Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why still go to Salt Lake Comic Con?

As I was getting ready for Comic Con this year between my irritating cold and getting ready for my vacation after, I found less of my friends would be joining me than usual. The reasons were understandable, job obligations,finances, but the underlying reason I kept hearing was "Why bother? I've been the last several times, plus celebrity X wouldn't be there this year".

I thought about this as I loaded up on Day Quill in order to function, about how easy it would be to skip since all I usually end up doing is wander the convention floor. So I went the first day figuring if it was too much for my fevered mind I can skip the rest of the days and catch up on my Once Upon a Time.

Then I remembered why I go.

In my normal day I have to be a (relatively) professional adult, at work and at church ect. When I want to geek I either have to do it by myself or find one of my geeky friends who are also usually busy being adults. I love my passions, but rarely can I find anyone who's into Supernatural AND DC Comics AND Disney AND Monster High and the pile of other things I'm into...

...until I get to Comic Con.

When I'm there I'm not alone. For one of the few times in my life I'm just like everyone else. I'm not a weirdo or a geek, I'm a person with passions, and those passions are shared with the people around me. It's a nice feeling to get to be the full me, unrestrained and uninhibited.

I know I usually cover all the things I saw, but frankly that's being covered by my fellow Mormon Geeks. The biggest thing I got this year was a renewed sense of community, a recharge to my imagination, and of course some awesome art prints.


Monday, September 28, 2015

T.J.'s Quick Tour of Comic Con

If you didn't know, I'm a dad with three kids. I have a child in gymnastics, another in soccer, and another that thinks it's her personal destiny to destroy everything she touches. Because of this, I have had to make sure that when I do things that take me away from home, I am wary of my time.

With that said, I got to go to Salt Lake Comic Con on Friday. And, like always, I intended to record an ongoing podcast that failed when my phone decided to shut down on me. And then there's the idea of taking as many pictures as possible...which I suck at doing. But I have some to share, just really not many at all. But I did get this pic with my coworker Paige who does things such as work the cosplay contest as well as interview celebrities at the VIP Bash. (Side note: I found out Paige is taller than Austin St. John, the original red Power Ranger. Well that just changed my perception of life.)

So let me tell you about my 1 day at Comic Con. First, I love going to SLCC because it gives me an excuse to take the Frontrunner (local train) to downtown Salt Lake City. Seriously, maybe I'm weird, but I honestly love being able to sit and ride the train. It reminds me of my mission. So after getting my badge from fellow Mormon Geek Joe, I took the Trax and then walked with a few hundred of my fellow nerds to the Salt Palace. Having the honor of having a press badge, let me go through a different entrance. I am very grateful for that.

The first thing I did was go to the Writers' Ink booth where I found Nichole Giles, Jaclyn Weist, Charlie Pulsipher, and Cindy Hogan among others. Yep, everything at Comic Con to see and I go find my friends who I love being able to chat with and say hi to. After that, I was able to walk around freely until I ran into author Jacob Gowans. He and I had some fun taking jabs at the convention in general while being impressed with certain other aspects.

And then I saw her. Jenna Coleman...the...uh....I can't say love of my life. Let's just say she's up there on celebrities I wanted to see in my lifetime. Her portrayal as Clara on Doctor Who has been my favorite companion. She's had some of my favorite scenes in the history of the show along with some of my favorite lines. Shortly after splitting off from Jacob, I was convinced by our guest blogger Spencer to go to Jenna's panel and by no means was I sorry I went. I was sorry I drag my feet and was late. Yep, she maintains her position in the top with the way she spoke and interacted with the crowd. (Not her best picture, but in general, loved this scene from The Magician's Apprentice.) Okay, better get away from this topic...

After that, I walked around a bit and found my way to the Artist's Alley. Wow, what a dangerous place that is. I spent nothing this year there, but I came close a couple times to buying something. Josh Lyman's art is by far my favorite still. I'm not a huge fan of the "playing card" stuff he's got going on, but he has an awesome Mega Man compilation along with many others that I still want to find a way to purchase and prep for when I finish my basement. Also, personality wise, Josh is really fun to talk to and has some great geek cred.

Later, in my vain attempt to find the Shadow Mountain booth to say hello Jacob Gowans during his signing, I heard a voice I recognized immediately. Now, I doubt many of you will think this is cool, and I don't care. I did. This is Ron Simmons. First, Ron played for the Cleveland Browns in the early eighties before going on to the National Wrestling Alliance, which later became World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Of course, WCW was purchased by WWE in 2001. Anyway, Ron Simmons is recognized as the first African American heavyweight champion in WWE/WCW history. Mr. Simmons has a well-known catch phrase, but has also portrayed various "characters" during his 15-year run with wrestling. Ron didn't have a big table, just a small booth among the "normal" people. And yes, I paid for my picture with him, the only time I've done so at a con. But honestly, that's what made this one special. Not everyone is appreciative of his appearance. But I was really happy to meet him. (Okay, you may all collectively roll your eyes and I'll still be happy about it.)

Well, instead of finding Jacob during his signing. I stopped and talked to J Scott Savage and his wife, Jennifer. I gotta say, as excited as I was to meet Ron Simmons and as on cloud 9 as I am from just seeing Jenna Coleman, my favorite part of the con (maybe 2nd, it is Jenna after all) was the conversation I had with Savage and Jennifer. They are just two of the coolest people I know. And seriously, I could sit and talk to the two of them the entire time at a conference and still feel like it was the best time. (They may not feel the same way, but that's okay.)

I got to head out with my fellow Mormon Geeks Joe and Adam for a little bit as we wandered aimlessly around the Artist's Alley. Also, I found the latest MTG Duel Decks to add to my complete collection. Yes, complete collection of the MTG Duel Decks. Currently, that's all 32.

Sadly, after more walking about, I had to take off. Got to ride the train home with one of my best
friends who works downtown, which was a nice treat as well. And then I had a date with my wife where I tried to not talk about Jenna Coleman.

Yep, it was a great day. Missing Comic Con on Saturday for my son's soccer game sucked. But I did finish this drawing I've been working on for the last week or so. I love the way Mr. Freeze turned out. I really like my Penguin and Joker. Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley turned out better than I expected, except Catwoman's face still bugs me. I'm pleased enough with my Two-Face and Riddler. So I may not have been conning with my fellow geeks, but I geeked out on this drawing while watching USC teach Arizona State a lesson in Football.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

T.J.'s Statement to Hypocrites

Author's Note: I, T.J. Bronley, believe I am a hypocrite. If I had a penny for every time I was hypocritical about something, I could probably end the U.S. deficit. My attempt is to vent about something that is bothering me, something I see strongly as hypocritical. And, as usual, I have my sarcastic humor interspersed with my personal opinion. Remember, this is an opinionated blog and not a fact-based historical document.

(Aside: Look how superior Gonzo is to everyone.)

Here's my issue: It is on my nerves when people post on social media what I perceive to be some sort of personal superiority in not liking sports or even not paying attention to sports because it's "not worth their time".

I grew up in a family that loves sports. Above all, my family was a football family. My dad always wanted to play football, but his mother was afraid of broken bones and wouldn't let him. One of my earlier football related memory is around 1987 or 1988 when my dad was getting ready for church and I was in his room watching the Rams with him (more than likely they lost that game, it is the Rams of the late-80s sadly enough.) But with this memory is me just deciding to go into his room and watch it with him. No "This is what I'm watching so deal with it." Nothing about "This is football. Bronleys watch football." And he definitely never said "Watch football or you're in trouble."

My brothers and I all played football in high school. (I only played my Freshman year, which took some pushing from my oldest brother. Then I got lazy...well....lazier.) My dad's a Saints fan, mostly for Drew Brees. My mom was an Eagles fan. My sister is a Niner fan married to a Bucks fan. My oldest brother is a Rams fan married to a major Seahawks fan with their sons split with them. (That is one house divided.) My other brother was a Lions and somewhat of a Raiders fan...I think. He doesn't get as into it (or anything) as the rest of us. And of course, I love my San Diego Chargers no matter how much they annoy me yearly.

I know many-a-geek who hates sports (and most often football). "My dad made me watch with him!" is many times the complaint. "Why is it socially acceptable to get emotional distraught when your team loses the Super Bowl, but when my favorite character dies in a book/TV show I am not allowed to cry?" And then there are my favorite (read: least appreciative) times when people say things like "My (child) told me he/she didn't know today was the Big Game until friends at church reminded them. #winningatparenting."

I'm actually gonna dissect the truth and lie found in each of these three concepts.

First, your dad made you watch with him? You mean he attempted to find a way to bond with you in a way he knew. Perhaps he was waiting until you were old enough to express what you would rather do. Shoot, if I'm with my dad on Thanksgiving or any Sunday of the fall, I'm hoping the TV gets turned on and we're watching football. But he also knows I enjoy nerdy-trivia games because he, like me, has his nerdy side. And this goes beyond my dad. If the games aren't on around my sister or oldest brother I'm wondering if they have fevers. But for my other brother, if we don't have our Magic cards, then it's a waste of time together. This is just how we are. And we all know this.

As for the emotional toll that the Super Bowl takes on people, it's real. But it's no more socially unacceptable than someone tearing up when Andy gives Woody away at the end of Toy Story 3. Seriously, I can't not have tears on my face for that. So why do people get to take the day off after the Super Bowl but not after the season finale of Grey's Anatomy? A couple reason. For you LDS people who forget what other cultures are like, more than likely those post-Big Game absences are alcohol-related. Shocker! Were you drinking whilst watching the finale? Pretty doubtful. Also, I've watched people yell at the TV during everything from Doctor Who to Friends. So, yeah, it's acceptable in my book.

Why? How can some "silly" game have the same emotional effect as Ross and Rachel breaking up or finally getting together? Well, it doesn't. Here's the thing about football teams and most sports teams, we as spectators and fans are emotionally invested in the team. I may not know all my players or their lives, but I know that I like seeing them succeed. If you're gonna cry because Amy chose life in the past with Rory over traveling all of time and space with the Doctor, than you have my permission to bawl your eyes out. But don't ever shame someone for yelling or even crying tears of joys at their team or the refs or the Patriots.

To the parents who say things like "My child would rather read than even watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials #winningatparenting" I have something to say. You seem to have an uncultured child. can be cultural? Yep, and in the great nation of the United States of America there are 32 American football teams that each have a culture around them. This number goes up when you include college football teams. And we get exponentially higher when we add high school and pee wee.

(Aside: Look how sad Van Gogh is that you think culture doesn't involve sports.)

Yes, I get that football fans can get annoying. But you know what, there isn't a single person who posts semi-regularly on Facebook that has never had anyone ever annoyed at them. "I'm sure you're wrong, T.J." Really? Let's find things that most people have posted that have annoyed others: Comments praising a politician, pro-pretty-much-any-political-standing, religious comments, anti-religious comments, cat pictures, YouTube videos, memes memes memes, ice bucket challenge, who's eating what, kids' first day of school, and who knows what else. But really, is it worth mentioning how I'm better for not doing the ice bucket challenge followed by showing pics of my cute kids on their first day of school? Not really. If I don't like your post, I don't click "like". I don't comment my annoyance. I move on....and apparently hypocritically write a blog post about it instead. :) See, told you I recognize my own hypocrisy.

Go Chargers! Go Aggies! Go Trojans! For my neighbors: Go Cougs! Go Utes! For my family: Go Niners! Go Rams! Go Saints! Go Lions! Go Bucks! Go Seahawks! And for the rest of you: Go (Your Team's Name Here)!

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

GamesCon Part 2: Utah Games Guild

So when I first walked into Games Con 2015, the first thing that caught my eye was the Utah Games Guild.  I first heard of it from my fellow Mormon Geeks author Stephen. I went up to talk to the person at the front desk. She said that it was something created to help indie video game developers get more coverage.  I wanted to talk to some of the people "in charge" of the Guild, but he was occupied talking with someone else.

After wandering around Games Con, I came back to the Guild's booth and talked with someone that was in charge of their social media events. His name was Josh. He told me that there are hundreds of Utah indie video game developers that just don't know how to market themselves or their games. So, in May 2014, a group of indie developers got together and shared some space to help publicize their work.  To learn more about the Utah Games Guild, see their website or their Twitter.
The Games Guild booth
I'm also going to write briefly about some of the games that I saw.

Can't Look Back is a game that involves trying to defeat your opponents by running into them from the side or back. If a player runs into someone head on, they both die. One of the most interesting parts of the game is that players can only turn from side to side or go forward. They can't go back (exactly what name of the game says). To learn more, check out their website.

Aurora Redemptus is a game all about turn-based space ship battles. Each side inputs their commands and then the commands play out in real time. Players can build and customize their ships as well! Multiplayer is planned for the game. To learn more, see the developers website.

Crashnauts is one of two games that I actually tried out. (Plenty of developers offered for me to play, but I declined so I didn't spend a lot of time with any one game). Crashnauts is a multiplayer brawler game where each player has access to a broad arsenal of weapons including futuristic guns and small range plasma blasts. I won the one and only game I played, mostly because the developer was whispering to me how to play the game. The game was really fun and reminded me of Super Smash Brothers. The game is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to try to get funded. You can also see their Twitter.
The Cruashnauts booth

I also sat down and played a demo for a game called Frayed Knights: The Skull of Smakh-Daon. It is a light-hearted first person 3D turn-based RPG. The demo was a lot of fun with witty dialogue, including the game breaking the 4th wall and saying an area wasn't available because it was only a demo.  The game was greenlighted on Steam! To learn more about it see the games website.

I also briefly talked to someone about a free to play game called Saga. We basically were able to describe the game using a series of abbreviations: co-op MMO RTS TCG RPG. (Yes, I know co-op is not an abbreviation). Basically that means it's a cooperative, massively multiplayer online, real time strategy, trading card game, role playing game.

I had an interesting discussion with Josh while look at his game that he was developing. The game is called Legacy of the Elder Star. It's a side scrolling shoot-em-up game with beautiful graphics. The music was also top notch. When I mentioned that to Josh, he talked about how music was an often under appreciated part of games. He said 'What would Halo be like without a full orchestra playing the music?' It just wouldn't be the same! He also talked about how many different fun little nuances games have. He even pointed out that someone has come and played the demo for his game multiple times, but still hasn't noticed one of the harder to miss mechanics in the game.  To learn more, see the developer's Twitter or the game's website.

Of all the games that I saw, I think Dub Wars really captivated me. When I first walked by, I saw large speakers and heard crazy music. To my amazement, someone was playing some kind of shooter game.  I watched, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. The music and the levels totally entranced me. I finally tracked down the someone involved with working on the game. Basically the game is a shooter where what weapons the player fires depends on what kind of instrument is playing on the music track (the game has somewhere around 150 weapons). All of the music was what would be called 'dub steb' or EDM. Apparently the developers of the game work closely with the music artists to create each level. Each song has it's own unique stage and weapons. Before each stage, there is a splash screen with information about the artist. To learn more about the game, see their website.

Dub Wars: Firing Lasers!
 Well, that's all the games I saw at GamesCon. Hopefully you see some that pique your interest!