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24 Things I Noticed While Helping at San Japan 6

My home for San Japan 6

My home for San Japan 6

I have attended every single San Japan.  I went to the first out of curiosity and found myself helping out with tables for First Storm Manga and original-gamer.com for the next four.  As FSM is no more and I have resigned my post from original-gamer.com, I found myself with nothing to do at San Japan Sinister Six.  I suppose I could have gone as an attendee and enjoyed myself, but instead I decided to help out the fine folks of RegIT with processing the 11,000+ attendees.

  1. You either have fun or work at a convention, and I worked at this one…a LOT
  2. That said, the people I worked with were very cool.
  3. It was neat to experience how much work goes on behind the scenes in registration.
  4. Think about it: about 20 people had to process over 11,000.  That’s pretty nuts.
  5. There were a few glitches, but the overwhelming majority of people were very understanding.  Nerds is good people.
  6. I was right about the customers being cooler at San Japan, there were only had a handful of genuine jerkasses to deal with.
  7. Goof-up #1-Not having good sneakers. I put gel insoles inside my casual shoes, which hepled, but my dogs were barking by the evenings.
  8. Holy cats, some of those cosplayers…Good Lord, I thought blood was going to shoot out of my nose!
  9. I’m old enough to have fathered a teenager, so I guess that makes me a dirty old man now.
  10. A friend guessed my age and was off by a decade, so I guess I’m not doing that bad.
  11. If you are going to give something to someone at a con , be sure you have it on you AT ALL TIMES. Sorry, friend of mine…can I mail you that t-shirt?
  12. Cardboard, if applied correctly, can be pretty awesome, as demonstrated by Tall Cardboard Robot Guy.
  13. I found myself shifting into my ‘announcer voice’ on occasion, that hasn’t happened in awhile.
  14. I don’t think I’ve ever done that at my regular job…which probably says something.
  15. Goof-up #2-Not taking Monday off from work. It would have been nice to do more stuff after the show, but I had to be at work on Monday and do laundry.  Stupid responsibilities!
  16. I wore my Wreck-It Ralph cloth pin and got lots of compliments, which makes me feel bad that I don’t remember the name of the artist who MADE it.  Sorry!
  17. The artists I know seemed to be happier this year and the layout appeared to be MUCH improved this time
  18. That is, the few times I was able to get away and see stuff…see #1
  19. Goof-up #3-Not by me, but for those who would ask me where things were…I AM SORRY BUT I HAVE BEEN HERE THE WHOLE TIME. AND I DON’T KNOW WHERE ANYTHING IS 😦
  20. I think the highlight of the whole thing was when my furiends showed up on Saturday to say hi.  The fuzzies gave me the warm fuzzies.
  21. Which is more than I can say for the jerkass who texted me ‘Are you even here?” despite knowing very well where I was the whole time. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
  22. Goof-up #4-Not getting a picture of the gal dressed up as the Ancient Aliens guy…she even had a sign that said ‘ALIENS,’ too!
  23. I seem to be doing a lot of apologizing in this list.  Sorry about that!
  24. Now that I can scratch ‘volunteered at a convention’ off my bucket list, I simply have no choice but to have fun at next year’s San Japan Samurai Seven…maybe!
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27 Things I Noticed During Ushicon 8

ushicon

Ushicon 8 took place this past weekend.  It is different in that it is the only 18+ anime con in Texas, as well as the first one I’ve ever attended.  On with the list!

  1. I didn’t know this year’s Ushicon was number 8 until I saw it on the t-shirt.
  2. Yeah, that’s not terribly important, but if you’ve been around for awhile, you should crow a little, you know?
  3. Worst thing that I noticed: Why does the men’s room on the first floor smell like mushrooms?
  4. Round Rock has the screwiest parking lots I’ve ever driven through.
  5. The maid cafe had the same large parfait on the menu listed as the “Lover’s Parfait” or “Forever Alone.”  Clever.
  6. Given that Valentine’s day is this week I was tempted to get a “Forever Alone” one but I think it contained enough sugar to put a horse into diabetic shock.
  7. The Dairy Queen near the hotel has to be the fastest one I have ever been to.  After placing my order, I filled my soda, sat down, started to chat with Chris, and BAM.  Done.
  8. The hotel did everything in their power to piss me off before and during check-in.
  9. Wow, I can actually talk with fellow attendees about anime from the 80’s like Dirty Pair and even Robot Carnival!
  10. No Rock Band in the video game room?  WEAK.
  11. It could have totally fit in the middle where nobody was playing table-top games.
  12. Being an 18+ con meant swearing was okay.  ***k yeah.
  13. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a con that was this well behaved.
  14. Which, I guess, is kind of 0the point of the whole thing.
  15. The panels were pretty interesting, or at least the ones I could enter because Panel Room 2 was too damn small for anything.
  16. Meanwhile there were plenty of empty chairs in the video rooms…just sayin’
  17. The cosplay show was cool; no judges or drama, just lots of folks showing off their cool costumes.
  18. Holding up my iPad mini for 20 minutes to record it was not, guess I’ll stick with my camera.
  19. Actually Panel Room 2 did work well for an improvised “Artist Meetup” on Saturday night 🙂
  20. There were a few fellow furries present, w00t.
  21. The number of bronies present (or at least the ones that were wearing t-shirts) could be counted on one hand.  AWESOME.
  22. The only time things got loud was when it got late and folks started drinking, you know, like at every other fan convention.
  23. Went to a “Project Meeting” panel on Sunday to offer feedback.  I sat around for about 10 minutes being ignored and left.  They could have at least asked me to introduce myself.
  24. Okay, not completely ignored, one guy was decent enough to offer me a doughnut.
  25. There was a gap of ‘nothing interesting happening’ on Sunday long enough for me to make a quick sojourn to Fry’s Electronics.
  26. Fry’s still has a anime section!
  27. I made the mistake of going to the maid cafe to chill out during Yaoi Tea Time.  It was like I was listening to a Spanish novela, and occasionally seeing…well, I’d rather not go there.
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2013 Convention Schedule

Photobomb by Amanda Rogers of mural-magic.com

Photobomb by Amanda Rogers of mural-magic.com

Another year means another bunch of conventions to attend and enjoy!  Unlike previous years, where I was either just an attendee or assisting with other folks’ tables, I will be peddling my wares at some of these events.  Buy or die!

While this isn’t a convention per se, I plan on showing up and selling my books at the St. Phillip’s Anime Club Anime Show held every weekend at Bubblehead Tea just south of downtown San Antonio on the first Friday of nearly every month.  I don’t know that I’ll have a table every month, but its a fun free event to go to and hang out at.

Ushicon, Feb 8-10, Round Rock, TX – Ushicon is an 18+ only anime convention, this will be the first time that I am attending, so I’ll be curious to see how different it will be without the usual Pocky and Ramune-fueled teenagers running around everywhere.

Furry Fiesta 2013, Feb 22-24, Addison, TX – After gushing over Furry Fiesta last year, coming back is a no-brainer, but this time I’m hoping to do a panel on e-book publishing, maybe sit around in Artist Alley for a day or so and have fun.

Mizuumi-Con 6, March 23, San Antonio, TX – San Antonio’s second biggest anime con should be loads of fun again, hopefully the gym won’t become a sauna like it did last year.  I plan on having a table at this one also.

Wild Nights, April 25-29, Robber’s Cave State Park – Despite Oklacon being an ‘okay’ event and not a ‘knock my socks off’ one, I am eager to try another outdoor convention.  Wild Nights takes place in a different part of Oklahoma and as there aren’t very many other furcons near Texas, let’s give it a shot!

Texas ComicCon 2013 June 21-23, San Antonio, TX – I like Texas Comic-Con, and I want to like it more, but its venue is a dump and the show has become the ‘same thing every year’ for me, so I’ll probably go just for a day to hang out with friends.

Anthrocon 2013, July 4-7, Pittsburgh PA – Anthrocon is the world’s largest furcon, and something I’d really like to go to, but I’m on the fence on making the trip because of the money involved.  Stupid car payment and rent going up.

San Japan 6, Aug 16-18, San Antonio, TX – The 500-lb gorilla in San Antonio, San Japan is a blast.  I’m not 100% sure of my plans for it right now, but I’m fairly certain I won’t have a table so I’ll get to actually have fun.

As most of these conventions take place in the first half of 2013, I may add another event late in the year, money permitting of course.  Hope to see you somewhere!

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26 Things I Noticed During San Japan Mach 5

What strange planet and time is this?

Another year, another San Japan.  I’ve been going since the beginning and its been getting bigger and better ever since.  This year, I helped out at the Original-Gamer.com table handing out flyers and helping out with Video Game Jeopardy, which was another rousing success.  Of course, I noticed a few things along the way:

  1. The Valero on I-37 near the Beeville exit makes bacon and egg breakfast tacos with the bacon MIXED IN…I think I just found my new place to stop for a bite when traveling to and from  Corpus Christi.
  2. The convention center is FREAKING HUGE…and they’re using less than 20% of it.  Wow.
  3. This is probably the first time I’ve ever felt COLD at a convention, and that is AWESOME.
  4. Those complaining about having to go back and forth between the hotel and convention center don’t remember the 1-block walk between the Municipal Auditorium and El Tropicana hotel the first 2 years.
  5. After a two-year layoff, Water Ninjas are now re-employed.
  6. Idea that sounded good on paper that didn’t quite work out as well as it could have: “Late Night Artist’s Alley”
  7. Found it hilarious that the “Mu Epsilon Kappa” table was next to the “Ushicon” table.  The Ushicon mascot is an anthropomorphic cow girl.  Mu, indeed.
  8. I don’t know if it was the Alamo Drafthouse or the Doctor Who Fans Unite group that bought the TARDIS along, but whomever it was, YOU ROCK.  UPDATE: It was the Doctor Who fan group.
  9. Wacky Japanese thing I saw there: Nekomimi ears or “mood ears” as I like to call them.
  10. Sign that people have too much money: Nekomimi ears.
  11. You knew how important you were based on how ‘finished’ the art on your badge was; I’m sure the art on my Con Alley badge looks awesome once its inked and colored.
  12. You can never have too many flyers.  Unfortunately, we didn’t.
  13. Raffling off videogames is a good way to get people to come to your videogame website table.
  14. If you’ve been advertising the fact that you’re also giving away videogames at Video Game Jeopardy, expect a packed panel room.
  15. Is it wrong that I take evil delight when people don’t know the questions to our Video Game Jeopardy answers?
  16. Surprisingly, the site’s review copy of the latest Naruto game was NOT the first one to go when we let the winner pick her prizes.
  17. The main area was fairly spaced out, which is a good thing because it means they have room to grow.
  18. Okay, maybe a little too spaced out, it looked a little empty initially.
  19. Next time I should NOT take the camera out of the camera bag…I bought the bag with me on Sunday but left the camera on my desk.
  20. Bought a pair of Chinese iron balls in the dealer’s area, I’ve always wanted some.
  21. I found it hard to resist saying “I’ve got balls of steel” in Duke Nukem’s voice to several friends after acquiring them.
  22. Does Egoraptor have a street team? I was randomly asked by someone, “Do you like Egoraptor? He’s over there.”  Unfortunately, I had to be somewhere at the time.
  23. For the record, I said “He’s okay.”  I’ve never met him but I do find his work entertaining and insightful at times.
  24. The parking lot behind the Rivercenter Mall sucks and I am never parking there again.
  25. Even though I missed the first day of SJ due to a family gathering, I am still tired as all heck after the fact.
  26. The attendance was over 9,400 so we can expect to hear lots of lame jokes for the next year.
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RANDOM REACTION: Furry Fiesta Day 1

When in Rome...

When in Rome…

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my first day at Furry Fiesta 2012.  As mentioned during my pre-game podcast with artist Chris Holm, we really didn’t expect it to be that much different from other cons that we have been to before.  So far, that has held up.  Sure, the “Dealer Room” is called a ‘Dealer’s Den’ and fursuiters play the role that cosplayers would play at an anime con, but for the most part it’s the same song, it only goes to a furry beat.

The first thing that really impressed me about Furry Fiesta were the freebies that I received upon registering: a hard plastic badge that was of much better quality than the laminated ones one usualy gets at these things, and a 8.5 x 11-sized con book with a nice glossy cover, which made me even more happy to have my short story included in it.  The inclusion of a bar of soap felt a bit like a tongue-in-cheek joke, but it is honestly something that more cons should probably do.  There was also a furry survey that is apparently taken every year as part of a study on the fandom, I’ll need to fill that out and return it.

Aside from badges, the main way to identify someone is an attendee is by the wearing of a tail. Sometimes ears (the headband kind, not the ‘hat’ kind like I’m wearing in the picture) and fuzzy gloves are worn as well, but tails are pretty common.

While the panels I have been to have not all been as good as I initially had hoped for, I was still pleased that there are more panels that I was actually interested in. The five panels I attended on Friday easily equaled the number of panels I might attend during the three days of an anime or comic book convention.

There seems to be more of an emphasis at Furry Fiesta on the creation of art rather than the consumption of it. Instead of attending a panel where a voice actor answers questions from fans about the shows he or she has worked on, I. can attend a panel where I can learn about voice acting, writing, and art.

There are quite a few things to do here at Furry Fiesta for someone who is interested in creating. The vast majority of the costumes are of original characters; instead of pretending to be something that is the product of another person’s imagination, attendees create their own ‘fursonas.’  Oftentimes, they only exist on paper or in artwork, but a few take the extra step of bringing their creation to life in the real world.  They are known as ‘fursuiters’ and there are some REALLY good costumes out there.

The only horsefly (ba-doom, tissh) in the ointment has been the jerkasses that are staying in the room above the one I am in.  I have been hearing nothing but stomping around and horseplaying last night and into the morning. Two calls to the front desk and a chat with the Furry Fiesta security guy have proven to be pretty fruitless in getting anything accomplished.  To be fair, though, that is something that one experiences at all of these things, so I can’t really hold it against them.  That said, I think the fact that something hasn’t been done about this reflects poorly on both the hotel and the convention.  I will speak with the folks at the front desk again (and maybe even FF security) today and see if anything can be done.  I got a five-hour drive tomorrow back home and I need more sleep.

But yeah, that’s a problem one comes across at any convention.  Its only been the first day, but I have already had a lot of fun and even learned a new thing or two at Furry Fiesta 2012. I look forward to the remainder of the con.  At this rate, I will be attending Furry Fiesta 2013 without any hesitation.  If that isn’t the best compliment I can give, I don’t know what is.

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My 2012 Con Schedule!

Doing my thing at San Japan 4TW

Never forget your sanitizer!

Here is my con schedule for 2012.  Frankly, I’m surprised I never did this here before.  Unlike previous years, I won’t be ‘working’ at very many of these.

Ikkicon, Dec 30-Jan 1, Austin, Texas

Technically, this New Year’s Eve con is the first con of the year as well as the last one of last year, so there.  I’ve already done a writeup on it, so there isn’t much else.

Furry Fiesta, Feb 24-26, Dallas, Texas

Going to try something new this year.  Furry Fiesta will be my first-ever furry convention.  It will be interesting to see how similar and different this will be from all the other cons I’ve ever attended.

Mizuumi-con, March 31, San Antonio, Texas

Mizuumi con was one of the first anime cons I ever attended, and is a great place for newbies to dip their toes into the multicolored pool that is anime and manga.  At $15, its inexpensive to go to and the kids out at Our Lady of the Lake University make for a pretty enthusiastic crowd.

Aetherfest, May 4-6, San Antonio, Texas

Set in the beautiful St. Anthony hotel in downtown San Antonio and put together by the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association, Aetherfest is a three-day steampunk convention that truly stands out with its costumes.  Steampunk attracts a slightly older crowd, so those looking for an alternative to the manic pace of other cons will find plenty to like here. Dress-up is encouraged, but not necessary, or to borrow the words of a certain Mr. Collins, there is ‘no jacket required.’

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), June 5-7, Los Angeles, California

Of all the cons on this list, this will be one of the few that I will be ‘working’ at.  E3 is the Big One as far as videogame conventions are concerned, and I will be going there in my capacity as Editor of Original-Gamer.com to check out new games and talk to people and write.  It is an industry-only event, so not everyone can go.

Texas Comic Con, June 22-24, San Antonio, Texas

If anime isn’t quite your thing and you want to get your hero on, Texas Comic Con is the place to do it.  In addition to the loads of comic book, action figure and pop culture dealers there are a host of artists, independent publishers, and fan groups ranging from Whovians to Sith to Ghostbusters.  Guest of Honor Larry Hama and Lou Ferrigno are but a few of the names showing up to this one.

San Japan, August 10-12, San Antonio, Texas

Easily and consistently one of the best conventions I have been too, San Japan Mach 5 is upping the ante this year as they are moving into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center this year.  The already-biggest fan con in San Antonio is about to get bigger, which should mean even MORE fun stuff to do.  Sadly, I may be ‘working’ at this one as well for Original-Gamer.com, but we shall see.

RealmsCon, Oct 12-14, Corpus Christi. Texas

RealmsCon is currently (as far as I know) Corpus Christi’s only anime and pop culture convention.  While it is a 3-day affair, my experience is that you can go and see everything in one day.  That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad convention, just a smaller one.

There may be a few other events I go to, but this is what I have planned for so far for the year.  ‘Working’ or not, this year should be fun on a bun!

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20 Things I Noticed During Ikkicon VI

Since the last Ikkicon, I actually have helped run an event (two even, the Mezasu mini-cons) so my checklist of “things I have done at a con” is pretty darn close to complete.  This time, the band I drum for, named NeRiMa ねりま, was scheduled to play Saturday night, so Friday was pretty much a ‘free day.’  Because of my involvement with the event, I don’t feel right ‘reviewing’ it so without further ado, here’s another list of things I noticed:

  1. I am not going to bring up the drum thing. I am not going to bring up the drum thing. I am not going to bring up the drum thing.  I think the drum thing was our fault, anyway.
  2. Okay, the drum thing: I need to invest in an acoustic drum set…once I’m sure there is space for it in my apartment, I’m sure it’ll fit in my car, and I won’t get thrown out of my apartment from the noise…so yeah.
  3. So Band 1 plays before Band 2, but Band 2 does their sound check after Band 1 does theirs and immediately before Band 1 performs…granted, I’m fairly new to the whole “rock band” thing, but am I the only one that finds that weird?
  4. I’d heard there were three versions of the schedule floating around, which probably why nobody minded that we started playing late.
  5. I was a little distressed at seeing such a small crowd at first, but it turns out Safety was checking bags for alcohol at the door, so we waited and it slowly grew.
  6. I think I like playing on Friday better, because we can practice the night before and having the show constantly on my mind for most of the con took a little bit of the fun out of it.
  7. I had a fun time at the concert itself, it was also nice of them to remember the fog machines were there about 2/3 of the way through. :/
  8. I totally forgot to check out the game room, perhaps the memories of last year are way too fresh.
  9. I’m guessing a lot of folks got the Nintendo 3DS for Christmas.  Either that or System Settings is much more engaging than I remember.
  10. I finished 4 Streetpass panels during the event and almost finished Find Mii a second time, w00t!
  11. According to my 3DS’ pedometer, I averaged 6,000+ steps a day, and my legs feel like it today.
  12. Once again, no microwave in the room.  I guess if you can afford to stay at a place like the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center you aren’t going to be nuking popcorn and noodles for sustenance.
  13. Luckily, the venue was near the University of Texas, so there was plenty of pizza and burger jonts within walking distance.
  14. I love how the layout was prioritized: artists and dealers in the mezzanine, panels and some artists on the first floor, and con alley in steerage, er, I mean, the basement.  They aren’t the only ones to do this, BTW.
  15. The AT&T Executive yadda yadda is split in two between the hotel and the conference center, which is probably why there weren’t too many insane elevator wait times.  That, and it only has seven floors.
  16. I was afraid of that the venue was going to be too small for the number of attendees, but it didn’t seem to get too packed.
  17. I attended the My Little Pony panel to see if I could somehow finish the blog entry I’d been working on for the last two WEEKS. Mission Accomplished.
  18. In spite of my friend Chris’ best efforts, I was not tied down to a chair and forced to watch My Little Pony like the guy in “A Clockwork Orange.”  Jerk.
  19. What is it with badges?  Guest badges, even??  Once again I got a temp badge to start off, but they found the band’s real ones halfway through.
  20. I can’t claim this one (credit goes to my friend Justin of Nine Tails) but I have to include it: while looking at the Sunday schedule, a friend wondered “How come they never have Steampunk 102?”

For me, at least, Ikkicon VI was fun: a good-sized crowd showed up, the location was better in quite a few aspects, and our concert went well.  While there were a few wrinkles here and there, the problems that did come up got taken care of and a good time was had by all.

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Lights! Camera! NERDS!

Comicbreak.com presents Fanboy Flix at the Drafthouse

Arrive early, or sit behind Galactus!

If you want to get your nerd on in the Alamo City, the Alamo Drafthouse theaters feature free showings of various nerdy movies on a regular basis.  With exception of “Anime at the Alamo” these all take place once a month.

First, there is ‘Anime at the Alamo’ sponsored by the folks at Funimation which happens every Monday night at the Westlakes location.  I haven’t been to this one in awhile because there are a load of Mystery Science Theater 3000 wannabees constantly blabbing throughout the movie and they completely ruin the experience for me.

ComicBreak.com’s ‘Fanboy Flix’ brings us various geeky movies from years gone by.  This happens at the Stone Oak location and often features local guest artists.

The San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association gives us “Steampunk Night” for those of us whose pasttime happens to be the future past (ba-doom, tissh!).  Expect lots of really cool costumes and vendors at these events held at the Park North location.

For the Whovians among you, Doctor Who Fans Unite gives us Doctor Who night at the Stone Oak location.  Be sure you’re on time!

The Alamo Drafthouse is a great place to watch movies; and these events are a great chance to enjoy your favorite movies and shows on the big screen.  If you decide to go to one of these events be sure to get there early, because there are often things going on beforehand and the theaters do fill up.

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RealmsCon 2011 : Can Less Be More?

As far as I know, RealmsCon is the only anime event that goes on in Corpus Christi.  I remember going to the first one way back when, and have had tables there these last two years.  With First Storm Manga done with, I was now free to just enjoy the show.  Having been underwhelmed with RealmsCon in the past, I decided to drive down and check it out for one day as opposed to the whole weekend.

I got to the American Bank Center at about one in the afternoon, and the setup was very similar to what they had last year; artists and panels were on the first floor and big events and guests were on the second.  It was different in that the number of artists and dealers had been reduced from 2010.  The same amount of space was being used, but things were a little more spread out.  They did things like use only one side of a hallway instead of both.  While it made the space looked a little more empty (particularly the dealer’s room) I think it was the right thing to do.  Here’s why:

I don’t know what the attendance numbers are for RealmsCon, but it would appear that they overdid it last year when they held their first show at the American Bank Center last year.  Back then, they packed as many artists and dealers as they could into the space, but it appears that they didn’t have the numbers to support all those attendees.  I overheard that both attendees and artists were pretty unhappy with that situation.

It looks like they found the sweet spot this year, because nearly all of the folks that I spoke with said that things were going well for them, sales-wise, at least.  Ideally, fewer artists and dealers meant more money for the ones that were there.

I really didn’t do much there beyond hang out with friends so I attend any of the events.  While they do have just a little bit of repetition in terms of their guests, it is nice to see familiar faces.  Of course, I have to mention that their big guest Tom Felton cancelled, which was unfortunate.

I didn’t attend any of the panels, so I don’t have anything to say about them except that Airship Isabella appeared to be running a significant chunk of them, according to the schedule.  That makes me wonder about the anime community in Corpus Christi, are there not enough folks down there that want to do panels?  Realms always seems to have issues getting enough panels to fill the event’s three days.  Last year, each presenter was given two hours, and this year there were 15-30 minute gaps in between events.

That minor quibble aside, I had a fun time at RealmsCon and there was a good crowd there.  While they had to take a step back in some ways, it was a step forward for the most part, and I look forward to coming back next year, maybe for the whole weekend instead.

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