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Overall Con Feedback

Question

Since I didn't make the feedback panel, I thought I'd share here.

 

Overall I'd like to say I had a good time at the Con this year.  I've been attending, on and off, since 2000.  Thanks to all the staff and folks who make this possible.  I know that running a con of this size is not an easy job.  I'm sure it is often tiring and thankless, so again, thanks.

Some comments...

 - Back in the day, we used to be able to exit the convention center on Level 200, cross the street that bisects the convention center (S. Sharp St.), then re-enter the convention center on the other side.  Why can't we do this anymore?  They even used to keep the street open during the con, although now it is closed, so it would be even safer.  They post security at both doors either way, and this would take a HUGE burden off the crowded hallway on the 300 level for people trying to move between sections of the convention center.  I suspect that this wasn't the Con's doing, this was probably the city.  But if it WAS the con's doing, please bring this back.

 - Please bring back the printed schedule.  I know it often goes out of date, etc.  But the convenience of being able to pull out a piece of paper and see everything at a quick glance is nice.  The app works okay, but the paper schedule is just more convenient to some of us, with the understanding that sometimes it might not be the most current.

 - I've complained about this one before.  I went to three video showings this time where the incorrect format was played.  Twice the video was marked Sub and the Dub was played, and once the opposite.  PLEASE follow your own schedule.  It's really not hard to go to the DVD menu and select the proper track before playing a video.  We should all be used to this by now, we do it at home all the time.

 - I liked the addition of the dividers in the hallway between the BCC and the Hilton.  In previous years, the hallway getting backed up in one direction has been a huge issue when you're trying to go the opposite way.  However, I noticed many times that there was a huge queue of people waiting to enter the BCC; many times it backed all the way up into the Hilton.  I'm not sure what can be done about this, if anything.  But I did notice several congoers cutting onto the "wrong side" of traffic, bypassing the entire line, then cutting back in at the front.  Of course we're all too nice/non-confrontational/awkward to say or do anything about it.  If you're one of those cutters, you should know that you're a ---- and you should feel bad.  I don't care that you're going to be late to your panel/show/whatever.  Guess what, so were we.

And finally, I need to take a minute to beat a dead horse.  Let's talk about the debacle that was Thursday's badge pickup.  I drove an hour each way, paid $20 for parking, fought through droves of Ravens fans and traffic, and paid for an overpriced dinner so that I could pick up my badge and presumably cruise right on in on Friday morning.  I was one of those that lined up around 7:30, only to find out at 10:30 from other people in line that it was all for naught and that I had to go home.  Great timing, too, just as the Ravens game was letting out.  What a mess.  Terrible planning all around.  Why wasn't the line capped at 7pm?  Was the line EVER capped?  All in all, it cost me about $75 and an entire evening was wasted.  I know ---- happens, but come on.  There are thousands others like me, or even worse.

Anyway, now that I've got my griping out of the way, let's talk about how to make it better, since we all know that hindsight is 20/20.  First, MAIL THE BADGES.  We're all begging for this, and I know some of us would gladly even pay a little extra for it.  I know I would.  But, if for whatever reason you refuse to do this... let’s talk a little bit about infrastructure.  The rumor is that the problems on Thursday began when the Wifi went down.  Why are you using Wifi?  Hell, why do you need an internet connection for pre-reg check-in at all???  How about next year, we cut off Pre-reg a week before the con.  Make Thursday night a badge pickup night only for those who have pre-registered.  A week before the con, export your pre-reg database, then import it onto a redundant replicated set of servers that you physically bring with you to the convention center.  For the pre-reg pickup desks, set up a local, airgapped, wired Ethernet network.  Members come up with their barcode, you scan it, check their ID, scan their badge, give them their packets, and they are on their way.  No internet required; you brought the entire member database with you.  The worst disaster I can think of in this situation is one of the DB servers going down -- no problem, it is redundant and replicated so you're good to go.  Members don't have their barcode with them?  Whatever, you've got the whole pre-reg DB that is indexed on name, phone number, etc.  You can look them up.  I'm sure you save stats on when members check in so that you can do future planning... I see no problem with this.  Again, no internet connection is required in this scenario.

All that said, thanks for the good time yet again.  I hope to be back next year!

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Just a quick comment—paper schedules were available at the info booth by request (something it said on the back of the map handout).

 

Also, to Otakon... PLEASE KEEP DOING THIS.  I don't have a smart phone and relied on that paper schedule quite heavily :)

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Just a quick comment—paper schedules were available at the info booth by request (something it said on the back of the map handout).

 

Also, to Otakon... PLEASE KEEP DOING THIS.  I don't have a smart phone and relied on that paper schedule quite heavily smile.png

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The only big negative I experienced was the Thursday night pre-reg line. But on the positive side, I was pleasantly surprised with how much they were able to keep the hallways clear. I didn't run into a single stoppage of foot traffic the entire con. I couldn't believe it.

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The test of how good a time you had is how bad your feet hurt. Mine were killing me so i did a lot of walking so I had a god time and so did my peeps. See the rest including some tips under the good bad and ugly post topic :)

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-Linecon. I think they're well aware of this problem. The other problem was that the line got really confusing in front of the main Pratt St lobby. My friends almost walked straight back into another, further back part of the line because it was confusing (and one was on his 3DS I will admit). However, I did like being able to pick up my 18+ band at the same time (that line was only 20 people long, too two and a half minutes, not two and a half hours). The fast passes were nice though, I got my badge Thursday, but my friend got a Fast Pass, and she told me she got hers quite quickly Friday, so that was nice. It wouldn't have been fair that she had to be in line 4 hours Thursday, only to get nothing, then be in line another 4 hours Friday. Also, people kept handing out flyers for other cons, and those all ended up on the sidewalk. That made me feel bad for whoever had to clean that up, can't that be confined to the Dealer's Room or somewhere directly next to a trash can? I could've sworn pre-reg started earlier last year. Anyone stuck in linecon wouldn't have been able to enjoy the Matsuri (seeing how I didn't get out until 8:30 and the Matsuri ended at 9....)

 

-Other than Thursday's Linecon, I must say, the lines were overall much better and foot traffic felt a hell of a lot less congested for the most part. The path to get in and out of the Hilton was always a bit crowded, but it wasn't as bad as it's been in the past.

 

-While I miss the different badge types, I do like the nice durable plastic badges.

 

-Bring back the print schedule. I don't have a smart phone, neither did anyone who came with me, so I had to print them out back at home. Then my mom asked me to print one out for my sister, who does have a smart phone, pointing out that smart phones don't exactly have the best battery life. But I saw the printed schedule that someone else had, and it was waaay smaller than it used to be in the past. The classic, readable without a magnifying glass, one needs to come back.

 

-I liked the line dividers in the sky walk, but yeah, some jerks cut over to the side with less traffic. This was very annoying when I thought my schedule had dropped on the skywalk (it was in my pocket) and was thus walking close to the left side to try and look for it among the foot traffic, only to have those jerks make me move, on my side!

 

-I believe most water dispensers I saw this year were full most of the time, meaning they were switched out often. Even the ones in the Dealer's Room. I approve of this.

 

-Not your guys fault and I doubt you can do anything about it, but damn Oriole's game! I waited 45 minutes for the damn light rail on saturday evening. Thought I'd be back home by 7:45, not 9!

 

-I heard some people, who had booked through the Otakon website, had their hotels cancel on them.

 

-Can we please stop claiming that "the dealer's room is closed" when we all know it isn't? I just sat off to the side and did Street Pass for twenty minutes to pass the time, but still, rather annoying.

 

-Once again, I think some panels were just in the wrong rooms, rooms too small for them. Anything with the words "Digimon" and/or "Pokemon"? Needs to be in a larger room. Also, I still didn't have enough manga panels to please me. I primarily collect manga so...

 

-While I like the idea of mailing badges, I can just see waaaay too many problems with it.

1) The post office will either lose/damage/utterly destroy some of the badges.

2) Would the con booklets and stuff be sent too? Because the schedule isn't finalized until like a week before the con, how fast would those things have to be shipped to make it in time for the con, especially since some people will leave for it early.

3) There's no way to make sure the right person gets the badge. Someone could steal a siblings badge to give it their friend or something.

4) Someone is going to leave it at home and have to get another one anyway.

Perhaps instead, the hotels could give some of them out as people check in? They would probably check the ID anyway and it would be the ones with Otakon deals anyhow. Locals could still pick them up as normal, but with so many people using hotels, I feel like that could help cut down a lot if that's possible.

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-While I like the idea of mailing badges, I can just see waaaay too many problems with it.

1) The post office will either lose/damage/utterly destroy some of the badges.

2) Would the con booklets and stuff be sent too? Because the schedule isn't finalized until like a week before the con, how fast would those things have to be shipped to make it in time for the con, especially since some people will leave for it early.

3) There's no way to make sure the right person gets the badge. Someone could steal a siblings badge to give it their friend or something.

4) Someone is going to leave it at home and have to get another one anyway.

Perhaps instead, the hotels could give some of them out as people check in? They would probably check the ID anyway and it would be the ones with Otakon deals anyhow. Locals could still pick them up as normal, but with so many people using hotels, I feel like that could help cut down a lot if that's possible.

 

You know I had a firm discussion about this with some members that were standing on line for Panel 4 Saturday night, and its these same points they also talked about.

 

As long as its not a Huge letter saying "Hey heres your badages sucka" Written on the front of the envelope then it should be fine and not get stolen or something.

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^Yes, but if you get a badge, and someone in your house also gets one, you'll know what the envelope looks like. Simply take theirs and don't say that you got yours, boom! Done.

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^Yes, but if you get a badge, and someone in your house also gets one, you'll know what the envelope looks like. Simply take theirs and don't say that you got yours, boom! Done.

 

Kinda low to have family steal from family just to give to another. Besides if it was a family ordering badges it would be mailed to who paid for it. Can't lie about not getting it.

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PROS:

 

-The dividers in the Sky Walk. They definitely made going through that hallway easier (also, I add a plus for ensuring those on the other side access to the AMV Theater without having to go around).

 

-Not having to stand in line for certain events due to possible room clears (which was nice Friday, as I wanted to attend AMV Hell 7, but also wanted to watch My Little Parody: Youtube is Magic).

 

-The general Otakon public actually having access to the Pratt Street entrance for most of con as a result of the high amount of pre-registers leading to a less crowded at-con badge purchase.

 

-The inclusion of an AMV Theater this year, which proved to be a huge success (any chance of it having a bigger room next year?).

 

CONS:

 

-Thursday night Line-Con. I'm definitely with the person who suggested having a pre-reg cutoff date the week before the con and making sure it's connected by an Ethernet network instead of relying on Wi-Fi.

 

-Lack of printed con schedules in the bag. While I didn't have to worry about it, I'm sure this issue bugged those people who don't have a smart phone that they can use to check out the schedule.

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I cannot begin to describe the great praise I have for the dividers placed on the bridges this year. It greatly alleviated the usually congestion that plagues the bridges as a large crush of people in one direction dictates the flow of traffic. Excellent idea, best they've implemented this year.

 

Nothing that can be done about the clog that occurs on the Hilton bridge. Such a small stairway, it's bound to happen. Only thing is to grin and bear it, but the wait wasn't that long for me when caught in it.

 

I went to my first canceled panel! So much fun, but well handled by the staff.

 

Missed the arcade machines (DDR, racing more specifically) at the VG Hall. Wonder what happened.

 

I don't know what happened Friday, but why was the 18+ Wristband line constantly long? It seemed to never go down and it prevented me and my brother from participating in some of that night's events because we didn't have the time to wait for one. Either create more lines for it, or process faster. I can't imagine what the hold up was in checking I.Ds.

 

I have to agree though, that this year, the con felt a bit less congested than last year. Everything seemed to flow well. Friday especially seemed more chill than in years past.

 

Definitely a fine way to celebrate my fifth con.

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I had fun, but I need to address two issues with the game room.

- The fighting game setups are unplayable. The televisions used are extremely laggy, even on game mode. The USFIV setup felt like it had half a second of lag, and I wasn't the only one complaining about this issue. One friend of mine who plays Smash also said the setups were very laggy.

- A friend and I decided to bring an XBox360 setup with a lagless monitor to the game room on Friday night to have some casual USFIV matches before sleeping since the existing setups, as explained with my previous gripe, were very laggy. We thought it shouldn't be a problem. We invited some people on Otakon's USFIV setup to come over to play. We started playing, had a couple of people join in and had a blast. Near closing time, a staff member passing by told us it should be the last match before shutting down. So after the last match of the night, my friend and I started cleaning up. Suddenly, a different Otakon staff member reprimands me for bringing my setup and threatened to take my badge away if I tried to set it up again on Saturday. Confused, I asked, "why?" since we weren't being disruptive. He didn't give me a clear answer, just "OTAKON HAS A LOT OF RULES." The other guys were also pretty confused since people have been bringing their own fighting game setups since 08'. He was the only staff member who was intent on enforcing this. After cleaning up and returning to my room, I checked the video game programming rules:

 

 

  • A piece of equipment is not working properly so that it can be fixed/replaced with a working one as soon as possible.
  • You would like to switch out a game and there is an open set-up. Please be aware that we will not allow personal games to be played and that we can not comply with all requests.
  • You notice someone is breaking any of the above rules so that corrective action can be taken.

 

 

 

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The only big negative I experienced was the Thursday night pre-reg line. But on the positive side, I was pleasantly surprised with how much they were able to keep the hallways clear. I didn't run into a single stoppage of foot traffic the entire con. I couldn't believe it.

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I noticed that there wasn't any kind of divider set up on the Sharp Street skybridge Friday morning, so I went and told a staffer about it and explained what happened last year. I don't know if they set the dividers up because of that, but I'm glad to see that they did what I suggested, whether they were actually listening to me or not.

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The only big negative I experienced was the Thursday night pre-reg line. But on the positive side, I was pleasantly surprised with how much they were able to keep the hallways clear. I didn't run into a single stoppage of foot traffic the entire con. I couldn't believe it.

 

^^^This.  The tensa-barriers in the Sharpe St. and Hilton skybridge hallways appear to have made all the difference in the world.

 

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I don't know what happened Friday, but why was the 18+ Wristband line constantly long? It seemed to never go down and it prevented me and my brother from participating in some of that night's events because we didn't have the time to wait for one. Either create more lines for it, or process faster. I can't imagine what the hold up was in checking I.Ds.

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It's a minor concern, but for the art show auction I had to wait almost an hour in line to find out whether or not I won, which I didn't. My guess is there is a database of winning bidders so would it be that difficult to post up a list of winning numbers for bidders to check so they can tell whether or not they need to wait in line?

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Said most of what I wanted to say in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly thread

 

But my major concern is during guest panels there should be a moderator to remind people that the panel is for asking questions (other things should be saved for the autograph line like photos and autographs) and that there are other people in line so keep it to one question and maybe one voice request. The guest may be too nice to turn people down but really it is not fair to other people in line and the audience. The guest panel isn't supposed to be a one on one with the guest.

 

This is related to the Dante Basco panel on Saturday.

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Most of what I would have said is already said. My only other comment, but it might just be my own interpretation of events: If there is an Otaku Idol and an Otakon Talent Show, why are there singing acts within the Talent Show?

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Most of what I would have said is already said. My only other comment, but it might just be my own interpretation of events: If there is an Otaku Idol and an Otakon Talent Show, why are there singing acts within the Talent Show?

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Most of what I would have said is already said. My only other comment, but it might just be my own interpretation of events: If there is an Otaku Idol and an Otakon Talent Show, why are there singing acts within the Talent Show?

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Dividers in the bridges - Great! Please keep using them. They're more effective than the no-longer-sold tape anyway biggrin.png

 

Paper schedules - I'm sure that you heard the applause in the con feedback panel. I got mine from going to the info desk early Friday morning, but having more paper schedules available somehow would be quite nice. The idea of asking whether a person wants a paper schedule during the registration process so that you can get an estimate of how many to print in the week of sounds good from what I can tell.

 

Thursday Night - After the fact, I mainly wish that the chain of information from inside the BCC to outside staffers as well as communication with those of us in line outside was... better? Happening more? A lot of the frustration did stem from having incomplete awareness of the situation.

 

Room clears - This was brought up in the panel, where the questioner was asking about more room clears, but it seemed as if you interpreted his question as asking about room clears all the time?

Anyway, on the one hand, more room clears would be nice. But on the other hand, we do get that room clears take up time (and thus less content overall) and space (which we already sorely lack). It's a struggle to balance, so I just hope that the new harder info you should have with panel attendance will bear some fruit. And that negotiations for more spaces in other hotels get somewhere (the Hyatt at least, presumably).

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Was the unscheduled room clear between the dub showing of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Kill La Kill brought up at the feedback panel?

 

It wasn't exactly unanticipated but it was an unscheduled room clear-something that I was under the impression that Otakon was trying to do away with-and was only brought to our attention by a staffer getting on the PA system to announce it.

 

What was the deal with the scheduled photoshoots?  I noticed that there was a High School DxD photoshoot on the schedule but during the time that I was there I counted a total of 5 cosplayers for it in the shoot.  I commend those 5 for showing up and making the shoot happen, though I expected a lot more than 5 people from an event of such import as to be officially sanctioned.

 

Otakon 2014 had significantly less programming than Otakon 2013.  The lack of guest panels (the few that were here weren't run in the empty times during the con), industry panels and "inside the industry" panels was glaring this year.

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Dividers in the bridges - Great! Please keep using them. They're more effective than the no-longer-sold tape anyway biggrin.png

 

Paper schedules - I'm sure that you heard the applause in the con feedback panel. I got mine from going to the info desk early Friday morning, but having more paper schedules available somehow would be quite nice. The idea of asking whether a person wants a paper schedule during the registration process so that you can get an estimate of how many to print in the week of sounds good from what I can tell.

 

Thursday Night - After the fact, I mainly wish that the chain of information from inside the BCC to outside staffers as well as communication with those of us in line outside was... better? Happening more? A lot of the frustration did stem from having incomplete awareness of the situation.

 

Room clears - This was brought up in the panel, where the questioner was asking about more room clears, but it seemed as if you interpreted his question as asking about room clears all the time?

Anyway, on the one hand, more room clears would be nice. But on the other hand, we do get that room clears take up time (and thus less content overall) and space (which we already sorely lack). It's a struggle to balance, so I just hope that the new harder info you should have with panel attendance will bear some fruit. And that negotiations for more spaces in other hotels get somewhere (the Hyatt at least, presumably).

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More panel rooms means more of the Otakon panel submissions can be accepted, and that means more panels which in turn should reduce some of the crowding issues and difficulty getting into many panels in general.

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I guess that's true, but I am personally okay with so-called "dead zones". I like having times where there is less going on and I can do things like maybe eat a meal (which granted, doesn't always happen at these cons...) or socialize with friends. I would still prefer to see additional panel rooms to give people more concurrent options, give more panelists a chance to present, and hopefully reduce some of the line problems at super-popular panels (or again, at the very least, give people more "backup panels" they might be interested in if their Option A fills to capacity).

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I'm not a fan of arranging all programming so that it always involves a brutal "either/or" choice.  Especially when that either/or is announced by Otakon after it is too late to act upon it, like the Kill La Kill/JoJo premiere choice. 

 

I'm not much for fan panels.  However, this year they too were arranged as so to create dead zones.

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Reposting what whine I spilled over at the /index.php?showtopic=26164">Good/Bad/Ugly thread. Just one item actually, because this one is largely in Otakon's control.

 

ALTIMA concert seating...I thought Otakon "got this" before, but whoever is in charge of concert seating please be mindful of the type of music. For Yoshiki's it's okay that way but for ALTIMA you can't just put people wherever--this is the stand up and dance kind of a show and by filling the first rows with press and special needs it will affect the performance, however little. Put those guys to the side. I also noticed there's an actual barrier at the venue, so why not make some standing space? It would provide a much better experience for everybody. If not that, at least let people who waited to line up sit up front, because they're the kind of people who would "get it." I waited in line for about 3 hours and I got like, 7th row back, or I can move up a couple row but sit to the side of the stage. That's pretty lame for being one of the first 30 or so "normal people" let in to a big hall like that. In other words, when MOTSU was actually pointing at all the people sitting down in the front rows and asking them to get up, they didn't (for whatever reason), that can kill the energy of the show. Not to mention it makes them (ie., all of us!) look bad. In the past this was nowhere as big of a problem but somehow this year's seating arrangement didn't work out well.

 

And there's an easy solution to this!

1. Put press and special needs up front but to the sides

2. Let people seat themselves once they get to a specific area, or

3. Make sure the seating works out so people who get in first get the forward most seats that's not to the side.

 

That's the minimum I expect a show like Otakon. I mean if Otakon wants to boast big name music acts I expect you to seat people at least per standards of an average music venue, which is never press and special needs in the front of everyone. If press have to take pictures, let them move to the front once the show starts.

 

Other than that? This is a good otakon. I got to do what I wanted to do mostly, and a couple surprises helped to boost the experience. Like being able to watch part of the Os/Cards game.

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I have to agree with what rotinoma said about the seating for ALTIMA's concert on Friday, although I got a very good seat. I waited in line three hours as well and I was the 11th person in line, and the people ahead of me in line in addition to myself didn't make front row due to other special needs and press getting in before taking what should have been ours. And I also agree on the part that the type of music needs addressing when it comes to seating. For a concert like ALTIMA's, it should have either been an all-standing concert or have seating with more room between the rows to move, because as I was jumping around and cheering with the rest of my row, I had no room to move in addition to me hitting my foot on the chair ahead of me frequently. I've been to other concerts at two other cons and they were all-standing events because of the type of music. Needless to say it was impossible to do the momoage with MOTSU because of the seating arrangements. Just figured I'd throw that out there.

 

As far as the con in general, with the exception of Thursday it was a really good con. It felt more organized than 2013's con. The dividers on one of the skywalks was awesome because it kept traffic flowing and nobody was running into anyone else. The dealer's hall felt exceptionally cramped on Sunday, but that's to be expected. I can't speak for panels since I didn't go to any as my focus was autographs, and speaking of autographs they were handled better this year. I've already said this in another thread, but it needs to be said again. The Hyatt space worked. And not to mention the hike from the Hyatt to the Camden Lobby for others autographs wasn't bad either if you know where you're going. However, if the one-hour rule is to be enforced at the Hyatt, staff needs to be more present. Although from what I saw there was plenty of room for us to make a pre-line as indicated with how Saori Hayami's session went. We even got ourselves organized before staff even came along. I say if we form a line, staff should leave us be and usher us in to see the guest in the order that we are in.

 

In all, I got into everything that I wanted without trouble and had a very good time over all. Looking forward to see what next year brings.

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Am I the only one who preferred the Guidebook app to the paper schedules? I mean, I too love the feeling of being able to whip out a schedule and hold it in my hand, but Guidebook's schedule was honestly a lot easier to understand and a lot easier to navigate than the paper schedules. The font was a good size, everything was ordered by times rather than subjects, which made figuring out what to attend sooo much faster, and really, the worst thing was that you would have to click on the panel/screening/autograph to see where it was located. If it's possible to maybe include locations in the thumbnail, that would be great. The only other complaint I have is that the clasp on the badges seemed a little faulty. Maybe it was just me, but the clasp on my badge broke and it would keep falling off. It got to the point that I had to tie my cord through the hole to keep my badge secure. So maybe look into better clasps? Honestly I can't complain much this year. I live in MD, so I came early enough to pre-reg and got out in 2 hours (long, but reasonable). I did miss some of the panels and the one autograph session I wanted to attend, but hey, I don't blame the con, I just blame me not getting to the locations on time (ooh, which reminds me-clearer directions to the Hyatt would be welcome. Or staff that actually know where the Hyatt/other rooms are. A few of the people I talked to at info had no idea where certain places were, which was part of the reason I ended up missing some of the panels/autograph that I wanted to attend). I met some editors/VA's from Youtube that I strongly admire completely on accident, and the AMV Theater is now my new favorite part of Otakon :). So yeah, other than confused staff, faulty badges, and puzzling maps, this was a fantastic Otakon for me-heck, it's honestly the best one for me since 2012.

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I mentioned this at Con Feedback on Sunday, but my biggest issue was LineCon.  However, outside of LineCon, I thought Otakon was extremely well-run this year. 

 

[Con]

I'm not saying Otakon wasn't working hard, or that they weren't trying to get everyone taken care of.  However, neither of those things were apparent to anyone in line.  All we saw was tweets (if that!) about "System Down...working on it".  It wasn't apparent that the Otakon staff had a real sense of urgency until the BCC stepped in and said "hard stop at midnight, everyone".  And then suddenly there was a lot of obvious action: staffers running around with information, staffers trying to decide on an alternative, etc.

 

Taking people into the Hilton to complete registration was a brilliant move.  I just wish they'd done it sooner.  Now, I understand the idea that they didn't want to bring thousands of people through the Hilton on short notice without coordinating it with the Hilton itself.  However, they did it on the floor they had already claimed from the Hilton for Otakon use.  Maybe don't bring EVERYONE over there, but they could have brought small groups over, just to keep the line moving.  Send 20-30 people.  Get them taken care over.  Then call over the radio to have staff send another batch of people.  It's that simple.

 

[Pro]

The barriers in the hallways.  THANK YOU, OTAKON STAFF.  I don't know why you didn't do this sooner, but THANK YOU FOR DOING IT NOW.  It REALLY helped to keep the traffic moving in the skywalks, and it especially helped with preventing photo op groups from forming in the skywalk.

 

[Con]

Cosplay gallery in the Convention Guide.  Really?  That's the best you can do?  I thought we'd solved this problem thanks to previous Con Feedback?  MORE COSPLAY PICTURES PLEASE.  I mean, one of the pictures wasn't even cosplay!  It was just a couple of girls is stylistic clothes.  It's nice that they want to wear that, but I can see that plenty of places in the world.  When I look at the Cosplay Gallery, I want to see cosplay!  There are so many wonderfully constructed cosplays at the convention.  I'd prefer more than just 2 pages worth, but if you can't make that happen, there should at least be a good display on those two pages.

 

[Pro]

Dante Basco!  It was very exciting to have Dante at Otakon!  He's not someone I ever expected to make an appearance at Otakon.  It was thrilling, and his Q&A was wonderful!  Normally I get annoyed when people try to ask more than one question, but Dante was so good about getting through questions and requests that it didn't seem like any one person was taking forever at the mic.  Definitely a strong guest panel experience for me!

 

[Con/Pro]

Communication!!  COMMUNICATION!!  You know what's really annoying?  When there are problems and you don't know what's going on.  You know what's worse?  When a staffer comes by to share information, but they neither quiet the crowd before speaking nor speak very loudly.  So you have about 4-5 people who actually heard what was said, and the rest of the local crowd getting angry because they couldn't hear over the general din of the crowd and the staffer couldn't be bothered to come around to different areas.

 

THAT SAID, once the Staff started executing the Hilton Pre-Reg plan at the end of Thursday, communication was AMAZING.  They said things, they said them loudly, they said them clearly, they said them multiple times.  Everyone in line knew the plan, and they were a lot happier and calmer for it.  That's the kind of crowd communication I'd like to see all throughout Otakon weekend.

 

[Con]

Paper schedules.  You know, the guidebook app is fun, it's not perfect.  For one, not everyone has a smartphone.  For another, people that do have smartphones can agree: the battery life isn't infinite.  A paper guide takes no battery life at all.  It also shows concurrent sessions in a format that is much easier to read.  One glance, and I can tell which panels/autographs/workshops/whatever are happening all at the same time.  I usually spend Thursday night with a highlighter in my hotel room going through that schedule marking my priorities for easy viewing.  Having to navigate through multiple screens to see what I want to do is irritating and, depending on what you're looking for, time consuming. 

 

I understand that schedules change, often after printing and just a day or two before attendees expect to get them.  That's why I think the idea to put them at the Reg counters instead of in the bags is a perfect solution.  Anyone that wants one can get one, and anyone that won't use it doesn't waste the paper.

 

[Pro]

I'm a cosplayer.  I go to the photosuite every year.  This year, people who went to the photosuit got little flags for their badges once they finished.  I love that!  I hope you continue to do that in future years.  Maybe you can also add ways to get other flags, budget permitting. 

 

[Pro]

Scattered food carts and info desks.  This was so helpful!  Not having to trek all the way back to one location was marvelous (even if the food prices were still murderously high.)

 

 

[suggestion]

It was mentioned at Con Feedback that there aren't enough game controllers in the Game Room, and also that legally Otakon could not allow attendees to use their own.  Now, I'm neither a gamer nor a lawyer, but what if Otakon had a donation program?  I mean, gamers get new controllers all the time, don't they?  And not just because old ones break and become unusable.  What if attendees could donate old game controllers to Otakon?  That would get Otakon more game controllers without worrying about the capital required to obtain them.

 

[suggestion]

Better guest variety.  Dante Basco was an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise, but he was really the only person that interested me.  Can Otakon please try to ask some of the older voice actors to return to Otakon?  Justin Cook, Scott McNeill, Richard Cox, Mary Glynn, Laura Bailey, Jerry Jewell, Chuck Huber, etc.  A large portion of the Con's demographic is older fans.  It would be nice if we could have a once-a-year chance to see the voice actors we grew up with in anime.

 

[suggestion]

Maybe if you set up a survey online about pre-reg pickup?  Do it a few days before the Con.  Just a simple "What time do you think you'll be arriving/getting to Pre-Reg pickup?"  Then the Otakon Staff can look at the numbers and maybe plan around that volume?  In fact, make the poll public so people can see the volume for themselves.  Then they could edit their answer if they want, to arrive at a less crowded time.  Potentially the crowd would equalize itself, and it might avoid some strain on the system.

 

[suggestion]

Attendees should be allowed to move between Sharpe St exits.  We have badges.  Security Guards are there.  These should be viable means of movement, but they're not.  They used to be, but they're not anymore, and all that's done is force thousands of attended to use just the Skywalk to move between sides of the building.

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This is the first Otakon I've been to in a long time, so I can't say much in terms of comparison to other years. The convention hallways were a little less crowded than I anticipated, there was a lot of good cosplay, and the overall experience was better than I was expecting. I'll be returning next year.

 

I have to say, though, this is the first time I've hosted a panel at Otakon (I did "Philosophy in Video Games") and the panel experience was one of the best (if not *the* best) I've had at any convention. The room was well set-up in terms of projectors, microphones, etc. The audience was absolutely fantastic; there was a lot of participation in the discussion sections, some great feedback, and everyone seemed enthusiastic about the subject. Room filled up quickly, but I suppose that's bound to happen with limited space at a large con.

 

The programming lounge was an excellent idea and I'd like to see more conventions adopt it.

 

One minor complaint - I'd applied for a two hour panel, as I usually do, and was given a one hour slot so I had to cut the content in half. Now, I understand that at a very large convention, it's often going to be difficult to give someone a two hour slot. However, I noticed on the schedule posted outside of the panel room (and later confirmed), that the room was unused for 2.5 hours following the panel. This seems to be an oversight.

---

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I also prefer Guidebook to the paper schedule. I haven't touched a paper schedule once at any con I've attended that uses Guidebook. Paper schedules are never up to date and they're one more bit of junk that eventually ends up stuffing the trash cans and littering the area. I actually threw away my entire reg bag as soon as I got it, because all of that stuff is on Guidebook anyway, or should be if the staff in charge of updating the app do their thing.

As for battery life, my phone (Galaxy Note II) has pretty good battery life and I was able to go an entire day on a single charge. And I have a second battery that I keep charged and on my person, so if I do need more juice I can just pop the old battery out and put the fresh one in (a great advantage over the iPhone).

Also, with regards to Sharpe St, I totally agree that we should be able to cross at street level. The skybridge is a massive chokepoint and traffic needs an alternative travel path to keep the hallways slightly less crowded. It seemed like the street was blocked off for most of the con, so concerns about people getting hit by traffic shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure something could be arranged with the City of Baltimore to keep the street closed during peak traffic times so people could cross more easily.

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I had a great time at Otakon this year.

My big complaint was linecon and I understand most of that was out of anyone's hands.  Though, it probably would have been better to cut the line sooner.  I was the friend who waited about 5 hours in line.  Once they started  handing out the fast passes it seemed pretty obvious we should leave so we did. I did have a friend stay in line and get his badge, but he said he did get out until 1 a.m. which is crazy.  The pass was a good idea, if I had to line up again, I'd want to punch someone in the face. My other suggestion about this, if anything like this would to happen again, is to straight up tell people to turn off their devices not just disconnect from the wifi.  Something similar happened during a Omegathon at PAXEast a couple of years ago.  The final game was SPACETEAM which need wifi to work.  Lets, say at the end they just gave both teams the grand prize.

Another complaint is that I was at the Ai Yazawa panel, part way through suddenly tons of people showed up. But it seems they were only there because something else let out, because all of them were talking.  It got to the point I could not hear the presenter and left.  Not sure what could be done about something like that but not cool.

Something minor but could have been useful but a better formatted pdf for printing.  I tried printing out the schedule ahead of time but the PDF wasn’t formatted for multiple pages. So, when I did print it out, everything was so tiny I couldn’t see it.

My last complaint is again not sure what to do about it but some panels could go in smaller rooms and some could go in much larger rooms.  Now, I went to quite a few that were just right but there were a few that just didn't work out.  There were a few in super large rooms that might have filled a quarter of the room.  But I think the bigger issue are panels like the Persona 4 panel that was on Sunday morning.  It was in the smallest panel room and it was packed.  They would let people in as people left which was nice but distracting. Also, I went to get in line for Beyond the Tentacle an hour early and the line was already closed.  Now, it was good to know I wasn’t getting in but already an hour before hand?  Maybe, simulcasts of some panels which are known to be big draws would be a good idea.

So, on to good things.  

  • The simulcast of the AMV contest, great idea.

  • Finally, I saw gophers use clickers to count people. Though ideally they should count the line to see when to cut it before people start going in.  Not when they are going in.

  • The dividers in the hallways seemed to help a lot.  

  • Flow was much better this year than in the past

  • Many working escalators

  • For the most part the lines were much better managed than last year.  I feel every room should have a Gofer for it all day to make sure things/lines are getting managed. Not sure how realistic that is, though.

 

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Not sure if it got answered or resolved, but yes, The Otakon Talent Show was the next evolution of Otaku Idol. 

 

That being said, yes, we had a lot of singers that auditioned. I expected this, but I also expected a decent amount of performances other than singing. This was an experimental event that, in my opinion, went pretty well, save for some of the hiccups we had early on. We really didn't know what to expect, and that kind of makes the show unpredictable, but that unpredictability makes it interesting and unique each year, assuming we do this event again, which we probably will. 

 

My staff and I have already begun putting down ideas on how to streamline the event and make it more available to various talents/performances. If/when we do this event again, it will be updated and fixed up to be better than this year. 

 

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the turnout of con goers who attended the event, and the quality of performances were really impressive. Like most of the things that happened in the Live Programming room, space is always an issue, and if we had more space, it'd allow us to do more, but I doubt that will change until we move to D.C.

 

Thanks for your input though, it really helps! Please give us more feedback so we can make it more enjoyable next time.

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ALTIMA concert seating...I thought Otakon "got this" before, but whoever is in charge of concert seating please be mindful of the type of music. For Yoshiki's it's okay that way but for ALTIMA you can't just put people wherever--this is the stand up and dance kind of a show and by filling the first rows with press and special needs it will affect the performance, however little. Put those guys to the side. I also noticed there's an actual barrier at the venue, so why not make some standing space? It would provide a much better experience for everybody. If not that, at least let people who waited to line up sit up front, because they're the kind of people who would "get it." I waited in line for about 3 hours and I got like, 7th row back, or I can move up a couple row but sit to the side of the stage. That's pretty lame for being one of the first 30 or so "normal people" let in to a big hall like that. In other words, when MOTSU was actually pointing at all the people sitting down in the front rows and asking them to get up, they didn't (for whatever reason), that can kill the energy of the show. Not to mention it makes them (ie., all of us!) look bad. In the past this was nowhere as big of a problem but somehow this year's seating arrangement didn't work out well.

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Was the unscheduled room clear between the dub showing of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Kill La Kill brought up at the feedback panel?

 

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Good Stuff:

 

  • Dividing lines in the walkways, worked great
  • Apart from line con (more on that further down) things seemed better organized overall
  • Staff Generally friendly
  • Events/Dealers/AA good as usual

Bad Stuff:

  • Kill line con, either open super early on Thursday for pick up (~10am) so a line never forms, or mail the badges, apart from that I dont know what I can add on to what Im sure has already been said, but you should always have an off-line back-up, sure it can be slower but you can at least process people,
  • Access is still too restricted (too many out only doors) more should be in/out
  • Convention center staff are bad, but that's always seemed to be par for the course, hoping that DC will be better
  • No paper schedule :(

 

Stuff to Improve when you move to DC

  • Smarter badging, preferrably by con staff/volunteers
  • Ditch the 18+ wrist bands to elimintate another line, check IDs at the door. To my understanding this has to do with Baltimore/Maryland law but that might change with the move. Please look into it, cosplayers will thank you.

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Am I the only one who preferred the Guidebook app to the paper schedules? I mean, I too love the feeling of being able to whip out a schedule and hold it in my hand, but Guidebook's schedule was honestly a lot easier to understand and a lot easier to navigate than the paper schedules. The font was a good size, everything was ordered by times rather than subjects, which made figuring out what to attend sooo much faster, and really, the worst thing was that you would have to click on the panel/screening/autograph to see where it was located.

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I also really liked using Guidebook. It felt a lot easier to whip out my phone and check it real quick than to root through my bag to find the schedule. The only issue for me is that the app has a few glitches (it kept switching between the days, especially if the screen flipped from vertical to horizontal), but they were pretty minor and I didn't mind them too much.

My group had a really hard time with it, though. There wasn't any warning to this, so they ended up having to download the app at the con, which as you'd expect was a chore and nearly impossible, considering all the other people probably downloading it at the same time. One of their phones died at least twice during the course of the con as well, which put her in a pretty sour mood (among other things).

So I think having the schedule both printed and on guidebook would be ideal. Maybe ask people if they want a schedule, while they are getting their badges? I'm not sure if that would slow things down at all, or if having both would cost more, or w/e. Just two suggestions I came up with.

 

Other than that, I've posted my other complaints/praises in the Good, Bad, Ugly thread, so I won't repeat them here and take up more space.

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Yes add me to the chorus who prefer Guidebook and the lack of paper schedule did not bother me at all. However, we did still have two people in our group without smartphones and they were quite upset about it, so these people are definitely still out there.

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I said a number of things over on the good, the bad, and the ugly thread, but here is my two cents.  Loved the guide book app which was a lot easier to use than the paper schedule.  I loved being able to create my own personal schedule of panels and events I wanted to attend which reduced the clutter.  I also had no trouble using it on my Ipad and the charge lasted all weekend, with the wifi turned off.  Next up the dividers on the sky bridge were a big help.  I will agree with some of the others here that there were some dead zones in the panel scheduling that could have been used for more panels and such.  I'm not one to go to the major events so I love being able to see a lot of panels, oh and don't wait until 10am on friday to start the panels again as I was in line ready to go at 9am, but 930 would be a good compromise.  Also is there any chance that Otokan could have an anime orchestra event.  I always enjoy seeing them at Katsucon.  The AMV theater was great but it needed to be larger for some of the events, also some of the panels could have used more room clears as they filled up with people waiting for them.  That being said I didn't have any real trouble with lines.  I'd like to say thanks to Otokan for letting me host my Anime Biology panel and the room was packed and the audience was excellent.  One last thing I liked seeing the scheduled photo shoots so I could snap some pictures without feeling nervous about asking for them while roaming the con.

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Does Guidebook have the ability to display a grid schedule?  In years past it did not.  Without this functionality, Guidebook is worthless.  TBH, if the interactive schedule were more mobile-friendly then the "need" and expense of Guidebook would be completely eliminated.

 

Actually, the room clear before the Kill La Kill dub screen was scheduled. I know because I saw reference to it on the Guidebook app.

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<p>

Good Stuff:

  • Dividing lines in the walkways, worked great
  • Apart from line con (more on that further down) things seemed better organized overall
  • Staff Generally friendly
  • Events/Dealers/AA good as usual
Bad Stuff:
  • Kill line con, either open super early on Thursday for pick up (~10am) so a line never forms, or mail the badges, apart from that I dont know what I can add on to what Im sure has already been said, but you should always have an off-line back-up, sure it can be slower but you can at least process people,
  • Access is still too restricted (too many out only doors) more should be in/out
  • Convention center staff are bad, but that's always seemed to be par for the course, hoping that DC will be better
  • No paper schedule :(
Stuff to Improve when you move to DC
  • Smarter badging, preferrably by con staff/volunteers
  • Ditch the 18+ wrist bands to elimintate another line, check IDs at the door. To my understanding this has to do with Baltimore/Maryland law but that might change with the move. Please look into it, cosplayers will thank you.
Ummm how would checking the IDs of a 100+ people multiple times at every thing they want to get into be in any way quicker then having them get a little blue wrist band just once that they can quickly use to get in to dozens of 18+ things I mean simply going of of a 3ds street pass people from all 50 states and a few other countries attend the con all with IDs with birth dates in different places how would it be quicker to check that at door as opposed to the simpler act of hold up the wrist your wrist band is on there are only two wrist to chose from an on wristband

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Pros:

 

- The panels were fantastic. I'll save that for its own thread, but that was the highlight for me.

- Artist's Alley! Always nice.

- The dividers in the skyways! Very nice.

- The attitude at the con was pretty positive, I felt; the Thursday debacle happened but I didn't feel like everything collapsed and the overall mood of the experience was shot. Staff kept mostly positive and friendly despite that.

- The Sailor Moon dub premiere worked out really well (and was really good); I was worried when I was in that line that got broken off and led outside, but it worked out and we all got in.

 

Cons:

- Pre-reg on Thursday, but this has been beaten to death. It worked out okay for me and my group thanks to the skip-the-line passes, but it didn't for others, clearly. That said, my experience is that Otakon learns from these things. I don't foresee this happening again.

- No booth selling soundtracks in the dealer's room! I wanted to get me some Sakura Wars CDs and that just didn't happen. Not that Otakon can help that, but hey, I can't complain.

- I felt like some of the guests' booths in the dealer's room were... I dunno. Extraneous? Under utilized? They mostly appeared to be sitting there, by themselves, when I was in there (and, to be clear, I wasn't there a lot, so this is not a representative sample, if such a thing could be claimed). I think that space might be better utilized another way.

- One of my friends somehow "won" items he never bid on in the art show; ditto another of his friends. I dunno what happened and I can't speak for his experience in full, but that needs to get under control. I believe he spoke with staff on it, but just in case!

- Noodles and Company didn't have a working air conditioner or something, and the heat in there was the only thing not mediocre about the experience. I broke my rule to try to stick to good, local food and I suffered for it. 

 

That said, holy jeez those games. The lines at the local food places were awful. 45 minute waits at the always reliable Pratt Street Alehouse!

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Ummm how would checking the IDs of a 100+ people multiple times at every thing they want to get into be in any way quicker then having them get a little blue wrist band just once that they can quickly use to get in to dozens of 18+ things I mean simply going of of a 3ds street pass people from all 50 states and a few other countries attend the con all with IDs with birth dates in different places how would it be quicker to check that at door as opposed to the simpler act of hold up the wrist your wrist band is on there are only two wrist to chose from an on wristband

 

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Good -

I always have loved Otakon and always will.  It is a special, cherished time for my husband and I.

The staff (that I dealt with) was a pleasure and for the most part, was very well informed.

The divider in the skywalk!  Please keep this.

Having the pre-reg line more inside then I have ever seen before

I was pleased with the dealers room choices this year

 

 

Things I would like to see next year -

DDR or Pump it up in the video game room again

Pre-Reg pickup on Thursday not take as long

Traditional Japanese Festival Foods / Japanese food vendors / Japanese food trucks at the Matsuri

Even if the dealers room is full, why not let people who want to go in wait in a line until it is not full?

 

The Bad -

Why-o-why did the WHOLE artist alley reek of cigarette smoke? I am allergic to cigarette smoke and could not spend the amount of time (and money) in there that I wanted to - I tried each day to see if it would get better but it did not... at all.  I just about had to walk straight from the entry door to the exit door each day and still ended up felling sick to my stomach and having itchy watery eyes and a sneeze attack. 

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-Good

1. Those line dividers in the hallway made traversing through there awesomely awesome.

2. The sumo demonstration was great! Really enjoyed Yama and Kelly going at it. Even managed to get their hand prints =).

3. The dealers room, managed to buy a ton of great things and ended up leaving with like 5 awesome shirts lol.

4. The emptiness of the con? Idk if this a good thing but it definitely felt like the con was much more emptier than in previous years which kind of made it much more smoother to walk around.

-The Bad

1. Thursdays snafuu, really no way around that. What happened happened and I'll just leave it at that.

2. WTF did I just watch, left pretty dissapointed from that panel and the people I went with felt the same as well. It was mostly miss with a little bit of hit.

3. A little bit of oomf, this whole con kind of felt lackluster. Idk if it was because of the guests or what but yeah that was definitely the kind of feeling I had throughout the whole thing.

Other than that that's about it, glad I got to room with some great people because they really added to the con experience.

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Ugly.. Thursday nuff said, However when several computer geeks offer to help with things LET THEM. I had half your problem figured out by the time I hear the whole problem described for me. When you have IT techs in the building ask for help Id have worked my ass off to save my dad from standing in line hell. (54 years old with bad legs that go numb on him and too damn stubborn to get the special needs passes...)  I can move laptops servers  shuffle cables and IP addresses about 10 times faster than you guys trust me on this.

 

The bad, the Funmation panel on Sunday Morning... who cares that Funmation is now available in Puerto Rico, seriously half your presentation was on that fact. Also  DO not claim its available on comcast on demand because in Baltimore Metro area... It ain't (My Ex brother in Law WORKS for comcast as a VP of Programing it ain't there Ive complained to HIM that it isn't available) You held this in Pannel 2 at 10or so in the morning seating 2000 people less than 300 showed up. Communication... seriously I will bring walkie Talkies for staff next year even a set of 4 el cheapos that you can get at wal-mart for 50-60 bucks I will personally buy them and hand them to the staff if need be. Also the Industry room... Was it me or was it more empty than usual. I dunno but it seemed like there were a Lot of booths that either didnt get used or space that got used.  The Video Game Room Is So Massively Under Utilized its HUGELY wasted Space Ideally I would cut it in half and use Part of it as something ELSE (i dunno what exactly but  something ELSE). I went in during peak hours in there and it seemed like there was enough room I could have held a pretty good Roller skate party or a Solid Full Court Basket ball game without having bothered ANYBODY.

 

The good  OMG the Con seemed so much more Open and less congested this year. Weather significant numbers of folks rage quit or the Scheduling and traffic control was that good KUDOS! Holy Smokes the weather was gorgeous... Whomever and whatever sacrifices and pacts with gods and devils were performed do it again.

 

 

 

 

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