PAX East 2014 in 100 Words

Presented in chronological order with no explanation or context:

  • Lovely Regina
  • #BeatTheCheese
  • Street Shirts
  • Mexican Basement
  • Upstairs Kitchen
  • JJ’s Awful Jukebox
  • Bacon’s Buttons
  • Oatmeal Investigations
  • Photo Hunt
  • Group Fish Bowl
  • Star Fox: Grenadine Edition
  • Ice Run
  • Beer Ninjas
  • Stepping on Legos
  • Live Samurai Music
  • Front of the Lobby
  • Secret Supper
  • Rasslin’ Talk with The Wolf
  • Caffeine Runs
  • Booking Angles and Swerves
  • YES! Chants
  • VIP Seating in the Lang Zone
  • Inflatable Donkeys
  • Huggable Body Pillows
  • The Bottle Incident
  • Oat Soda
  • Duder Photo
  • Wild Turkey
  • Poster Crafting
  • Rumble Collusion
  • No Riots
  • Lang Facial
  • Rich & Vinny Droppin’ Knowledge
  • Family Time
  • 2 N’s 1 T
  • Megabooth Meandering
  • Undefeated Divekick
  • Boring Cornhole
  • Grease Traditions
  • Purple Weddings
  • Spy Games


Pantheon Kickstarter: Chasing the Memories

On the same day as the first thing I ever Kickstarted got released, I dumped money back into the system. If you have not heard, there’s a new MMO looking for your help via crowd funding. It’s called Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, which admittedly is a awfully generic name. It’s being developed by a (currently) small team led by Brad McQuaid, who is one of the three men that dreamed a dream called EverQuest and made it a reality.

“Oh, great…another EverQuest blog from Marino,” you’re saying. Well, sort of. It’s complicated.

Over the last decade, I’ve come to terms with the fact that no MMO will ever equal the sense of wonder, camaraderie, and discovery that EverQuest gave me. Between 2000 and 2004, I spent over 350 days of play time in the world of Norrath. It was the most fun I have ever had or probably ever will have in a game. While that’s somewhat depressing to say, after many years of attempting and failing to recapture the magic, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m okay with it. The fact that it’s not replicable makes my experiences in EQ that much more special. Part of the reason is that MMOs, even EQ itself, have moved on from EverQuest once was.

Now, here comes Brad McQuaid, his “Vision,” and Pantheon trying quite specifically to recapture that magic and fuck up my whole sense of closure. God dammit!

You see, “The Vision” was a hotly debated topic in the early days of EverQuest. When people would complain that something was too hard or didn’t make sense, the answer, whether it was a joke or not at the time, was always “it’s part of The Vision.” We probably didn’t realize it in the moment, but "The Vision" was a big part of what made the game so great and memorable. The tenets of Pantheon listed on their Kickstarter page will appear quite familiar to any EverQuest old-timers like myself. Visionary Realms makes it no secret that they’re trying to target a specific audience of MMO players that yearn for the days of true challenge. They know this game is not for everyone and it's not supposed to be.

I’ve said for years that MMOs have become too hand-holdy, for lack of a better word. I understand why; it only makes sense. Make things easier and bring in a bigger audience. But, at some point, it alienates much of that core audience that was there at the beginning of this whole thing. I want to be afraid to die at all times. I want to be punished for bad decisions, ill preparation, and sheer stupidity. I want to have to walk to most places. I don’t want a glowy line telling me exactly where to go the moment I start a quest. I don’t want to be max level two weeks after the game comes out. You get the idea. I went into way more detail about this stuff on a previous blog a couple years ago.

I really wanted to love this game.

So, I should be super excited by this prospect, right? Well, I don’t know. I like where their heart is, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100% sure they can pull it off. First of all, their target for release is 2017. Is that even a real year? Right now, they are just ten dudes working on this thing part-time with apparently more waiting in the wings for funding. Their Kickstarter video is admittedly a bit hokey, and those stretch goals are quite absurd. But, you know what? Kickstarter is still a weird place anyway.

I’ll forever be grateful what that team at Verant accomplished with making EverQuest. Their work provided me literally thousands of hours of entertainment and friends (and enemies) that I still talk to thirteen years later. But, on the other hand, let’s not forget what happened the last time McQuaid went off and founded his own studio; Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. I don’t pretend to know all of what went wrong with that game during development or why exactly Microsoft bailed on them, but that game could’ve been special. I was in the beta from very early on. Instead of being special, it was mostly a hot mess from the get go. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been down this road before and been let down.

The destructible world of voxels in EQN.

I think, if I can just be honest with myself, it might simply be too late for this type of game. EverQuest Next, the forthcoming revamp of the EQ franchise, explored the idea of “going old school” and that whole iteration of the game was scrapped in development a couple years ago in favor of what we’re getting now, which I’m cautiously optimistic about. SOE is trying some groundbreaking things with EQ Next, some of which are kind of scary for MMO veterans like myself. I even told this to Dave Georgeson and Omeed Dariani personally at PAX Prime 2013. But, I also told them that their enthusiasm and conviction in presenting these fundamental changes left me with a sense of hope and optimism. We may all be better off looking forward rather than backward at this point with MMOs. It also might be too late for successfully funding crazy game ideas that require upwards of $1 million. We’ll see. At the time of this writing, they're close to $100,000 of the $800,000 goal in just three days.

Despite my reservations (and better judgment?), as I said at the beginning, I did pledge some money towards the cause. Call it morbid curiosity or having more nostalgia than sense maybe. As much as I want to say I have let the dream die, I simply can’t ignore the fact that they’re targeting Pantheon right at people like me. I’m precisely the guy they’re talking about in their pitch. So, good luck, Visionary Realms. I’m willing to give you another shot.

My mind is telling me no... but my body...

If you want to learn more about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen in detail and potentially give them your money, go check out their Kickstarter page.


2013: A Year in Reviews

2013 has been one hell of a year, you guys...on multiple levels. Before we say farewell and/or good riddance, let's take a look back at the games that were reviewed on Giant Bomb this year. Unfortunately, this is the only year-end data that I have to present to you this year. Maybe 2014 will be the return of achievement data or site data. We can only hope.

It was a relatively slow year for reviews on the site. There's probably multiple reasons for this including a pretty sizable drought prior to the release of the new consoles. Even so, we ended up averaging a little over one per week. Admittedly, there's not going to be a ton of analysis in the images that follow, but I hope you enjoy the pretty colors and some of the best community art from this year.

Art Credits

Previous "Year in Reviews"

So, let's get to it...


Once again, Alex reviewed more games than anyone else this year (24). Maybe-not-so-surprisingly, he was the only reviewer to dish out a 1-star review this year, and there were three (Aliens: Colonial Marines, The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts, and NBA Live). The one game Alex truly loved? Rayman Legends.


Brad started off the reviews this year with a bang. The new Devil May Cry was the first review of 2013 and immediately put 5-stars on the board. His second was StarCraft, and if you can't figure out what the other 5-star review from Brad was this year, you've been living under a rock. Percentage-wise, Brad liked more games (4's & 5's) this year than in 2012 (56% to 46%).


Jeff didn't hate any games this year! Okay, that's not true. Of the 15 games he reviewed though, he obviously liked most of them. Jeff's two 5-stars came from two of the biggest games of the year; GTA5 and BioShock.


This is the most interesting pie chart ever created. Thanks, Patrick. His 5-star games are quite diverse though. I don't think there's anything similar about The Last of Us, Gone Home, and Super Mario 3D World. Also worth noting is that Patrick did not give anything 5-stars last year.


You've been staring at Rorie-Tingle for a solid three minutes before you even read this caption, haven't you?


Although there were fewer reviews this year, the percentages ended up being pretty similar. We had exactly 16% on 5-star reviews last year too.


As you can see, the new consoles are already making a pretty big impact on the totals here. Also, keep in mind that there is some overlap in this category. For example, Brad's review of Brothers covers the XBLA, PS3N, and PC, so that gets counted towards all three of those categories.
If you're a crazy person and want to yell at me about the order in which the wedges in my pie charts are, here's a bar graph just for you.


Guess which month new hardware came out! Man, that Summer drought was rough. And when was the last time so few games came out in October. 2013, you so crazy.


This is the first time I've put this data into the mix. For the record, "2K" includes both 2K Games and 2K Sports. Same goes for EA.


Lastly, here's a look at the total reviews per year based on stars. Blue is 5, green is 4, etc. While it may "look" like a steady decline in the number of reviews, it's actually not. From left to right, that's 98, 147, 107, 102, 96, 55 for a total of 605. So, 2009 and 2013 are the outliers, but we're still averaging almost exactly 100 per year.

Peace Out, 2013



2000 Pages: 5+ Years of the Giant Bomb Wiki

It's been a long road.

It's been about five years and three months since Giant Bomb fully launched, and it's no secret that I spend most of my time here on the wiki, whether that be working on it myself or moderating submissions. In those five years, we've built a database of 40,000+ games, 27,000+ characters, 106,000+ people, 5700+ objects, 4300+ locations, 8800+ companies, 7300+ concepts, and 130+ platforms. Yesterday, I passed somewhat of a milestone by creating my 2000th new page.

Now, to be honest, I don't actually know if it was my 2000th page for sure. The List feature on the site, while better than it was, is still kinda wonky. Looking through it now, there seem to be a few duplicates here and there for some reason, and a few pages that don't seem to show up in the list but do show up on that particular item's page. So...I dunno. But it says 2000, so I'm going to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite pages that I started.

Take note that many of these pages were filled out by other people. I may have just created the page to get it started. But, there's plenty of them where I did a lot of work on it as well. I did a blog like this a couple years ago when I hit 1000, so I'm going to reuse a few things from that to save time. Anyway, here's a bunch of red text...

You Always Remember Your First

The Attack

The first thing I ever did on the wiki was add Hyrule as a location to the Link to the Past page, but the first page I ever created was for The Attack. The TI-99/4A was the first game system that I had, so there's a lot of nostalgia there. That's why my first project on the wiki was to fill out the the library of TI-99/4A games like this one, Blasto, Car Wars, and Chisholm Trail.

PlayStation Underground

Issue #1 Front Cover

This was my first big page. I wasn't really sure there was a place for it on the site, but luckily Jeff gave me the go ahead to add it as a concept. Back in 1997, I received the first edition of PlayStation Underground because I had registered my PlayStation with one of those post cards that you get in the box with any new system. At the time, the idea of being able to play demos of games that weren't out yet and getting high quality video content was unheard of. The Internet was still fairly new, and you certainly weren't going to be downloading all this stuff like you can today. I had been teaching myself basic HTML at the time, so I decided to create a site about it. While in an AOL video game chat room trying to get people to check out my site, I got an IM from a guy claiming he worked on PlayStation Underground. Of course I didn't believe him, but when he sent me an email from a Sony domain, I couldn't argue with that. Turned out that he was the producer of the whole thing, Gary Barth. I kept working on the site, which became fairly popular with fans of the CD magazine thanks to inside information provided by Gary pertaining to what was coming in each next issue. When Gary found out that I lived in Georgia, he invited my friend Christopher and myself to E3 in Atlanta. I was only 16 at the time, so we were told that if anyone asked, to tell them that we had won a contest from Sony. The site pretty much ended in 2001 when the magazine stopped being produced, so I'm happy that some of the site's content found a new home here.

Electronic Entertainment Expo


When I ran the Underground site, I built a sub-site specifically for E3. I was able to attend the show for 10 years from 1997-2006, so I had a lot of documented info and thousands of photos from my old site, but I had to create a bunch more especially for the years I didn't attend. Trying to find documentation online for an event that happened in 1995 isn't easy. Despite not having been to the show in a while, E3 is still one of my favorite times of the year.

The Penny Arcade Expo

I've been to every PAX since 2008 except Australia. I hope that those that aren't able to go can get some benefit out of the hundreds of pictures I take.



For over three years, the world of Norrath was pretty much my life. It sounds crazy now, and maybe a little sad, but I enjoyed just about every minute of it. I've come to terms with the fact that EverQuest is likely the most fun that I will ever have in any game for the rest of my life. Nothing will ever match that first MMO experience and sense of community in a virtual world. It's hard to convey to people that didn't play it at the time.

Out of the 2000 pages I've started, about 800 of them are EverQuest related. That's a lot of places, characters, and items, so I created a separate list for all that. But here's some of the highlights:

  • EverQuest Next - Currently in development at SOE.
  • Norrath - The world in which EverQuest exists has a ton of lore and history behind it.
  • I've spent a considerable amount of time creating pages for all the zones in the original EverQuest. There's too many to list individually here, but you can easily see them all from these continent pages:

The Games

When you spend a ton of time trying to document everything that was at every E3 and PAX, you end up creating a lot of game pages. Some of them are pretty big named, exciting games while others are...not. But, we can't just make a Skyrim page and forget about Cheetah Girls now can we? What kind of database would we be if we did that?

The Good

Here's some of the pages I enjoyed making a page for.

The Bad

Real games for real girls.

Here's some of the pages that I started because they needed to be documented. Some of them though are still debatable as to whether they should be.

The Non-Existent

That Tarantino shot in Eight Days.

These are pages for games that never actually came out. Yes, that is allowed on the wiki.



Finding weird concepts to make pages for is probably one of my favorite things on the site. Deleting really dumb ones is also one of my favorite things on the site. Where do we draw the line? Come over to the Delete & Combine forum to find out. Here are some of my favorite ones I've started:


He's coming to save Uranus.

I've made hundreds of pages for important and not-so-important EverQuest NPCs, but I've created other ones as well. Here are some of my faves:

  • Captain Blasto - Grab a mop, because there's gonna be guts on the ceiling.
  • Dan Amrich - You may know him as OneOfSwords. I know him as a bunny eared basketball player.
  • Ed Boon - Ed Boon can jam with the best of them.
  • Firiona Vie - That elf lady you see on the cover of every EQ game/expansion.
  • Kerri Hoskins - If you were a teenager in the 90's, how could you not have a crush on Kerri Hoskins? Okay...I still do.
  • Lord Doljonijiarnimorinar - Yes, I spelled that right.
  • Mistress Helga - See two entries above.
  • Nillipuss - I hate brownies.
  • Pained Soul - I camped this asshole for 19 straight hours.
  • Polygon Man - I was so happy that PS All-Stars gave me an excuse to make this page.
  • Prince Edmund - Great job, Jeremy.
  • Rodcet Nife - The god that my EverQuest server was named after.
  • Sahasrahla - The 1000th page I made.
  • Sal DiVita - Did you know Nightwolf can dunk?
  • Skarlet - False MK rumors that become real is one of my favorite things ever.
  • Zordak Ragefire - My claim to fame in EQ.


The Plane of Mischief was a delightfully weird place. Yes, this picture is oriented correctly.

Most of the location pages I've started were specifically for EQ as well.


Hairbands are important, y'all.

I haven't made too many object pages in relation to everything else. That's probably because I haven't got that detailed into my EQ zone pages...yet.


This thing is/was legitimately cool as hell.

I end up making a bunch of company pages during PAX every year primarily because of the Indie Megabooth. There over 80 companies in it for PAX Prime 2013 and about half of those didn't have pages I think. There's nothing particularly special about those though, so here's a couple weird ones.

  • Moby Dick Studio - This page might should be deleted actually. I don't know. Kojima's weird.
  • Phantom Entertainment - Also maybe shouldn't be a page, but we have to document that lapboard somewhere, right?


Emma Stone is not impressed with this blog.

I don't generally do a lot of work on credits. There's a few saints in our community that do though and they don't get the credit they deserve. Here's a few of my favorites that I've started:

Well, that's about it I guess. Thanks for checking it out. If you need any help with what should or shouldn't be a page on the site (or any other wiki-related question), feel free to contact me or one of the other moderators. There's a button/link over on the right side of the forums.

And if you're interested at all in skimming through all 2000+ pages I've started, there's a list for that.

Until 3000...


By the Numbers: StreetPAXin Prime 2013

PAX Prime 2013 was the sixth PAX since the advent of the 3DS and StreetPassing (counting PAX Australia 2013). And this is fifth edition of StreetPAXin; a term invented by @wafflestomp. Going into this year's PAX Prime, I wasn't sure what I was going to do about StreetPassing because the new games in StreetPass Mii Plaza take quite a long time to play. Luckily, I had already finished Find Mii completely (all hats), so I had no reason to fool with that game anymore. What I finally decided to do was put a priority on getting the rest of the puzzle pieces first, then just shuffle people through my gate whenever possible, and only play the other games when in a long line or in the morning before leaving the hotel. It worked out pretty well.

Before we get to the stats, here's some recognizable people I crossed paths with in Seattle.

The one. The only. Will Smith.
The legend. Drew Scanlon.
This may look like Vinny, but I'm pretty sure this came from Alex's 3DS during the moderator dinner.
Microsoft's Eric "The Vowel" Neustadter. Playing that DKC. What a shill.'s Alexa Ray Corriea
Writer of stuff. Power disc aficionado. Alex Rubens.

Break It Down

StreetPass data carries several facts about each player. These include gender, last played game, nationality, whether they prefer cats or dogs, how many people they've ever StreetPassed, and a few other things as well. So let's take a look at this year's PAX Prime.

This gender statistic is pretty interesting. Why? Well, at PAX East 2012 it was only 15.1%. At PAX Prime 2012, it was up to 17.4%. And, at this year's PAX East, it was up to 20.5%. This shows a steady increase of women coming to PAX (or at least an increase in women carrying a 3DS, I guess).

Men - Dogs vs CatsAll of PAX - Dogs vs CatsWomen - Dogs vs Cats

The notion that guys like dogs and girls like cats has held true every time I've compiled this data. This was the closest the overall total has ever been though. Can cats finally win next year?

Where You From?

Unsurprisingly, the most common location was the state of Washington. I didn't run into as many international (not including Canada) PAX attendees as I have in the past, but there's a pretty good mix still. I must also mention that through five PAX's, I've still never met anyone from Wyoming.

United States of America

Alabama20.37% Montana20.37%
Alaska81.49% Nebraska40.75%
Arizona20.37% Nevada00.00%
Arkansas00.00% New Hampshire10.19%
California7413.81% New Jersey50.93%
Colorado91.68% New Mexico10.19%
Connecticut10.19% New York61.12%
Delaware00.00% North Carolina30.56%
District of Columbia00.00% North Dakota00.00%
Florida40.75% Ohio20.37%
Georgia61.12% Oklahoma20.37%
Hawaii30.56% Oregon315.78%
Idaho20.37% Pennsylvania40.75%
Illinois61.12% Puerto Rico00.00%
Indiana20.37% Rhode Island10.19%
Iowa10.19% South Carolina10.19%
Kansas10.19% South Dakota10.19%
Kentucky00.00% Tennessee30.56%
Louisiana00.00% Texas142.61%
Maine00.00% Utah61.12%
Maryland30.56% Vermont00.00%
Massachusetts91.68% Virginia40.75%
Michigan61.12% Washington19636.57%
Minnesota71.31% West Virginia00.00%
Mississippi00.00% Wisconsin40.75%
Missouri00.00% Wyoming00.00%
USA (no state listed)101.87%

Canada / International

Alberta162.99% Finland (Uusimaa/Nyland)10.19%
British Columbia509.33% Ireland (Dublin)10.19%
Manitoba20.37% Mexico (Sinaloa)10.19%
New Brunswick00.00% Sweden (Västra Götaland)10.19%
Newfoundland00.00% United Kingdom (England)20.37%
Northwest Territories00.00%
Nova Scotia20.37%
Prince Edward Island00.00%
Canada (no province)20.37%
TOTAL8315.49% TOTAL6

Fuck Tom Nook. Right?

If you guessed that most people at PAX would be playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you would be right. But would you have thought that 25% of them would be? Probably not, because that's crazy. Fire Emblem: Awakening was the top game at PAX East 2013, and that was only 13%. Also, god damn, Mario Kart.

GameCount% AppCount%
Animal Crossing: New Leaf13425.00% System Settings407.46%
Fire Emblem Awakening264.85% Mii Maker325.97%
Mario Kart 7213.92% Nintendo Zone Viewer193.54%
Shin Megami Tensei IV213.92% Nintendo eShop183.36%
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team142.61% Swapnote122.24%
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate132.43% Download Play81.49%
Super Mario 3D Land101.87% Activity Log61.12%
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon91.68% Nintendo 3DS Camera61.12%
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan50.93% Nintendo Video20.37%
Pokémon Black Version 250.93% Pokédex 3D10.19%

PAX Prime 2013 in 100 Words (or thereabouts)

Presented in (mostly) chronological order without explanation or context and posted from the sky somewhere over the Midwest:

  • Card Still Works
  • Lost Shuttle
  • NSA Helicopter
  • Bigger Blacker Awesomer Box
  • MMO Prognostications
  • 10 Flawless Years
  • Beers at 520ft
  • Grillin' with Rorie
  • Hand Forged Doughnuts
  • Bathing in Diet Coke
  • Truly the Age of Dragons
  • Photographic Documentarianism
  • Pre-Panel Brewin'
  • Rasslin' Talk with Alex
  • Über Lang Zone
  • Emotional Ovation
  • Raining Toys and Money
  • Executive Beatboxing
  • Uncomfortable Twerking
  • Indie Megaboothin'
  • C-c-c-c-combo Breakin'
  • Assorted Racing of Vehicles
  • Kraken Run
  • Taswell Tribute
  • Slide Whistle During Nagasaki
  • Ordering Pizza for 500 People
  • Doughnut Quest II
  • Titanfall Rejects
  • Fraud Detections
  • Trigger Rumbles
  • OMG Titanfall You Guys, Fuck
  • Mr. John's Pt.3
  • Santa Vignocchi
  • Knackin' It Up
  • 6 Dudes, 1 Car
  • Spinnin' the Valve
  • Sentient Sentries
  • Chinese Ending

Marino's PAX Guide v3.5

Welcome Home.

It's that time again. Time to update my PAX guide and hopefully give some help to those of you who are heading out to Seattle. While the information you will see below is most helpful for first-timers, I believe parts of it can still help even the most seasoned of PAX veterans. If you've read my previous guides, you won't find a ton of new info here, admittedly. Together, I think we've mostly perfected this thing over the last couple years. But, if you're new to the guide, let me share my resumé to help explain why I know what I'm talking about.

Atlanta 19972008 (Seattle)
Atlanta 19982009 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 1999East 2010 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2000Prime 2010 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2001East 2011 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2002Prime 2011 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2003East 2012 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2004Prime 2012 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2005East 2013 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2006

PAX Prime 2013 is the tenth annual PAX Prime, and it will also be my tenth PAX. I have quite a bit of experience in attending gaming conventions, so let me help you figure out how to make the most of your time available and how to survive on minimal sleep for a long weekend. If any other vets have tips to add, make sure post them below.

Wheaton's Law: Don't Be a Dick

PAX East 2010 Keynote

I once wrote a blog about what I called The PAX Vibe. In it, I tried to describe the most indelible thing about PAX. The experience is as though you've come to some sort of reunion with tens of thousands friends you never knew you had. Whether it's an attendee, enforcer, exhibitor, panelist, or D-list Internet celebrity, virtually everyone has a permanent smile affixed to their face for three days. Wil Wheaton, said it best...

All of the things that make us weird and strange in the real world.

Those things that people tease us for loving.

Those things that we seem to care about more than anyone else at work and school.

Those things make us who we are.

And when we are at PAX, we don’t have to hide them, or explain them, or justify them to anyone.

We have come here this weekend because just playing games isn’t nearly as fun as playing them together, surrounded by thousands of people who love them just as much as we do.

Who to Follow

Robert Khoo

Twitter can be a life saver during PAX. Not just for organizing stuff with your friends, but also keeping up with what's going on throughout the show. Make sure you follow these Twitter accounts before you get there.

  • @official_pax - All news, updates, changes.
  • @pax_lines - Keep track of panel lines as they fill up to max capacity.
  • @rkhoo - The man.
  • @pax_tourney - What tournaments are going on and where?
  • @paxparties (unofficial) - Parties, meet-ups, tweet-ups, tabletop all-nighters, and bar crawls.

Navigating Nirvanaville

Before it was destroyed in inFamous.

Seattle is one of my favorite cities. From downtown (near the convention center), you can walk to pretty much anything you could possibly want. If you're flying into Seattle (SeaTac) and your hotel is anywhere in the downtown area, do not rent a car. A few years ago, they finished construction of the LightRail, which will take you from the airport to the heart of Seattle. It's a little slow (45 minutes maybe), but it only costs about $3.00. Once you're downtown, it's all just walking. The convention center, most of the hotels, GameWorks, Top Pot Doughnuts, Shorty's, and everything at the famous Pike Place Market are all quite close by. Even if you want to do the tourist thing and see the Space Needle, which you totally should at least once, you can walk to the Westlake Center (a mall about four blocks from the convention center) and take a monorail straight to it. If you go out there, check out the SciFi & Music museum. It's a weird combination but it's got a bunch of cool stuff. Also, Dick's has amazing burgers. If you need help finding it, the great Ryan Davis once said "Just Google 'dicks.'" Safe search off.

Personal Hygiene

PAX 2008: These bean bags, while comfortable, are petri dishes for horror.

First of all, for the sake of everyone at the show, please shower. Yes, every day. And use deoderant. It's not difficult. You're going to be doing more walking than you're probably used to doing. Aside from that, why is this so high on the list of tips? Well, after PAX Prime 2010, there was a confirmed case of H1N1 on my flight home. So, use the hand sanitizer whenever you can. There are generally dispensers set up all around the convention center and especially right outside the bathrooms. Or better yet, bring your own. You're going to be touching controllers that have been touched by people of varying degrees of sickness from all over the world. Be smart, and don't spend the week after PAX in misery.

Enforcers Are Awesome

Utilikilts are discouraged, yet common.

The Enforcers are the incredible army of blue shirts that volunteer their time in order to make sure that PAX is an enjoyable experience for everyone. Can't find the right panel room? Look for a blue shirt. Need medical attention after experiencing the Mega64 panel? Look for a blue shirt. Can't figure out where Dave Lang is dishing out Divekick fraud stamps? Look for a blue shirt. These guys and girls are stationed everywhere. If they ask you to do something, listen up. Respect them. Appreciate them. Buy them cookies.

Do Your Homework

PAX Prime 2011 Entrance

The schedule is available right now online, but you should really download the app. It's called Guidebook, and it's the best. Either way you choose, skim through it, look at the presenters of every panel, and make a rough draft of what you'd like to see. Compare with your friends, look for overlaps, and start the excruciating process of deciding how to cut the least awesome things from your to-do list.

Planning ahead is a must. If you walk into Seattle completely unprepared, you're going to either be a deer in headlights or a wandering madman. It's overwhelming. The key to planning ahead is to be flexible. Inevitably something will come up and you'll want to rearrange your plans. I'm going to tell you right now that you're simply not going to be able to do everything you want to do/see. Don't stress out about it. Stick to your plan as best you can, but have fun above all else.

Rhythm-Based Entertainment

PAX Prime 2012: Jonathan Coulton

A common misconception is that PAX is just like E3 in terms of being a giant expo hall of developers and publishers demoing their games. While that is a big part of PAX, there's so much more. The expo hall closes at 6 PM each day anyway, and the party certainly doesn't shut down at six. The concerts are an excellent way to spend your evening, whether you know the artists or not.

This year's line-up includes Adam Warrock, Bit Brigade, The Doubleclicks, Hideo, MC Frontalot, Megaran, Protomen, Super Giant Bros., and Supercommuter. Aside from Frontalot and Protomen, this is an entirely new crop of talent. So, this should be an interesting year especially considering that there are three nights of music this year.

The Omegathon: Final Round

PAX Prime 2012: Omegathon Finals - Trials Evolution

The Omegathon is a four day tournament between attendees that were randomly selected weeks ahead of time by Penny Arcade's staff. You'll see that each round is on the schedule if you want to see a particular game they're playing, but the important one is the final round. The final round's game is always kept a closely guarded secret until just moments before the contestants are set to play it. Have you ever imagined being in the crowd for the final showdown in The Wizard? Well, this is it. Literally thousands of people cheering for a few of their peers as they battle head-to-head in Pong, Contra, Skeeball, Ikaruga, or whatever they come up with this year. It can't be weirder than Crokinole, right? Right?!

And it's all hosted by Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. This is the perfect closing ceremony, and you should be there to experience it.

Hurry Up and Wait

PAX 2009: Queue Room

As the years have gone by, attendance at PAX has only increased. To be honest, it has outgrown the Washington State Convention Center, but that's not a problem we can solve this year. You will inevitably be waiting in line for many things you intend to see and do. I've waited over an hour to see/play things like Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Skate 3, The Last of Us, and others at E3. On the most popular panels (i.e. the Keynote, Giant Bomb, Mega64, Gearbox, and anything associated with Penny Arcade), you should arrive at least an hour ahead to guarantee yourself a good seat.

So, be prepared. Bring your 3DS, Vita, Game Boy micro, or whatever it is you like. If you're a 3DS fan, you will get literally hundreds of StreetPasses over the weekend. And regardless of your handheld gaming option of choice, you'll likely never find a better place in the world to jump into random multiplayer games. I once used Pictochat on my DS to solicit people to come play me in Hot Shots Golf on PSP...and it worked!

Do yourself a favor and avoid the line waiting for a while and check out all the indie games at the show, because that's some of the best stuff you'll find at PAX. The IndieMegaBooth has become an awesome place to just wander aimlessly and play stuff. If you see a game that has no line, PLAY IT! I don't care what it is. I played a game at PAX East 2013 about catching hamsters with a trampoline.

Backpacking Through the Pacific Northwest

PAX Prime 2010 SWAG

Many convention rookies make a mistake as soon as they leave their house. You simply must have a backpack of some kind. If you show up to PAX empty-handed, you'll be hurting and feeling like an idiot by 2 PM. Some think you can just pick up one of those big, fold-out, paper bags from a booth, but there's no guarantee any booths are doing that. Plus, they're cumbersome, you'll be hitting people with it constantly as you squeeze through crowds, and you need to keep your hands free.

So, be smart. Bring your favorite backpack or messenger bag to throw all of your swag into. Your shoulders are going to be killing you by Monday, but it's your best option.

Expo Hall: It's a Trap!

PAX East 2012: @matt and @sweep gettin' sloppy in that f'n Pooyan.

The expo hall is where all the developers and publishers have booths set up to show off their upcoming games. You get to play stuff that's not out yet and typically talk to the people that are making them. It's awesome. But don't get stuck in there. Make sure to make your rounds through the convention center. Go upstairs and check out the PC Freeplay area. It's a massive farm of PC's unlike anything you've ever seen (unless you've been to QuakeCon). Hit up the Console Freeplay room and take your shot at some of the best fighting game players around. Think you're good enough? Enter one of the nearby tournaments (check the schedule). Need to take a break? Crash in the Handheld Lounge and rack up some StreetPasses and Near stuff. Head up to the Classic Console rooms for a bit and take a look at the massive library of gaming's past, pick out something you loved and play it with some people. And don't forget to hang out in the Classic Arcade for some fuckin' Pooyan. No quarters or tokens necessary, but please respect the cabinets. There's just so much more than just the expo hall that you need to see and do to get the full PAX experience.

The Dangers of SWAG: Don't Be That Guy

PAX 2009: I have never nor will I ever wear this shirt.

Free stuff is great. I know. But, just listen to me for a second. Don't spend the majority of your time trying to get inflatable swords, funny hats, and Gunnar Optiks t-shirts. You're going to get free stuff without trying. Not all of it, sure, but plenty. The vast majority of free stuff you get, you will eventually throw away or, if you're like me, going to pile into boxes in a closet. At PAX East 2010, there were people that waited well over an hour to play APB for 15 minutes and get a t-shirt. How do you think those people feel about that decision now? Just be smart, people.

Pack Light and Carry-On a Big Bag

PAX Prime 2012: Merch Area

For those of you flying to Seattle, you're likely going to pay at least $25 to check a bag on the plane, so you might as well get your money's worth. Even if you're only packing three Internet meme t-shirts and three sets of socks and underwear, bring a big suitcase. The extra space is going to be great for any swag you obtain as well as any stuff you end up buying inside or outside of PAX. At PAX 2009, I bought a 'Splosion Man statue from Twisted Pixel's booth. It came in a block of styrofoam, and I was still able to safely fit it into my luggage on the way home. At PAX Prime 2010, my friend @washa_endrya bought a fight stick from Capcom and was able to get it home easily as well.

Also, if you have one, bring a cardboard tube in your suitcase. You are likely to be handed posters at the show, and there's really no other way to get those home without folding or crushing them. One more tip from the experienced in packing for a con. Throw an empty trash bag in with your stuff. You can use that as a dirty laundry bag, which will allow you to quarantine your sweaty socks from all the cool stuff you accumulated at the show on your way home.

Do You Like Sleep? TOO BAD!

Seattle Night Life (circa 2008)

Sleep deprivation is a major side effect of the PAX experience. You can sleep on Tuesday or on your flight home. But, there are official and unofficial PAX events going on virtually 24 hours a day beginning Thursday night. The concerts typically go til at least 1 AM, and you're going to be in downtown Seattle, which has countless hot spots to hit. In the grand scheme of things, your time at PAX is very limited even if you can be there all three days. You may not realize this now or even during the show, but come Monday, you'll know what I'm talking about. So, if you get five hours of sleep, you're doing great. Make the most of the time you have.

Microsoft Space Bucks Don't Work Here

PAX 2008: Capcom Art by Request

If you've got a debit or credit card, you're mostly okay. Any food places in the area are going to take your card just fine (i.e. Jimmy John's and Top Pot Doughnuts…what else is there?). Most booths in the expo hall will take it as well when purchasing their wares. But, it may be a good idea to carry at least a little old-fashioned paper money. Cash can be good especially if you're going out to the bars at night. If you know you're going to need cash, there are several ATMs at the convention center, but you should hit them early because I've seen them run out of cash to dispense. And there's nothing worse than knowing you can afford that one of a kind Cammy drawing by Long Vo, but being unable to retrieve the funds to buy it.

Eat Something!

Maple baaaaaaaarrrrrrrrssssssss.

This may sound ridiculous at first, but once you're in the thick of PAX, you may forget to eat or drink. And considering that you normally don't walk around for 10-14 hours a day, you're going to need to hydrate. Many people throw a bottle in their bag that they can refill at water fountains. Stopping for 30 minutes to eat may not sound enticing depending on your schedule, but you've gotta. Luckily, downtown Seattle is a pretty great place to run out and get food. Just don't make the dumb mistake of standing in that hour-long line for the tiny Subway in the convention center. There's plenty of places within 5-10 minutes of walking distance. Otherwise, you could toss a few Clif bars in your bag and just eat on the go.

Don't Let PAX Ruin Your PAX

Who invited you?

This is something I've learned over the last few PAX's. Whether it's a Harmonix meet-up, a Pre-PAX board game night, the Pokémon pub crawl, or one of the countless other unofficial PAX festivities, make an effort to do stuff after show hours. Honestly, it doesn't even have to be PAX related. Chances are, if you head out to the bars and restaurants in downtown Seattle, you're going to run into other PAX goers. We generally take over the city.

What I'm getting at is that being in line at the Queue Room of the convention center at 8 AM (2 hours prior to show open) isn't worth missing out on the great stuff that's going on at night. Now, if there's a game that you HAVE to see and you know the line during the day is super long, go ahead and get to the convention center early one day and run for it when the doors open. But, just make sure you spend some time outside of the convention center and your hotel room.

It's All That You Can Do

Be yourself, but please don't throw chairs.

Be yourself, but also be open to meeting new people. I know your mom told you not to talk to strangers, but I'm telling you that's a bunch of crap. It's unlikely that you're ever going to be around more people like yourself than you will at PAX. Above everything else, including all the tips I've given you here, have fun. You're about to have an experience that you'll never forget.

Hopefully, I'll run into some of y'all there (or at least your Miis).


Hey, everybody! It's Shoesday.

Okay, look…I'm sorry. That was a terrible pun. But, here's the deal. A couple weeks ago, @wafflestomp shared the idea of creating some New Balance 574's in memory of Ryan. I thought that was a great idea, and I could use some new shoes for PAX Prime 2013 anyway, so I got to work trying to design some on their website. Later, I saw that Max Temkin (Cards Against Humanity) had made some all-white 574's in memory of Ryan and was also encouraging people to buy the same color scheme of the original "Baller Time" 574's. I didn't want to copy that exactly. I wanted to make something that Giant Bomb fans would easily recognize, but maybe not so obvious to "outsiders." And this is what I came up with.

China could not be reached for comment.

I never thought I'd own a pair of pink shoes, but here we are. I toyed around with the idea of doing the inverse of these (mostly pink), but decided I wasn't cool enough to pull it off even as a joke.

So, as Max said, it'd be pretty awesome if we had a bunch of people at PAX were rocking Ryan's favorite shoes. If you're interested, you can get some 574's for as low as $50 depending on the color. But, if you want to create your own, it'll run you about $140 or so. Here's some links to saved custom designs.


VHScapades: E3 2004

South Hall

The 10th annual E3 (E3 2004) is remembered for many reasons, but most will likely remember it for two reasons: kicking ass and making games. The debut of Reggie Fils-Aime as Nintendo's front man will live forever in the annals of gaming history. And the reaction to that Twilight Princess trailer that he introduced...crazy. Nintendo also debuted the DS here, and even though it was a clunky prototype model, its touch screen, built-in WiFi, and tech demos were a hit with show goers. I still can't believe Pac Pix became a retail game.

Keeping with the handheld theme of the show, Sony was going full-on guns blazing with PSP at their booth. They had a slew of potential launch titles like Twisted Metal: World Tour, Wipeout Pure, Metal Gear Ac!d, and some stuff that never even came out. The PS2 was still dominating the console market with the likes of God of War, Gran Turismo 4, and the third editions of Jak and Ratchet.

In 2004, for Microsoft, it was all about Halo 2. Inexplicably, though, it was not playable on the show floor except by appointment. In its stead, their booth was loaded with the likes of Fable, KOTOR 2, Doom 3, and a little racing game called Forza Motorsport.

Overall, E3 2004 was kind of a big deal. And then there was the Infinium Labs' Phantom console. But, let's just get to the videos, because there's a lot of them this time.

Entering West Hall on day two of E3 2004. Forgive me for being an idiot and having the time stamp turned on. Luckily, I realized it after the second video here and turned it off.


Ryan Davis Was a Hero

I've spent the last 24 hours in somewhat of a daze. In lieu of trying to put my own thoughts into words last night, I decided to spend my time reading everyone else's and filling up the Bomb Shelter page with blogs from some of our amazing community's all-stars. I don't know what else can be said at this point, so I'll try to keep this short. Others have more eloquently and accurately conveyed how much the man meant to this community, so I just wanted to talk about some of my personal favorite memories of Ryan. Yes, like many have pointed out, it does feel awkward to get so emotional about someone we didn't really know in the traditional sense. But, fuck it. There's no shame here. I don't pretend to have known the man personally, but I did have the chance to meet him a few times.

At PAX Prime 2010.

I first met Ryan at PAX Prime 2010. @heavyduty32 and I had recently sent a mailbag of frozen Chick-Fil-A to the Whiskey offices. So, when we saw him at The PAX 10 booth, we had to go say hello. He immediately lit up in that energetic, magnetic way we've all come to know and love. He was kind enough to sign my copy of Deadly Premonition and he was the one who suggested we should all get a picture together. Not just one, but a second featuring Ryan photobombing us.

Ryan proudly never played this game.

About seven months later, I was in Boston for PAX East 2011. At the GB meetup, Ryan recognized me as I was passing by the booth he was in. "Marino!," he said. Somewhat stunned that he knew my name, I stuck out my hand to say hello. Ryan grabbed it, squeezed hard, turned to another person at the booth and said, "This man sent us Chick-Fil-A sandwiches across the country." Then, he kissed my hand and said, "He is a hero." Later that night, we were about to leave so I stopped by his booth again to say thanks and goodnight. Even after all this, my social awkwardness led me to believe maybe I would just be bugging him at this point, so when I approached him, I said "Hey, I don't want to bother you too much but I just wanted to say th-." Ryan cut me off and basically shouted "Well, you're bothering me now!" He had a gift for cutting to the quick and then immediately making you laugh about it. No one was safe.

I got to talk to Ryan in person a few more times at various PAX events between then and now. He always addressed me by name (even if it wasn't my real name) and made me feel immediately comfortable to talk about just random shit with him. I feel lucky and privileged to have been able to do so. He truly brought joy to every room he was in and every person he spoke to. Ryan had a unique, honest-to-goodness, kindness about him and an infectious laugh that will be impossible to replace.

Ryan & TurboToaster at the PAX East 2011 meetup. (Photo by Matt Pascual)

Ryan Davis once told me I was a hero. No, sir. You were the hero.

Thanks for everything.