Tag Archives: 2013

CONfessions of a Journeyman Gen Con Attendee: Part One

Gen Con is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s one of those times when I can completely geek out about gaming, and it’s perfectly okay to do so. It’s a time where I can chat with established game designers and meet with up-and-comers. If I was physically able, I could game 24 hours.

Now that I have steady internet (the hotel wi-fi was extremely slow and spotty), I can relate a little about my experiences.

Day 0:

This year, my Gen Con started in Columbus, Ohio on August 14. I received an invitation to attend “The Sundering” event hosted by the Thurber House at the Columbus Museum of Art. The Thurber House frequently hosts author talks and signings, and I was excited when RA Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, and Erin M. Evans were announced as guests pre-Gen Con.

All the authors seemed like extremely nice people, and Ed Greenwood even chatted with me about  beards for a few moments while he was signing a couple of my books. All seemed excited (especially Ed and Erin) about this new Sundering series, so I’ll be delighted to finally begin reading them.

You can see more pictures from the event, as taken by the Thurber House, here.

Day 1:

John already went into detail about our first day of Gen Con, but I wanted to talk about my experiences a bit as well. Let me start by saying that this was easily the busiest first day I’ve seen since attending. The lines for retail were un-real, and I kept hearing rumors about people finding copies of the completely sold out Firefly game. Finding a copy of Firefly was like living in a weird gamepocalypse where conjecture and rumor are your only companions and you don’t know if someone is deliberately throwing you off the trail.

I just decided that I’ll get the game online sometime.

Turns out, it WAS the busiest Gen Con ever. There were almost 50,000 attendees–almost a 20% growth over last year!

Thursday was also my first face-to-face meeting with some of the good folks from Kobold Press when I attended their book signing at the Paizo booth. Ben McFarland, Brian Suskind, and Wolfgang Baur were super friendly. You should go buy their books; did I mention they won two Ennie Awards?

Next up was the Magic: The Gathering tournament, where everyone but me did amazing. Seriously, I lost all my matches. I only won a free booster pack because I was given a by in the last round. The judges must have felt bad for me or something.

We ended the night by checking into the hotel and eating. I had pork loin. I remember it being delicious.

Day 2:

Friday is a blur. I started the day by running “Madman at the Bridge” — an adventure by Kobold Press. I had a great time, but I’ll detail it later this week in another post. It was the first game I’ve ever run at Gen Con, and I doubt it will be my last.

After that we played a game of Battletech. It wasn’t the tabletop game but instead was a series of 16 pods networked together that basically let us experience 16-player MechWarrior. The pods are completely enclosed, and you get a radar screen and a HUD screen, as well as various levers for movement, shooting, and firing your jump jets. It looks like a lot of fun, and if I get time, I’d like to experiment with it next year. I heard that late at night is the best time to go, so maybe I’ll take an evening to play a bunch of rounds of Battletech.

After that, we played a session of Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator in order to get our Gen Con newcomers prepared for our 2-hour session on Saturday night. We did well, and I didn’t have to give up my engineer position.

After that, shopping and food ensued. St. Elmo’s has some awesomely spicy shrimp sauce that I recommend you try at least once in your life.

And finally, we ended the day with the Giant Pathfinder Society Scenario “The Siege of the Diamond City.” I’ve never experienced so many people playing the same Pathfinder adventure at the same time. I think Paizo did a good job of making the group feel like we were contributing to the greater experience. However, the part of the adventure we played seemed a little basic. I’m guessing it was necessary in order to keep things simple for the people who had to calculate all the information presented.

All right, that’s the first half of Gen Con. Tomorrow, I’ll detail Saturday and Sunday, and on Friday I’ll talk about running a game at Gen Con.

 

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What 2013 Has to Offer on the Big Screen

I thought I’d take a moment this week to briefly look at what’s hitting the box office this year and give a quick prediction on the outcome of each.

  1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – January 25th. Premise: Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) play the fairy tale brother and sister who are all grown up and have become professional witch hunters. Prediction: Van Helsing meets Brothers Grimm, which means a lot of action with an intriguing story but hopefully with more Grimm and less Helsing.
  2. John Dies at the End – January 25th. Premise: You take a drug, it sends you through time and space, you might come back normal, or you might come back as something else. Something otherworldly. Now the world is in danger of a sinister invasion and it’s up to two college dropouts to save it. Prediction: Dude, Where’s My Car? meets Buckaroo Banzai but with Paul Giamatti for added effect. Definitely worth a viewing, high or not.
  3. A Good Day to Die Hard – February 15th. Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his son travel to Russia to fight Russians and stop a nuclear weapons heist. Prediction: I think it might be getting to the point where it might be a good idea for John to die. Hard.
  4. Warm Bodies – February 1st. Premise: A zombie becomes human again through the power of love, other zombies follow suit. Possible hilarity, horror, and action ensues. Prediction: I think someone might be trying to “Twilight-ize” zombies. Let’s hope not.
  5. Oz: The Great and Powerful – March 8th. Premise: A prequel to The Wizard of Oz telling the story of how Oz (James Franco) becomes the Wizard. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. Win win. Predictions: I think this film will be fantastic and be the magical wonder that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland failed to be.
  6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – March 29th. Premise: All but a few Joes are killed off by Cobra. Now it’s up to the remaining Joes (The Rock, Channing Tatum, some other people), including the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to, for lack of a better word, retaliate. Prediction: Hopefully this film will offer some retribution for the let down that was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
  7. Evil Dead – April 12th. Premise: A remake of the original with a female lead (Jane Levy) in place of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. It’s also promising less humor and schtick and more blood and gore. Sounds promising. Predictions: Hardcore fans will be difficult to convince, but from what I’ve seen so far of this flick, they’ll be won over. It looks wicked.
  8. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd. Premise: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns to take on his greatest foe yet, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). From the looks of things, this might be the Dark Knight Rises of the Iron Man series. Ya know, a very powerful foe shows up, strips him of everything, and then Tony must find the hero in himself to defeat his enemy. This also begins Marvel’s Phase II. Prediction: Probably won’t be the best of the three films but I’m sure it’ll outdo Iron Man 2. And make Marvel a lot of money.
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th. Premise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the Enterprise crew return to take on a most deadly foe, possibly Kahn, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Prediction: This film will be epic, just like the first, and seeing Benedict as a bad guy is going to be sweet. This is a can’t miss flick.
  10. Now You See Me – June 7th. Premise: A film about bank-robbing illusionists, directed by Louis Leterrier and scored by The Chemical Brothers. Enough said. Prediction: I have a feeling this is going to be one of those twist-and-turns, mind-f*ck types of film. But with bank-robbing illusionists.
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – June 7th. Premise: Joss Whedon adapted this classic Shakespearean tale while making The Avengers. He cast it with people from Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and The Avengers. He made it because of his insecurities with taking on a huge project like The Avengers. It’s Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare….do I really need to say anything else? Prediction: I love Joss Whedon. I love Shakespeare. Without even seeing it, I love this film.
  12. Man of Steel – June 14th. Premise: Zack Snyder directs, Christopher Nolan produces, and a bunch of great actors star in what is sure to be the best Superman film ever. And a film that will hopefully restart the series and lead into a Justice League film. Prediction: The more I see of this, the more I believe that this film will be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. But I’ve been wrong before.
  13. World War Z – June 21st. Premise: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel about a U.N. employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie outbreak. Prediction: I’m pretty much done with the whole zombie genre, and I haven’t read the book, so I’ll probably wait until this comes out on Blu-ray.
  14. Pacific Rim – July 12th. Premise: Guillermo del Toro writes and directs this film about giant robots fighting to save the world from giant alien monsters. Prediction: I was sold at Guillermo del Toro. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  15. wolverine_jackman_660The Wolverine – July 26th. Premise: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to train with samurais and take on a powerful new foe, The Silver Samurai. Prediction: This has to be better than Wolverine Origins. If not, I give up on Hugh Jackman. And Wolverine.
  16. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – August 16th. Premise: Part 2 of the series finds Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends searching for the mythical Golden Fleece. Prediction: I enjoyed the first film, so I may go see this one. I’m hoping this film will fill some of the void that Harry Potter left, but I doubt it.
  17. Riddick – September 6th. Premise: Vin Diesel returns to his most badass character to take on new alien predators, new mercs, and an old foe. Prediction: I will watch this film because I love the others. I will hope this film is the last in the series because I don’t want this series to be run into the ground like Diesel’s other popular series, Fast and Furious.
  18. Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – September 27th. Premise: Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) discovers that the machine he’s created is still creating food-animal hybrids and wreaking havoc. Now it’s up to him to stop it once and for all. Prediction: If you don’t like the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you have no soul. No but seriously, the first film was hilarious and great for the whole family. This one will be too. I can’t wait.
  19. Oldboy – October 11th. Premise: Spike Lee’s remake of the ultraviolent Korean cult classic about a man (Josh Brolin) who has five days to figure out why he was imprisoned for 15 years without explanation. Prediction: Of all the films on the list, this is one I’m looking forward to the most. I love the original, and I cannot wait for this remake.
  20. The World’s End – October 25th. Premise: Edgar Wright directs a film about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. Prediction: This is the final film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “blood and ice cream” trilogy, so I hope it’ll be pretty damn good. I have a feeling it will be.
  21. Ender’s Game – November 1st. Premise: Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. Prediction: Die-hard scifi fans will go ape over this film and then probably rip it apart. That’s how it works. I want to read the book before I watch it.
  22. Thor: The Dark World – November 8th. Premise: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness. Prediction: Part two of Marvel’s Phase II looks to be another epic win with the addition of Doctor Who number nine as a baddie. Get ready to nerd out, kids.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13th. Premise: The journey continues for the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as they seek to retrieve their gold from the dragon, Smaug (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch). Prediction: Do I really need to predict anything for this? People will flock and empty their wallets for this film. We all know what’s going to happen.
  24. Anchorman: The Legend Continues – December 20th. Premise: The Channel 4 News Team returns for more crazy on-set adventures. Predictions: Probably won’t be a hilarious as the first but I’m sure it will be freakin’ hilarious! And filled with many great one-liners that will be quoted for years to come.

I know I’ve missed a few films here and there, but I don’t really care. I think the list is long enough as it is now. It doesn’t need any more.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

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New Year’s Resolutions

It’s January 1st, and we made resolutions; it’s the cool kid thing to do. Some of these are real. Some of these are fake. Some of these are probably  a mixture of both. Have a good New Year!

Julie Bethlenfalvy (Writer): In 2013, I’d like to find someone to invent something to improve my short-term memory. I don’t have one. I’m like the guy from Memento, but I can’t tattoo everything I forget on my body. I’d be completely covered in mundane ludicrous things like, “Feed the pug,” “your blog is due Wednesday,” “you have plans with so and so on Friday,” “turn off the lights,” “buy bananas,” etc.

Colleen Kiphart (Writer): I make New Year’s resolutions like I bake cookies – many at once and not for myself.

Oh sure, I say I’m going to eat vegetarian at least twice each week. In reality, on our honeymoon I saw a goat killed and later on I ordered that goat at a restaurant and sucked the marrow from his bones. He was delicious. I regret nothing. I hate goats. Unless I’m eating them. Then I apparently love them.

But this year, I’ll do it (And, because I cook for him, I’ll drag Mike into it with me! Two people doing it, that’s gotta count for this year and last year.).

Rob Allyn (Entertainment Guru):

1. Continue on my path to being a better person, boyfriend, father figure, brother, friend, and son. “Be excellent to each other.”
2. Actually write a novel. Maybe even write it on a typewriter…or maybe not. Worry about getting it published afterwards. (Also, start writing scripts again.)
3. Actually get into shape. I mean, like healthy and ripped. Like realistic, movie universe, superhero ripped.
4. Work harder with my fellow “shipmates” to make The Cool Ship even more successful. And finally do podcasts.
5. Work with TJ Johnston to finally make DDSys a legit thing. Maybe even make his vampire musical a legit thing too.
6. Learn sign language and stained glass crafting.
7. Draw, paint, design, create more. Just be more artistic.
8. Steal a TARDIS. Become The Doctor. Be brilliant.

John Calhoun (Captain of the ship):

I usually don’t do resolutions. New Year’s just so happens to coincide with my birthday so every January 1 is kind of a mixed bag.

There’s the usual stuff that you never do like quit drinking (pfffff, right), only eat 80 calories a day or date a Bolivian supermodel. And so on until you wake up one day after Christmas and you can’t remember what your resolutions were last year. Or maybe YOU do. I don’t.
Recently though I read an article at Cracked (because revelation can come from the strangest of places) that resonated with me. David Wong distills the harsh truths about becoming a valued member of society. It’s poignant, though a bit materialistic, because he draws a connection between being a valued member of society and getting what you want.
I swear to god it’s not as obvious as it sounds after typing that sentence. Or if it is, that’s not really the point. The point was to internalize that message and squash the excuses that keep you from acting on it. And, for me, it was an affirmation of a lot of the things I sometimes think about but don’t take seriously. You can read the whole thing here.
 I’m in a space where the late 20s are giving way to the early 30s and my state of affairs isn’t terrible, but it’s also not what I want. This year I did some things I thought were important, but they weren’t things that I wanted for me. 2012 was the year I became the product of my work instead of my work being the product of my desire.
I’m not suffering from a terminal case of narcissism (I don’t think); I know you don’t just go out into the world and do what you want. But you can work to that end. Instead of doing so I spent 2012 wandering from one thing to the next. 2011 too. And 2010.
No more. 2013 is the year I definitively figure out what I want to do with my life a build the skills toward that end. It sounds vague, so let me break it down. By December 31st of this next year I will be able to say with certainty where I want to be in 5 years and how I’m going to get there. And I’ll be able to list two skills I have developed to get there.
Also, I’ll jog three miles everyday and some other shit.


TJ Johnston (Lord of Content):

I don’t generally make resolutions because I tend to fail at them, but my determinations this year are pretty simple.

1.) Finish my novel
2.) Design a board game/RPG
3. Keep trying to turn The Cool Ship into something more than it currently is
4.) Hope that I can become either a wizard, viking, or superhero

Boom. Done. Happy New Year.

 

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