artist’s note: dragoncon 2012 report

jim and i went to dragoncon this year; it’s our second time.  jim was in the art show, and i was there to do research on my story.  we got some photos of fans that look like the characters i have written, and i got some photos of them.

this is the girl, Portia.  when i asked her for a picture, she went to put away her phone and cigarette, but i asked her to never mind that, and took an action snap.

this is the boy, Josh.  The real guy is nothing like my character, and seems to be a perfectly nice, intelligent, and kind person.

if kurt were to deign to dress up for dragoncon (he actually wouldn’t, as he is a hacker and thus above all that.  unless of course it was a disguise), he would be an sca type.

and this is snake, our sortof villain.  unfortunately the guy smiled, and it’s a nice smile.  snake would have an evil smile, and not such a nice demeanor.  but he’s got the costume down pat.

so, except for fairy, i have my characters.  now jim and i get to start sketching them and turning them into comic book characters for the graphic novel part of the story.

but enough about that.  more about dragoncon 2012.

we went to all four days, at least i did because jim had to watch the grandbaby on sunday and monday.  but i went to a bunch of panels that cater to people who are doing exactly what i’m doing – writing a novel – and learned oh so many things, and had to change my mind about a bunch of aspects of how i’m going to portray my chapters at dragoncon, and even how the characters will act.  i even got a lot of insight into the dynamics between several of the characters.  and i’m exhausted.

here are my notes from the panels i attended, with links because i’ve done my research, but without much explanation because they’re primarily notes for me.


notes dragoncon2012:

writer’s track: 10am friday. how to write a story in an hour

hitchcock: suspense is the bomb ticking under the table.

worry and wonder.

got to have conflict between two bad decisions that tears up the protagonist.

a known bad thing in the future and the protagonists race to get some piece into place before.

things have to be dramatically different after a mini climax.

need to keep feeding conflict so there’s always a new crisis brewing, not boring.

final conflict has to rip hearts out of characters so you’re pulling for them.


young adult literature track: 11:30am friday. tuff chicks

kids don’t want sweet valley high anymore, they want katniss.

sexual women who play the field instead of settling down disturb people.

strong female characters know who they are and resist imposition. sense of self.

weapons as emblems of strength.

showing strength thru flaws and bad decisions.

villains are the heros of their own story.

creative strength vs physical.

strong female characters.

videogames with female heros – mass effect, portal.


writer’s track: 1pm friday. games people play

worked on game to completion.

tabletop rpg companies need writers.

2-3 cents a word vs 7 cents/word tops.

do a mod for the company you want to work with. and will work for free.

computer game industry doesn’t use writers, they outsource and freelance. story doesn’t matter, not initial design process. programmers do the writing.

when you’re creating a game you have to have choice, else it’s a novel.

what kind of experience do we want the players to have.

lead designer, lead narrative designer.

guys not agreeing on where the quests will go. you get 2 different treatments and confused quests.

illusion of choice when all the choices lead to the same place.

rules team, writing team, campaign team, world team.


game programming track: 2:30pm friday. adventure design.


do we need to go to town? all these people are going to die.

i’m not a nice person, so i make them harder.

multiple ways to get people into the game, some won’t do the obvious.

important to write multiple paths for different players.

problem of unlimited time, were players don’t see it as a resource.

to make them hate the gad guy he’s got to meke them hurt – recurring villain takes all their stuff. even if he escapes he still has to be defeated.


comics and pop art track: 4:00pm friday. rise of the independent.

conventions ++.

20-year overnight success.

you need to give them ways to support you.

episodes gives fans something to do and remember you. or give it away and have parerphernalia to buy but onl low percentage so you have to have readership.

people love bonus material.

puzzles and setup photos.

single issues don’t sell for booekstores and comic book stores are failing.


electronic frontiers forum track: 11:30am saturday. copyright 101

trademark doesn’t expire until company stops protecting them. names, slogans.

patents – business processes can be patented.

copyright – anything an expression captured in tangible medium. to file $35. to ask help ‘what does this mean’ send copy – digital, gets files w/library of congress. for photos you can make a collection and file them together.

if you’re in a public place anyone can take your picture and iuse it anyway they like.

now as soon as you take the picture, it’s copyright. 76 act.

even if it’s legal don’t do disney or coke. $400/hr lawyer.

mediation rather than arbitration.

copyright doesn’t mean it’s not an infringing.

copy means more than verbatim. can’t knock off an idea, but its expression is protected.

facts aren’t protected – ideas – processes, directions. can’t copyright a recipe. cookbook is collected and arranged.

copyright. life of author +70.

fair use – derivative works are protected by copyright. fair use is a crock. it’s a defense against infringement action, where you respond to suit with fair use defense. will cost a lawyer. – joe beck, best lawyer for this. for educations purposes you can use up to 10%.

parody is fair use, criticism, educational, research.

licenses to reprint stuff is easy to get now. especially for commercial use. copyright clearance ctr.

creative commons license. free for noncommercial use.

unauthorized fan fiction is derivative and you have to protection. publishing online gets you a fan base that might impress a publisher, but they’re still not liable to publish something already published.


game programming track: 2:20pm saturday. indie games live.

metagame resource to help you be awesome when needed.

yes…but. your choice has severe and unintended consequences. yes and, no but, yes but, no and. a way to deal with uncertainty in the game, make failure interesting.

endowment, where you add characteristics and depth – needs trust.

roll dice, 1-5, 6-9, 10+, 3 levels choices have consequences. hard choice or bad bargain. meanwhile… transparency. when gm tells things. hard bargains and bad choices make failure interesting. a twist – the dragon isn’t dead, caught off guard.

GM-less play where players determine the most interesting outcomes going the direction of the players.

reincorporation, bringing back c’d detail and add on.

graham wolesley – play unsafe

always make the obvious choice.


after with jim

where are the girl groups when there’s no dragoncon?

bottle paintings at tutu tango.

we’re all in this together.

it’s quickly becoming a girl world.

sexual abuse at work – guy ogling every woman, and each think it’s her fault until they talk and realize it’s him.

boy network don’t think you can have women characters. other than violent plots, no women artists. the women are seeing this but money talks.


video gaming track: 10:00am sunday. writing for videogames.

game writers are commercial artists. the game isn’t just the story – tech, features, processes. starts at the pitch level. writers come in after 85% finished to write words, you write 5 page treatment, they do level design, come back for the words. fun gameplay has to come first, rather than in a novel. heavy rain more of a movie than a game.

reactivity to player choices (aka consequences). okay except for gotcha choices.

mmos have larger and more complicated dialog trees. input different dialog bits reflecting the character. cut scenes, mission lines, xtras. /80,000 lines of dialog, navigate w/xcel sheet.

ai dialog, ambient dialog, barks. different character reactions to every single thing in the game. arena game ‘that’s the power of the keyblade‘ a million. writing ambients. 10,000 barks. things for characters to react to. have to know when a line is triggered – at the shot or at the hit – changes context.

no internal narrative – protag is a blank slate. if you work on a modding team you have the skills and the collaboration. being able to write short succinct stands out – proving you’re smart backfires – overextension.

wrote a page of setting, ended up with 4 lines. make dialog punchy snappy and cool. short cut scenes. 3 years at a time the same writers. bring in contract writers is usually disastrous.

writing dialog for characters difficult, as script falls apart when you deviate from envisioned path. teams over 100 people versus writing novel in your basement.

side quests, tying them in to main story. when you try to integrate it you have to cut off all sorts of other story branches. never know when the timeline will interact (character could be dead when quest), the more isolated they are the more useful.

group recordings of voice actors, rewriting to accommodate quirks. separate editors on staff, else script review w/corporate.

story bible.

writers as firefighters. difference between novel and game – mostly characterized by dialog only. player will be doing something while dialog. more like screenplay. 20,000 words for game script. story arc? how to fit into different environments, for questing. character arc can’t happen in the scenario/location giving a character a distinct personality is like giving the player a personality.


main programming track: 11:30am sunday. collaborations.

you become a third writer when you collaborate and both do 2/3 of the work. write 3 books, don’t do well, publisher comes to you before the forth book – called 4th book hurdle.

throwing story back and forth and both edit each other’s work. comic pratfall singularity novel. in collaboration there has to be someone in charge. which doesn’t come up if things go right. when disagreement, third way is better. using one file and passing it back and forth. 4 drafts.


main programming track: 1:00pm sunday. art in community

using fanbases to create art. kickstarter. crowdfunding. music was the vanguard of indie production, the whole world has changed as studio system disintegrates. selling to people you know feels less creepy.

post professional world. studios – millions of dollars = huge audience. kickstarter shows audience for marginal product that doesn’t appeal to everyone. gatekeeper mentality. in crowdfunding, gatekeeper is audience. crowdfunding is storytelling rather than advertising.

it’s all about me now sums up crowdfunding. kickstarter doesn’t start small and buildup, it’s all about the people you start with. can reach out to people in same content, tapping into larger product, like folk and scifi. rolling out new incentives keep project alive. got to build community first, give away things for free, too. if people believe in it they’ll want to be part of it. content has to be quality. do spreadsheet on reward levels and subtract fees. if rewards are digital w/bonus.


incentifves – adding value without cost. not physical script – pdf. international postage costs.

not just i need it for me, but what it means to me when you give what it means to work together, what you get out of it. can pre sell items and projects. stretch goals.


electronic frontiers forum track: 10:00am monday. hacking 301

11 wireless channels in u.s. google’s wiretapping collections – fcc says if it’s a clear signal, tough. but judge said superhightech tech – sniffer – to accomplish. nono. wiretap laws felony 10-20 years. you might not get caught sniffing but when you use it. information security group at ga tech, grey hats.

raspberry pi. chip side 10adp hdmi, video $35 used as servers powered off usb and hooks up to analog tv. encoder/decoder, broadcom chip, need biaary blog for graphics chip. license comes with encoder. transcoding sucks, want raw, last week, can buy license for ub if you want, use for media center.

feynman on sky at night. all guys here except for me. infosec, best os – open psd. hardened version of linux, set up own network and attack it. tower to switch to hub, can sniff uplink.

disable java by default on every site. get noscript. wireless access point – giving away credentials. always use https. who’s listening. fireshoot for hacking cookies. surfjacking.

facebook is the ferenghi of he internet. no secure irc networks (no, has ssl support)

if using no protocol, use vpn, at some point it pops out and then the data’s clear. (pops up clear at exit), listening to exit traffic. invisible ip a beefed up tor.

brony. cloppers are brony version of (fapping?) frapping. furries have someone to pick on. bronycon and the guys got mad because there were girls there. 30 year old white men into my little pony. gaming and comics culture – ongoing harassment of women. men react in vehemently misogynistic ways. the rape of laura croft a subset of men who resent women characters. backlash against booth babes. destructoid gaming magazine. suggestions that geeks should kick some ass.

java zero day where you can pwn someone’s machine with code. oracle immediately patched system. vulnerability also affecting macs.

future infosec when quantum computers come out, practical working strong nanotech as well. downside of quantum security, if someone leaks codes you could go back in time and decrypt stuff.

wired threat level. nsa – never say anything.

wireless security: mac filtering, turn it off when not using, don’t broadcast ssid. use vpn.

national 2600 org, local chapter.

driverless cars, sensors fuck up.

health insurance companies = protection racket.


interview w/asia,

last 6 months misogynist incidents. bioware woman. dc women kick ass – tumblr. the mary, geek feminist blog. anita sarkeesian, feminist frequency com.

bechdel test


writer’s track: 11:30am monday. steampunk 101

mistakes tropes, avoid by research. steampunk is all about a twist, but mistakes will show. someone invents something that changes the world. reinventions, clockwork, nuclear power = steam power. all scifi has mcguffins.


anime track: 1:00pm monday. how to run a convention

incestuous community. strategic planning, people to take charge of each section, promotion, money. fans will change your focus. rules usually made after someone did something stupid. liability insurance is more important than guest list. don’t start a show w/out incorporation, you don’t want to be sued personally. llc in the state which is passthru, get tax accountant. non profit, profit, s corp, llc. the venue will let you know what permits you need, and preferred vendors. need to know fire marshal policy in whatever city (freeman does dragoncon setups and file room plans w/fire marshal.) advertising – word of mouth, social media and postings throught the year, fan submissions to keep it engaging all year, work with sponsors for relative content. flyers, event marketing. general –,, acml mainling ist. facebook – project anime. we are anime cons.


american sci-fi and fantasy media track: 2:30pm monday. game of thrones, the gray scale

rare approach, no good and evil. good to be a storm of words podcast. series joffrey is more evil than books. everyone’s out for themselves and families, not empire. people want good and evil and evil is redeemed and good guys win. escapism even if no polarity because their politics is still not realworld politics. don’t have to ig too deep to find reasons why they act so horribly. one of the few stories that doesn’t do heros journey. people who came not from the books don’t understand when badguys win or people can’t overcome things that happen to them. you root fo the characters because you don’t know what’s going to happen. the gray characters you know they’ll screw you but now when or how. each character is the hero of their own story. so lots of hero journeys. when you break your own values then you get punished. traditionally good guys are out of power and evils ones have power. characters in a ray setting succeed on their own merits instead of what side they’re on. born nobility vs found nobility.


About jeanne

artist, grandma, alien

Posted on September 5, 2012, in Author's Note, dragoncon and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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