Archive for October, 2009

The Comic Con This City Deserves

TSP BACC

Wizard’s Big Apple Comic Con descended upon our local Gotham this weekend in a flurry of nerdy celebrities, comic books, and costumed heroes.  I was there as a host with UFragTV, who were brought on by Wizard to exclusively cover the event.  Our booth was right inside the main entrance, next to our friends at Slappa and backed by a gaming section filled with consoles manned by the guys of GXL.

Our schedule was packed from the minute I arrived on Friday.  There were loads of semi-famous actors, wrestlers, and Playboy bunnies in the celebrity area, a couple of enthusiastic game designers, and more artists than we could ever do justice.  Big Apple Comic Con was my first departure from my usual fare of anime conventions and gaming events, so it took some getting used to the fact that, no matter how much of a geek I thought I was, I had no street cred in the world of Trekkies or comic nitpickers.  This was probably for the best as I could stay on task and not wander off after the first flirty guy in Master Chief armor…

TSP master Chief1

We managed to score some really high-profile interactions throughout the weekend with names like Linda Hamilton (Terminator), Adam West (Batman), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Micky Dolenz (The Monkees), and Lou Farrigno (The Hulk).  There were also some repeat favorites from last weekend’s VGXPO like Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Neil Kaplan (Transformers) who were very sweet about talking to us again.  Gil gave an excellent interview, especially once he and I were joined by his very funny co-star Erin Gray.  Later, Neil was kind enough to turn on his Optimus Prime voice and record a quick hello to my roommate John.

When we were waiting to collect Adam West for his interview, it was my job to stand at his booth until he was ready, then walk him across the floor to our recording area.  I was a grinning fool, absolutely cowed by this super witty and dashing actor, pictures showcasing his talents as Batman and the mayor from Family Guy in front of him in neat rows.  His agent asked if Adam could promote his DVD “Adam West Naked.”  Definitely.

TSP AdamWestNaked_front

Saturday, I scored two interviews in a row that made me rush to my phone to text my mom.  First, being the only one in our host team to have watched/listened to The Monkees (and somehow also the youngest?), I spoke to Micky Dolenz about his current work and favorite comics and he openly hit on me for a cheap laugh.  Next was Vincent Pastore who plays Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero on The Sopranos.  He wasn’t too excited to be interviewed, but did take time to talk about his adventures in stage acting and stand-up comedy and to say “Pauly Walnuts” enough times to make me giggle on-air.

Aside from Nintendo’s Wii resort that let people play a few new games, the main gaming news came from Vigil’s world premier of their trailer for Darksiders.  In a very intimate viewing organized by Joe Madureira, the game’s creative director, we were treated to the story of War, one of the Four Horsemen, who is framed for bringing about the apocalypse early when he arrives at Earth alone.  War is given a chance to redeem himself and find the one responsible, and to do so he must fight through both angelic and demonic hordes that now inhabit an earth devoid of humans.  As Joe Madureira put it, “This is the only game that will let you pick up a car and slam an angel in the head with it, I guarantee you.”

TSP Darksiders

Comic Con was super fun, and we at UFrag TV are all very grateful to the celebrities and artists that took time to talk to us.  Keep watching UFragTV.com for more live, streaming coverage of all the best events!

TSP UFrag

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Philly’s VideoGame Expo

TSP VGXPO

VGXPO, America’s Video Game Expo, has consistently been a positive experience for me.  The first time I attended this small event in Philly, I met and interviewed Athena Twin (Amber Dalton), the co-founder of the all-girl gaming clan Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers for a college paper.  She recommended I apply to PMS and one month later I was taken on as co-leader of the clan’s first Team Fortress 2 team.

The following year at VGXPO 2008, Amber hired me to man a shoot-out booth for Sapphire, a sponsor at the time.  I was undefeated save three losses all weekend in Quake 4 and got my first paycheck as a gamer.

This year, I went as a guest host for UFrag TV, a site that does live, streaming coverage of gaming events.  Thanks to the UFrag guys, I had the best time yet.

My friends/colleagues/agents at NoobToob, Aaron and Jason, were kind enough to set me up with UFrag TV, so TorcH and I woke up early and made our way into the city to the Philadelphia Convention Center by 11am, way before the doors opened to attendees at 2pm.  I met Shane, the ship’s captain, and he introduced me to Tim, the guy who tells us what to do, and JR and Alphonso, the guys in front of the camera.  They accepted TorcH into manual labor in exchange for a coveted “exhibitor” wristband (he and I generally dislike paying to get into events) and I was given a few quick tips on how to work with the mics and cameras and where to stand.

We were introduced to The Smoke, the pro-wrestler/celebrity liaison for the event.  He helped score names like Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Neil Kaplan (Optimus Prime from Transformers, Tychus Findlay of StarCraft2).  Trevor was assigned to pulling pictures from the web and making overlays while the other hosts and I ran around securing interview slots.

For the most part, our interviews went smoothly.  I was pretty nervous having never done live broadcasting, only recorded interviews with Noob Toob.  Once I got a hang of the hand motions and set-ups though, it was all down to coming up with questions on the spot!  Here I admit I got a bit nervous.  There are a couple questions I regret never asking, but alas, the moment has passed.  I also learned a lot about cursing on air and when it is and is not appropriate.  Very important.

Some highlights were the fantastic 4G wifi connection courtesy of Clear: Open Air that kept us tethered to the internet.  Tommy Tallarico, the co-creator of the orchestra experience Video Games Live gave us a great interview on Saturday (that he made me take my shoes off for so as not to tower over him) and consequently got us scolded.  Later on-stage while judging the costume contest he spoke to us about furries and romance.  We also had some serious news as we looked into Nintendo’s preview of  upcoming releases, a independent hand-held console company, and lots of new faces in the field of game design.

It was a tough three days, but worth every minute because I had a really awesome time helping out at UFrag.  All the exhibitors and personalities who participated in interviews brought a lot of energy (especially that guy from Monster who kept delivering cans of it).  And in the end, I feel like I truly bonded with some cool dudes who do great things for gaming.

For more information on VGXPO, go to http://www.videogame.net

Check out http://www.UfragTV.com for live coverage of all the best gaming events and streaming video from gamers all over the world!

Showdown in Chengdu – Preparation

TSP WCG

This past weekend the WCG National Finals were held in New York City.  The finals were where teams earned the right to represent in USA in games like Counterstrike, Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, Starcraft, and more at the WCG Grand Finals  a.k.a. the “Olympics of Videogames.”  In light of my partner TorcH winning the Wise Star 2 Mob!le Challenge from Samsung, we have been making preparations for our trip to Chengdu, China with the rest of the winners.

Hoping to make myself useful along the way, I will be doing coverage for my friends at NoobToob.tv!  I have also applied to become a WCG referee, which would allow me to get up close to the action during those all-important final matches.  Keep an eye on my Twitter: http://twitter.com/SeltzerPlease for more information leading up to and all during the event!

TSP WiseStar2

TorcH, meanwhile, has been practicing hard at his game, Wise Star 2, which involves matching groups of planets or activating bombs to eliminate them from the board.  Each space on the board must be cleared at least once to complete the level.  In a competitive challenge, the first player to cause an explosion in every cube of the board wins.   For a touch of humor, here’s a shot of TorcH looking unnecessarily furious during his post-victory interview with WCG’s Rivington:

WCGinterview

Much Ado About Dragons

TSP Spyro

Spyro, my favorite little dragon, was the only one of his kind to survive a mass dragon-freezing by the Gnasty Gnorc (mostly because he was too short and the spell shot right over his head).   To save all his buddies, Spyro has to travel between the five dragon worlds to un-freeze the dragons, collect the crystals that Gnasty Gnorc turned into minions, and protect clutches of dragon eggs.   Fortunately, he was gifted with abilities like breathing fire, gliding (and sometimes flying!) and headbutting, as well as a tiny guiding dragonfly buddy named Sparx.

This game turned me from a somewhat normal 4th grader into a basement-dwelling, glassy-eyed, button-mashing maniac.  Ignoring my scattered adventures with Mario on the Nintendo 64, Spryo’s quest was the first time I really sat down and played through a game’s story, start to finish.  Granted, before Spyro there weren’t really any appealing 3D games of its kind, especially on the Playstation… but this was also a demonstration of my heretofore-unchallenged attention span.

Before Spyro, my gaming time came in spurts.   I would load something up, play for an hour or two, and then get bored and walk away.  It was through Spyro that I developed my patented sit-in-front-of-the-basement-TV-until-my-eyes-bled headache-inducing marathon gaming style that would go on to serve me greatly at weekend-long LAN events such as NVision 2008 (the ability to play Team Fortress 2 for days straight without sleep meant that when our 1am tourney was gradually pushed through the night to 8am, my team still rocked it).

I also think I earned a bit of respect from my 5-years-younger brother through Spyro.  We would get home from school, race to the basement, and he would sit faithfully beside me as I fumbled through levels and painstakingly collected every little gem or treasure.  Nick appreciated the entertainment and we both enjoyed the company.