scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
One of the nice things about Sunday is free street parking. Side note: when orgainizing a convention, find out what the venue charges for parking; attendees will ask about this.

The dealers room sold me a Sam Browne belt for what I admit is a reasonable price for handmade leather gear designed to last many years. Since I've felt the lack of a baldric or similar item for years I couldn't really resist when I had both opportunity and money; this also lets me dress up in a more appropriate style - the local aesthetic is suited to a poofy hemp shirt and gratuitous leather strap.

Incidentally, being hit on by a seventy year old woman in a corset and bustle is...unexpected? Flattering, certainly. Yet I feel awkward.

Having well grounded panelists is a fine thing. Generally. When doing a tesla coil demonstration...better safe than sorry.

Costuming continues to be awesome. I did a double take when I saw Storm, Ororo Munroe, in the hotel bar.

The Westercon panel was a thing I'd been waiting for and it went very nicely with good turnout. (The room had been used for combat demos so the table was across a large open space from the audience. We rearranged before starting.) Ruth Sachter and Patty Wells were our visiting experts on Westercon, and Ruth had more old Westercon swag where it could be found than I did. People liked the idea that Gearcon 2016 would still have an art show, a dealers room, and the usual things they're used to. The person asking about role playing games had no idea what GameStorm brings to a convention and is in for a wonderful surprise.

Afterward the combat demo fellows lingered and talked; we may get some really cool physical activities at Westercon 69.

A final protip for convention runners: Onions & Orchids, or whatever you call your event's feedback event, should actually occur when and where it's listed in the program. Overachievers might create that program more than three days before the convention.

Quotes without context:
"Furries against fur?"
"I'll just awkward away now."
"Steampunks are very serious." "Really?"
"Steampunk does not have to be brown."
"We just make it up." "You can do that?"
"One of the kittens from the box!"
"All hail our overlord square."
"Who are you?" "We don't need to get into that."
"Teeth are unnecessary. I have a Leatherman."
"Someone should carry something in their pouches." "Yeah, we're not Rob Liefeld here."
"Hello. I'll be right back." [From the con chair!]
scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
I arrived at the hotel just barely in time for the early panel I wanted to attend but was disappointed in its presentation and after a while pretended to get a text and ducked out early. Only hours later did I realize that the reason the presenter seemed to be dithering around and not getting to the point wasn't just that she was badly focused but because I had gone to the wrong room and wasn't at the right panel at all.

Naturally I made up for this by missing the next panel altogether.

On the subject of panels, it seemed wise to show up for a friend's presentation even if the topic was questionable, as she'd lost the other panelist at the last minute and was suddenly flying solo; also, at starting time I was half the audience. It got better later.

The pre-Enigma encryption panel was a lot of fun, and I say this as a guy nerdy enough to find manual encryption techiques interesting.

Outside panels the people are friendly and the dealers room still interesting. I'm likely to spend too much money at a certain one...eventually. I eventually discovered the art show. (Note for smofs: you should mention to others that there is an art show.) Not all of the art is of higher quality than can be found on hall costumes, just larger and harder to carry around all day.

Once again I spent valuable convention time in the swimming pool.

Dressing afterward I discovered that pulling everything plausibly steampunk-genre-looking out of my closet and wearing it at one go leaves me looking surprisingly respectable. I'd blend in with the businessmen downtown if I weren't in a kilt. More costume pieces seem in order.

Many people are interested in learning about Westercon, which is great. Pretty much every dealer seems to want assurance that Westercon will accomodate GearCon dealers; I'm confident that will happen but a little embarrased that we don't yet actually have a dealers liason on the committee. I've gotten to explain several times that we will almost certainly have them out in the exibit hall across the driveway, as Orycon does, with much more space than GearCon provides. Folks seem reassured when I anticipate "as much GearCon as we have this year plus maybe a thousand science fiction fans." Let's hope I'm right.

As a side note, there are an awful lot of dogs in the hotel. Aside from the one in a really cool steampunk costume, their humans don't seem to be here for GearCon. Is there a canine event nearby?

I'd heard earlier, from someone, that we were holding a Westercon room party; after as many conventions I've attended in this hotel I have no excuse for not realizing beforehand that the room number given does not not actually exist. *facepalm*

I have seen a girl in a pink wig who I remember from previous GearCons. She was around a lot the last time I helped out in the con suite; it was like sharing a hotel with Fluttershy, except this girl isn't as loud or assertive...

Guy Letourneu showed videos late in the evening, as is his habit, and I was pleased to see that GearCon attendees were interested in seeing a 1950s era film about the telegraph system. It was impressive technology in its day and is no less cool just because the state of the art has moved on.

Quotations out of context:
"You can't push me when I'm not wearing my goggles!"
"We have a velociraptor." "...We DO have a velociraptor."
"It's hard to crack butt -- um..."
"I like knees."
"You just spotted me by my plaid!"
"How much of him is pretzels?"
scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
Arrived at the hotel to find that plenty of people were there ahead of me. Indeed i didnt even get inside before spotting the first gear - encumbered top hat.

The line at registration was pretty long but I discovered when the call went out for anyone with cash that I, at the far end of the line, was the only one who actually shown up with folding money . .. So I got a quick promotion to the Get Helped Right Now person who got me my membership very quickly. (She also had the most fascinating bolt and cotter pin tattoos on her shoulders; she said they made her very popular at hardware stores and I believed her. No surprise , here, that she knew about Benjamin Franklin fireplace - but I was not expecting the suggestion that I cosplay him! I'll have to think about that one.) The badges are straightforward and seem to be involved with some ARG that I'm not yet informed about. The program is lovely but too large to go into a pocket without folding.

Penguin arrived ahead of me and set up shop in the con suite. I've also seem both Letourneaus. I expect to see more soon.

Most of the dealer's room is irrelevant to me but I've spotted a few tempting items which I should resist. The pool is also very tempting in this weather and I have no intention of resisting all weekend.

A discussion of post-apocalyptic steampunk technology didn't turn nearly as nerdy as it could have.

It did lead me to think of a technology I hadn't seen at any dealer's table so when it was done I went off to investigate. A survey of the options revealed that nobody carried even a single sliderule! Frankly this mystifies me; there's a wide selection of nonfunctional props and random things with pointless gears glued to them. People seeking functional merchandise can find pouches, lenses, compasses, knives, holsters, belts, more pouches... (There are people here wearing enough pouches to satisfy Rob Leifeld.) Yet fans playing engineers or mad scientists cannot find one of the most common tools of actual engineers and scientists of the period. It seems odd - and it can't reasonably be chalked up to unavailability, a quick check of ebay shows plenty available at reasonable prices. Many even come with nifty belt sheaths. The best guess we've come up with so far is that steampunk artists don't draw sliderules, leading to a lack of interest. It's also speculated that younger fans don't know what they are; I think that may be pessemistic given the retro-tech focus found here but so far I haven't asked enough people young enough to never know sliderules as contemporary objects.

The hotel pool is a novelty to those of us used to this hotel for Orycon in November, but it's open in the summer and I took the opportunity to use it. Had i planned ahead a bit better my clothes bag (up in hospitality) would have been left in the main room rather than in a side room that got closed off when someone decided to take a shower.

The Westercon table turns out to be a counter right next to registration. It is conveniently located, is excellently easy to see in a high traffic area, and gives two people places to sit. It's also about four feet high, meaning that anyone who sits down is essentially invisible to the outer world. We'll see how this works out over the weekend...

Friday night seems to be fairly quiet after 9pm or so outside the central event all. We'll see if Saturday brings more small late events.

PS: Some parts of this were written on a tablet with rampaging autocorrect; please forgive any typos.

Quotations out of context:
"Eat five meatballs."
"Are you a shark?"
"I'm pronouncing my verbs."
"Remember, remember...something in November..."
"I think I have too much shoulder for this."
"It's a doorknob!"
scott_sanford: (Daria proofreads)
Thursday, 2 July 2015
My GearCon tale begins the day before...and involves very little GearCon.

The week before I found that my car battery was truly dead, rather than just "mostly dead," by hooking it up to a recharging unit and having no electrons actually deposited into the lead brick. Hm. So I removed the old one, acquired a new one, and discovered that it was trickier than I'd anticipated to have someone nearby to spot me in case I suddenly screamed, convulsed, or caught fire. Several days of trying to get someone else to help with a few minutes of standing ended Thursday morning, when I cornered Paul in between more interesting tasks; actually hooking up the battery took about 60 seconds and gave me no trouble.

Behold, the car started! (Memo: cars work better with electricity.)

Now that the vehicle was physically operational again I swung into a flurry of errands during the afternoon - I will keep a straight face while telling people this is entirely normal for me rather than a pleasing exception - and treated myself that evening by driving out for a burger.

At the hotel there were indeed GearCon people setting up, just not very many. Several dealers were already getting their tables ready. There didn't seem to be much else to prepare early Thursday evening.

I did find a responsible looking person to ask two questions; I learned that registration was scheduled to open at 1pm and that nobody there that evening was sure how much ordinary attendees would pay for parking. Okay.

Penguin is handling their con suite again this year but she was busy with other things and will be in Friday morning.

More when I actually have something to report.
scott_sanford: (Sanford)
When I showed up for the first day of GameStorm I discovered that the prereg desk didn't have a badge waiting for me. This wasn't what I was hoping or expecting to hear; granted it's been a year since the last one but I was still about 90% sure I'd invested in a membership on Sunday afternoon. I didn't have enough cash for an at-the-door membership in my wallet right that instant but it left me considering my options with my wallet in hand, which led to me picking through the scrap paper accumulated there, and my faint hope was realized. I still had my receipt! Not only had I gotten a membership last year but I still had the proof on me! (Along with several other small and worn receipts.) I called this to the attention of the registration staff and correcting the problem went amazingly quickly and smoothly after that.

The moral appears to be to not clean out your wallet...
scott_sanford: (Default)
Setup for OryCon starts this afternoon and I'm like this... I'll try to keep notes and make reports to the outside world, but everyone reading this knows what conventions are like.
scott_sanford: (Default)
As much as I've been looking forward to Renovation, it's becoming more and more clear that the job + money + time equation does not have a 'Go to Reno' answer this year, no matter how I juggle the variables. (Insert various words here.) So I've got one Renovation attending membership for sale, $150; drop me a message.

"No WorldCon for you!"
scott_sanford: (Default)
Better late than never, here are some notes about GameStorm.

Gaming, I don't need to tell you, was very good and all over the place. Apparently by Sunday pretty much everyone had figured out that there was a second floor - and don't ask me how anyone could miss that. Reportedly some people did.

My memorable gaming of the day was being hauled in halfway through 'Torchwood PDX' and landing on my feet. No problem; most of the folks at the table were good roleplayers - and have you watched Torchwood? We accomplished our main goal, Jack hit on everyone except possibly K-9, and we all had fun.

I picked up a graphic novel called King of RPGs, literally minutes before the Dealers' Room closed; I'm only one chapter in, but it looks like fun so far. It's nice to meet creators one-on-one. This is also a very effective way to sell products, but the strategy is not really scalable.

The regress panel was informative. Hospitality decent (read in 'by Portland standards' there); the selection wasn't so good, but there was always something. Miniatures gamers had a complex table layout issue which most of us didn't follow but which sounds fixable. The 24 hour gaming room was a winner, both in its described function and as overflow space during the day. We're told that WiFi will be much better next year, honest. The website and pre-con scheduling is complicated; it's possible to sign up for games, but the ongoing discussion of how to do it better, well, goes on. Everyone liked the Chaos Toy (the marble thing); its location this year caught many passers-by and did not encourage abandoning small children at it. Also, it's even more popular at KumoriCon where the demographics peak strongly in the teens.

So that was GameStorm in a nutshell.
scott_sanford: (Default)
Obviously, there are games just everywhere. Not much to say about that, GameStorm delivers its core competency very well. This year we've passed 1000 members for the first time, which sounds about right - I recall that the con's growth rate has been around 20% per year for a while now, and we got 800 last year.

WiFi is not our core competence; the system continues to be tempermental, and often stops working for no obvious reason.

That ERB Mars game I mentioned earlier? That was today; Locust Men of Mars ran longer than we expected and we had to end rather quickly as the next group arrived, but it was a lot of fun and we managed to achieve our mission goals.

I keep missing the Og LARP, and passing by to see people having fun being inarticulate cavemen. Maybe next year.

The marble rolling machine continues to trap unwary engineers.

Saw a guy in a Gunnerkrieg Court t-shirt. I know what he reads.

It's getting late; I'm getting tired. Good con.
scott_sanford: (Default)
A fine day at the convention. Some notes in no particular order:

Local fan Scott Rose is opening a game store in Vancouver in the near future. Fine news, and good luck to him.

The GameStorm library includes a mavelously complicated marble-dropping thingy - [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma will remember this from CascadiaCon - and I discover that it's not only available but quite affordable, darn it. I tell myself I have nowhere to put such a toy anyway.

We're on our own wifi system for the convention, but it's being fickle. We knew that we wouldn't have the bandwidth to support youtube videos, but it would be nice to consistently manage livejournal or facebook. There are subtle reasons this post did not appear on Saturday morning.

More later, perhaps, if the wifi keeps working.
scott_sanford: (Default)
I'm headed off now to do set-up for GameStorm. Obviously, there's nothing much to say about the con yet; I'll keep my readers posted.
scott_sanford: (Default)
Since 100% of my Livejournal readers (within error bars) go to conventions, I thought I'd point out today's Something Positive webcomic, in which the artist demonstrates the aftermath of attending seventeen cons in a year. I don't know; I've felt like that after ONE con...
scott_sanford: (Default)
My plan was to show up at MEWcon Sunday afternoon, but in real life this did not happen. Eventually I got to the hotel and found that not everyone had departed, although certainly most sane folks had gone home.

As I said earlier, cosplay (hall costuming) is very popular there. Video gaming was apparently hopping all weekend; even into Sunday evening there were over a dozen machines still set up and some were in use. I'm not sure how busy card/board gaming was; by the time I arrived it was getting packed up. One thing I missed on Friday was the artists' track. Many of the attendees read manga and there's an active interest in drawing (probably both manga-style artwork and actual sequential art storytelling, but I didn't get the chance to chat up any artists in depth). When there are fans holding an art seminar at 8PM Sunday, you've got an interested fan base.

I also overheard the only memorable problem that I heard about, which I'm sorry to say didn't surprise me a bit: an epidemic of badge swapping. I'm sure you know how this works: a group buys one membership, whoever wants to go into a members-only space such as the dealers' room uses the badge, and then passes it along to the next friend. Since quite a lot of this con took place loitering in the halls, that's a semi-practical strategy for cash strapped teens. I'm sorry to say it doesn't surprise me, either, and while an operational counter to this is best, the badges themselves could hardly have been made more suitable for this scam. They were plain white paper, laminated, on a neck lanyard (anyone with a scanner, printer, and laminater could make copies easily, although counterfeiting is a different and more sophisticated cheat than badge swapping). The one side that was printed had color art on it, but the bearer's name wasn't particularly visible...actually, I'm taking on faith that a name was printed on the badge at all; I never read anyone's name off of one. And since they were single-sided, many people were walking around with bare white rectangles on a string. In portrait orientation, by the way, so flipping over is maximized. Fixing this is not impossible, as shown by Kevin Standlee's article on badges (or just google Standlee badges); it's not clear to me if this was a brain fart or a failure to care, but I'd prefer the former. We've all done stupid things! The trick is to realize it and try something else.

The badges failed spectacularly in the Identify to Fellow Members category, and also on the Ticket to Admit function. Oops. Most problem badges do only one or the other... (In MEWcon's defense, this is only their third year, and experienced fans are thin on the ground there.) If they ask around, they'll be able to do much better next year.
scott_sanford: (Default)
I'm not actually attending MEWcon, having other demands on my weekend, but with a few hours open in my Friday schedule I dropped by the hotel to see what might be happening.

My first impression was that cosplay - hall costuming - is very popular here. That's predictable; the MEWcon demographic is very much like that of KumoriCon and other anime conventions, and in only its third year hasn't had time to grow its own crop of Fannish Old Farts. Not that that kept experienced fen away; I ran into Sam Axemaker almost as soon as I walked in the door (having just missed her parents, she said), and soon saw Guy and Andrea Letourneau, Pengin, and other familiar faces. Taking a load off at the abandoned OryCon fan table caused me to be hit up by passers-by wanting to know about OryCon; apparently the early evening is not as barren a time as whoever stocked the table thought it would be. Or maybe they'd just gone to dinner.

Apparently the panel tracks are very busy for such a new convention. Video is well attended, more so than I've seen at most conventions in recent years. Overall, there are lots of people wandering the halls and they're having fun.

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