Tuesday, January 7, 2014

MAGFest 12

Another year, another MAGFest.  Let's get to it.


Woke up: 3:30 PM

Just like usual I left Wednesday evening.  However, this year my dad decided that my car (a 1990 Honda Civic) wasn't quite reliable enough to make the trip, and offered up the slightly newer Toyota Corolla he normally drives to work as a replacement for the trip.  I don't exactly like that car, but whatever, I took it.

List of the Toyota's issues:
  • I can't feel the gas pedal under my foot.  It's obviously there somewhere because when I push my foot forwards the car goes faster.  However, there's no weight to it at all.
  • The brake pedal is very stiff and doesn't have much travel.  It's still possible to brake just a little bit, but doing so requires more finesse than I'm really comfortable with.
  • As I discovered once I got on the highway, it's incredibly "floaty", either suspension-wise or tires-wise.  It seemed to want to move around in the lane even when I was holding the steering wheel still.
Regardless, it has a working radio, which my Honda doesn't.  That at least provided me with music until I got to Orange and didn't think to try and scan for stations.  Towns and cities really need signs on incoming roads that list radio stations in the area and what they play.  Just saying.

I left later than I really wanted to, but regardless, I got to the Gaylord around 10:30.  After a while of walking around and saying hi to people I knew who were already there, I found some people to hang out with and did some hanging out.


Around 8 we decided to go get some breakfast.  We were going to walk all the way out to the McDonald's, but we got as far as Subway and decided to go there instead.  I got a bacon, egg, and cheese on flatbread.  Cheese was pepper jack.  For toppings I got jalapeƱos and chipotle southwest.

Around noon I checked in to the hotel and got my room key and the first surprise of the weekend: my room was on the second floor of the hotel.  The second floor is on the same level as all the panel rooms, and I just had to go down some escalators to get to the game room/marketplace.  Pretty sweet deal.

Eventually the game room/marketplace opened for the general public and I made my first (and most expensive) purchase: A SNES with all the essentials (controllers/AC adapter/AV cable), a Super Game Boy, and a cartridge of Chrono Trigger.  Yes, you heard (read?) me right.  I have a cartridge of Chrono Trigger now.

Around 1 PM I stopped by the staff suite.  They really had their shit in gear this year, everything was set up so that we could get our nourishment as quickly and efficiently as possible, and it went really well.

Later in the day I bought a MAGFest hoodie.  I was wearing my Floating Block of Ice hoodie at the time, but it's not a zip-up and I really prefer zip-up hoodies.  I also grabbed the shirt I got for staffing hours, and bought the AVGN Volume 7 DVD.

Tested the SNES to find that the AC adapter basically didn't work.

Dinner was Nando's.  There were three of us, so we decided to split a jumbo platter, which is two chickens and two sides.  Two whole chickens.  We ate most of it, too.  Nando's is expensive if you eat there by yourself, but if you split a platter with a friend or two, it gets rather cost-effective pretty quickly.  I also like how the whole process of ordering and getting the food happens there.  They hand you a menu when you walk in.  You decide what you want and order it at the register, where you then pay for it.  They give you a table number, you go sit there, and your food comes to you.  Since you pay for it up-front, you can just leave when you're done.  It's so handy.

Also, it started snowing just before we left to go to Nando's.  It didn't really accumulate on the roads very much, there was slush but that was about it.


Promptly at midnight my first staff shift began.  Good old floor staff in the console area.  I doubled up, so they had me until 6 AM.  Another staffer and I spent about three hours organizing and clearly labelling the bins for all of MAGFest's cartridge games so that other staffers would be able to actually find them easily when people came up to request game swaps.

Went to sleep: 6:30 AM-7 AM (39 or so hours awake)

Woke up: 1 PM (6 or so hours asleep)

Went to Ellen McLain's panel.  For the uninitiated, she's the voice of GLaDOS, among other things.  She talked about the experience of providing the voice for Gipsy Danger in Pacific Rim, and of course the entire panel room sang Still Alive, with her husband (John Patrick Lowrie, the voice of the Sniper in TF2, among other things) on banjo, one person from the audience on an ocarina, and possibly the most star-struck cosplayer ever assisting on vocals on stage and sitting next to her.

If you read that paragraph and realized that GLaDOS is married to the Sniper, congratulations.  Needs fanart, stat.

Dropped by the marketplace and explained the dead SNES AC adapter to the dealer I bought the SNES from, they exchanged it for another at no cost.  Tested it and the new one worked.  Immediately went to a friend's room with everything and tested all the cartridges; everything was in working order.  Saved the best (Chrono Trigger) for last, and upon discovering that it had a fairly high-level (mid-upper 60s) clear save with a lot of endgame equipment, I set up a party, beat Spekkio, did the Sun Stone quest, failed at the Lab 32 bike race (turboed into the back of Johnny at the end, lol), took a nice leisurely stroll through Lab 16 without having any encounters, then started a New Game + and got the developers' ending for kicks.

Grouped up with the same friends I went to Nando's with and this time we went to the Cadillac Ranch.  It's basically your average family restaurant with hamburgers/steak/chicken/pasta/salad/mixed drinks/whatnot, except more expensive.  Unfortunately the mechanical bull didn't start until 9, so we didn't get to watch drunk people fall off of it this year.

After dinner we went to Smooth McGroove's panel.  For the uninitiated, he does solo acapella covers of video game music, with a frame of his head (and occasionally his cat) for each part of the music.  I got introduced to him thanks to a coworker and ended up buying his albums on bandcamp.  It was his first panel ever and his first MAGFest ever, which was pretty cool.


Promptly at midnight, my second staff shift began.  Still console floor staff, but I didn't double up this time, so I got off at 3.  As with every year so far that I've had a staff hotel room, it worked to my advantage to have brought a sleeping bag, because both the beds were taken when I went back to the room to get some sleep.  Ganked a pillow from one of the beds and I was good.

Went to sleep: 3:30 AM-4 AM (14 or so hours awake)

Woke up: 11 AM (7 or so hours asleep)

Sadly, this year Egoraptor had no midnight panel.  His panel was instead at 2PM.  It was still good.  I had to get in line for it at 12:30 PM, though.

After Egoraptor, we decided we were hungry and drove over to McDonald's for lunch.  We discovered that they have both a Bacon McDouble and a Bacon McChicken now.  We also discovered a neat thing: instead of ordering a large drink, order sweet tea.  It's cheaper, the cup is the same size, and they don't actually care what you fill it up with.

Later on was the Angry Video Game Nerd panel.  He updated everyone to the status of the movie (done shooting, 100% in post-production now!), and discussed a bunch of other fun stuff.  ScrewAttack was filming it, so expect a video of the panel from them.

I honestly forget what we did for dinner.  I think we might have skipped it, or at least I did.

With nothing else planned to do between dinner and my next staff shift, I decided to roam the marketplace or maybe go play some games.  I'd told myself on Thursday that if the copy of The Great Waldo Search that I'd seen was still there on Saturday, I'd buy it.  Being a relatively obscure title that probably nobody else even wanted, it was still there, so I bought it, along with the only copy of Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World that I could find.  After all, why have the classic Mario games on separate cartridges and systems when you can have them all together on a single cartridge?

While wandering and randomly checking the schedule, we decided to check out the "Obscure JRPGs You Should Play (Available in America)" panel.  It was... a thing that happened.  On one side, it was easy to tell that the panelist really liked her JRPGs.  On the other side, she was way too hyper and spent too much time discussing everything and going off on tangents, which led to her only covering about three or four games.  Also, this panel brought up a good point: how exactly do you define "obscure" as it relates to video games?


Promptly at midnight, my third staff shift began.  Once again console floor staff.  This time, however, we caught wind of something that sent us into a bit of a panic and emergency meeting/calling for backup: the headlining band, Machinae Supremacy, was planning on hitting up consoles/arcade.  They had a group of about 200 or so up at concerts, so we assumed the entire group of 200 or so would be invading all at once and planned for that.  The band ended up managing to slip in with most of their fans unaware and the huge influx of people we planned and strategized for never happened.  That shift once again ended at 3 AM.

During that shift, though, was the second and perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend: I ran into someone from the kendo classes I used to take.  Since floor staff basically involves just walking around making sure people are behaving, not stealing, ensuring that games aren't frozen (walk up, hit a few buttons, try to unpause, etc.), and directing people to the table when they come up to me asking if they can get a game swapped out, it was rather conducive to walking and talking, so I did precisely that.  I think I remember her name.  I'm pretty bad at remembering names, but I remember people, if that makes any sense.

Went to sleep: 3:30 AM-4 AM (15 hours or so awake)

Woke up: 12 PM (8 hours or so asleep)

I found out that despite the email I received before MAGFest indicating that everyone would be in the room on Sunday night, nobody else would actually be staying Sunday night.  I basically had the room to myself.

At 3 PM, teardown officially began.  For whatever reason the TechOps teardown was split into two shifts, a four hour shift beginning at 3 PM, and a three hour shift beginning at 7 PM.  I know from experience that teardown usually hits a certain point where there's not really much more to be done other than loading things onto box trucks, and we usually stop having anything to do at that point, even if it isn't the end of the actual shift.  We reached this point around 8 PM.  Since there wasn't really going to be an official after-party (or if there was, it was planned for much later), I retired to the hotel room that I had to myself for the night.

There I hooked up the SNES and played some mofuggin' Chrono Trigger.  I decided that, rather than simply hitting New Game and selecting a slot, overwriting a save and doing everything from scratch myself, to just use the already established clear save with decently-levelled characters and good equipment and just start a New Game +.  Fun was had.  Also, briefly, before I started Chrono Trigger, I found Waldo a few times, and played some various Mario games (mostly Super Mario 3).  Not exactly sure when, but this bled over into Monday.


Went to sleep: 1 AM (13 hours awake)

Woke up: 8 AM (7 hours asleep)

Had coffee, packed up, loaded the car, checked out, drove to McDonald's for breakfast, then drove home.  Nothing much eventful happened on the way home, other than accidentally passing the exit I needed to use for Route 3 in Fredericksburg, but luckily the next one was Route 3 in the other direction and it was a cloverleaf, so I just kept turning right and eventually I was back on track.

Once I got back home, I picked up a temporary parking permit at my apartment complex for the Toyota and unloaded my shit.  Grabbed the laundry bag out of my stuff, grabbed all my other laundry, and went and did my laundry.  Swapped back for the Honda I know and love, bought my dad a pizza, and hung out with friends while watching some football (with wrestling interspersed).  Only one of said friends wasn't at MAGFest.

That was my weekend in a nutshell.  MAGFest still ends way too quickly.  Having to face real life again kinda sucks lol.

Now for some photos, courtesy of the absolutely amazing 640x480 camera that LG put in their 420G phone.  I've done some basic corrections in Photoshop, namely auto levelling and color balancing, but there's a limit to how shiny you can make a turd.  I'm also too lazy to steal my roommate's lamp long enough to re-take them with decent lighting.
SNES, cables/controllers, and the games!
The weird shadow you see is from my phone lol
Glare thanks to kitchen light
MAGFest square wave hoodie, properly lit even

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