Saturday, October 14, 2017

Gamestart Asia 2017: Strictly Reserved for the Hardcore Gamers and E-sports Enthusiasts

Gamestart Asia, South-East Asia's largest gaming convention, kicks off today at Suntec Convention Centre.

At 8:45AM, there was already a small group of gamers lining up to be amongst the first to enter the hall. After all, the first 300 people get a random loot bag filled with goodies.

Red Dot Diva and Ed, her good friend from the Glam Blogger Alliance got to enter the hall for a quick media preview, just before the VIPs were allowed in.

Upon entering the show hall, one cannot miss the trippily lighted main stage looming in front of you. It looks pretty grand, and was a very nice Instagram moment right there.

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Generally, there was a lot of space, with most of the booths hugging towards the side of the hall. There were wide walking paths all round, which was reminiscent of this year's STGCC, but with more intuitive pedestrian routes, and nary a badly planned constructed wall panel in sight.

However, Red Dot Diva found that since the last time she attended the show in 2015, Gamestart Asia has become less experiential and less visually exciting. E-sports is the in-thing, and the focus is all on the tournaments. This does not bring much excitement to a non-gamer like Red Dot Diva. It is strictly for the hardcore gamer boys (and some girls).

The PC & mobile game booths have been downplayed this year as well. Playstation, a main sponsor, secured only a small corner section, and had practical, basic-looking booths.

OK, granted that their Gran Turismo section looks pretty Tron-like and cool.

They showcased some VR games, and other titles like, FIFA 18 and Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT.

Other than e-sports, Tabletop Gaming is in the forefront in this year's Gamestart Asia. The entire area was set for players who love well-known titles like "Warhammer", "Dungeons & Dragons" as well as "Sushi Go" and "Exploding Kittens".

Of course, there is also Magic the Gathering, with volunteers all ready to help newbies get started with the game.

The first game Red Dot Diva tried at Gamestart was digital card game, "Shadowverse". She was mainly attempting it to help Ed get more freebie cards, and even with the booth attendee trying to explain to her how the game works, she still really has no clue. Mostly, she was not in a mood to think or use her brain to strategize, so she just dragged and pressed buttons. (As you can probably guess, RDD has low IQ and always loses at checkers. Let's not even mention chess.)

There were two games at Gamestart Asia that Red Dot Diva found most interesting though.

The first was the now-infamous "Fight of Gods" by Taiwanese company Digital Crafter. As the name suggests, the fight game pits religious deities and gods with each other. Seriously, there's even a very ripped Jesus Christ, fighting using slabs of his broken cross.

Here's Ed playing as Jesus, pitching a fight against Buddha! The Buddha was auto-played but he was pretty vicious. Not so namaste.

Red Dot Diva decided to join in and she choose Athena because she looked like Wonder Woman! YEAH! Ed went with Anubis this time round and the battle was ON!

After three rounds of battle, she still did not manage to figure out what kind of special Divine Powers Athena had. All she knew were there were buttons to press (YAYY!), and there were low, medium and high power moves for each character. So, she just hit them when it matters. Or tried to.

She pierced Anubis to death with her sword by the way. :D

Was the game irreverent? Yes.

Was it fun? HELL (or is it heaven?) YEAH!

The quick and dirty game play was a wonderful workout for Diva's repressed anger issues, and she could not help being amused by the tongue-in-cheek idea of the entire game, as well as the characterization and vocalization of the gods when they are in battle mode.

Indie studio The Gentlebros are back again with a new game called Cat Quest. These are the guys who designed the award-winning action game Slashy Heros.

Cat Quest is an RPG game of Meowfully Cat-tastic proportions. The cutest catventurer goes on quests, either beating baddies, slaying dragons or saving fellow kitties in the Catpital. He even needs his precious cat nap from time to time so that he can heal from his wounds!

The purrfectly charming game has a hilarious script, cute visuals and was rather addictive. So, if you love cats and RPGs, this one is for you!

Red Dot Diva always found that the indie game booths were the more interesting parts of Gamestart. She wishes there were more of such fun titles to play with!

People playing the HADO AR Techno Sports game are one of the strangest things to look at. Is this how the future of playing games will look like? Red Dot Diva seems to feel that what's missing are some fancy futuristic fashion gear to go with the techno sport.

For those who prefer shopping, the Doujin Market is filled with little booths for their fandom needs. There were also other stalls like Basheer Bookstore and Kinetiquettes. Red Dot Diva did not stay long enough to meet the cosplayer guests or attend the panel featuring the producers of "NieR: Automata".

As for the "cyberpunk" The Drinkery presented by Samsung? Forget it. It was a pathetic after-thought draped with pale LED lights. It did not even look remotely cyberpunk to Red Dot Diva, so she did not even bother to see what drinks and food they were offering.

On the other hand, Red Dot Diva has to give props to Monster Energy Drinks for muscling in on their presence.

Perhaps, this is where Gamestart Asia intends to head toward in future years. More e-sports, more tabletop gaming, more doujin market. Gamestart falls under the shadow of the far bigger and very popular Tokyo Game Show in September, which caused many game companies deciding not to showcase their wares again in Red Dot Island.

Despite of this, Red Dot Diva learnt that there was a huge crowd who attended the show on Day 1. Whether this actually translates to more sales for game companies, or if it helps to elevate the status of gaming in the region, remains a real question.

To check out Gamestart Asia for yourself and to form your own opinions about the show, Day 2 of the convention begins in about 10 hours. Don't miss saying hi to Alyse, the Gamestart mascot, if you see her!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lenovo's Star Wars Jedi Challenges Lets You Battle The Dark Side with an AR Lightsaber

Amongst all the "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" toys and merchandise released during this year's Force Friday II, there was an intriguing device which was placed unobtrusively in a corner slightly away from the racks.

If the looping video ad did not happen to catch your eye, you would most probably not have known about this exciting product that will be available on sale in November 2017.

Take a look at this sleek headset and lightsaber set. Aren't they gorgeous?

These devices are part of Lenovo's soon to be released new augmented reality (AR) experience called Star Wars™: Jedi Challenges. There is the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, lightsaber controller and tracking beacon. The technological innovation was first launched at one of the world's largest tech show called IFA 2017 in Berlin.

Red Dot Diva was invited to get a first hands on experience on the Jedi Challenges gameplay at the Sandcrawler just now. No doubts about it, the AR experience was AWESOME.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gamestart Asia 2017 Version 4 Returns on 14 and 15 October 2017

Gamestart Asia, the 2-day convention aimed at gaming fans, will be returning to Suntec Convention Centre on 14 and 15 October 2017.

In version 4 of the premiere gaming convention, the event has taken up an even bigger space amounting to about 6,000 square metres, with two new sections - The Gamestart TableTop for all card/ board games like Dungeon and Dragons, and The Drinkery. Red Dot Diva likes the sound of the The Drinkery, which is plugged as a cyber-punk themed lounge space, where food and drinks are available for hungry, thirsty gamers and attendees. Oooh. Red Dot Diva wonders if the servers will be in cyber-punk wear too?

So, what else can folks expect from Gamestart Asia version 4?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

STGCC 2017: Take a Digital Tour of Star Wars Props with Stefan Cembolista of Belgian Costume Division!

Are you a Star Wars fan??

If you are, there are two main reasons for you to buy a ticket to attend STGCC tomorrow, 10 September, at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre!

Reason No. 1 - The life-sized replica of Rey's Speeder

Reason No. 2 - An iconic section of the Millennium Falcon's interior.

Both these life-sized and near-accurate replicas were made by a group of talented prop-makers and craftsmen called the Belgian Costume Division (BCD). Their models have toured around the world at conventions, particularly at the Star Wars Celebration events.

The head and founder of BCD is Stefan Cembolista, a wiry, energetic man, who is first and foremost a dedicated Star Wars fan. Stefan, who was tactically dressed in a kilt (which Red Dot Diva thought that was most swoonsome!), was on site at the convention today.

Upon Red Dot Diva's request, Stefan leapt at the chance to give a tour of both installations to the Star Wars fans out there.

Watch the video below to see what little "secrets" Stefan revealed about BCD's prop-making adventures relating to the Millennium Falcon and Rey's Speeder:

How awesome is that?

The BCD has built other Star Wars replicas like the AT-AT and Tie Fighter. Red Dot Diva hopes that the BCD crew will have the chance to bring these and showcase them in Red Dot Island too!


Red Dot Diva's geek bro Jedd has also managed to interview Stefan Cembolista.
Read his interview here!

Friday, September 8, 2017

STGCC 2017: Diva's Round-up and Biceps Collection from the Media Preview

STGCC, the largest Western pop-culture event of the year in Red Dot Island, will be opening its doors just a few hours away.

At the media preview which was held at Central Perk SG yesterday, ReedPop mentioned that the for its 10th Anniversary, the convention has expanded to 1 more hall, to encompass the new zones like the Good Game Experience (GGXP) and Akiba Zone, which focuses on cosplay and Japanese subculture.

For years, the "games" segment which is mentioned in the STGCC brand name, has been notably absent. With the GGXP area, the organizers making their bid to get the industry back into the fold. Within the area, fans can try their hands on games developed by local and regional publishers, including titles like Pokemon Trading Card Game as well as other card, computer, mobile phone games as well as immersive VR experiences. There will also be a few hardcofe esports tournaments held live there.

The show's floor plan is also heavily segmented into different types, with attendees getting hit with "retail therapy" first before they arrive at the Star Wars "Experience The Force" section, main stage and Artist Alley area. Certain parts of the show are only available to fans depending on the types of tickets they purchase. Hopefully, this will allow fans to maximize their different enjoyment at STGCC, depending on their interests.

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On site to meet the invited media at the preview yesterday were several STGCC featured guests. Popular comic book artist Frank Cho had many of the media folks and fellow guests gushing over how his creative works had inspired them. To have him at STGCC may be the one and only chance that some of the local and regional fans will be able to meet him in person.

There were also loud cheers for 3x Eisner Award winner, Sonny Liew. Yes, Red Dot Diva fangirl-screamed as well.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

STGCC 2017: An Interview with Mirka Andolfo - Female Heroes Can be Sexy Too!

Italian artist Mirka Andolfo has a vast experience working with indie comic book publishers like BOOM!, Dynamite and Zenescope, as well created her own cheeky angel-devil romance title called "Sacro/ Profano". Recently, she worked on DC Comics' series "DC Bombshells" as well as "Wonder Woman".

From her portfolio, it is evident that Mirka Andolfo draws influences heavily from manga, with a penchant for drawing women in cute-sexy poses. What is most eye-catching about her drawings is how she manages to add wonderful facial expression and movement to the figures, with hair or items of clothing flowing in sync with the character's action, as if she manages to catch them in a second's freeze frame.

Mirka Andolfo is a guest at this year's STGCC and this will be her visiting this part of the world. Red Dot Diva managed to catch hold of her for a quick interview before this week's convention.

Red Dot Diva: When you first started out doing art as a career, did you have a mentor, and what important things did you learn from this person?
Mirka: After my graduation, I started attending a comic school in Naples (my hometown). After one year of study, I had the chance to have a little work as colourist for a comic, and then I started a career as colorist, working on international properties like “The Kite Runner” (my first “important” job), then “Mickey Mouse”, “Geronimo Stilton”, “Ice Age”, “Adventure Time”, and some French and American comics.

To be honest I never had a mentor. I was inspired by many great Italian artists, and some of them became friends of mine, and gave me a lot of valuable advice.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

STGCC 2017: Booth Highlight - Get Drawn Into the Surreal Magical World of Jessica Emmett's Art

Pandas, dragons, unicorns and cute meowfaces! Those were the things that attracted Red Dot Diva to Jessica Emmett's art when she first met her at last year's STGCC.

Since then, they have kept in touch on Facebook, and Jessica's charming and colourful visual ideas were exactly Red Dot Diva needed for the RDD blog's rebranding project.

Jessica has a knack of infusing the familiar and the strange, especially when she decides to let her imagination fly with drawings of monsters and creatures from the fantasy realm. While Jessica was very busy preparing for STGCC 2017, Red Dot Diva asked her a long list of nosy questions!

Red Dot Diva: Please introduce yourself, and tell us how you got into the career of illustration and graphic design.

Jessica: I’m Jessica Emmett, a freelance illustrator and artist from the UK who’s now living and working in Singapore.

I’ve been creating and making from as far back as I could hold a pencil. I grew up being very dyslexic, so it’s no surprise I gravitated to visuals in high school. On my art foundation I found a passion for photography and ended up doing a Photography degree and a Media Arts masters in Manchester. I was accepted onto a PhD to study how adoption is represented in art and media, given I am a transracial adoptee myself who had worked with many East Asian adoption communities. But life threw me a curveball in the form of the financial crisis which affected me and my husband as a young married couple. I had to withdraw from the program a week before my start date. Devastating, but also an amazing opportunity to re-evaluate what I really wanted to do with my life.

I asked myself what I always wanted to do. As much as I loved photography, I never stopped loving to draw. I also always wanted to do an online comic. Despite my lack of formal illustration training, I created and collaborated on Adopted the Comic that ran for a few years. It continues to be an important resource for the adoption community. Even though I thought I was terrible at drawing I was shocked that people started to make requests for me to do illustration commissions. It led to illustrating an education book, Learn Thai, and on completion of the first book I was hooked! I decided to dedicate myself to illustration.

Alongside my illustration, I’d also picked up sculpting again. It is only recently I’ve started to take 3D work more seriously.
Red Dot Diva: That's quite a journey you've been through!

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