Tag Archives: con

Salt Lake Gaming Con 2016

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A few weeks before the convention opened, the Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC) (the larger, more powerful convention here in Salt Lake City) purchased 50% of the ownership of the Salt Lake Gaming Con (SLGC). At first I was curious as to what that meant, exactly. The SLCC is a ruthless corporate machine willing to turn the hearts and souls of Nerddom into a quick profit. Arriving at SLGC, I instantly smelled the essence of the Comic Con. They’re well known for their lack of preparedness and Kafkaesque queue lines and entry system. Last year at Gaming Con, the press was invited to arrive a day early. We received information packets detailing the coming events of the weekend. We were shown around the places and told where useful things were. The press room was in a back corner. It was nice and quiet; a decent space to work. The room was filled with water and occasionally snacks.

all hail our new overlords
                                            all hail our new overlords

Comic Con has a clear fuck-the-press attitude, which was made more than clear at their main event last year. Here at Gaming Con 2016 things are not quite as organized as they were last year, and I blame it on the new interference of Comic Con.

(This woman was so nice)
                                                                      Best Cosplay at the con

Starting off, we were shown around the exhibit hall by a coordinator and eventually led to the press area; a small corner right next to a giant TV. At this point, the journalists and I started questioning where our press passes were. The response we got was: “There might not be any.” No fucking Press Passes! This is the one thing that lets me talk to developers and booth operators with a bit more authority than the standard con-goer. Later I learned that before the takeover, press passes were, in fact printed. When Comic Con came in, the passes were all scrapped and a new design was created. We eventually did get press passes a few hours into the con, but the lack of knowledge about it was what really threw me off.FILE0033

Everything has been so spotty. “Right now I’m working without Internet in the press room. Christ Alive! Why is there no usable Internet here? We have to share with the PC open play area. I can’t load a fucking website to save my life.” Yup, this is the stink of the fuck-the-press mentality mentioned earlier. The Press Coordinator was doing his best to try and help us, but he knew about as much of what was going on as we did. The Internet we were promised never came. Other press members resorted to using their phone as a hot spot to connect to something. I sat there in vain, refreshing my webpage again and again. Walking around the con I could definitely tell there were some major changes. Things felt more like Comic Con than a typical gaming con.FILE0041 The vendors were the main attraction this year (in the past the developers and gamer’s were the main focus). The booths set up for them took up a large space and were definitely the centerpieces. Now it was a bit different this time. There was still a space for developers…it was just smaller. Some developers were allocated weird corners and tiny booths, shoved away to make room for the moneymakers. It was like developers were here just to meet some sort of quota.

“Ok, we now have enough video games here to call it a ‘video game convention.’ Now let’s get more people selling pop! figures”.

The infection spreads
                                                                          The infection spreads

To the con’s credit there were huge areas where people could play video games. Rows of PCs were set up for anyone to jump on and play. A lot of people just spent the entire con in this area, having a good time playing Overwatch or League of Legends. There was a large section for board games, and an even bigger one for tabletop RPGs. This was definitely refreshing to see, and one of the few decisions made by the original Gaming Con management.

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Once again the people who truly shined here were the ones who showed off their art, rather than trying to make a quick profit off of the con-goers. The Utah Games Guild (UGG) was back to show off some new projects, as well as some improved from last year. Titles such as Crashnauts and Legacy of the Elder Star have returned, donning shiny new designs.

One such new game was We Must Go Deeper, an illustrated 2D co-operative submarine experience.FILE0151 Each players mans a different part of the sub, such as helm or weapons. They work together to reach the bottom of the sea and fight a deadly giant squid. The game is still in development right now, but I’m very excited to take a look at it once it’s ready. During the demo, I played in the weapons section. I had to manually load each torpedo I fired. I had to run around the sub, wrench in hand, fixing holes that sprang up due to the attacking sea creatures.

Another title was Ethos, a dark AMMORPG rumored to have an entirely player-driven economy, and boasting Dark Souls-like combat mechanics. The demo featured a boss fight against a massive troll. Right now they only have a “proof of concept” ready. But if they take their time and refine what I played, they could have something truly special. I’ll definitely be following the development of this game as it progresses.FILE0159

The people over at UGG are working hard on their games. It was amazing to talk to them about their progress and aspirations. This group is certainly dedicated to their art. I love the UGG’s ideals. Like-minded people are brought together to collaborate and bounce ideas off one another. It’s great to have other creative people around you while you work. It really shows in their games.

One thing that was pretty exciting was the abundance of VR at the con. There are a lot of places who were just using VR as a gimmick to sell their products. One product was a VR Cardboard. Purchasing one of these got you 15 minutes in the HTC Vive. Another booth just had a Vive and an Oculus Rift set up. For the price of $10 you could spend 10 minutes on their systems (except Microsoft for some reason). This is the only free VR experience I’ve found here; although it was only for 5 minutes and the line was huge. This seemed bizarre, since you’d assume Microsoft would be the first to try and lure people into buying something, or even more heinous pre-order a game. However, Microsoft was just sponsoring another group.

Steven Ogg Playing VR
                                                                     Steven Ogg Playing VR

Wil Brown, head of the Utah Virtual Reality (UVR) meetup group, has done a great job of setting up and showing off the wonders of VR. To hear him talk about working in VR space was simply incredible. He has such a passion for it and I couldn’t help but see just how amazing the technology actually was. He should have had his own panel, instead of stupid shit like the dumb PS4 vs. Xbox One debate they gave him. I’ve set up some special deals with Wil and will be covering UVR here in the near future. In my random chats with Wil, we discussed some incredible stuff. We talked about the Vive and the Oculus. But then he showed me something that isn’t on the market yet, and something to which few developers have access: the Microsoft HoloLens. This mixes both reality and virtual reality into the perfect sci-fi experience…or it will once it’s ready for consumers. As of right now it’s just a “developer’s kit”; Microsoft trying to create some programs for it. At most you can create 3D images that sit in the middle of real space. From what I experienced with it though, this is the dawn of the future. Soon enough this thing and things like it will be widely available.FILE0015

On the non-video side of gaming, there was plenty to see…surprisingly so. Piazo, a tabletop RPG company was there to host some Pathfinder Society games. An employee for Piazo held a panel about upcoming releases and general RPG talk. FILE0003The panel was pretty small but the people attending were all interested in RPGs, so it led to some good discussion. Additionally, I decided that it’d be fun to do a bit of role-playing. I sat down for an hour-long session of D&D and played Lockwood, the arrow-slinging animal whisperer. Although I tend to enjoy other systems more, it was really enjoyable to revisit good ol’ Dungeons and Dragons. This is what the con was truly about. This was the best part; a few strangers sitting down and sharing a hobby. Despite all the corporate chicanery, stuff like this was still able to shine through. It’s easy to get caught up in the money-hungry nonsense that conventions draw, but at the heart of it all these are still these brief moments of happiness and excitement.

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-Jordan Kamm-

It’s time for a Rebirth

DC, after 5 years of The New 52 has finally done it. They are once again rebooting the Universe and setting things up for a new era of comics. Honestly, it’s less of a reboot and more of DC stepping away from the core ideals of The New 52 and readdressing their series. It’s a return to a form of DC comics we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s important to note that I’ll try and avoid the big spoilers of the book. But in order to properly talk about the implications I will need to address a few key moments. If you’re just interested in the fate of DC comics going forward, we’ll get to that. As for now, I need to go into the details of Rebirth #1 and what they all mean, at least to me.

The book opens with a disembodied voice, that we learn belongs to Wally West. Not the new 52 Wally, but the original. Kid Flash, The Flash, Wally West. He talks about how he’s been gone for a while, trapped in the speed force. He says that ever since Flashpoint (the event that kicked off the New 52) things have been different. Things aren’t right. He says that the only way for him to return is for someone to remember him. First he goes to Bruce Wayne, who is deep in the mystery of the Joker. Batman learns a surprising fact that will propel him into his next arc, when Rebirth properly comes out. Wally is unable to connect with him, and is once again pulled back into the Speed Force. Before he tries to reach out again he muses on the fact that the events of Flashpoint didn’t create the new universe. Someone from beyond time and space has been reaching in and removing bits of time, sometimes decades. Next Wally reaches out to Johnny Thunder, another speedster from the golden era. A member of the Justice Society, Johnny mistakes Wally for his lost companion, Thunderbolt. Wally, unable to make the connection is once again hurled out of existence. Again Wally muses. He says that the one thing that has been missing from the world is Love. The thing that his unknown being has taken is the love and hope that the heroes of this universe once had. Ollie Queen and Dinah Lance, once deeply in love, have been set apart by the being. He witnesses Aquaman proposing to Mera, and realizes that’s the connection he needs to make. He needs to reconnect with his once love, Linda Park.

Here is possibly the most interesting part about Rebirth. This is essentially Geoff Johns saying the thing that has been missing from the new 52 is love. Love between the heroes. Love for saving the world, and crime fighting. New 52 has been so dark and dour, things need to change. There needs to be a sense of happiness brought back to the DC universe. His connection to Linda doesn’t work out. She doesn’t remember who he is and once again he is sent back. At this point he realizes he can’t connect to anyone and he’ll be consumed by the Speed Force. He sees the new Wally West save a little girl’s life and he remarks that he isn’t needed. His mantle is in good hands. He then goes to make one final visit. He goes to see Barry Allen, the current Flash. He goes just to say goodbye. Once again Wally remarks on love. He says Barry always has a smile on his face. He says Barry is the only one left who actually loves his job. He loves helping people in need. Wally says that Barry is the only hero who stops and talks to the people he’s rescued after. Wally and Barry have a heart-felt meeting, even though Barry doesn’t recognize him. Wally tells Barry that he’s the reason Wally’s life is so great. Barry has been an inspiration because of the love he’s shown the world. Wally is no longer so obsessed with returning to existence and is happy to part because of the love for the life he once had. At this moment Barry recognizes Wally and pulls him into existence. Wally then tells Barry about The Being.

We finally have the return of a hero who has been lost to us. We finally know that the new 52 was created not by the Flashpoint, but rather by someone removing love from the universe; someone experimenting on the entire universe, seeing what would happen if love was taken out. This mysterious Being is the DC company, and Wally West was a voice for both the writers wanting to work on something new and the fans wanting a change from the dreary New 52. Over the course of Rebirth we get a few glimpses of other heroes, such as The Atom and Blue Beetle. We see Superman from the Louis and Clark series, as well as the pre-crisis Superman who died in his world and appeared on earth prime. This gives us a good look at what other series will pop up in Rebirth. Ultimately DC is going to return to more light hearted, fun stories. The grittiness of New 52 has put a lot of people off of reading DC and it’s time to change that. Happiness and Love will return to this company and we’ll see what new exciting stories will arise.

As for what’s actually coming out? Well, there are a lot of different rumors about what’s happening. But as far as I can tell, several series are sticking around, several are being discontinued and a bunch are being merged into a single series.

The series going forward are as follows:

• AQUAMAN
• BATMAN
• THE FLASH
• GREEN ARROW
• GREEN LANTERN
• SUPERMAN
• WONDER WOMAN

ACTION COMICS #957
• DETECTIVE COMICS #934
(an inspiration of the return to form that DC is going through, and the notion that the comics will be more like the originals in tone, both Action and Detective will return to their original numbering)

HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS
• JUSTICE LEAGUE
• NIGHTWING
• BATGIRL
• BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY
• THE HELLBLAZER (John Constantine)
• RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS

• THE SUPER-MAN
• TITANS
• CYBORG
• DEATHSTROKE
• HARLEY QUINN
• JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA
• SUICIDE SQUAD
• BATMAN BEYOND
• BLUE BEETLE
• EARTH 2
• GOTHAM ACADEMY: NEXT SEMESTER
• SUPERGIRL
• SUPERWOMAN
• SUPER SONS
• TEEN TITANS
• TRINITY

As for what’s still around, there are again a ton of rumors. But most sources point to these being the only series going forward and everything else will either be promptly canceled or phased out over time. I for one am really excited about everything. I loved reading Rebirth. I think it was brilliantly written and there is so much more analysis that can be done. I just lightly touched on some major themes and gave a run-down of what happened. If you are interested in a deeper analysis with all the spoilers of the book, please read:

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/05/23/why-dc-universe-rebirth-is-a-gutsy-work-of-comics-criticism

It’d be unfair to say that what I wrote was entirely from my own ideas, and that I didn’t take influence from the aforementioned article. Happy reading fellow comic fans. I hope you are all just as excited about this as I am.

-Jordan Kamm-

Haven Review: Geek Fuel Monthly Box

So I finally got to try a subscription box from Geek Fuel, and jumping right into it I must say it was nicely packed. I don’t have photos because I got selfish and decided to just tear into the box like an angry child with wrapping paper.

One of the things I noticed about the box is the cost, which I found a bit low. But when I opened it I wasn’t disappointed by what I found. Inside we had a lovely Steam game, a Batman vs. Superman T-shirt (XL, my size too!), A Legend of Zelda: Link poster that’s exclusive to Geek Fuel and a Funko vinyl doll which made me want to shout “Wonder Woman!” like in the old TV shows. But you probably haven’t seen those.015-525x350

I also got the Amazing Fantastic Incredible, memoirs of Stan Lee, which surprisingly enough is spot on for this box. They also included the Geek Fuel magazine which emphasizes things they like to talk about, including console gaming. Truth be told, I didn’t really pay that much mind; I got an entire box full of wonderful geeky things which will keep me busy for quite a few hours. By quite a few hours, I mean I’m just going to be reading the Stan Lee memoirs for a really long time. The book is hard cover with a nice paper-back design that’s very well done.¨

If you want to watch the opening of the Geek Fuel box, the link will be in the description below. But now is the part where I say “Hey if you want, you too can order a box and they have various subscription fees for what you want.” You can buy a box for $17.90 (USD), but that’s only for a month. If you decide to order for a year, you can get it for $14.90. I don’t know why they’re priced like that; I find it pretty stupid.DSC_0015

So you can get more things for less if you purchase an entire year’s worth…assuming you have the money and want to order a nice box of geeky things. I absolutely love my box, but honestly when we were ordering it we had a few issues. These initially prevented us from getting it until a polite staff member patiently helped us out.

Not many companies we’ve had the pleasure of working with are kind enough to actually take the time to deal with people in a polite way. So for me that was a bonus. It shows me that they actually go out of their way to help people who are interested in their product without shrugging them off. This was a definite selling point.

But anyway, if you’re interested in picking up a subscription box from Geek Fuel you can visit their website here. Or if you’d be so kind, you can click this link here and use our referral so we can get more boxes! What can I say? I really do love geeky things!

-Daniel Clatworthy-