Welcome to 2020!
(She says a month and some change into the year. I’m really trying, y’all.)
Welcome to 2020!
(She says a month and some change into the year. I’m really trying, y’all.)
Fact: Some conventions host mini conventions to self promote months before the main event.
Fact: Very few conventions actually host mini conventions within themselves.
As a native to the Texas convention scene, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the rise and fall of “mini” conventions.
That’s a miniature, often one day, convention promoting a larger convention that happens later in the year.
San Japan’s MiniMini Con is the largest free one day convention in the San Antonio area. Hosted in the Wonderland of the Americas Mall.
In one day, attendees can see a performance by local idol groups, shop all the handmade vendors, participate in the cosplay contest and sit in on panels.
Then we have …or had? Project A-kon’s Mini A-kon and Micro A-kon. These were also a one day, free con hosted within various local libraries for a few years.
Tracks are often used to share with attendees a specific niche experience. You can find these labeled as such in programming guide apps that tag events as “Sci-Fi Track” or “Comics Track” or “Anime Track” etc.
However, a mini Convention within an established Convention might become a new trend.
I volunteered for the first year convention doing just that within the same space as AnimeFest. GameFest in Dallas, Texas.
Another interesting tidbit about this con was the badging process.
If you purchased a pass for Animefest, you also had free access to Gamefest and vice versa. Which is great if you wanted to test the waters of this first year con while still venturing throughout Animefest events.
Occupying only two floors of the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, (37th and 38th floors) Attendees had access to game rooms for Tabletop and Digital gaming discussions.
The 38th floor housed open gaming and rentable games library of varying play styles in exchange for leaving your badge while playing.
Just don’t forget it when returning the game!
The 37th floor had dedicated rooms for Tabletop RPGs hosted by local organizations for Pathfinder, Star Finder, and Adventure League DnD.
There was a room for Paint-n-Takes, a room for panels, a room for Wargaming, a room for Battletech gaming, another room for Open Gaming and a room for Live Action Roleplay (LARP) opened. Where you could find games for Werewolf and Vampire: The Masquerade enthusiasts.
There were plenty of tables for attendees to bring their own games to play all weekend.
I was volunteering under Programming and was assigned to the panel room(GP).
As a badge checker to the only panel room, I had a front row seat to listen into discussions of Game Designers, Podcasters, and other game related topics.
Foxtrot Games Co-founder and lead developer, Randy Hoyt discussed their company’s beginnings and present line of games.
They are known for their most popular game, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. Which was now available in card game form. As seen on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop via Geeky and Sundry.
We were treated to a preview announcement of their latest game, The Search for Planet X. A game where Players are astronauts competing to discover this mystery planet first.
The Kickstarter launches for The Search for Planet X this October.
Attendees asked Randy what Foxtrot Games’ advice for how best to prepare for a Kickstarter (Pros and Cons) and what sort of vetting process was used when choosing to take on new games.
As true to their company mantra, “Foxtrot Games is committed to providing engaging, interpersonal experiences through beautiful, approachable tabletop games.”
I especially enjoyed the process for breaking down visual novel games by Pixels and Pins.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a Visual Novel game is. It is an interactive game genre, which originated in Japan, that features text-based stories with pictures and sound.
Think of it as a choose your own adventure book with multiple endings. A narrative game that’s a mixed media book.
Most commonly played on mobile or handheld games. Popular VNs currently out now are The Arcana, Love Nikki, Backstage and Doki Doki Literature Club to name a few.
Ashe Thurman, a one woman company who also had a hand in developing a Visual Novel Story Engine called Ren’Py.
During her panel, she broke down the stages of creating a Visual Novel.
How to graph the rising action, climax, and falling action of storytelling. As well as explaining the branching narrative planning stages for player choices when designing a story.
Including how and when to source artwork (Sprites) for the game and the importance of finding voices for a project. Or leaving out voices and source an independent composer for a project.
Lead Programmer of Ren’Py, Tom (twitter: @RenpyTom) explained his reasoning for creating a program engine for Visual Novel developers as a tool to streamline GUI (graphical user interface) coding in games. The success of the engine being implemented in over 200 games (and counting) since its release was impressive.
I learned so much about the process of creating a game from concept to marketing to gaining traction with an audience.
I even sat in on a couple panels discussing how Podcasting for DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) has changed with the rise in Streaming programs for the game.
Now, as far as first year conventions go, Gamefest was a successful run of a mini convention.
It maintained space for events, held a panel with industry guests and fan made panels of the industry, and offered samplings of some broader activities.
A dedicated demo space for upcoming developers to showcase new work to the public. Rather than having a booth in the AnimeFest Dealers Hall.
Invite more local Streaming Celebrities to host events and cover additional panel rooms producing fan run topics.
There was some streaming of the panels done on Twitch, but not all events were captured for Gamefest.
Maybe have a ticketed BYOC ( Bring Your Own Computer) area.
And finally, a dash of late night programming for those dedicated to the long hour campaigns.
Did you attend Gamefest in Dallas? What did you think of their first year?
Leave it in the comments below.
It is becoming an increasingly rare habit that I travel with a group these days.
Let me tell ya, solo travel is great and all. But, sometimes you want to share a special moment with at least one other person. Rooster Teeth Expo would be the first con that I introduce my partner to conventions and boy, did I pick the best con to do so.
First timers to a con are so precious.
Their excited because everyone around them is excited about the same thing. Right before the first line of the day drains them of said enthusiasm.
On a whim, I decide to try a new con this year. The Stars and planets aligning, mi amor happened to have some left over vacation time. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if introducing him to the world of cons through RTX would be a good idea. I’d fallen off the Rooster Teeth scene since the early days of Red v. Blue. Circa season 5, if you will. Besides the occasional binge watch of Always Open and FunHaus episodes. (Yes, I am that kind of fan.) I was in the dark, but still revving to go.
To ease him into what Rooster Teeth was about, I started watching some their latest shows out there. Camp Camp, Off Topic, and RWBY. And that’s when I fell in love with Gen:Lock.
The futuristic, mecha infused battles for the human race was enough to suck me in for a whole week of binge. A few times, I found myself rewatching episodes because I really needed to understand what was up with Julian and his new family. My boyfriend was relieved the cartoons were in english therefore no subtitles. (He’s gone numb from my Anime marathoning in the background while I work from home.)
Badges were bought, hotel booked a few blocks away but still close enough to hit up all of Austin’s downtown hotspots. Downloading the app was interesting, but essential to keep track of line status, the exhibit hall times, and events we wanted to attend simply because it sounded cool.
Picking 25 events to go to , but only going to 5 was still a win.
We were together all weekend, wandering up and down the convention halls for panels while nursing our coffees was grand. I made it a priority to have him pick where we would go next. For every panel I wanted, I had him pick two more. That way, depending on the time of day or what building we still happened to be in, there was no shortage of things to go to. In the end, it was less stress and more time to spend with each other.
Yes, I’m sappy sometimes.
As a veteran con crawler, I had learned that while it would be great to do all the things. You just can’t; Taking care of yourself and visiting with those were able to go for the weekend is the highlight of any trip.
The five panels we did manage to attend were to learn more about the RTX community. The “Everything is Fine: Running a Community” talked in depth about aspects of running a community. How to get involved as a fan, how to set up events and catch up on the latest news. Like a brand new forum rolling out some time this year.
It was interesting to hear what the staff wish people knew. That every question is read and it does matter how you present yourself as a member of community. Being kind to one another and following through on requests for changes.
We also attended the “Cosplayers vs. Photographers” panel which went over the unspoken rules of getting together for a photo shoot. I especially loved how the panel was a broad range of skill levels from both sides of the camera. As a former, seasonal portrait photographer, it was nice to see that setting expectations from the beginning was reasonable. I came away with a ton of notes and a found new discord to join for next years Cosplans.
But, my absolute must go to panels were the “The Dungeon Drunks” and “FunHaus” live shows.
DD picked up a one-shot campaign of the gang trying to collect marshmallows from a Confectioners. The single humanoid ant chef turned out to be three giant ants in a chief coat. I still loved you, Ant-thany.
FunHaus pulled all the stops with the usual celebrity introductions to raunchy bits. We were even treated to a sneak preview of their latest video. Unfortunately, I can’t tease anything from that panel. So….Definitely attend sometime if you can!
We had a day of venturing outside the con which gave us a break from the bustling crowd.
As a first timer to the Austin area, I had to show him a few favorite spots. Con weekends can get so crammed with activities. It’s nice to take a breather with choosing a place to dine while exploring a small part of the city.
Day 1 was a brunch excursion to Paper Boy, a mobile diner that was nestled just a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Of course, in the heat of the day it was a bit more challenging to walk and talk about our plans. The poached egg on sweet caramelized potatoes, listed as Texas hash, was still worth it.
Day 2 was a lunch date at a Mexican restaurant. Austin is well known for its taco joints, but for a full plate of home style dishes, you have to do some digging. Lovely dish by Fruta Feliz with a live Mariachi band.
That same night, we ventured to Backspace for some brick oven pizza and a draft of house beer. The ambient lighting was just enough to make our eyes adjust from the outside.
On the final day, we made the “Sunday Deals” shopping worth it.
Sundays are the best for shopping in the Exhibit hall. If the treasures you are after don’t have the words “Limited” or “Exclusive” attached.
Come to think of it, missing out on the Cosplay Photo shoots was replaced with browsing the wares of sellers and watching demos.
I had the chance to play a round of Swapette Showdown, a magical girl puzzler by some spunky indie developers.
There was also, Shot One was top down battle demo that was fun to watch.
If you are skilled in the market haggling( Mot low balling, HAGGLE), sometimes the last item in a vendors possession can go for less. My other favorite thing to do is collect all the free giveaways, like the giant mouse pads and water bottle via AT&T Fiber booths.
We were very lucky to take advantage of the 50% off for the Rooster Teeth store. However, many of the popular items were already gone. Save for a few figures, tees from different shows, and very very few pins.
Spending time together was still worth the weekend of RTX.
We went in with very little planning; Aside from where we would crash, eating out and sightseeing. The entire weekend was played by ear and lead by stomaches.
I was impressed by the community of RTX. Many polite and helpful souls amongst attendees. Not too large a crowd, but just enough to feel whisked away into a private nerdvana with the occasional eCelebrity in the crowd.
My love and I officially decided that we’ll be making RTX our anniversary con in the near future.
So, what about Cosplay isn’t green already?
It’s a hobby that literally teaches people to become MacGyver’s with hot glue. A hobby that encourages using tin foil crumpled and pressed into foam with an iron to make faux leather.
And don’t even get me started on how many coupon ninja tricks you can do to achieve 50% off an entire fabric hoarding purchase.
If you’ve been in the hobby for a while, surely you already know to never use the expensive stuff when the dupe in Walmart is just as good. However…
Cosplay can always be a little more friendly to the environment and your wallet.
Closet cosplays, especially for the sewing challenged are a great starting point. Shoutout to the Supernatural, the Once Upon a Time, and Myth Buster Look-A-Likes. Street clothes are probably the most comfortable you will ever be at a con.
And just like the “wear this item, X amount of ways” challenge, seek out that one clothing piece that’s extra versatile.
The same goes for wigs that are not permanently fixed to one look. Brush out or gently wash out all that holding spray; re-heat, re-style, and re-use.
WARNING: Removing foam core that is sewn in/glued into wigs can damage and might not be worth repurposing. So, do deconstruct with care.
You could even salvage fabrics from that costume you wore only a handful of times and make a new costume piece.
Now, don’t assume all thrift stores are the same. Dark, dirty, and missing a door or window. There’s more out other than just Goodwill. With a little research, you’d be surprised at how many great finds make it into Consignments such as Plato’s Closet or even Buffalo Exchange.
Find the nearest garment district and become a regular of their overstock flea markets. Train your eye to see the base for any costume piece that’s easy to add or subtract features to suit your needs. It’s a skill that will take time to practice and will save you dollars over time. Modifying see-through raincoats for cosplay does come in handy for most Blade Runner cosplay needs.
Coming up, an excellent example of using an entire bed set for Critical Role cosplay. Top sheet, mattress sheet, and a couple pillow cases later…
I guarantee you that someone local is dying to get rid of a few costumes. They’ve recently outgrown cosplays, have some well loved cosplays, or fell out of love mid-crafting.
Find a public space for an event (might have to charge a small entry fee to pay for the rental) or a nice park that’s easy to access from most major highways. Grab a few blankets, some sharpies for price tags, suggests dates in your local Cos Community, settle on a date and bring all the trades to the yard.
For less stress, establish guidelines for how to conduct trades.
Traditionally, Swap Meets are straight “trade for trade” with no money involved. However, if money does become involved do make it clear that the use of third party payment programs like Venmo, Paypal, Facebook Pay, and others will require consent of both parties agreeing to the trade and a grace period of “X amount of days” for payment to clear. No returns unless mutually agreed upon that the trade was not for equal value or satisfactory to said parties discretion.
If possible, have participants share preview pictures of costumes and props their wishing to swap. That way everyone has an idea of what to bring.
And let’s not forget the number one way to save.
I can hear those eyeballs rolling, but I say again, hear me out.
When learning to craft props or even full on outfits for cosplay there will always be a waste cost to both time and supplies.
Instead of recasting those gems for the 10th time, why not order a 3D print of one from a local crafter that’s perfected it?
Instead of ripping seams only to damage that very expensive fabric to remake a bodice for the umpteenth time, why not take your measurements to a Cosplay Seamstress/ Tailor. Freeing up your time to work on other things.
I know, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of wearing a cosplay that you crafted with your own two hands. But it’s okay to hand off those pieces we’re not so great at to someone who is crazy talented at making.
Its okay! Buy that prop kit and download that pattern!
Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t always keep it green when crafting for cosplays.
If you can find an alternative to anything at a fraction of the cost, it’s going to help you in the long run. But, don’t ever skimp on quality for quantity. Do the research; Use the coupons.
Supporting each other in the cosplay community not only lowers emissions with umpteenth trips back to Lowes/JoAnn Fabrics/Michaels/ that one place in the sketchy part of town; It saves you many nights of re-sewing, and frustration over pattern instructions.
I have no doubt that as a community of Makers, Crafters and frugal shoppers that going with a cleaner alternative is beneficial in the long run. So, let’s continue to work together in sharing knowledge and resources for the next generation to continue the cosplay tradition.
This month’s manga was an oldie, but goodie find at the Dallas location, Anime Pop shop. Written by celebrated women’s author, Asumiko Nakamura, sprinkling her magic again with Maiden Railways. A collection of seven short stories.
Maiden Railways was originally released in 2009, translated in 2011 and re-distributed in 2019. I was introduced to the title by shopkeeper recommendation as a great introduction to Shojo manga.
Nakamura is more known for her Yaoi genre work, Classmates, which was later adapted into an Anime series. The follow up sequel Graduates was equally well received.
Getting back to Maiden Railways, each story shares the pitfalls of love between two people and finding a way to reconnect again.
Relationships at every stage of life are portrayed in a way that anyone can relate on some level.
The young tweens waiting at the station for a boy that might not arrive.
The older couple that’s forgotten how to be attentive to others wants and needs from a partner.
Lose of a relationship and finding another, Nakamura does a wonderful job recreating these fictional worlds happening in and around the romance car.
I was especially loving the old school vibe of the art direction. Bringing me back to the early days of Peach Girl and Marmalade Boy.
It still fascinates me to see how Japanese culture protrays relationships compared to my western upbringing. For example, the first tale that centers on a affair in action.
While western writers would have a tendency to make the cheating spouse a villain before the act, Nakamura’s character blames himself for not being the man his wife deserved.
Ultimately, Maiden Railways is a collection of romantic entanglements gone wrong. Finishing out with classic shojo resolutions with some surprising revelations.
While none of the stories are particularly groundbreaking, I do appreciate the care taken to tell them in a way that’s palatable for new readers. For a book that was released in the mid 2000s, the stories still hold up well in today’s world.
An even sweeter treat about this book is the author’s note about the railway that inspired her to write this.
Maiden Railways is a wonderful short read for your next train ride to the nearest happy place.
Do you have any recommendations for my next review? Let me know in the comments below.
You’ve had an idea for a panel for the last few years. This is the year to actually make it happen, so you send it in.
Almost two weeks later, you get a response.
Your panel’s been rejected.
Why? You did everything right, right?
Here are five common reasons why your panel was rejected.
If you have watched the video, here’s a brief in depth response to each reason for rejected panels.
I kid you not, sometimes a convention will receive too many panels, workshops, and demonstration submissions that they will run out of space. For each day of the convention, there are blocked times for events to occur throughout the venue or venues involved.
Some spaces are reserved for large gatherings of 500 – 1,000 seating for Main event, Opening/Closing Ceremonies, and Guest panels.
Some spaces are reserved for smaller gatherings of 50 – 200 seating for panels, workshops, and open floor demonstrations. Not including artist alley and dealers room tables.
Plus, factoring in opening and closing times for each area of the venue does put a lot of constraints on time available. So, keep this in mind the next time you want a late night or early morning event.
It may sound good to you, but try reading it out loud a few times… with other people present.
Descriptions are all a programming director has to go on for your panel as well as a persuasive alibi that you are an expert on said topic. Any misspellings, dropped gaps of logic, and unclear summary of exactly what you will be doing from start to finish can spell doom for a panel.
Take the time to proof read; re-read the rules for the short and long description. If you have one on hand, take a look at last year’s program guide and read some of the panel descriptions.
Believe it or not, this is a very common trend at most cons.
A staple panelist sends in the same events every year (Swap Meet/Pokemon Live battle/ Cosplay Chess/ AMV League) and people notice when someone else hosts it. Some cons don’t mind it, but lately these copy cat panels are being screened harder.
Just because you think it can be done better, don’t expect Programming to choose you over “Veteran Stan”.
Instead, try borrowing aspects of what you liked and add what you think is missing. And for the love of poke balls, give it a different title.
I know. I know, sometimes its hard to tell what should go where.
Usually, in the the requirements there is an indicator for how to tell where your panel should go.
Workshops are hands on crafting events, Lectures are speakers giving in-depth analyse of subjects beyond common knowledge, Audience Q&A is getting the crowd involved in discussion topics while presenting in-depth analyse or open floor questioning about a subject, and so on.
If you really are stuck on what category your panel should fall under, look for an email to ask the Programming Department Head directly. Or join the community channels for that con and ask there.
I maybe on the far left with this one, because more conventions are starting to follow a mixed media format (Tv, Animation, Comics, Books, Games) rather than a single media format (i.e. Animation Only).
However, for smaller to relatively established cons there will only be one type of media their attendees will consume.
Think of it this way, why on earth would a Star Trek convention accept a panel about light bulbs unless it was related to Star Trek-esque lighting fixtures?
Panels should try to tie back into the audience you plan to share it with. Otherwise, no one is going to be sitting in on what you have to say.
Do you have any other tips or tricks to avoid having a panel rejected? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
It’s easy to go live these days.
Facebook does it.
Instagram does it with a time limit.
Twitter…sorta knows it can?
YouTube is experimenting with subtle differences here and there. Plus there are new apps appearing almost daily to cater to this new medium.
But, streaming as a beginner can be a little overwhelming and high expectations too often meet a wall. I started my own channel just last year and while it hasn’t been easy, I’ve made a handful of friends through it.
So, here are my tips for keeping the passion alive while developing your corner of the streamy-hood.
Disclaimer: These tips are more from my experience as a beginner ‘variety’ channel. But, can apply to other Streaming formats as well.
I know, it’s mind boggling to not look at how often that follower count goes up or down with each new cast. In the beginning, that view count will be zero to two to zero.
Unless you happen to have a large following already, chances are high that no one will be watching you … for a while. This is a good time to get comfortable looking deep into the black hole of your webcam and thinking about your posture. When the follow count is low, this is the best time to develop your online persona.
I find it helps to pretend the camera is a good friend that’s asking a question about what I’m doing or how my day has been every minutes. Don’t worry, you’ll get use to it soon.
Each time you go live, you should have a topic in mind.
To stand out in a sea of other gaming channels, you need to come at your audience from a new angle.
One thing that seems to boost channels in categories for a game is the stream title being a “question of the day” or “motivation of the day”. Take a moment to look up a few deep, insightful questions to ask a stranger. This also helps get the chat moving along and you can repeat the question/answer it each time a new viewer pops in.
What’s your signature move everytime you go live?
I’ve had to think about this for a while too. Do I want to greet my channel members with a high five and a welcome back then recap what we did last week? Or do I jump on, chat for a bit about plans for the month then jump into the game?
Honestly, this should be a habitual thing that occurs when the channel is live. Followers will begin to chant the motto as well if you do it right. Just don’t steal someone else’s thing. You can borrow inspiration, no blatantly copying.
They say a new pair of shoes can change a person’s whole mood.
So, why not pick out an outfit that makes you feel Ahhh-mazing every time. This could even be a signature look for you later on. For now just have fun playing with your looks.
I know for me, I love to do my makeup and pull out a fun wig most days.
This is probably the hardest thing to do if your shy or not confident about your current channel focus.
So, I suggest when sharing a link to your stream to mention, “Hey, I’m trying something on [X]. Feel free to take a peak and let me know what you think about it.”
Building a channel takes time, especially if you don’t have a large following on another social platform to feed from. Take this time to think about what sort of value* you can give to the community and how you can boost your personality from here on out.
Ashnichrist is a Stream Coach for both Twitch and Mixer. Her video on that very topic is a golden rule to stand by.
This one is a bit tricky as some streaming services have to be careful of copyright strikes for licensed music.
So, if you have a spotify account or a source for royalty free music, why not try having that playing in the background while you stream.
It can help set the mood and theme of every stream. Just be sure you can use it otherwise, the past broadcasts audio will be muted.
Last, but really first, I guess? Think about starting a social account dedicated to your off stream activities.
I can already hear the eye rolls. So, hear me out on this.
Unless your a drafted Professional Gamer or a host for an eSports network, your feed shouldn’t be flooded with games all the time. There should be a balance between a few selfies and actual activities you enjoy doing outside of gaming.
Share plans for events your excited to attend. Snap a few pictures of the cute dog you ran into at the park. Share that fantastic new meal you created out of boredom.
This shows your fan base that not only are you a human that ventures into the public from time to time. You also have an interest in food, shopping, collecting comics, and more. Share what you feel comfortable with being on the internet for all eternity.
And those are my tips for staying optimistic while streaming.
Let me know what some of your optimising boosts are in the comments below. And if you’re looking for more help with streaming, check out Ashnichrist’s new book and her coaching options over on Patreon.