This was my first time having a table in Artist Alley ... ironically, though, being stationary for long periods of time gave me the opportunity to see more (mainly because I would get restless and actively go and search out interesting things when there was a lull). This was also a highly-advertised con, which ... may or may not have been good. Hard to tell.
One thing I kept hearing over and over throughout the weekend was 'So-and-so wants to come in, but can't because admission is too expensive.' Now, had I heard this once, I would've just shrugged it off. But this was multiple people, and multiple people who I know have never complained of this problem before. Maybe I'm out of touch because it's been awhile since I paid to get into a con, but $45 for a weekend pass at the door, when there isn't a Japanese guest, is a bit silly as far as I'm concerned. I understand that the HRCC is a big venue and requires some serious dollars, and I think Nekocon is worth quite a bit, but really ... advertising so much and then having people unable to attend because of money is a bit painful.
Now that that's clear ...
Karaoke was actually held in Main Programming. I know that seems like a random compliment, but lately I've seen more and more cons shift karaoke to a panel room because it (theoretically) isn't popular enough. Which, some years, it isn't. But it's never the year you think it'll be. We had a nice-sized crowd ... God knows we didn't fill Main, but a panel room would've murdered this one. So kudos for not shuffling it off elsewhere. Also, I liked the 'Karaoke Battle Royale' concept, which involved actually judging participants. A lot of people consider that 'too much,' but I think it really inspires people to come in, and it's not as though the judges are sitting there pulling an American Idol. It went over really well and got the crowd going.
Panels. As one person pointed out, it would've been nice if, instead of the big Nekocon logo at the bottom of the pocket program, they'd put a map there or something. (Put the logo at the top or offside or something.) Oh, we found stuff eventually, but it wasn't just me with my horrendous sense of direction. A lot of people did the pre-panel wander, mainly because it was difficult to tell what floor anything was one. When you have a convention centre -- and this was true of AMA, too -- please give us a handy map.
Panel rooms, however, were set up nicely and were pretty much just the right size. I didn't have much contact with tech outside shows, but what I did see was pretty sweet. They were very conscientious when it came to helping set up for panels, even at the last minute ... of course, I've never really been unhappy with Nekocon tech.
Artist Alley ... since I was there most of the weekend. It was nice to have it in its own area, although it was a little too spacious sometimes, if that makes sense. It felt a bit cold (mood-wise and temperature-wise) as compared to other times. I've never been in an Artist Alley on my own before, so it's difficult for me to judge what the crowd was like comparatively.
Cosplay ... better this year. More people. Wonder if people actually listened to me ... probably not. It was an off year last year, I'm guessing. Main Programming as a venue felt much nicer after the shift (wretched acoustics last year), and everything went smoothly, as far as I could see. The halftime (a la Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) was nicely done ... my only complaint being that a bunch of us wanted to see the hard questions!
Anime Name That Tune, good as usual. My only complaint is that Cory needs to improve his aim when he tosses candy. (Sorry, dude.) Apparently there was also a video game one, which I didn't get to see, but I heard it went well.
Rave? Saturday one, anyway, which is what I went to. I understand staff has to be strict with mobs of people at cons, especially on a Saturday, but this was just left of the right amount of strictness. Just barely. Enough to get people just that bit more riled than they usually would be. Inside, it was a lot better -- can't expect people to follow the rules re: glowsticks on strings, but from what I could see, no one got clocked.
For those wondering about the cucumbers, apparently they were a marketing gimmick from some studio, and were meant to have stickers on them advertising a new show. But the stickers never actually came in. That's pretty well it.
Overall? Organisationally, still good. A lot of things just seemed to slip through the cracks a tad, enough to be annoying but not bad for the con. I don't feel qualified to make too much of a statement on the at-door price, but it seems a little off to me. When it comes to the actual overall experience, though, I get the feeling that those who could afford to come in got nearly their money's worth.