What? Something resembling an actual post? There’s no way that can be right!
So this past weekend, Jess and myself went up to the annual Shizzie gathering that is MAGFest, a four-day music and gaming convention. This time, it started off even less eventfully than the previous year, as we left at about 7:45AM and. having learned from last year, avoid I95 through New York City like the plague. There was one point in the trip where it took us way too long to go a couple miles leading into a toll booth, but other than that, the ride went pretty smoothly, and we got there at about 3PM Thursday.
I had registered Jess and I as Supporters, and the extra cash got us some neat stuff, including some stickers, a T-shirt, a water bottle, and a MAGFest VII poster. The coolest thing was probably the Supporter convention badge, which was made from an actual Atari 2600 cart (Which one, I don’t know. Probably E.T. knowing my luck). Neat!
Unfortunately, at that point, there wasn’t a whole lot to do yet–the Gaming Room, site of the MAGFest NES Challenges that are my main highlight of the convention (Though that’s certainly not all the con offers), was not yet open for one reason or another. So after meeting up with some Shizzies, I head to the Hilton room 1108 (I think it was 1108), where a mini-party is taking place. One can of the soon-to-be-discontinued Sparks later, and I’m in a decidedly good mood. Jess and I decide to wander down to the nearby plaza for some food, after which the gaming room is finally opened. Thursday was a pretty light night as far as the con went on my end, though I did make sure to complete the Ninja Gaiden II Expert challenge to officially earn this con’s Expert prize, an “I CAN has NES?” t-shirt. I also did one challenge each at Normal and Hard difficulty to earn those prizes (A sticker and button, respectively).
Friday was maybe the most interesting day for me; besides lots of time logged at the challenges booth (And some Rock Band playing), I made it a point to occasionally check on the progress of Tim McVey (Not to be confused with Oklahoma City bomer Tim McVeigh) and Dwayne Richard, both of whom were trying to break Tim’s nearly 25-year-old record of slightly over a billion (Yes, with a B) points on Nibbler, best known today as the forerunner to such games as the old MS-DOS Nibbles or Snake that you find on many cell phones today. Also Friday night, I purchased a print from the person who draws the webcomic Paradox Lost; specifically, a print of this picture. The conversation between myself and Dave Lister (The guy who draws it) went something like this:
Me: *Picking up a binder near his table* So this is just random things you drew or what?
Dave: Yeah, they’re comics, commissions, things of that sort.
Me: Okay, cool. *Flipping through* Random question: Did you do this (A drawing of a bunny girl holding a Wiimote) for Connecticon?
Dave: Yeah, that was for their Saturday badge last year.
Me: I think I have that badge, actually. *Looking at the display of various prints* So hey, what’s going on in this picture? (The picture I ultimately bought)
Dave: Well, this is the end of one of the major story arcs. The secret agent got into an unsuccessful battle with some ninjas, and so now she’s handcuffed and kidnapped and in need of rescue.
Me: You know what? I think I’ll take that print.
We also talked a bit about my badge, and how supporting conventions and such is a good thing to do. Friday was also the SDA panel, where I met a bunch of my fellow speedrunners, and a demo video was played briefly showing what speedrunning is all about. Amongst many short clips of runs in various genres (Plus Freddy Andersson’s Contra run in its entirety) was, of all things, the final boss fights of my Willow run. Not only that, but that clip actually got one of the best responses out of the entire compilation! The main reason for this was something that I had totally forgotten about, because it didn’t strike me as anything special when I did the run–I eventually advance so far to the left in the last phase of the fight that I knock Bavmorda into the status part of the screen, and weird stuff like that apparently appeals to the average game video viewer. So that was pretty cool. Also Friday night, I played some Rock Band and hit a pretty nice stretch of vocalizing where I went 100%, 99% (I got a “Strong” on “I looked out this morning and the sun was gone” in “More Than a Feeling”), 100% on 3 consecutive songs.
Saturday brought a large Shizzie crew to McDonald’s and Subway for an early-afternoon lunch. During the walk back to the convention, Sam told me “Sorry to say that Metal Dream (You may remember him from such performances as “Being better than me at Dr. Mario at M6″) has done just about every single one of those” in regards to the challenges. Little did I know how accurate that statement actually was. Also, Saturday brought the official end to the Nibbler competition–long story short, Dwayne’s machine froze up because, in a fit of frustration, he hit it (As I had watched him do once or twice before on Friday) and, because something wasn’t totally secured inside the mean, jarred something loose causing it to freeze up. Tim finally stopped at about 678 million, having lost his rabbit to chase some 200 million points before that (Dwayne’s machine froze at 498 million or so; Tim was roughly neck-and-neck with him by that point). Besides more challenges booth, Saturday was also the encore of the SDA panel, and the Shizz Family Photo that has been taken every year since at least M4 (My first MAGFest) and maybe before it. Always fun.
Eventually, 2AM Saturday rolled around, and I found out some early unofficial results. Metal Dream had done all the challenges except for 2, leaving a mere 6 points on the table. Chip “Breakdown” Vogel from SDA (Who helped out a bit with the planning for my Willow run) was this year’s Metal Dream, being the guy I totally underestimated who wound up kicking my butt at the booth. At this point, I suddenly had a bad feeling about my repeating my Top 3 performance from last year, given that I didn’t know where Mike “Doin’ the Big Sexy” Uyama stood, and it seemed from the Pre-M7 SDA topic that he had completed basically every single challenge in his own right. Also Saturday night, I got a “free” copy of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Actual cost: Many, many purchases of Bawls Soda, to the point that I got a free pull from the Mystery Box at the booth [Normally $3] for being a regular customer.).
Sunday morning came, and I got marginally more sleep than I did Saturday into Sunday at M6, thanks primarily to the fact that I didn’t play in any tournaments until 4AM this year. At the Challenges Awards Ceremony, I found out officially what I had suspected in talking to Metal Dream the night before–my 86 points were good for 4th place. No top 3 for me this year. Once again, I pretty much served as the dividing line between “semi-serious” and “freaking hardcore” in terms of the rankings. I close-to-complete Top 10 is here and here. Besides Metal Dream’s incredible performance, the most impressive standing on the list is actually Frezy_man’s 5th place and 40 points, because he made the top 5 with exactly zero motivation to play games he didn’t already know (Understandable). He also won an NES and 3 games earlier in the Con for being the quickest to speedrun the first level of Ninja Gaiden. Evidently the SDA guys managed to annoy the people running that competition (Who were apparently unaware of exactly what goes into a speedrun) by repeatedly requesting resets at the first sign of a mistake. Funny stuff.
So overall, despite the fact I didn’t actually do much besides, um, play games, it was once again a great time, and I can’t wait for next year.