Friday Apr 13, 2012
We spent last weekend in Boston, Massachusetts at the PAX East convention. We showed off lots of great games, had a fun time, ate some great food, and met so many awesome fans. We’ll have a separate wrap-up for all things Aliens: Colonial Marines (where Julian spent most of his weekend), but here’s some photos and behind-the-scenes stories on everything else that went down in Boston.
Tour & Setup
We actually had two booths at PAX east this year — one for Aliens: Colonial Marines, and the other for more games that we were showing. We had Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II, Jet Set Radio, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing for iPad, Virtua Tennis Challenge, Hell Yeah!, The House of the Dead 4, Total War Battles, and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown available for everyone to play.
This is the outside of the lounge for Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II, which also had a statue of Sonic for people to get their photos taken with. It was quite busy all weekend as kids of all ages lined up for a photo with the speedy blue hedgehog.
Around the corner to the from the Sonic lounge was this wall of games. We were still setting up when I took this photo (note Jeff (who works on most of the games seen above) and Rey (who works in our mastering lab and also handles our hardware setup at events) working on Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown in the left corner), but soon these kiosks would be full of people and activity.
Rounding the corner again, on the opposite side of the booth from the Sonic lounge, were more games — Virtua Tennis Challenge, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing on iPad, and Jet Set Radio. Ben (in the lower left corner), who works on Jet Set Radio and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, is working to get these games set up in time for the show.
Jeff (mentioned above) is getting the sharp shooters ready for The House of the Dead 4.
One of the favorite bef0re-show activities was to get a few rounds of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown in. Jeff is playing Dustin (from one of our PR agencies) above while Ryan (also from the PR agency) and Frank (producer for VF5:FS) look on. I believe that by the end of the show, Dustin was declared the winner in his rivalry with Jeff.
During the Show
Lots of stuff goes on during the show. Games quickly fill up, lines are formed, free stuff is passed out, and a good time is had by all. As you can see, our games were busily being played the entire weekend.
One of the hottest items we gave out this PAX were hats that celebrated Hell Yeah!. Yes, you’re seeing that right — that’s a pile of poop with a chainsaw on top of it. It’s one of the monsters that you get to kill in the game, and I thought it would make a spectacular and attention-grabbing hat. Elvin, one of our PR managers, is all smiles while wearing his.
We got a little creative when passing out the hats, and Mia (pictured above with a fan) decided to fashion a belt out of them for one lucky fan.
Some of our interviewers also got in on the hat-wearing fun. There are some things at PAX that just happen in front of you and all you can do is take a photo to capture the absurdity of the moment. This was one of those times.
Not to be outdone, the zombies from Plants vs. Zombies came by and made both necklaces and belts out of our hats. Well done!
Since everyone was stepping up their game, Ben decided he needed to step his up too. In addition to making hats for people, we started making what we dubbed “mega-hats” to be worn as sashes, as modeled by Ben himself above. He also took to wearing his hat upside down.
But once the absurdity of the mega-hat was worn off, we started making super-mega-hats for the janitors that were helping keep the convention show floor clean for everyone.
It wasn’t all just about the giveaways though. We had some amazing Jet Set Radio cosplayers come to the booth, and we couldn’t help but get some photos with them. Well done, guys!
Last year, we started including wrap-ups of some of the amazing local food and drink that we encounter on our trips. Boston has so much rich history and such awesome seafood (oh, so much seafood) that we wanted to share some of our culinary adventures with you as well.
I loved the whimsy of this salt and pepper airplane that I had on the Virgin America flight from San Francisco to Boston. Plane on a plane — it’s PLANECEPTION!
The first of many great seafood dishes we had were these oysters, which came on a giant boat filled with ice and various sauces to put on them. I’m a bit of a purist, so I didn’t try too many, but they sure looked good.
Lobster Roll – you basically have to have one of these if you visit Boston and it did not disappoint. This one is from the amazing Barking Crab restaurant.
One of the rare non-seafood meals I had was this beef wellington, which was served to me at Marliave, Boston’s 4th oldest restaurant. (Everything in Boston is about history and being the oldest at something.) I know that it doesn’t look like much, but if you’re familiar with the wellington, you know that layers of beef, mushrooms, and other treasures await inside the flaky pastry crust. It’s a total pain to make at home, and I like to order things that are difficult to make on my own, so I got this. Needless to say, it was very yummy.
It wouldn’t be Boston without some lobster, and while Mia and I were out picking up some lobster rolls at James Hook & Co for lunch one day, we saw this tub of seriously GIGANTIC lobsters. Mia’s got her hand in the photo just so you can tell how big these things were. They had to be 5 pounds minimum and could feed at least two people easily. I’ll bet they were super tasty, but man. That’s a lot of lobster.
I didn’t have one of those giant lobsters, but I did have a much smaller version at the Union Oyster House, Boston’s oldest restaurant. I really love lobster, and having it in such a seafood-oriented town was such a treat.
We also had some delicious fish in Boston, here is Julian’s Haddock from the same restaurant as the lobster – he confirmed it was really tasty.
Dessert! Of course we had to sample the local favorites and ended up with a Boston Cream Pie – a mix of custard, chocolate, and … cake? Yes, the Boston Cream Pie is actually closer to a cake, but it is still fantastically delicious. Interesting fact – the dessert was created in the very hotel we were staying in – the Omni Parker House!
Our final stop of the weekend was at Cheers. The bar is actually called the Bull & Finch, and was the inspiration for the bar on the 80’s sitcom Cheers, as well as the place where they shot all the external shots of the bar for the show. The interior looks nothing like it did on the show (and was obviously not a real bar), but it’s still really cool. I guess somewhere along the way, they changed their signs to just say Cheers, and here we are today. We stopped in for a beer before going back to San Francisco, and it was a great way to cap off a great PAX East weekend.
Monday Nov 07, 2011
Last month, we shared some of the favorite meals we had while traveling. You guys seemed to enjoy it, so we’re back!
I already shared some of my meals in the New York Comic Con blog — including my favorite thing ever, Junior’s cheesecake. But there were some more noms to be had. Unfortunately, because of the travel, I wasn’t present for most of the dessert Fridays in the office, so there aren’t any photos of that.
I was honored to be asked to speak at GDC Online in Austin, TX last month. There’s lots of great food and great people in Austin, and it’s always fun to visit.
I was also super-excited to see my friend Marj again. Marj used to be our web producer here at SEGA, so if you’ve enjoyed a SEGA website in the past few years, you probably have Marj to thank for that. She also appeared in our Free Stuff Friday videos a few times (you can see her in that video at 0:49, standing next to Aaron). Marj lives in Austin now, and she took me to Salt Lick BBQ — this amazing place just outside of Austin. As you walk in, you’re greeted by the BBQ pit. I am sorry that the photo can’t capture the smell coming off this thing, because it was amazing.
We had the family-style meal, which includes this plate of mixed grilled meats and several sides like potatoes, bread, beans, and cole slaw. So good, but an epic amount of food.
While I was there, Marj also took me to Gourdough’s, which is a food truck that makes fresh donuts and tops them with crazy stuff and, if you want, ice cream. These are the donuts we got — mine had brown sugar and cooked bananas on it. It was creative and delicious.
A couple weeks later, I was in Venice Beach for the Sonic Generations of Skate event. After the event, I grabbed some food and drink with a friend. Whenever I see anything crazy on the menu, I always have the urge to order it. And that’s what happened to me. I saw this thing on the menu and had to have it.
What you are witnessing is a hot dog, wrapped in bacon, nestled in a bun that has cream cheese on it, and chopped jalapenos and onions on top of it. See what I mean? Craziest thing on the menu. I had to order it. And it was delicious.
We also had duck burgers. Not quite as strange as the hot dog, but strange enough that we felt compelled to order them. They were also really good. (And yes, we made duck jokes all night.)
The Great Candy Corn Debate
While not technically something we ate while traveling, there is something else food-related that you might be interested in. Kate and I were recently invited to be on the Food Addicts podcast with our friends from SEGA Addicts. Listen in as Kate and I defend the existence of candy corn, Kate teaches us all how to make Reese’s goggles, and I discuss my aversion to artificially fruit flavored things.
That was October!
Thursday Oct 20, 2011
Last weekend, a few of us from Team SEGA were out at New York Comic Con to have a party and show off a few games. We had a great time, and thank all of you who came out to visit us! It’s always a thrill to see fans over and over, and to meet new ones for the first time. And in keeping with our recent tradition, I’ve also got food pix for you. Spoiler: cheesecake was had.
On Thursday, we had our Dead Man’s Ball party with Heavy.com at Marquee, just a few blocks away from the convention center. It was really dark in there, so I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos (but there were photographers, so I’m sure we’ll have some at some point!), but I did snap one of these snazzy hats that we made for the party. Special thanks to Mary (seen there on the left, with me on the right), our production manager, for helping to make them happen! We just might have some available in an upcoming Free Stuff Friday, so stay tuned. As for the party, there were zombie dancers, zombie-themed drinks, game trailers for The House of the Dead: OVERKILL Extended Cut, and lots of fun and dancing. Thanks to all who came out to party with us!
Back on the convention floor, there were always lines to play Sonic Generations. Kids both young and not-so-young played City Escape as both Classic and Modern Sonic, and had a great time doing so. There was always a line to play, both in the Archie booth and in the Nintendo booth where the 3DS version was on display. There was also a crowd to play Shinobi, also in the Nintendo booth that weekend.
We also saw some great Sonic gear over the weekend, like this hand-drawn Sonic shirt. It had lots of Sonic characters on both the front and the back. Well done!
Some took their Sonic cosplay more literally, like this gentleman in a more understated costume, but still undeniably Sonic.
And then there are the ones that went whole hog — Werehog! (Sorry.) There were several other Sonic-related cosplayers at the convention, and we always enjoy seeing the love and attention that go into making these costumes. Keep up the excellent work!
As we have for the last couple months, I made sure to take some photos of what we ate during our time in New York City. Yum!
We don’t often get to eat very well during conventions. It’s mostly snack food like chips or granola bars. And usually at NYCC, I just go out to the street and get a hot dog from one of the famous/infamous carts you find all around New York. But this trip we had pizza for lunch one day. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t up to New York pizza standards. I guess that’s what you get for convention center food.
The next night, I had dinner with Thu and Elvin from our PR team. As you may recall, Thu and I had escargot when we were in London, and when we saw it on the menu in New York, we didn’t hesitate. In fact, we were so quick that we forgot to take a photo of it before it was all gone! So here’s the empty pan instead.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of the food pix from this meal turned out a bit blurry, so I won’t post them. But they are on our Flickr if you want to check them out.
One morning, Thu and I made a special trip to the lower east side to go to Russ & Daughters. If you’re in New York and you’re a fan of fish (especially the smoked, cured, thinly sliced variety), you really must go here. The store has been there since 1914 and their lox and bagels especially is amazing. I had smoked Scottish salmon on a plain bagel with horseradish cream cheese. And seriously, just looking at this photo is making my mouth water.
Another great thing we had was the Crack Pie from Momofuku’s Milk Bar. I can tell you that there is a reason it’s called crack pie. It’s really, really good. If you’ve ever had a butter tart, it’s sort of like that. We’re really thinking about ordering some for an upcoming dessert Friday in the office.
And, it wouldn’t be a trip to NY unless Aaron (RubyEclipse) and I had some cheesecake. After many slices shared over the years, not a lot more explanation is required. It was glorious, as usual. End of story.
Wednesday Oct 05, 2011
New York Comic Con is coming up soon. What’s SEGA up to at the show? Well, we’ve got a few things up our sleeves. Although we don’t have our own booth on the convention floor this year, there will be SEGA games to play!
You can play Sonic Generations in the Archie booth (1630), as well as the Nintendo booth (1538). We had great crowds for the game at Archie’s booth at San Diego Comic Con, and we know New York can step up!
You can also play Shinobi in the Nintendo booth (1538).
Party with SEGA and Heavy.com Thursday Night
We’ve teamed up with Heavy.com to throw the Dead Man’s Ball for The House of the Dead: OVERKILL Extended Cut! After preview night at Comic Con, get your House of the Dead costumes on (encouraged, but not required) and head over to Marquee to party with us!
Where: Marquee, 289 10th Avenue (between 26th & 27th St), New York NY
When: Thursday, October 13th from 9pm until midnight
It just wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without Aaron (RubyEclipse) and I having Junior’s Cheesecake at least once.. and this trip will be no exception. I’ve been a fan of theirs for years, and at I introduced him to to the wonders of Junior’s at New York Comic Con 2009. It was a particularly stressful show for a few (not important) reasons, and as we walked back to our hotel after the last day of the show, I looked at him and simply said “follow me. You need cheesecake.” He resisted at first, but then we ended up with this.
… and then last year at NYCC, there was this.
With many other slices of cheesecake (and even ordering it to be FedExed to us and bringing it home on planes) in between.
You can bet that we’ll keep the food blog going while we’re in NYC!
Tuesday Oct 04, 2011
There are a lot of fun parts to being a community manager at SEGA. We get to work on great games, with fun people, and interact every day with our amazing fans. We also get to travel to different events, conventions, and to visit our colleagues around the world. And of course, when we travel, we have to eat.
Julian (ClumsyOrchid), Aaron (RubyEclipse), and I had been talking about starting a food section on this blog for a long time — at least a couple years. We get to eat some amazing stuff when we travel (and at home, too) and as we’ve traveled to places over and over again, we’ve started to develop some real favorites. But we also are adventurous and try new stuff, too. Julian finally kicked the food blog off with his TGS travels in Tokyo. And we intend to keep it going. So in that spirit, here’s some of what we ate in September.
Last month, some of the communications team (of which the community team is a part) went to London to visit our office there and meet with our colleagues. One night, we went to this really cool Italian place where we made our own pizzas. This one is mine (before it was baked). I put sauce, cheese, mushrooms, salami, caramelized onions, and anchovies (don’t hate!) on mine.
This is Thu, one of the PR managers at SEGA of America, making her pizza.
The next night, Thu and I went out for dinner and ended up at a great French restaurant. It was here that we discovered that we both love escargot (yes, those are snails… again, don’t hate!) and mussels. I remembered to get a photo of the escargot, but we were so hungry that we just dove into our mussels without taking a photo.
We had to get to the airport in London a bit early, so we had some time to kill before our flight. While I was there, I ended up with a teeny tiny can of Pepsi. It’s slightly less than half of the size can you’d find in the US.
If you follow our Twitter, you may have seen us tweeting about desserts on Friday. That’s no coincidence, because in addition to Friday being Free Stuff Friday for you guys, it’s also Dessert Friday for us in the Sega of America office. This was started by Aaron (RubyEclipse), which will not be a surprise to any of you that know him, because you probably know that he really loves sweets. I once saw him eat 8 scoops of ice cream and 8 churros in one sitting (seriously), but that’s a story for another day. But every Friday, someone brings dessert into the office to share with our co-workers. Sometimes it’s cake, sometimes it’s cookies, sometimes it’s ice cream floats. You just never know. (We even had some Junior’s shipped to us from New York City once!)
Last Friday, we had chocolate cake. Our Senior PR manager was celebrating her first anniversary here at SEGA, so she brought in a cake to share with everyone. They might not have gotten the SEGA logo quite right, but it was still pretty tasty.
I hope you enjoyed this blog! We look forward to bringing you more behind-the-scenes content from SEGA in the future — seeing the people who work here, the fun that we have, and yes… what we’re noshing on.
Friday Sep 16, 2011
Updates from the Tokyo Game Show! Today is the official start of the consumer days from the Japanese show, but for the last two days the SEGA team has been on site demoing for press and business alike. Unlike most shows where it’s either a consumer focus or a business focus (like E3, for example) – TGS merges the two for a full featured show. Today’s blog is a wrap up from the last two days of floor time, including photos, updates, and more food!
The TGS Show Floor
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the Tokyo Game Show in presentation and layout. I’ve done a fair amount of shows, most of the big ones, and the TGS show floor definitely a bit different. The show is in a massive hall spread out amongst two large hangar style areas, featuring massive booths from the top publishers, and smaller booths peppered in from smaller devs and companies.
I had a chance to walk the floor a bit before the show started and get some shots of the SEGA space before anyone came into play. The layout is very clean and leads you quickly from one game to the next, with queues for each. Each game also features a special gift at the end of play, a reward or a thank you for the time spent. Check the end of the blog for the full merch photo!
Binary Domain was a big focus of the show for SEGA, with a massive booth that had both upstairs play areas, and secluded downstairs rooms for the voice recognition features. In the game, you can direct your team to execute on tactics entirely through voice commands. Of course this is not required, you can use the controller as well, but in the heat of battle it’s far more efficient to call out tactics rather than stop and direct – it works quite well!
Special Gift – A Binary Domain pen was given out to players who played the demo. Part mechanical, part not, naturally…
Anarchy Reigns, or Max Anarchy as it’s known in Japan, was a drawing quite a crowd during the show and for good reason – it’s PlatinumGames after all. The demo was similar to the E3 code, with a timed four player brawl and multiple characters to choose from. Having wrecked folks at the E3 show with Zero, I thought I’d have another go with Jack and see how I did – not so good this time haha. I didn’t do the worst, but had fun and enjoyed seeing player’s eyes light up with big, signature moves from the characters.
Special Gift – Jack’s Golden Chainsaw was passed out in the form of a thin metal book mark – but it also includes a code to unlock this golden edition within the final game!
This panoramic shot from the booth gives you a sense of the hallway that goes through the middle. Next to Anarchy Reigns is Puyo-pop, Sonic Generations, Shinobi. It eventually leads back out to Phantasy Star Online 2 and the front area of the SEGA booth.
Shinobi was quite popular on the floor as well, and I couldn’t help but jump in and play a bit myself. I know this game and play it regularly, so the rep was a bit surprised when they started to tell me how to play, I realized I was actually a bit better than they expected. The gameplay is tight and fluid, it’s fun to pick up and have a go, it was excellent to have another pass at it.
Special Gift – Shinobi featured a glossy sticker from some of the high res art for the game.
Recently announced Rhythm Thief was on display and was massively fun. The booth area was really slick as well, with many differnet stations set up to play the game, maybe 20 in total. I can’t stop gushing about how much fun the demo was, the only thing I didn’t like was the fact that I couldn’t understand any of the dialog.
The game is a Rhythm game, as the title suggests, but with excellent story told through cutscenes as well as exploration around town. Once you explore the town, you can jump into missions which feature different Rhythm based games. For example, the first section featured dancing with timed swipes of the touch pad for moves. Depending on how well you did, the ranking would go up and you’d be rewarded with a slick animation transition. Another section was almost steath style, as you moved in a museum area after hours and dodged guards. Statues would appear on a side scrolling path and you’d match pose of the statue to evade the guard’s gaze. Really fun and very stylized, it’s a big game on my list for the 3DS.
Special Gift – A tote bag that is amazing and a special gift for Kellie when I return to the office. Check the end of the blog for a photo; so cool! These bags were carried around everywhere on the show floor.
Phantasy Star Online 2 was packed and for good reason – it’s awesome. As a huge Phantasy Star fan myself, it was great to see the game being played and loved by so many. My roots with the SEGA office are tied to the Phantasy Star Series, so I had a chance to meet a lot of the folks I’ve worked with over the years and watch the game from afar. Really loving the look and feel of the game so far, and as a fanboy, will be watching this title for every update.
Black Panther 2 was shown on the floor, as well as the ladies from the game across a fairly extravagant seating area. I’m afraid I didn’t get a chance to play with the game, but the booth was quite crowded and seemed very popular.
Special Gift – Axe Body wipes. No really. They feature a fantastic image of a guy on a subway with a swooning girl on the seat next to him. Photos of this will be postes as soon as I get this back from my friend.
Each of the larger companies at TGS had a stage for presentations. Featured above is Nagoshi-san, discussing all elements from the upcoming Binary Domain. There was also a live demo of the voice commands for your squad from the demo on the floor and a longer trailer outlinging the story of the game. Really good presentation, Binary Domain is looking like a fantastic title. The pace of the game is slower, and while I’ve seen comparisons to Vanquish, you’ll find it’s more tactical and team focused, than the PlatinumGames release. The more I see of the game, the more I like it.
At the end of the show, the girls that were on staff for all of the booths line up for a photo opportunity with media and consumers. I honestly thought this was a joke when someone told me it was going to happen, but sure enough, here it is. As random as this was, it seems the best way to end on the overall show coverage from the SEGA booth!
Special Gifts and Collectibles!
Behind Closed Doors
I asked if I could take photos or blog the stuff behind the scenes, see Wouter’s response below:
Even though this blog is massive already, I’m still going to post food from the past two days – it’s just too delicious out here. Seriously, if nothing else, go to Japan for the food, everything I’ve had has been great.
We’ve managed to eat Izakaya twice now on the trip and looking at the photos above, you should have a clear understanding why. The style is a mix of different types of foods, from Sashimi, to sushi, to gyoza, to … well to everything honestly. This is the perfect end of day meal, as we can sit around and relax at a slower pace and order food to share amongst the table. Lots of different things to taste and try.
This is a shot from lunch at TGS with Wouter and Tokuhara-san, the producer on Super Monkey Ball Vita. They are both eating shake chicken, or chicken shake … or … Ok, so you get a cup with battered and fried chicken inside and the spice / flavor in as well. Shake the chicken in the cup to mix it all up and eat from there. It’s pretty interesting presentation and both confirmed, quite good as well.
Vending machines in Japan are everywhere, with all sorts of of flavors and styles. I bought this solely because it was adorable and I’m not even that big of a apple juice! It was still quite good and still many more things to try!
More to come!
If you’ve made it this far – thank you! It’s been really fun to write these updates and I hope you’ve been enjoying them. I’m planning to one more based on today’s activities and general city exploration – we’ll see how that turns out!
If you’ve got questions on anything, do let me know – can’t promise I can answer all, but I’ll be happy to try!
Wednesday Sep 14, 2011
Community is at TGS 2011 this year and while we prepare for the upcoming show, I thought everyone would enjoy a preview into our trip out. This is my first trip out to Japan, so I’m learning a lot of what the area is like, the food, the culture, and the heat – it’s so hot!
This is our second time over in Japan covering the TGS show, so I’m going to try and take a bit different approach from what Aaron did in 2009, which honestly might be more food pictures, but that’s ok! Check out Aaron’s coverage for day 1, day 2, and day 3 from the way back machine in 2009.
Our hotel is centrally located in Shinjuku, which if you’ve played the Yakuza series, it will look very familiar. The area is very busy, and as my first introduction to Tokyo, very exciting. Lots to see and do, with every street opening to a new pedestrian alley way with shops, restaurants, stores, and clubs. And the people too – Shinjuku is very crowded at night with no shortage of people flooding the streets and heading to the very large Shinjuku station.
Pictures of Food Edition
Priorities for the first few days is preparing for the big Tokyo Game Show and eating local food. We’ve long discussed starting a food blog, so this will be our first preview entry with more to come from our trip out. Everything we’ve had so far has been delicious and while I knew the food would be good, I wasn’t prepared for how good it would be!
Lunch out with our Overseas business team, we picked out chirashi and tonkatsu curry. Having curry is just one item to check off my to-do list and it was very very good too!
Onward to dinner! I’m not entirely sure what this was, but it was good and an interesting photo…
Look familiar? This is the same spot that Aaron went to in his night out with our overseas team. I can confirm, it was just as good as he said it was. Good friends, new friends, and great food.
Sega of Japan Main Office
Day’s big outing is to check in with our SEGA of Japan main office and do some work preparing for the big show tomorrow. The fun part for us was traveling out to visit the SEGA offices and navigating the subway stations and a transfer or two to find our way. Discovering your way around a transit system in a new city is always a bit of a challenge, so imagine trying to do so with a language barrier! We had fun and the adventure was well worth it to arrive at the main SEGA building.
The SEGA lobby is pretty slick with a familiar face greeting all new visitors as well as a wall of memorabilia with Sonic and SEGA related items.
But wait, there’s more!
So this wraps up Day 1, but there’s still more to see and do and the Tokyo Game Show starts proper tomorrow AM. Definitely check out the Flickr page for TGS 2011 with a few more photos from the days events, perhaps a preview into things to come across the blogs – seriously, I could post more and more photos, but I need sleep – tomorrow is a big day!
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