So far I have only done doge Wheel of Fortune in Pennsylvania, and even then, only as far west as State College. Come October, that will hopefully change. Anime USA is going to be the biggest crowd yet for my version of America’s Game. It’s surely going to be exciting, and maybe we’ll have the biggest win yet.
In other news, let’s flash back to a few weeks ago.
Good news for my inner 60’s Spider-Man, AUSA will also be the debut of “I Cast A Forward Pass,” a panel all about how the wide world of sports crashed into board game night. This is literally part of my childhood that we will be talking about, and I am excited to share some of the ridiculousness I have found.
October is shaping up to be a really good month. Won’t you join me for it?
This is a story about a typo. It’s about how a typo cost me a lot and nearly cost me everything.
My friends in the convention industry have a term for dealing with the problems and incidents when trying to handle thousands of less-than-ruly otaku. They refer this type of management as “putting out fires.” Over the 10+ years I’ve done programming (only formally for about 6), I’ve had to deal with a lot of fires myself. Panelist no-shows, tech no-shows, audience no-shows, life crises, tech crises, and a whole bunch more. Despite all that, I’ve adapted and adjusted and as long as there was an audience, I ran my event. There’s a sort of subconscious pride in knowing that I’ve kept this “streak” up. I had never really dwelled on it, but I’ve seen what happens when someone is unable to run and it’s not fun for anyone. The panelist is defeated, attendees get discouraged, and a level of trust between the two parties is removed. It’s a blow for both the speaker’s reputation and the con’s reputation. Everything gets lost to the fire.
I just had an encounter with that myself. Knowing that I was doing my Doge Wheel of Fortune at Anime Mini six days after I would return from Japan, I tried to make as much of the game in advance as I could because I knew that I would be in no shape to do anything after 10 days of vacation half a world away.
I had no idea how right I was going to be.
One of the faults of my Wheel program is that I haven’t yet fully accounted for punctuation in puzzles. My game runner had brought this up at a previous con and I had an idea for a fix, but I didn’t really get anywhere, and as things often do, it got back-burnered for other things.
Fast forward to June 2016 and Anime Mini. In the middle of a game, there was an error with a puzzle loading. This was news to me, as I had left the game code untouched, except for a couple of updates for prize values and presentation errors. I also didn’t QC the code as I normally did because I was still too jet-lagged to bother. I stared at piles of code for 15 minutes trying to figure out where the snag was, but I wasn’t finding it. Panic started to set in. If I wasn’t able to fix the issue, I would have no game, no panel. My mind raced figuring out contingency plans, I actually said out loud that I wasn’t sure how I could fix it.
Finally, I realized I should check other parts of the game. They all worked, so it was isolated to the one puzzle. I checked that puzzle’s file and I saw the issue. That punctuation fix I started was still there, not yet undone. I changed it back, and the game ran smoothly after that. My panicked statement had sent 3/4 of the crowd out, but there was still enough to have a good time my three players all won fun gifts, and the game still fit within its hour timeslot.
To date, that is the closest brush with disaster I have ever experienced, yet I was still able to put out the fire.
So here is what happened in the first 3 1/2 months of 2016 in no particular order.
- I moved across town into a larger space
- I was sick
- I changed shifts at my job
- My job changed entirely
- I went to four conventions
- I did programming for three of them
- I survived the Mildly Annoying Katsucon Fire of 2016
So yeah, I’ve been busy. Unfortunately, that has led to little time to maintain this space, but here is your catch-up report.
It has been a while, more than I would like to have had. Between a combination of work life, social life, and personal issues, I had completely abandoned this blog to focus on other things. That shouldn’t be okay. Hopefully, I’ll get better at that in the future. Failing that, I promise that if I make enough money, I’m hiring a PR person.
While this blog fell silent, my conventions schedule did not. In the past, I had only gone to four shows, whether as panelist or just an attendee. This year, I’ve done five—Setsucon, Tekko, Saikoucon, and Blurriecon, plus attending Intervention which was fun and informative and worth going to at least once—and I’m not done yet. Next weekend, I’ll be helping staff the Megaroad Toys booth at AUSA like I did last year, but this time holding a special business card exchange on Saturday. Those in the know will know why, but you can come up and say hello all weekend. Two weeks after that, I’ll be at the inaugural Anime Mini debuting my very doge version of Wheel of Fortune. I hope it’ll go smooth because I have big plans for Wheel, which I’ll probably elaborate on in future blog posts.
Speaking of blog, there have been a few maintenance items. I have now listed my list of shows where I’ve done programming. It’s been 10 years since I started, so it kinda makes sense. There’s also been some basic sidebar maintenance and some editing here and there. I hope you all can enjoy my exploits in full once again, and I plan on seeing you back here much sooner than the last time.
A lot of the fun that comes with doing MelloPanther is just working on the creative processes. In other words, the brainstorming, the molding and the building of things, whether it’s panels or game shows or any sort of programming. Presenting is fun, too, but it’s getting to that point that tends to excite me the most. I have folders full of mock-ups and drafts and layouts for just about anything as well as projects that serve mainly as tutorials, unlikely to see the light of day. Not only is it good practice to hone my skills in design and coding, it keeps the flow of ideas free. In a way, it’s sort of my version of a doodle pad.
I bring all this up because I recently got into a conversation about the tech I use for my games. My weapons of choice are currently Flash and buzzers from Buzz! The Mega Quiz. Flash, because it’s fairly easy to work with and the buzzers because it’s a 20-button joystick which can be mapped to a keyboard. During that conversation, we fell down a bit of a proverbial rabbit hole. At the bottom of this hole was the idea for a whole new buzzer system, able to be constructed on the relatively cheap. If done properly, this new system could drastically change if not revolutionize the way I do game shows. I can’t say much about it right now, primarily because most of it is above my head (I’m a software guy, not a hardware guy–luckily the other people in this conversation were the latter) but I’m very excited and I hope to get the ball running on this soon because I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Did you watch the Million Second Quiz? I did. It wasn’t appointment viewing, but it was good enough. It also helps that I don’t have the disdain for host Ryan Seacrest as some people might. (Fun fact: he hosted an American Gladiators spin-off) Regardless, a high-concept game like MSQ can spark one’s imagination, especially if you’re in a position to make panels and games for conventions.
For starters, it’s pretty clear that doing a 1,000,000-second game is untenable at the convention level. That’s nearly 278 hours or 11.6 days. No show lasts that long and I don’t think there is any place in the US that would have conventions on back-to-back weeks. However, 100,000 seconds is actually plausible. At less than 28 hours, it can be easily spread out over three days of programming, and 10万秒QUIZ (read “Juuman-byo Quiz”) kinda rolls off the tongue. The issue is finding enough writing and enough financial resources to pull it off. A Thousand Second Quiz can easily take up a panel, and saves on material, but then you have the issue of trying to distribute 17 minutes of material throughout at 60-minute program.
Will I be doing a Quiz of Definitive Length in the future? Well, if you want me to, sure. Get your favorite convention that they need one, and I’d be happy to work something out. It could just be a mater of time.