Chaotic Good

San Diego Comic-con has sadly come to a close as of yesterday, and after returning to work right into overtime season, I figured I’d share a bit of my grand adventure and source of much inspiration for the development on Shadowdawn.

Life-sized radio-controlled R2-D3
Life-sized radio-controlled R2-D3 at the crosswalk to Hall H

Wednesday, July 11th

After a very long day of figuring out what to do with the miniscule amount of cash I had only recently acquired due to my paycheck the previous day, we had finally arrived at the convention registration.  My friend had picked up my badge previously but apparently my application for a professional badge on my own had also gone through – I just was never informed.  Let’s just say it was rather confusing for the person helping me, since I apparently had two badges in my name.  Later, with the Sony “booth babes” handing out DC Universe laniards, I was requested by the planner of my group to ask the girls for one since he was a huge DC fan but seemed shy about doing it himself (the previous person had to cheer loudly to get his laniard and my friend didn’t feel like being a spectacle).  The girl looked me over and after much thought told me that I had to do jumping jacks to get the laniard.  Luckily it seems my group had started wandering the other way without watching, and I did my requisite exercise in front of the girl to her amusement and I gleefully earned a laniard (she decided to actually put it around my neck, rather than handing it out as she and the others had been doing, which made the person asking for the laniard in the first place smirk).  After a quick tour of the floor, which I neglected to network as it was preview night and none of the people at the booths were exhausted or overwhelmed yet, we left for our… accomodations. Much to my chagrin, instead of getting hotel rooms, the group elected to camp out 30 minutes away from downtown.  After finally getting food the first time that day (I seriously had not had a chance to eat since I woke up that morning doing errands), my group had arrived at our campsite located only 10-15 miles north of the Mexican border.  It wasn’t quite what I called a normal campsite – it seemed very much geared towards trailers and RVs and more … permanent… residence.  Also there was not a lot of space, no campfires were allowed, and our neighbors were only a few feet away so we couldn’t make much noise in what could only be described as utter darkness in the featureless hills.  It was a true “grin and bear” it moment for me.

Thursday, July 12th

The first of many very early mornings.  Because of the infamous lines at Hall H, our group planner wanted us all awake very early to drive out from our campsite to the convention center… and this time would get progressively earlier.  I had no plans myself to go to any of the Hall H panels, because I am not much of a movie person.  I am also not a morning person, so I just had nothing to say except as soon as we got there I went straight for the Hilton lobby to charge my laptop and phone and then headed to the exhibit hall and other panels.  This day was the first scouting day, but after lunch I ran into my other group of friends (the one who got my badge as a professional guest) and we ate at the Tin Fish.  I ended up eating entirely too much food which was bland and I was miserable for a few hours, but we went through several of the outdoor exhibits like the Frankenweenie and Grimm walks.  I got a button for my laptop bag of the Frankenweenie dog, it’s actually kind of cute, and a glow stick… I wonder where that went now that I think about it.  Also I got invited to a party that night, but since my main group was not interested in staying out late, we went to the campsite, met up with another person who came out to join us, then went to bed.

Friday, July 13th

A slightly earlier morning, I decided to ditch my laptop for my markers and drawing pad so I could do some sketching when I needed to give my feet a rest.  I wanted to do a nice drawing of Nephele for the website and had a few good ideas after all the inspiration from the previous day.  I also overheard some stuff about the party I missed the previous night, which made me jealous, but I was pretty much over it at that point because getting indignant would just ruin my and everyone else’s weekend.  Later, I was talking to one of the small press artists and while we were chatting one of the original voice actors from the 80’s My Little Pony (Katie Leigh) joined in on the conversation – I only just now found out she was the voice of Millie in Star Ocean 1. It was amusing because I’ve never seen the new show and listening to how excited they were talking about it.  The highlight of my day was talking to Tycho/Jerry Holkins, which you may know from Penny Arcade fame.  I was playing On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness Part 3 at their booth, and he seemed very excited that I was enjoying myself even though I hadn’t had a chance to say hi yet.  I got to show the gameplay off to a few people and eventually we were talking about the story and how things will play out in part 4 – I got some interesting insight I don’t think many have but I won’t spoil it here.  Geeking out about another writer’s RPG story was awesome, even though he was very busy being Tycho at a major convention and all.  Gabe never seems too interested in talking to me the few times I’ve met him, but such is life – I just hope I didn’t come off annoying since I was just killing some time waiting for lunch and Jerry is very nice and great to talk to in person.  I got to check out Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, simply the best pairing of games in a collection ever: Marvel Super Heroes and the original Marvel vs. Capcom.  That night my group and I went to Dick’s Last Resort and had a drink, but everyone again was complaining about being tired after sitting in Hall H all day so we left fairly early.  One of the other members of our group stayed up late with me and we talked about film and eventually discussed the story and theme of Shadowdawn: Genesis, which he insisted would make an excellent comic book premise when I described it to him.

Saturday, July 14th

Today was action packed, with only 2 hours of sleep I was determined to make this the best day of the convention (as best as I could make it anyways).  Early on I managed to grab this awesome cloth map for Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar:

Ultima Forever cloth map
Ultima Forever cloth map

The woman I talked to at the EA booth was surprised to hear that I was a member of UDIC (Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter) and offered to give me a few extra cloth maps for my friends.  There was a secret alpha of the game last week before it was officially announced at the convention, but I missed that.

After that I went back to the Sony booth and found the Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time demo, which is a game my friend is working on now, and there was a girl playing it like a pro and finding stuff the slacker-ish QA guy didn’t even know about.  She seemed to be the biggest Sly Cooper fangirl ever, because she was hoping to get a t-shirt for the game and talked about her love for the series.  I thought that was pretty cool.

A little later, after randomly finding a playable Ni No Kuni demo at a booth that was distinctly not Namco-Bandai’s, I managed to get a signed special cover art for Tales of Xillia from Hideo Baba, the producer of the entire Tales series (after nearly running into David Hasselhoff without paying attention as convention security told people to make room and I was too tired to understand what exactly that entailed):

Tales of Xillia cover art
Tales of Xillia cover art, signed by Hideo Baba

I was planning to talk to him a bit while getting his autograph but there was some camera crew filming us so I was a little embarassed to take up any time, so I quickly told him that I was greatly inspired by his Tales series and have been making an RPG with it in mind, then ran off with the cover art, a card of Colette fromTales of Symphonia, and disc 2 of the Tales 10th Anniversary Soundtrack.  I hope I didn’t insult Mr. Baba by saying that, since he was keeping his eyes on me after I left even though someone else had arrived to get his autograph already.

Much later that day, after attending a panel on making resin kits and talking to a few artists in Artist Alley that I knew from Udon and deviantArt, I went back to the exhibit hall and randomly arrived at the Kotobukiya booth where they had just started gathering people up for a trivia contest. I just randomly got scooted in with the group and answered the first question without hesitation.  The prize was one of their figures, which someone traded me for the Kotobukiya Black Widow redesign, which is now sitting on my desk:

Black Widow - Kotobukiya
Black Widow – Kotobukiya

It’s not any of the special edition versions, like the grey suit with the katana or Hawkeye’s mask, but it’s still really nice and it’s been awhile since I won anything. Later I tried to win Photoshop CS6 Extended at the Adobe panel (who are all really funny and smart guys, definitely worth listening to for an hour), but no luck there – I gave my ticket for the t-shirt they were giving out to my friend when I randomly ran into them again and we hung out outside the Masquerade competition, which looked extremely fun and I wish we could have stayed for after my main group finished with Hall H.  Still, I had a pretty exciting day, just felt a little sad that it was the last and most active night of the convention and we were all going to bed early again.

Sunday, July 15th

This was a brief day.  The group couldn’t get into Hall H because the line was even longer and started even earlier than normal, so we all hung out for once and did a few panels. First was a film class – post production, which no one in my group found useful and we left early.  In the hotel lobby we met Doctor Who, who was on the way to the Hall H panel that everyone in the world was apparently lining up for on the other side of the convention center.  After that, my roommate and I went to the voice actors’ panel which I have to admit was both informative and hilarious.  Nothing like hearing a cold read of Snow White done by professional cartoon and ADR voices – including some great impersonations of Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Walken.  We left a bit later and on our drive back the van broke down. I felt awful because it was just a punch in the gut for how tired everyone was and then having to deal with being stranded on the interstate with no money on a Sunday evening, not to mention the potential cost of repairs.  My roommate and I took the subway from downtown to near our house and walked the rest of the way with all our heavy bags… I felt worse for her since she was stuck in heels.  We eventually made it home at 10pm and talked a bit, then passed out to go back to work the next day.


Well, if you made it this far, then thanks for reading all that.  I may not have covered every event of the trip, but it’s late and I’m still not rested (went right back to work and did a 12- hour shift), so I think I did pretty well recalling what did happen.  I really enjoy conventions and the venue it provides to talk to people one on one about the things that make us creators, and above all else I realized that the only difference between me and these guys who’ve made it already is a simple thing called opportunity.  Once that chance comes, well… I guess I shouldn’t get ahead of myself just yet 🙂

And now back to writing the game script!


About Astrael

A long-time independent game developer that was lucky(?) enough to have grown up with the gaming industry. I am a programmer, a game designer, a concept and pixel artist, a music composer, and a novelist. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember, and I am determined to take advantage of every talent I hope I have to make it happen!