Not Comic-Con

We haven’t been to SDCC in years, but there are plenty of offsite things there now which make a trip down worthwhile.

Not Comic Con Update #1:

Visiting San Diego during Comic Con but not at Comic Con. So far, I have had a great time. A 2 hour and some change queue for HTC’s Vive VR demo was well worth it.

Almost time for our #HTCViveLive demo!

A photo posted by @exej on

I got to experience Blu, an undersea 360 degree adventure with fish and whales and other sea life on a sunken ship.

Next up was Tilt Brush, which lets you paint or in my case, draw bad graffiti, with the added dimension of depth. I can’t normally see 3D in films, so that depth that I had just created was more remarkable to me than a “normal” person.

The final Vive demo was an Aperture Science demo by Valve in the Portal universe. It was by far the best experience I have had with VR. Better than anything I have tried with the Oculus DK1, DK2 or Cardboard based headsets.

After the Vive, we headed to the Nerdist/Geek and Sundry/Smart Girls Conival where we have seen brief discussions with Thrilling Adventure Hour and Outcast casts and are currently watching Felicia Day answer Q&A from the crowd.

Swag so far: Kind bar, bottled water, HTC sunglasses, HTC Power Pack 2000mah external battery, lots of Geek and Sundry swag and a Cardboard 2.0 headset from Legendary Pictures.

Not at Comic Con Update 2:

Near the end of Felicia Day’s panel, I got confirmed for a Sony Morpheus demo session at Nerd HQ a bit across town for less than twenty minutes later.

I hadn’t registered for a wristband yet, so I got over there as quickly as possible, breaking through a mob of “protestors” for Damian, Ron Perlman costumed people for Hand of God and cultists for Childhood’s End along the way.

Even random mobs of people weren’t gonna stop me from another competing VR product.

I got to Nerd HQ, explained my session in 10 minutes to a volunteer. He saw the urgency on my face and let me skip to the front of the otherwise 10-15 minute wristband queue. I was quickly branded with my RFID tag and sent on my way.

Next I tried to use the exit instead of the entrance to go into the building. Other volunteers got me to the entrance and I made my way upstairs for my demo.

I had a choice between two versions of London Heist or Superhypercube. I decided on Superhypercube.

Sadly, while I enjoyed the game, using the headset didn’t work out for me.

In contrast to my joy with the Vive, I had a terrible experience with the Morpheus.

The game was pretty fun, what I could see of it.

The front of the Morpheus let in a lot of light from below my eyes and like a normal 3D movie, I couldn’t see the depth. All I saw was wavy lines where the third dimension should have popped right out at me.

Ten minutes later and I had ruled out a VR headset candidate.

Even though I was unhappy with the Morpheus, I am still very glad to have had the opportunity to try it, especially with an appointment versus a queue line.

I wandered Nerd HQ while my wife made her way over from the Conival. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else there to hold my interest.

We met outside near the food trucks and got $2.50 hot dogs from the Slider truck.

Then we headed to a late lunch at Dick’s Last Resort.

After lunch, crowds and queue lines prevented us from exploring the Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions pop up stores. Likewise to the Heroes Reborn attraction.

We got a cool SyFy button pack and some more sunglasses on the street.

We ended up at the DJI boat in the marina and yet another VR experience, controlling the camera on a DJI Inspire 1 using head tracking on a Zeiss VR One headset.

I completed the first two Ingress Mission Day SDCC missions and we called it a night.

We are staying in Oceanside, a bit north of all of the hustle and bustle.

For dinner we had awesome chicken wings and BBQ cheesburger pizza at Pizza Port in Carlsbad.

Our swag haul was pretty decent for day one. Now about to embark on a second day of not Comic Con!

Not Comic-Con Update 3:

I am currently sitting on a park bench at Bad Ass Music Festival awaiting Nerf Herder taking the stage. Today, I did what I set out to do.

First stop Nerdist/Geek and Sundry/Smart Girls Conival:

We saw a great panel with Wil Wheaton, Ryan Wheaton, Laura Bailey, Alison Haislip and Yuri Lowenthal from Titansgrave.

Titansgrave at Nerdist Conival

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We got a photo taken in a giant slurpee cup and free slurpees to celebrate 7/11.

Happy 7-11!

A photo posted by @exej on

I got epic swag while doing an Ingress Mission in the form of a Sharknado hat.

Next up was a short trip to Nerd HQ, where we playtested the alpha build of Star Wars Battlefront for PC.

We got to play through the Battle of Hoth as foot soldiers. I died a lot. It was well done but I am not a fan of the genre of game.

We found a nice shady spot for my wife to sit and I set out to complete the remaining Ingress missions that I will turn in tomorrow for Mission Day.

A few hours later, I was pretty dehydrated and got some great fresh orange juice at Skybound Bakery.

I finished up the missions and we had a bit of time left so we checked out the Hello Kitty Cafe truck and the Petco Interactive Lot area. The line was a bit too long or I would have tried out yet another VR experience, the StarVR.

A trolley ride and short walk later, we have made it to the main event of our Not Comic Con.

Yay! Nerf Herder up next!

A photo posted by @exej on

Not Comic Con Update, Supplemental:

I videotaped Nerf Herder while my wife took photos. They rocked. I rated it, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 Buffys!

View our photos on Flickr
2015-07-11 Nerf Herder

It was also brought to my attention that I beat Brian Rose to completing all 13 Mission Day missions. Yes, I did, but he has the badge before me.

I have participated in many Ingress anomalies and a couple of First Saturday events. Mission Day was great because I didn’t have to oppose a faction or battle with others. It was all about discovering great parts of San Diego. That discovery aspect is what drew me to Ingress in the first place.

It was also great to work with Operation Essex, who, when in my time of need, assisted me in solving a cipher. It didn’t matter if the agents helping were blue, green or gray, they were ready to assist and it was great to involve them and share with them my progress along the way.

This weekend, I have learned that I likely won’t ever consider going back to San Diego Comic Con.
Seeing thousands camped behind the convention center in an unofficial line, people spilling out in packs of hundreds from the front and back of the convention center at different times and talk of at least a two hour wait to do anything, it has become too much for me.

That said, the Nerdist/Geek and Sundry/Smart Girls Conival, which likely had a lot of funding kicked in from Legendary Pictures, was much more than an oasis. They had quality guests, albeit usually in time compressed panels. They had excellent swag. They made it feel like we were a part of something. It felt like being in the best community possible.

Nerd HQ had Conversations for a Cause and Smiles for Smiles with some amazing talent volunteering their time. They had highly anticipated video games to play and a lounge where visitors could relax and enjoy a drink.

The Bad Ass Music Festival had a loaded roster of talent and ended up being converted into a fully free event.

I got to participate in some experiences outside of Comic Con that the people trapped in those lines or in that building didn’t get the opportunity to experience.

It was fun. It was a lot less pressure. I had just a loose itinerary and we got to do almost everything on it.

And tomorrow I will hopefully have a nice brunch at the new Geek Chic XP Gaming Cafe and then check in for my Ingress Mission Day badge.

Not at Comic Con Update 4:

We tried a new trolley stop today. Grossmont Travel Center is a small amount closer than El Cajon.

We also took the Orange Line to Fifth Ave Station instead of the Green Line to Convention Center.

The Orange Line was much less crowded and a bit faster. Just a tip for those who attend Comic Con or Not Comic Con in the future.

Our first order of business when we got into San Diego this morning was brunch. We had an epic meal. I had a cast iron skillet short rib omelette with fruit on the side. My wife had a short stack of strawberry chocolate chip pancakes.

Breakfast at Cafe 21

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After brunch, we headed to the Horton Plaza Hotel, where we had missed out on playing games with Cards Against Humanity’s Max Temkin and author Patrick Rothfuss the night before.

The Geek Chic XP Gaming Cafe was in the process of teardown when we arrived but we got to see where the magic had happened and it seemed like a cool little place where folks could escape the heat outside or the crowd of the convention and enjoy some quality tabletop gaming and food and drinks.

We headed back to the Nerdist/Geek and Sundry/Smart Girls Conival and I checked out a short panel with Ashley Eckstein, who as an actress voices Ashoka in Clone Wars and Rebels. As a fashion designer, she has an awesome clothing brand called Her Universe.

She modeled her new unisex Con Survival Hoodie and if the largest size available had fit me, I may have made a purchase.

While waiting outside for my wife, I ran into Camden Toy, an actor whose face you may not recognize but has appeared in many science fiction and horror roles covered in makeup. I have met Camden several times and it was cool to see him checking out the Non-Comic Con fare as a fan and not as scheduled talent.

I took a giant bag full of Legendary branded Cardboard 2.0 headsets to my next destination, the Ingress Mission Day check in at Bassmnt.

I passed out 62 Cardboard headsets to the queue line and hopefully exposed some more folks to the magic of virtual reality.

We made our way inside and checked in and then waited around for 30 minutes or so having been told something would happen.

What happened was Brian Rose announced two more missions, one for Klue, the other for PAC that had just gone live.

Completing the missions would earn agents an autograph and personal thank you from both Klue and PAC on special Comic Con Mission Day postcard sized cards.

I set out to retrieve some of my agent friends from the California Cavalry and found them chatting with Ingress Creative Director Flint Dille. Finally got to meet the guy who controls the storyline we all complain about.

The two missions were a good mix of passphrases with deep cuts into Ingress lore and a bit of a scavenger hunt as well through a four block or so radius around Bassmnt.

I spent the next 30 minutes or so shouting out answers like Tycho, Wallace, Zerotime, wheat, Omnivore and 855 for the Klue mission and Origins, 855, Geneva, Truthseeker, Arecibo and Epiphany for the PAC mission. Saving all of those media files over the years paid off and I was the primary investigator for a mixed group of agents from both factions.

We had a lot of fun on those missions and got cool keepsakes to go with our Mission Day badges. I also earned the silver Spec Ops badge fittingly after completing the Klue and PAC missions.

Truthseekers #Ingress #missionday #sdcc

A photo posted by @exej on

As an early Mission Creator Beta participant and creator of two “alpha” missions that we used to give to visitors to San Francisco before missions were a thing, I was really pleased with the two added missions today. They embodied everything I had wanted to see in Ingress Missions.

I met with PAC and Klue and said goodbye to Joe Philley and Brian Rose on my way out.

Now, we are travelling home. I have to work in the morning and our ETA is around 2:30AM at this point.

We made a brief pit stop in San Dimas, where strange things were afoot at the Circle K, and got a quick fast food and caffeine to refuel.

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K

A photo posted by @exej on

Soon it will be my shift to drive. Thanks go out to everyone I saw today and this weekend. Great to meet some of you from as far away as Chile and as close as a few blocks away in San Diego.


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