PAX Prime - Day Two (including a panel from some guys on the internet)

Please note, as with yesterday's blog, I'm sharing this with non-GB friends and family, so some things that are probably familiar to this community are explained in a bit more detail.

Day 2 of PAX PRime was the Giant Bomb-iest day of the show. Between the Harmonix podcast to start the day and an amazing Giant Bomb panel to end the night, I Saw fewer games in person but felt like the day was well spent. Quality over quantity is my watchword for the remainder of the show - especially as I feel a slight tickle in the back of my throat.

My day actually started with Ohio State football's season opener at 9:00 am Seattle time. For someone considering a move to the area, getting to watch half my Buckeyes before really starting my day was pretty awesome. Fortunately, I saw some tweets reminding me of the Harmonix podcast time, because I had noted it down as starting at noon, not 11.

(That's a tip from yesterday I forgot to pass on: record your schedule somewhere besides the official app. The app went belly up for me after an update and had to be reinstalled - sans my saved personal schedule).

Harmonix talked a little bit about Fantasia: Music Evolved, but spent most of the panel highlighting indie developers. Phil Tibz of Young Horses sohwed off Octodad: Dadliest Catch; Nathan of Cappy Games had trailers from Super Time Force and Below, Darren Korb showed off a trailer and piece of music from Supergiant's Transistor, and the indefatigably positive Brad Muir took an endless line of shit from Harmonix's John drake while showing off Massive Chalice. Harmonix's stated goal was to show off the cool stuff their friends were doing, and there wasn't a game on the slate that I wasn't interested in. The highlights, for me, were two separate interruptions.

First, former Harmonix-er and current CEO and Creative Director of No Goblin, Dan Teasdale, barged in and presented Drake with a case of Diet Coke. This was a small fraction of the Diet Coke purchased for Drake via the Super Drake Tracker EX app that made its joking debut at PAX East 2011. The realty is that over 240 cans of Diet Coke have been purchased via the app, so Drake's office was inundated with cans and cases. The second interruption was Max Temkin and Jeff Gerstman delivering another round of Diet Cokes, this time in a large black tub of ice. Drake leaned into the joke and actually sat in the tub for a few minutes, drinking one of the cokes.

From here, I went to listen to 10 Questions with Supergiant Games, where Amir Rao and Greg Kasavin took ten pre-screened questions and then audience questions. Topics ranged from the importance of narrative, the role of sound and music in design, camera angles, approaches to games criticism, and avoiding a sophomore slump with Transistor. If you want to hear smart, considered answers to questions about game design, you could do a lot worse than Rao and Kasavin.

I headed over to the Washington Convention Center for the first time all day, and passed most of the Giant Bomb crew heading the other way. I didn't want to interrupt as they seemed to be heading somewhere specific, so I gave Drew Scanlon, Vinny Caravella, Alex Navarro, and Brad Shoemaker a "Hey guys!" as they passed. Drew gave a rather startled "Hey" back and we went on our separate ways.

I didn't have anything specific in mind to see except a trip past the Rome Total War II booth for a friend, so I jumped in a short line for an XCom: Enemy Within theater demo. It was a short line and a short demo showing off a new environment, two genetic modifications for your soldiers, and mech suits. For both sides. The presenter reminded us that the XCom Enemy Within panel was taking place in about 30 minutes with Adam Sessler of Rev3 games hosting, so I headed back over to the Sheraton satellite theaters since I'm a fan of both Sessler and XCom.

The panel went into a little more detail about the art design, the process for designing Enemy Within as a whole, and what we can expect when the expansion is released. The lead designer, who is not Jake Solomon, was interesting, and my hope is that Solomon's influence on the revival is so deep that this introduces new mechanics, soldiers, and enemies while keeping the balance and intangible "feel" that made Enemy Unknonwn so well received by fans of the old series. Oh, and one of the enemy types is a flying spider shark that can cloak and likes to target and strangle isolated soldiers. Good luck with that, Commander.

My last stop on the show floor for the day was the Indie Mega Booth. I wanted to tell Phil Tibz how much I enjoyed hearing him that morning and that I was looking forward to Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Right next to his area, Max Temkin as demoing Samurai Gunn. Jeff Gerstmann of Gian Bomb was there watching, and I saw them play a match before jumping into one on my own. Samurai Gunn is a four-player couch co-op game with frenetic action. I will like it more when I have more time to play and don't suck on the floor of a huge show.

My next event was the Giant Bomb panel. There's not a lot to say about this, especially since the video will be up soon. As expected, the line for the 8:30 event opened at 6:30 and was packed in literally one minute. There were loud cheers for the Giant Bomb staff as they appeared and entered the theater to set up, and almost equal cheers for a list of friends of the site who have become well known to the community: Adam Boyes, john Viggnocchi, John Drake, Dave Lang, and Brad Muir were just a few. The panel didn't fill up until right before the start, but the theater was filled with members of this fanatically devoted community. Two of the more bizarre moments came near the end of the show, when Adam Boyes, a Sony VP, gave the Giant Bomb staff copies of The Last of Us to toss into the crowd and, I think, Brad Shoemaker decapitated someone with a low, hard-flung game. Things somehow got weirder as Disney Interactive's John Vignocchi gave out Disney Infinity figures as prizes for the best display of twerking with Brad Shoemaker, while the aforementioned Boyes beatboxed. Yeah, it WAS that kind of party.

Those were the weird and wacky highlights of a panel that has specialized in weird and wacky in past years, but this year was unlike previous years in a very noticeable way. After introducing the staff panelists (Alex Navarro, Brad Shoemaker, Patrick Scoops Klepeck, Vinny Caravella) plus the night's videographer Drew Scanlon and the site's Product Manager Matthew Rorie, the site's co-founder Jeff Gerstmann asked for a round of applause for the deceased Davis. The standing ovation and thunderous applause was simply amazing. I didn't think to time it while it was happening, and I'm not sure I could have read the numbers on my phone's stopwatch anyway. That amazing outpouring of love and Gerstmann's fitting remarks immediately afterwards were a perfect public tribute to Davis.

Tomorrow: I attempt to avoid getting sick and maybe don't go to PAX but there's a Cards Against Humanity panel at 9 pm...

2 Comments
2 Comments
Edited by jrl5k

Thank you for this

Posted by CollyWolly

Cool write up. Enjoyed reading it.