since public transit in Altanta is pretty crappy, you’ll likely be hoofing it, in September.  “Hot and humid” just doesn’t really describe Atlanta well enough.  Long hikes in the city are uncomfortable at best.  But in addition to packing everything, you also need it to be manageable.  You don’t really want to be juggling a dozen suitcases.  You’re best bet is to pack one case (with wheels) of regular clothes (shorts, t-shirts, socks, underwear and toiletries – deodorant, toothpaste, even soap and shampoo if you prefer your own over the hotel stuff), a cooler (with wheels) packed with food and stuff (don’t bring ice, all the hotels have ice machines – and unless you specified in your reservations that you had to have a fridge for medical reasons, you won’t get one, so you’ll want a cooler if you want to keep anything cold), and then a case (with wheels if possible) for costumes and stuff that can’t be packed into the regular clothes.

Case and Cooler (with wheels)

You might have noticed a theme there.  Wheels.  Trust me, lugging around heavy cases just isn’t worth it.  Every year I see some poor schmuck hauling around a half dozen old no-wheel-having suitcases, or standing in line waiting for a bell hop, or leaving the cases at the front desk to have them delivered to the room at some point in the future.  Meanwhile, the wife and I roll on by and head to our room.  The cooler is even more awesome because of the extending handle means we can even stack a couple things on top of it (like sodas or a box of extra snacks) with ease.

And of course, if you plan to buy anything, make sure you have a way to take it home.  (If you aren’t local, there are, I believe, a FedEx and some other shipping store in the hotels or close to the con, and don’t worry about them being closed for the holiday, most of the time you can leave a package with your hotel with shipping instructions and a tip and they’ll send it off for you on Tuesday.)

Anyway… enough about packing… you might be wondering, “If the con begins on Friday, what is there to do on Thursday?”  Well, lots actually.  Plenty of fan groups will have unofficial gatherings on Thursday night (this is why you should find the sites/forums for the various tracks and fans groups, and keep up with them throughout the year), and there are a few bands playing.  Plus, the lobbies and hotel bars will be hopping with people, both out of costume and in.

What will I be doing on Thursday?  Well, for one, since I’m staff this year, the MMO Track is having a little party where the director lays down the law, people can swap shifts and we can let our hair down a little more than we’ll be allowed to during the con itself (not to say we won’t be enjoying the con, but staff is expect to not show up for shifts completely plastered).  Check out our schedule from this nice rundown provided by Krystalle over at Massively.  I’ll be wandering around the hotels pretty much all day, though when not with the MMO crew (or perhaps even with them) I tend to be in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis, not only because it is the hotel I’m staying at, but, in my opinion, it is the best hotel for seeing and being seen.  Perhaps I’ll see you around…

Just as aside… in previous years, I posted at the end of the day with what I did.  This year I’ll be posting in the morning with my plans for the day and my reflections on the previous day.

Participation Level Up

I’ve been going to Dragon*Con for years.  I’ve probably been ten times, my first time being probably in 1993 or 1994.  I’ve missed some years, but I’ve attended more than I’ve missed.  If you have never been to Dragon*Con, I recommend it.

As much as I do love the con, I’ll be the first to admit that if you go with any frequency, certain aspects of it will get… repetitive.  If you are interested in writing and getting published, the writing track has panels that are good to attend where you can listen to published authors talk about how they got published.  Better yet, you can probably ask them yourself.  (Just don’t hand them a manuscript, they aren’t -generally- publishers or editors themselves.)  However, after you’ve been to that panel a few times, unless they add some new and awesome guests you don’t need to attend it again, or at least just not every year.  Go to con enough years and you’ll find that you’ve “seen everything” – which you really haven’t, believe me, just when you think you’ve seen it all at Dragon*Con someone will walk out in a costume or some guest will sign on (Shatner and Nemoy last year!!) and prove that you haven’t – but when you get to feeling that way there are really only too options: coast or step up.

To coast would be to attend every year, go to the parties, visit a few panels, maybe wear a costume and just enjoy the weekend.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  But the other option, to step up, would be to volunteer for staff.  Dragon*Con is a con for fans by fans.  Grim said it pretty well:

Now, here are some major differences between Dragon*Con and “everybody else”…

GenCon is gaming, only gaming, nothing but gaming.  They are the Mac-Daddy gaming convention, and they do gaming very well.  They do not, however, have concerts, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Costuming, or any of the other “3 hotels worth of stuff” that Dragon*Con does.

Penny Arcade Expo, is run for gaming companies, by gaming companies, and caters to an established audience.  If you are a computer or console gamer, this is a great convention.  If, however, you want to have drinks with celebrities, or are not a hardcore gamer.  PAX isn’t for you.

Comic-Con focuses on Sci-Fi and (duh) Comics.  You’ll have a pretty good chance of seeing celebrities there (since it’s located near Los Angeles and New York) and there is a correspondingly large media presence there.

There is only one convention that does “all of the above”.  There’s only one convention that isn’t so hip-deep in advertising and sponsorship dollars that you can save yourself the trouble and just download press-releases all day.  There’s only one convention that boasts 24-hour, round-the-clock, non-stop “stuff to do”.  There’s only one convention that is run by fans, for fans.

That’s us.

And it is with this in mind that I noticed last year I spent about 80% of my time in the MMO Track, so I’ve volunteered and joined the staff.

Recently, Grim wanted the gang to start updating the track blog more, to keep a flow of information to help build and cement a community around the track.  I suggested and volunteered for Saturday Morning Cartoons.  If you know of any good MMO videos, be they music videos, comedy routines, awesome raid take downs, Easter eggs, or anything worth watching, especially if it’s for a game that isn’t WoW (no offence to WoW, but there is just so much for them that finding WoW-stuff is easy… not so much other games), let me know.

Another place I’m involved is in trying to track down guests, or companies that want to send us some swag to give away… if you happen to read my blog and Dragon*Con looks like fun to you and you happen to work in the MMO industry, let me know.

We’re about five months away from Dragon*Con 2010, and I’m more excited about it this year than I’ve ever been.  This is going to be great!

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Three

I recommend, if you come to Con, plan at least one morning to eat breakfast at Sear, one of the restaurants in the Marriott. Yes, its expensive at $22 for the breakfast buffet, but it is the best buffet ever. Worth every penny, in my opinion.

And what does one do after a hearty breakfast? Why, you watch a post-apocalyptic movie, that’s what! 20 Years After is about people living in a world after nuclear war. Its not a big action film and it doesn’t have mutants or zombies or anything. Just people, some who are crazy, trying to get by. It wasn’t a great film, but for a low budget indie film, it was pretty good. The Q&A with the guys who made it was decent too.

The best thing in the world about Star Wars trivia… is the heckling and sarcasm.

The best thing in the world about the Masquerade, the Con’s big costume contest… is the heckling and sarcasm.

And again, one of the things that makes the Con, are the parties. A few years back, a friend, Wade, couldn’t make the Con, so a hand and rod puppet of him was made to attend in his place. Puppet Wade was very popular with the ladies. This year, Puppet Wade made a comeback. He donned a pirate hat and a condom patch, and he was again popular with the ladies. The Pirate Party was great, as was the wandering around and meeting strangers.

Puppets rule.