If you get there early enough, you can basically stand on Figueroa and get some good shots. Here we are entering West Hall's lobby, then taking a 360º view of South Hall's lobby.
Starting this off with the show stopper. Here's the epic 9-minute gameplay footage of Halo 2 that Microsoft was showing in a theater at their booth. I don't think they wanted people filming this, but they never specifically said it, so I sat down in the front row and kept the camera at my side and somehow kept a good angle on the screen for (mostly) the entire time. Most of the videos I've seen of this don't include the introduction by Sergeant Johnson. So, get ready to dance, you pasty bastards!
Here's the Doom 3 video that Activision was showing around their booth. I never got into the actual gameplay presentation because the line for that theater was insanely long. Also, there's a trailer for Tony Hawk's Underground featuring a lot of getting off the board nonsense.
Once again, Konami stopped show goers in their steps with a super lengthy Metal Gear Solid trailer. This time it was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. And, as you'll see in the trailer, "this is no vice city."
Here's a short panoramic view of EA's massive booth followed by a deluge of trailers for stuff including:
Last week, I shared my VHS footage from one of the best E3's of all time; 2001. This week, it's time to check out the mostly forgettable E3 2002. There were no sexy new consoles or even handhelds to flaunt in 2002, so it was truly all about the games. More specifically, playing games online. Xbox Live was about to be launched, Sony was touting SOCOM and the PS2's official network adapter, and of course there were plenty of online games being featured for PC including the first looks at World of Warcraft, EverQuest II, Battlefield 1942, and Star Wars Galaxies. And there was this other game called Doom III that was getting a lot of attention at the Activision booth, but I don't think video was allowed til next year.
So, here's another dozen videos or so in glorious VHS-C definition. Keep in mind that one of the main reasons I was videoing this stuff was to play it my friends' Babbage's and Software Etc to boost reservations. It totally worked.
Coming into South Hall super early in the morning to get in line for the show. The thing I remember most about this is that they had set up a bag check station outside for the first time, which is why there's a cut in the video before I got inside. This was the first E3 after September 11th, so there was a bit more security than in years passed.
The famous Electronic Arts video wall. This video isn't very exciting, but it was an easy way to get trailers into the store for pre-orders. You have to remember that there was no "GameStop TV" crap in the stores back then. The company would sometimes send video tapes for the store to put on loop, but we just replaced it with these each year. Game trailers in this video include:
Here's a game that doesn't exist and one that we wish never did. Historically, Eidos' booth was always packed with people, but not because of games. It was primarily because of the models they hired to throw t-shirts and the infamous Lara Croft models. Nothing says 2002 like a Fear Effect 3 trailer set to Linkin Park.
By this point, the "Metal Gear Trailer" had become a tradition in the Konami booth. Here's what MGS2 Substance from the show floor.
Microsoft's booth was always kinda weird around this time. It was kinda like even they weren't too sure this whole Xbox thing was gonna work as there were big sections of their booth still dedicated to PC games (like the Ensemble Studios area at the beginning of this video). Within a couple years, the PC area of their booth became dwarfed by Xbox. Any mention of Halo 2 would have to wait til next year. Games included in this video are:
Around this time, I was still a die-hard EverQuest player, but I wasn't beyond looking for something new. At the time, Shadowbane seemed like it could be pretty cool and the demo I got at the Ubisoft (yes, Ubisoft published an MMO) was quite good. I wonder if @andy was there...
We all know movie games typically suck. But, Two Towers was actually alright if you ask me. EA also had a bunch of movie props in glass cases around the booth. Lord of the Rings was kind of a big deal at the time, you know.
For several years, LucasArts never had an actual booth at the show. Their only presence was always this big video wall in the lobby area of West Hall. Here's a look at Clone Wars and Galaxies.
Sony had a cool booth that featured a lot of glass. In a world that was still populated by big-ass CRT monitors, seeing games projected onto a pane of glass was kinda neat. They also had a bunch of games to show I guess including the debut of a couple mascots. Non-glass things to see at Sony's booth included:
After having a closed booth at E3 2001, Sega was back in 2002 after basically abandoning the Dreamcast in favor of developing their games for everyone. Seeing the 2K games running on PS2 was super weird.
Nintendo didn't seem to be on the online bandwagon with everyone else (big surprise), but no one seemed to care after they played Metroid Prime and Wind Waker. They probably weren't saying great things about WrestleMania X8 though. Super Mario Sunshine was also a focal point of the booth. History would not be so kind to that game.
This was a weird time for Capcom I think. It was before Resident Evil 4 and way before Street Fighter would make a comeback. And after flooring everyone with Devil May Cry, the sequel they brought in 2002 didn't fair as well. Games included in this video are:
To get into SOE's booth, you either had to have an appointment or you had to find a post card in a copy of the E3 daily newspapers. The backs of the postcards had either "ACCESS GRANTED" or "ACCESS DENIED" printed on the back, but it could only be read under a black light. A friend of mine and I raided a stack of the newspapers and ended up getting about a dozen of them. We each went once a day and gave the rest to friends. They were showing the next EverQuest expansion, The Planes of Power. But, they were also showing the Star Wars Galaxies character creator (no video was allowed) and the first ever look at EverQuest II. There's even a part in the EQ2 demo where he starts to talk about a city of Marr, which never actually ended up in the game.
E3 2013 is over and it was definitely one for the history books. If you've read any of my PAX guides, you probably know that I've been to my fair share of Electronic Threes. For ten straight years (1997-2006), I went to E3 mostly thanks to PlayStation Underground. I've posted some time capsule blogs that I wrote during those shows in the past, but, about a year ago, I bought a relatively cheap capture device so that I could digitize all the VHS tapes I have from E3's past. The footage was originally to use on the TV the Babbage's and Software Etc's that my friends worked at (and later I worked at). It definitely helped boost pre-orders. I uploaded them to YouTube a while ago, but I never formally shared them here, and I think some people may find it interesting. I have tapes from 2001-2005, all in glorious VHS-C quality.
So, here's what I have from E3 2001. It was a big year for E3 since the PlayStation 2 had just come out a few months before, Nintendo was unveiling the GameCube, and Microsoft was joining the fray with the Xbox.
This is super early on Day 3 walking into the lobby of South Hall. Traditionally, South Hall was home to most of the big third party developers like EA, Konami, Ubisoft, and...Acclaim.
At the beginning of this video, I'm taping the big screen in Nintendo's booth while I wait in line to play a wheel of fortune type thing in Nintendo's booth. They had an animatronic Mario/Wario there with Charles Martinet behind a wall doing the voice. Each round, about 12 people could sit at the spinning table, introduce themselves to Wario by telling him where you were from, and then one of Nintendo's classic hired ladies would spin it around. Whatever prizes stopped in front of your seat, you got to keep. There were foam GameCubes, foam GBAs, GBA cases, and other swag. The catch was that one person per spin would win an actual Game Boy Advance, which wasn't out in America yet. Well, I won. I was actually wearing a PlayStation shirt at the time and Wario tried to convince them not to give it to me.
Man...2001 was a pretty great year. Sony's booth was full of to-be-classic games. You know...like Kinetica! Sony had this big ass sphere video thing at the front of their booth that kind of mesmerized me every time I walked by it.
Tecmo and THQ always seemed to get booths in West Hall near the Sony and Nintendo booths. So, I crammed them together in one video. Tecmo was notorious for not really having anything to play and just showing videos of stuff. And women. They always had women.
EA almost always had a giant video wall looping all their trailers. Over the years, it got more and more elaborate until E3 2006 where the floor felt like it was a speaker. So, here's a bunch of stuff they were showing. Get TRICKY!
So, this was the second year that Konami presented a super long trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2. And while it wasn't as shocking as that fabled E3 2000 video, it was still jaw-dropping in its own regard. MGS2 finally launched about six months later.
And here's Microsoft with all the heavy hitters they could muster prior to the launch of their first console. I remember playing Halo and thinking it was nothing special. Bungie got a lot done in those six months prior to launch, because you can clearly see in this video that the framerate was terrible. I also got some footage of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee in here.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was (and is) a pretty big deal. Activision even had a full-sized halfpipe set up in their booth where Bucky Lasek, Mat Hoffman, and the Birdman himself would run skate/BMX demos a couple times a day. Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a big draw as well believe it or not. That flamethrower!
Devil May Cry was one of the biggest games of E3 2001. Uppercutting fools with a sword then juggling them with bullets just felt so good.
This footage was mostly for myself and my guild. At the time, the Shadows of Luclin expansion was about to become a big deal. Partly for reasons SOE intended, and partly for reasons they did not. The new graphics engine was beautiful (even if the character model animations were worse), but this expansion also marked the end of an era as several of the people that had been on the EQ team from the start, most notably Brad McQuaid, were about to leave the company. When the expansion finally released in December 2001, many of the zones were not finished (and never would be).
On a side note, the SOE employee playing the demo was wearing a Star Wars Galaxies shirt and refused to say anything about it.
This is near the end of Day 3 where I just ran around West Hall grabbing some panoramic shots of the show floor. I still do this today when I go to places like PAX. I have some weird infatuation with trying to document what it was like to be there.
And that was E3.
I'll post some stuff 2002 later on. Hopefully someone out there will enjoy taking a look back in time.
PAX East 2013 was the fourth PAX since the advent of StreetPassing. Honestly, I didn't pay quite as much attention to it this year, only milking those Miis for puzzle pieces whenever I had down time in a line or something. But, even so, I still ended up with over 400 StreetPasses and finished all the puzzles including the Luigi's Mansion one that got released sometime Friday night. Even after four PAX's and over 1800 Miis, I'm still missing seven hats in Find Mii. And, I've come to the conclusion that absolutely no one lives in Wyoming.
I wasn't sure if I was even going to do a blog like this again, but then my flight home got delayed over four hours, and I just decided to try and get all the raw data into a spreadsheet while I waited. So, let's look at some dumb numbers.
It's Raining Cats & Dogs
Aside from being able to tell if a Mii is male or female, StreetPass also reveals some info about the person (assuming they provide it in their profile), and one of those stats is if the person prefers cats or dogs more. So, here's a breakdown of the gender population at PAX along with what type of pets they prefer.
Male - Dogs vs Cats
All of PAX - Dogs vs Cats
Female - Dogs vs Cats
The notion that men like dogs and women like cats has held true every time I've done this.
As you would expect, Massachusetts had the biggest turnout of any region. But, aside from Connecticut, almost no one else came from New England. More people came from Japan than Maine.
United States of America
District of Columbia
USA (no state listed)
Canada / International
Japan (Unknown Prefecture)
United Kingdom (England)
United Kingdom (Scotland)
Prince Edward Island
Canada (Unknown Province)
StreetPassing with someone will also reveal the last thing that person has played. This includes not just games, but also any apps on the system. Here are the top ten most popular games and apps at PAX East 2013. Keep in mind that Luigi's Mansion didn't even come out til Sunday. Nintendo was selling it on Saturday at their booth, but it's still kind of impressive that it got up to #3 on the list.
A couple years ago, I posted a guide of sorts for PAX first timers. I've updated a little for each PAX since, and now it's time for PAX East 2013. Why do I take the time to do this? Well, there's a lot of information I can provide in terms of maximizing your time at a gaming convention. What makes me qualified to do this? Well, here's my resume of shows I've attended:
As you can see, I have quite a bit of experience in attending gaming conventions, making the most of the time available, and generally surviving four days on little to no sleep. While a lot of this info is targetted at those who have never experienced PAX, I believe it is also helpful to those who have.
If you've seen my previous guides, there's admittedly not a ton of new information here. This is just a revision of the previous versions. Over the last couple years of doing this, I think I have most of the important things covered.
Before we proceed, go ahead and follow these Twitter accounts:
@paxparties (unofficial) - Parties, meet-ups, tweet-ups, tabletop all-nighters, and bar crawls.
Now, let's do this!
Wheaton's Law: Don't Be a Dick
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.
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
The Enforcers are the incredible army of red 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 red shirt. Need medical attention after experiencing the Mega64 panel? Look for a red shirt. Can't figure out where John Drake is handing out Dance Central slap bracelets? Look for a red 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
The schedule is avaiable 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 Boston 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.
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. In 2008, I only vaguely knew of Jonathan Coulton. I knew he did "Still Alive" for Portal, but that was about it. After that night, I was instantly a fan. The same could be said for Freezepop after that night as well.
This year's line-up includes the Protomen, Sam Hart, Video Game Orchestra, Those Who Fight, Paul & Storm, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot. For the uninitiated, Paul & Storm typically steal the show with their comedy stylings and a 15 minute song about pirates that you'll never forget. Generally, these concerts go pretty late. Sometimes well into the following morning. But, sometimes they are strictly told by the venue to be out by 1 AM. Dejected ARRR!
The Omegathon: Final Round
The Omegathon is a three day tournament between attendees that were randomly selected weeks ahead of time by Penny Arcade's staff. If the trend continues, the PAX East version consists of two-person teams. 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
As the years have gone by, attendance at PAX has only increased. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is indeed massive, but 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, BioWare, 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.
Backpacking Through New England
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 Sunday afternoon, but it's your best option.
Expo Hall: It's a Trap!
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 room 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
Free stuff is great. I know. But, 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
For those of you flying to Boston, 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!
Sleep deprivation is a major side effect of the PAX experience. You can sleep on Monday 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 Friday and Saturday typically go til at least 1 AM, and you're going to be in downtown Boston, which has countless bars 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 four to five hours of sleep, you're doing great. Make the most of the time you have.
Microsoft Space Bucks Don't Work Here
If you've got a debit or credit card, you're mostly okay. Any food places in the area, including the food court in the convention center, are going to take your card just fine. 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 ATM's 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.
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. Stopping for 30 minutes to eat may not sound enticing either depending on your schedule, but you've gotta. Unfortunately, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is kind of in the middle of nowhere if you ever could be in a major city. There's not a lot of food options in the vicinity without going back into downtown, which is going to take even more time. So, your best bet is really the food court in the convention center. Yes, it's overpriced. Yes, it's crowded. But, just bite the bullet, get in, and get out. Otherwise, you could toss a few Clif bars in your bag and just eat on the go.
Don't Let PAX Ruin Your PAX
This is something I've learned over the last couple PAX's. Whether it's Rock Band Night, a Giant Bomb meet-up, the Pokemon League, the Westin Waterfront Gaming Night, 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 Boston, 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 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 you all there. Actually, hopefully I'll be seeing some of you at Rock Band Night on Thursday night. Last year is going to be pretty tough to beat. If you want to relive last year's RBN, let me help you out.
The following may contain minor spoilers for those who have never played Persona 4 or intend on playing Persona 4 Golden, but I don't go into detail about major plot points.
I have a confession to make. I don't know anything about Megami Tensei games. That is until 96 hours and 26 minutes ago. Aside from a few, totally forgotten hours of Revelations: Persona on the PlayStation fifteen years ago, I'd never even played one. Not only that, but I have not watched the Endurance Run……*ducks*……I KNOW! How could a moderator of this site have avoided it this long? "Blasphemous" is probably an accurate exclamation to shout at me right now. Please, put your pitchfork down and let me explain.
Like many people (I assume), Final Fantasy VII was the first RPG that I sunk a ton of time into. For several years after that, I fell in love with the genre and played a ton of stuff. Then this thing called EverQuest happened. Being neck deep in EQ for a number of years doesn't allow for investing 100 hours a pop into RPGs. That, combined with some other factors, means that I have a ridiculously long Shamefully Shameful Pile of Shame, which unfortunately needs to be updated. In my warped sense of reality, I still believe I'll get around to playing these games. So, when presented with the idea of watching two dudes play through one of the most acclaimed RPGs of all time, I avoided it like the plague because I wanted to experience it for myself first. Four years later, I finally got around to Persona 4 thanks to the added convenience of playing it on my Vita. Miraculously, I made it without having any of the major plot points spoiled for me.
It took me a dozen hours or so before I got past that "am I doing this right?" phase, but that was to be expected. At one point, I looked at a Social Link guide and just decided I wasn't going to worry about it. Go with the flow and whatnot. The only thing I "cheated" on was making sure I made the right dialogue decisions on 12/3 to get the opportunity to experience the "true" ending. I'd like to thank @papercut for his spoiler free guide in helping do that without totally ruining the twists and turns in the story.
I'm not here to review the game, though. Chances are, if you're reading this, you already know how great it is. I guess I'm partially here to say that I get it now. I understand the hype, obsession, and love shown for this game. It's still too raw in my mind to responsibly say it's one of my favorite games of all time, but it's definitely up there. More importantly for now, I also feel that my experience with Persona 4 is somewhat rare considering I came into the "Golden" version of the game knowing virtually nothing about the original. In a way, I feel like it must be similar to Brad's experience with Mass Effect 3. Looking at the excellent breakdown of what's new in Golden on its wiki page, it seems like there's a significant amount of new stuff that I got to experience as if it was always included. Many of the new additions are gameplay mechanics that streamline the experience. Some of the more notable additions are fan service such as the group concert with Rise at Junes. It seamlessly fits into the story, but it's not all that important. But, then there are the additions that I can't imagine playing through the game without. The best example of this is Marie.
I knew ahead of time that Marie was new of course. What I didn't know was how she would be integral to the backbone of the entire game. I feel like an asshole for just assuming she'd just be a somewhat throwaway Social Link character. I don't want to spoil anything for those intending on playing Golden, but Marie is of the utmost importance to the entire mythology under the surface of the game. Her involvement adds a whole extra layer of emotional impact as well as providing (in the true ending) a better understanding of the world of Persona 4 as a whole. I promise that I'm not exaggerating here.
It may sound like a dick thing to say, but I almost feel bad and/or sad for fans of Persona 4 who have not and will not experience the "Golden" version.
To iterate what I said before, I get it now. Consider me on the bandwagon even if it's a few years late. In the end, especially with the additional epilogue that's new to Golden, a sense of sadness equalled, if not outweighed, the sense of joy and accomplishment I had in just finishing a game. After leaving all of your friends behind, the new epilogue brings Yu back to Inaba the following Summer for a visit. In this extra ending scene, everyone looks different. It's at this point that it really hit me that all these friends I'd made were growing up without me. The sense of sadness and nostalgia I felt in this scene was probably amplified by my own life experiences, but it speaks to how good of a job the game did making me care about everyone in it.
Part of me wants to dive back in with New Game+ and see the stuff that I didn't get to see. Hit the Social Links that I skipped and/or paid less attention to and whatnot. But, I don't think I will. Not because I don't want to invest the time again, but because I don't want to taint the experience I had. The benefits earned by the decisions I made in terms of who to spend my time with should also have the consequences of missing out on whatever else there was that I didn't get to see. What I got is what I got. Am I crazy for thinking that way?
So…now what? Arena? Yeah, soon. But, right now? Well, I guess I better get started on this Endurance Run thing. I've heard it's pretty good.
Welcome to 2013. The 20Doz is gone forever. And soon the Data Dump will be as well. Unfortunately, the metrics that I use to grab all these charts from are not built into the new site yet, which means that this is the last edition of the Data Dump at least for a long while. Rather than just doing a post based on December data, let's just wrap it up by looking at 2012 as a whole and look at who were some of the top users and pages on the site for the year.
Letters & Numbers
Here's some totals from the year.
33,000+ Forum Topics Created
3000+ User Reviews
140,000+ Wiki Submissions
By almost reaching the century mark, @Mento truly was the king of the blogs in 2012.
@Video_Game_King had nearly twice as many posts as anyone else in 2012. That's...probably not healthy. @Hailinel , @Phatmac , and @Animasta also broke the 1000 landmark in terms of comments.
Clearly, videos get the most activity in terms of comments. @Hizang actually created more new topics than Patrick did, which is kind of crazy. Unsurprisingly, Mass Effect 3 was the most active game forum. I wouldn't have guessed Guild Wars 2 would be #2 though. And the wrestling thread was far and away the most active topic of the year nearly doubling that of the anime thread. Giant Bomb is your go-to source for all things Antonio Cesaro.
Okay, you know we haven't had any new quests since Christmas 2011, but I had to post this chart because seriously...what the fuck happened in March?
No real surprises in the top ten most user reviewed games. The only 2011 release on the list is Skyrim at #10. And the only console exclusives on the list are Halo 4 and Journey.
The Giant Bomb community's favorite number seems to be 8 (or 4 stars). And @theuselessgod left everyone in the dust in terms of the number of user reviews posted..
The #1 most watched video on Giant Bomb in 2012 was... The SSX Quick Look? Really? I mean...I love SSX more than most, but...huh. The only explanation here is the powerful influence of the man known as @coonce .
I don't know why @MeatSim is listed twice on the top video commenters chart, but I think it's safe to say he got the #1 spot. Clearly Alex posted the most videos to the site in 2012, but I think something's wrong with that tracker. It says that I uploaded 69 videos, but I remember counting close to 100 or maybe a little over that when I was uploading them during E3 2012. Who knows. I'll take credit for that massive spike in June, though!
Unfortunately, the metric for wiki points seems to be broken. So, the only means I have of determining the top wiki editors in 2012 is based on number of edits made. It's probably not the fairest way to do it, but I figure @bobafettjm is deserving anyway.
ZombiePie has been watching the wiki queue like a hawk all year. Someone out there has been doing the dirty work of adding Release data to the site. So much so that there were more new Release pages than any other type of page on the site. On the submissions chart, you can see that the moderators are still doing about 20% of the approvals of wiki edits. And it's no surprise that game pages are far and away the most edited page type.
These are the top 10 9 most active wiki pages in terms of number of edits made. What's that one at the end?
It's no secret at this point that I'm a stats junkie. Hell, I even admitted it over three years ago. So, I've had fun doing this stuff for the last six months or so. Maybe it'll return one day, but I hope some of you have enjoyed looking at some dumb bar graphs once a month.
Happy New Year, duders. It's time once again for a data dump based on achievements. Just like last year, this data is based upon Xbox 360 achievements earned in games released in 2012. It'd be easy to just tell you what the most played and least played games were. But, let's take it a step or two further. What if you wanted to know what the least played game that got a 5-star review? I can tell you that. What if you wanted to know the games that had the highest average number of achievements earned? I can tell you that too. Or what about the most played multiplayer games that never got treated to a TNT? Okay...we're getting a little obscure here, but I can still totally tell you that one.
By my count, there were about 250 Xbox 360 and XBLA games released this year. To create an accurate list of releases, I mainly used Xbox360Achievements.org and added a game to the list whenever they did. I would not be surprised if I missed a few stragglers, so let me know if I did. There's also a few games that never had their achievements integrated into the site here, so I took them out of the data for now.
After last year, some people asked about doing Steam and PSN achievements. I still haven't done it because it would basically triple the amount of work involved, and while I enjoy doing these, that's a little too crazy for one guy. I kind of wish I had though since the achievement tracker is going away with the new site. So, this may be the very last time you see achievement data like this at least for a long time.
Onto the numbers!
Top 20 Most Played Games (Overall)
No separation between retail, XBLA, or Kinect here. Mash all that green, orange, and purple together! This is just straight up the most played games on Xbox 360 in terms of unique users. This is also the only list with more than 10 entries, just because I though 11-20 were pretty interesting.
This category is a little skewed because a few of these never came out in North America. But, hey, they're in the tracker and we've got a sizable amount of non-North Americans on the site anyway. Also, no separation between retail, XBLA, or Kinect here. These are simply the most neglected games of the year on Xbox 360 by the Giant Bomb community.
While combing through achievement pages, I began to realize there's a ton of registered users that seemingly only registered to track their achievements. Many have no posts or wiki points. So, while looking at some the rarest achievements earned in 2012, I plucked out some active (or at least semi-active) users to highlight for their feats of greatness.
234 people never found a single cube shard in Fez.
Trials Evolution is quite intimidating. But, did you know 137 people couldn't even pass their first license test.
Based on achievements, less people completed Episode 4 than did Episode 5 of The Walking Dead. This was due to a Xbox Live database error that didn't register achievements earned by players within the first 24 hours or so of Episode 4's release.
Today is the Winter Solstice, which reminds me of a tale from the Summer Solstice of 2002. Trade skills were always important in EverQuest, but never more so than they were for about a month that Summer. A quest was introduced that required the highest skilled craftsmen of every kind to complete. It was called the Earring of the Solstice and it was part of a quest known as Protection of the Cabbage. Players coveted this earring primarily because it had an effect called Flowing Thought that increased mana regeneration, but even melee classes tried to get one simply for the stats on it, which were fairly good at the time.
Back then, a player could only specialize in one specific trade skill. Whichever skill a player leveled up to 201 first, could then go up to 250 while all other skills were then capped at 200. This quest required the crafting of nine different items, most of which required skill of over 200. Crafting, like almost everything else in EverQuest, is very time consuming. Many players ignored it completely while those who had the patience often made a decent amount of platinum from it.
For me, I never got into crafting for the money. I had invested a decent amount of time in the rogue-only skill of Poisoncraft, which led me to learning Pottery so that I could craft my own vials required for higher level poisons. I got sort of carried away with it and pottery led me to Jewelry, which I needed in order to lacquer gems for high-level, encrusted pottery items. It was entirely a waste of time and platinum. Until the Summer of 2002.
Items Required to Obtain an Earring of the Solstice
Here's the list along with what type of trade skill was required to make each item. The number indicates the level at which crafting the item becomes trivial, meaning that you would not fail when attempting it. Since the cap was 250, you can see that some of these items were never trivial (until later expansions increased the cap).
As you can see above, two of the items required for the quest called for high level potters. Now, as you may expect, pottery was pretty far down the list of popular trade skills. Turns out, I was one of three people on the entire server that had the ability to make these things when the quest was first discovered. And one of those three people was Korean, so she wasn't online most of the time that I was. Even so, and with limited communication ability, the three of us realized this quite quickly and came up with set prices on these items and agreed not to undercut each other. OH, COLLUSION! We weren't price gouging really. It was simply a textbook case of supply and demand, so we charged what we could and probably could've charged more. We were each making tens of thousands of platinum per day.
On top of the whole Solstice thing, other trade skill quests were discovered during that time. The most important to me and potters were faithstones. Faithstones were ceramic idols of gods that had the ability to teleport its holder to the church in their starting city. There was a specific idol that could be crafted for every race/class combination of clerics and shaman. Since neither clerics nor shaman had the ability to teleport, faithstones became a highly coveted item. Clerics especially would often get stuck in the middle of nowhere since they would often bind themselves close to their grind/raid spot in case things went poorly.
Between faithstones and steins, I had my own little factory set up in Shadow Haven. I had a level 8 high elfenchanter that I made simply to enchant clay. I had my level 20 wood elfranger running all over the globe foraging and fishing for the items that were the variable in the recipe that determined which god the faithstone was for. For example, to create a faithstone for a dark elf cleric, I had to forage a rare item in Nektulos Forest, which entailed sitting there and hitting my "forage" key every 30 seconds or so hoping I would get it instead of some roots, water, or grubs. And I'm sure the sight of a big, dumb, barbarian rogue crafting jewelry was a rare sight. I couldn't create them fast enough though. Word got out, and soon I was getting requests/orders from players from rival guilds that would otherwise have never spoke to me. In the course of a few weeks, I had brewed, lacquered, jeweled, foraged, fished, molded, enchanted, and fired my way to over half a million platinum.
I, along with the other two master potters on the Rodcet Nife server, were rich beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot to spend that kind of money on for max level players. Any new loot you would want was no-drop. So, I spent it on toys. Well, one toy to be specific. A Mask of Tinkering. This was one of the rarest items in the game and still is to this very day. That's because it was a loot item from one of the four warders in Sleeper's Tomb before Kerafyrm was released. There were only five or six of them on the server before Avatars of Discord awoke the Sleeper and, even in 2002, a couple of them were gone forever having been on players who quit the game. But, I found a guy with one and gave him 250,000 platinum for it. Why did I want it? Well, there were (at that point) about seven masks that rogues and bards could use to temporarily disguise themselves as a different race. The Mask of Tinkering was more commonly referred to as "the gnome mask."
So, whenever I hear any mention of the Solstice, I will always think of gnomes.