Top 5 Things I Learned at PAX:
- If you choose to make-out with a girl while intoxicated, make sure she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Let alone one that’s there.
- John Drake is a mischievous motherfucker.
- I love women with French Canadian accents.
- The most interesting developers to talk to are the small guys.
- Dungeons & Dragons people don’t like it when you respond with “Monopoly” when they ask if you’ve played any board games.
After a weekend of adventure, I’m sitting here at the airport exhausted thinking, “What the Hell happened?” My feet and legs feel like the aftermath of some sort of dismounted mission in the mountains of The Stan. The dehydration is palpable; odd after drinking what I felt like was plenty of water daily, not odd after a bunch of alcohol and an average of 4 hours of sleep per night. My head kind of hurts and I have an overall feeling of disorientation. I guess I got a case of the Post-PAX? Or maybe because my dumbass didn’t schedule a hotel for the last night and I slept across three armrests at the airport last night? My body is totally wrecked. Despite that, I had some of the best times I’ve had in recent memory. PAX, ya’ll!
If I had to sum up my PAX East experience I would have to examine the community itself. It wasn’t necessarily seeing Super Giant Games’ Transistor or watching Ryan Davis drink breast milk that made the event, it was that all of this was shared with other people. Every great moment was complemented and carried by the community experience.
I don’t hangout with a lot of folks that know what videogames are. In no situation in my life could I tell a joke involving a Sim City review or simply mention a company like Double Fine without giving an excessive amount of background to what the hell I was talking about.
It all began with Rock Band night near Harvard’s campus. It was also one of the crazier events of the weekend. Of course the local off-campus bar served fine wine instead of actual liquor. That was a massive bummer! Thankfully Harmonix was kind enough to provide a generous open bar. During the night I was able to successfully force Matt Kessler into an uncomfortable situation of singing a romantic duet with me to a huge Internet and in-person crowd. This is also a song that we’ve never heard before. It’s always nice to spend time with the Giant Bomb staff but this was my first opportunity to meet with folks like you from the community. I took advantage of that and walked out with a solid group of friends.
At the Transistor booth for example the line was over an hour long, but Matt Kessler and I picked the brains of the development team and learned a lot. I was even able to speak to someone at SuperGiant Games that credited himself with the Salute mechanic in Double Fine’s Trenched. Did you know that mechanic wasn’t well received at first? I got the 10-minute story of how they originally went with voice communication for a main avenue of interaction, but that eventually lead to just saluting. Because no one talks to strangers, right?
I also spoke with the man behind Soda Drinker Pro, Will Brierly. When I asked him about the specifics about the recorded audio of the soda-drinking act he replied, “it was recorded six years ago out of a Taco Bell cup.” Of course, this was followed with me asking about the specific soda used, he said it was Coke. I accepted that at first, but it dawned on me Taco Bell serves Pepsi products. The world may never know now… Brierly said his booth was $1,500 for the three days. Add that with the cost of buying/renting TVs, promo items, and travel, I’m sure Brierly spent a lot of cash to come out to PAX on his own dime. “Some people like to go on vacations, this is that for me.” he said.
PAX opened with a keynote from Cliffy B. It was between this and Blizzard’s announcement event. I used common sense and couldn’t imagine anything I would care about from Blizzard would be announced at PAX. Cliffy B ultimately gave us the cliff notes of his life (pun not intended). The keynote was very personal and delved into the man’s life of being bullied and boiled down to how ridiculous it is to think games make people violent. His point being, you’d probably see more than zero fistfights breakout at PAX if games lead to real-world violence. Agreed, Clifford!
DiveKick was the talk of the show. I even had two instances of speaking with developers about their game. The game started as a joke buy slowly became a thing. It's a fighting game where every attack (a DiveKick) does 1,000,000 damage and everyone has 1,000 health. Through magic, the game doesn't have a joystick but it never gets confused on how the player wants to move. Imagine almost getting a perfect KO in a fighting game match and how insanely stressful that is. Now imagine an entire game being those last 10 seconds of a match. It's a fighting game untalented people like me can play! DiveKick sounds simple on paper, yet I quickly discovered it's a deep game that is akin to Blizzard's design philosophy of: Easy to learn, difficult to master.
If you’re reading this I’m assuming you all know about the insanity that occurred during GiantBomb’s panel. So I’ll leave you all with an abridged version of my journey through the eyes of my iPhone.
If you went to PAX what were your highlights? If you didn't what are you curious about?