I know I’d hinted at my fatigue in my last Friday I’m in Love post, but this year’s PAX East really hit me like a ton of bricks. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For those of you not familiar, PAX East is the Boston based sister convention to PAX, one of the biggest video game conventions in North America (and now Australia). Originally born of the popular online comic Penny Arcade, PAX has taken on a life of it’s own and is now renowned for its unique mix of industry and independent efforts in the full spectrum of gaming, from video games to tabletop to whatever the next new thing will be.
I got to attend PAX East for the first time last year, helping out my now friend Mo promote his forthcoming game A.N.N.E. This year, because I honestly love working the floor at PAX, I agreed to help two different teams (gamesbymo & Hololabs) spread across three booths. While this did mean that I got to promote two amazing, very different games I am very passionate about, it did not leave me a lot of time to actually play any of the other games being promoted, which made me feel like a totally failure as a games journalist.
A highlight for me this year was actually getting to meet fellow geek lifestyle bloggers Kaitlin from PwnLove (middle) and Liz from Being Geek Chic (far right). I wish I’d had more time to hang out with them both properly, not to mention all the other wonderful bloggers who were no doubt lurking about, but alas such is PAX.
Also super thrilling was seeing Mercenary Kings on the big screens in the Tribute Games superbooth. During my shifts at the gamesbymo booth, which was next door to Tribute again, I may or may not have bragged to anyone who was listening that I was in the game. Including Jonathan Holmes of Destructoid, who I seem to be making a habit of assaulting verbally in order to get him to talk with Mo. Not that Mo needs my help, but I’m amused by it, so… yeah.
Apparently this guy was promoting a game called Cupcakes and Critters, which does seem very much up my alley. Unfortunately this was taken during my only real time to peruse the show floor, before the show opened, and they weren’t set up for demos yet. I had been planning on doing more pre & post show schmoozing, but after I lost my wallet in a cab Friday night and had to appeal to a bunch of virtual strangers to pay for my dinner, my ego was a little wounded, not to mention my fatigue from the runaround both the taxi companies and the cops were giving me.
As it was, being that I didn’t even have any cash in my wallet at the time (well, $2.74 US if you want to get technical) I decided to just cut my losses and give up trying to get it back. Which was fine, I guess, since I still had my passport and wouldn’t get stranded at the border on the way home, but not having money (or even access to money) did force me to reevaluate my priorities. No shopping sprees or lobster dinners for me. Just work, work and more work.
Mo, working his magic in the booth. I really liked his setup this year, which included a big ol’ tube TV and a couple of stools to create a sort of cozy living room vibe. The demo we were showing was a slightly tweaked version from the one we showed last year, now with more ship stuff and a couple of boss battles. I’m not gonna lie, the game is tough, leading to my assertion that it also had “retro difficulty,” in addition to retro style art and music. I also got really good at answering questions about when the game will be released: “When it is finished.”
This guy was great (and I feel like a total jerk because I don’t remember his name). He actually worked in his booth in cosplay, alternately as an N7 soldier and Hawkeye (complete with leather shorts, natch.) Look at my steely resolve with that plasma rifle. Who wants to build me some N7 armour? I swear I will wear the SHIT out of it.
Geoff and Mike from Hololabs setting up the demos for Papercade, their tablet based app for creating and sharing story games. It was so much fun seeing people create their little games, especially the kids, who often took to the process much faster than their parents. I know I’m biased, but I really think this could be a game-changer, so check out their website and sign up for the newsletter to stay posted on when the closed beta will be starting.
Here’s the full team all together, minus Mike who had to go to a wedding on the Saturday. Imagine us all crammed together in a minivan with all of the Ikea furniture we had to put together to create the booth. Everyone was sweet as pie and I couldn’t have asked for better travel companions.
And finally, my other big highlight this year was meeting so many of the dev teams I’ve featured on Take My Money Tuesdays. The first people I hit up were Joar and James (above) of Project Rain World. Joar had just flown in that morning from Sweden to show off his game in the Adult Swim Games booth, which explains the starry look in his eyes. I also got to sit next to the team behind Classroom Aquatic while working Mo’s table in the Kickstarter area, and was tickled pink that they remembered my four sentence endorsement of their game. Sadly, I did not have time to actually demo the game on the Oculus Rift, but I have a feeling I’ll run into them again soon.
I also got to say “hi” to Anatole and team at Last Limb, whose game Organic Panic was one of the few I actually had time to demo. While the fact that they built their own engine for the game was impressive on paper, actually playing the game really drove home how special and fun this platformer is going to be once it is released. They even introduced me to their publishers, Midnight City, who gifted me with a super rad t-shirt (more on that later this week). I also got to meet Alex from Owlchemy Labs, but never found the time to play their 20 min demo of Dyscourse. Blurgh. And I introduced myself to the team at Grimm Bros, whose game Dragon Fin Soup just finished up a super successful Kickstarter campaign. They even gave me a gorgeous poster, which will soon be displayed in my desk area to inspire me.
Thanks again to the team at Hololabs for ferrying me around, feeding me, and making sure I had a warm bed to sleep in. It was fabulous hanging with you guys and I’d love to do it again in the future (PAX Prime, maybe?) Also, thanks again to Mo, Tribute Games and our other friends at Ackk Studios for being so awesome and friendly. And finally, thanks to all the amazing developers, volunteers, media and fans who I got to meet that I haven’t mentioned yet. You are the reason I keep coming to PAX.