PAX Prime 2014 – Day Three and Day Four

See my previous posts for day one and day two recaps.

Sunday morning my feet were killing me when I woke up. It was not a good way to start the day. However, rest is for the weak, so we bravely endured the Gearbox line. They are the studio behind the previously mentioned Borderlands. Their panel was a little odd, but it included a fantastic card trick by the CEO of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford. They gave out season passes for the Borderlands Pre-sequel, which was really nice of them.

At the Expo, we waited to try the Occulus Rift, the 3D headset. I was a skeptic (and still am, mostly) but I did play a pretty cool bullet dodging game where you could look around the “room” just by moving your head and dodge by leaning one way or another.

Sunday afternoon we attended the Patrick Rothfuss panel. It was awesome because we walked right in and didn’t have to wait in line. Mr. Rothfuss is always entertaining, and it was fun that he read his “not a children’s book” which we’d already read, and so we knew the ending.

We decided to skip the Sunday night concerts in lieu of an earlier night.

Sunday’s walking distance: 5.8 miles (13,264 steps)


Monday was the final day of PAX and when I decided we really should attempt to collect some of the Pinny Arcade pins that exhibitors were giving away. After watching the Penny Arcade Q&A with Mike and Jerry, we headed to the Expo to go pin hunting and play any games we’d missed previously.

Microsoft has a new game coming out called Age of Empires: Castle Siege. It is (sadly) not iOS compatible, but the demo was really fun. Though it will run on Windows, the rep did say that it will play best on a touchscreen/tablet. Boo! But they were giving away a cute pin, so yay.

Next we played Pillars of Eternity which is an old-school isometric RPG. We started with new characters, so I can’t say much about the gameplay since I wondered around in starting town for a while and only fought a couple of things. Looks fun, but it doesn’t include co-op, so it’s pretty much a no go for us.

At the Xbox booth we played Sunset Overdrive, one of their leading Xbox One titles for the holiday season. It was fun, if a little chaotic, but they made the excellent decision to have one of their employees on each eight-person team to answer questions and explain how to play. They also gave us a nice pin. Win!

All told, I came away with five pins, only one of which I purchased (proceeds went to charity, so I bypassed my “will not buy pins” rule).

And so it begins...

And so it begins…

Monday afternoon was the final round of the Omegathon, the video game elimination that ran all weekend. The players were required to get the highest score in Pacman, which was fun to watch, though quite short and not really worth the slog over to the main theater.

Monday evening is kind of hazy. I remember we went to dinner where I had fish and chips made with salmon. I’d never had fried salmon before. It was pretty good, as far as fish goes (I tolerate it).

Monday’s walking distance: 6.3 miles (15,687 steps)


Tuesday we got up and rode the train back to the airport. Can I take a minute to say how nice it is to be able to ride public transit to and from the airport? It. Is. Awesome. Plus, it only cost $5.50 for the two of us, which is infinitely cheaper than a cab or an airpot shuttle.

Overall, even with the crush of people, we had a really nice time. I was afraid that after going I’d regret buying PAX South tickets, but instead I’m excited for South. Though I will definitely be purchasing some sort of tiny, foldable stool to sit on while waiting in line. My feet will appreciate it.

PAX Prime 2014 – Day Two

See the previous post for a recap of day one.

Time waits for no woman, and so Saturday dawned early, if not particularly bright, complete with achy feet. Saturday was the only day it rained on us, which isn’t bad for a city known for its rain.

Our first stop was a signing with Mike and Jerry, the creators of Penny Arcade. Waiting outside to get in the Paramount wasn’t especially fun, but it wasn’t pouring, so we stayed mostly dry. The signing line was relatively short, and we got to sit down while we waited, so that was awesome.

Signing with Mike and Jerry

Signing with Mike and Jerry

After the signing, we saw that they were streaming the Halo panel from the main theater, so we sat and watched in the Paramount instead of walking all the way to the main theater. The new Master Chief collection looks pretty awesome.

We hit up the Expo for a while before our next panel. We played Gauntlet for a little bit because there wasn’t a line. It was fun because we had a full party (four players). I’m assuming they scale the difficulty based on the number of players, but we didn’t get to test out two-player co-op.

Our next session was Videogames in the Forgotten Realms. The big news was that Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition is coming soon, though they wouldn’t commit to a date. They also promised that the new update to Baulder’s Gate Enhanced Edition has worked out all of the multiplayer bugs. We’ll see if that holds true.

Saturday night we got in the biggest line ever. It was for the live D&D game with Jerry, Mike, and a few of their friends.

The line goes down the block and around the corner for another block

The line goes down the block and around the corner for another block

Benaroya Hall, the main theater, holds 2,500 people. The line was longer than that, though they were letting people know they might not get seats. We weren’t anywhere near the end of the line, yet we were in the middle of the upper, upper balcony.

Nosebleed section

Nosebleed section

For all that we nearly died in line (we were packed in like sardines and unable to sit or move for an hour plus), the D&D game was awesome. Patrick Rothfuss was an unannounced guest star. All of the players were hilarious.

Getting out was almost as bad as getting in, because they were giving away swag, including an awesome Pinny Arcade Tiamat dragon pin. I told myself I wasn’t going to get involved in pin trading, but it was so cool I gave myself some leeway. More on that in Day Four’s post.

Saturday’s walking distance: 5.3 miles (11,510 steps)

PAX Prime 2014 – Seattle and Day One

This was our first year attending the Penny Arcade Expo, more commonly known as PAX.

We hadn’t been to Seattle as tourists before, so we went a day early to explore. We saw Pike Place Market, the Aquarium, the monorail, and the Space Needle. It was awesome, but we ended up walking about five miles, which was a mistake in hindsight.

Space Needle, Monorail, Flowers in Pike Place Market, Seattle skyline

Space Needle, Monorail, Flowers in Pike Place Market, Seattle skyline

Friday was the first day of PAX. We absolutely did not know what we were getting into. There don’t seem to be official attendance numbers, but according to the Wikipedia page, it was 70,000+ in 2011. There were people everywhere. And the lines. We expected a certain amount of waiting in line, because that’s what happens at conventions. PAX wildly exceeded those expectations. Err… yay?

We spent the first part of Friday picking up our swag bags and starting on the Expo floor. Imagine two entire floors of a giant convention center dedicated to gaming companies and you have the Expo. It was packed, both with people and with booths. It’s a multi-day event, especially if you want to play any of the games.

A tiny slice of the Expo floor

A tiny slice of the Expo floor

Friday’s standout was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. I love the Borderlands franchise, and this game seems like a solid entry. We had to wait a ridiculously long time to play (probably close to an hour), but it was fun. On a side note: We tried multiple times to play Tales from the Borderlands (a mobile game based in the same universe), but the line was always closed and two+ hours. Nothing is worth waiting two hours for, sorry.

After Borderlands, we went to our first session. It was presented by Intel on the Future of PC Gaming. It was more like a shareholder presentation than a presentation to a bunch of dedicated gamers. Alienware did unveil their new PC design (spoiler: it’s a triangle), but that was about it. It wasn’t really worth the five-block walk to the main theater.

The afternoon passed in a blur of more Expo, then we went to the Friday night concert, which was fantastic and totally worth the walk to the main theater.

The first act was Triforce Quartet, a classical string quartet (two violins, a viola, and a cello) that played video game music. They were followed by The Doubleclicks. They were sisters: one played the cello while the other switched between guitar and ukelele. The final act was Paul & Storm, who we’ve seen before but who are always awesome.

We returned to the hotel after midnight and collapsed.

Friday’s walking distance: 5.2 miles (11,246 steps)

Sleep Is For the Weak

So, with the addition of Fable into our Xbox collection, my daily routine has changed from “work, eat, sleep” to “work, eat, play Fable, play Fable, play Fable, oh crap! it’s 2 AM, well… ok, one more second, play Fable…” This has consequently changed the “work” portion of the day into the “sleep” time. So to counteract that, the “work/sleep” time has become the “YAYAYAYAYAY CAFFEINE IS GREAT!” time. Yes, I have everything perfectly under control. jitter twitch jitter

Well, let’s see. Fable. It’s not quite what I was expecting. It’s a lot more linear than I would like, especially after hearing all of the hype. I was hoping for a Morrowind type experience, which is probably why I was disappointed. The other disappointing thing is you can only play through the game as a guy. Not a terrible flaw, but it would’ve been nice to have the option to choose.

The game itself is beautiful. The graphics are well done and the changing of your character’s appearance is a very cool feature. Since I am playing as good, my character’s hair has lightened into blond and now I have a halo and ethereal butterflies hanging around. Dustin is playing as evil and his character’s complexion is turning dark and his horns are sprouting. You also acquire scars when you get hit in battle. After eight hours of play my poor guy is looking pretty sad.

I’ve heard the game is fairly short, by RPG standards, around 10-12 hours. That means I’m looking at about 2-4 more hours before the end. It seems much shorter than that. I really have a hard time believing I’ve played 8 hours already. At least the game seems like it will have high replayability (is that a word? it is now).

Should you buy it? Yes, definitely. Will you become addicted? Yes, definitely.

Evil Plot to Steal Your Money

Evil Plot to Steal Your Money

No, it’s not my evil plot to steal your money, although that would be good too. It’s the plot of the movie, gaming, and anime empire to suck you dry as quickly as possible. It seems that the cosmos have aligned and everyone wants an even larger chunk of your money this month.

Gaming

If you own an Xbox and you haven’t been living in a hole for the past, oh… say… couple of years, then you have heard of Fable. In fact, it’s only slightly behind Halo2 in the “uber hyped game that isn’t coming out for two years but we want you to want to buy it RIGHT NOW” category. Luckily, Fable does have some experience to back up all the hype–after all, Lionhead Studios is involved and their previous game, Black & White, incorporated some of the basic “good and evil” elements that are such a big part of Fable. Since I’ve been avoiding the hype as much as possible, I can’t actually write a “review” of the game, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. Fable is available September 14 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.com or anywhere else that sells games.

Anime

Ah yes, the anime industry. While they continuously try to suck you dry by charging $25 for 3 episodes, this month is even worse. On Tuesday, September 7th, Viz is releasing the first InuYasha movie, Affections Touching Across Time. They are also releasing the first season in a box set which includes episodes 1 – 27 on five DVDs. It’s available in a normal set or a limited edition set with an “InuYasha fang necklace,” which if I see anyone wearing outside of an anime convention, will probably kill me from laughing too hard. You have been warned.

For those of you who were fans of Chrno Crusade, the first US released DVD is coming out September 21, with the name Chrono Crusade. I’m still not sure why they needed the extra “o.” It’s available as a single DVD or with an art box to hold the rest of the series. I’m not sure how many episodes are on the DVD, but with a running time of 100 minutes, it’s either three or four, which means the series is going to be about eight DVDs long. Which, of course, brings us right back to the “wow that’s a lot of money for 24 measly episodes that I already have, and have watched, fansubbed from when it was airing in Japan.”

Movies

I’m sure that there are those of you reading this post from your campsite in front of your favorite DVD retailer, just because you are that cool. Well, that and the Star Wars trilogy is coming to DVD this month. Everyone knows that anything Star Wars induces geeks everywhere to give up showering to go camp out somewhere. Well, maybe they’re not really giving up showering–you have to have something to begin with in order to give it up… *grin*  All kidding aside (yes, I was kidding), Star Wars is finally coming out on DVD on the 21st of this month. If you don’t know what Star Wars is, then slowly back away from your computer and run screaming to your nearest geek friend to get educated. If you don’t have any geek friends… well I just feel very, very sorry for you.

That about wraps it up. I’m sure there are plenty of other things coming out that I am going to want to buy, but I decided to stop looking. I mean jeez, I have student loans to pay…

*Many of the links in this post link to Amazon. Yes, I am an Amazon affiliate. Yes, I will get a small amount of money if you click the link and then buy something. Yes, you may be able to find it cheaper elsewhere. Yes, I encourage you to shop around, in fact I recommend RightStuf.com for anime (no, I am not an affiliate there). RightStuf looks a little rough, but actually they are totally legit and have pretty good prices, especially check the weekly specials.