Tag Archive for Dragon Con

Dragon*Con 2009: Day Two

When it comes to Dragon*Con, four hours sleep is a lot.  And remember, you can’t be hung over if you are still drunk.  Really, it doesn’t take much too keep yourself going all day, that canteen I have isn’t water, its vodka and Crystal Light Lemonade, because, you know, I’m trying to watch my diet.

The day begins with a car alarm.  I shit you not.  Not even seven in the A.M. and there is an annoying *BEEP BEEP* alarm that I can hear… in my room… on the 38th floor.  Jeez… So, once awake, I figured I’d just stay up.  Three hours later I’d find myself sitting in the Free MMOs panel, listening to Krystalle tell us about some nifty free MMOs some of which I knew about and some of which I did not.  Expect to see a few of them tested out and reviewed here, because these days in this economy I am all about the free.

Made my way over to the Hyatt for a panel on How To Draw Monsters.  Interesting stuff, will definitely utilize some of that in my Saturday doodles when they return.  While I was in the area I sped through the Art Show… Some people like to take their time and carefully examine the art, but I’ve been to enough Dragon*Cons that, no offence to the artists, I’ve seen most of this before, either exactly these before or items very similar.  Lots of the same artists with the same styles they always have, and almost all of it is incredible stuff… but its not new, and most of it is not the kind of thing you stand considering for hours letting the emotion of the piece work into your soul… its fantasy art, with dragons, and women showing boobs, and guys with swords, and little monsters, and fairies, and women as the seasons, and aliens, and henna, and Celtic knots, and all the stuff you would expect.  Good stuff, but at this point I can speed through the hall and if it doesn’t jump out and grab me then I’ve probably seen it before.  This year didn’t even have one of those awesome miniatures scenes I’ve enjoyed from the last couple years.

I also took this opportunity to make a first trip through the exhibit halls… much like the art show, it is a lot of the same stuff every year.  As is typical, I spent a little time in some of the book sellers looking for deals or books I’m missing, but overall, great stuff that I’ve seen before and so really easy to speed through.

Then it was off to the MMO Roundtable.  People from Cartoon Network, CCP Games, Funcom, Hi-Rez Studios, and Sony Online Entertainment answered questions about the MMO industry.  Lots of good stuff here.  I ran in Ferrel from Epic Slant, and he gave me a t-shirt.  Woohoo! Free stuff rocks!

With my head full of MMO industry goodness, I wandered over to Watch the Guild where we did exactly that: watched season one and two uncut.  It was interesting to see each season without the breaks, the credits for every short segment.  It played well.  Ms. Day was great.  Being that she’s a bit of a geek herself and a big reader, she seems to really like Dragon*Con, so hopefully this means she’ll make many returns, even if it means she has to miss PAX.

It is important to break for dinner prior to going out to party and drink.  I did so, and then did so.  Frankly, as much as I love the MMO track people and the MMO track, the WoW Party getting the giant room was a huge waste when you consider to do so meant pushing the BSG party into a piddly half-ballroom.  They reach max capacity very fast and had a massive line.  Seriously, on the first Dragon*Con after the series ended, did they expect attendance to diminish?  Its the funeral, the big send off… BSG had a huge turn out.  The show may be over, but fans always swell and linger at the end.  The Firefly Shindig, forced to use just half a ballroom as well was in a similar boat, though not anywhere near at severe.  Meanwhile, I strolled right in to the WoW party, took one of the many empty seats and almost immediately got up to leave.  I wanted to party, but I couldn’t get in to the good parties… so instead I resorted to the Marriott lobby, people watching while sipping spirits.  I did manage to run into and catch up with quite a few friends, but still, I’d rather have been able to get into a party instead.  That said, I still enjoyed myself and made it well beyond 3AM of another day at the Con.

Day two ends as day two should, exhausted and drunk.  Not the highest of highs, but high enough.

Dragon*Con 2009: Day One

The day began as no day should… waiting in line for registration.  However, once let inside, well, lets just say that a couple hundred geeks in a room being forced to walk a maze of a line can be pretty hilarious.  Some people shot video of it, I’ll provide a link if I ever see it posted online.

After a spot of breakfast I headed off to the “Write a Story in an Hour” panel, which I visit every year, because its funny to hear people shout out story elements and craft a beautifully weird story… not by the panel, mind you, they tend to ignore the really out there stuff, but there is always a group of us taking the best ignored suggested, like a typewriter possessed by the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson that requires a bottle of liquor to be poured on it before it will function, and making our own ridiculous plot.

Then it was off to the Fallen Earth panel where we got to hear that people who work on games tend to like working on game, and that crafting is the center of the game, and that they have no current plans for a series of Fallen Earth novels, but everyone would like to see that happen.

Next up… the Crypt of Trailers, where we watch movie trailers and make snappy jokes, like how the new Twilight movie, New Moon, would be much better if they just added a Predator, or some Aliens… yeah, Aliens vs. Predator vs. Twilight.  Hollywood? Are you listening?

After that I got to sit and listen to a panel of writer’s talk about how fun it is to destroy the human race in the Apocalypse Writer’s Roundtable.  John Ringo, S.M. Stirling, Kevin J. Anderson, Walter Jon Williams, Michael Z. Williamson, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.  They were a very talkative and funny bunch, while also being very knowledgable and open.  Excellent panel.

Down into the bowels of the Hyatt I went to join the wife for a panel on Steampunk.  Steampunk, if you didn’t know, is the new Goth, or perhaps the new Vampires.  Everyone is steampunking it up, and it is awesome.  I’ll post some photos later as I take some around the con.  Beautiful stuff.

The third rule of Dragon*Con (the first being: shower, and the second being: sometimes you must go down to go up – if you’ve been, you know what that means) is don’t forget to eat.  Nothing ruins a party like drinking on an empty stomach and passing out early, so remember to feed yourself.  In accordance with this rule, we took a short break for sandwiches and chips.

With a full belly, I hit the Machinima panel.  I have an odd relationship with machinima.  The idea behind it is very cool – to take a game/game engine/game art assets and make a movie out of it.  Some of the best machinima, however, is clearly rendered in professional tools just using assets, while items rendered in the game engine often look stilted and of poorer quality, especially when it comes to characters talking.  Anyway, the result is that I generally don’t like the machinima people actually create, but I respect the ideas and effort that goes into their creation.  That said, Ignis Solus is just awesome:

I decided to end my day of panels with the Zombie Walk, which in hindsight was a poor choice.  Not enough zombies showed for it to be really great, and I never did complete my Francis from Left 4 Dead outfit, so it ended up being about 20 zombies walking through the con… I gave up and left them half way through.  Maybe next year.

The way a day at Dragon*Con should end is with parties, but I lost my enthusiasm for the Zombie Prom, and the line for the Time Travelers Ball was too long, so I hung out with some friends for a bit and then made my way to the All-Night (5am) Global Agenda party where I played absolutely zero Global Agenda.  Instead, I spent a good hour or more, maybe two rockin’ the mic in Rock Band.  Thank you Atlanta!  Good night!

Day One at Dragon*Con is a wrap!

Dragon*Con 2009: Day Zero

It is Thursday, the day before Dragon*Con officially begins, and like every year that means registration.  Some years it is a tiring journey downtown after work followed by a couple or three hours spent in line and then a trek back home to finish packing and sleep before making the real journey down on Friday for Con.

This year, however, the wife and I decided we’d just extend our hotel stay by one day so that our trip down for registration would end in us hanging around and meeting people and stumbling back to our room when we get tired.

Dragon*Con this year is going to be a little different for me.  Normally, I just post daily wrap-ups, but thanks to my purchase of a Palm Pre, I’ll be a little more “on time”.  First and foremost, the Pre has that awesome synergy thing you may have heard about, and what that means is that it blends my calendars from several sources into one display without syncing the calendars and duplicating stuff.  And with the folks at Dragon*Con providing a Google Calendar of events, it means I won’t really need to carry around the book and schedule, it will all be on my phone.  Next, with the use of Twitter and TwitPic, as well as Facebook, I’ll be able to snap photos from my phone and immediately get them out to all the people.  So, if you’d like to see them, here is me on Twitter, and here is me on Facebook.  I’ll try not to annoy people too much, but I make no promises.

So much to do, so much to see, so exciting… You know, the idea of PAX intrigues me, and I want to go, but I never will.  Dragon*Con is just so much… more.

Of course, it helps if you get to registration early.  They were open until 11, but they cut off the line at 9:30 at about where they estimated it would take two and a half hours to get through… we were beyond that point.  Registration opens again at 8 in the morning.  So without our badges we went down to the Marriott bar, Pulse, and hung around chatting and people watching… In New York, they say if you hang out in Times Square, you’ll see a million people walk by.  At Dragon*Con, the place to stand is in the Marriott.

Dice Games

I’ve been thinking about game design a bunch recently.  Most of it is MMO related in a “What kind of MMO would I really want to play?” sort of way as I mull over all the reasons why I have lost interest in pretty much all the MMOs on the market right now.  But outside of that, I’ve also been thinking about dice games.

A post over on Wil Wheaton’s blog reminded me of the game Button Men, and it got me to thinking about games I could make out of the giant bag of dice that I own.  (Dragon*Con, I went to a booth and bought a bucket of dice for like $20, its all in a Crown Royal bag now.)  So, as I’m thinking about what I can craft out of my dice and other things around the house, I got curious about the existence of other dice games.  In my searching of the Intertubes, I found tons of games that use traditional 6-sided dice (some that use many many of them), but very few that actually made use of 4-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 20-sided dice (the rest of the tradition role playing game set), and that is what I am after.

I’m going to keep working out some ideas of my own, and maybe even post them here.  But in the meantime… know of any good dice based games?  Let me know…

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Four

The last day of Con is always the worst.  First, because it comes after the last night of Con, which is usually filled with too much drinking and staying up way too late.  Then there is the packing in order to check out before getting dinged for another day stay.  And as bad as you feel, any panelists feel worse, because not only do they have the same issues you do, but they also have to be on panels.  The last day of Con is always the slowest.

After getting the car packed and heading back in, I made another trip through the dealer and exhibitor rooms.  After a few days of saying there was nothing worth seeing you might wonder why I would go back… well, being the last day, many sellers weigh the expense of hauling back product versus cutting the price.  So, its no surprise on Monday at Dragon*Con to see 20%… 50%… or higher signs.  See, if you buy early, you pay more, but you will get your item.  If you wait, you might pay less, or you might be too late.  I found a stall selling RPG materials, all items $2, so I picked up random curiosities, like the Starship Troopers pen and paper game.  I wouldn’t pay the normal price, but for $2?  Hells yeah!

Then it was off to the panels… Free MMOs was up first.  There are lots, most of them look like crap (to me, anything anime is crap, I hate that style, all asian MMOs, free or not free, are boring soulless garbage), but some don’t.

And the pen and paper game Aftermath! has been licensed for an MMO.  I heart the apocalypse, so I hope they succeed.

With those last panels out of the way, it was time to head home and sleep…

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.

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Two

A better day of panels… I got to see SOE demonstrate FreeRealms, which, in the simplest terms, is Puzzle Pirates on steroids and crossing genres.  It definitely is something I am going to look into, and at the price (free), why not?

Force of Arms, a mechanized armor fighting MMO being built on the Multiverse system, has a lot of potential.  However, right now, potential seems to be what it has the most of, and everything about the actual game play seems to not be nailed down just yet.

On the other hand, Champions Online, looks like it is going to be City of Heroes squared… at least.  The two gents who showed off the game left me feeling really good about this one.

I took some time to go through the dealers’ and exhibitors’ halls… and it was pretty much the same.  The same dealers with the same stuff for sale, the same exhibitors with the same products.  Oh, there were some new items here and there, but nothing really to blow one’s shirt up.

And then the nightlife began.

The planned events by the Con were fairly normal… and like normal they were hum-drum.  The Colonial Fleet party for Battlestar Galactica was alright, with it’s 80’s soundtrack… it got better when some of the cast showed up.  The Shindig for Firefly was boring.  But later in the evening, the BSG fans had a party of their own on the 10th floor of the Marriott, and those cats know how to throw down.

Yeah, the day is for panels, but the night belongs to the parties… its what the Con is all about.  It would be a shame if they ever tried to move to a convention center and lost the hotel party nightlife.

Dragon*Con 2008: Day One

One of the things I enjoy most about Con are the panels.  Yeah, the costumes and parties are cool and all that, but I also come for the panels.  In a good, well run panel, you can actually learn quite a bit, participate in discussions and meet people with similar interests.  In a poorly run panel, the only thing you learn is that there is a reason for having a moderator who actually cares about the subject at hand.

I’m not going to point any fingers and name names, but many of the panels I went to today were not well run at all.  People asking stupid questions, panelist meandering through unrelated subjects, entire topics being misunderstood and abandoned…  Not a good day at the con at all.

But then came the drinking and the people watching, which is always fun.

To cap off the night, the wife and I decided to duck into a concert.  99% of live performances by bands are not intended for people who like lyrics and don’t already know the songs by heart.  The music is cranked so loud that the only thing you know for sure about the words is that the song does have lyrics, and sometimes you can make out the tones, but actual phrases are lost beneath the thrumming beat and the wailing guitars.

Oh well… there’s always drinking and people watching…

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Zero

Before one can go to the Con, one must pick up one’s badge.  This is one of those cases where getting there as early as possible is a fantastic idea.  We didn’t get there so early.  Well, we did, sort of, but we checked into our room and unpacked first.  We shouldn’t have unpacked.  It took an hour and a half to get our badges.  But I hear the wait got up to be over two hours.  Saturday morning will be worse.

But, we got checked in, got our badges, and all is right with the world.

In previous years, Thursday night had always been more about getting a head start on Friday.  You got your registration, your room, and you prepared for the weekend.  Some people and groups would meet up for drinks and that sort of thing, but not a whole heck of a lot.  In recent years that has been changing, and this year Thursday night was Fan Party Night.  As I walked around the host hotels, I saw many large gatherings, but nothing beat the fan group from Battlestar Galactica who met up on the 10th floor of the Marriott.  They we big and loud and pounding shots.  Sadly, having to work in the morning I left early.  I hear there were push up contests and other revelry until quite late.

Next year…

Gone to Con…

It is that time of year again, when despite living “in Atlanta” I drive downtown and stay in a hotel for four days.  Dragon*Con.

As I have the last couple of years, I’ll be posting my rundown on what I see and do each day, as if anyone cares.  Mostly I do it so that I can remember what it is I do myself.

Anyway… if you happen to be going, I’ll probably be spending a bunch of my time around the MMO track or the Apocalypse Rising track or the Writer’s track.  The only place I know I will be for sure is Sunday at 1pm I plan to attend the screening of 20 Years After.  I would say, “I’ll be the guy with the shaved head and the goatee” but there will be approximately 2,851 people who match that description as it is, as my friends call it, “the Dragon*Con uniform”.  Instead, look for my hat… I’ll probably be wearing or carrying a tan baseball hat that says “Founded 1733 Savannah, GA” on it.  If you approach me, be sure to speak the passphrase, “The Cheese Stands Alone”, so I’ll know who you are.