NärCon 2014

Initial thoughts

Each night at NärCon I wrote down what I had done that day and some thoughts about it. These are some of my notes. I will probably write a more overall-review in a day or so.

Doctor Who-meetup
They had a fun scenario where The Doctor thought he was John Smith and the attendees where his students. I pretended to be late and gave him a stone pear (in-joke). The room was however much too small.

Homestuck-panel
A panel where a panel of cosplayers answered questions as their characters. It was better than I expected, and well organized. Some of the cosplayers could have talked stronger so everyone could hear.

Opening Ceremony
A lot of Pepp! Too much dance for my taste, it had however a good variation so I didn’t get too bored. Everything was in English which I think is a good change considering how large NärCon has become.

Performance
Good stage. Good performances, for being the first year, but no one really impressed me. There were very few entries. Where were the other ones? Had they all dropped out? The skits consisted of a few dances, and one comedy with an overdone theme.

Hotel (Scandic West)
We paid for a 3-person room; got 1 single bed, 1 sofa bed, and 1 extra bed. Bad pressure in the shower. Nice personnel and free parking.

Cosplay Chess
I took the initiative to clean the room before the chess. During the chess I sat in the background being nervous over the program I had coded and that Sedra controlled. Everything went fine. I found 2 things I want to improve with the program though.

R2-builders
I happened to stumble into a lecture on how to build an R2D2, I was very inspired. I might do something like that in the future.

EatYourKimchi
I attended the QnA, the Game show, and the Talk show, that all featured EatYourKimchi. Simon and Martina have such a good chemistry and competitive spirit. I would love to see more of EatYourKimchi at future events.

CMV competition
There were quite a few entries in this new competition, but only one was good enough to impress me. VändettA Cosplay was definitely best. The CMV competition took place as a part of the NCC-warm up, I’m not sure if that was a good idea since it took a very long time to show all CMVs.

NCC
It felt very epic! Too bad there where technical difficulties that made the organizers decide to not show the intros for each contestant. The cosplayers where all amazingly good, and they all had stunning performances.

Water War
I haven’t had so much fun in ages. It was great to just play and have fun. I had a super soaker with a 3Liter backpack so I rarely had to refill with water. If was fun to see how teams formed on the battlefield. Someone must have thought I was a bit too overpowered because he sneaked up behind me and emptied a full bucked over my head. Great fun in the very hot weather

Cosplay competition
Really good cosplayers. VändettA Cosplay’s intermission skit was good. But T-Rex Gymnastics’ intermission \"skit\" was sooooo bad. Intermission skits are supposed to bring up the energy and made the audience Pepp again. But now, if the audience wasn’t exhausted I’m sure T-Rex Gymnasitcs’ would have been booed off the stage. Everyone around me in the audience just lay down on their backs, covered their eyes and ears and took a nap.
Everyone in the Master category was really impressive, I felt like I wanted to be up there with them. I did however note that several of the Masters broke a very specific rule; you are not allowed to have any assistance on stage.

Skit-panel with Norrländsk Cosplayfront
I felt like such a fan boy during the skit-panel, I knew every song, every skit referenced, and it was fun to see at least parts of NCF again.


The Day After Review

I have now slept and had time to reflect on the past convention, these are my thoughts.

It was larger than ever before, and you could feel it. 7000 attendees, there were people everywhere, but it never felt overcrowded thanks to the event being more spread out over the university. This did however make NärCon lose some of its coziness, it wasn’t a huge deal for me but I’ve read that some think NärCon has lost its roots.

One of the main focuses this year was the food, but I didn’t really feel that there was more or better food. The food places were more spread out, there were always a long line, or they had run out of ingredients. I ate 2 NärCon burgers, they were very dry. I also bought a salad at the salad bar, but they didn’t have any salad, just various beans and dry root-fruits; I couldn’t finish it. Most of the time I just went to the local McDonalds instead; it was faster and I got more food for my money.

I never buy anything from the shops at conventions because they all always have the same boring anime stuff. But this year there were a much better variation of stores with nerdy things to buy. I almost bought a Legend of Zelda belt, almost.

The promised Epic Water War was indeed epic. A whole field of people armed with water guns fighting, forming pacts, doing sneaky ambushes, throwing grenades (water balloons), and having a good time in the heat wave. The single best highlight of the convention.

As a programmer and wanna-be indie developer (yeah, right…), I really liked the Indie Gathering part of the convention. And it was when I browsed all the indie games that I found the R2-builders, their lecture in how to build an R2D2 was truly inspireing. Now I want to incorporate my programming knowledge into props and costumes.

I want to mention EatYourKimchi. I had never heard of them before NärCon announced them as guests a few months ago, but since then I have become a fan. I went to the QnA, the Gameshow, and the Talkshow (all of which featured EYK as guests). The Gameshow in particular was very entertaining. Simon and Martina have such a good chemistry, competitive spirit, and stage presence. The Gameshow was my favorite stage activity of the convention.

Speaking of guests, there were a lot of them. EatYourKimchi, 4 cosplayers I’ve never heard of, and Reika (who I only know because she was at NärConWinter). I think there were too many guests, EYK and maybe 2 cosplay guests would have been enough.

Most con-goers would probably agree when I say that Sundays are dead, that nothing happens and everyone in just sitting half asleep in corners with their luggage waiting for the closing ceremony. Well, I thought that it was a great choice by NärCon to have low-effort activities on the Sunday, such as panels and lectures. I went to two panels/lectures on the Sunday (it would have been three if it wasn’t canceled).

Now we get into the more controversial stuff; I want to talk about the competitions and other main stage activities.
Opening and Closing ceremonies: I think dance numbers are extremely boring, not matter if it’s in cosplay or not. But I guess it’s an easy way for NärCon to fill some stage time. The hosts were okay; at least they looked like they liked to stand on stage.
Technical Difficulties: There were a lot of them, and it would seem to be related to video formats, which is funny because they were very specific with what video format the contestants should use, but they then failed to use that format themselves.
NCC-warmup: also known as "will these CMVs never end?"
NCC: also known as "we are finally all 5 Nordic countries, but we’ll keep saying ‘Scandinavia’"
Performances: I love that NärCon has brought up the focus on performance, but I can’t remember a single performance. Not form the Performance Competition, not from Nordic Cosplay Championship, not from the Master category. Were they all that uninteresting? Were they all that similar? Were they just too many?
The cosplay competition: It was painfull to sit through all of the Acts and Intermissions on an asphalt parking lot in the sun. The competition needs to be cut shorter. Maybe limit the amount of cosplay tickets, or have qualifiers the days before, or something. Or I know! Cut out the very bad and very long "intermission skit" by T-Rex Gymnastics. That "skit" was so bad I wished they had been booed off the stage, but no one in the audience had the energy because of the heat and asphalt. Intermission skits are supposed to bring back the energy and Pepp to the audience so they get the strength to watch some more cosplayers. VändettA Cosplay’s intermission skit on the other hand was really good and fun. More VändettA, less T-Rex!
Judging: Note! This is things I have heard, I cannot confirm this myself! I’ve heard that the judges didn’t even bother to look at the cosplays at the prejudging. This is something I find very strange. Apparently they based their decisions on wow-factor, not on craftsmanship or performance. This makes me wonder why there were only international judges and not a single Swedish judge that could teach them the Swedish rules and expectations. And while we’re at it, why so many international judges? They must have been expensive; money that was needed on other parts of the convention (like NCC prices).

That’s it for my "The Day After"-review.