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MMO Weekly 28/07/09

28 Jul 2009  by   Paul Younger

Hey there, fellow fanbois and fangurls, and welcome to this week’s MMO Weekly: Comic-Con edition.  In this week’s installment, I’ll take you along on my trip to Comic-Con, where we’ll walk hand-in-hand down the pleasant highways and byways of the convention, strolling gently along as we seek out the MMOs on display there for the enjoyment of polite throngs of eager fans.  Or, more likely, we’ll be jostled, poked, hit with backpacks, and nearly crushed to death by a huge, nearly riotous crowd of sweaty, unwashed geeks.  Such is Comic-Con.And yet, these geeks are my people.  My nerdy, overzealous, hygienically challenged people.Before I talk about the games themselves, allow me to describe what I like to call “the Comic-Con experience.”  There are rules to Comic-Con.  Rules you need to understand if you’re going to fit in, be accepted, and even enjoy yourself. Rule number one is you don’t talk about the rules of Comic-Con.  They are unspoken, yet universally understood.Comic-Con is a unique zone, a hole in the space-time continuum.  As such, your backpack is apparently subject to strange laws of physics, and you are not responsible for anything it does.  As such, if you push, hit, or otherwise run into people with your backpack, it’s not really you who’s doing it.  It’s the universe.  Naturally, you never need to apologise.Deodorant is optional at Comic-Con.  Really, really optional.
a.)  Showering is also optional.  A really dedicated Comic-Conboy wants to spend as much time at the con as possible, and will skip showering all four days that it runs to save a bit of time.
b.)  Feel free to wear the same costume (or, for that matter, the same clothes in general) all four days of the con.  Funky.Various booths will be giving out useless schwag of every imaginable kind.  It is your duty as a Comic-Con attendee to collect every single bit you can.  Inflatable wrenches promoting a new Ratchet and Clank game?  Get one.  A poster for some movie you never heard of?  Grab two of those.  Pens promoting some obscure website?  Yep, get a few of those.  Foam sword?  Yeah, grab it.  Cardboard mini-poster of a mediocre, ageing pin-up model?  Oh yeah, that’s a hot item. Cardboard mask from some anime DVD?  Yes, of course.
a.)  Don’t let the fact that your loot bag is getting very, very heavy stop you from collecting just one… more… poster.If you get tired from carrying all your loot/junk, just quaff one of the many energy drinks being offered for free at the con.  Repeat as necessary.  Remember, Red Bull + Monster + 5 Hour Energy + Amp = a happy, energetic, somewhat frazzled schwag mule.When you get home, sort through at all the crap you collected over the four days of Comic-Con. Keep only the alien-head key ring, and the obviously fake (but entertaining!) Stark Enterprises business card.  Throw all the rest of that huge pile of crap away.If you have a cool costume of… well, of anything, wear it at Comic-Con. If you have a really embarrassingly crappy costume of anything, wear it at Comic-Con.If you are an extremely fat woman, dress up as Wonder Woman, Xena, slave Leia, or another character wearing skimpy clothing.  Go ahead, don’t be shy.If you are an extremely skinny man, dress up as a super-muscular superhero in spandex.  Don’t worry that you look like Superman with anorexia. If you’re gay, this is an opportunity to really, really act as flamboyantly as humanly possible.  Dress up as your interpretation of gay Spiderman.  Or, better yet, act out as Robin in some short-shorts that show off your package nicely (I really saw this guy today.  Not exactly subtle).  Remember, sauntering is key.  If you are walking along a very crowded pathway between the booths, and you see something interesting, just go ahead and stop.  Look at the action figure, poster, toy, or bauble, and please, take your time. 
a.) If you are with friends, make them stop too.  Show each of them, individually, the object in question.
b.) You score extra points if you can block every nearby pedestrian from moving forward for at least a full minute.
c.) Even more bonus points are scored if you utilise a baby carriage as part of your blocking technique.Okay, okay, I think I milked that one enough.  You get the idea.  It’s crowded with an unimaginable number of socially challenged geeks.  Moving on…{PAGE TITLE=MMO Weekly 28/07/09 Page 2}One of the more interesting revelations at this year’s Comic-Con is that MMOs have certainly become a part of mainstream culture.  They were beyond prominent at the con, and everyone clearly understood the genre.  City of Heroes was obviously featured prominently, as was DC Universe Online, but the MMOs at the con were not limited to comic book related material.  Warhammer, Aion, Final Fantasy XI, a bucket load of NCSoft MMOs… they were all present and conspicious.Of particular note, there was a very odd moment at the con, and I need to let you all know about it.  At the LucasFilm booth, there hung a huge screen on which a number of LucasFilm and LucasArts properties were being displayed.  In particular, the Clone Wars cartoon series was featured very, very prominently.  I passed that booth a dozen times going to and from various locations inside the convention hall.  People stopped by, posed with the costumed actors and statues, and that was pretty much it.  Most people just amiably ambled past.That is, until they played the latest trailer for The Old Republic.  You know the one: a Sith and his compatriot make their approach, and ultimately some bounty hunters, Jedi, Sith, and everyone else gets into a big fight with lots of explosions.  Apparently, that trailer is like gravity for the human eyeball.  Every single eye within visual range was glued to that huge screen.  The bustling crowd stopped, and stopped completely.  Having seen that trailer many times before, I wanted to keep moving.  That was impossible, and I mean literally impossible.  The crowd was frozen, staring at the screen. Mind you, that trailer is more than four minutes long, and Comic-Con ground to a halt for every bit of those four minutes.  When the trailer ended, the gathered crowd erupted in loud cheers. What does that mean?  I’m not entirely sure.  While I had anticipated that The Old Republic would be a big game, I didn’t think non-MMO players would really take to it.  I just assumed that the potential audience for TOR was going to be somewhat limited, as the general public doesn’t get into MMOs.  Apparently, I was very wrong.  Clearly, a lot of the Comic-Con attendees know of the game and are looking forward to it.  Those that didn’t know if it before this moment, certainly know of it now.  And they’re utterly, unabashedly enthusiastic about it.  This game may just turn out to be huge.I’ll wrap up with an odd event at this year’s Comic-Con: the utter absence of WoW, and of Blizzard in general.  When perusing the show floor on Friday, I’m certain I saw some Blizz people at a rather small booth near the back of the convention floor.  We didn’t stop, figuring we’d catch up with them later. That didn’t happen.  I tried in vain to find that Blizzard booth after that one, brief moment.  I scoured the show floor, and they were simply not to be found.  I dug out the official Comic-Con guide, found Blizzard’s booth in the directory (booth number 5001, just for the record) and headed over there.  When I arrived, it turned out to be an Activision booth, and a handful of Activision games were on display.  Not a Blizzard game was to be seen.  I grabbed the attention of the Activision team and asked where the Blizzard display was. “They’re not here,” he told me.“I saw them on Friday.”“They’re not here, man.  Not at all.”I found another Activision employee, and asked him the same thing.  He told me that Blizzard wasn’t represented at Comic-Con this year.  When I told him I saw some Blizz people at a booth across the venue on Friday, he said, “Maybe they were giving away some miniatures or something.  But that’s it.  They’re not here.”I’m not sure it’s significant in any way, but I found it odd.  Blizz has a game that’s (probably) going to be released later this year, has the biggest MMO in the world, and has a number of other titles in development, and they’re not promoting them at all at Comic-Con.  Blizz had a large presence last year.  Obviously, Comic-Con is one of the biggest conventions in the world, and is a gathering place for their target audience, and they chose not to attend.  Hmm.And on that odd note, I’m out.  I hope you enjoyed this little write-up, and I’ll see you all next week.  For now, ciao!

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