Ubisoft E3 Conference Round Up!

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Ubisoft’s Press Conference began with a laugh, and ended with a surprise. What was revealed? New South Park, new IPs, new Dances, and a new take on a franchise you’ll never expect. Continue reading

IAAPA Day 4: Kung Fu and Stockholm

Wake up: DayQuil, coffee, breakfast, busses, tradeshow, yada, yada, yada, lobster bisque.
Day four is my second day at the show, and time for a bit of a solo act. I stroll into the wrong side of the pavilion again and head on a route towards some booths I’d missed the previous day.
I took the long way around the northern edge of the show, past the shop of horrors and the alien space-craft, when I hear a young man’s voice call out through the din. “Nice Hat!” I rather like my hat, having saved it from the monsoon not two days earlier; I was feeling particularly protective of it. I thanked him for the compliment and shook his hand. “Hey, I’d like to show you something.” Oh dear, I’d been caught. Our gentleman friend guided me over to his booth and began and began a very nice showcase of his customer survey software.  It was nice. The problem is I’m a mechanic and not the one to be talked to about this sort of thing. We have Marketing people for that. I continued to listen. He showed me the system in use. When did I get my hand back? It was actually very nice. Suddenly, I’d been there all day. I was working the booth with him. My name was Tanya.
Would you like to hear about our software? It’s actually an amazing product. You see, It’s a very simple to use touch screen system that interacts with your customer and asks questions in a very friendly way… I had to get out of there.  I took his card, a brochure, and I said this, “You sir, are very good at your job. Thank you.” He thanked me for the compliment and I moved on to other things.
Slightly shaken from my brief bout with Stockholm syndrome, I head to familiar territory. Back to the Coin-Op Pavilion! I needed to punch, kick or otherwise damage something to regain my original identity. It’s now time for my second review: Kung-Fu Panda Dojo Mojo. It’s not just a movie it’s a redemption game. This means that you not only play, you win tickets.
I sidle up to this machine and give it a good once over. There’s a giant flat screen, several light up pads on the outside and a majestic pagoda above the whole thing. I watch a young woman hesitantly bap the pads while making little Karate sounds. Amateur. I stroll up to the machine and enter Dojo Mode. Your job, strike the targets as quickly as possible. The problem, some of the targets are big metal spikey balls that you really don’t want to hit, avoid them. I wait for the game to begin, the crowd looks on. I exhale slowly, dropping my heart-rate to just above that of a fresh corpse. I unfocus, things begin.
A vase pops out of the left corner of the screen. I hit the top left pad. It is destroyed. A pizza, bottom right. A noodle bowl, bottom left. This is easy. Something jumps out from the side, I swing at it: Spikey ball. Not good. Suddenly Po is paralyzed. He’s hopping, holding his foot, bouncing around like he just stepped on a tack. Well, He did just kick a morning star with his bare foot. I’m not really surprised. The action starts again. I am a blur. I pass the first round, the second and I’m onto the final showdown with Master Shifu. He’s popping out from every direction, in one hand a Chinese dumpling is delicately held in a pair of chopsticks. Your job, eat them all. Top, Bottom, Top, Bottom, Left, Right, Left, Right, Middle Left, Middle Right, STOP! I got 31 dumplings. I needed 32. I straighten my tie and turn around. One of the gentlemen showing off the machine is staring at me. His mouth is open. “I’ve never seen anybody play that fast!” “Thank you sir, I’m a professional.” I move on, thoughts of surveys now completely gone. The game is awesome. I wouldn’t tell you about anything that was really crap. Why waste your time? If memory serves me, it’s about $11K for the base model, another thousand if you want to get the Pagoda. What’s $12K among friends? We’ll take one with the pagoda, thanks.
I’d wasted a lot of time running around moving crossways in no particular order. Over the course of the day I’d probably walked about twelve miles. I should take a pedometer to these things. It was nearing 5pm and one of The Compatriot’s contacts invited us to another vendor event. Ho-hum.
I give him a call and try to confirm a meeting place for us. I’m what you would call directionally impaired. If there’s a wrong way to go, I’ll take it. Maps help but only so much. I really could use a personal Sherpa. “Where are you? I’m on the south side. You’re probably on the north, aren’t you?” “Oh Yeah I’m in the north, I’m by Coke.” “Ok, I’ll head your direction.”
So I walk. And walk. And walk. I’m still walking. I go the 1200 feet from one end to the other, trying to get a bead on the Coca-Cola booth. It feels like a mile with all the people dodging I do. Ten minutes pass. I pull out my map. I’m 5’6” and the map is bigger than me. Let’s see, I’m at booth 5695. Coke is at 4800… I’d just walked as far away from the Coke booth as was humanly possible without leaving the show floor. He’d sent me the wrong way. I use the map and chart as direct a course as possible to my target: The Compatriot. I’m now a little depressed that we couldn’t bring anything sharp or stabby on the plane. I take a bundle of brochures and roll them up like an old newspaper. Someone’s been a bad puppy. I come up behind him and raise the punishment device. There was a disturbance in the force. He turned around and raised an arm, easily blocking me. I really didn’t swing that hard. “This is the north! I’ve walked the damn floor twice and my feet hurt before I called you!” “How was I to know? I thought you knew where Coke was. I thought it was south.” I took three steps back, raised my arm and pointed to the left. Directly behind him was a 25 foot long sign that said: Northern Concourse.
“There better be some good food at this party.”
Well, the event was within walking distance and we thought another mile in our shoes wouldn’t kill us. We sat outside a restaurant for a while. We are overtly punctual, so much so that we’re often sitting around because we show up early. We were the first people to enter after the hosts. It was very nice. We were at the Hilton right next door to the convention center so travel wasn’t that bad. The hors d’oeuvres were Fig Jam with Gruyere slices on Dark Toasted Rye. Salads and cheeses were ubiquitous. Mains were Beef tenderloin (overcooked for my taste but I am ever the savage) with Béarnaise sauce, heavy on the butter, and slider buns. What took the cake here? Open Bar. The Compatriot had several Manhattans. My beverage of choice is Ginger Ale. I don’t drink but I do appreciate when people go the extra mile. A vendor came up to us, touting his new management position and smelling slightly of good scotch. I love Florida.
A friend of ours from ages past was there. She’s a sales rep that has worked all over the industry. “You may not think it but you guys are a big deal. Trust me, you guys are big.” I look at myself as a working stiff. Sure, I’m good at my job but I don’t think of myself like that. She gave us hugs and talked about lots of things, past and present, all the jobs we’ve done, new things we were up to and what we though the next few years would be like. She paid our cab fare back to the hotel. Why? I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we’re kind of a big deal.

Ego well in hand, I welcomed another night’s sleep.
The Lopez is an Amusement Park Industry Professional, Artist, Gamer, LARP GM, Member of the Gamer Geekus gaming troupe, and occasional guest star on the Ace of Geeks podcast. You can find Gamer Geekus at www.Facebook.com/Gamergeekus or email him directly at retheon@gmail.com.

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IAAPA Part 1: A Once in a Lifetime Experience that Happens Every Year

Have you ever been to a trade show? I’m sure you have. I go to at least one every year, but I’ll ask you: Does your trade show have a working Ferris Wheel on the show floor? Are there people riding it? Can you survive for the entire week solely on the free food and candy given out by the vendors? Do you get to play the latest video games that haven’t been released to the public? Have you been sold products by people that make used car salesmen seem like rank amateurs? Are your scantily clad booth models unusually knowledgeable about epoxy flooring and personnel management? If you answered yes to all my questions, then you recently spent a week out in Florida with me on the business trip of a lifetime.
I’m in the amusement park industry, which means I go to a very special trade show each year. It’s called IAAPA. That’s the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. I call it “The Show,” like a minor leaguer that’s headed to the majors. My first one was about 5 years ago in Las Vegas. It can’t hold a candle to the Orlando setup. At the Orange County Convention center, there are 950,282 square feet inside with a 40 foot high ceiling and an additional 50,000 square feet outside. They cleared a million just to show off, I expect. If it’s happening or going to happen in the industry, it happened in Orange County, Florida on the second week of November.
Well, there’s as much story in my first two hours of travel to fill an article, so we’ll be going day by day and tale by tale, otherwise this wouldn’t be terribly interesting, would it?
Day 1: Travel
Mornings are retched, bothersome things. I’m not a fan. To catch a flight at 7am you have to get up at 3:30am. That turns your standard morning into something to truly loathe. I slither out of bed at the appropriate time, ooze into the bathroom, hop into the shower, and slowly think about how warm the water is and how soothing morning rituals can be. I, rightly, turn the shower head to cold and properly wake up lest I fall asleep under the delightful pummeling my shower massager delivers. (Are you writing me erotica? -Ed) Once out, I realize the full weight of the head cold that’s been building for the last few days. Thank you darling, that’ll be two DayQuil pills and I’ll call you in the afternoon. I get dressed, kiss the girlfriend goodbye (no longer in fear of her pestilence as I’d already received it), kiss the cat, hand her a handful of treats (the cat, not the girlfriend), walk downstairs, grab my bags and hat, and walk out the door.
Thus our adventure begins. I gave myself a little extra time in the morning, since there are a few light provisions that I have yet to pick up, namely toothpaste. Nobody wants to have extensive business conversations with a man plagued by halitosis. It’s just not done. I step into the 24 hour Safeway and business is just as hopping as you would expect. I scramble to the right isle, grab a TSA appropriate tube of dental cleanser and think I’m on my way but no… No checker. Where are they? There’s two men stocking canned goods, another polishing apples, I can vaguely hear “The Girl From Ipanema” being played in the background on an alto sax but nobody here is willing to sell me this vastly overpriced miniature toothpaste tube? I take my masculinity in hand (not literally) and decide to go and ask directions. Mr. Apple Polisher berates me for not asking (didn’t I just?) and walks to the check stand.  He grabs the microphone of check stand #3 and says; “Check to 1 please, check to 1” then walks back to his apples. I’m left holding both my masculinity and my toothpaste.
Now, I’m a little annoyed and a small amount starving. I can feel the anger burning within me just waiting to be meted out on my next transgressor, like the Emperor’s Force Lightning from Return of the Jedi, but I hold it in. Also, I grab a pack of peanut butter cups because well, hunger and such. One of the men stocking cans turns out to be a woman. Must have been the haircut, my mistake. I silently apologize to nobody in particular and the transaction begins. She grabs my two items, smiles and shoves them towards the laser to get scanned. As she does this we both suddenly notice that there’s a little open space between the conveyer and our high tech friend. I’ve never had to tell anybody to mind the gap while traveling, primarily because I really don’t care if people trip or fall to a horrible death, I actually find it sort of funny. Well, my candy breakfast didn’t mind the gap and fell into the dark abyss beneath the check stand. Thank you, divine spirit. I’ll try to be nicer to people in the future. She offered to find a replacement but I was nearing my coworker’s pickup time and am a terribly punctual person. I paid $1.42 for the toothpaste, the story you’re reading, and a tid-bit of Karma.
I drive towards our pre-arranged meeting place, a coffee shop that will be open for business in twenty minutes. I pick up my coworker and leave for the airport. What, you thought we’d actually be getting coffee? We’ve no time for that.
Bag check was the usual mess. There’s a woman pointing everybody towards the touch screens while we all bunch up at the people behind the counter. There’s an old man shuffling back and forth at a speed easily outpaced by a drunken snail. It’s the slowest game of Pong I’d ever seen.
“Where do I go, again?” “Right over here, sir.” “What do I do?” “Just touch the screen.” “Then what do I do?” “They’ll call your name.” “But I’ve been here for ten minutes.” “Yes sir, just follow the menu on the screen.” “I don’t think this one is working.”
I’m stopping there. This went on for a while, and I didn’t see the whole thing since I actually followed the instructions, my name was called, and I checked my bag.
We get to the security line, and I prep myself for new travel tradition of surrendering your civil rights. I keep quiet to prevent from being hauled of as an instigator, First Amendment. There’s the video that tells you what you can’t bring: Fireworks, Knitting Needles, Bottled Water, Firearms. There goes the Second. I remove my shoes and prep for the X-ray, Fourth Amendment. Do I have anything illegal? Did I leave my bags in the possession of another? Fifth Amendment. Perhaps they’d like me to house some Marines and we could go for a clean sweep of the first five? Knock the others out before lunch, maybe?
I get the all clear which means no prostate exam. I’m thankful because I was hoping to hold out on that till I was at least 40. As I step out one of the guards leans over and grabs my left calf. I look at him, a little confused he gives me a sort of ‘Carry on’ look and I go gather my things. Do I look like a terrorist?
I tend to get a little airsick nowadays but, otherwise, the flights went well. We had Brunch in Denver and headed to our final destination after a short layover.
After a mere thirteen hours from start to finish, we arrive in beautiful Orlando, Florida. It was a roasting 58 degrees and with a humidity of only 95%. You could hardly feel the chill… I’ll stop with the sarcasm for now.
Now, when your boss calls and asks you what your plans are, at this point you think: Collapse? He wanted to have a nice dinner and by nice, he means expensive. Not that that was his initial plan but that’s just how things seem to turn out. And when somebody says pricey, this foodie jumps. We ended up at the Capital Grill, known for steaks as well as other delicious things. I’ll give you a quick breakdown: Me: Seared Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna over Gingered Rice with delightful dipping sauces, Compatriot: Gorgonzola dabbed over Medium Well Filet Mignon, Boss Man: Porterhouse served perfectly rare. Our sides were the Brussel Sprouts with Pork Belly (My recipe is actually better, I’ll give it to you sometime) and some rather delightful Lobster Mac and Cheese. This is a good way to end a day. Belly full and body tired, I went to bed happy.
Next time, we’ll talk about the actual convention.

The Lopez is an Amusement Park Industry Professional, Artist, Gamer, LARP GM, Member of the Gamer Geekus gaming troupe, and occasional guest star on the Ace of Geeks podcast. You can find Gamer Geekus atwww.Facebook.com/Gamergeekus or email him directly at retheon@gmail.com.


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Watch the Jurassic World trailer right now!

Once again, shaky low quality internet leaks get us all good content early. The folks at Universal have released the Jurassic World trailer way earlier than they originally planned:


So what do you guys think? I’m…cautiously optimistic. It looks fun, and I love the idea that the park has finally opened, but I’m worried about all the extra sci-fi elements being added. It could be awesome, or it could be overwhelming. We’ll see when Jurassic World hits theaters in June.