Author Archives: Jayhawk

First (Comic-)Contact: More Game than a Pick-up Artist

I have a lot of game. By that, I do not mean I have the charisma and style to get a bunch of phone numbers from attractive women on a nightly basis. No, I mean I game. A lot. My time at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 was no exception.

Even though I tried several game demos throughout my SDCC experience, I selected only a handful of games for writing my impressions. Sorry for not going into detail for games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinities at the Capcom Booth, Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter at Nerd HQ, and the Freeplay Arcade with a selection of classic arcade games.

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag: Arms Spread Wide on the Starboard Bow

The playable demo I was looking forward to the most leading up to SDCC was the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag demo. I had already pre-ordered the game and a PlayStation 4 console to play it on, so I wanted the demo to make me feel good about my early pre-order.

Ubisoft had a ship decked out at the marina just behind the convention center, and I was able to board the ship on one of my badge-less days. The ship was set up with game demos, shops to buy game-related swag, an area to dress like a pirate for pictures, and a lineup for autographs from Todd McFarlane. One would also find many people making references to The Lonely Island’s hit song I’m on a Boat. Furthermore, an area on the deck of the ship was for a Schick booth allowing you to shave like a pirate. Due to my facial hair deficiencies as an Asian man, I did not even bother going to that Schick area.

Two people working on the game showed off a single-player demo. The single-player demo, unavailable to be played by the audience, showcased the beautiful environments on land and in the water. In this game, the player owns a ship and is in charge of a crew. You can recruit crew members throughout the game, and you can send them off to do quests for you. During one instance in their demo, the characters in the game were at sea and a severe storm began. The graphics were gorgeous during this sequence, and you could see a couple crew members falling overboard during the storm and dying. It was tragic, yet beautiful. I loved it. Throughout the single-player demo, the staff kept emphasizing the lack of loading screens and the seamless transitions between land and sea. The disappearance of loading screens was awesome to see. Woo, next-gen technology!

After that showcase, I was able to play a multiplayer demo and finally get my hands on a PlayStation 4 controller. The controller felt natural in my hands. The increase in size and weight was not noticeable to me. In the multiplayer demo, we were all supposed to kill one another with each player having one target at a time indicated by a portrait on the bottom of the screen as well as a hot/cold indicator to show how close you are to your current target. I predictably picked a female character with big breasts, and that was to my disadvantage. My character was easy to spot in a crowd from a distance. In spite of my breasts-related disadvantage, I had a lot of fun during the demo. I was surprised that I managed to place 2nd in that session. After finally getting a chance to play the game and enjoying it, I was at peace with my previous decision to preorder a PS4 and this game.

Nintendo Gaming Lounge: Where Hundreds Go to Play Their Own Handhelds

Nintendo organized a gaming lounge inside the hotel adjacent to the convention center, and I was able to enter on my badge-less days. The lounge was packed with demos for recently-released games and games that have yet to be released. Many people lined up to try out the games available. Shout outs to the cute red-head who was with me at the lineup to play Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. She explained how to determine the value of Magic cards, since I got a free deck earlier that day in the same hotel. Even with demos for unreleased content, there were many people just sitting in the lounge area playing their own Nintendo 3DS handhelds. I found that amusing.

After seeing that Bayonetta 2 had a playable demo in this lounge, I lined up to play the game because I enjoyed the first Bayonetta game, and I wanted to report back to my friends who like the first game even more than I do. The demo was about ten minutes long, and had very little exploration. The only movement I had to make during the demo was moving from one enemy to the next. The graphics are slightly improved by being on the Wii U, but I did notice in some close-ups that the textures for Bayonetta’s back could use an increase in resolution. The hair on Bayonetta and Jeanne looked as fabulous as ever. Overall, the game played very similar to the first game when using the classic control option. The alternate option is to use the touchscreen on the Wii U tablet. My unfamiliarity with the Wii U tablet regarding the positioning of all the buttons did cause some minor frustrations during the demo even with classic controls, as I screwed up on some quick-time events – most notably the boss fight at the end of the demo. Ah well, I had fun.

The same developers of Bayonetta 2 showed off another new game exclusive to the Wii U – The Wonderful 101. It is a modern beat-em-up game that can support up to five players. In this game, I was able to choose my weapon by drawing on the screen with the right analog stick of the controller. Drawing a straight line would make my character wield a sword. An ‘S’ shape would yield a whip for my character. A circle would result in your character using his or her fists. The volunteer teased that there were other weapons that the players would have to discover themselves. I took that as a challenge, and proceeded to draw random things with the right analog stick. It eventually made me start acting like a child, and drawing stupid shit on the screen. Apparently drawing a pair of breasts with the right analog stick made my character start using bombs as his weapon. Anyway, a five-player demo consisting of strangers was very chaotic, yet still enjoyable. This game seems like a perfect game to play with my nephews. The Wonderful 101 gaming area was also where they had daily raffles for people to win a new Wii U console. Too bad I did not win any of their raffles.

The game at the Nintendo gaming lounge that surprised me the most in a positive way was Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U. I lined up to play this game several times, partly because the wait to play was the shortest among all the games in the lounge, and partly because I wanted to try out all the stages available for the demo. All demo stages supported up to four players. The game plays like a multiplayer Super Mario 3D Land with the character selection of Super Mario Bros. 2. Toad runs the fastest. Peach runs the slowest, but she can float in the air. The new addition to this game is the cat costume that allows you to climb walls, flag poles, and other objects. The cat costume also enables you to do a swiping flip to attack Goombas and other enemies. Some stages required coordination between the different players, especially one demo stage where all four players rode and controlled the same dinosaur creature. The four-player group I was in had to navigate that creature down a river, collecting coins and 1-ups along the way, while avoiding obstacles and not falling off edges. The group I was playing with for this stage had a hard time agreeing on what path to take and when to jump. I had a blast just from the stupidity of our failure to coordinate with each other. The volunteer at the station actually let our group keep retrying that stage a few times until we finally completed it. It felt great to finally beat a silly demo.

There were several other games to be played in the Nintendo gaming lounge and I spent many hours there. There was a floor area to play the Just Dance 2014 with PSY’s Gentleman as one of the songs avaialble. There were long lineups to try games like The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for the Wii U, Yoshi’s Island 2 for the 3DS, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U. The best part about this gaming lounge was the ability to enter without having a badge for that day. Learning this made me happy to know that there was somewhere for me to go on my badge-less days that weekend.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Hulk Just Wants to Smash

At the gaming area inside the convention center was a booth where you could try out LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on the Xbox 360. The demo supported two players, so I was teamed up with a random child. I basically acted like I was playing previous LEGO games with my nephews. I would let the child do most of the work, and I would just fool around. If the child seemed to have trouble progressing in the stage, then I would actually try to help. The child I was playing with was fairly decent, so I spent most of the time just smashing objects as the Hulk. Other times, I was just flying around in circles as Iron Man. Then there were the times I was web-swinging around in circles as Spider-Man. I hope the child I was playing with didn’t get too annoyed by me going in circles and my general foolishness. The volunteer at the booth told me that there will be over 100 playable Marvel characters in this game, and that number astounded me. I am excited for this game. Not excited enough to buy this game for myself, but excited for my nephews to eventually get the game so I can play the game with them when I visit.

SEGA Arcade: Featuring the Original Hologram that Tupac Copied

At the time I explored the SEGA arcade, I was hungry and did not really want to spend a lot of time there. The highlight of the arcade was a playable demo of the next game in the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series, and the first in the series to be released in North America. If you are unfamiliar with the series, it involves a fictional pop star named Hatsune Miku. She is popular in Japan and has performed in concerts as a hologram long before Tupac did it at Coachella last year.

Xbox Lounge: Screw You, Microsoft

Even though the Xbox lounge was at a hotel outside the convention center, the volunteers at the door checked to see that I had a SDCC badge for that specific day. After being turned away on one of my badge-less days, I came back once later that weekend just to enter the raffle to win an Xbox One. I am assuming I did not win the raffle based on the lack of emails from Microsoft. Being rejected from entering the lounge the first time I tried left me in a sour mood, and I did not even want to play any of their demos. Thanks Microsoft for pissing me off again with your closed policies.

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First (Comic-)Contact: Loot-Whoring at the Hall

Click here to read the first article in this series describing my experiences at San Diego Comic-Con 2013.

My first draft of this second article contained a series of anecdotes in chronological order of my SDCC preview night and day one experiences. That article turned out to be a disastrous piece of writing that had me venting and made me come off as a whiny, little bitch who had a terrible time at SDCC. Regrettably, I had a wonderful time and I am looking forward to attending next year – maybe with friends tagging along to join me next time. If you are somehow interested in hearing or reading me go into a bitchfest soliloquy, feel free to talk to me privately and bring up a subject for me to rant about.

This second article will be mostly for pictures I took inside the convention center and shout outs to a few people I met while I was gathering collectibles. Future articles will give my impressions from the game demos I tried, and stories of the other activities I did outside of the actual convention.

Giveaways or Exclusive Products with Limited Supply? Where do I line up?

Though my overall goal was to check out all the booths at the exhibit hall over the course of the two days I had badges for, I wanted to prioritize booths that were giving away free items or had exclusive collectibles for sale that I was interested in. I ended up getting so much loot from SDCC that I filled one checked-in luggage with just loot I got from SDCC. That luggage weighed just under fifty pounds. Go ahead and inform Hoarders about my SDCC loot-whoring ways.

Gathering collectibles usually meant that I was lingering near the booths with those items until lineups were open. During this lingering/lineup time, I met many friendly people and we were able to joke around and discuss our common interests in order to kill time until we got the collectives we wanted.

I would like to take this opportunity for shout outs to a few strangers I am thankful for. While waiting for the lineup to the Blizzard booth to open up for more people, I made pacts with a few strangers: “I save you a spot in the line if I get in it, if you do the same for me.” One of those pact-buddies actually saved me a spot when he got in line and tried to signal me over. Unfortunately, I did not notice him until I was already in line further behind from where he was. Thanks for sticking to the pact, regardless!

My last shout out goes to the girl that was in the group ahead of me in line at the Capcom booth for the Strider masks being given away (pictured in the gallery at the end of this article). They were running out of masks to give away, and the volunteers at the booth were estimating that the last person to get a mask would be the person just in front of me in line. This girl I am thankful for gave up her spot for a mask, since she was not really interested in one. This meant that I would get a mask instead. Thank you, random stranger!

I did not take pictures of the all the loot I did get because most of that loot will be given as gifts to other people over the next few weeks, and I want to keep those gifts a mystery for the recipients. Sorry, internet. 🙁

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First (Comic-)Contact: General Thoughts

When I lucked out and managed to get badges for San Diego Comic-Con 2013 earlier this year, I was excited, scared, and intimidated at the same time. I was excited that I had a chance to go to an event I had been wanting to go to for years. I was scared because I was traveling to it alone, forced to meet new people and make friends. I was intimidated by the enormity of the event. Being interested in many movies, television shows, video games, and comic books, I had to figure out how to best manage my time there without any first-hand experience.

So how did my experiences at SDCC 2013 turn out? This series of articles should give you a better idea.

This first article will contain my thoughts on general topics regarding the event, and then future articles will provide anecdotes and short stories. Throughout this series of articles, I will be including image galleries of related photographs.

The People: Nerds Assemble!

I hate to admit it, but I was expecting a giant sausage fest at SDCC with a huge chunk of those attendees having horrible body odour. To my surprise, the people at SDCC were quite diverse, and I would say the male-female ratio was close to 50-50. I do not remember many stinky people either.

People from around the world in all shapes and sizes, all age groups, and different areas of interests come to SDCC to enjoy and appreciate their favourite television shows, movies, comic books, video games, or whatever. I made it a point while at SDCC to not negatively judge anybody, since I respect anybody willing to invest their time and money to appreciate something they love featured at SDCC. Most strangers I met at SDCC were very friendly, and I tried to be helpful if anybody asked me questions, to which I knew the answers.

Cosplay: Is this how you normally dress when you get out of bed?

Conventions are well-known for people dressing up in costumes as their favourite characters. SDCC did not disappoint in the cosplay department. Many people put in a lot of effort into their great costumes. Thank you to all who spent time and money to dress up in in costume for SDCC. Since I unfortunately did not have a badge for the Saturday when the masquerade competition took place, I am sure I missed out on capturing photos of awesome costumes.

On the flight to San Diego, I met a person who was carrying a purple lightsaber that could not fit in his luggage and learned that he was going to cosplay as a Blue Lantern one day and Mace Windu another day. I met up with him later that weekend and learned that wearing a costume for a day means a lot of time is taken up posing for pictures for other people, especially if your costume is unique.

I have yet to attend a convention in costume, since the costumes I have worn in past Halloweens (Michael Jackson and Prince) do not really fit with the subject matter of conventions. Since I gained a lot of experience in terms of managing my time at SDCC, I think I will work on a costume to wear next time I attend SDCC.

Panels:

As a first-time attendee with only badges for two of the four days, I expected to not spend any time lining up to see any of the panels. The lineups for panels for the popular shows and movies often start outside Hall H the night before. The rooms do not get emptied between panels, so you have to hope enough people leave the room after previous panels for you to continue further ahead in line and into the panel room for the panel you want to attend.

On the Friday during the convention, I had met a fellow engineer who spent nine hours waiting in line to go to the Game of Thrones panel. His girlfriend, who did not have a badge for that day, spent three hours accompanying him in line for support. In the end, he did not manage to get into the Game of Thrones panel and settled on being able to go to the Amazing Spider-Man 2 panel. Their story anchored my opinion on lining up for panels. If I do decide to attend a panel next time, I will definitely need a friend to make the wait enjoyable, and a bunch of items to keep me warm, comfortable, and not bored.

Transportation: Where is Jason Statham when you need him?

San Diego’s transit system made it simple to get around town without having to rent a car. With a day pass that normally costs $5, one is free to use the MTS transit buses and trolleys to get to where they need to be until midnight. After midnight, expect to hail a cab to be able to go where you need to go. During the convention hours, there are free shuttle buses that travel to and from the convention center and many hotels.

The trolleys are fairly clean, as food is prohibited at the trolleys and drinks should be in sealed containers. On the other hand, the transit buses were quite disgusting. I saw a cockroach crawl around on one ride that was inadvertently killed by a sleeping rider’s shoe.

Clusterfucks: Crowded Aisles and Long Lines

With so many people in attendance for SDCC, I would not recommend the exhibit hall for people with claustrophobia or people who need a lot of personal space. I have no problems with crowds and tight spaces as long as nobody is grabbing me or feeling me up… without my permission.

Want to view a panel? Get in line. Play a game demo? Get in line. Watch a movie/television show preview? Get in line. Get an autograph from a celebrity? Get in line, unless that celebrity is not really popular.

The booths handle their lines differently and most booths will limit a line’s length at arbitrary points, force people to move away from the lines after the limit, and randomly decide when those lines open up again. Some lineups do not even result in the thing you want and they end up giving you a ticket. The ticket either indicates that you were successful for the item you want and you can come back at a later time, or you get a ticket that says get in line again to try for another ticket. Some lines got so long and hectic that volunteers joined hands and formed human fences to ensure lines were single-file and people did not cut in.

With the craziness of lineups, people would often resort to lingering in booths near the ends of lines and start crowds in the aisles used for walking between booths. In the popular areas, I was often squished in from all sides when walking around. The packed aisles made me super paranoid and I often made sure nobody grabbed my wallet or was going into the bags of loot I was carrying. People with disabilities would cause traffic in aisles with their wheelchairs taking up space, but I cannot get upset about that. Patience is key to surviving the crowds at SDCC and enjoying yourself.

Next Article: Loot-Whoring at the Hall

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Relaunch

Hello everyone. I have decided to relaunch my website and the first meaningful content of the relaunch will include photos from my first San Diego Comic-Con experience and articles describing my experience. Stay tuned within the next week or so!