By Siphillis 24 Comments
An experienced convention-goer knows that it is vital to make a schedule, or at least a list of places to stand in line, and to have enough time to see everything. This was my first PAX. I was not an experienced convention-goer.
Touching down at 6:00 PM Friday, with only a day pass, I made a mad sprint to the convention center. There were small streams of PAX-peoples walking in the opposite direction, their red tags and traffic-cone helmets a dead giveaway. I finally arrived at a sharp-looking building, checked-in, took the escalator downstairs, and was completely floored by the Expo Hall.
There were dozens and dozens of exhibits, and thousands and thousands of visitors. To my sides, games that were previously mystical entities reserved for Internet trailers were being played and enjoyed by an endless mass of gamers: Duke Nukem Forever, Portal 2 (which looks especially sick), L.A. Noire, Ocarina of Time (which had the longest line), Battlefield 3, Mortal Kombat, and Gears of War 3. I emphasize "endless mass" since because of them, I didn't get to play any of these games. I was practically plucked off the Portal 2 line, as the Expo Hall was closing early. That hurt.
It wasn't a complete shitshow, mind you. I earned an audience with none other than Super Giant Games' own Greg Kasavin, who was naturally showing off Bastion (available this Summer for XBLA and TBA for PC) and handing out branded bandannas. (An excerpt is available in the video above.) We chatted for well over ten minutes, both about the game and his journey from GameSpot to EA to a garage. I even detected an almost-fatherly pride Kasavin holds towards that site, and how everyone stuck together when the shit hit the fan. GameSpot, for the uninitiated, was in its prime while Kasavin was Editor-in-Chief.
The game itself is surprisingly fun, with intuitive controls and tight pacing. And it's gorgeous! The narration, as effective and clever as it is, was a bit too meddling for my taste, and repeated itself on a few occasions. I wouldn't dare mention that to the team, however, since Logan Cunningham - the narrator himself - was also present.
I elected to hang out in the Manticore theater, where the Bombcast would be recording in an hour. Jon Drake, of Harmonix fame, was giving a presentation on how game developers are using facebook to interact with the community, and the problems that arise with this approach when dealing with semi-hardcore games. It was interesting, but not enough to hold my interest for over a half-hour. I snuck out the back doors, only to be greeted with a sea of people, maybe two-hundred in number. An enforcer holding a white board explained it all: "GIANT BOMBCAST LINE STARTS HERE"
It was great getting to know the people on line, many hardcore Whiskey Media members, others dragged along by said members. Everyone was plugging away at their DSs, which freaked me out for a bit. "soundandcolour" was standing next to me, with his Giant Bomb-virgin brother, and we struck up one of the nerdier conversations I've had in my life.
Within the hour, the Manticore theater had been converted into a makeshift rock concert. Phil Reno and the Harmonix band greeted us with a booming entrance, complete with the sickest rendition of the Bombcast theme ever. As Ryan described it, "that was the coolest shit ever!"
The Bomb Squad were in top form, hilarious as ever. I'll try not to spoil anything for those planning on listening to the show tomorrow, but suffice to say, there are special guests, and an emergency departure ("'cause you can't stop the train, baby.")
Q&A was the highlight for me, both good and bad. There was the usual collection of serious-question --> silly-answers, as well as ones that were utter nonsense ("Raynor's Cabin or Nunnelies?") I had been preparing a couple of questions for the crew for over a month, which made it all the more painful when I blanked at the microphone.
My directions were simple:
- Say hi
- Thank them from coming to the East coast a week after GDC
- Tell them that you've been a fan of their work since you were seven
- Ask JJWeatherman's question
- Ask how they resist the urge to compare all modern games to older ones, much like Yahtzee does weekly
They came out as follows:
- Mutter something that sounds like "Hi."
- Awkward pause
- Call the entirety of the staff "old"
- Ask an obvious copyright question
- Ask how they are not jaded, being old and all
I wanted to shoot myself. A guy behind seemed like he was keen on shooting me, too. Even with the polite answers by Gerstmann and company, I was still greeted with dirty stares on my way back to my seat (or at least, I imagined they were dirty stares.)
The show ended soon after, and I had planned to make a swift escape, head hanging in shame. I had caught Davis saying the crew would hang out outside the theater for those of us willing to skip out on the concert. I figured this was as good an opportunity to apologize as any.
Surprisingly, only about a dozen people stayed behind. The crew split up into corners of the lobby, and I made my rounds to each, starting with Vinny.
Thank you so much, Giant Bomb! You guys are cooler than I ever imagined. And this Super Meat Boy poster looks baller with all your autographs in tow.
See you at PAX Prime!
(P.S. if I took your picture after the show, hit up my gallery for your screenshots.)