This past week and a half was spent in Maryland and Virginia, at MAGFest X and the Speed Demos Archive Charity Marathon, Awesome Games Done Quick 2012. This is going to be a long, long post, so I’ll break it up into days, in order so that you’re not totally overwhelmed.
Wednesday, the 4th
Thursday, the 5th
Friday, the 6th
Saturday, the 7th
Sunday, the 8th
Monday, the 9th
Tuesday, the 10th
Wednesday, the 11th
Thursday, the 12th
Friday, the 13th
Saturday, the 14th
Sunday, the 15th
This time, we decided to try something that was a new experience for Mrs. Emptyeye, but that I had done a couple times before actually having to drive myself to MAGFest: Driving down during an evening/night instead of at around 8 in the morning (I had previously ridden down to MAGFest with some people). It quickly became obvious that this was a mistake. First, it turns out we forgot a sign and realized it about a half hour in, setting our trip back about an hour, all told. Sending a text message letting people know about this fact got us one particularly funny reply that was also sound packing advice. In addition, though, this setback, combined with our initial decision to leave right after I got home from work, meant that we ended up driving through Delaware in a bit of a snowstorm. And by “we” I mean “me, after I was supposed to have already switched out of driving”. For various reasons, I handle snow driving better than Jess does, so while it made sense, it meant we got to the MAGFest Hotel at about 1:30AM. The one good thing about this was that we were able to pick up our pre-registration just about immediately. At about 3AM, I finally passed out, while Jess watched the SDA marathon for a bit.
On Thursday, I did something that I hadn’t done since MAGFest 4–attend opening ceremonies (Or, more accurately, the second half of opening ceremonies). Thanks to rapidly evolving technology, MAGFest made the decision to not print paper programs this year, instead electing to hold them on a cell phone app people can download. One reason for this was to be able to make on-the-fly schedule updates, which is nice, although I miss the “souvenir” aspect of the program book. The good thing about this decision was that people in various departments got to talk about what their departments were up to, as opposed to “we read you the program book because we presume you’re too stupid to read”. Other than that, I attended the first of two Temp Sound Solutions shows, where they mainly played new material. It was cool to see the evolution from M4, which was basically Shawn Phase playing guitar over NSFs, into a full-fledged live band. Other than that, I mainly finalized my plans for a secret (To the people I was helping) project: The Mega Man Mini Marathon. Back in June, I came up with the idea to play through as many Mega Man games as I could for charity in the span of 24 hours. I would play through Mega Man 1 through 10, and Mega Man X through X6. It turns out that X6 is a terrible game, and so I cut it, instead electing to play X4 twice, once as each character. There will probably be a separate post about what I did well and badly from this marathon, but in any event, after some time hanging out in The Shizz suite, it was time to sleep and get ready for it.
On Friday morning, I went down to the game room, and found I didn’t have a projector. Then I found I didn’t have a projector cable. We eventually got that squared away, and a half hour later than planned (12:30PM), sat down and played 24 hours of Mega Man.
Or more accurately, 21 and a half hours of Mega Man. Because despite having to start Mega Man 10 with Chill Man thanks to a donation, beating the final Wily boss of MM10 default weapon-only (Again thanks to a donation), and getting all the items in Mega Man 4, 5, 6, 7, X, X2, X3 and X4 (Both loops), I finished with two and a half hours to spare. And overall, throughout the entire weekend, managed to raise a little over $300 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Not bad! Some of the highlights included a nice young lady hanging out with me for the entirety of Mega Man 8 (Hi Savannah, if you’re reading this), and someone dressed as Dr. Wily (Possibly of The Megas) taunting me at some point during the evening/night. I did make sure to compliment him on Aqua Man, who is without a doubt the manliest boss Dr. Wily has ever made.
Most of Saturday was spent recuperating from the marathon. Around 5PM, I got up and once again went to The Shizz suite, throwing matsunami a couple bucks for the copious amounts of alcohol I drank while up in that room. At just before 7PM, I headed down to the music room to check out my second concert of the weekend: Bit Brigade! Bit Brigade was an amazing show, and I say this as someone who should have been about nine hours removed from never wanting to so much as look at another Mega Man game again. Basically, Bit Brigade are a live band playing music from a game while another person plays through that same game, live on stage. Their game this year was Mega Man 2, and Noah McCarthy, the player, did it about as well as it could be done without being a “speed run”. They were go good that I bought their Contraband DVD (Bit Brigade actually started out as “Contraband”, then changed their name as they branched out to other games) despite the fact that I really should have been saving my money. After that was more Shizz Suite-ry, although I wandered down during the end of the Earthbound Papas set and listened to Dancing Mad from outside the room. As you’d expect, they knocked it out of the park. Then it was time for more sleep.
Sunday was a pack-up and hang-out day as far as MAGFest went. We packed everything up, and on Sunday morning, I went to the end of the Loading Ready Run panel. Loading Ready Run are the people behind Desert Bus For Hope, who along with The Speed Gamers were really one of the pioneers of the concept of streaming video games for charity. After that, I briefly attended the Channel Awesome Open Rock Band stage, then headed to what turned out to be the end of the Child’s Play Charity auction before Closing Ceremonies, where I would basically make one last pitch for donations before I surprised everyone at the SDA marathon with my presence.
It quickly became apparent that trying to follow the charity auction would be a terrible idea. The final item, a signed-by-Nobuo-Uematsu, sealed copy of the original Final Fantasy on Famicom, went for over $1500.
No, that is not a typo. Toward the end, it turned into one guy bidding against what amounted to an impromptu team, all giving money toward another person. But in the end, the single person won out. After that, at Closing Ceremonies (The second closing ceremony I’ve ever attended at a festival/convention, after the pseudo-closing ceremony of Gobble-Con 2011.), I managed to somehow follow that up with a final plea for donations, which actually netted one from Andy Goth, a familiar name to SDA Marathon people. I also met Pablo “DJ Mike Haggar” Burt, the guy who originally obsoleted my Battletoads runs on SDA, which was pretty cool. Then it was time to head out to the marathon.
I had tried to decide how I would make my entrance at AGDQ, since only a few people knew I was actually going to be there. In the end, though, I decided to just walk to the entrance of the room and yell “GUYS!” in my trademark loud voice. The reaction from the room was amusing, as it collectively took them a second to realize that it was me, and that I hadn’t been there the whole time. Ultimately, though, people were glad to see me, which was awesome. After kind of settling in, I presented the group with my $300 donation, which they seemed to appreciate. Honestly, they had already raised so much money (I had been occasionally checking in at MAGFest, and my mind was blown every single time) that I felt like the money I gave would be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of donations, but they honestly seemed impressed that I managed to raise that much more or less by myself, and with no real publicity beforehand. Then it was time to watch Earthbound, which was a lot of fun. I should really play through it again sometime, since I think I might like it now more than I did when I was 12 or 13.
Also, I got my cape back, which I was honestly not expecting, and I was so surprised that everyone demanded I take it that I just did, even though I had no intention of doing so. Still, I had to admit that it felt good to be reunited with it (And certain Connecticon staff members will no doubt be happy to see me in it next year). I then watched Super Mario 64, which was a great run, then, after watching most of Super
Mario Luigi Galaxy, took a bit of a nap before the Magicka run.
Magicka was hilarious, because only one of the four runners actually bothered with proper practicing. Two of the other three, LagDotCom and romscout, decided messing with the other two (Moooh and ShadowWraith) was preferable to actually advancing forward in the run. Eventually, Magicka itself said “screw this, I’m out” and refused to let Moooh complete the game. At this point, I finally went to bed, a bit more properly this time.
Monday was the final day of the marathon “proper”, and the first thing I watched was Uranium Anchor playing the SNES version of Prince of Persia. He did far better than I ever would, and after that was some Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. I only watched parts of this, although I forget why now–I think Jess, The DotComs, Arran and I made a CVS run around this time. After some Shadow of the Colossus (Which, again, I only watched parts of, having never played the game myself), I showed a video from Jon St. John that I got him to take after his late-night panel Saturday into Sunday. Then it was time for the finale, the second half of Final Fantasy VII. Watching the game speed run is an interesting experience, in that the run comes down to “Tifa wrecks everything” for most of it, when I personally didn’t have a lot of use for her when playing normally (Despite liking the character). It was also interesting thanks to us reaching a donation goal to have the room sing “One-Winged Angel” during the finale.
For those of you who don’t know, except for “SEPHIROTH!”, the entirely of “One-Winged Angel” is in Latin. This brought up a Something Something Leonard Bernstein situation, as you had about 50 people in a room mumbling along with the melody before “SEPHIROTH!” came in crystal-clear. Funny stuff, even if it did ruin a winter marathon tradition of being really quiet during the final boss.
In any event, it turned out we had raised in the neighborhood of $145000 to this point, almost enough to fund two whole two-year research grants. For some perspective, the initial “public” goal for this marathon was $50000, but internally, the administration had hoped to raised $80000, enough for one grant…which we (And I use “we” here very loosely, myself having almost nothing to do with the efforts outside of giving Ryan North a link to the marathon) did about halfway through. I think our collective minds are still blown at this. Although this is something of a running theme with most of the marathons–Mike Uyama makes a goal that we all feel is overly optimistic, then we proceed to smash it out of the water–it’s never something you really get used to.
Anyway, after that, it was time for a post-marathon victory IHOP run. I had some delicious cheesecake pancakes, and along with Mrs. Emptyeye, got to talk to Dragondarch, Kariohki, and…someone else I’ve tragically forgotten, sorry. It was a fun time, and some nice conversation before we headed back to play some games without worrying about streaming. Finally, at way-too-late-o-clock, I headed off to bed.
From here, my memory gets a bit hazy. I know pretty much what I did and watched, but not necessarily the exact days it happened. If I screw something up, feel free to correct me.
Tuesday was the first real day of bonus streaming, with priority given to people who A. Hadn’t yet played a game, and B. Had to leave soon. Before that though, was Korean food at Woomi. Yes, your humble webmaster ventured to a Korean restaurant, and even used chopsticks to eat his food. While I wasn’t particularly adventurous with my food choices, sticking to chicken, ribs, and fruit, I’m pretty sure I nonetheless shocked Mike Uyama, as well as most of the people who know my food habits, with my mere presence. Suffice to say that I know I would have regretted not going, and I’m certainly glad I did go.
Back at the 4H Center, some of the high-quality games streamed included Quest 64, which of course has a full real-time day-night system, which Final Fantasy VII lacks. This was also the day that MercuryDotCom, ShadowWraith, Moooh, Mike89 and I played Yahtzee, or rather “Yatzy!”, which has a slightly different scoring system than regular Yahtzee, being Swedish and all. Mike89 would no doubt use slightly stronger language to describe the scoring differences, despite the fact he actually won the game he played. We SDA kids and our Yatzy, such ruffians and miscreants we are. Apparently LagDotCom, big grumpy-pants that he is, joined in after I left to go watch Quest 64.
Wednesday was another bonus stream day, and the last one to take place at the 4H Center. After watching JMan and Houser play Goof Troop (Which ended in heartbreak on the final boss), my main activity Wednesday was essentially getting revenge on a game that went…not all that well at Japan Relief Done Quick, Magician. Suffice to say that I actually broadcasted the entire game this time, and while I had forgotten most of the stuff about the game as it related to speed running, such as the menu manipulation, I did remember what to do to actually get through the game and acquire everything, and even got some good Unknown Spell luck.
After that, I watched Uyama, and then JMan, play Deadly Premonition…and was stunned to hear J unironically praising the game. Every time I had watched him stream it, he was practically laughing out loud at the absurdity of what was supposed to be an action adventure survival horror type of game. Apparently, though, around halfway through, it switched to suddenly being a legitimately really good game…so long as you’re not spoiled beforehand (Portal is another game where your experience is very much determined by whether you know what’s coming or not, and I speak from experience on this.). At that point, I just stopped watching.
Thursday was move out day. This was complicated by the fact that we had quite a few people to move, and not a lot of cars to do so in. This was honestly the most stressful day for me, despite my personally doing very little. First, there were more people left at the center than anyone realized. Then, while I was trying to relay this fact to people with cars, everyone who was left apparently decided to order pizza while I was outside. After I got in touch with the person who was supposed to be taking the DotComs to Mike’s house, it turned out that he would be arriving a lot quicker than anyone expected. Eventually, though, pizza was eaten, stuff was straightened out (I felt bad for forcing Mike to make a third trip to the center, but as it turned out, I was correct in my thought that people didn’t realize there were another five people besides the DotComs who needed rides), and we went on our way to Mike’s house. Which took about a half hour longer than it should, thanks to wacky DC roads that are either one or two-way depending on the time of day. After I finally made it to Mike’s house, the day had taken its toll on me, and I snapped a bit at the crowd that had assembled to walk to a Mexican restaurant not far from the house. After that, much alcohol was consumed, to the point that I became aware that I was slurring my own words, and I watched people stream various games (This will henceforth be known as “Awesome Games Commentated Drunk”). As I started to sober up, I did a challenge of sorts that people donated for at MAGFest, but never got to see: Playing Mega Man 4 while starting at Dive Man. After that, I finally crashed and went to sleep.
Friday was a sad day, as I had to say goodbye to both The DotComs and JMan, as well as Puwexil (All of whom slept in the upstairs bedroom in Mike’s house) and other cool people. Like I said, at this point the entirety of bonus streaming in particular is kind of a blur. I do know that Carcinogen played a lot of various Resident Evil games. I also know that I rode with TJ and a couple other people to a game store called EStarland, not far from Mike’s house. EStarland used to have more of a physical presence, but converted to, for the most part, online-only sales except for their warehouse (And make no mistake, the store is very much in an industrial park type of district). Luck was on my side here, as I managed to track down a copy of The Adventures of Cookie and Cream, AKA the official “couples
game” of SDA. Cookie and Cream is a game where two rabbits work together to go through various worlds and restore their moon to the sky. It also has a very unique mode whereby both players use the same controller. As Friday was my first anniversary, you can probably guess where this ended up.
Well, except that Mrs. Emptyeye flatly vetoed the “Two Players One Controller” mode (This mode of play was something of an SDA fad this year, even on games that weren’t designed for it. If nothing else, I guess I can’t accuse her of easily succumbing to peer pressure.), which was a bit disappointing. We did manage to make it through the first two worlds before I decided to stop, fearing that continuing would result in the oft-joked about “Divorce Done Quick”. I guess it played off better on camera than I felt like it was going though, which is nice.
Other fun stuff included Sinister1 and JProphet showing up, and Sinister1 successfully 1-rounding Mike Tyson, one of the hardest feats in NES gaming. The big highlight, though, was undoubtedly Drunkterrania. I also played Mega Man 3 later that night, which got me a bunch of new followers on Twitch TV. Apparently there’s still room for dry but informative commentary on a game, even when that person is flying solo commentary-wise. Who knew? Once again, I ended up crashing into bed way later than I should have.
We had originally planned to leave sometime Saturday, but put simply, we were having way too much fun. I went out for Mexican food with Sinister, JProphet and Withhelde, to a place called Rio Grande. Their enchiladas were delicious, and kept me filled up for quite awhile. Saturday was also the day we truly delved into a lesser known Swery (The guy who directed Deadly Premonition) game, Spy Fiction. After swearing that a voice sounded familiar, a quick check of IMDb seemed to confirm my suspicions–none other than The guy who manned the iPod at my wedding was in the game. After that came Withhelde playing Incredible Crisis, a kind of proto-Wario Ware that’s composed of a bunch of mini-games. It was nice to see Withhelde kind of come out of his shell a bit here and talk about the game. Then it was Mrs. Emptyeye and I’s turn to play LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. I felt like this went better than most of our usual plays of a LEGO game, probably because we were too tired to argue with one another. Then we finally went to sleep.
At this point, we couldn’t delay it any longer, it was the day we had to leave. I did watch Mike play some more Spy Fiction, which led to an amusing bit of awkwardness as his (female) character dressed up as a stripper and…did what strippers do. In Mike’s words, Mrs. Emptyeye would have to punish me for what I saw on Sunday. but at 3PM or so, we finally said our goodbyes to the remaining people (Mike Uyama, Mike89, Withhelde and theseawolf1) and headed back to Connecticut. We made it there without any issues like snowstorms this time, too, which was quite nice.
In summation, this was a great week and a half, and one that it’ll be hard to forget and come back to “reality” after. These marathons and festivals are a lot of fun, but they really are like a whole other world, especially in terms of destroying your sleep schedule. Despite that, though, I already can’t wait for next year’s.