Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Expos and Conventions

IMG_5853-1940x709.jpgThis week, it’s time for something completely different. The people over at Vegas.com inspired me to write an interesting article about my experiences on the various expo’s and conventions I went to. Why do I talk about them in my introduction? Well, they offer quite interesting Las Vegas travel deals if your planning on going to the LVL UP Expo! The LVL Up Expo is celebrating its fifth year in Vegas bringing some of the best gaming and technology experts. So, like I said before, in this article; I’m going to share some stories and experiences from the conventions I went to. In the comments, I would like to hear what experiences and stories you have from going to cons and expos. Feel also free to write a comment about the subject and or the content of this article. 

Sidenote: this isn’t a paid article.

What conventions did I go to?

gameforcethumbailcalendar.jpgI have been to quite a lot of conventions and expos. The last one I went to was in late 2016. That was GameForce in Mechelen, Belgium.

Conventions I went to are: Made in Asia, Minecon (Twice, in 2012 and 2015), an expo about gaming and education amongst others. If I’m allowed to count the number of garage sales I went to, I honestly lost count. They are quite popular in Belgium. As in,  in the spring-summer time, there is a garage sale almost every day somewhere in Belgium.

Storytime with Jonez

Let me share two stories. The first story is about one of the first expos I ever went to in my life. I wish I could the name of the expo, but it has been over ten years and I can’t find the name on the internet.

It was an expo where you went through the history of gaming. How the first games got made and how games are now. In each time period, you could buy games from other collectors. It was quite fun.

So, after we visited the area of the 80’s, one of my friends was quite thristy. Let’s call him Alex. So, Alex and I went to a soda machine. It was 1€ for a soda. But he only had a piece of 2€. So, he inserted his piece of 2€ and pressed the numbers of the soda he wanted. Instead of getting his soda and 1€ in return, he got two sodas and to make matters even worse, he got the wrong sodas. That actually happened. It was a moment I wished my mobile had a camera. So, I was able to film it. But alas, I was sporting an old Nokia back then without a camera.

Other things happened with that same soda machine, but my memory is quite fuzzy on it. I remember somebody getting two sodas with paying 1€. So, Alex got annoyed because he felt he got robbed.

The second story is more recently. So, my friends and I were just too late to pay for VIP tickets to go to a certain convention. So, we paid for the normal tickets. Fast forward to the convention itself and one of my friends saw some boxed with bags sticking out. She took one for each of us. We continued to walk and when we returned ten minutes later, a security guard was standing there and stopping people from grabbing bags.

It turns out that it was the VIP Loot bags that she grabbed. The SMITE-figurine is standing on my desk from that day on.

Going to a convention or expo?

What are some important dos and don’ts you’d suggest to someone attending their first convention?

Don’t…

… go unprepared to the convention or expo. Read up about the history, events, and exhibitions of the convention or expo. Also, this way you avoid buying duplicate games/items.

… take pictures of people cosplaying without asking. Some people don’t like to have their picture taken without them knowing.

… take too many valuable items. At cons and expos, there is always a big crowd and things can happen.

… go spending right when you enter. Take a look around before you spend all your money. Otherwise, you are out of money before lunch.

Do…

… plan out your route. But don’t overdo it. Give yourself the chance to distract you.

… enjoy your time there. Be yourself! For example, what I did at Minecon was one day to see the con and one day to see some panels.

… read up about the rules of the expo and/or con. Are you allowed to take drinks and snacks?

… go with friends that are also interested in the subject of the expo and/or convention.

What items should you bring along with you?

A wallet with some cash, a bank card, a mobile phone, a camera, a water bottle (if allowed), a snack (if allowed), a good mood, a 3DS (man, the Streetpass hits you get are crazy!).

Also, some advice, if the con or expo has an official app. Download & install it. It usually contains the map and planning of the convention. You never know when you need it.

What should you wear?

Comfortable clothing and good walking shoes. Unless you want to cosplay, then go in your costume.

Believe me, you will do a lot of walking at the convention or expo. Get a good rest the day before the convention.

Speaking about cosplay, research your character. I have seen various times that people didn’t know a lot about the character they are cosplaying and they fall out of character. This is a no-brainer of course but look at the rules of the convention or expo. Don’t go cosplaying with a gun if they aren’t allowed.

What are your favorite activities and exhibits?

My favorite activity at expos or cons are the ones where you can hear your favorite group has a panel. I attended the MindCrack panel at Minecon 2015. I was just too late to attend the panel in 2012. The room was full, so we were unable to attend.

My favorite exhibits are the ones where I can buy merchandise of my favorite games. Since I live in Europe, it isn’t that easy to get merchandise of Japanese and/or American products. Since I have to pay a big shipping fee and things like that. So, that’s why I go to cons.

And of course, I love exhibits where I can see an upcoming product I’m excited about. Oh yeah, before I forget, exhibits, where I can buy games to add to my collection or complete my collection, are great too.

Wrapping up

After the convention and/or expo is over. Feel free to take a look back at the past day(s). What have you learned, bought, experienced… I always had a strange lonely feeling the day after a convention or expo.

Usually, after I went to a garage sale, I post a picture of my loot on my personal Facebook or on my Twitter.

But, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Review #002: Minecraft (PC) ~ Virtual Lego’s with a twist.

Notch-Details-Minecraft-Update-Logo

Link to the game’s site.

Under which smooth stone are you sleeping if you never heard about Minecraft or Lego? This game exploded on the indy game scene and it’s the big hit of today. With over 10 million copies sold on computer and mobile devices, many many positive reviews, this game has to be good. I play it myself nearly daily and went to MineCon last year. But wait a minute, am I actually playing a good game or a messy torturing? Let’s look at the blocky world of MineCraft and let’s check how good the game actually is. 

The graphics suck? No, they look retro!

minecraft-castle-ruinsMany rant video’s how say that MineCraft sucks will tell you that the graphics suck. Or that it looks bad. The defenders say that the game looks retro. And while the game looks indeed retro, it gaves more the impression of Lego blocks in pixel form to me.

Honestly, this game can’t be reviewed in graphic style. Yes, you can comment on the vanilla graphical looks, but there are so many texture packs which can change the look of the game that it’s impossible to review the graphic side of the game. And I’m not counting the mods to make the game look like “HD” and all the shaders.

If I needed to rate the vanilla graphics, I would praise it. Since all recent games actually go for a realistic look, this game stands out with it’s blocky and pixelated graphics. The vanilla look has never really bored me and I actually barely play with a texture pack. Saves me the trouble of updating it whenever the game updates. Also, I am a retro gamer so I feel right at home in this blocky world.

I don’t get why people bash so much on the graphics of MineCraft. They give me the impression that whenever something doesn’t have proper fingers, the game looks ugly. The people that mostly hate MineCraft are the people who like shooter games. It’s silly how their reviews are always negative. They aren’t really objective and they rip the game apart. As the MineCraft addicts praise the game. Anyways, I’m repeating myself here. Let’s continue.

Goal of MineCraft

minecraft-creeper-590x349

Another big complaint is that the game’s story line, wait, what story? Well, the thing is that in MineCraft you make the story yourself. The game is a sandbox game and has virtually no limitations. There isn’t even a goal in MineCraft, as there is never a real goal in simulation and sandbox games.

The developers can give the player a goal. Like in the Sims, you need to keep your Sims happy. In MineCraft, the main goal is Survival. If you play in the Survival Mode that is. You also have the creative mode where you  get all the blocks handed to you.

In the survival mode, you could mine ores, make a farm, build a home, fight mobs… You can do a lot. Exploring the randomly generated caves is in my eyes a lot of fun. There is actually many things to do in MineCraft, too much to talk about in one review.

There are people on the internet who always make new games within Minecraft itself. Minecraft isn’t going to get boring quick. You have PvP games, Survival games, shooting games, CTF…. With MineCraft you can always make a goal or find a goal to spend countless hours within the game.

The combat is actually a limited part of the game. You can fight mobs, where I think the skeletons are in 1.5 a bit too strong for my liking, and you can fight players. Your only weapons are a sword and a bow. You can enchant your weapons with various enchants, but different weapons in vanilla would be welcome. Thankfully there are mods who add more weapons when you need it.

On the subject of mobs, there are way to few enemies to fight. You have your explosive dude, slender man copy, dead archer, spider and zombie. Let’s not forget the mutated pigs, the siverfish, blazes and ghasts. That are all enemies in MineCraft. You have two bosses in MineCraft, one is the Ender Dragon, the other is the Wither. Both give you a challenge if you don’t have good enchanted equipment. But with the enchanted equipment the battles can be a breeze. The Ender Dragon gives you loads of XP when killed and the Wither gives you a Wither Star to create beacons.

So much to talk about

minecraft-snapshot

It’s obvious that this review isn’t complete. And it never will be. The game keeps updating and changing. Which is a lovely thing. New blocks are added, new mobs, new ways to play the game and bug fixes. The game can be very buggy and very complex.

Things I haven’t talked about in this review are the different dimensions for example. There are at the version of writing this review only 3. The End is the worst of them all. Other things I haven’t talked about are Redstone, multiplayer, custom maps, skins and various other elements.

I have been praising MineCraft for the whole review now, let’s get to the negative side of MineCraft.

The AI of the passive mobs are sometimes a joke. The villagers are a great example. They give so many Youtube LP’ers so many trouble that some even rage when they need to work with it. Trying to get an passive animal to follow you is annoying and sometimes very irritating. If you go too much blocks down or when you are in a crowed area, the animal can loose you and just do what it wants.

MineCraft asks a lot of your computer. It’s coded in Java but on computers with a bad graphic card the game can lag and often have frame drops. It’s playable but with tiny render distance, the game gets a whole lot less fun quickly.

Online, there are way to much hackers. It destroys the fun for people. Griefers, raiders and various other trolls are on servers and sometimes bullying people. It breaks the game and really makes some people sad. Myself included.

Installing mods was difficult, but with custom launchers, it’s a breeze. I’m not going to go in depth about mods since otherwise we will be here for six other reviews.

My final point in this game is about the music. It’s amazing. But it barely and rarely plays. It’s a bit sad, if only an option existed where you can get the music playing non-stop.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing freedom. 

+ Has so many things to can you make come back multiple times.

+ Very cheap: 20 bucks.

+ Pretty game.

+ Very customize-able.

The bad:

– Herobrine is still in the game.

– The AI of the passive mobs needs to improved.

– The game can sometimes be very silent.

Results:

Like I already said, I can get talking about this game for ages. I try to keep my reviews around this length and I know that I have skipped over a lot of the game elements. The mods that expand or change the game, the various online servers, online mini-games, the big community… Or even the big yearly event MineCon. I went to MineCon in Paris last year, video’s are on my Youtube channel. 

Let me know in the comments what you guys think about this review and MineCraft. I enjoy it, very much. But it’s not perfect. Thanks for the updates Mojang and the great game.

Score: 90/100