Thursday, January 12, 2017

MAGFest 15

This MAGFest, like many before it, was preceded by some anxiety on my part.  I can't quite explain why it happens.  I enjoy MAGFest, but the closer it gets, the less I want to actually go to it.  Something about packing up and travelling there just feels wrong, and I can't put my finger on it.  In the beginning, this started with the feeling that going to MAGFest was some sort of impulse thing that I did.  You know, like that day was just like any other and I decided "you know what?  I'm gonna drive 150-200 miles north now!".

The unusual part was that the anxiety was still there after getting to MAGFest.  Usually it disappears instantly, but it took a day this time.  Not sure why.

Anyway, with that out of the way, the usual daily summary is after the break.


That's right, I left later than normal.  I basically convinced myself that there was absolutely no reason I needed to drive up there in the middle of the night.  Waiting to drive up had some distinct advantages, such as being able to be well-rested beforehand, and not getting there 12-14 hours before I'm able to check into my hotel room.  Also, getting there later means I spend less time parked in the garage, and therefore it costs less to get out.

I got up at 10 AM, packed and did some other preparations, and finally left around noon.  On the way I grabbed a 6-pack of Coke Zero, a 6-pack of water bottles that I intended to use for workouts in the hotel's fitness area, a 6-inch sub from Subway that I immediately ate, and of course I filled up my gas tank.  Traffic was pretty light until DC, specifically the Woodrow Wilson bridge, where it was backed up for seemingly no explicable reason as everything started moving again once the bridge had been traversed.  I ended up behind a car with a Lakitu sticker on the rear window, that also happened to be destined for MAGFest.

Getting there just after 4 PM, I checked into the hotel and put the one bag I had brought in with me in the room, then I went to the merch area.  All the merch I bought was Thursday merch.  If you follow me on Twitter, you already know what's up here, but for the majority of you who don't, I bought:
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Mario Kart Super Circuit
  • Mario Kart DS
  • Mario Kart Wii
  • Rock 'n Roll Racing
Here's a picture I took of all of it on the table in my hotel room.  Bask in the Mario Kart glory!

Yeah, I ended up on an unintended mission to fill in the gaps in my Mario Kart collection.  I stopped short of buying an N64 and Mario Kart 64, though, which leaves MK64 as the only game in the series that I don't own.  For the curious, I went into MAGFest owning just Mario Kart Double Dash!!, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart 8.

Fortunately, I decided to test the cartridges, and here's where I ran into a snag.  While I managed to find a SNES in the console room that wasn't being used and popped Super Mario Kart and Rock 'n Roll Racing into it just long enough to verify that they both worked, I own no portable hardware with a GBA cartridge slot, and the copy of Mario Kart DS took some convincing to show up in my New 3DS.  When it did show up, it crashed shortly thereafter as I was navigating the menu, and I could never get it to show up again.

Unfortunately, a casualty of me getting there later was that nobody had a copy of F-Zero.  I also couldn't locate any of the other Silicon & Synapse SNES games, which was a damn shame as I could use some Lost Vikings 1, Lost Vikings 2, or Blackthorne in my life.  I almost bought Super Mario RPG and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but decided against it.

Anywho, with the buying done for the evening, I began my first staff shift, which was Floor Staff in Consoles, from 8 PM to 4 AM (technically two back to back shifts, which will be a theme).


Midway through the shift I had been asked to run a lost-and-found item up to security, so I did that and talked to the dealer I bought Mario Kart DS from while I was on my way back.  First off, it's amazing that anyone was still there, since the majority of the merch booths close at some point during the evening.  Second, they assured me I could bring back the cartridge and they'd take a look at it, and they also assured me that someone would be there when I got off shift at 4 AM.

The entire point of signing up for a Floor Staff shift was to test my feet.  As you may or may not recall, I've had foot pain issues the past few years, which I suspected were due to my weight.  Well, that seems to have been the case, because the foot pain was far less excruciating and didn't happen almost immediately within the first day like last year.

After my shift ended, I grabbed MKDS and the cartridge of MK Super Circuit that I'd also purchased from them.  A bit of a laugh was had in that the same guy I talked to mid-shift was still there, and he said "you're off your shift and I'm still here?".  He also recognized me as I walked up, which was neat, but not unexpected given that it was only a few hours earlier.  Anyway, they not only replaced MKDS with a verified working copy for free, but they also pulled out a GBA SP and made sure that MK Super Circuit worked, again entirely for free.  This dealer was Save Point Arcade, so... shoutout to them for being awesome.

I got some sleep and then it was time to check out the fitness room.  I'd made the mistake of not checking it out on Thursday like I wanted to, but... whatever.  Being the Gaylord, the fitness room has a lot of pricey-looking equipment in it.  More treadmills than you can shake a stick at, all variable incline with a touchscreen display for configuring your workout.  All I was really after was an analog for my run, so I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill and then walked for 30 minutes.  After that I looked at the rest of the equipment and tried some of it out, basically anything that doesn't work the legs since the treadmill basically took care of that.  Not too bad overall.

I went around the merch area again to see what else I could scare up, but didn't buy anything.  My next staff shift came up shortly, which was Inventory Staff from 8 PM to 4 AM once again.  Fortunately, I called off the merch run early enough that I was able to sit down and play some Super Mario Bros. 3, and not actually make it all the way through world 8 after warping there, due to stupid deaths and needing to go on shift.


Met a friend of mine that I hadn't seen since last MAGFest as he was walking through the game room, so naturally he was surprised to see how different I look.  His exact reaction was "where's the rest of you?".  Laughs and general catching up were had.

Also, during this shift, I tried and failed to get a Super Scope working in the console room's Light Gun Alley, which was a damn shame.  The Super Scope itself worked, as I was able to use my phone's camera to verify that the infrared LEDs would turn on when buttons were pressed, but the only button press I could get to register at all was the initial "shoot the screen to begin" button press.  It's like the receiver went completely dead for the calibration part that follows immediately thereafter.

As opposed to just going to sleep immediately after getting off my shift, I decided to follow up my shift with another trip to the fitness room to make sure I was good and tired before going to sleep.  It worked pretty well.  Woke up at 4 PM, did fitness stuff, went on shift doing Inventory yet again, from 8 PM to 4 AM.


Followed up my shift with a workout in the fitness area.  Walked down to the pool, instantly became glad I didn't try to use it for fitness as it's purely set up for recreation.  Showered, packed up, and left.  Noted that it was really cold out and that it had snowed at some point, but the roads were fine the entire way back.

In summary

Do you see an issue?  There wasn't time for me to really do much of annything at MAGFest other than sleep, fitness, eat, or staff shifts.  I logged less than half an hour playing Super Mario Bros. 3 as my only game time the entire weekend on MAGFest-owned equipment.  I didn't even make it into the arcade/  This is why I'm going to say that I'm not going back to MAGFest until I have a job and can afford my own hotel room.  I still plan on staffing, but if I can afford my own hotel room, I'll be able to take fewer hours, leaving me more time to play games and whatnot.

During my shifts, it just sort of felt... empty.  It was like I was there physically, but barely there in spirit.  I felt like I was staffing more out of habit than anything else.  I didn't really want to be there, but my desire to be elsewhere was in conflict with my sense of duty saying "I signed up for these shifts and I'm going to do them because I don't want to be known as someone who skips shifts".

All the more reason to not go unless I can afford to staff less.

This is nothing against Consoles, it's still the best department.  It keeps getting better every year, too.  This year we had a tweaked filing system wherein folders for games that were out on the floor got moved to a separate filing cabinet drawer.

As far as more pleasant takeaways are concerned, I achieved my goal of keeping up with my fitness while at MAGFest.  I also achieved another goal that I'll go into on the 17th.

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