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Location, Location, Location: This Year's PAX 10 Bummer

If someone didn't tell you to check out The PAX 10, you probably missed it.

"Hey, where is The PAX 10?" An enforcer pointed up, another didn't even know. The Mega 64 guys, whose merchandise booth was around the corner from The PAX 10, couldn't even tell any of us where it was.

That's a problem.

I don't have much interest in checking out games from the major publishers at PAX. Sure, I'm looking forward to Aliens: Colonial Marines, Mass Effect 3 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, but all of 'em are coming down the pike soon enough. I'll probably encounter each of them multiple times in the next few months--it's just how the media cycle works.

The PAX 10 features games from every platform, including iOS. Something for just about everyone.

Spending an afternoon milling around The PAX 10 is one of my favorite activities at PAX Prime and PAX East. Some games will go underground for years, some will never live up to their potential, some will be picked up by a massive publisher and maybe, just maybe, become industry sensations. I've said it before, but if you want a snapshot glance at the future of games, tour the PAX 10. Everything's right in front of you.

Except it wasn't this year. The PAX 10 was on the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center, two escalators above the main hall, without great signage to point traffic in the right direction.

The lack of appropriate signage is besides the point, though.

What made The PAX 10's previous location so special was the inability to miss it. The PAX 10's booth--if you can call it that--has never been as flashy or expansive as something like this year's monstrous Firefall area, but if you were walking towards the "big" games, The PAX 10 was in your peripheral vision. You were almost assured to find it, and perhaps something great might grab your eye!

Super Meat Boy? Bastion? Retro City Rampage? Among others, these are all games that generated unmistakable buzz, thanks to appearing in The PAX 10. It helped make them what they are today.

Developers and attendees I spoke weren't exactly happy, either, expressing marked confusion over the location change. Sure, there were a solid block of people coming through The PAX 10 booth, but the shift upstairs was awfully confusing.

Fez, in development nearly five years now, was lucky to have a PAX 10 spot and its own booth.

You could argue The PAX 10 has become enough of a thing that people will seek it out anyway, but given the massive numbers of people who attend PAX as a whole---there were 70,000 this year!--that's probably untrue. Forcing people to walk within The PAX 10's vicinity helped nudge the kinds of people who don't spend their spare time seeking out neat independently developed video games for their own edification.

I tracked down the spectacular-looking Fez because I've known Phil Fish for years, but how many PAX attendees can say that?

Each year, PAX becomes bigger. More locations, more booths, more games, more people. Change is inevitable, understandable--as are missteps. That said, here's hoping this year was an oversight, part of PAX's growing pains as more corporate money comes in.

PAX has power to change the lives of the developers we cheer for. Hopefully, that's not forgotten.

Onto PAX East, then.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
39 Comments
Posted by patrickklepek

"Hey, where is The PAX 10?" An enforcer pointed up, another didn't even know. The Mega 64 guys, whose merchandise booth was around the corner from The PAX 10, couldn't even tell any of us where it was.

That's a problem.

I don't have much interest in checking out games from the major publishers at PAX. Sure, I'm looking forward to Aliens: Colonial Marines, Mass Effect 3 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, but all of 'em are coming down the pike soon enough. I'll probably encounter each of them multiple times in the next few months--it's just how the media cycle works.

The PAX 10 features games from every platform, including iOS. Something for just about everyone.

Spending an afternoon milling around The PAX 10 is one of my favorite activities at PAX Prime and PAX East. Some games will go underground for years, some will never live up to their potential, some will be picked up by a massive publisher and maybe, just maybe, become industry sensations. I've said it before, but if you want a snapshot glance at the future of games, tour the PAX 10. Everything's right in front of you.

Except it wasn't this year. The PAX 10 was on the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center, two escalators above the main hall, without great signage to point traffic in the right direction.

The lack of appropriate signage is besides the point, though.

What made The PAX 10's previous location so special was the inability to miss it. The PAX 10's booth--if you can call it that--has never been as flashy or expansive as something like this year's monstrous Firefall area, but if you were walking towards the "big" games, The PAX 10 was in your peripheral vision. You were almost assured to find it, and perhaps something great might grab your eye!

Super Meat Boy? Bastion? Retro City Rampage? Among others, these are all games that generated unmistakable buzz, thanks to appearing in The PAX 10. It helped make them what they are today.

Developers and attendees I spoke weren't exactly happy, either, expressing marked confusion over the location change. Sure, there were a solid block of people coming through The PAX 10 booth, but the shift upstairs was awfully confusing.

Fez, in development nearly five years now, was lucky to have a PAX 10 spot and its own booth.

You could argue The PAX 10 has become enough of a thing that people will seek it out anyway, but given the massive numbers of people who attend PAX as a whole---there were 70,000 this year!--that's probably untrue. Forcing people to walk within The PAX 10's vicinity helped nudge the kinds of people who don't spend their spare time seeking out neat independently developed video games for their own edification.

I tracked down the spectacular-looking Fez because I've known Phil Fish for years, but how many PAX attendees can say that?

Each year, PAX becomes bigger. More locations, more booths, more games, more people. Change is inevitable, understandable--as are missteps. That said, here's hoping this year was an oversight, part of PAX's growing pains as more corporate money comes in.

PAX has power to change the lives of the developers we cheer for. Hopefully, that's not forgotten.

Onto PAX East, then.

Staff
Posted by OriginalClint

I want to go to there

Posted by wumbo3000

PAX 10 is great, but if it turns out like this, then not so great.

Edited by KarlPilkington

Were Kirstie and Phil there?

Posted by jacksonroye

I agree! They were way out of the public eye up there! That said I went up there like 3 times!

Posted by JBird
@Chabbs0: This reply combined with the pilkington avatar makes you officially the best person on the internet. You win.
Posted by rmanthorp

@OriginalClint said:

I want to go to there

Moderator
Posted by drag
@Chabbs0 said:

Were Kirstie and Phil there?

:}
Posted by JimmyJackJones

I knew where to look, but that's because I kept checking their official site for the maps. They made a point to mention the expo hall had been expanded to the 6th floor, but I don't know how many people pay attention. It seemed they were trying to put most of the established studios down on the main floor, and then put the smaller/indie guys up top. Made sense thematically, I guess, but yeah, a lot of people probably missed out. Personally though, I made sure I knew where the PAX 10 was so I could make a beeline to go check those games out. One of the best parts of the show.

Posted by damswedon

@Chabbs0 said:

Were Kirstie and Phil there?

Sir I tip my none-existent hat to you.

Posted by Protonguy

I found Fez on the 3rd? floor and the Pax 10 area eventually. This was my first PAX but i'm glad i treated it like an exploration game. Shit be everywhere!

Posted by DEllen

@Chabbs0 said:

Were Kirstie and Phil there?

Brilliant

Posted by rjayb89

That is not the ideal PC setup.

Posted by Grissefar

Grr, what a bunch of dickholes. Couldn't they have placed the indie booth in a more convenient location than 6th floor?

Posted by scottygrayskull

I've said it before, but it's depressing that PAX - which I thought was suppossed to be about the gamers - is becoming just another big budget industry/media event. I've been kicked from demlo kiosks after long line waits in favour of media, indie booths being placed next to giant obnoxious booths that completely overshadow them, or in this case being tossed aside almost completely.

Posted by DeF

@drag said:

@Chabbs0 said:

Were Kirstie and Phil there?

:}

shit, why is this funny? I wanna know! :D

Online
Posted by McGhee

When are we going to see a PAX South in Atlanta or Orlando?

Posted by hexx462

Thanks for this Patrick, I can't tell you many confused responses I got when saying the PAX 10 was my favorite booth at the show. It was the opposite last year when it was part of the main expo hall.

Posted by Ali_D

The main floor was nuts on Friday, so I made a point of visiting the PAX 10 stuff upstairs. Played more games on Friday than any other day.

Edited by FiZi

"The lack of appropriate signage..." that was PAX Prime 2011 with out needing to type out a full sentence.

I went and checked out the PAX 10. Here's what I came away with:

Snapshot - Really interesting looking platformer. The camera mechanic looks like it could make a fun little indie game. I didn't get to play it but I watched it being played multiple times.

Flipping Good Time - Again I didn't get to play this because it looked pretty boring. Run, jump, flip gravity, repeat. Since I didn't play it don't take this initial opinion as gospel. Watching someone play it for 5 minutes didn't make me want to try it.

Solar 2 - Bought that on Steam after the GB Quicklook. Found it enjoyable but lost interest fast. Want to know more about it? Watch the Quicklook: http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-solar-2/17-4416/

Fez - This game I got to sit and play for 15 minutes and really liked it. It looks to be a solid platformer and reminds me a lot of Cave Story. The flipping mechanic makes things really fun and makes the areas seem so much bigger. Controls were solid and the developer told me you can't die in it. They wanted to create something relaxing to play and explore. I am personally waiting for this to come out.

Word Fighter - Watched the Quicklook before going to play it with my girlfriend on the floor so I knew what to expect. It was a blast and so much harder then you think when you're in the hotseat. Check out the Quicklook http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-ex-word-fighter/17-4765/ if it doesn't sell it for you I don't know what will.

The Splatter - A physics based puzzle game. I tried this one out and found the splatter sounds and animations gleefully satisfying but this kind of game doesn't float my boat. For me it's a pass.

Janestown - Already out so you all probably know about this.

I didn't see the other PAX 10 games.

TL:DR

I can't wait for Fez and Word Fighter. Looking forward to Snapshot, Venessa and Janestown. Not interested in Solar 2, Splatter or Flipping Good Time. Didn't see the remaining PAX 10.

Posted by FiZi

@JimmyJackJones: I'm with you. I read the map and found the PAX 10 no problem. I also knew it existed before going. I wonder how many attendee's knew/know about the PAX 10 or are just there for the big titles.

Posted by drag
Posted by Ghostiet

So Fez is basically a TF2 Spy-player simulator? Since the main hero has a fez and is obsessed about hats?

Posted by RedFive

Guess I'm not the only one who completely missed the PAX 10 on Saturday. Thankfully, I went back on Sunday. After consulting the map, I found the PAX 10 and had a wonderful time with Word Fighter.

I really wish the PAX 10 would get more front-and-center placement.

As an aside, I really dislike the "fully enclosed" booths that were at the show for Borderlands 2 and Uncharted 3. I would have loved to see both games, even over someone else's shoulder.

Posted by DeadDorf

"Developers and attendees I spoke weren't exactly happy, either"

=>

"Developers and attendees I spoke to weren't exactly happy either"

Posted by BoG

Fez... I still want you. 
Jamestown looks really fun. If I didn't have to use my father's computer I'd own it. I hope they release it for consoles.
Posted by TadThuggish

PAX 10 should be front and center. Mass Effect 3 has plenty of time to shine.

Posted by MisterMouse

I hope PAX makes the necessary changes to get these indie developers the attention they deserve.

Posted by Houk

I had been looking forward to checking out the PAX 10 leading up to the show, but I hadn't had time to actually sit down and check out the map, so it took a bit of hunting for me to find it. Worse than its location, though, was its general layout. Its floor space had a very crammed-in feel to it, making it a pain to move around from game to game and not really giving each game room to breathe. I spent plenty of time up there regardless, but I really do hope it's paid a bit more attention by whoever plans the floor layouts next time.

Posted by random_guy23

got atom zombie smasher on steam for mac with the humble indie bundle 3. haven't got round to actually playing it, but i'm gonna start it up now! it looks like fun!

Posted by m0rdr3d

Okay, I thought Jay Watts' moustache was nuts and then Phil King took it further by doing the same thing atop his head.
Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

It's hard to really want to make my own game, then look at what these guys have created. I wish them all the best, those are some freaking spectacular games. The ideas are ones that we all kind of have, thinking this would be cool, or that might be neat.....but to execute it like they have is impressive. I'm so glad I have sites like Giantbomb and developers like this to keep gaming interesting for me 25 years later.

Big shout out to the internet, you rock internet.

Posted by buzz_clik

@McGhee_the_Insomniac said:

When are we going to see a PAX South in Australia?

FIFY.

Moderator
Posted by avidwriter

Fez... 5 years. What have they been doing?

Posted by Slaneesh

Watched the hole thing. Quite enjoyable. Some great games in the mix. Personally im most interested in the 2, 3D 2D platformers, i really think thats a cool mechanic.
 
 
 Also some epic beards in the mix

Posted by Wroth

Did anyone else notice the giant elephant standing in the room beside the Solar 2 booth?

Posted by dropabombonit

Seems like bad planning, hope they sort it for when I go to PAX next year 

Posted by notsonic

Don't forget its not free to submit your game for the pax 10 either. So of the hundred entries only 10 get picked for floor space and the promotion. Everyone else is out the money.

Posted by MeatSim

The PAX 10 is one of the most unique things of PAX it should be in the main hall.