Inside Montreal Comiccon 2016 – Heroes, Kickstarter, and VR

The Heroes of the Storm showmatch setup.PlayStation VR at Montreal Comiccon 2016. Photo © Girls on Games / Catherine Smith-DesbiensPlayStation VR booth at Montreal Comiccon 2016. Photo © Girls on Games / Catherine Smith-DesbiensPlayStation VR Headset at Montreal Comiccon 2016. Photo © Girls on Games / Leah Jewer

Montreal Comiccon is a convention where you can enjoy everything in the broadly defined ‘geekdom’. By everything, I mean comics, anime, video games, card games, and anything in the science fiction or fantasy genre. Actors and cosplayers abound, who you can take pictures with and get autographs from. Most of the show floor is dedicated to merchandise: from cards, to games, to consoles, to original works of art inspired by your favorite comics or games. Another part of Comiccon, and the one that I focused on, is that of game competitions and panels.

Heroes of the Storm Showmatch

The Setup

The Heroes of the Storm showmatch was interesting to watch. Ten players were assembled to play against each other, and the game was projected on a screen at the front of the room. On either side of the screen were five desktop computers (one for each of the ten players) facing the audience. Oddly enough the teams did not stay the same with each match, so one cannot really say who the winners were. But it was fun to see some Quebecois grandmaster ranks compete. Red team consisted of Brightwing, Greymane, Valla, Xul and E.T.C.; Blue team consisted of Zagara, Anubarak, Falstad, Rehgar and Thrall.

Montreal Comiccon 2016

The Heroes of the Storm showmatch setup (via Girls on Games)

How the Game Went

I noticed that they played ‘chicken’ with each other longer than in lower rank matches. They were very hesitant to engage, which made it a bit frustrating to watch, but overall they seemed pretty skilled. During one match, the blue and red teams were tied in forts and in levels, with the red team often losing skirmishes.

The match ended in the most ridiculous, and very typical of Heroes of the Storm, way – both teams were hesitating around taking a camp, trying to bait each other, when finally (for the first time all game, that I had seen) E.T.C. landed a perfect mosh. Blue was team wiped and red instantly destroyed their core. The match ended in a little over average time at approximately 24 minutes. These players play together in teams outside of the Con in Team League. Hopefully we’ll see them in some real competitions soon.

The Kickstarter Panel

The Kickstarter panel was short, but informative. Here are a couple of facts and tips for anyone looking to try to have a project funded:

  • Be aware that Kickstarter takes 10% of your funding.
  • If you are unable to deliver on what you promised, that 10% is your responsibility to pay back to your backers.
  • Kickstarter needs a clear goal or conclusion to your project.
  • Communicate with your backers regularly – no one appreciates 6 month updates.
  • You can and should be honest about how you are funding your project – often Kickstarter is not the only source of funding.
  • Patreon is better for artists or musicians of all kinds, as it allows fans to fund your passion per piece or work created.
  • Indiegogo allows project creator access to the funds immediately upon donation, this might be better for smaller projects that require seed funding.

The Virtual Reality Panel

What They Talked About

The virtual reality panel ranged in discussion from current technologies and trends, to difficulties in the approaches to virtual reality, to future applications of the software and hardware. They spoke at length about the pros and cons of different types of virtual reality. For example, they concluded that wires and a large setup takes away from the experience. They also said that the future will be in mobile virtual reality. The new virtual reality introduced by Playstation is a way, they think, to make virtual reality more mainstream and accessible, and by doing this it will encourage the advancement of the technology. It was also worthy of note that this is one of the few times where the video game industry has been driving technology forward – as in the application for gaming is at the forefront of the VR world.

PS VR Headset

PlayStation VR Headset at Montreal Comiccon 2016 (via Girls on Games)

Virtual reality for first person shooters does not work very well. They agreed that the future of, or best application of virtual reality to first person shooters, would be in a laser tag or paintball-esque scenario. The computer recognizes an enclosed area, and renders it to look like a certain game universe. Afterwards the players are free to run around and play virtual laser tag with their friends. They also mentioned that at the moment head tracking is easy, but eye tracking is difficult. L’Université de Montréal is doing studies on eye movement and pupil dilation in an attempt to discern emotional reactions to images/films/games, so hopefully that will bear fruit in the future.

What do I Think About it?

They did not discuss this in the panel, but I felt that it followed that applications of VR in gaming could be games with the ability to read our reactions. This could mean many things. Some games might make you go through some kind of psychological ‘trip’, a la Stanley’s Parable, or the giant’s game in Ender’s Game. It could also potentially have some applications in more interactive cinematic type games, like Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain. It could take the choice out of choosing ‘paragon’ or ‘renegade’ options in games, instead selecting the appropriate answer based on your emotional response.

This sort of hypothesizing, though somewhat fun, is what ensued for the rest of the panel. Virtual reality could have applications for medicine/surgery, for military training, and also for desensitizing people to phobias. For example, those with agoraphobia could, in a safe environment, acclimatize themselves to being out and around people. Though it veered towards speculation, I enjoyed the panel.


Montreal Comiccon was, as always, a pleasant experience. The games and panels were set up nicely. Overall, things looked professional, but somehow seemed to lack direction and order in execution. The showmatches for Heroes ended early due to technical difficulties. The computers were arranged in teams, but the teams themselves changed and the players remained in the same seats. The panels I attended had qualified speakers, but the conversation was often led away from their area of expertise. Or else it wandered into common knowledge territory (many things mentioned would already be known or would ‘stand to reason’). Despite these shortcomings, I enjoyed them and look forward to Montreal Comiccon 2017.