I intend to use this thread to chronicle the cool things I see at the Midwest Gaming Classic each year. Here are my thoughts on this year:
For some ten years, the Milwaukee area has been lucky enough to have its own gaming convention, the Midwest Gaming Classic. Now, I haven’t made it ever year- or even fully half of the years, I’m pretty sure- but I’ve always been impressed with the things they’ve done with it. In the early days, they had a strong Dreamcast homebrew presence (when I thought Dreamcast was going to be *the* homebrew console, considering the ease of playing games off of burned CDs) and, in general, welcomed a wide range of interest (the MGC was the *first* place I met Howard Sherman in person). Inviting pinball enthusiasts into the mix was also a good idea, as the increase in machines and bodies brought a quick respectability.
One year, I had a nice photo taken with Billy Mitchell. Last year, I was lucky enough to hear a great talk by Eugene Jarvis and share a story with Scott Adams (who, um, also gave a talk).
They don’t really do the best job of updating the web site with planned speakers until literally a couple before the show. I imagine this is because the speaker line-up is a fluid, fickle thing. In an case, I had no idea what to be expect. I kind of hoped that the speaker line-up would be exactly the same. That ended up not being the case, but there still were things that impressed me.
No Jarvis this year, but the arcade world was well-represented by Walter Day. He gave a talk announcing his newish line of videogame trading cards. The interesting thing is that the cards are not limited to arcade game record-holders, as one might expect from him. He also wants to make cards of influential designers (he specifically mentioned how he’d like to give Tim Schaefer a card), console game champions, and just people who have contributed to videogame culture in general (the talk also doubled as a card-awarding ceremony to the owner of Starworlds, an Illinois arcade, and the organizers of MGC).
Anyhow, I’m a sap, but the whole thing truly did seem less about making money as much as giving appreciation to those who rarely get it. I have to admit that I was touched by the whole thing.
Afterwards, we were invited to another room to pick up signed versions of the cards from the people they were honoring. Not really knowing what to say, I didn’t actually really want to talk to anyone, though, as nice as these people were, so I just tried to surreptitiously snag a couple cards and went on my way.
Unfortunately, other arcade/retro talks were by Skype, such as the ones by Ted Dabney and Scott Warshaw, but both fellows have gotten talking-by-Skype down pretty well and were generally entertaining.
Later that day, there was an open meeting by the International Game Developers Association Madison Chapter. At first, they were mentioning this event in Madison where people can show the games they’re working on, and I’m like, huh, maybe this group has some good opportunities. Of course, the talk at some point turned to Kickstarter, and the chapter president starts talking about how he didn’t contribute to the Doublefine Kickstarter like it was a point of pride and went on to brag about putting down $50 on Wasteland 2.
I guess dude used to work for Raven and remembered talking to some guys at Activision who complained about Doublefine being behind schedule on Brutal Legend (but he did go on to say that, yeah, he just didn’t like adventure games, either). He also bragged about working on Wolverine for the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. All I could think was this guy was such a company-man asshole. I bet he supported every jackassed thing that the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games do (they are pretty much the biggest example of doing the asshole thing where they stop selling DLC at some point just to screw over people who might *gasp* buy the game used or something).
Hey, I’m cool with people not liking adventure games, but I’m not cool with people being smug shits about it; you know dude will take that smug attitude towards text games or anything else his spineless soul can’t digest.
Okay, on to another cool thing- in one area, there was a setup by some high school programming class. They had designed this 4-sided (as in, controls on each side) cocktail cabinet thing and have been using their class to write 4-player multiplayer games. It is always (well, sometimes) nice to see kids doing cooler things in high school than I ever did.
Lastly, Scott Adams *did* give another talk this year. This time, he was even “beta-testing” a new game. I’m pretty sure I correctly identified Adams’ wife and daughter, too. Anyhow, what we played of the game was entertaining enough, but I do have to say that the kind of “correct commands” that Adams designs for are pretty crazy (for instance, there’s a wire you have to bend until it breaks. doing >BEND WIRE three times is not enough to break it. you have to do >BEND WIRE UNTIL IT BREAKS).
Adams said we could e-mail him and betatest the game FOR REALS (as our group session only played long enough to solve one puzzle). While I don’t expect a well-designed game, I was almost tempted, just because. Still, knowing that Adams is a 7th Day Adventist, I can’t help but remember this mysterious novel I got in the mail from an anonymous source years ago, basically the 7th Day Adventist book version of a Jack Chick tract. It tells the story of two families- one who mows the lawn on Sunday and one who mows the lawn on Saturday and how the latter dies horribly during the end of days but the former is saved. I threw the book out a long time ago, if anyone wanted it. Sorry.
I imagined I somehow got myself on someone’s radar, and in retrospect, I wonder if I had sent any e-mail to Adams back then and if it was possibly he who sent the book. Anyways, not wanting to receive anymore religious material in my mail, the chance was too great to risk.
Anyhow, in future years, I hope the convention has more attention on adventure games and RPGs and things, and I may even do my own IF booth at some point. We will see.