Our RTX Trip
So I thought I should post something about our RTX trip this past weekend. First things first:
WE HAD A GREAT TIME
Met a bunch of great people, got pictures with internet famous people, played Sell Outs with brand new people (which I will write about in more detail later). It was my first convention experience, and it was really interesting. First, my thoughts going into the expo.
Before the trip, I had a concern with how I would react to the expo. I was concerned that all the panels would be pretty bland, the lines would be way too long, and everything would be so expensive and crowded. For the most part, I was right to have these concerns. I shall now complain about little things (but read on for non-complaints).
I’m pretty sure I died of heat stroke every time I stepped outside. I didn’t realize it could be so hot at night.
Everything Was Crowded
I understand why it was crowded. I heard that they had about 17,000 people at the expo at one point or another. I really have no reason to complain about the success of the event, but being a large person with an aversion to crowds, I couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable when traversing the expo floor, and even sitting in some of the panel rooms because they were cramped and the chairs were a little small, allowing me a more ‘intimate’ interaction with my neighbor than I expected or wanted.
To top it all off, we ended up sitting off to the side of the stage or pretty far back, so we had to watch the panel on the projector screens anyway, which sort of removed the ‘Live’ aspect of the event for me. I could have had a similar panel experience just watching all of RTX on YouTube.
Q&A Panels Suck
We went to around 3 panels per day. By Sunday, I was almost dreading hearing the panel members talk about Q&A, because most of the time, the questions are terrible. 80% of the time, people just line up to deliver their poor attempt at a joke, or dumb ‘lol im so random’ question, or inside reference. 15% of the Q&A time is people asking to bring up some random paraphernalia they made for the panelists and subsequently delivering said paraphernalia. Overall, if the panelists mentioned the syllables ‘cue-and-ayy’ within the first half hour of the panel, I immediately became very disappointed.
Prices Seemed Over The Top
I know I needed to expect it. There we are, 1,698.5 miles (yes, I looked it up [approx. 17,936,160 erect penii of average length, since you asked]) away from home, in a city we’ve never known. Of course everything is going to be more expensive than I am used to. It’s not that I’m surprised by any of this, but that does not mean I am not allowed to complain about it.
Some Events Were Poorly Planned
We went to a panel called ‘Creating Content that Doesn’t Suck’, which is similar to the concept of irony, because it kind of sucked. Shortly after it started, we were told, “This isn’t a panel for video editing, this is a panel for writing.” The description of the panel could have meant either, but we wrongly assumed it meant video editing, since the company does a lot of video-based work. The poor woman gave a short PowerPoint that outlined how to define your audience, and then she went into Q&A. I think she was a little upset as people kept getting up and leaving, but you don’t invite that many YouTube wannabes into a room about better content, and expect them all to want to write better.
We Got Home Six Hours Later Than Expected
This is not related to the Expo itself, but I need to vent it out.
The trip down to Austin went without a hitch with American Airlines. Noone gave Shanay a problem about her pocket knife that she forgot was in her bag, no flight delays, just a slight hiccup where they flagged the box that contained Sell Outs. Before he even opened the bag, the TSA Agent looked at me and said, “It’s a card game, right?” I guess it’s tough to tell what it is, because it just shows up as a mass on their scanner.
What could go wrong?
So we go on our RTX trip, and everything is pretty good. Then we get into line for security screening around 6:30am at the Austin Airport. Now we are flying United. It is no longer okay for Shanay to have her pocket knife in her bag. So she goes back, pays the fee to have it checked, and has to clear security a second time. Short flight to Houston airport, no issues. We deplane at the gate right next to our next gate. Awesome, just have to wait out the hour long layover and we’re on our way to Chicago. Hah, nah. They changed our gate to be on the other side of the airport.
We get there, and we’re waiting. Waiting. “Gosh, when are we going to board?” Get a flight update, “Flight pushed back.” Then another. Then another. Finally they let us on the stupid plane. Then another delay. People started getting off the plane. Then another. After a good 45 minutes, they tell us we have to get off the plane.
Well that’s good. I didn’t need to go to Chicago for my flight home that leaves an hour after we were originally supposed to land. I go and stand in a line for another 20 minutes before being directed to yet another line for customer assistance. Finally, the woman at the desk was able to book me on a flight to Newark, and then home, with only a three hour layover. Damn, man. Okay.
We get to our local airport at around 10. Hang on, though. Shanay’s bag got checked in Austin, so what happens then? If you guessed it went to Chicago without us, you’d be right. And our originally planned flight from Chicago to home was the last one for the day. Awesome. The next day we were lucky enough to get the bag. That’s exactly how I always wanted to spend Independence Day, stuck traversing the sky and airports all day.
It’s not the worst experience anyone’s had with airlines, but it’s the worst experience I’ve had.
With the complaints out of the way:
Some Panels Were Really Well Done
At least half of the panels we went to during our RTX trip were pretty well planned. My favorite events over the course of the weekend were the Funhaus panel, On The Spot, and Off Topic. The Free Play panel was pretty good too, even though I didn’t watch Free Play very often (even the Q&A had some nice and touching moments).
Funhaus seemed like they put a lot of work into making it seem like they put very little work into their panel. They did a PowerPoint that was entertaining, they had an Austin Tourism video that was really good, they pulled some audience members for a live ‘Google Trends’ show, they played a ‘Who Said It’ game with the audience, and revealed a new animated series. They barely had time for Q&A, which I was happy about.
On The Spot
The On The Spot event was an actual game of On The Spot with Funhaus vs Game Grumps. I’m not a fan of Game Grumps, but Dan was pretty funny. I thought Bruce and James were much funnier during this OTS than they have been in past episodes. Jon did really well as host, and the laughs kept coming. Unfortunately, I also had to sit through Aaron’s overly deliberate and self-aware attempt at humor, but oh well.
Off Topic was really the highlight of all of the scheduled events I went to. It was an extra hour longer than the other panels (true to form), and there was NO Q&A. Perfect. The basic premise is that they gathered a bunch of people who are pretty good at talking, and just let them shoot the shit for two hours. It had everything a good movie needs. A cohesive timeline, some romance, some action, a good public dick tweet story, an unhealthy amount of peach moonshine… Everything you could want from your entertainment.
I got to show off my game to a good bunch of people. We played in line for events, we played in the bar, Buffalo Billiards, we talked about it with designers, gamers, writers and more. I even spoke to the guy at the Superfight booth about printing, and he approved of my choice for a good prototype printer. Woo!
The Beer Was Good
The local beer was pretty good. I stuck to Fireman’s Blond Ale and Big Bark Ale during the course of our RTX Trip, and I would highly recommend them. I also had a drink called an “Adios, Motherfucker” which a passerby recommended against drinking. It was delicious, and one of our new friends, Marc, bought me a second because he’s a good guy and a bad influence. I had to get on a plane at 8 the next morning, Marc.
Just about every place was air conditioned. This is important because I’m pretty sure the city would melt if it wasn’t.
The People We Met
We met a bunch of different people, which is pretty new for us. Quick shout outs to Matt, Shay, Marc, other Marc, Michelle, Phil, Ed, James, Damen (sp?), Jess, Ben, Fin, all the people whose names I unfortunately forgot that played Sell Outs in line with us for the AH panel, all the guardians for RTX, that guy at the bar that gave me a free Screw Attack poster fresh from the bathroom, all my Nintendo street passes, and everyone else that I can’t think of because my head hurts and there were just so many of you. Special shout outs to Shanay for dragging me along and Dean and Emily for watching Gadget while we were gone. Last shout out to Gadget for being a dog.
Even though it was usually pretty expensive, every restaurant we went to outside of the hotel had really good food. Try the ‘Dirty Sixth Roll’ at Piranha Killer Sushi, the ‘Pad Kee Mao’ at Mai Thai, and the ‘Adios, Motherfucker’ at Buffalo Billiards. My only food related complaint would have to be the Pub Burger at the Liberty Tavern in the Hilton. Pretty much tasted like grease. Maybe that’s the point, but I want some flavor for an $19 burger.
Overall I think our RTX Trip was a great first convention. I still wouldn’t say I’m comfortable with large crowds or cramped spaces, or meeting new people, but I think I’m more open to it. I met some terrific people, some really enthusiastic creators, and it was all really great. It would be fun to go again next year, hopefully in a more booth-like capacity. With all that said, here are some pictures!