After a grueling night of playing challenges (check out the spoils above), I returned to my quarters only to wake up the next morning at 7am to go down and play some more. In fact, Brandon was able to make his way down to play, as well, and he had stayed up even later than I did the night before—it was great to have a buddy to share the pain with so early in the morning.
Call us crazy, but those laptops are almost always occupied, and it has long been proven that going to the game room in the wee hours of the morning is the best thing to do if you’re looking to play a specific, popular attraction. My first year, Jen and I woke up at 5am to go down and we were able to play whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. That’s a Pro Tip for you there for next year, dear readers.
At nine o’clock I went back to the room to wake up Jen and eat some breakfast, and together we wandered down to Kinuyo Yamashita’s panel. Unfortunately for you all, my notes are sparse—she really didn’t say much outside of what I already knew from my biographical post about her. However, one notable question asked was whether or not Yamashita ripped off a Guns and Roses song called “My Michelle” with her Mega Man X3 track “Neon Tiger.” After some sleuthing, the Guns and Roses number was recorded in 1987, while X3 was released in 1995 (start at :20 for “Neon Tiger” and :26 for “My Michelle”).
The schedule stated that the panel was to be a Q&A plus a solo piano performance. Below you’ll find Jen’s video of Yamashita playing what I believe was said to be “Gravity Beetle” from X3. This video is the extent of her performance. It was cool to hear her play, but honestly, the whole performance being one short tune was a bit of a letdown.
I didn’t mention this last post, but I had a MAGFest staff nemesis during the weekend who blocked me from asking questions at both the Koshiro and Yamashita panels. Two panels in a row, this guy dismissed my attempts at trying to get in line because in front of him was the “last question.” GUH!
Truth be told, both times were my fault. During Koshiro’s I waited until the line had died down enough for me to exit my row and be in the back of the line, and for Yamashita’s, I didn’t think of a good question until really late. In case you’re wondering, I wanted to ask Yamashita: “In an interview of yours that I read, you stated that your music for Castlevania was influenced by the dynamics of how the character moved—I was wondering if such a thing still influences you and how that has changed with games morphing from 2D to 3D.”
I don’t know that she’d have an answer for that, honestly, haha, so it wasn’t a big deal; but, my question for Koshiro was important to me, so I went to a Q&A panel with him and Chris Huelsbeck later that day to get in line early and ask. My question for Koshiro was something to the effect of: “As a fan of 20th century classical music, I enjoyed listening to your soundtrack to Beyond Oasis; I was both intrigued with it as a work for video games and absolutely terrified by it. Could you talk about composing for that game and tell me what your colleagues’ reactions were to it?”
I got a few chuckles from the audience on saying it was terrifying (though it wasn’t meant to be funny! heh heh) and Koshiro talked about having studied 12-tone serialism and other 20th century atonal techniques. However, he did not answer the latter part of the question, haha. It was unfortunate, too, since that’s what I was most interested in—the idea that the team for the game accepted that kind of music and approved it for a video game. Lest you didn’t listen to it on my post about Koshiro, head on over to check it out and prepare to be unsettled.
Some bullets from that Q&A:
– Koshiro enjoys playing Para Para Paradise
– Both composers use Cubase
– As for their favorite VGM composers, Huelsbeck chose Rob Hubbard (Commodore 64 guru) and Koshiro stated Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest series).
After eating lunch I broke off from my friends to network a bit. One of the new features of MAGFest was a section for indie developers to set up booths and show off their games, so naturally, I wanted to strike up a few conversations.
Overall, I think that it was a success. I was admittedly a bit shy—going up to a developer’s table to hand them my card and make a connection instead of playing their games was weird. For one, I even tried playing their game first and then telling them that I write music for games, and I think that was even weirder. Ultimately, though, I just had to do my thing. I think it’s one of those situations that I tend to over-think because if I were in their shoes, why wouldn’t I want another potential composer in my back pocket?
I met a handful of people and companies and exchanged cards. It was cool to come home and find some e-mails in my box during the week from some of these folks. While I didn’t get a job off the bat (not that I was expecting to), now I feel actually connected with these folks and am not afraid to do some follow-up work when I have my demo reel polished.
That evening my friends and I gathered in my room for some friendly rounds of the highly underappreciated Pac-Man Vs., Dogfish Head beer (Fort, Bitches’ Brew, and Chateau Jiahu, all of which were great), and Domino’s pizza. We also spent time with this little guy, a Christmas gift to Jen and me from our pal Stephen that, as you can see, Brandon loved.
Our evening activities included two shows, the first of which was The Protomen. Natalie is a huge fan of theirs and got Jen into them, so we listened to an album of theirs on the way to MAGFest. I was lukewarm on it, the same that I was when I first heard them from my pals Ben and Sarah (who hardcore follow them) a number of years ago. That being said, the show was pretty great; they are certainly a group to see live. If I hadn’t heard the record beforehand, I’d’ve been tempted to buy it afterwards. The playing was tight, the amount of energy emitting from each member was enormous, and the aesthetics of the performance really made their time on stage a show to remember. I’d see them again!
The second show was one that many MAGFesters had been waiting for all weekend: the Midnight Dance Party feat. DJ Yuzo Koshiro! Koshiro is the man, seriously. He was nervous because he had never DJed for an American crowd – nor he had done so for a crowd of that size – before. There were admittedly a few hiccups, such as when the audio would completely cut out while he was trying to transition between tunes, but Koshiro took it in stride with an enormously supportive MAGFest crowd that adored him.
The set started out with some chiptunes from Act Raiser and morphed into a techno/house/trance club scene over time. Naturally, Koshiro played tunes from the Streets of Rage series as well as the Wangan Midnight games, and people ate it all up. I had a great time cutting loose with my friends.
Saturday was a late night that led to an early morning (as always). The great thing about the Gaylord, though, is that their check out is killin’. You have to be out earlier than you’ll ever want to wake up on Sunday (11am), but all you have to do is pick up the receiver in the room and press a button and bam! You’re all checked out. Also, I’m not going to spoil it for you, but there’s something funny about checking out by phone—heck, I think I’d stay at a Gaylord again just to do check out! Make sure next year you heed my advice.
So Jen and I checked out, got all of our stuff to the car, helped others do the same, and then spent more time with everyone in the game room. Yes, challenges were involved, and this was the time that Jen strutted her stuff on Castlevania. But that’s basically it aside from us going to lunch and me getting ultra sick and having to stay at Jen’s until the next day, missing out on work. Success!
In short, MAGFest was awesome, as expected. I’m already looking forward to another year of friends, games, challenges, and concerts. Wherever you live, be it in Kenucky or Korea, you should seriously consider making the trip to National Harbor if you’re serious about having great times with thousands of people like yourself!