Sep 262011
 
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A tasty lunch of peanut butter has been consumed. Caffeine has been ingested. The remainder of Day 1 lies ahead. [Part 1 is here.] Our slow but relentless conquering of PAX 2011 continues.

 
 
 

PAX 2011

PAX 2011: Son of a PAX

Lunch helped shake off whatever remained of the previous night and we skipped merrily back to the Convention Center (note: may contain less merry skipping than advertised). This time we started near the top and soon found ourselves in Band Land – so named as it’s where the musical guests all have their booths to meet and greet and sign and sell. And also Wil Wheaton. Who actually happened to be there and actually did not have a ridiculous line (ironically enough I’m going to guess that everybody who was really into seeing Wil Wheaton was already queuing up for his panel, leaving him free to those of us with only a passing Wheaton interest). Since we had bought our mug o’ random dice, we decided to gift two to Wil, in his continuing quest to prove what we all know: one can never have too many dice.

The line wasn’t long, but it was kinda slow. Luckily Enforcers were on-hand with entertainment and games to keep restlessness to a minimum. Also there was a couple in front of us with their two children who were all dressed in homemade Pokémon-themed outfits and it was kind of adorable while being helpfully distracting. Anyway, Enforcers! Trivia! Yes. They started with Star Trek which was deemed eminently logical, and I very swiftly proved my superior nerditude, earning delicious buttons to hang upon my lanyard. Then they moved to classic video games and I stopped doing so well, but Mike was there to pick up the slack. That is until a kid who I swear to god was like nine years old came in and smoked us all. Damned kids with your Wikipedias and your transistor radios.

Then came our turn with Wil, whereupon we handed him our dice – Mike with a 20-sided, me with a 6. Wil announced he would roll for awesome with Mike’s 20 and my 6 would determine the degree of awesome. He rolled 1, and it’s not every day you get to make Wil Wheaton critically fail for awesome. Then he complimented Mike on his shirt (which had been earning Mike compliments all day, thus continuing to secure my place as Best Buyer Of Cool Shirts Ever) which led to a brief but enthusiastic chat about Mario Kart, ending with Wil showing us the blue shell button he had on his backpack like he was always being chased by one. He happily signed our badges and then we went about our day.

PAX Day 1: Wheatony PAX badges.

Our once-pristine badges, now forever tarnished.

Wil was very approachable and personable, still we got no pictures here as I never feel comfortable shoving a camera in the face of someone who likely gets a camera shoved in their face about 97% more often than they’d like. Similarly we didn’t get a picture with him as they always look stiff and awkward to me. But consider for a moment that I am now a mere two degrees of Patrick Stewart. Yeah.

Back to the main floor where I began to amp up my picture taking. Seen here, the rather large attention-grabbing Firefall statue that would start banging and hissing and belching smoke every 15 minutes or so, which I’m sure was delightful for everybody working near it.

PAX Day 1: The Firefall statue.

The first of many many pictures of this thing.

It was also here that we started on the Crystite Challenge (see previous post). I have about a half dozen pictures of Mike in front of the statue and with various Red 5 devs, which I will spare you. At the same time, there was a group gathering, trying to get enough people together for the “Spell out Firefall with your bodies” mission, and Mike happily joined in.

PAX Day 1: Spelling out "Firefall".

I want an Ewok to be the "r" in everything I ever spell from this moment forward.

My favourite part was the Red 5 dev who was taking all the pictures. He had so many cameras dangling off him he looked like he should be trying to peddle them on a New York street corner.

While I was waiting for the photos to finish, I grabbed this quick shot of an already posing cosplayer.

PAX Day 1: Sun Shang Xiang cosplay

Those chakras are not playing around.

I don’t usually photograph the costumes much, but how often do you see Dynasty Warriors cosplay? (not nearly enough)

That done for the moment we dove back into the Expo Hall for our second pass.

PAX Day 1: Gears of War's Marcus Feenix

Marcus Feenix stands watch.

Right near the entrance was this not unimpressive statue for Gears of War 3. I’m not sure what Marcus was guarding, but it may well have been the Fangamer booth nearby:

PAX Day 1: The first day's wall at the Fangamer booth.

An orange Batman, not something you see every day.

The only booth that really requires you to come back and photograph daily.

A bit further in and we came face to face with these guys:

PAX Day 1: Disco zombies invade PAX.

PAX vs. Zombies

While I don’t think PopCap had an official presence at PAX this year, I’m still not entirely sure if they were very coordinated and enthusiastic con-goers or actually sent there by PopCap. Whichever way, they were amazing.

Our next stop was Twisted Pixel’s booth, where Ms. ‘Splosion Man and The Gunstringer were available for demo.

PAX Day 1: Twisted Pixel

Chairs included. Well played, Twisted Pixel.

We passed on Ms. ‘Splosion Man, me having not yet really gotten along with regular old ‘Splosion Man, but The Gunstringer was a must-try.

PAX Day 1: Mike trying out The Gunstringer.

Also pictured: The Maw plushie which I've been wanting for years now. One day I'll actually get it.

The demo was for an entire stage, so a nice lengthy bit of time to play. That also made the wait kind of long, which might’ve sucked if The Gunstringer wasn’t nearly as much fun to watch as it is to play. By this point it’s already been released, but I’ll still take a second to say that if you have a Kinect and you don’t have this game, you’re missing out. This is exactly the kind of game that the Kinect was created for; a standard controller wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun. Control your zombie cowboy puppet and shoot shit. Just trust me on this: give the downloadable demo a try and then see how fast you can pick it up.

Also we got a fridge magnet, which is awesome.

On the other side of Twisted Pixel was The Behemoth, which is always a fun booth to stop by.

PAX Day 1: The Behemoth

The Behemoth, eternal sponsors of PAX's lanyards.

The four-player Castle Crashers console had been finished sometime between last year and this year, and it looked great. Popular too, you could never walk by and not have a bunch of people gathered around and playing. Now I think on it, it’s pretty amazing the life The Behemoth have gotten out of Castle Crashers. It’s been out for what, three or four years now and it’s still the focal point of their booth and their merchandising? Ride that wave, Behemoth.

PAX Day 1: The Skybridge from one side or another.

Did we mention Firefall is here?

Back across the Skybridge and into the second half of the main Expo hall.

PAX Day 1: Yet more Expo Hall.

Easy to miss, but Gears of War 3? Also at PAX.

Xbox’s booth, heavily pimping Gears of War 3. Also visible: Eve Online (which I have never tried but probably should), Guild Wars 2 (which I have also never tried but probably should), and Rayman Origins (which I’m totally okay with not trying).

Back over to the Harmonix booth, where more people were having ridiculous fun with Dance Central 2.

PAX Day 1: Crazed hand gestures at Dance Central 2.

I don't know what that move is, but I imagine one could say "WORD" a lot while doing it.

We spied familiar faces this time and chatted up John Drake (who very literally threw DC2 swag at us) and Aaron Trites for a while.

PAX Day 1: Aaron and Mike.

Aaron helpfully points out Mike, as I may not have realized it was him otherwise.

We got the dish on VidRhythm (which I had seen was announced, but AT&T’s network was crumbling and dying under the onslaught of PAX so I had no details), swapped stories, and got hooked up with the goodies that would come out of Harmonix’s panel the next day – but you can hear all about that in Day 2. As always the HMX guys are a great bunch and hanging with them is a highlight of every PAX.

Back to more aimless wandering of the floor and much photographing of things hanging from ceilings.

PAX Day 1: Rift and friends.

Rift and its ever-perplexing dangling things.

Rift, Goldeneye Reloaded, and X-Men Destinies far in the distance.

The Triton booth is always great, if for no reason other than the fact that they have a ton of swag and it is insanely easy to get some. (Plus their shirts are way comfy. Last year’s Rift shirts are way made of the softest cotton ever and way too big to wear out, which means they are perfect for lazing around the house and I thank them for this.) The visit to the booth was mainly made for my friend Matt who is nuts on Rift, but it turned out great for us too. After chatting with a dev for a bit, she hooked us up with codes for a free download of the game plus a free month of gametime. We’ve played the game a lot since coming back from PAX and while our free time (thus our time playing) will be running out here in a couple days, I’m really glad we were able to give Rift a second chance, and will consider coming back when we next get that MMO itch.

Plus, hey, now I understand the vaguely obscene things dangling over the booth!

PAX Day 1: Rage. I have no idea what this is about.

The booth for Rage. More about this in Day 2, but I still have no idea what this game is about. Besides "rage", one assumes.

PAX Day 1: Another random shot of the floor.

Yet more booths.

More stuff to see and games to play: The WB booth is there with Arkham City (which I sadly never got my hands on), Gotham City Imposters, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Bastion, and way more other crap I do not recall.

PAX Day 1: One of Firefall's giant screens.

Firefall was at PAX. Did I mention that?

We saw a lot more and played a lot more, but my memory is failing and my photographs aren’t filling in the gaps, so I close out Day One.

Night One, however, was only beginning.

 
Next: Mike does the concerts while I have my own late-night adventures filled with blood and bubbles and frantic front desk phone calls.