Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MAGFest 11

I awkwardly shift back and forth between "I" and "we" during this post without establishing having met up with a friend (or multiple friends on occasion).  Deal with it.  Also, the quality of writing slopes steadily downwards towards the end, because I was getting more and more tired while typing it.  I might go through and fix shit later, I might not.  We'll see.


Woke up around 8 AM.  I actually wanted to get up at noon, but I couldn't sleep any longer.  Did laundry while catching up on YouTube videos I'd been neglecting.  With relaxation time built in, I ended up packed and ready to go just before dinner.  The plan was to leave after dinner, so it worked.

A bit after 7 PM I loaded my bag into my car and went on my way.  The route this year would take me past my usual gas station to top off and grab some 20oz. caffeine vessels, perhaps better known as bottles of Mountain Dew.  I used Google Maps to figure out how to get on my regular trek north without having to double back and waste gas, and it worked beautifully.

On Route 20 my biggest concern was deer.  I honestly don't believe that Route 20's 55MPH speed limit is safe at night.  During the day it's perfectly safe, though.  Instead of deer, however, I had to slow down to avoid hitting someone's dog.  Whatever.

I love driving at night, but the darkness does make navigating a bit difficult when you can't clearly see where a connecting road is.  I ended up having to turn around once because I went past where I should have turned.

In Orange I drove down my favorite road system anomaly ever.  In Orange, Route 15 and Route 20 meet and become the same road briefly.  Except that when you're heading north on Route 20, you actually end up heading south on Route 15 (and vice versa).  There's something fun about being able to say you can go both north and south at the same time.

Blah blah blah battlefields blah blah Fredericksburg no traffic because I left after its rush hour 95 North yay.

Stopped at the same rest station on 95 North that I stopped at last year, except that this time the Mountain Dew I drank was a lot cheaper because I bought it at the gas station when topping off along with a buddy for $2.50.

There's nothing really difficult at all about the route from Fredericksburg to the Gaylord, you just have to pay attention to the signs to know which side of 495 to get on, since it splits into local and not local.  Spoiler: you want the local side.  You end up going across the drawbridge, at which point you can already see the Gaylord.  If you've never approached this hotel from over this bridge at night, I recommend doing so at least once in your life.

Anyway, just before 10 PM I arrived and nabbed a parking space right near the elevators.  Went in and started refamiliarizing myself with things, especially since MAGFest's layout changed significantly compared to last year.  There were still a couple of things I never found.  "Use the map!", you say?  To that, I say "what map?  I don't have a smartphone, and therefore can't use the digital-only guidebook!"  Those digital-only guidebooks: WORST.  DECISION.  EVER.

Anyway, the first game I played was Sega Super GT.  Because, you know, it totally makes sense to play a racing game immediately after driving for two and a half hours.


After a while of derping around a couple other staff members and I decided to get some food from the hotel cafeteria, which MAGFest staff have access to during the weekend.  It's the odd thing out in both the National Harbor area and specifically in the Gaylord because it's crazy inexpensive.  I got scrambled eggs, fried potatoes with green and red peppers, and a few strips of bacon for $3.45.  With infinite drinks.  Anyway.

Checked into my hotel room, where I discovered I was the first person to check in.  Managed to dodge getting my card put on the room, since the account it's linked to doesn't really have any money to speak of in it.  I did pre-pay for parking, though, which was awesome only in the sense that I didn't have to worry about it for the rest of MAGFest and could actually spend money unlike last year.  It wasn't awesome in that last year it was $11, period.  This year it was $14/day.  The price did come out to $42, but... still.

Later on, MAGFest began proper, and so I went to a few panels I'd been looking forward to.  Jon St. John mostly.  He spent most of the panel prank calling people's friends as Duke Nukem.  Skipped the first Egoraptor panel because he had a second one scheduled at midnight and that's always the better option.

While skipping the panel, I went to dinner with friends at the Cadillac Ranch, which is basically just like your average family restaurant (i.e. Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Chili's, etc.) except it's more expensive.  Seriously, the cheapest burger is $11.  Their food is good, but I don't really think it's worth the prices on the menu.

Spent the rest of the night playing games.  In the Arcade section, which had an entire expo hall to itself this year.  In my opinion, Arcade beat Consoles by far this year.


My first staff shift started at 2 AM: my staple schedule-filler LAN Overwatch.  You basically just have to walk around and make sure nobody's stealing anything.  It's really easy, and you get to see what everyone is playing.  Spoiler: it's either TF2 or DOTA 2/LoL.

At 6 AM my shift ended and I decided to get some sleep before Jon St. John's second panel, which was at midnight on Saturday (meaning I'd have to get in line on Friday, you idiots who interpret time wrong).  I figured, having been up for 46 hours at this point, I should get a decent chunk of sleep, right?

Wrong, I couldn't get back to sleep after 6 hours.  However, just after I got in bed the fire alarms went off.  So I had to hurriedly get dressed in the dark because my roommate didn't feel like actually turning the light on even though he was right next to the switch.  We walked down the hall to the stairs, which were fully saturated with people and we couldn't go any farther, and then the alarm system (which is voiced, by the way), announced the "all clear" and we went the fuck back to our rooms and went the fuck back to sleep.

So around noon I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  Oh well, whatever, went down to Arcade and played for a while.

Eventually I met up with a friend and we went out to get some dinner.  There was a place we'd heard about from a friend of ours after MAGFest X, so we decided to check it out.  It was a Portugese place called Nando's, and their specialty is Peri-Peri chicken.  Basically, the entire menu is chicken.  You choose a sauce from their mostly tame spice scale, pick the format (platter, sandwich, etc.), and some sides or whatever else you want, and then go order it.  They have this neat fountain drink machine which only has one dispenser instead of the usual 8-10.  Instead, it has a touchscreen and you can add all kinds of extra flavors to your soda.  For instance, you can get grape Mello Yello.

Anyway, long story short, Nando's is amazing.  We split the full chicken platter, which was an entire chicken and two sides.  Definitely A++ would eat again.


Later that evening we went to Jon St. John's second panel.  The first one was titled "Jon St. John Speaks" and the second one was "Jon St. John: Voiceover Whore".  True to the panel name, he mostly discussed what it's like being in the voice acting business and how you have to basically be constantly looking for work to keep pulling in the money.  He threw in a couple prank calls towards the end, and then concluded with a blues-style song he wrote about MAGFest called "Balls of Steel".

Immediately at 1 AM I went on-shift, once again doing LAN Overwatch.  It was at this time I discovered that LAN Overwatch had been modified to also be backup for the check-in desk, which I have wanted to avoid since doing an entire MAGFest of it a few years in a row starting with M6.  Whatever.

I played some more games for a while, but kept an eye on my watch, because at 10AM the Kinuyo Yamashita panel was happening and no way in hell was I going to miss that.  For the uninitiated, she composed the music for Castlevania.  None of its sequels (of which there are only three (inb4 SotN fanboy hate)), but just the very first Castlevania game.  She's done other stuff since then, too.

After that I played games for a bit and then went to get some sleep.  Seeing as how I was fairly sleep-deprived at this point, I thought I could easily sleep until an hour before the panel, but I woke up after four hours.  I figured getting to the panel line for AVGN 45 minutes early would net me a decent spot in the line, but holy fuck was I wrong.  Luckily, there was plenty of space in Panels 1 and I easily made it in.  James decided to spice things up by bringing in some of the games he's reviewed as AVGN and gave some panel attendees a chance to actually play them and experience how astronomically ass they are.

After that, we left the hotel to get dinner at the nearby McDonald's because McDonald's is affordable.  I grabbed a McGangbang, specifically what we call an "unprotected" McGangbang (basically, get the spicy McChicken instead of the regular one), a McRib, and a large drink.  I debated trying to fit the McRib in the McGangbang so I could dub it "ribbed for her pleasure", but I ended up eating the McRib separately.

When we got back, we tried what we'd wanted to do for a while: make a mixed drink we wanted to call "Blue and Blue on de Ting".  You see, there's this Jamaican grapefruit juice drink called Ting, and we had some curaçao to make it blue.  Well, it kind of worked, but the grapefruit juice overpowered the orange flavor of the curaçao and gave it a weird flavor.  We didn't have anything else to mix with it to try and balance it, so we just consumed it as-is.


The next panel I wanted to go to was the midnight Egoraptor panel.  The line for it, in and of itself, was awesome.  We were all bored waiting, and someone started singing.  People joined in, and then it turned into "hey what should we sing next?"  This lasted pretty much until they started letting people into the panel room.  The panel itself was awesome, he had people hold up random items so he could easily identify people to ask questions.  He established early on that since that panel room had a bunch of free time after when his panel was scheduled to end, he'd just keep going on.  I unfortunately had to leave "early", at about the panel's normal end time, so I could go to my Floor Staff shift in Consoles.

Now, all weekend, I'd seen various staff members wearing these orange vests with the MAGFest square wave logo on the back, and on this shift, I got to wear one.  Floor Staff in Consoles is pretty much just like Overwatch in LAN, except that occasionally you have to reset a frozen console or make sure unattended wireless controllers are brought back to the staff table so they don't mysteriously disappear.  Also, you know, helping people find specific games or handling any requests or problems they may have.  I actually ended up taking a photo of a group of people with an iPad.

About halfway through that shift, my feet, which had been in pain since Wednesday night, finally started hurting so much that I could barely stand.  Fortunately, Floor Staff don't need to be constantly combing the room, so I was able to sit down for a while, but it didn't help much.  I got into the "limping with both legs" state that I was in last year.  I really, really need some decent insoles or just better shoes overall, because it's quite clear that what I was wearing just didn't cut it.

The odd thing is that playing racing games (specifically Sega Super GT, but I also played some OutRun 2) helped my feet calm down.

Scheduled at 8:30 AM in Panels 5 was James Rolfe's First Blood on AC/DC.  I'd seen it when he originally brought it to MAGFest, but hell, it was awesome and I wanted to see it again.  Except that when I got there to get in line for it, Panels 5 was closed and locked.  I still don't understand what happened there.

With that having fallen through, I had a nice chunk of time I was planning on using to sleep until my next shift, which of course was teardown at 4 PM.  However, it was then that I looked closer and discovered that the room I was in only went through Sunday, even though I was supposed to have a room until Monday because of working teardown.  I got my shit out of there and put it in my trunk just to play it safe, and chugged the coffee in a friend's room to keep myself awake.

Partway through teardown, it became time for the staff post-MAGFest party.  A fuckton of pizza was procured, and there was soda.  At first it was just that and a musical performance (because, after all, live music happens every day at MAGFest), but then finally the alcohol showed up.  Right away I saw that Jon St. John was there and mixing screwdrivers for people, so I got one of those.  Then it became random milling about drinking different things.  I'm not going to go uber-chronological on what I drank, but I had some Jameson, two gins mixed together (Bombay Sapphire and Gordon's) (because of a quote from an old friend who moved away a while back, "gin is good with gin I bet"), some legal moonshine (yeah, I know...), and then, I noticed.

What did I notice?

There was both grapefruit juice and curaçao.  Also, there were other juices, so I could experiment.

My first experiment ended up being a success.  Added some orange juice to the mixture.  It balanced it out quite well and gave it a nice electric blue color that looked like a couple ice cubes wouldn't go amiss.

Eventually I realized that even with the party happening, teardown was still going on and I should probably get back to work.  I went back to ops where the mantra of the night was "find stuff and put it in boxes!", found stuff, and put it in boxes.  Eventually there was no more stuff to put in boxes, so we called it quits.  Also, during this, the head of staff operations was in the room helping, so I asked him about my hotel situation and it turned out I had a different room for Sunday night.  He was unsure what I needed to do about parking, but I figured I'd worry about that in the morning.

Armed with a new (to me) room key, I got my shit out of my trunk and headed to my new room.  My still mostly drunk mind deduced from the placement of personal belongings in the room that there was only one other person in the room, and he showed up after a few minutes.  To grab his stuff and leave.  Also, he left me three cans of Coca-Cola, which I put in the fridge right away.  I didn't really dick around too much, I needed way too much sleep at that point.


I made it to sleep a bit after midnight and woke up at 8:30.  Reasonable success.  Upon inspecting the check-out system on the TV, I noticed that all the parking charges for the room were zero.  After drinking the available coffee and packing the three cans of coke in my bag so I could get them to my car, I went to the check-in desk to inquire, and confirmed that there were no parking fees to be paid on my new room, meaning I could just scan the card and GTFO back to Charlottesville without having to pay any extra money.  I took that deal, and drank all three cans of Coke on the way back.

Stuff I ended up with
  • Small metal Pac-Man machine that functions as a candy tin that originally had Pac-Man-shaped candy in it - totally obtained by accepting candy from strangers (or, the awesome guys from ThinkGeek that buzzed the Jon St. John panel line on Thursday)
  • Suction-cup-attachable joystick for capacitive touch screens (i.e. iPad, iPhone, etc.) - I really don't know why I grabbed this, but I did.  They were also given out for free by ThinkGeek.  I think it was just the appeal of "hey, free shit".
  • AVGN DVD Volume 6

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