Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MAGFest 9

This is the end-result of me omitting most of the 119 tweets I posted during MAGFest, summarized and expanded upon in case you'd rather read a blog post instead of 119 tweets that will only become more and more buried in my Twitter history.

Jump break here to keep the main blog page uncluttered.


Before leaving I turned on twitter mobile notifications for four people I'm following on Twitter.  Basically the entire event I was receiving text messages.  Combined with the power rangers communicator beep that is my "new text message" noise and I was saying "Fuck off, Zordon!" pretty quickly.

This year I had people riding up with me.  Two friends, to be exact.  Wrangled timing-sensitive information out of the one I was going to have to pick up on the journey north, only to have it be useless.  His mom got uber paranoid about him not having a hotel room for Wednesday night, so she made him stay home until Thursday.

I took a different route this year just because it snowed earlier in the week and I didn't know what 20 North and 3 East were going to be like snow removal-wise.  I figured interstates would be a safe bet, and indeed they were.  Took I-64 -> I-295 -> I-95 rather than 20 -> 3 -> I-95.  Was kind of worried when we saw a construction sign that said "I-395 N closed, use detour", but I-395 was open so no detour was necessary.  Saw some construction happening on yet another road in the mixing bowl, so I figured that was the reason.

Arrived at the hotel around 7:30 PM.  Of course, nothing (save for LAN) was set up at this point.  Sat down with the one friend I had in my car, and we ended up playing Monopoly with people.  We had a full group, all 8 game pieces were in use.  During the game Jon St. John walked by and said "You guys are awesome!" in Duke Nukem's voice.  That was awesome.

Back to Monopoly, I got extremely lucky and got Boardwalk early on.  After accumulating some money and a few other properties, I said to the person who owned Park Place "What do you want for Park Place?"  He answered, wanting two properties (I forget one of them, one was light blue and the other was Virginia Avenue) and $500, which I forked over.

Now posessing the single most dangerous monopoly on the board I proceeded to build.  Eventually made it to hotels, all without people landing on the spots.  Then people began to land on them.  I bankrupted two people this way, and owned very little else throughout the rest of the game.  I ended up being one of the last two players left, at which point we should have stopped and declared him the winner since he had more assets than I did, but we kept playing on.  This Monopoly game that began at 9 PM or so finally ended around 3:30 AM.  Which brings us to...


I didn't really have enough time to sleep between Monopoly and my 10 AM shift, so I stayed up.  I had a room on Wednesday night, courtesy of MAGFest.  Having free rooms for staff rocks.

Finished my staff shift, grabbing my badge after it because for whatever reason the registration desk guys didn't want to give it to me before my shift.  Thankfully there was a separate line for staffers to get badges, so I didn't have to wait through the extremely long attendee pre-registration line.

Now's a good time to mention this: MAGFest had to cap its attendance this year, due to fire code restrictions.  Only 3000 badges would be sold, and this included staff badges.  Pre-registrations sold out entirely a few days before it started, so there was zero at-the-door registration.  I never saw it, but apparently some random people were actually trying to talk registration into letting them pay at the door.  You should have preregistered, people!

After my shift I perused the rest of MAGFest which had been set up for quite a while.  Played some arcade games, but didn't do much else until I was walking through the dealers' area.  Saw a Minecraft shirt at the Halolz table with Mr. Minecraft and two trees, that reads "Punching trees gives me wood".  Instant get.

Shortly thereafter I decided to do what I did last year, which was take a shower and stay up longer.  I tweeted a really bad joke afterwards.  "Taking a shower must be the RL equivalent of hitting F5 in a web browser, because I feel refreshed."  Yeah, isn't that bad?

At this point it becomes relevant that my phone is a TracFone using AT&T's network.  Signal for AT&T is extremely spotty in the hotel, there were only one or two areas where I could get it reliably.  Thus, my battery was constantly being drained, seeing as how the game room was not one of those places.  I ended up actually having to turn my phone off because it got to the "Battery low, let's bitch about it" state.

Turning my phone back on gave me a deluge of text messages.

Between 11 PM and my 6 AM staff shift, I managed to grab some sleep.  About five hours or so.


All of my staff shifts save for the first and last were LAN room overwatch shifts.  Overwatch is really simple, you just keep an eye on things and make sure nobody's trying to steal anything.  Overwatch at 6 AM is incredibly easy because at that time there are approximately three or four people awake in the LAN room.

After that shift I headed down to the game room to play some of the arcade games that had overflown into the game room.  The ones that ended up in there were mostly the Japanese sit-down cabinets where the game is changeable, and a stand-up Sega Naomi cabinet.  Ended up playing a weird sidescrolling shooter that was obviously a parody of Gradius since it shared the same powerup system.  I don't know the name and never saw it in one of those machines again.

Walking through the dealers' area I happened upon a Chrono Trigger Super Famicom cartridge.  A little more inspection also found me the American version, complete with the box with the error art, Marle is depicted casting a fire spell.  No way in hell I could have afforded either on my budget, so unfortunately I had to pass.

At noon I was happily seated in the Concert room for a very specific and awesome reason.  Hiroki Kikuta's live performance.  He wrote a song specifically for MAGFest.  He had a translator on stage with him.

After that I tried to get into the Jon St. John panel but it was really crowded.  I did eventually make it in towards the end.  Unfortunately, by doing so, I completely missed lunch.  Oh well, whatever.

One of the games present for the Naomi cabinet was Border Down, which despite me sucking at it was hella fun.

Went to the Super Mario Bros. live action movie in the video room just for kicks.  Pretty much everyone was pointing out all its inconsistencies with both the Mario canon and with itself.  It was more of a group MST3K of the movie than anything else.


Overnight I played a fair amount of Rock Band 3 and some crazy Japanese danmaku shooters on the sit-down arcade machines.  Playing those danmaku would become a habit for the rest of the event.

Somewhere between 7:30 AM and 2 PM I got some sleep.  I'm not quire sure on the specific hours, but that's the gap in tweets.

Went to First Blood on AC/DC in the video room.  This was a project by James Rolfe of Cinemassacre, perhaps better known for his series The Angry Video Game Nerd.  It was pretty good, I loved the juxtaposition between the lyrics and onscreen action in parts.

While waiting for dinner to be ready I brain-dumped to Twitter everything I knew about one specific danmaku I'd been playing.  I didn't remember my hiragana while I was there or I could have actually read the title.  So instead I posted literally everything distinctive about the game that I'd noticed hoping either to trip Honya's danmaku switch or just to have around somewhere so I could use them for future research.  Honya never said anything on Twitter about it, so I did some internet sleuthing and figured it out myself:  It was "Muchi-Muchi Pork!" by Cave.

Staff dinner got delayed until 8 for one fucking reason or another.  This triggered my rant about the staff food room and how it was so much better at MAGFest 5 even though we now have a lot more variety.


Finished up my last Overwatch shifts and got breakfast, which got delayed two hours and was completely not worth the delay.  It was basically scrambled pancakes, like someone had been trying to make pancakes but messed up horribly and ended up with small bits of pancake which they just decided to serve as-is and spoon out into a bowl.

Went back to the game room for a final sweep of the danmaku shooters.  I also tried a few of the challenges and beat the Chrono Trigger one, which was much easier than it was rated.  It was the expensive game at Norstein Bekkler's lab, where you have to push three Kilwalas off the screen and prevent Marle from being lowered into a fire pit.  It was rated Hard, but was really easy.  All you need to do to beat that minigame is hold Up and B, then run from side to side mashing A, making sure you're facing north the entire time.  That would be the only challenge I completed.  I tried the "defeat all Megaman X3 bosses (in Doppler stage 3) with just the X-Buster and no upgrades", but the default control scheme was enforced and is total ass.  Seriously, it's the most uncomfortable default control scheme for any game ever.  Also tried the Kirby's Dreamland 3 challenge, wherein you had to defeat the final boss rush on one life.  Only ever made it to the third one, with the running animals.

Left immediately after my teardown shift ended.  We stopped by McDonald's in Central Park in Fredericksburg on the way back for some food.  Note that I haven't slept for quite some time at this point, and had actually forgotten how long I had been awake.  Made it home and dropped people off without issue.  Looking back, it seems as though I was awake for over 24 hours.

MAGFest gets more and more awesome each year.  This was the best MAGFest since M8, and M10 (holy shit M10) will undoubtedly outdo M9 in awesomeness.  We can only wait and see.  Everyone wants MAGFest to be longer, but it's just not feasible monetarily.  All good things come to an end eventually, plus keeping it short gives 3000 gamers something to hype up and look forward to the rest of the year.

I did some thinking on why I massively prefer MAGFest to any other convention I've ever been to and I think I've arrived at a decent conclusion.  When you go to an anime convention, everyone pretty much keeps to themselves and barely socializes with other anime fans.  Anime fans ourselves are pretty much all self-loathing.  Regardless of what your tastes are, there are people who absolutely hate what you like and will completely judge you as a person because of it.

At MAGFest, everyone enjoys games.  End of story.  You may like a game or a genre that someone else doesn't, but they don't hold it against you.  MAGFest is very fun to socialize with random people at because of the high level of politeness (and readiness to discuss what they love) in 99.999(repeating)% of the attendees.  You may accrue one or two "con friends" at anime conventions, but at MAGFest, you have 2999 "con friends".  MAGFest is rapidly growing and maturing as an event, whereas most anime conventions have been stagnant for quite some time now.  MAGFest has no mainstream commercial presence in its dealer area whatsoever (and prefers independent sponsors), whereas at anime conventions (and other game conventions), they've basically sold out to the corporations.  MAGFest has a by-gamers, for-gamers feel to it, which is appropriate since that's precisely what it is.  MAGFest is what you make of it, and every attendee makes MAGFest awesome, therefore, MAGFest is awesome.

For my closing thought, I'll just stick with the end of the previous paragraph.  MAGFest is awesome.

Items purchased:
  • AVGN DVD set 4 (the 2009 season, came with a ScrewAttack sticker)
  • Minecraft "Punching trees gives me wood" T-shirt
  • Lots of Bawls
  • random food from the hotel vending machines when I got hungry between scheduled meal times
I'm really fucking tired right now, so pictures of stuff when I wake up.

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