PAX East 2013 - Wrap Up/Thoughts

So I wanted to write a blog post somewhere to write about what I thought about the first PAX I've ever attended: PAX East 2013 in Boston, MA. I will be trying to recollect what I did, who I met and anything else I can think of along the way.

Thursday, 3/21: We drove into Boston from Virginia (around 9 hours?) and got there in the afternoon. The we I am referring to include my friends Kirk Musngi, Brian Roberts, John Powell, Logan Powell and Logan Powell. After getting in we walked around Boston some and went to Bodega, this strange back alley skate/shoe shop hidden behind the sketchiest convenience store you would ever see. Kirk led us here and a few people bought shoes and other things. I myself picked up a Play Cloths shirt, cause why not? A while after this we headed over to this night club where the Mad Catz Unveiled pre-PAX party was happening and could not get in. After going to a nearby bar and then talking about where else we should go we encountered a Halo team who plays for Mad Catz leaving the venue. They felt bad we couldn't get in and gave us some extra passes so we were able to get in. I really don't remember the name of the Halo team that gave us the passes, but I really appreciate it! This ended up being a crazy experience, mostly since I've never walked into a nightclub and seen just screens everywhere and everyone just having a good time playing or watching people play games, maybe the drinks had something to do with it to? Anway we got to play some Divekick and I think Patrick tried rounds against Tokido in UMVC3. Some of the matches we got to watch were Daigo vs. Alex Valle (SFIV), Ryan Hart vs. Mago, and Tokido vs. Yipes (UMVC3). These were all great matches and we all had a ton of fun hyping them up and talking to some of the pros before and after they played. I met Ryan Hart and talked to him about programming since he apparently used to study computer science as well. I met Dave Lang and chatted with him a minute about Divekick and Giant Bomb. Later on I met Daigo, Marn, Gooteks, Persia, and Alex Valle. I'm probably missing some people but everyone was super nice and awesome to talk to. I even talked to Persia about putting her into a game if I ever get around to making one and talked to Marn about why people hate him so much. After meeting him I can only say nice things. Oh I also met this awesome freelance journalist while there named Chris Bahn. He is really into the fighting game scene and it was pretty neat to see him just covering such an event. Links below include some of the matches we saw (I wonder if John knows he can be seen in the background in a few of these):

Ryan Hart vs. Mago (SFIV)

Daigo vs. Alex Valle (pt. 1) (SFIV)

Yips vs. Tokido (UMVC3)

Friday, 3/22: Kirk and I caught Cliffy B's keynote, which was a great opener for the weekend. It really made me realize that the community at a place like PAX is something to be celebrated. He brought about this realization by telling stories about his life and relating it to how he views the industry today. What I really took away is that he mentioned that while society generally seems to think that the game community is a secluded, violent group of people that really can't be the case because otherwise events like PAX would not be possible. Anyway I'm paraphrasing but I would highly recommend watching his keynote if there is an archive online somewhere, sorry I could not find one.

The next panel I went to was the Capcom panel, which was great. They announced Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara and DuckTales Remastered, which was an awesome thing to experience. Everyone in the audience was singing the DuckTales theme at the end of the panel while they played the reveal trailer again and handed out exclusive Street Fighter fan shirts, of which only 1000 were made. I'm excited about both of those announcements because I've never played either really and the remakes look fantastic.

I went to the Strip Search panel later which was pretty neat to see. Jerry and Mike helped lead the panel with Robert so it was pretty neat to see them interact with the cast members. There's a video of the panel on Youtube, check it out.

Later that night the Giant Bomb panel happened. And yeah, that was a thing that happened...

Giant Bomb Panel PAX East 2013 Part 1

I would recommend giving it a watch for the pure insanity that occurred, but man was it a great panel. Aside from the Q&A being a bit boring at times (I suppose it was a game convention panel so you can expect at least half of the questions to have not been thought out at all and a good number of the other ones to just be really awkward), the entire thing was above and beyond what I imagined seeing one of these things would be like. Now I feel like I'm hyping it up a lot but really it was just a ton of fun to see Ryan, Jeff, Vinny, Brad, Patrick, Alex and their guests just have a great time putting this thing on for their fans. One thing in particular that really struck me from the panel that wasn't just something hilarious was something Patrick said. He said that places like PAX are great places to just tell the people that make the things that you love that you really appreciate and love those things. I already knew this to an extent but to hear Patrick say it in the way he did (again I paraphrased what I remember) made me realize if I meet people this weekend I should tell them I appreciate what they do.

Saturday, 3/23: I don't really recall if I went to any because I missed the Cards Against Humanity Panel and went out drinking later with my friend David, who lives in Boston. I will explain what I remember playing and who I met throughout the weekend after describing the gist of my schedule for the weekend because I think on Saturday I just checked things out and talked to some people. At the bar David and I went to, The Middle East, Capadonna from Wu Tang was randomly playing in the basement. So glad I got to drink with David and some other friends to help celebrate my birthday, which was the next day.

Sunday, 3/24: My birthday! We woke up a little late so the only panel I checked out was the Gamers with Jobs panel (audio here) with special guests Jeff Green (Popcap) and Justin McElroy (Polygon, MBMBAM). Everyone was hilarious but it was personally really awesome to see Jeff and Justin on a panel like this. I recommend giving their audio archive a listen.

Games I played/saw:

Super Time Force: Like Contra on crack kinda? Got to talk to Dan Vader while Kirk and I played this and it was a ton of fun. Dan's a real awesome dude and Capy seems to be doing great work, as usual.

Dive Kick: Got to play this at the Mad Catz Unveiled party and saw it on the show floor. People were so hype about it, but I mean I met Dave Lang so 'nuff said.

Transistor: This looks incredible. While I wasn't able to play it Transistor is still a must buy day one for me, it seems like Super Giant is going in the right direction. I got to talk to Greg Kasavin about the game and game development for about 15 minutes. What an awesome guy to talk to, I talked to him about how Bastion is an inspiration and he shared with me some insight on how he got started in the business of making games. Really appreciate him taking the time to talk for a little while.

The Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3: Seem pretty crazy, was not able to play either but when I walked past the Nintendo booth they both still looked like a ton of fun.

Legend of Dungeon: My Kickstarter money seems to be going to great use there.

Spaceteam: Got to chat with Sara Breitkreutz about how they thought of Spaceteam and called them out on how they basically just stole the idea from Space Alert, the board game. I was just kidding with her obviously but this game is still great, we played it for a while on the way to Boston and saw people playing it like crazy around the convention.

Ray's the Dead: Cool looking indie "Pikmin with Zombies." That's actually what one of the developers said. Good enough for me.

High Strangeness: I met the lead programmer, Ben Shostak (or AgentM00 at Destructoid) at Magfest this year and got to chat with him some more about the game and it's development. Very interesting action RPG that allows the player to switch between 8 and 16 bit worlds. Ben's an awesome guy and really has his heart behind this game so I hope the team does well.

Ridiculous Fishing: Already had this on my iPad but I got to chat with some of the developers at Vlambeer. Their next game, Luftrausers, so I told them to keep up the good work and also bought a Ridiculous Fishing hat.

Delver's Drop: Awesome looking mix between classic Zelda dungeons and pinball, weirdly enough. Looks like a game I could really get into.

Might and Magic X Legacy: Played this for a bit and I think I confused one of the developer's when I said this is like Legend of Grimrock. This was ignorance on my part cause I didn't know that Grimrock was so similar to the older Might and Magic games but this new one looks pretty sweet.

Daylight: The concept of this game is amazing! Procedurally generated horror game where you seem to walk around in the dark until you discover more and more about it. Actually scared me once when I was playing with the headphones on.

Smashmuck Champions: Fun as hell MOBA/Arena style online game that feels kind of like Smash TV. John and I got into the beta so we're going to try it out some more.

The Last of Us: Was not going to wait in 3 hour line to play this but it looks even more incredible now than it did previously.

BattleBlock Theater: Behemoth was hyping it up real well the whole show and the game is a ton of fun. They had massive arcade machines built so people could play against each other all weekend and it was so much fun that this kid was disrespecting his dad by beating him and cheering against him the whole time. Hilarious stuff to witness and play.

Injustice: Wooped up on David with Nightwing who seems pretty legit. This game just looks fantastic and seems to play great, so I can't wait for it to come out. Seems weird they only had this on like two random screens.

Cards Against Humanity, Third Expansion: Got to pick this up, as well as two of the PAX exclusive packs they were handing out.

Legend of the Cypher: Amazing sounding card game where you essentially build a rap empire all while creating songs by thinking of lyrics as you play.

Soda Drinker Pro: NEW LEVELS!!!!

People I met:

Jeff Gerstmann

: Briefly after the Giant Bomb panel I just shook his hand and took a picture with him. I now feel kinda bad since he has since said on the Bombcast that he busted up his butt/back right after the panel.

Brad Shoemaker: Bumped fists with him after the panel, which I find funny cause he was the only person I met that was purposefully bumping fists but then has since gotten sick apparently.

Ryan Davis: He was on the move but just said hello real quick on the show floor.

Tim Schafer: Met Tim and chatted with him about games for a little bit while he signed the Double Fine Action Comics I bought. Really funny guy in person!

Greg Kasavin: See my notes about Transistor above on how I got to talk with him about game development for a good while.

Jonathan Holmes: Really funny guy in person, took a few silly pictures with him and chatted about Sup Holmes. He said people disliked the episode he did with Erin Robinson because people didn't think she's a good enough programmer? Idk she's made some pretty great games so I enjoyed the episode.

Jeff Green: Very interesting to see him at the Popcap booth since I mostly knew him from his writing and the podcasts he has been on before he ever joined Popcap. Anyway Jeff is a super nice guy and it was awesome to chat with him a minute.

James Portnow and LeeLeeScaldaferri: I've been watching Extra Credits for a while now and I was able to see him speak at Magfest a bunch of times, so it was a real joy to talk with James for a couple of minutes. I also got to meet LeeLee which I now realize I wish I had asked her to illustrate something...

Strip Search people: I got to meet Nick, Abby and Ty from the Strip Search cast. They were all super nice and Nick was exceptionally receptive to talk about Magic cards and video games for a little while. Can't wait to see what happens in the show and what they end up doing in the future no matter.

Anyway that's about all I can remember of the stuff I did at PAX East 2013. I definitely saw more things but I just wanted to make mention of the things I thought worth mentioning. There's a photo album on Facebook if you are friends with me there you can find it on my profile.

I can't wait to go back next year for PAX East, or maybe PAX Prime this year?? Maybe??

- Ben


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