When Digital Extremes announced the scrapping of all TennoCon 2020 in-person attendee plans, I was understandably pretty bummed. After all, Warframe’s event nabbed the crown for best fan convention at its debut in 2016 and has kept it since. I count down the time until TennoCon; I’ve had a blast every year, looking looked forward to the next from the moment the last one ends. Now, all my plans to hang with friends I’d met in-game, meet face-to-face with the devs, and just soak up the energy and atmosphere with other fans, are kaput. Obviously I understand the reasons (curse you, COVID-19), but that does not diminish the disappointment of missing out on many aspects of my favorite time of year, from the start of the pre-show brunch to the end of the after party.
One of the key highlights of this particular convention – and my favorite – is a focus on raising money for charity; TennoCon just isn’t TennoCon with out a charity partner. Now, with no physical ticket sales, there is a huge chunk of funds that won’t be heading to some worthy cause. I’d be crushed at the loss, but Digital Extremes has already assured us that charities will not be left out.
As in previous years, I already anticipate that there will be digital supporter packs folks can buy filled with in-game loot. Some proceeds from that have always gone to the charity of choice for the year. Perhaps there will be a larger selection of supporter packs available as a way to offset the losses of in-person tickets.
Another idea is to hold a charity auction. While it may not be as feasible to mail physical items to everyone (and pulling money away from said charity), there could be some special memorabilia offered and auctioned off, either in a silent auction format or live on a stream. Perhaps even a combination of both: Knowing what is available beforehand and allowing folks to put in max bids would be great, but I also think there is an allure to pulling out a surprise! Bring on out items that were part of the design process, like what was shown in the museum last year. Or a model of a certain rose and its box. Or maybe even offer up a working K Drive or Archwing. (I kid. A little.)
Do note that the charity partners for this year’s convention have been announced. This year’s proceeds will go to support Autism Ontario and Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex. Autism Ontatio supports thousands of families in the Autism community and works to increase public awareness. Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex supports families and individuals affected by the disease as well as other forms of dementia.
Let’s admit it — we love swag! Is there anyone who comes home from a con without some goodies packed away for use and display at home? I have a full shelf of Warframe swag and four convention T-shirts in my drawer. Of course there is sure to be a virtual merch store, but we can do more.
At first, my suggestion was going to be to pull out your previous TennoCon T-shirts and wear them while watching the July event. You can still do that. You can also buy new t-shirts, as Digital Extremes has announced three types of bundles for players: the Digital Pack (in-game goodies for $24.99); the Merch Pack (exclusive t-shirt and pin for $34.99); and the TennoCon Bundle (which combines the other two for in-game and IRL goods for $54.99).
But then I had a better idea, one that won’t eat up much funding for the charities: Why not design a Virtual TennoCon 2020 applique that folks could download and take to a shop and print their own, or print and iron on themselves? This would best be done prior to the show so we could all be sporting our shirts on the big day. Then it would be awesome to have folks send in pics wearing theirs to make a digital collage to show off, maybe even at the show.
Even better, DE could also create some programming instructions to make an exclusive TennoCon item via 3D printers. I ‘d totally fire mine up and make myself a knickknack item to add to my Warframe shelf. Remember that rose and box mentioned earlier? I’d love that! Or a mini frame? Maybe this can be part of another bundle that folks can buy that also includes in-game goodies.
I still think the iron on idea is pretty dang spiffy and should be added on the offerings. More money for charity, more folks with goodies — a total win-win!
Seeing people is one of the highlights of TennoCon, and seeing them in costume is even more awesome. This is an aspect I will sorely miss! Coming across favorite and fun characters from the game is always a treat. And how about all the work people put into those? Mad respect goes out to the cosplayers, both the veterans and the newcomers. We need to celebrate this still even if we can’t be together in person. I am fairly confident we have fans who have already been making/made their cosplay for this year’s convention. We can’t have that awesomeness going to waste! They surely want to show it off, and we certainly want to see it. So let’s have a virtual cosplay event!
Have folks make videos or take pictures of themselves in their cosplay and send it in to be shown on the big screen during a virtual contest. Along with these entries players can write up a bit about their piece, how it was made, how it is meaningful to them. Judging can be done by devs just before the event, and perhaps some finalist could be brought together in a Zoom meeting or some such to discuss their costume as winners are announced.
On the plus side, with a virtual event, there is no wrestling the sometimes massive costume pieces around while traveling or paying extra fees for luggage. And maybe those who feel more self-conscious dressing up in front of large crowds (or people like me who would overheat and pass out in a costume) will feel more free to participate for a few camera stills or video.
4. Doing dev meet and greets
While it certainly wouldn’t be the same as the pre-con brunch, where both the food and company are great, there is a way to do a VIP special meet and greet. Utilizing Zoom, DE could set up a couple of meetings where folks who want to splurge on some VIP time with devs (remember, proceeds are supporting charity!) could be sent a link to join in virtually with a couple of devs and chat with them. Because it is virtual, there might even be more devs and more players than normal who want to (and can) take part.
5. Interactive competitions
The interactive contests that happen during the con are fun, but obviously folks can’t go to different stations and get stamps. So do a virtual one instead! Sort all attendees who sign up to attend by factions. One idea is to add a random picture or word in the corner of a broadcast of a panel or stream. In a hangman-like way, players will have to collect enough words and organize them to complete a phrase. Players who complete it (by participating enough or by being super good guessers) then enter it into a website that is tracking correct answers by faction. It would actually be amusing if each faction had a hangman/Warframe being built on the page and players could watch progress!
These are a smattering of my ideas for TennoCon 2020. I also have ideas for things that fans themselves can do to make it a personally more memorable and splendiferous event, but we’ll save those for another time. Do you have any ideas for the event? What are things Digital Extremes can do to pull off this unique convention? Please feel free to share your thoughts here. (I’ve been told DE just might be perusing these ideas, so now is your chance to get them heard!)
However it all works out, I look forward to “seeing” you guys there. I have no intentions of missing a TennoCon, not now or ever. The pandemic can’t stop me. Nothing will!