FanExpo is a convention that still manages to surprise me every year. Even though I constantly complain about the level of organization at the con, I always find my experience to be pretty entertaining to say the least. Upon arriving on Friday, Becky and I had the opportunity to play through Assassin Creed III, wherein we were thrust into a ship battle and... mine blew up. I watched Becky successful destroy the evil landlubbers and we moseyed on our way. Then we were lucky enough to get a guided tour through Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, wherein Becky was the loveable Oswald and I was the adorable Mickey Mouse. Let me just state for the record how much fun this game was to play co-op, especially when both you and your partner try your luck at breaking just about everything within the environments, and beating each other up out of "love." It was definitely a wonderful experience, and it certainly has me interested in seeing what's in store for the final product. Huge thank you to Disney Interactive for being amazing hosts to us during the event.
While wandering around during the weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with Devon Bostick, famous for playing Rodrick in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Before anyone bags on me, let me stress how much fun and awesome those movies are and how wonderful the book series is. Plus, he's cute, and I can't say no to getting my picture taken with a cute boy (Sorry, Scott!). I also had the chance to meet with Ryan Miller and Tom Cameron of Conjured Graphics and Castle Blackgard where I had the pleasure of trying out their iPad dungeon crawler Krog, which I detailed in my impression. They were such wonderful and passionate people, and I hope all your readers out their give their game a shot. Krog is too cute for words.
As I continued to investigate the show floor I saw tons of amazing cosplay and very friendly faces. Artist Alley continued to impress with not only fabulous artists, but a lot of the crafters were highlighting their talents with everything from homemade steampunk equipment to t-shirts that fight off zombies apocalypses. Where did I end up spending my most time, might you ask? Making friends with authors, which is always seems to be what happens when I am at FanExpo. Not only did I have the chance to revisit the great Violette Malan and adorkable Karen Dales, I also had the chance to meet with two young adult authors by the names of Adrienne Kress and Lesley Livingston, both of whom attempt to write books that evoke strong female kinship for the YA audience. Lesley and I particularly hit it off, as we were exchanging teaching tips on how to get teens into reading Shakespeare. The answer: compare Hamlet to Batman, and you'll be amazed at the results. Overall, I picked up too many books for my own good.
Finally, on Sunday evening, Becky, Scott, and I got a crash course in voice acting from the casts of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Assassin's Creed, wherein we learned about the difficulties of being a video game actor, as well as some of the trials and tribulations of how motion capture plays a key role in how actors must perform. The panel consisted of Elias Toufexis, Michelle Boback, Paula Jean Hixson, Amber Goldfarb, Neil Naiper, Shawn Baichoo and Michael Mando. It was great to hear many of their personal stories on set, some of the issues they managed to work through, and how much they enjoy doing what they do. The panel was a fabulous and unique look at voice acting. In any case, Fan Expo 2012 was a wonderful experience even with the minor hiccups that occurred (mainly me losing my camera). Please enjoy Becky and Scott's highlights from the show!
We were so close! Word was that there was an actual RPG on display at FanExpo this year. In fact, there was a South Park: The Stick of Truth presence at the show, but it was only a trailer. So sad. There were quite a few neat games of the non-RPG variety at the show, though. I got to play the Assassin's Creed III naval battle demo, which was quite fun, and Sam and I got a great guided tour of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two from a friendly dev. It makes such a difference when companies send actual developers to show off their games at shows. The love and passion that our guide had for the game was obvious, and helped us to appreciate our experience with it a lot more. Finally, WB gave us the chance to take a look at the Wii U with several demo stations for its upcoming Wii U titles. I picked up Scribblenauts Unlimited, which has an impressive customization system for the objects that players conjure into the world. I made a electrified basset hound that shoots missiles, but sadly it was immediately destroyed by God when I placed it into the world. Not fair!
Walking around the show, we saw the usual assortment of excellent artists and craftspeople. My spouse and I picked up some cool prints: one featured Sandman characters and the other had cat versions of The Avengers. There were also some neat displays and interactive booths this year, showing how exhibitors are upping their game for this increasingly popular convention. There were lots of activities for kids and adults at the LEGO booth, but the most interesting exhibit was for Tim Burton's upcoming stop-motion movie, Frankenweenie. The exhibit was full of sets and props from the movie, along with descriptions of how stop-motion filmmaking works.
The highlight of FanExpo for me was the voice actor Q&A panel that we attended on Sunday. It was both fun and highly informative. I was especially interested to hear about how full performance capture is becoming a big thing in the games industry, though it was also interesting to hear about older/cheaper methods such as having to do motion capture for somebody else's voice performance and vice versa. The voice actors were a mix of gamers and non-gamers, which I think is a good thing. It was especially nice to hear from the women on the panel and their thoughts about how more strong female characters are finally appearing in games. I know I'll be looking at voice acting with a more educated point of view from now on!
Tabletop News Editor
FanExpo has never felt like a packed con to me. Even now that I technically am working at the show it seems I spend too many hours just killing time in the MTCC. Adding Thursday night programming to the show has just left it feeling even more decompressed than usual. It throws the energy of the floor off too. The opening hours feel more like late morning on Sunday of any other con, like all the early birds have left for lunch and the party hearty crowd has yet to wake up. I'm much more sentimental about the ideas around this con than the actual expo itself. The first thing I did when I moved to the city in my freshman year was drop my bags, plug in my laptop, then catch a bus to this con. I also did my first interview for Saving Throw there and it was the first time I felt like I'd "made it" as a press-type person.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy this con. I made point of thanking every single webcomic guest personally for providing me laughter all year, I ran into a few friends, and bought a small stack of Gunpla (the Real Grade Mark II is pretty much the awesomest thing ever). Of interest to you folks is that I managed to bump into Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood, chat with d20 system guru Mike Mearls, geek out with Marvel HRP designer and ChattyDM Philippe-Antoine Menard, and discuss Mad Men with Alan Tudyk. Look forward to three of those conversations being posted for your listening pleasure soon.
If you have any questions or would like your picture removed, send me an e-mail. See you all at FanExpo 2012!