CONS, FIRST STORM MANGA, JUST SAYING, MEZASU, MIZUUMICON, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM REVIEW, RANDOMIZER9.COM, SAN JAPAN, TEXAS COMICCON, WHATS GOING ON

RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComiCon 2011

Two Supermen and Lex Luthor in his powersuit

Looking SUPER!

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon (TCC) this year. At the 2010 event (see my write-up here) I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well.

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some notable comic guests as well.

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my 2010 write up, you can see lots of empty space in the background. This was not the case this year; the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

Sadly, there were also some bigger issues. Nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, though, so if you were at TCC 2011 as an attendee, then it rocked pretty hard.

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If TCC is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt that they will) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at TCC.  I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the WalMart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, so yeah, it hasn’t gotten much better since last year. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the event.  I can only imagine they would have raised a pretty big stink  if I hadn’t.  According to the TCC webpage, WiFi was supposed to be available.

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at these events (see also: Mizuumi-Con). I don’t mind paying for juice (if the cost is reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring a 25-foot cord just to get access.

The second electrical problem had to do with the video game tournament. The Original-Gamer.com guys bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated.  Even the game tournament guys should have known that many machines was too much.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time because smokers were constantly running out to get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

Except for perhaps the staff issue, the stuff I mentioned are mostly minor nitpicks, because Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like lots of other folks did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and look forward to seeing it come back even bigger and better.  Great job, guys!

 

RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComicCon 2011

 

TCC 2010 Review: http://www.randomizer9.com/?p=342

 

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon this year. At the 2010 event I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well. So, here we go:

 

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as: Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some pretty notable comic guests as well.

 

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my write up of the 2010 event, you can see a big wide space in the background. This was not the case this year, the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

 

Sadly, there were also bigger issues. That said, nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, so if you didn’t have a table, then yeah, ComicCon 2011 rocked pretty hard.

 

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

 

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If ComicCon is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt they can) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at ComicCon. I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

 

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the Wal-Mart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, and well, it hasn’t gotten much better since. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

 

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the duration.

 

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at cons (see also: MizuumiCon). I don’t mind paying for it (if it’s reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring my own cords and stuff.

 

The second problem had to do with the video game tournament. They bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated, heck, even the game tournament guys should have known that it wasn’t going to work.

 

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon this year. At the 2010 event I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well. So, here we go:

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as: Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some pretty notable comic guests as well.

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my write up of the 2010 event, you can see a big wide space in the background. This was not the case this year, the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

Sadly, there were also bigger issues. That said, nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, so if you didn’t have a table, then yeah, ComicCon 2011 rocked pretty hard.

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If ComicCon is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt they can) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at ComicCon. I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the Wal-Mart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, and well, it hasn’t gotten much better since. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the duration.

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at cons (see also: MizuumiCon). I don’t mind paying for it (if it’s reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring my own cords and stuff.

The second problem had to do with the video game tournament. They bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated, heck, even the game tournament guys should have known that it wasn’t going to work.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time so that smokers could run out and get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was also nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody actually did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

Despite the nitpicks I just mentioned, I felt that Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like everybody else did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and hope that it comes back even bigger and better next year.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time so that smokers could run out and get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was also nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody actually did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

 

Despite the nitpicks I just mentioned, I felt that Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like everybody else did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and hope that it comes back even bigger and better next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MUSIC, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM REVIEW, Videogames

RANDOM REVIEW: Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories (English Version)

Nobou Uematsu's 10 Short Stories Cover

Hikkari Pikkari!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com.  Uematsu and Roth are responsible for helping take game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” orchestral concert series.  After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.”  I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story.  The album is very much a product of Japan, as subjects range from the ordinary to the mythological to the poignant to the fun and the just plain bonkers.

The album starts out with the tropical beats of “Here Comes Conga Boy” followed by the harmonica-laden, “Gimme Gimme,” which is about a kid who goes around asking anyone and everyone for money.  Things take a turn for the odd with “Hikkari Pikkari,” a story about a sprite who’s job is to reflect the sun’s rays off of his shiny bald head and onto the Earth.  “No Worries!” carries a message about being happy with who you are…even if you happen to be a penguin.  “Whistle A Song” is a happy ditty about the voyage of life, and “The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko” features the star-crossed lovers of Tanabata.  The tone goes back to not-so-serious with “Coconut Castaway” and “The Chef Who Used His Noodle” the second of which chronicles the creation of a certain noodle dish.  “Every New Morning” is a lullaby, as a mother wishes her child a good night.  “Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail” is the rock lament of a Power Rangers-esque villain who laments about his kids being made fun of in school.  The Swhail wishes his adversary would declare: “Without the Swhail I would be lost/Unemployed and eating taco sauce.”

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it.  That said, the songs feature a wide variety of different instruments and styles.  Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout.  As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl.  While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs with my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.”  I’ll give it a listen whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes. The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com. Nobuo and Arnie are partially responsible for taking game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert series. After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.” I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story. The album is very much a product of Japan: subjects range from the ordinary (Gimme Gimme) to the mythological (The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko) to the poignant (Whistle a Song, Every New Morning) to the fun (Here Comes Conga Boy, Coconut Castaway, The Chef Who Used His Noodle) to the just plain bonkers (No Worries!, Hikkari Pikkari, Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail).

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it. The music features a wide variety of different instruments and styles. Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout. As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl. While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com.  Nobuo and Arnie are partially responsible for taking game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert series.  After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.”  I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story.  The album is very much a product of Japan: subjects range from the ordinary (Gimme Gimme) to the mythological (The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko) to the poignant (Whistle a Song, Every New Morning) to the fun (Here Comes Conga Boy, Coconut Castaway, The Chef Who Used His Noodle) to the just plain bonkers (No Worries!, Hikkari Pikkari, Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail).

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it.  The music features a wide variety of different instruments and styles.  Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout.  As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl.  While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs; my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.”  I’ll fire it up whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes.  The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com
Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs; my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.” I’ll fire it up whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes. The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com

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CONS, IKKICON, JUST SAYING, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM STOPS, RANDOMIZER9.COM, Videogames

19 Things I Learned During Ikkicon V

So far at cons, I’ve been an attendee, worked at tables in Artist Alley, been part of a few panels and even played in a concert.  After volunteering to help run the game room at Ikkicon V this past weekend as part of the Alamo Gaming / Original-Gamer.com group, I’m wondering what there is left to do at a con short of being a big guest or actually running one.

In any event, I learned quite a few things over Ikkicon’s three days, some of which I’m not sure I wanted to, but that’s life.  So without further ado:

  1. If a member of your group has B.O. issues, your time in the hotel room will SUCK.  We had a guy that stunk up the hotel room on the first night and it remained funky for the duration, which made going back a VERY unpleasant affair.  I think my nose said “no mas” sometime Saturday night and went on strike.
  2. Unless you are in charge of something or a guest, don’t expect to get a badge with your name on it, I was given someone ELSE’S badge, so I tore off part of a sticky note and put my name over it. Bleh.
  3. Always pre-register and get your badge on Thursday night if you can, because if things go wrong during registration they go HORRIBLY WRONG. Luckily I didn’t have to wait in it, but the reg line was INSANE.
  4. Plan all you want, but something will always throw you a curve ball. I packed some microwaveable food to chow on so as to avoid overpriced hotel food and unnecessary excursions, and you guessed it, there was no microwave in the room.
  5. If there is a food that you enjoy to the point where you think could live off of it, then pack plenty of it along.  You will discover whether you really CAN live off of it.  Lucky for me, I still find Kashi granola bars and peanut butter crackers to be tasty.
  6. I am a Coke fiend.  I was dying for a soda on Saturday, so I said ‘heck with it’ and dropped $2.50 for a 20 oz bottle of sweet, sweet caffeine at the coffee shop in the lobby.  I wouldn’t have minded the price too much, but it wasn’t even that cold, if I’m gonna pay twice as much for a soda there should be some frost on the bottle…just sayin’
  7. The optimist in me says that we ran out of hand sanitizer Saturday night, the pessimist in me says that people will steal ANYTHING no matter how trivial.
  8. If you plan on running something at a con, expect that it is all you are going to do at the con.  I spent most of the weekend making sure no one hogged the Rock Band 3 station.  I took a few trips away to say hi to friends and grab some food on Saturday morning but as far as panels and events…nada.
  9. If you plan on running something at a con and doing it fairly, expect that jerks are going to think you are a jerk for doing so.  I repeatedly told people that I did not want them camping at the Rock Band 3 just waiting to play again. I got a lot of ugly looks in return, but I also got compliments from people who appreciated that I was doing my best to be fair.
  10. Geeks love “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Still Alive” and will sing along if they are played loud enough.
  11. They also really like “Du Hast.” For the life of me, I don’t get it, and frankly, I think it’s the German thing. Heck, I still like “99 Luftbaloons” from back in the day but unlike “Du Hast” it actually has lyrics.
  12. “Freebird” is just too cotton-pickin’ long.  My Xbox 360 locked up during it, and at another event, a guitar controller’s batteries gave out while it was playing.
  13. Having a 24-hour videogame room is a BAD IDEA. The problem with a 24-hour videogame room is that you need to have people in there all the time to keep stuff from walking out the door and to assist with the occasional system lock-up and dead controller batteries.
  14. If you are in charge of something, GET ALL THE DETAILS IN WRITING and have it signed by whomever is in charge.  We had some behind-the-scenes drama go down that could have been avoided if everyone had been on the same page from the start.  None of this ‘he said, she said’ business, just a signed piece of paper that says what has been decided on so there are no questions.
  15. Sometimes you must go down to go up.  If you find yourself waiting forever and a day to get on an ‘up’ elevator to get back to your room, go into one that is going down…it’ll come back up soon enough.
  16. If you don’t want to be harassed by the valets for your keys, park about 2 carlengths away from the hotel entrance.
  17. Owning your own dolly or hand truck rocks, if you are going to be working cons frequently, GET ONE.  Heck, even if you aren’t, get one anyway.
  18. When its all over and you go home, you will feel like crap, collapse onto your bed Sunday night, sleep like a rock, and will probably will not be back to normal until Tuesday.
  19. Despite all of the above, you will get to hang out with lots of cool people, have lots of fun and it will be totally worth it.

Ikkicon was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.  If the group I was involved in gets invited back, then I would be happy to come back next year…packing a microwave.

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RANDOM REVIEW: 2010

The most telling thing that I can say about 2010 is that I spent the last third of it without a full-time job, after getting canned back in August. I’ll be honest, I have nobody but myself to blame for that; a friend asked me if my bosses had been looking for a reason to get rid of me awhile back.  I sheepishly replied: “Well, if they were, they didn’t have to look very hard!”

Thus, the whole “what am I going to do with myself” debate I’d been having since 2009 (and heck, probably earlier than that) took on a whole new meaning as I applied for tech writer, tech support, and even editing jobs in an attempt to get away from programming.  I am currently scheduled to start a new programming job on the January 24th…well, so much for that.

Of course, sitting behind a desk for 40-something hours a week hating my job was not the only thing I did all year.  I also continued to be involved in First Storm Manga, handing out flyers and manga at a couple of anime cons throughout the year and keeping the website humming.  We are also going to be hosting our first event, the “Mezasu mini-con” on January 22nd.  While I enjoy hanging out with the guys, and it is fun going to events, I’m not sure that I want to be as involved in First Storm next year.  I’m just not sure that I’m getting a lot out of it, but I’ll bottle up that angst and save it for a future blog.

Another new ‘side job’ that I picked up was that of Writer/Editor/Voice Guy for video game website Original-Gamer.com. I started out just providing narration for some of their videos but eventually got more involved in the site, editing articles for readability and even writing reviews.  Because of that involvement, I was able to attend the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in July, and it completely blew me away.  I also had the privilege of attending the “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert in Houston, and the pleasure of interviewing famed video game music luminaries Nobou Uematsu and Arnie Roth.

Speaking of music, I was invited to join a band called The Loliholix. It turns out they needed a drummer, and I just happened to know how to play drums and have way too much time on my hands.  After getting an electric drum kit and an big ol’ honkin’ PA to use as an amp, I was ready to rock.  Practicing and hanging out the band was fun, but playing our first big gig at San Japan was awesome.  Being part of a show, even if it is a small one, is just incredible.  The audience feeds off of your energy and gives more back to you.

All the while, I have continued with my creative endeavors, namely writing.  I completed some very short stories, even entering one into a writing contest, and am working with my friend Chris Holm on some comics.  I also have some longer works that I hope to finish soon.  I am hoping to get my stories, and even some non-fiction, onto the various e-readers and phones and pads that are all the rage these days.  Hopefully, I can make a few bucks on the side that way.

As if being a part time musician and writer wasn’t enough, I also read for a part in a short film that my friend Carey Martell is currently working on called “Deathfist Ninja GKaiser.” Now, I won’t be too disappointed if I end up as Man in Suit #6 but having a speaking part and being the first person in the show to get fried by the Big Bad Guy would be cool, too.

All the while, I managed to post to this blog and keep up a somewhat-regular schedule with my podcast: “300 Seconds.”  I figure that if I can get out one blog post a week and two podcasts a month on top of all the other stuff I’m doing, then I’m doing alright.

Overall, 2010 was a great year for me.  I got to meet a lot of cool people and had a lot of really neat experiences.  Sure, it sucked to lose my job, but with the help and support of family and friends (and some creative budgeting) I’m hanging in there, in fact, I already have a job lined up in a few weeks so things are looking up!. I have faith that things will turn around soon and 2011 will rock even harder.

Farewell and Godspeed, 2010.  You were one to remember.

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CREATIVE, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM REVIEW, TECH, Videogames, Writing

Reviewing Musings

Reviewing videogames‭ ‬sounds‭ ‬like a‭ ‬really cool thing to do:‭ ‬you get to play games before they are released,‭ ‬you get to keep them if they are downloadable games,‭ ‬and well,‭ getting to play ‬games‭ ‬without having to pay for them is nice, too.‭  ‬I’m not lucky enough to actually get‭ ‬paid to review games‭ (yet‭!) ‬but‭ writing and editing ‬for original-gamer.com gave‭ ‬me the opportunity to attend E3‭ ‬back in July.  Totally worth it.

So yeah, on paper, reviewing‭ ‬games‭ ‬sounds like loads of fun,‭ ‬but in practice,‭ ‬it loses a little bit of its luster.‭  ‬When I’m not playing awesome games like‭ ‬Rock Band‭ ‬3‭ ‬or Kirby’s Epic Yarn‭ ‬I’m struggling through crapfests like Power Gig or enduring kiddie games like EyePet.

Yeah.  EyePet.  That’s hardcore.

The most direct effect of reviewing games is that it has turned playing games into work (albeit volunteer work).  Its a mental thing: instead of playing games because I want to, I now play them because I have to.  It gets a little annoying at times when I have a stack of games I need to plow through or when I get asked to play games in genres I don’t particularly enjoy such as fighting or driving.  The most aggravating bit about the whole thing that it takes time away from games that I want to play, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

The first thing I do when I get assigned a new game to review is I write the review’s introduction.  I like to have it done before I even start playing, and in my opinion it should give the reader some context in regards to my relation to the game.  Is it something I have been looking forward to, or something I’ve never heard of?

When I play a game for review, I keep my laptop handy so that I can take notes while I’m playing it.  That way after I’m done playing the game I just have to flesh out the bullet points I have marked down.  I’m not sure if I should be admitting this, but I don’t always finish games I review.  Usually its because I don’t expect to see anything new after having played a game for so many hours.  Let’s be honest, after a certain point, few games really offer anything surprising in terms of gameplay.

One game that bit that strategy in the pants was Gladiator Begins. I played through about 30 days of the campaign, probably about seventy or eighty nearly-identical fights, figured there was nothing else in the game, and wrote my review.  I went back to the game and soon discovered that the levels did start to occasionally change up, and upon seeing the box in a store, I learned that there were even fights against animals.  D’oh.  It was either my fault for giving up on the game too early or the devs fault for taking too long to open up the game’s interesting parts. Probably a little bit of both, oh well.

Writing reviews is a balancing act.  On the one hand, I don’t want to look like a fanboy by gushing praise all over a good game, nor do I want to simply verbally vomit all over a bad one for the sake of being entertaining.  Great games have minor flaws that have to be explored, and bad games sometimes have good ideas that were not executed well.

Picking out a numerical score can also be a bit of a headache, because I want my score to reflect what I have written.  I still read reviews myself, and I get annoyed just like everyone else when the two don’t jive.  I go by what the site says on the “About” page, supposedly we work on the ‘bell curve’ model where the middle point is average.  Despite the occasional “10” handed out, nobody’s really perfect.

At the end of the day, though, the site editor is the guy that says what goes up on the site, and while I haven’t always agreed with Oscar, I think he’s doing a good job for the most part.  Working with him and the rest of the original-gamer.com crew has been lots of fun.

And now, back to EyePet…whee

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CREATIVE, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, TECH, Videogames, WORDS

Why So Serious? WHY NOT?

I’ve been writing opinion pieces, game reviews and doing voice-overs for Original-Gamer.com (and occasionally here) for a few months now, and for what its worth, I always try to play it straight.  Well, except the voice-over stuff, unless its something I wrote myself, I don’t have much of a choice there. -shrug-

I play it straight because I don’t believe in pandering to the least common denominator.  If gaming is an artform that is just now ‘growing up,’ as some claim, then the people that report on it are probably just a few steps behind.  As I said at the end of my second article, The Numbers Game: “if we want others to take games seriously, we must take them seriously ourselves.”

But why aren’t videogames taken seriously?  Is it because of their relative youth compared to other artforms such as television and film, or is it because of the immaturity of those that cover it?  Granted, this is the internet, but there are very few places where videogames are covered without a wink and a snarky attitude. What the gaming press needs is the equivalent of The Wall Street Journal or Variety, but what we’re getting is Mad Magazine.

Now, I openly admit, I don’t practice what I preach: I crack jokes in my reviews and perhaps I shouldn’t ‘write myself’ into them.  The latter, I do because think it is important for the reader to get a sense of where I am coming from.  For better or worse, my score will be influenced by whether the game was something I was REALLY REALLY REALLY looking forward to or was just something that got tossed into my lap.  I think it also helps the reader if they are made aware of my biases for or against the game coming in.

Am I impartial? Admittedly not, but let’s be honest, nobody truly is.

In any event, while I am pointing out the problem, I don’t really have a solution.  The best that I can hope for is that the ‘serious guys’ get popular enough to, well, be taken seriously.  Now, does everybody have to take gaming seriously? Not really, there will always be a place for the snarks and clowns, and if worse comes to worse I can always go back to joking about how much I suck at fighting games.

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