To read about our pre-PAX vacation beginnings, check out my Day 0 write-up.
The first day of PAX began later than expected, thanks to my seeming inability to know the difference between “AM” and “PM” on my phone’s alarm. Luckily my internal clock is a little more aware of its surroundings and jolted me wide awake at 6.30, only a half-hour later than planned. I’d also correctly gauged my level of disorganization at this ungodly hour and prepared the night before, so within about fifteen minutes I was changed and had the bags packed. Ten minutes after that and we were checked out and on our way to our final destination for the weekend, the Seattle Grand Hyatt. Since it’s where we stayed last year I was already familiar with where to park (fucking parking), and we were at the front desk by about 7am.
As check-in for the room wasn’t for another nine hours, I expected to take a break from the con sometime in the afternoon to move our mounds of crap (mostly food for we are cheap), but lo! The Con Gods smiled upon us, and after a verification phone call we were hauling armloads of bread and peanut butter into a swanky-ass hotel, caring not for the odd looks from the hotel’s non-PAX-y clientele.
I didn’t think to get photos of the room’s interior this time around, since as I said, we had the exact same place as last year. But our view this time around, that was about ten floors higher and on the opposite side of the hotel, so several pics there.
Now at this point came my major snafu of the entire con (though thankfully I have the ability to learn from my mistakes and this did not happen again). Despite having had the tickets in my possession for several weeks, despite having downloaded and gone over the con schedule, despite being here last year, I completely got the wrong time for the expo hall. I thought the doors opened at 9am.
The actual time was 10am.
This is important, because the first panel of the weekend was Harmonix’s RB3 Q&A and we really wanted to catch that.
It started at 10am. This part I knew.
Now another important thing to realize here is that love PAX though I do, the thing is riddled with lines. It has a big room that’s just one mammoth line to get into the bigger room so you can go get into more lines.
I expected this. I planned ahead for it. I had it set so we could maximize those first crucial swag-grabbing hours.
Excepting, of course, that in my grand machinations the Expo Hall opened an hour earlier.
Now would also be a good time to mention the concerts. PAX has several music guests, spread out over two performances: one on Friday and one on Saturday. There are about 100,000(ish) people who attend the con, but the concert venue only seats about 2500. Entrance is determined first by wrist bands, a limited number of which are given on a first-come/first-serve basis to those who queue up, and then by first-come/first-serve at the venue itself. Mike was quite keen to see Friday’s concert, specifically Anamanaguchi.
So at 8am we made our way to the convention center. The plan was to receive concert wristbands, queue up for an hour, grab some cool shit for an hour, then make our way over to HMX’s panel.
Tch. Silly girl.
Here’s how the morning actually unfolded.
- Arrive at Queue Room a little after 8am.
- Realize with some degree of surprise that the room is already pretty packed.
- Pick up guide, bag, lanyard, etc.
- Become immediately disappointed to discover they are out of concert wristbands.
- Enjoy the return of Terminal (more on this later) for an hour.
- Wonder why, at 9am, nothing is showing signs of wrapping up.
- Check PAX guide downloaded to phone.
- Swear violently at realizing I’ve totally fucked up the morning plans.
- Decide to cut our loses and leave to try and get good seats at the Harmonix panel.
In this last one we were fairly successful, though in truth it wasn’t like there was really a bad seat.
Still, it started the day off far more bumpy than I would’ve liked; I was particularly upset since I’d been so sold on the efficiency of my plan.
Luckily the Harmonix panel was pretty darned funny and my dark mood quickly lifted. It was a pretty loose and open Q&A session, with only two rules. 1: No questions that a lawyer would need to answer. And 2?
Present and accounting for nothing much at all was Dan Teasdale (Lead Designer), Brian Chan (Senior Designer), John Drake (Communications Manager) and Aaron Trites (Community Manager HMXHenry).
As stated, it was predominantly panel attendees asking questions and (mostly sometimes) getting answers. The great part about this format is that for it quickly struck the key points of fan interest – no wasted time going over stuff we already learned about months ago. If Rock Band is something that holds great interest for you too, then I highly recommend checking out RockBandAide’s report on it. They’ve got the whole thing available for viewing, and transcribed some key points. Plus, really? Like I said, Harmonix has some funny guys. (Also! Mike is the one who asked the question about the Squier! We contributed!)
Once the panel was complete we made a brief tour of the Expo Hall. Very brief really, because we wanted to get to the HMX booth to turn in our contribution to their BYOBooth event.
(Also, I clearly did not think out how all of this concentrated Rock Band/Harmonix talk front-loading my PAX posts would make me look like Creepy Obsessive Fangirl. I swear to god we did other stuff this weekend and we’re relatively HMX-lite after the following booth talk, so stay with me.)
Okay, so the BYOBooth. Very briefly it goes like this: HMXHenry asked PAX attendees for a bunch of random shit of different “difficulty” levels. It was all first come/first serve, with different swag for each level. It all went down extremely quickly, but perfectly timed for me, and I managed to grab the first (and by far easiest) “expert” level item, a kiddie pool. Now I didn’t own a kiddie pool, but buying one was well worth the bounteous reward, which included both Rock Band 3 and the keyboard controller. (Which no, I don’t have yet, but will be delivered unto my eager hands very soon.) And so I did. I settled on a multi-coloured five tier looking thing that seemed pretty awesome and, best of all, was star-shaped!
But – funny story – I have absolutely no concept of size. As such, I dramatically underestimated just how much effort this thing would take to blow up. Luckily we did plan enough ahead to bring a bicycle pump with us (thanks Scott!). But even then, it took a bit of effort.
Taking a sec to give huge props to the Enforcers. These guys joked about the crazy of the booth and the “wait seriously?”-ness of having to spend half an hour blowing up a kiddie pool, but they didn’t hesitate and helped out tons. PAX Enforcers are awesome.
But soon (well, like 30+ minutes “soon”) the pool was inflated and the question began of just exactly what they were going to do with it.
And finally, a picture of Mike and Thrasher …
…which too perfectly compliments last year’s picture of Mike and Helen.
The most ironic thing about all this? Despite spending the entire beginning of our PAX revolving around Rock Band in some way or another, we didn’t play the damned game at all. The queue for Rock Band (and Dance Central) was huge, and we decided to just come back later.
First up was a quick visit back to the hotel to drop off the burning-to-the-touch bicycle pump, since it’s not exactly the raddest accessory to drag around the con floor. On our way into the hotel, Mike was nearly smacked in the face by the door opening. The near-smacker was clearly in a rush but hurriedly apologized. We replied with our own “no problems”. The whole thing happened so quickly that it wasn’t until we were several feet apart that I realized who it was. I turned around to verify, and I guess the guy’s Recognition Sense tingled, as he turned around back to us at the same time.
“Oh! Hi!” I said, still moving forward.
“Hey!” he said back with a wave and a big smile, also not stopping.
And that was my encounter with Wil Wheaton.
Back in the hotel, shoving a piece of bread and peanut butter into our face, we noticed something interesting going on in the parking lot below.
You know I’m still not sure what was up with this bus, nor why it was guarded by a giant eye of the beholder.
After a brief and ultimately unsatisfying “lunch” and we were on our way back to the convention center.
Now unfortunately at this point I was pretty lax in my documentation of the rest of the day; I was distracted somewhat by some friend stuff going on several hundred miles away, my internet connection was spotty at best, and for some reason I appear to have forgotten that I had that bright shiny new camera. But I did get this!
I don’t even play Halo, I have no idea why the hell I got a picture of nothing else today but this.
We didn’t get a whole lot of playing of anything in today really, although somehow we managed to keep missing panels we wanted to attend, so I’m not sure what was up with that. (Hello poor time management skills.) We did take Retro/Grade for a spin though (more on that in tomorrow’s Day 2 post), snagged a few bits of swag, and I picked up the super cool Sex Bob-Omb limited edition print by Kevin Tong!
It doesn’t sound like much, but I still somehow managed to be totally pooped by this point. And as previously stated, there was still a concert left to go, and without our wristband power-up, admittance was by no means a sure thing. So it was that decisions had to be made. We could skip it, or we could queue up ridiculously early and hope.
Mike voted for go-and-hope. I voted for trying to rest so as not to be so very tired on Saturday. And thus we parted ways: Mike to Benaroya Hall, me to Room 1609.
Obviously Mike will be the better choice to tell you about the concert, having actually gone and all, so once his own PAX post is live I’ll edit this one with a link to it. I can however tell you this: He did in fact get in and he did in fact get to see Anamanaguchi and all their sound engineer problems.
And what of Jet Wolf? What did she see? Part of some NFL Top 100 Best Players thing (thus proving that I love lists so much I even love them about things I dislike) and several episodes of Man Woman Wild which left me sort of confused and conflicted. I kinda hated both the man and the woman (though felt good about the wild part) and yet found the show engaging enough to watch two straight episodes and be disappointed when there wasn’t a third.
Maybe I was just really tired.
I finally got to sleep about 1am-ish, with my alarm set for five hours later. It was even set correctly this time. Thus ended Friday.
Saturday was about a kagillion times more incredibly awesome. Seriously it was just about the perfect kind of PAX day for me. Plus, there’s 87% more hands-on game stuff and 100% less pictures of kiddie pool inflation! Come back and read all about it tomorrow.