Monday, May 26, 2014

Comicpalooza 2014 - Part 1 : Negative Thoughts

I'll try to go into more detail later, but for now I'll spend just a second throwing out my gut reactions of the convention. I'll start off with bad, because honestly I enjoyed the con immensely and I'd like this blog to end on an upbeat note.

The volunteers at the doors. These people had less of a clue as to what was going on than even the regular con goers. On Friday, the volunteers at hall D were adamant that ONLY Doctor Who badges were allowed in at 11:30, which had those of us who dropped 150$ to get the VIP badges all in a tizzy... a flesh rending, howling tizzy. Several of us showed them the app AND their web page where it mentioned we would be allowed early access. They said they didn't care.

Now, I'm going to break the story for a moment. People... PEOPLE... if you don't know, you do NOT tell a swarm of nerds that they aren't allowed to get what they paid for. I don't say this because I am the crazy disgruntled type... I say this because I witnessed what might have been a defining moment in nerddom, rivaled only by the Red Wedding.

So... back to my tale. They didn't care. And then suddenly they cared a lot, because every VIP badge holder, Every.Single.One., (Including me... herd mentality yo!) channeled Bruce Banner and started that slow shuffle towards the individual at the door in that calmly menacing manner (While growing green and VERY large) that causes your dog to tuck tail and make himself very small and leave a small puddle on the ground...

The short wrap up of this tale is that we got in 5 minutes earlier than we were supposed to. The longer ending is that a janitor was probably needed, and the doofus at door D was replaced by an individual with more competence and a higher instinct for self preservation.

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Next is really just a continuation of the last complaint in different form.

So, the game and panel area is pretty much separate from the convention. Getting up to those areas does not require a badge, and pretty frequently individuals have to leave the first floor proper to get to a panel on time. Not a big deal. Real simple.

Until you get out of your panel and go back downstairs to get into the convention and door nazi tells you that you have to go to the back of the LAAAAAARGE (1-2hr long line) of people that just bought their wristbands to get into the convention that is outside the convention in the sweltering heat. I'm sorry... It was NEVER overly crowded inside. I cannot fathom a reason that there was a line to begin with, but I won't dwell on that. I will simply state that if I have been inside the con already and still have my "amulet of admittance", under no circumstances should I be forced into a line to wait to regain entry. The convention forced me to go upstairs for it's programming and leave it's dealer/vendor/artist room behind... it's not like I wanted to "leave the convention".

Now, I don't know the particulars of how everything works for admittance, but I can suggest a quick idea, which is simply instead of allowing people entry into the con ONLY through the C hall entrance, allow people with badges (of all types) their own entrance. It would be the least we could do, because seriously... 99% of us probably paid early, without knowing the celebrities or the panels. We gave our money to the convention based on faith.... not forcing us to wait in line every time we leave the con or go between sections of the con is the LEAST that could be done for us.

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The gaming room. I was actually upset by this little tidbit which I experienced every night of the convention. The scheduled time for the game room to shut down was a complete lie. Every night, we were told to leave early (from 1 -2 hours early in fact) by either a policeman/woman or by an official saying that the nursing staff was going home so we couldn't be there.

That is unacceptable. The convention stated it's times and by not being able to fulfill them, they pretty much ruined several gamers nights, because honestly... there is a large crowd of individuals that only come to the con to be in that game room, and some of them came late with the expectation of being able to complete a 4-5hr game, but being unable to due to whatever snafu caused it to shut down early. Regardless, it should be an easy fix next year as long as the con knows to address it.

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My last and final beef isn't even really a big beef. It's just a moment of reminiscence to last year and something they did right that they didn't due this year. The Battlepods. One of the best fun you can have blowing up your buddies in giant metal robots... except it takes time. You have to wait in line, wait for your name to be called, and generally invest quite a bit of time for 10 minutes of play. Not something you generally want to do in the prime time hours of the convention. It is just a video game and they ARE Houston based, so you can always play the game at some other day. So, the fact that they were located in the dealer area meant that they shut down at 7 with the rest of that area and the chance for fun was over.

Last year, they were up in the gaming area. It was open till 2am. The excitement of the would wind down and people would transfer upstairs for the last few panels and to get their gamer nerd on... and there they were. The nuclear powered awesomeness that can only be 100 tons of steel under your direct, maniacal, control... and it was good. We would all line up and play into the night.

This was ideal. They made tons of money, the after hours portion of the show had a very prominent draw to keep people enjoying themselves and, I bet that the Battlepods owners made a lot more money.

Now, this could have happened at the request of the Battlepod owners, that they were moved downstairs, so I won't blame this on the convention runners at all... but I will say that it had a better home upstairs where we con goers could make use of it for so much longer into the night.

So, that is my initial negative reactions to Comicpalooza, and while it is a very lengthy post, if you've made it this far you should really understand that I just ramble on. The show was great. These issues (minus the early gaming shut down and being pushed outside into a line 3-4 times a day) were miniscule in scope and only a nit picky attention seeking blogger like myself would ever put them into words for the world to see.

Stay tuned for my positive commentary in a second blog, because it will definitely highlight why this is such a great con.