This Week in Geekdom

Hey there everyone! Hope you're all having great weekends thus far, especially if you're one of the lucky nerds attending PAX Prime (if you're befuddled by our conflating 'lucky' and any incarnation of PAX, check out our stance on that particular family of conventions here). If you are at PAX Prime, pleasepleaseplease take one of these and tell us what it's like. In any case, let's get down to the Week in Geekdom, shall we?

Books

The Shepherd's Crown, the 41st and final installment of Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series was released in the UK this past Wednesday. It will be available in the US on September 1st.

Comics

Who's up for some vintage DC goodness? You can now view the entirety of the 1982 official DC style guide online.

Movies/TV

Amazon will be taking up the movie-to-TV-series trend with their episodic spin on Galaxy Quest.

Vin Diesel is officially confirmed to return as the voice of Groot for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. The film is slated to hit theaters in May of 2017.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will be getting the Lash treatment.

The minds behind Adventure Time are working on an animated series based on Castlevania III.

Are you planning on following along with Fear the Walking Dead? If so, you may want to keep an eye on AMC's website. The network is planning to develop a half-hour special covering the infamous zombie outbreak as it unfolds on a plane. This zombies on a plane bit will introduce new characters and content that will factor into the rest of Fear the Walking Dead.  This content will air only online and AMC has not specified a release date, so keep an eye out.

Science/Technology

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...wait. It's really an FAA-approved paper airplane?

It's officially been over a month now since Microsoft released Windows 10 upon the PC-using populace. How have things been going since then? Here are the results so far.

Ever wonder why the Earth doesn't feature nifty rings around it like some of our solar-system siblings have? Here comes the science.

Earlier this week, the Hubble telescope brought us these images of a 'butterfly effect' within the Twin Jets Nebula and the results are absolutely stunning.

It's a public health issue that plagues researchers every year: selecting the strains of the flu virus that will be the most likely to crop up during the winter and using those strains to create the annual flu vaccine. On Monday, immunologists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced that they are considerably closer to the proverbial holy grail: a universal flu vaccine.

On Friday, NASA launched what will be its longest isolation simulation for those individuals who are aiming to be the first humans on Mars.

Believe it or not, this is Hawaii
Does a single Earth day cause ripples in the fabric of space-time?

We tend to lend a heaping helping of love to those individuals developing applications for virtual reality devices and today's going to be no exception. Meet James Blaha. If he has his way, he'll give us a way to use the Oculus Rift headset as a way to correct certain vision problems.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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Guest Post: Making Hawkgirl's Wings, Part 1

We are almost done with our series on the making of Steampunk Hawkgirl. Only a couple pieces of the costume remain in the proverbial un-posted-upon dark, but there's a good reason for the wait: I wanted you guys to have the most comprehensive explanation for how the 'bones' of the wings came together, as they were the most challenging part of this project. 

The 'bones' themselves were the result of two phases of construction, the first of which took place not in my little nerdy abode, but, rather, all the way out on the West Coast. My extremely talented cousin and fellow cosplayer, Mel, and her friend, James, generously lent their skills during the early parts of the build. Mel is joining us today to describe how she and James turned some strips of metal into the foundation for Hawkgirl's wings. So, without further ado, here's Mel! 



Hi Nerds! I’m Mel and am here to share my contribution to Kel’s amazing Hawkgirl cosplay with you.

I love cosplay. The pride of figuring out how to make something new and the joy of participating in my favorite fandoms is such a rewarding experience and just plain fun. For me, cosplay is at its best when it becomes a team effort. I am lucky to have fellow makers in my life that will go down the costume rabbit hole with me simply to figure out if we can pull it off. Every costume we do usually presents us with a new skill to master and we try to help each other achieve a level of craftsmanship we couldn’t approach on our own. It also keeps things fun when faced with the more frustrating and tedious tasks that costume making comes with. Enter Kel’s latest adventure: Steampunk Hawkgirl!

Kel called me up to debate her construction options and I jumped at the chance to pitch in. First, Steampunk Hawkgirl is just awesome, especially when part of a group Steampunk Justice League cosplay. Second, the particular conundrum of articulating wing construction is something I couldn’t resist. One of my cosplay partners in crime, James, has always loved the idea of making articulating wings, and I just wanted an excuse to run around the house pretending I could fly. Kel had done a ton of research, which you can read all about in her previous post, and was debating which material to use: PVC pipe, wood or aluminum. All three would work, but they each came with challenges. Ultimately, we agreed that aluminum was the best route as it would be lightweight, durable, easy to operate, and aesthetically complimented her desired wing shape. The problem was that Kel lacked workspace and the necessary tools to get these done. 

Having done some aluminum work with James on a pair of holster buckles for a Rule 63 Han Solo costume I'd put together for SDCC 2014, I decided to volunteer our assistance. James has completed a great deal of metal work out of his garage over the years so he could save Kel the cost of acquiring tools as well as the headaches associated with the trial and error of learning how to work with the material. As Kel and I live on opposite coasts, we agreed that she would send me her design details and James and I would make the structural components of the wings for her.

Kel’s design was great! She had not only researched and developed a working mechanism for the wings but she built a full-scale mock up out of cardboard to test operation, shape and size. I completely agree with Kel’s advice to do a small and full-scale test of complex cosplay elements out of cheap material that you can work with quickly. This is the stage where you can really refine the design and anticipate any major problems before you put your time and hard-earned cash into the real deal.

Kel passed along photos and the dimensions of her wings, which I used to draw a set of templates using Adobe Illustrator. James and I made our own cardboard mock-up so we could understand exactly what we were doing and what Kel needed.

James did some material tests and determined that we could slim down a number of components so save weight. If we were doing this out of wood the original size and shape of Kel’s design would have been perfect, but aluminum is much stronger so you don’t need the extra material. Since one of Kel’s goals was to keep the wings under 7 pounds, we trimmed wherever we could. After a thorough evaluation, we determined that we could slim down all but the largest piece (the large curved bone at the top of each wing), which gives the wing its awesome shape when extended.

We headed to our local hardware & metal store for materials. Here is what we picked up:

Aluminum Bars: 1” wide x ¼” thick x 96” long (2.54 x 0.64 x 243.84 cm)
Aluminum Strips: 3” wide x 1/8” thick x 6’ long (7.62 x 0.34 x 15.24 cm)
Jig Saw Blades for metal work

Back at the garage we pulled out the following tools:

Jig Saw
Angle Grinder
Clamps
Safety Glasses
Work Gloves
Drill
Pop Rivet Gun w/ Rivets
Scrap Aluminum Rod to fit the Dura-Collars

After tracing our template pieces onto the aluminum with a Sharpie, James began clamping the aluminum to a worktable and cutting the straight pieces with a jig saw fitted with blades specifically for cutting metal. (General reminder: make sure you wear eye protection! The last thing you want is a metal shard in your eye. There are lots of awesome characters with eye patches, but I don’t think you want to cosplay them everyday.) James cut slowly and steadily to avoid dulling the blade too quickly, but you do want to change the blade often. Metal work will chew right through sharp blades in a surprising amount of time. Buy lots of them and don’t be afraid to toss them frequently. Blades are relatively inexpensive and cutting with a dull blade can ruin your aluminum edges, putting you at greater risk for injury.




Next up, James cut the largest piece, which has a very distinct curved shape. For this he popped in a fresh blade and cut the piece out staying a little bit out from the marker line. This gave him some room to maneuver if he had a hard time going around a tighter curve or accidentally went off track a bit. Mistakes can happen when you are free-handing this stuff, so give yourself some room to course correct.


While James cut I began using the angle grinder on the rough-cut pieces. First, I rounded the corners of the straight bar pieces with the angle grinder and made sure there were no sharp edges. Doing this makes the pieces safer to handle and decreases the odds of the corners getting caught on any costume materials when the wings open and close. Second, I used the grinder to shave off that extra bit of aluminum that James left around the curved piece. This got the edge right to the marker line, ensuring an accurate shape. I then used some metal hand files to remove any lingering sharp edges.



After all of that, I marked where we needed to drill holes for fasteners and James took care of them with his mini drill press (a hand drill would work just fine as well but, hey, if you have a drill press use it!).


James did some thesis-level research on fasteners. Seriously, I think he could give a full dissertation on how to fasten two moving parts now. This is important because you don’t want to throw a typical screw and a nut on there just to find out that they will unscrew themselves every time you deploy your wings! This is exactly what would happen, by the way. The motion of those two rotating pieces will twist your fastener with it resulting in, surprise, disassembly on the convention floor! 

James originally thought he could use nylon-coated screws, as they are known for being a good solution for this type of application, but they, too, failed us. After much googling he determined that a combination of pop rivets and collars would do the trick. We identified which joints would stay fastened forever, which got pop riveted, and then cut a short piece of aluminum rod that is long enough to connect the two aluminum pieces with a collar on each side. Make a little divot on the rod where you want the collar screw to stop and you now have a temporary fastener that allows you to remove them later with an allen wrench. The reason for this is so the wings can completely collapse for storage.

Ta-da! Giant wings! Right on Kel's weight target too: each assembled wing weighs 3 lbs. 2 oz.

After deploying them a number of times… for science… they got packaged up and made the journey to Kel. Because I was probably just as excited for Kel’s cosplay as she was I made sure I could personally present the wings to her on a most appropriate day, Christmas.



And there you have it. Since Kel did the heavy lifting by figuring out how the wings would work we only needed two afternoons in the garage to make them. This project is a classic example of how cosplay is a whole lot of planning and then relatively quick execution, so do your research and go make something great!
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This Week in Geekdom

Hi everyone! Sorry for the lack of This Week in Geekdoms. We're trying to squeeze all the summer we can out of these next few weeks before things take a turn for the dark and chilly. Gah, can't believe Labor Day crept up on us so quickly! The upcoming change in seasons will translate to more posts, if everything goes according to plan. In any case, let's get down to the Week in Geekdom!

Books

After much hemming, hawing, and drama, here are your 2015 Hugo Award winners.

Comics

Secret Wars is slated to draw to a close this October and Marvel has stated that there will be a full-on reboot of their entire comic universe in the immediate aftermath. Here's what you need to know to be prepared for this "All New, All-Different Marvel."

Games

As a follow-up to June's announcement that Kerbal Space Program will be coming to PS4, developer Flying Tiger confirmed this week that they are also working on a port of the game to Xbox One. Neither port has a release date yet.

Konami would like to know which of its classic games you'd like to see get a modern-day makeover.

Forgotten Realms: the Archives are now wholly available (and completely DRM-free) on Gog.com.

If you were alive during the 1990s and ever visited an arcade, you likely were exposed to some not-so-subtle anti-drug propoganda. Ever wonder why various agencies chose to spread their message in arcades? Well, now you can find out.

Movies

We have a new trailer for the Martian. Let us bask in its glory


Science/Technology

While we're in a Red Planet state of mind, check out these self-portraits that Curiosity snapped earlier this week.

It may not be capable of causing rifts in the space-time continuum, but physicists from the University of Barcelona have successfully crafted a wormhole (that bores through electromagnetic fields).

Thoth Technology has been given a U.S. patent for space elevators

It's a device straight out of the annals of science fiction, but more than one organization is seeking to at least attempt to make them a reality. What would happen if we could make a functional electromagnetic thruster?

Speaking of stuff that's straight out of science fiction, researchers at Ohio State University are claiming that they've grown a full-sized human brain in their laboratories (insert sinister cackling here).

Engineers at the University of Bristol may have a solution to one of the major limiting factors of quantum computing (and computing in general): the first quantum interconnect.

Image Credit
Meanwhile, over at MIT, engineers believe they've come up with a functional and commercially viable solid-state electrolyte, which may well produce the "perfect" battery that would last for decades.

That whole Gravitational Constant is a Constant thing? Yeah, we're a little more sure that it's actually constant.

On the subject of constants, it takes 26 of them to adequately describe the known universe and those still leave us with some pretty gaping holes in our scientific narrative.

Stephen Hawking's speech software has been released for public use and is absolutely free.

You know what the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo could use? An artificially created meteor shower.

It hasn't even been a full month since the launch of Windows 10 and Microsoft has already released three patches to support the new operating system. The problem? Microsoft refuses to tell us what's in those patches.

A team of researchers at the University of Texas (at Galveston) believe they have isolated a new drug that can counter the deadly effects of acute radiation exposure.

It was arguably the single most viral phenomenon of 2014, but we're now learning just how much good the has come from the funds raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Crowdfundables For Your Consideration

Back in June we talked about a potential epic battle involving actual giant robots. Now one of the makers of said robots needs our help to make that fight happen. Visit their Kickstarter page for all the dream-fulfilling details.

There are just five days remaining to get in on the Button Shy Wallet Game series. This (completely funded) Kickstarter provides backers with three highly portable and fast-playing games. 

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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Cosplay: All About That Mace

So Gen Con 2015 descended upon us all before I could finish publishing the last few posts covering the making of Steampunk Hawkgirl. This is something that will be rectified post-haste! To recap if you're just joining us now, so far we’ve covered the corset, the leggings, the wing harness, a few Worbla bits, and the supersized feathers that cover the wings. On today’s docket is the Thanagarian’s weapon of choice: the mace.  
I mentioned a while back that I can’t, for the life of me, draw in any appreciable or useful way, thus leaving me to take a costume from concept to physical reality in a single step. This made for a bit of a challenge when beginning work on a few components of Steampunk Hawkgirl, as there are no canonical reference images to provide guidance, and the mace, for whatever reason, proved difficult for me to put finite ideas to. Hawkgirl’s standard mace is pretty much your run-of-the mill smashy ball with spikes and a handle on it, but how do you go about making that look more steampunk?

After a lot of thought and a similar amount of research on the internets, I came up with the idea of having the ball part of the mace be a tesla coil/plasma sphere and replace the traditional spikes with arching tracts of gear teeth. While the concept was exciting, it would be a bit tricky to make real. There would be a handful of things that would need to be addressed in a hurry.
All tests went swimmingly

First on the list of Mace-Related Challenges was finding a tesla coil/plasma ball that was both sufficiently large and could be powered with batteries. There are lots of battery-powered plasma balls out there, but almost all of them have a diameter of 3” (7.62cm) or less, which is a bit too small in terms of proportionality to the rest of the costume. Conversely, there are also lots of larger plasma balls, but they are powered by AC only, making them less than feasible to walk around the convention halls with. Finally, I came across this guy, which could be powered via a big pack of AA batteries. Win.

Once the plasma ball and battery pack had been procured it was a question of how they could be reasonably attached to some sort of handle, and it was pretty clear that a custom piece would be in order. To make the handle, I bought a 1/2" wide x 24" (1.27 x 60.96cm) long birch dowel  and a small bit of 12" x 4" (30.48 x 10.16cm) birch board, then cut both with the cutting attachment of my Dremel into lengths that would match up to the dimensions of the battery pack and base of the plasma ball. From the remaining birch board I cut a series of trapezoids similar to the sides of the plasma ball that would ‘pinch’ the ball in place and stabilize it so I could carry it around.

The wooden bits, the battery pack, and the plastic sides of the plasma ball all got three coats of gesso. Since all three components are made of different materials, the gesso ended up being an important step in making all the surfaces similar enough when it came time to add paint.

It’s here that I should note that the wood that was used here came from Michael’s and not a hardware store. Why does this matter? Usually wood that’s being sold for crafting purposes has been pre-treated to a degree, so you don’t have to spend time sanding and prepping the fiber before you do things like prime or paint. So just a heads up, if you get your materials from a hardware store you may have to build in a bit of extra time to finish this portion of the costume.All the primed surfaces got a few coats of a brown-copper acrylic paint to give the impression that everything was wrought from a weathered sort of metal. After this, I cut a gear-teeth-like pattern of semi-circles out of Worbla, then gave these the same treatment as the wood/plastic bits.

Once everything had dried it was time to start assembling. Using the Dremel, I cut a 1/4" (0.64cm) hole in the center of the piece of wood that would serve as the primary base for the battery pack and plasma ball. After a quick test run to ensure that the dowel that serves as the handle would fit snuggly into this hole, I marked the very first point where said dowel emerges from beneath the board, then drilled a hole 1/8" (0.32cm) in diameter straight through. A 2" (5.08cm) long zinc eyelet screw was then twisted through the hole so the eyelet itself faced up and flush against the board, lending the latter some support. This arrangement was fixed in place first with a heavy layer of gorilla glue, then with a thinner layer of rubber cement.

For the grip on the handle I took some dark brown leather leftover from my Aayla Secura ‘vest’ (related aside: how on Earth was that costume from three years ago?) and cut it into 1” (2.54cm) wide strips, then wrapped these around the bottom of the handle and fixing the leather in place with hot glue. At the top of the grip, I wound the leather over itself a few times to create the look of a handle. Pretty much any sturdy fabric will work for this and the birch/acrylic paint takes hot glue fairly well.


The last part of the assembly process is a bit tricky and, quite honestly, should probably be left until the last few days before you leave for your convention. The battery pack gets filled (if your plasma ball ends up being the same as mine, the pack requires 20 AA batteries), then attached to the base of the handle with gorilla glue. The plasma ball is then affixed to the battery pack with hot glue so you can pull the former off if you need to replace batteries or make adjustments. Originally I’d intended to use some of the trapezoid wooden cutouts to help stabilize the mace, but they ended up being unnecessary. After that it was just a matter of hot gluing the gear teeth to the base of the plasma ball.



Not gonna lie, the mace is neither light nor is it super stable, but it lights up and presents well. This was one of the more ambitious ideas I’ve had for a prop and I’m really hoping it works out well on the convention floor. We’ll find out soon!

Post-Con Update: Oh this poor mace. My misgivings about its structural integrity ended up being at least semi-founded. Even though the weapon came together as it was supposed to, it stubbornly refused to function after arriving in Indianapolis. I still can't discern exactly what went wrong, but I'm willing to guess that the process of transporting the components of the mace ended up jostling or otherwise internally damaging either the battery pack, the plasma ball, or both. More than a few hours of the night before Cosplay Saturday were spent frantically trying to get the plasma ball to work, but to no avail. Given that the ball was a no-go (and the weapon just didn't look right all darkened), I decided to scrap the mace entirely and walk the convention halls without it.

That being said, if the plasma ball had cooperated/survived the trip out to Indy, the build described in this post would have produced a pretty nifty result. It was disappointing to have to give up on the mace at the last minute, but I'll definitely try to complete the build (or something similar to it) for a future iteration of the costume. Hawkgirl will eventually have her mace!
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Round Up: Gen Con 2015

And just like that Gen Con 2015 is over. Seriously? It's already over? <<looks forlornly at the new countdown clock>> Sigh. Well, one of the good things about being back is that I can share all of the awesome that went down during the Best Four Days in Gaming. In keeping with all of our other convention round-ups, I'll present the convention news alphabetically by publisher, then give overarching impressions of the convention itself (and a little update on Steampunk Hawkgirl). For more pictures of all the goodness, check out our social pages, particularly our Instagram.


Fantasy Flight (FFG)

Perennial powerhouse Fantasy Flight occupied their customary spot right in front of the main doors of the dealer hall and their merchandise booth seemed to be permanently ringed by an endless parade of eager gamers. That commercial success, among other things, was confirmed during the annual In-Flight Review. After the powerhouse lineup of new games presented during last year's con, it was unsurprising that much of the 2015-2016 FFG pipeline consists largely of expansions and enhancements to their existing titles.

The publisher's two best-selling games, Armada and Imperial Assault (with the former actually outselling the latter in this calendar year), will both be getting new miniatures. Imperial Assault will also be bolstered by the addition of not one, but two expansion sets. The first such add-on, Twin Shadows, will focus largely on the fringe elements of the Star Wars universe, specifically bounty hunters and elements that were heavily featured in the Edge of the Empire RPG. Twin Shadows is set to be released sometime in September. The second expansion will be the very robust Return to Hoth, which will feature not only new miniatures and missions, but new mechanics for the core gameplay. Return to Hoth is forecasted to be available for purchase sometime during the fourth quarter of this year.

The insanely popular X-Wing will also get more miniatures and a few expansions. Wave 7 of these forthcoming miniatures will include an imperial raider (made with direct input from LucasFilm) and an imperial assault carrier from the animated series Star Wars: Rebels. Rebels will feature heavily in Wave 8, which will include a Mist Hunter and a Ghost.

One of the most highly sought-after games of the year, Forbidden Stars, remains completely sold out and is expected to be on back-order for much of the rest of 2015 as more copies are printed and distributed. More than a few con-goers were disappointed that FFG was not even offering demos of the Warhammer 40K-based title during Gen Con.

While we're in a Warhammer state of mind, FFG offered a bit more exposition on Warhammer Quest: the Card Game. The still-in-development title is said to be a challenging (potentially cooperative) campaign-based card game.

Descent will be getting an expansion, titled the Mists of Bilehall, late this year. Three new lieutenant packs are also in line to be released for the game in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Mission: Red Planet, a resource-management title inherited from Asmodee, has been updated and will be re-released under the FFG banner. You can pre-order copies of the game here. Interestingly enough, aside from a few high-level remarks concerning distribution at the incept of the In-Flight Review, this was the only explicit mention of FFG's blockbuster merger with Asmodee.

Fantasy Flight's single most-requested reprint, Runebound, is going to go beyond the printhouse and get a brand new incarnation. Aside from the title and a few core mechanics, this iteration of Runebound will bear no other resemblance to other games that have borne the same name. FFG has painstakingly re-imagined the title and is slated to bring it to market in time for the holiday season.

Speaking of releasing in time for a holiday, the third edition of the classic Fury of Dracula will hopefully be hitting the market just before Halloween.

The Lovecraftian Eldridge Horror will get a new expansion: Strange Remnants. The add-on was designed to effectively gameify the use of the expansions without the game itself taking up the entirety of your gaming table. The title will be available for purchase during the third quarter of 2015.
  • Fantasy Flight reiterated that its offerings in the Euro-style marketplace, such as Tigris and Samurai, will remain niche and not comprise a sizable portion of their pipeline. 
  • The second edition of the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game was the single most successful Gen Con release ever in the history of Fantasy Flight. 
  • Star Wars the RPG: Force and Destiny is now out and in its final form. There will be no omnibus offered to combine the three rulebooks.
  • Finally, the publisher did confirm that games based upon the Star Wars: Episode VII are already in development, but could provide no details as to what these would be.
Flying Frog Productions

One of the most sought-after demos of Gen Con 2014, Shadows of Brimstone, continued to be a powerful draw for Flying Frog. The publisher garnered additional attention via an intricately painted 3D board depicting the worldscape of the expansion Swamps of Death.

USAopoly

Some of the most sought-after badge swag at the con came from the demo table for Nefarious: the Mad Scientist Game. This fast-paced card game pits the sinister machinations of the world's most dastardly villains against one another. Players seek to out-invent, out-scheme, and out-maneuver one another as they attempt to take over the world. Nefarious can accommodate 2-6 gamers and is designated as being appropriate for ages 13 and up.

Wizards of the Coast (WotC)

The 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons continued to reign over much of the convention. WotC allowed gamers to partake in the first scripted adventures associated with the Rage of Demons Adventurers League season that will be available at your friendly local game store beginning this September.

Wizards also enjoyed a very strong showing at the annual ENnie awards, taking home the gold for Best Aid/Accessory, Best Cover Art (for Rise of Tiamat), Best Interior Art, Best Electronic Book, Best Family Game, Best Free Product, Best Game, Best Monster/Adversary, Best Production Values, Best Rules, Best Supplement, Best Publisher, and Product of the Year.

Independent Developers

As in previous years, the vast majority of my Gen Con trip was spent with small and independent game developers. Also akin to other years, those developers put forth some truly innovative and impressive offerings. The following titles definitely succeeded not not only providing a memorable playing experience, but lingered long after the dealer hall had closed.

Aetherium (Anvil 8 Games) - This was my very first demo of the con and it set the bar pretty darned high. Take many of the core mechanics from Imperial Assault, add in several fun tactical twists, and set it all in a phenomenally well-imagined cyberpunk universe. It was one of the most satisfying and fine-tuned miniatures games that I've had the pleasure to play. Do yourself a favor and check out the website.

Campaign Trail (Cosmic Wombat Games) - This clever game runs players through, as the name suggests, the run-up to a presidential election. Careful resource management will allow you to level up from basic grassroots campaigning to call upon a mighty war chest that will bring you to the Oval Office. The title can be played head-to-head or co-op with teammates taking on the role of Vice Presidential hopeful. This game will be the subject of its own Kickstarter beginning on September 14th.

Tesla vs Edison (Artana Games) - The end product of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of the year, Tesla vs Edison generated quite a bit of convention buzz despite being tucked away towards the back of the dealer hall. As the name suggests, Tesla vs Edison allows players to shape the course of electricity development in the United States via the invention of new technologies and ruthless business practices. It's marketed as a 'medium-level' strategy game, which is a pretty spot-on descriptor, and will appeal most to fans of euros and those gamers who can't get enough Power Grid. Fair warning, if you're a person who doesn't like stock market or bidding mechanics in your games, this title probably isn't for you. That being said, Tesla vs Edison does an admirable job with its theme and, if you're into its mechanics, is absolutely worth a try.

Zephyr (Portal Dragon) - This competitive tabletop game continually surprised throughout the course of the demo. Set in a beautifully crafted steampunk universe, Zephyr was as satisfying to play as it was on the eyes.  Players captain, outfit, and equip their own airship in the hope of successfully resolving the missions set before them. Zephyr is a wholly modular experience that can appeal to both board game novices and seasoned veterans alike. The game is set to be featured in its own Kickstarter during the fourth quarter of this year.

Overarching Thoughts on Gen Con 2015

The Indianapolis Convention Center definitely seemed more crowded this year, and that sensation was validated when Gen Con released attendance figures. 61,423 unique con-goers graced the halls, a 8.49% increase over 2014's turnout. While that increase is markedly smaller than what we've seen in previous year-over-year periods, the fact that we're now dealing with over sixty thousand con-goers was palpable. It'll be very interesting to see what future years will look like given that the infrastructure in and around the ICC is already highly strained.

As for costume news, our steampunk take on the Justice League was very well received. It was the first time many of my friends had ever cosplayed and they all really seemed to enjoy the experience. Seeing them having so much fun gave me all sorts of happy feels. Maybe we'll make this whole group cosplay a regular thing for Gen Con. We costume up pretty nicely, don't you think?


I'll go into all the details about the individual components of Steampunk Hawkgirl via updates on the tutorial posts. On the whole, not gonna lie, it was simultaneously the most rewarding and most frustrating costume I've ever done. A lot of things went wrong at the last possible minute, resulting in a handful of components going unused. Similarly, a few of the functions of the costume weren't behaving as they were supposed to on Cosplay Saturday, so they were effectively shelved. That being said, the final product didn't turn out too badly.

Until next year Gen Con!
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