As others have said, Ryan's absence is very felt. He was great at keeping things moving, tying jokes together, and all around just chugging the 3-hour beast along.
Without him there, it's easy to see and hear that the group is trying to pick up the remains and put it back together. They will get it done, but they are still sad and a bit confused... and it shows. They hint often that they have been going out of their way to stay active, engaged, and otherwise doing things differently in both their professional and personal life because of how big of a hole Ryan left. I think they are afraid to be alone with their thoughts so they're trying things differently to stay away from it. I'm hoping they can get past it since it will become too much if they keep harping on it, but... I'd understand. Ryan was a great guy. I don't know how I'd be in their shoes.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the game Patrick. There's reasons why it's my favorite game of all time, and I hope you experienced at least a portion of it. Just imagine how this game was beloved almost 20 years ago. Things have changed a lot.
My favorite PAX memory was seeing Rorie across a random room, yelling "Look, puppies!", and his head whipping around in frantic desperation to see. I don't think he ever knew who yelled it, or if there ever were pups, but damn if he wasn't excited.