It’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog post (a rather unexpected hiatus). Besides getting so engrossed in playing games that I was unable to write anything, I was getting ready for my trip down to Seattle last weekend. Why? Should be obvious.
PAX Prime 2012
Here’s the short end of my first trip to PAX Prime.
Holy shit, I had a blast. And again, this was my first time. Last year the thought came to my mind that I should attend PAX, but I foolishly waited until I finished my junior year of high school to register, and the passes were sold out. This year I made sure to be on top of things, and the best I could get was a pass for Friday and Sunday. Still not the full three days, but I felt I would be able to see enough of PAX (or so I thought, until this writing). A few weeks before the convention, my dad called one of my relatives who has a job in the games industry, and actually got me a pass for Saturday. Now I would be able to experience all three days of the event. I was excited, and for good reason. I wasn’t in a position to write up my thoughts of each day on the site as the convention went on, so I retained as much of what I experienced in my memory and will now give you every detail I can recall from this last weekend.
The First Day
Riding into downtown Seattle from the Light Rail, I just followed the crowd of people who had their passes on them to the Hyatt for registration. Got my lanyard for my pass and saw a pretty good cosplay of Cammy while in line. Next was to head to the line outside the Paramount for the PAX Prime Keynote, hosted this year by Ted Price. The speech was very good, hearing him talk about how to and how not to make a game and how to avoid certain pitfalls in game development. I didn’t stay for the Q&A with Ted Price, or the Penny Arcade Q&A, as I wanted to get to the convention floor and start checking out demos in the exhibition hall.
I was planning to go to the Double Fine Adventure Adventure, but got side tracked by wanting to play some demos, as well as explore the convention center. First one I planned on was at the Nintendo booth, for Project P-100. It was the same demo I had seen from videos at E3, so I knew the general gameplay and what to do. It was rather interesting talking with people in the short line about the game and their reactions, some of which said they couldn’t believe they never heard of it before. So that was cool. And that Wii U gamepad is pretty comfortable to hold.
After that demo, I checked out Metal Gear Rising, yet another Platinum Games developed title. That was a good demo, very tight action. Sly Cooper Thieves in Time was next, and one I was a tad bit skeptical about, mainly because of Sucker Punch not being the developer. Hey, it’s a Sly Cooper game, and I think if the demo is indicative of the final game, it should be pretty awesome. I had not played those games in a while, but it was nice to instantly recognize the controls as something from that series, with both familiar and new mechanics. Lastly I played Deity over at the PAX 10 and was amazed to see the description of that game was entirely accurate. It’s a game that controls like Diablo and has stealth elements akin to the Batman Arkham games. Really cool.
After deciding I had played all I was really wanting to play on the Exhibition Hall, I proceeded to explore around the convention center, checking out various areas of interest and anything obscure or interesting. Heading upstairs I tried my hand at a contest in the classic console room, where I had to get the medal on Corneria in SF64 without taking damage, using bombs, and all wingmen survive. I got hit right before the boss, and decided that was fine. Went to the console freeplay area and played a few levels of Vanquish. Still love that game. Heading downstairs I played a rom hacked or bootleg arcade machine (whichever you wanna call it) titled Donkey Kong II. Basically the original Donkey Kong but with modified levels. Also harder.
I then made my way to both levels of Handheld Lounge, which Nintendo had demo stations for DS and 3DS games (plus the Kirby Anniversary Collection for Wii). While making my way back and forth, I kept coming across a stand near the escalators on the third floor for a game called Tentacle Bento. First red flag raised was the use of the word Tentacle, and the girls promoting it were in Japanese high school uniforms. After asking them questions and getting a pack of gummy octopuses with a slip of paper explaining the game, it was easy to tell that they were very knowing about the subject matter of this hentai card deck building game. Yeah, not even a visual novel. A card game.
Somewhere between 4 and 5 PM, I decided to make my way to the Pegasus Theater as I was planning to go to two panels that evening. While chilling outside the Sheraton, I heard a familiar voice, turned around, and it was none other than Ryan and Vinny exiting the Sheraton. Got to talk with them briefly, and I picked up Ryan’s Mii through Streetpassing. So that’s awesome.
Headed inside afterwards to get in line for the Mega 64: Panel That Is Kinda Like A Nerd Thing, and while sitting and standing weren’t the most comfortable things, it was nice to pass the time talking with other people in line. 6 PM came around and the panel started, and it was a riot. I have not watched any of Mega 64’s videos in a while, but when I do I always get a kick out of it, and it was pretty much that, plus some videos that were created for various things and shows but got rejected at the last minute for various reasons. Met Rocco on the way out of the theater and told him how much I enjoyed the panel, and that was great.
After that it would be 2 hours until the Giant Bombcast Live would start, so I took the time recharge my phone and 3DS as they were getting low on battery, then got back in line about an hour before the panel started. By that point, my legs were very titled, and I was still sweaty coming out of that last panel, so I was impatient to get back into the theater and grab a seat. Eventually I did, and that was a very fun panel. So much of it was fun, with Harmonix bringing donuts and inflatable balls to bounce around in the audience, and Brad Muir signing things in Dave Lang’s name for their version of the Lang Zone. Did I get something signed? Why yes I did. What was it?
Yep, that goddamn slip of paper for Tentacle Bento I had signed by Brad Muir. Even crazier was that Brad seemed to know about that game’s existence, that it was funded on Kickstarter and stuff. The panel was very great, and I spent some time afterwards talking with Brad and Will Smith, and then talked with Eric Pope, saying that I was excited for their panel Saturday night, and he said for me to expect tons of stupid stuff. And then I got my picture with Jeff, which was really great. I asked him about his fall during part 2 of the Olympic video game livestream just to confirm if it was staged or legitimate, and it was pretty much the former. Still a funny moment from that video. After that, I left the Sheraton and made my way back to my hotel room.
The Second Day
I did not go to the convention center right at 10, because I did not have my pass for Saturday yet. I first went to visit a relative of mine who works at Nintendo of America and had worked things out to get a Saturday pass for me. We met up and had lunch, and also got to meet his brother that was also attending PAX and had recently graduated from DigiPen. We talked a bit about the school and stuff to do to get in, and at about 1:30, I headed over to the Sheraton to get in line for the XCOM panel. While waiting in line, I decided that to make things much more bearable waiting in line I would participate in the games and contests the enforcers were holding. Got two pins for making a video game icon with pipe cleaners (I made the Screw Attack from Metroid), and I participated in a speed paper craft building contest in order to win a 360 Fight Pad. All while Gangnam Style was playing (this would be a recurring trend throughout the day). After doing little fun stuff in line, the panel soon started. The XCOM panel was very cool, getting to see stuff that was rejected during development because of them not working out. Most of it was rather humorous, in a rather “wow, this is pretty stupid” kind of way. And Geoff Keighly’s presence pretty much made the panel’s alternate title “XCOM Enemy Unknown: The Final Hours.”
With 3 and a half hours until the next panel I planned to go to, I headed over to the annex of the convention center to take a brief look at the BYOC hall and visit the DigiPen booth on the same floor. Got some more information about the school, including an undergraduate’s admissions reference. After that, did some more walking around the convention center, checking out cosplays or other demos that I did not play but watch. Between 4 and 5 I left to go to the Hyatt and get in line for the next panel on my schedule: Which Interactive Lie Did I Tell? Again, the panel was great and was a cool insight into Chet Faliszek and Eric Wolpaw’s process when it comes writing games. Also discovered 2 amazing things that Eric said in the Q&A. Number one, the idea for the credits in Portal came from Eric watching the credits to God Hand. Number two, there was originally going to be a sub plot throughout Portal 2 where Chell was going to get somehow married to a turret, and the subject of the “Turret Wife” would be continually brought up. That last bit was rather hilarious, and someone suggested it be DLC. I’d sure as hell play that.
After the panel I got to talk with Chet and Eric along with other people who were at the panel. I thanked Eric for mentioning one of the greatest games of all time, God Hand, and I got my picture with both Chet and Eric. And after that, it would be 2 hours until the next panel on my schedule. Actually, I WAS going to go to the panel happening immediately after the Chet and Eric panel but just getting a glimpse at the line, I wasn’t sure if I would’ve gotten a good seat if I went right in at the back of the line, so I sadly opted out. At least there were other things in the Hyatt to keep me interested, unlike the Sheraton which didn’t have anything other than the enforcers. Instead, there were the Enforcers, a couple booths set up, and a Starcraft II LAN party going on in a nearby room. I did not go to that one, BTW.
There was a small area with PCs and people playing a puzzle game called Spacechem, and then there were demos of a game called Ironclad Tactics, a “real-time, card-based tactics game set in the American Civil War. With Robots.” Looked interesting, the guy in charge of the booth was very enthusiastic about promoting the game, said it’s free to play and has “no bullshit,” which was nice to see that amount of honesty. There was a table set up promoting a product from Kickstarter called “Skallops,” which are these laser cut half circles that look like Scallops. You can put playing cards in the slots on these skallops and build different objects with them. There was a spot nearby where people were sitting there and just building stuff with these things. There was an even an enforcer walking around with a hat on made out of cards and skallops.
I got in line for the next panel on my schedule just as there were people beginning to get in line, so I was up near the front, guaranteeing I’d get a seat near the front row. Before I did however, I saw Eric Pope and other Harmonix employees in 70s styled outfits entering the building. Getting a glimpse of that, and reading back over the description for the Harmonix Game Show Extravaganza, I had a feeling it would be amazing. And sure enough, it was. In fact, looking back on it, I’d probably say it was the best panel I went to at PAX.
It was a whole lot of fun, between hilarious shout outs from the audience, to Jeff being the “judge” of the whole game show from the back row, to the lightning round and inflatable balls bounced around near the end…again, it was a lot of fun. As I was on my way out of the theater, I saw both Jeff, Drew, and Dave Lang. Seeing Dave Lang there, I had my opportunity to jokingly say “hey, thanks for signing this at the Giant Bomb panel and shit.” It’s fun to give him so much grief, but it’s good that he’s in on the joke. Outside the theater Harmonix had some Rock Band pins and inflatable beach balls up for grabs, and I made sure to get one. I left the Hyatt satisfied and I headed back to the hotel room.
The Final Day
I had my pass for Sunday ready to go and made my way to the Unicorn Theater for the Twisted Pixel Variety Hour. There were things from a donut eating contest, to talk about LocoCycle, and an impromptu recording session with Chainsaw for potential dialog from the NPCs in LocoCycle (when you run into them). That was a fun panel, although there weren’t as much people there than the other panels I had gone to. Kind of a shame, but at least I got a good seat and a nice view of the Twisted Pixel guys.
Before heading to the Sheraton for the next panel on my schedule, I had some lunch in the convention center and visited the Castle Crashers area of the Exhibition Hall and got a capsule toy from one of those Japanese capsule machines they had there. With that done, it was off to the Pegasus Theater for the Ratchet & Clank 10 Anniversary Celebration. While in line, the enforcers came around and handed out free Cards Against Humanity packs (not the whole game, just small packs of white and black cards), as well as some Skallops. The panel was good, very nice to see the evolution of Ratchet & Clank since it started in 2002, and they had a demo of the new game Full Frontal Assault. Also, everyone in attendance got a code for the multiplayer demo. So that’s awesome.
I left the hotel to get a drink from Starbucks, and when leaving and returning, I noticed a line growing outside the hotel and wondered what it was for. After hearing that the line was for the Gearbox panel, which would be happening in two hours, I went “oh shit!” and got in line immediately. For all the panels I had gone to this PAX, it was as simple as just going into the hotel an hour before the panel started and there were a reasonable amount of people for start that I wouldn’t get stuck at the back. This panel however, people were waiting for it. Eventually I got inside, but the line was VERY long. Where my spot was in the line, it was halfway around the floor. And then it was delayed by half an hour. Luckily, having people to talk to in line, and the enforcers holding games and contests for fun made the long wait much more bearable. Participate in a game or two and got some more pins.
Eventually the panel started. Everyone got their free slice of pizza and a seat. Unfortunately, I ended up with a seat near the back, and while I could still see Randy and the other Gearbox guys up front, I still had to move my head around on occasion see past the people in front of me. They showed stuff for Aliens Colonial Marines, explained how they came up with a new weapon based on the stuff Hudson mentioned in his “state of the badass art” speech in the movie, and then got to Borderlands 2, which is what everyone was super excited for. The new trailer was shown, as well as an in depth look at customization and the DLC class, the Mechromancer. The skill trees behind that class looked incredibly varied and unique. Best of all, everyone in attendance got a free season pass for Borderlands 2 DLC (not counting the Mechromancer).
Great! AWESOME! And I don’t even own the game yet!
To be fair, I had a feeling they would’ve done something like this to follow up from last year’s Gearbox panel having everyone get a free copy of the game. Still awesome. If anything, this has given me the incentive to buy it as soon as I can rather than wait for the Steam holiday sale.
Unfortunately, due to the panel being delayed, and the Q&A going to 6 PM, I missed out on the final round of the Omegathon. Oh well. Next time, I suppose.
Now I am back home, returning to mundane life after having a memorable time this last weekend. Of course besides playing games and visiting panels, I acquired some swag and souvenirs from the show.
From the pictures posted, I got.
- 5 Rock Band pins
- 1 Harmonix beach ball
- 5 PAX Theatre pins
- 1 Skallops pins
- 12 cards and skallops
- 14 Cards Against Humanity
- 1 Age of Empires Online Steam starter pack code
- 1 Ratchet & Clank Full Frontal Assault beta code
- Borderlands 2 Season Pass
- Paper Mario stickers
- 1 Castle Crashers capsule toy
- 1 Okami HD hat
- 1 Ironclad Tactics paper craft
- 1 DigiPen Arcade paper craft
- Spacechem Paper Edition
- 1 Magic the Gathering bag for carrying stuff
- 1 Tentacle Bento promo slip autographed by Dave Lang
Got quite a fine amount of stuff. Most of that stuff is still arranged on my desk, the stuff on the left side atleast. I’ve already gone and used those skallops and cards to build something, and I can say that I could possibly get into this. It holds in place real nicely.
You can see the rest of the images I got from PAX here. Didn't get as many as I was hoping for but, again, oh well. There's always next year.
Well, with college already underway, among other things, I’ve got quite a bit planned for the future, including this blog.
For start, I’ve decided to make each blog entry bi weekly instead of weekly and making most of those deadlines while missing a few. Since I’ll have to focus on college and other priorities, this will be helpful in giving me more time in two weeks to play a substantial amount of a game (or games) for the blog.
The other big thing is this. I’m planning to attend DigiPen next fall. I’m attending UAA for this first year just to get some general education courses out of the way and some credits that can be transferred. That’s why I visited the DigiPen booth at PAX and spoke with my relative’s brother, who had recently graduated from DigiPen. The big thing he stressed the importance of is having a portfolio. Obviously having no prior game development experience wouldn’t keep you out of attending, but it can definitely help make a case for why someone should be accepted into this school.
So, as something my parents suggested I do, I’m going to start working on said portfolio and start creating stuff. Not games, necessarily, but stuff like mods for instance. Items in Skyrim or maps in TF2 for example. In fact, that’s what I have planned. The latter I’ve had some experience in attempting to make as I’m familiar with using Hammer and even managed to make a rough layout for a Control Point map I had. As for Skyrim, I have not touched the Creation Kit yet, so I’m interested to see how different or similar that is to the Construction Set from Morrowind and Oblivion.
This blog will still be for me talking about games I’ve been playing, but if I have anything to show from my projects, I’ll share what I’ve been doing in its own section in the entry. I have some ideas already that I’m working on, but those would be saved for next entry since the bulk of this is about my experience at PAX. Plus this entry is already getting pretty long.
That’s it. Coming back from a brief and unexpected hiatus, the blog will now resume as it always has. With a bi weekly schedule of course. And I already miss PAX. Wish it was next year already.