Shamen and Pax South

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Prepping for Pax South

Tis the beginning of the year, and we are now roughly three weeks away from Pax South, and I have to say…. I am a bit concerned.  It is going to be an awesome time no matter what because right now I know of like a dozen friends that are going to be there… so going to have plenty of people to hang out with.  What concerns me though is it seems like Pax South as a whole is a much less hopping place.  By this time last year, all three days of the show were down to “low” rating, and Saturday and the Three Day Passes had been sold out for a very long time.  Additionally they had already posted a picture of the convention floor and who was going to be inhabiting what booth space.  As far as the passes, Saturday was still available on Friday… and just looking at the schedule there don’t seem to be as many “big name” presentations as there were last year.  Last year after all we had the world announcement of Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns happening, as well as I believe the first real information about Sid Meier’s Starships.  Now…  what I see instead is very light on the game content and very heavy on the youtube and stream celebrities.

All of this said I am going to have the best time this year…. because what made last year so much fun was running around with Ashgar and Rae.  This time around I will be running around with Ashgar, Rae, Thalen, Dallian, Damai, Lonrem, Helkim, Paragon, Tick, Rylacus, and hell probably several others that I am failing to rattle off on the top of my head.  It is the people that make the place awesome, and it is my hope to meet up with as many people as I can over the two days I am going to be there.  So if you are planning on going to Pax South please let me know.  I did a poor job of actually connecting with people last year and I hope to fix that.  The other thing that is going to make this year awesome is that I am no longer going to have to worry about somehow abandoning my wife.  Last year she went running around during the day, utilizing the hotels shuttle service, and by all accounts had a lot of fun, or at least enough fun to want to come back again this year.

The problem being that I always felt guilty for leaving her at the hotel and felt the strong pull to rush home at night so we could go out to dinner and such.  This time around we are also bringing one of her friends so she now also has someone to run around with and wander San Antonio.  What is hilarious is… she feels like I am being awesome, and I think its awesome because I will feel less guilty all the time.  This also means I will probably experience a lot of the nighttime content of Pax and go to the concerts and such, and maybe some of the after parties.  Granted on Saturday night I don’t want to be out too late… given that I will be driving the eight or nine hours home on Sunday.  In any case…. if you read the blog or you listen to AggroChat, drop me a line and it is my hope to catch up with as many people during that weekend as I can.  I will be getting into the hotel room late Thursday night, and I am staying about six miles away from the convention center out by the airport… in part because we had a great experience there last year…. and the whole free shuttle service to various destinations thing was awesome for my wife.  So yesterday we did a bit of juggling to change our arrangements, and now have a double suite so it should be awesome.  There was talk last night about maybe trying to get in together and see Force Awakens as a group while down there… since supposedly there is a theater a few blocks away.

Shamanism

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One of the things I am really enjoying about World of Warcraft right now is the ability to fly.  I realize that I was heavily in the “no flight in draenor” camp, and for the most part I still am.  That said… having it makes everything so damned much easier, and questing through the zones is greatly improved.  I feel like WoW content however desperately needs the grounding of players at the beginning of an expansion to keep folks from just blowing through everything instantly.  In the past once you had a single character at the new level cap you could purchase flight for your other characters, and that was a great option….  but an extremely expensive one.  I think personally I like the Draenor Pathfinder option because even though it was a pain in the butt to complete…  now that I have done it the benefit can be used by every single character on my account.  As a whole I am a huge fan of account wide unlocks and they actually make it far more likely for me to play other characters.  In Final Fantasy XIV everything that I have exists on a single character, and as a result I am completely disincentive from trying any more characters.  Same goes for games like Rift that while I have alts…  I always tend to play the same main character because he has the best toys.

I feel like playing an Enhancement Shaman is a little broken…. in a good way.  After having leveled several other characters, this one seems to be the easiest.  I can just straight up shred most mobs without my totems, or heroism….  but then I always have those things waiting in reserve for big mobs and elites.  The speed of killing things is just so damned fast, and since I have crafters that can feed me gear….  walking around with a pair of level 630 blue weapons really makes a huge difference.  I still don’t fully understand why the crafted blacksmith weapons start at 630 unlike the 640 that all of the other gear seems to start at, but in any case I am fine with it…. it is a huge dps boost over the weapons I am getting in the zones.  The thing that I cannot wait for in WoW however is the new transmogging system.  WoWhead, being the awesome folks they always are has put up a preview system to show you all of the transmog gear your characters are going to get granted from quest completion.  I am really really hoping that the new system is account wide like Diablo 3, because there are certain characters like this shaman that simply don’t have a lot of cool gear to work with yet.  I guess I should farm more old world content to get him a decent set to run around in.

Our Own Convention

Noble Aspirations

This is potentially going to be one of the stranger morning blog posts I have made in awhile.  Yesterday during the midst of another conversation entirely I planted a seed, and got a significantly more favorable response than I had expected.  Essentially I have thought for awhile how awesome it would be to have some event that let all of the great people I know through gaming or blogging to meet up, hang out, and cause mischief.  This year it was my hope to be able to make Pax Prime since there are a significant number of people in the Seatle area now.  The problem being by the time I even knew the tickets had gone on sale, they were already completely sold out.  Our backup plan was to try and get AggroChat qualified for press passes, but we were summarily rejected without much notice as to why.  Every major convention has this same issue, with having way more demand than there are tickets available for folks to attend.  So this sent me down an alternate line of thinking…  maybe we just need to create our own convention.  I know that sounds crazy at first glance but bear with me for awhile.

My wife is heavily involved in the twitter math community, and five years ago they were lamenting how every single professional development workshop they have been to was essentially a waste of time.  One discussion lead to another, and the idea was mentioned that what they really needed was a way to get together so that they could share ideas.  From there they organized the very first Twitter Math Camp in St Louis, and it was a huge success.  That first year only around fifty teachers attended, but each additional year it has grown to this year in Los Angeles there were over 200 teachers.  So seeing this go from someones vague idea to fruition maybe gives me a different perspective than the average person when it comes to the thought of forming our own convention.  I mean ultimately that is how most gathering start, with a basic idea and then just branching out from there.

Our Own Convention

GiganticScrim

 

I loved Pax South, but not really because the convention itself was this magical place.  The floor was busy, and there were so many people wandering around that it became hell to find a quiet spot to yourself to think.  What made the convention awesome was getting to hang out with people that I had only ever talked to online.  When I realized this… I realized that I didn’t actually need a convention to have fun, but in truth could potentially have more fun if I just somehow managed to gather up a bunch of people in one place and time.  Even if we quite literally did nothing but hang out and play board games and talk about life, it would still end up being an amazing experience.  That said I do think we could convince enough people to show up to make it an interesting experience for all of us.  Think about the sort of things we go through with the Newbie Blogger Initiative each year, and ultimately how much we learn from one another.  It would be easy enough to throw together a series of panels discussing the finer points of various blogging skills that we have.  I mean it would be pretty awesome to record an impromptu live Podcast for example, or a technical discussion in how to get the most out of WordPress.  There are real things we could talk about, and with that many game bloggers in one spot we might even be able to talk some game companies into showing up as well.  Maybe I am brutally naive… but I think it is a thing that might be doable.

Location, Location, Location

I literally have thought about this for awhile now, and those thought processes were just made more concrete after returning from Pax.  I’ve long thought that the best place for a meetup would be in a central state.  Conventions have this problem of being super convenient for people living on one particular coast, but damned near impossible for anyone else to attend.  So after a lot of thinking basically I came up with two potential locations.

  • St Louis, Missouri
  • Chicago, Illinois

Both locations have strengths and weaknesses, but both are also fairly centrally located making it not too horrible from pretty much anywhere in the United States, and potentially even doable for Canadians.  St Louis is significantly easier for me personally… because I know the town decently well and have several friends in the area that I could potentially recruit to help.  Chicago on the other hand… other than flying through O’Hare I know nothing about it, and I really have zero support structure to help out with the planning and the details.  Its biggest strength however is O’Hare airport, because essentially it is a straight flight from any major airport cutting down the overall travel costs.  That said St Louis hotels, venue rentals, and pretty much everything else would be significantly cheaper which might offset the travel costs.  All of this said… they both have strengths and weaknesses, but as I said my personal leanings are towards St Louis simply for the familiarity point.

I guess the ultimate question is…  would some sort of convention/meetup be something that our community would even be interested in?  We would have to set a date well into the future and begin planning now to make it work, but before any of that… I need to know if people would actually come.  I think it could be a really awesome experience, and if nothing else let a whole bunch of people that have only ever communicated online hang out and get to know each other.  I also think there is a lot of cool stuff we could learn from each other, so I feel like it could be more than just a “gathering”.  Over the last several years we have gone from being a vague connection of island states, to being a serious and formidable community constantly welcoming new people.  Blaugust while stressful, is an amazing event and just one in a long line of events that we do each year.  While I jokingly referred to this as BlaugustCon… it is more than just that.  I think we could build something amazing in the real world in addition to all of what we are doing in the virtual world.  Like I said.. the real question is do people even want this?  I don’t often ask for feedback, but in this situation I absolutely need it.  Leave me a line and let me know your thoughts.