Street Fighter x Tekken: craziest panel at SDCC

sfvstek

I don’t think I have ever played a fighting game, but after sitting through the Street Fighter x Tekken panel at Comic Con (it was just before the SWTOR one), I think I may be tempted.

Here’s a link to video of the entire 45 minute panel.

I’ll try to sum up below. The Japanese developers came on and showed some video of the new characters, to rapturous applause. They got fans to wave $10 in the air if they wanted to get the new game sooner (the air was awash with sweaty arms waving dollar notes). They also discussed issues around balance and invited players to contact them via social networks if they had any balance issues or suggestions (can you imagine a MMO dev doing this?) And then things started to get weird.

The Streetfighter producer announced that his colleague who developed Tekken had suggested that he be in the game as a fighting character. So to decide this, they’d agreed a series of 13 challenges, which they then showed on a video in the style of a Japanese game show. Challenges included competitive coke drinking, hot dog eating, hitting each other with weapons that looked like large balloons, etc etc.

(The other developer lost, although I have to say he was actually quite butch especially in the tile-breaking challenge, but then came on stage in person to accept this with good grace.)

And then, they announced another of the new characters for SF vs Tekken via a trailer, a scantily clad dominatrix called Poison.

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The crowd cheered. Evidently a fan favourite (can’t imagine why :P). And then Capcom brought on a model dressed as Poison to more cheers, then another, and another, then a couple of male models dressed as Poison too, and finally the Street Fighter producer himself came back on stage … wearing the same costume.

This is the point where I again lament the loss of my camera because words can’t really do justice. And if you thought things were weird then, they got even weirder when one of the Poisons started whipping the Tekken guy and no, I don’t entirely understand why.

If that has intrigued you, just watch the video of the panel. I don’t know if all Japanese developers are as batshit crazy as CapCom, but it was like nothing on earth I’ve ever seen. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get hold of a copy of Streetfighter …

[GW2] Paws-on at Comic Con

Starting with some admissions:

1. I very very very very rarely actually watch any pre-release videos or trailers these days, am a bit strung out on hype for MMOs

2. I’m in a massive MMO rut at the moment due to extended periods of back pain and 8 weeks of physio when I was told not to sit upright for more than 30m, this has made me as disinterested in games as I’ve ever been (thus the lack of blogging)

3. Have never played or seen Guild Wars, know very little about it. Knew GW2 was upcoming and lots of my friends were starting to get excited about it, but have been far too lazy to read ANYTHING about it.

4. Of course, I still told people I’d go to the Comic Con Guild Wars 2 panel, but it clashed with a TV show one I /really/ wanted to see, so I bailed on that promise, and just read Spinks’ live-tweets of the panel. Sounded pretty good.

When Spinks joined me, after whatever I’d been doing and told me about her Guild Wars 2 hands-on, I was intrigued. I still didn’t know much about the graphics or background to the game, but it was enough to colour me intrigued. And though I was fairly sure I wouldn’t get a chance to spend 40m playing the game, I kind of wanted to for the first time. I think the fact they gave you 40m to play, and I’d had a 5m look over people’s shoulders the first day was what really caught my attention.

Bex Sat 061

And on the final day of Comic Con, when the queues for the panels we wanted to see were heinously long, we decided to revisit the Exhibit Hall. First to see how crazy the SWTOR lines were first thing, and secondly to see if I could play some Guild Wars 2. SWTOR had a 2h wait, so we dashed over to Guild Wars 2 – which was actually a LONG WAY away. While Spinks was looking over some shoulders, I, with ninja-reflexes honed on the London Underground, spotted a free demo computer and scuttled in – then yelled at Spinks to come join me (after I’d created my char, ofc).

So I made a female norn, for mostly the same reasons as she did. The humans and charr all started at higher levels and I wanted to see if the new player experience was as cool as she’d said. Yeah, sisters – we’re suspicious of one another until proven otherwise. I can’t remember all the bits I picked for my character, except it involved being drunk, losing things and then.. I made her a ranger. No idea why, I’m totally not a ranged dps kind of gal, but of the options available I figured it’d be easy to get to grips with. I didn’t fancy a warrior and I don’t generally like casters much, and as I knew Spinks had tried the engineer. And so Nim the Norn was born. Best initial bit, they asked what animal companion I wanted between bear, wolf, and snow leopard. As anyone who knows me will attest, this was NO-CHOICE. There was a large cat, and it got picked. This pleased me right away (though honestly, I like wolves and bears too!).

I think honestly, that Spinks probably has more of a sense of what I did than I did. Which actually bodes really well for the game for me, and also backs up some of her comments. I know I intended to pick up a bunch of quests at the first hub and go do them. This got immediately derailed when I was handing in my first quest and one of the next questgivers asked me to help him guard some booze which he was transporting on massive cow-like-thing to a nearby town. Guarding booze? Right up my alley, and one of the options was ‘I’m ready to leave now’.. so without thinking about my original plans, I just set off. We killed stuff, I marvelled at the giant cow-like-thing, and as I killed stuff some ‘events’ got updated (to kill x number of bad faction people – yes, deal with it, I remembered NO names), but I didn’t even feel like I needed to stay and do the event – I was far too focussed on delivering booze safely. Which we did. Heroism = booze delivery!

GW2

Then, I explored a little randomly as I got a bit turned around and lost trying to find something on my map. I left the demo zone a couple of times and got warned to turn back, so once I got the hang of directions, I headed firmly back into the zone. And that’s when things got super cute. I found a hill with a Shaman of Snow Leopard on it, asking me to honour Snow Leopard.. I was very much in the ‘blah blah, skim read, do stuff as quickly as possible’ mode when I realised one of the text options was ‘transform me into a snow leopard’. And there were snow leopard cubs around me. Oh yes, I found a quest to be turned into a snow leopard and perform tasks which would honour my totem; by cuddling cubs, killing wildlife, or reviving injured snow leopards. This wasn’t a ranger quest, but available to all. It gave a kind of faction bar, which I could increase by doing any of the tasks mentioned. I, of course, cuddled LOTS of cubs. Spinks said at this point I actually just grinned at the screen. But more sensibly, I was really impressed I could mix and match the tasks to fill the bar, and it didn’t take very long at all either.

After this excitement, I only had around 10m left and decided more random quests were in order, though I started off doing the next one I was given by the Shaman.. which triggered more events, and which I was idly doing just to test out my skills. My pet died a few times, but I blame it much more on my actual skills and not paying attention than anything else, since I actually had a self+pet heal ability! While exploring some caves for this event (another kill x thingies quest), I saw I was down to 5m and also found some water. Knowing only that underwater was a whole ‘cool’ thing about GW2, I readily dove in. Yes, I got a face mask immediately, which let me breath underwater. Loved it. Got new skills too, relevant to underwater, and a quest to pick some underwater flowers. Now, I’ve played a fair few MMOs, and I found the swimming very easy to get a hang of. I didn’t have anything to fight, so unfortunately didn’t get to test out any skills, but we did get to see some swimming at least, so I was quite proud of myself for that.

Overall, I came away with a kind of glowing feeling. The 40m sped by, and I’m excited that in a live game I’d have time to really build my character and learn a lot more about it and its skills. It’s a very pretty game and plays nicely, it felt extremely intuitive – which is what I need while in gaming doldrums. From being remotely interested in the game, it’s become a must-buy for me. Of course, there’s no guarantees I’ll love more than the low level game, but what the hell, I’ll take that right now. I know Spinks commented that for her it was like the WoW beta, for me I felt a twinge of Dark Age of Camelot. No idea why, but I guess that was the fierce loyalty I felt almost immediately and for no tangible reason.

The specs we played on, for reference:

Bex Sat 059

[GW2] Hands on with Guild Wars 2

In case you are reading this and somehow not aware, Guild Wars 2 is a highly anticipated fantasy based MMO which builds on the lore from Guild Wars but is otherwise a completely different game. Current thinking is that it is probably due out next year.

The first sight I had of the off-site Guild Wars 2/Alienware tent was on the preview night of Comic Con, when Arb and I were searching for the shuttle bus to the pre-registration pickup location. We had walked the length of the convention centre twice and then been sent back to the far end, over the road, across a bridge … you get the picture.

As we finally found the bus stop, I noticed an Alienware branded tent in the car park next door. “No one’s ever going to find that,” I thought. Let’s just say that the exterior location was not the greatest. This worked in Randomessa’s favour as she was able to test out the GW2 demo extensively.

Never mind that, what did you think?

Inside the convention centre, NCSoft had a stand in one corner, near some of the other computer games, where they were running demos for Guild Wars 2 and City of Heroes. The GW2 demo lasted 40 mins so I decided to try to get in as early in the morning as I could and be prepared to wait awhile.

Few words about the stand: It was never throughly crowded like the Bioware one, but that’s partly due to location and partly due to it not being about Star Wars. The NCSoft staff were awesome – I think as soon as I stopped to watch someone else play the game, one of them asked me politely if I was interested in playing the demo and when I said I was, showed me how to tell how long was left on the current player’s screen. I also like to see female gamers staffing the stall and answering people’s questions about the game, it may be sexist but it makes me feel more welcome as a female gamer even if I never speak to them myself.

OK, back to the demo. Soon enough the guys playing the console in front of me came to the end of their time and I was next in line. The demo offered options to play as three of the races: humans, norn, and charr. Charr started at a higher level for people who wanted to explore that side of the game, Norns started at level 1 in their starting area, and I didn’t bother checking Humans because by the time I got to them I’d already picked my Norn and moved on to the next screen. I swear I’ll get better at reviewing demos but I wanted to play this one.

Norns are a blonde, athletic, viking-type race who follow animal gods and have animal totems. They also drink a lot and live in a snowy mountain area. and the character generation gives the player is quick intro to all of these features.  You are able to pick your name, father’s profession, preferred totem, and some events that happened in your backstory (which relic did you inherit? what exactly did your character get up to at that last drunken revel, assuming you can remember it?). and in the live game there will be plenty of character customisation options too. It seems clearly signposted that all of these decisions will come back to haunt you later as you go through your personal questline.

And then you’re off.

Initial quests follow the familiar pattern of “questgiver marked with an arrow” but very quickly I found that the game has a much better flow than this would imply, even to a seasoned MMO gamer who can see behind the curtain and is already thinking in terms of, ”Where’s my next quest? How much more xp to level 2?”

Just wandering around will uncover goals, which may take the form of actual quests, or may be requirements marked on the map. Sometimes you wander into events, which are handily noted on screen with “An event has started!” Other times you can talk to a scout NPC who will take you to a quest area and help by marking out useful locations on your map. Sometimes you will wander past a world element such as  a shrub or tree that seems to be glowing and when you stop to interact, your character will do something appropriate or you’ll be advised if you need to find something and return.

This makes for a far more immersive experience than it has any right to be. I wandered around, things happened, I responded to them, I have no idea how many of those things were part of dynamically generated events and how many were just there anyway waiting for someone to discover them … and I don’t think I care. Other demo players were in the same game world, I saw some of them running around and stopped to help someone kill a larger mob on my way.

I think Arenanet are on to something very good here, because despite the impression of wandering around aimlessly, there was always a certain amount of direction offered. If I had been really stuck I could have gone back to the core quest and followed that. Similarly, the gameplay feels initially similar to WoW (and WoW-like games) – you have an action bar, you use WASD to get around, etc. This makes it very easy to pick up for a seasoned MMO player, but I feel that there’s a lot more to it, especially once you are able to use more abilities at higher level.

The core personal questline includes cut scenes which are more like stills of talking heads, and seems to be more about your personal legendary journey. I loved the graphics and didn’t feel that lack of animation in the cut scenes was any kind of hindrance. The landscapes are bright and colourful, and I noticed the charr player next to me was wandering through a field of bright flowers in his higher level zone. Also yes, you can jump (people tend to go on about this because characters can’t jump in Guild Wars 1.)

As far as the engineer goes, since I only played it to about level 3 I can’t offer much of an analysis on combat in general or the engineer in particular. My norn started with a blunderbuss which offered two main skills – a regular shot and a net/ root shot. When I later switched to dual pistols, the skill bar switched too, and looked as though it was more AE focussed. I felt very encouraged to move around during combat, not necessarily because I had to (this probably is more of a feature when you are out of the starting areas) but because my main shot was instant.

There will be cosmetic clothing, at least to some extent,  and the basic character screen, once you find it (icons are at the top left of the screen and quite small), offers a choice even to starting characters of wearing adventuring clothes or town clothes.

As you wander around the world you will also occasionally uncover teleportation sites, similar to the stable masters from regular MMOs. Towards the end of my demo, I decided to go check out the norn main city, which is available even to new characters from any teleport point. It looked very quiet and empty with just me and a few NPCs. This also led to one of the NPC conversations which most amused.

I was talking to an NPC and noticed a typo in her response. “Ahah,” I thought, “I’ve found a spelling mistake in the beta, my task here is done!” But as I continued with the in game conversation, it turned out that she was actually ICly mispronouncing the word, which was turned into a source of humour.  It’s a trap for overly keen beta testers!

My overall impression was very good, 40 minutes passed very quickly and I would have happily played for longer. What is harder to put across in writing is that the game has a certain charm to it. In fact, what I’m most reminded of (and don’t hate me for saying this) is how I felt the first time I played the WoW beta ….

[SWTOR] Notes from SDCC, and scarce code is scarce

OK, a few more notes about The Old Republic to catch up on what we’ve seen last week, following up Arb’s summary of her flashpoint yesterday.

As an observer, I was mostly taken by:

  • Smoothness of the character animations. This isn’t LOTRO where the game is gorgeous until someone moves. It’s all very nicely animated.
  • Loved the female sith bounty hunter that Arb was playing, she looked very cool and badass. So did her armour.
  • It wasn’t all that easy for me to tell the various characters apart, aside from the sith inquisitor in his robes. Expect the inquisitor/ consular to get picked on a lot in PvP because they’re so easy to spot. As well as potentially being healers.
  • The dialogue wheels were lots of fun. I could see Arb settling into her character when she started instantly picking the most sarcastic options (which got darkside points, naturally.) What she couldn’t see but I could was that the guy sitting next to her was picking the exact same options with similar lack of delay. It’s almost a shame that the game can’t point out afterwards, “You know character X you met in that team? You guys have a lot in common and picked similar options, maybe you’d get on.” Would be especially neat for light side empire and dark side republic characters to be able to spot each other.
  • The instance was pretty much corridors (dressed up nicely as a ship) with mobs in them, broken up by the occasional boss or dialogue. There was an obvious influence from WAR in that side quests such as “kill 30 republic soldiers” kept popping up and it looked as though the team was completing them fairly organically just by running the flashpoint.
  • You do get to mow down lots of enemy mooks.

The point Arb made yesterday was that she could imagine groups getting very impatient if one member was slow to read or select dialogue or went AFK because the game does require everyone to make a selection before things continue. I assume there is a timeout, but we know how fast faster faster gogogo people get in instances.

Star Wars Panel

Bioware ran a 45 minute panel at Comic Con, at which they showed a few trailers, introduced some of the character voice actors, and answered some questions. G4TV recorded the whole thing, along with a commentary – mine would have been better (obviously) if I hadn’t run out of power on the iPod towards the end :)

The room was packed, and people cheered the trailers (which do look awesome on a big screen with proper sound equipment.)

Main points:

  • New trailer. This one briefly introduces the classes, it’s all made up of in-game footage, no cinematics. And I’m assuming you get to hear the actual voice actors who’ll be voicing the player characters. (The Imperial Agent not only looks geeky, he sounds geeky too! I may be a bit in love.)
  • No overlap of quest between class/ faction. For example, the bounty hunter and jedi knight have no quests in common from 1-max level. I’m assuming there may be some faction quests in common but definitely got the sense that the vast majority of class content is not repeated.
  • They discussed the solo endgame. There will be an entire planet devoted to this.
  • Planets can be quite large. They gave the example of 30 mins to run from one end to the other, although players will have faster transport than that.
  • You’ll be able to customise your companions, including changing their skin and hair colour. So yours don’t have to look like everyone else’s.
  • There is a LOT of dialogue in this game, which I think had been well broadcast previously. The voice actors discussed this, and the sizes of the scripts they had to read. They both really seemed to enjoy their characters and praised the writing (I hope the woman playing the love interest is ready for the amount of fan reaction she’s likely to get :) ).
  • They showed an example of the dialogue wheel, with a jedi vs sith fight where the winning jedi got to choose at the end whether or not to kill their opponent. They let the crowd choose, based on how loudly people cheered for each choice (cheers sounded about equal from where I was sitting). They said they expected people to choose killing, but showed both alternate endings. In the light side ending, the guy said he would change his ways, and they said you might run into him again later.
  • I can’t remember the character’s name but the twilek who ends up as a possible companion to the sith warrior is hilarious. They showed a couple of clips of her sassing people.
  • Level 50 was noted as the max level.

Pricing and Scarcity

There has been a lot of debate in the blogosphere (to put it mildly) about the pricing of the SWTOR pre-orders and collectors editions. Yes, they’re high, but they’re also bang in line with pricing trends for AAA games.

This will not be the first game to offer a $150 collectors edition, and it certainly won’t be the last. I don’t really understand the outrage on this particular point, collector’s editions were always supposed to be something a bit special for the hardcore (and rich) fans.  Having said that, I think Bioware could do fairly well if they sell the soundtrack separately.

Similarly, before complaining about the price of the standard edition, stop and think about how much MW3 is likely to be selling for later this year. Will it stop people buying the game? Hell no. I share the dismay on pricing trends, but this is pretty much in line with the way things are going.

Another issue is the deliberate scarcity of pre-order copies of the game. I have heard some obscure conspiracy theories around EA doing this to push prices up. I have also heard some more plausible debates about how to stop the servers getting swamped on launch (along with suggestions that EA should just somehow manage it.)

In any case, the real take away point I took from seeing the game and the dev team at Comic Con is that no one is trying to fool anyone. What you see is what you get. The game is very much for real. If you don’t like what you’re seeing and hearing in the interviews and demos right now, then it may not be for you. And I trust Bioware that if they are keeping the copies scarce, then they have a good reason for it.

It is a shame if players outside the US and EU have to wait a few more months for their servers, but we did that with WoW and it didn’t kill us. My advice is that it’s worth the wait to have local servers if you were planning to play the game anyway.

[SDCC] San Diego Comic Con, the geek Mecca

Last week, Arb and I were in San Diego along with 150000 of our closest geeky friends to attend the annual fan fest which is San Diego Comic Con. (Alas, no pictures since I lost my camera out there somewhere.)

I’ll be writing more about the con this week, including posts on individual game-related panels and demos (inc. SWTOR and Guild Wars 2) as well as some posts about the exhibition floor and events going on outside the convention centre, to try to give a flavour of what it was like out there.

Although there is a sizeable gaming presence, it’s just a small part of the whole event. The heart of Comic Con is still with comics, just about, but the film and TV industry run the largest and most popular panels.

Another site sums up their favourite of the film and TV panels based on popularity. I think judging on popularity may be a mistake, because we found that some of the less hyped panels were at least as entertaining. But I did hear that the Game of Thrones panel was very good (I was at the SWTOR panel which was at the same time.)

The convention that ate San Diego

San Diego is a delight, I’m glad we arrived there a couple of days in advance so that I could see what it’s like when not completely taken over by Comic Con. The weather is gorgeous (warm and temperate), it’s by the sea, the public transport is great, it’s clean, people are friendly, and it’s not too big. There is plenty for tourists to see and do, and you can get to Tijuana on the trolley bus if you wanted to poke your nose into Mexico as well.

But wow is it ever different once the convention opens!

It isn’t just that there are posters everywhere, hordes of geeky tourists, and that every restaurant and shop in the area has a poster up saying that SDCC fans are welcome. HUGE posters line the sides of hotels near the convention centre – and when I say HUGE I mean they take up half the side of the hotel. The trolley stop closest to the con was rebranded in comic typeface and speech panels. Everywhere is busier, and as you get nearer to the convention centre, the con tends to spill out onto the streets. There are booth babes handing out badges and fliers, carts selling food and produce, and stands/ tents/ hotels taken over by companies such as Sega, Bioware, Marvel, etc so that they can run their own events, parties and demos outside the convention centre for all comers. It gets loud. Everywhere. All the time.

Even on the convention floor, individual stands host Q&A sessions or events at different times or days: for example, I saw Stan Lee being interviewed at the Marvel Stand.

The inevitable queuing

Comic Con not only has a huge number of attendees, but it’s pretty much accepted by all comers that there are too many people for the size of the convention centre and the size of the event. It was on everyone’s lips to wonder how much longer they can continue holding the con in San Diego purely for this reason. Still, this didn’t stop us from doing any of the things we came to do – the exhibition floor was navigable, I didn’t have any major problems getting into gaming panels or playing demos, although the reason I didn’t try the SWTOR demo was because I didn’t fancy queuing 2.5 hours to play a 15 min demo. Props to Bioware that others did, though.

CBS reports in more detail on the future of Comic Con.

One of the side effects is that there is a lot of queueing. We got a first taste of this when we spent 5 hours or so queueing just to pick up our (pre-booked) tickets on the day before the con began. Tickets including preview night access for next year are already sold out.

One of the other ‘features’ of Comic Con is that they don’t clear out the panel rooms (which vary in size from a bijou 250 up to the vast 6000 seater Hall H) between sessions. So if there is a popular session scheduled for the afternoon, the only way to guarantee getting a seat is to be in there all day. And if the panel is really that popular, that means getting in queue early in the morning, just to be sure. Oh yes, the queues also start way before the convention centre opens.

So if anyone was wondering why we didn’t go to the Game of Thrones panel, that’s the other reason why.

Swag: not just a 4 letter word, it’s a way of life

When you pick up your comic con tickets, you are also given a huge and mostly empty bag. Why was this, I wondered. It’s for swag, said Arb knowingly, as we decided whether we liked the pictures on the sides of our bags or whether we should get Arb’s friend (who is apparently good at bag trading) to try to trade them in with other people for ones we preferred. I decided to stick with the Arkham City one.

Swag comes in many different flavours at comic con. You can pick up a fair amount by just wandering around the exhibition floor. In particular you will acquire badges, postcards, bags, free/ preview comics, fliers, and posters just by sticking your hand out as they’re being distributed. I also picked up a couple of t-shirts that were being given out by gaming companies after you had demoed one of their games.

There’s more strategy needed for a maximal swag grab, as some stands only give out swag at specific times of days, or give out different swag at different days/ times.

Swag can also be achieved in panels, and I saw some being given out to people who asked questions in panels. Other panels gave out swag to all attendees, such as the SWTOR pre-order codes given out by Bioware, or the very stupid hats given out by the cartoon network.

Some swag can be grabbed outside the convention centre too, such as the inflatable omniblades at the Bioware Base, or the angry birds badges that I saw being given out on the street by people in angry bird costumes. Or the really nice posters and captain america 3D specs that we were given at the cinema when we went to see Captain America.

My personal favourite swag was:

  • the educational comic about Tesla and the Chicago World Fair, illustrated with lots of pigeons
  • Dragon’s Dogma T Shirt
  • omniblade
  • Captain America poster from the cinema, which I’m going to get framed

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days

We (as in europeans) tend to have a view that Americans are really good at organising things,  especially when the things are also large events. SDCC really bore this out for me. Yes, there was a lot of queuing, yes there probably were too many people there for the size of the event, but all the staff I spoke to either on individual stands or as part of the convention staff were polite, helpful, and professional. Events happened at the right time in the right place, bang on schedule.

I don’t know if I would go again, although I’d certainly go to other (smaller!) cons but we had a fantastic time.

Comic Con (and holidays)

Arbitrary and I are off to San Diego Comic Con next week, which means posting is going to be on the quiet side until we get back (this does depend a bit on wifi accessibility and if my Eee holds up.)

On the one hand, this gives you all a chance for a break!

On the other, we’re hoping to get some good gaming (and geeking) in to write about when we get back, including a first hand look at both SWTOR and GW2. Bioware and Arenanet are both going to be running demos at the con, as well as panels during the convention.

Since I don’t go to California often (read: this will be the first time I’ve been there other than changing planes at LAX), is there anything else we should do or try while we’re out there if we have time?

Also, the schedule is here and we’re open to suggestions if anyone is desperate for a writeup on any specific panel.  (Confusingly, their ‘gaming track’ seems to be all about playing card games, with no mention of any other sorts of  games at all.)

Day One: San Diego Comic Con 2010

Zombies at Comic Con 2010

Three days with no sleep standing in line for the Tron panel ...

It’s been a crazy day and a half, since I’m rolling the preview night into this write-up. Preview night, for me, basically means having a look around the Exhibit Hall, meeting people I wanted to try and catch and getting the atmosphere soaked up before the real work starts. In other words, I didn’t go to watch the actual preview this year, which was the TV show Nikita. Not that interested.

We all got Warner bags this year with our registration stuff. They’re huge, and they have different designs on and people used to queue at the Warner booth for them, so it’s been nice this year to just have one handed over. My friend got Human Target and I got a Batman one, so I grabbed the Human Target one, while he engaged in a game of bag-trading that saw him work through Clash of the Titans, Batman, Scooby Doo, Chuck, Fringe and finally The Big Bang Theory. But I’m happy with my Human Target one. The Exhibit Hall is huge, it’s just huge. And it runs the gamut from comic artists and book publishers, to games companies, along with the obvious film and TV presence. And people queue. They queue for swag, they queue to buy exclusive items, and they queue for autographs. And I hate queuing! So I go pick up the easy swag on the first night and see what else I might want. I did score lots of goodies from publishers, including a copy of George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones, and a bizarre book-related jigsaw. Also a Twilight iPhone cover.. hrrm, I shouldn’t mention that, right?

In all fairness, this year I wanted to check out games more, but they didn’t seem to all be ready to rock on preview night. So I might have to head back there. City of Heroes: Going Rogue had some terminals up, but no way to bag the in-game ghoul costume (and since I don’t play the game, in-game play didn’t really go it for me, but it looked pretty). DCUO was there (for the person who asked), but I didn’t check it out – they had lovely lanyards and my friend snagged one somehow.. we shall return. Then we went to see Super Hero Squad Online, as I’d promised to go hug the CM (long story, follow twitter ;p). My friend took the controls while we chatted and I have to say, I’m totally sold on it. Yes, it’s kiddie, but it’s gorgeous and the housing is honestly the most FUN MMO housing I’ve seen – complete with Hulk throwing sofas around the room to let off steam. So, that was a bit of a surprise to me, only because I’d never really considered it.

So we wandered, we got swag, we met friends from last year, and then we went to check if there was a line for Tron the next day. There was. And I’m a fool. So we took spots and settled in for a freezing night in a line. At least there was cover this year, as it rained. Also the Hilton sent us blankets, pillows and water. Was still freezing though!!! So let’s ignore the night in line, it’s not that interesting, but I had excellent company which helped.

And it was Thursday, the first full day of the con and I was near the front of the Hall H queue. First up was Megamind, a superhero/villain 3-D animated film starring Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, oh, and Brad Pitt. The first three showed up, with Ferrell in costume. I’m not a huge fan of any of them and they didn’t disappoint, I found it quite a stodgy panel, with nothing quite as funny as they wanted. But, and it’s a big but, the film looks awesome and fun and is definitely on my radar now (not least cos they gave us all watches!).

Next up was Tron: Legacy which was as awesome as expected. They showed 8 mins of footage, they showed the new trailer, the entire main cast were there and made interesting comments (the panel is almost certainly on YouTube by now, so honestly, I’m not going into details). They recorded us yelling De-Rez, and other terms and they’re hoping to insert it in the film, so whee, I might be in Tron: Legacy!! That’s a cool give-away and a half. But when they packed up to go early, it was obvious Disney had more in store for us. Firstly we got a 3-D Johnny Depp Pirates teaser trailer, the next one will be about Fountain of Youth, and he’s so great in character, again, I know the footage is online, so go seek!

Then, Guillermo Del Toro came out to reveal his next project is Haunted Mansion for Disney. And they’re rebooting it, forgetting Eddie Murphy ever existed and making it scary and cool. Hrrm. I’m not a massive Disney kid, Haunted Mansion to me was an ok ride in the theme park… so colour me a little disappointed that he left The Hobbit for this. But – the first 999 in the hall got a signed, numbered Haunted Mansion poster (signed by the artist), so yay for swag?!

We left the Hall post Tron and went to find food before heading back to pick up our Haunted Mansion swag. I had wanted to dash to the 38 Studios reveal, but frankly I hadn’t eaten in over 12h and I was HUNGRY. Got to see the Westboro Church protest and counter-protest and headed back to the Convention Center. I did manage to catch the last 15 mins of the panel, but mostly when they were wrapping up. Luckily they have the game’s website up now, so all the info will be there. There was a reason I headed to that room though, and that was for the other panel that was on my must-see list – a Quantum Leap retrospective. But first I saw through the Aqua Teen Hunger Force panel, which was frankly a little bit awkward. Still, it was over and people enjoyed it!

Then I settled down for an hour with Scott Bakula discussing the impact of Quantum Leap with someone from TV Guide. It started off with the show’s credit sequence which almost made me well up and then Bakula took to the stage. He got a standing ovation, which both surprised and pleased me, and I totally joined in. And it was just a magical hour of him speaking and clips from the show, including the final minutes of it. Shockingly, perhaps, he annouced that a Quantum Leap movie was ‘on’ again and that producers were getting on-board and it should all go ahead this time. He did say that he and Dean Stockwell would be in it, but not as the main characters anymore. I’m not surprised at that, but glad that the project is underway and they all seem to be happy about it and on board to star in it regardless of characters!

And then I went to see Dragon Age II…

((If you’d like to see another take on Day 1, Geeks are Sexy went to some of the same panels as Arb but also went to the Scott Pilgrim one instead of Quantum Leap.))