Oct 182011
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Sleep was again interrupted but with the final day of PAX ahead we couldn’t let a tiny little thing like exhaustion get in the way. There were games to demo that I hadn’t yet demoed and many photos to photo that I hadn’t yet photoed.

Previously on PAX’11: Day 0 | Day 1 pt 1, pt 2, pt 3 | Day 2


PAX 2011

PAX 2011: A real PAXsation!

The morning began with 150% more rushing around than I like in my mornings. The toilet adventure the night before caused us to sleep in later than intended and the number of rooms we had to pack up was doubled. The weather outside was thick and foggy, and I appreciated Seattle’s empathy.

PAX Day 3: A delightful Seattle morning.

Seattle, looking how I feel.

After I took this I glanced down at the Paramount Theater.

PAX Day 3: The Paramount Theater

Yup, a line already.

We’re just getting up and there’s already a queue outside the main theater. Yeah, it’s time to get moving. Incidentally, if you were unaware, it’s quite the experience to try and slink back to your hotel room around 8am clad only in your PJs. We didn’t escape completely unnoticed. I did my best to avoid all eye contact.

It took more energy than we technically had but we showered, cleared the room and packed the car in record time. Before leaving the hotel I spotted a bit of cosplay I felt deserved a sliver of immortality:

PAX Day 3: Awesome Doctor Who cosplay.

You can't properly see the Police Box hat, but it was my favourite part.

We arrived at the convention hall about half an hour before the doors opened but I couldn’t face the endless sensory monotony that was OnLive so we milled outside the main hall until the doors opened. First stop? Where else but Firefall. Mike had a third and final statue to claim, after all.

Among the final missions was to get a picture at the giant noise-statue with a bit of Firefall swag. The line at the booth was already insane but we were able to slip in quickly and get a shot glass. It says “Firefall” on it. Because of course it does.

PAX Day 3: Mike + Firefall

So you can Firefall while you Firefall.

I like how you can’t even tell what he’s holding but nobody cared. Could’ve just had him pantomime the damned thing and saved ourselves some time.

We completed just enough missions to get a t-shirt. I’m not entirely convinced it was worth all the work we put in, but given the unbelievable line for people to cash out, there’s no denying that the game was a success for Red 5.

Mike was totally jonesing for another go at Pathfinder and that damned treasure chest, so we made our way toward the tabletop games on the floor below. On the way, we swung by Nintendo’s booth to check out the 3DS. Not so much for the 3DS as for the Kid Icarus swag that Mike had tried unsuccessfully to get the day before.

PAX Day 3: Nintendo pimping the 3DS.

Kid Icarus - synonymous with "modern".

Quite in contrast to the day before there were no lines so we were able to demo the game immediately. The lady working the booth was very awesome and, I must admit, so too was what this thing could do. Hover the 3DS over these cards and little representations of the card’s figures appeared on the screen and then did battle. It was sort of like Battlechess, which was a computer game that blew my mind back in the day. I wouldn’t ever buy a 3DS because I sort of hate 3D and how companies are wetting themselves over the fad like we haven’t been here repeatedly over the past sixty years or so – but yeah, it was pretty cool.

PAX Day 3: Zelda, also being heavily promoted.

Riding a giant red dogbird your love: Link.

Legend of Zelda was also heavily on display at the booth. The banner, while neat, did not tempt me into its line.

Back to Paizo’s room and Mike settled in for a second mini-campaign. I left him again, and set out on a solo adventure. I was not mistaken for a spy contact, get whisked into a rock band when a member took ill, or find a lost but friendly alien, forcing me to conclude that movies are made by liars. I did however once again consider waiting in line for Arkham City. I didn’t.

PAX Day 3: Cosplay at the Bioware booth.

What cosplay looks like when companies bankroll it.

Bioware had a Renegade FemShep up on stage, complete with N7 armour. I saw her in an episode of The Guild season 5 a little bit ago and that tickled me more than it probably should have.

PAX Day 3: Booth decoration at Wizards of the Coast.

A statue of some guy doing something.

Just one of several very large statues around the Wizards of the Coast booth for Magic: The Gathering. As someone who was heavily (heavily) into Magic back before Legends came out, it kind of blows my mind that it’s still going this strong.

PAX Day 3: Dance Central 2

They are enjoying the hell out of that Step Cross Back.

Another pass by the Harmonix booth, where I watched these ladies have more fun than one should probably have with a game in public – good for them. I especially like the Rock Band symbols in the background. I’m not sure if HMX put them there as if to say “Hi, we made that other game you like so much!” or “Hahaha fuck you there’s no Rock Band here.” I’m okay with either.

Back across the Skybridge and another look at People And Things.

PAX Day 3: The Skybridge

Photography: giving you the okay to be a voyeur for all time.

I also took a picture of this thing. I have no idea what it is but it looks very happy to be it.

PAX Day 3: A steampunk robot knight?


And the other side, where I think I was just trying not to look at those wooden comic boxes.

PAX Day 3: More Skybridge.

That one girl seriously likes lime green.

Into Main Hall pt. 2, where a crowd had gathered around the Just Dance booth. I sadly only caught the tail end of the zombies, but I continue to admire their dedication.

PAX Day 3: Plants vs. Zombies vs. Just Dance

All those cameras and I can't find a clip on YouTube? Seriously? Internet, I am disappoint.

From there I wandered up to Band Land, and was surprised to see a line stretching all the way around the floor; we’re talking something like 200 long. Or maybe 50. I don’t know, I suck as estimating. But it was a lot, and it was all queuing up at Wil Wheaton’s booth. Then I remembered reading on Twitter the day before about how Felicia Day was considering making a surprise visit, and sure enough:

PAX Day 3: Felicia Day crashing Wil Wheaton's booth

See her? No, because I wasn't going to wait in line behind two hundred fucking people.

Also, what is up with that woman glaring at me from behind the Totoro backpack? Damn!

It’d been about an hour now so I swung back by Paizo to see how Mike’s scenario was getting on. “Slowly”, as it turned out.

PAX Day 3: Mike's second Paizo group.

They haven't even gotten to the dungeon to put their little figures on yet.

The smiley guy on the right was pretty awesome – when I came back later to spectate he and I spent most of our time making fun of everybody else. But that was later. For now it was clear that they weren’t even close to being done, so I dropped off my whatever swag I’d procured and returned to the wilderness.

PAX Day 3: More Fangamer.

The obligatory Fangamer picture for today.

Today’s favourites: Little Chell and the full-colour dead Pikachu.

PAX Day 3: League of Legends

League of Legends, still with a ridiculous crowd.

Turns out this is League of Legends. I thought it was a Dawn video game and was marveling at why the hell this was happening now.

PAX Day 3: X-Men Destiny

Magneto should have that growth looked at.

One game I did make a point to wait in line for was X-Men: Destiny. It will surprise no one when I say I was very interested in it. The demo was a chunk of the first level, about fifteen minutes or so (twenty with cut scenes). It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, being a fairly brainless button masher, but it was riddled with cameos which made me very happy, and I figured the gameplay would get deeper as it progressed. The game has since been released and, as it turns out, not so much. Major disappointment. But on the plus side, I expect it to be bargain bin prices soon, so hey, money saved.

In my eternal quest for free shit, I queued up for the Alienware spinner giveaway stuff. It was almost as long a wait for this as it was to play the damned X-Men game, but I came away with a sweet little backpack. I also took a picture of the Jurassic Park booth while I was waiting.

PAX Day 3: Jurassic Park's neglected booth.

They brought a dinosaur to a dragon fight.

This photograph may be the only evidence that it was at PAX; the booth was in the worst possible location and despite being a nice mock-up was entirely forgettable. I don’t think I saw anybody there who wasn’t paid to be there for the entire time I was waiting at Alienware (and I was waiting for a long damn time).

PAX Day 3: LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7

LEGO Harry Potter, tucked into the WB booth.

The WB booth was mostly taken up with Gothan City Imposters and Arkham City (notice how I’m still hovering, foolishly hoping that the lines will just suddenly disappear so I can play this bloody game), but they also had this for LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7. A fairly understated display with no game attached yet, but it was still cool to see. LEGO Harry looks so pissed! I bet he was looking a the lines for Arkham City too.

Over at Bioshock Infinite was this monstrosity:

PAX Day 3: Bioshock Infinite

Complete with Elizabeth cosplay.

Pretty much that was “Elizabeth”‘s job, to stand there and ask for help for three days while people gawked. I think the Bioshock booth was a video/live demo versus hands-on, which I could wait for. Really excited for the game though, even as I know I will not be able to play it at all; Bioshock is a spectator series for me.

Time was rapidly marching toward Omegathon, so I went to check in on Mike again.

PAX Day 3: Pathfinder in-progress.

I think the GM is crunking.

They weren’t quite done, but were getting there. I grabbed a nearby chair and settled in to watch. The party’s rogue was particularly amusing; Mike told me later that he was literally stealing everything he could possible steal, including the hat off of a peasant as their carriage zoomed by. He succeeded. Oh, dice.

15 to 20 later and the campaign, which was only supposed to be an hour, finally ended. Mike had been hoping to get two done today but this one ran too long and he missed the final groups. Still, he enjoyed himself and had many keys to try in the treasure chest!

All the keys failed. Ahh well, next year.

It was about an hour before we’d need to queue for the final round of the Omegathon, so we returned to the Expo Hall for a final sweep. It was here that we discovered we’d missed an entire floor. Sadly it meant we didn’t have much time to spend with this treasure trove of indy games, though we did get some hands on with a few. The one I most recall was a multi-player side-scroller that dealt with zombie-fighting truckers and was kind of a thing.

Finally, with half an hour to go and loaded down with “oh god just take it so we don’t have to ship it back” swag, we stumbled upon what was possibly the best-kept secret in all of PAX. The Xbox booth was a large, sprawling affair with a dozen games on display – but tucked quietly in a corner were five consoles devoted to Mass Effect 3.

PAX Day 3: Mass Effect 3 at Xbox's booth.

Each station came with console, wide-screen TV, and dispenser of hand sanitizer.

All the consoles were in use, but there were only two people in line. Two people! There were dozens and dozens over at Bioware!

We eagerly hopped in line. Even with only two people it was a a bit of a wait due to the length of the demo, but it was worth it. ME3 looks fantastic and my impression of combat was that it is indeed trying hard to straddle that line between the first and second systems. I particularly recall power customization being much more robust, which is a change I certainly welcome. And hey! A female krogan! Who doesn’t want to know what’s up with that?

By the time we’d both finished we were running late for the Omegathon line, but Twitter was assuring me there was still room in line, so we booked to the main theater.

PAX Day 3: In line for the final round of the Omegathon.

Behind us: this same width of people, stretched down the block.

We were in a good spot, as Enforcers patrolled the length of the line, reading trivia, breaking into spontaneous song and dance, and handing out pipe cleaners to anybody who wanted them. A surprising number did, and an even more surprising number were really good about making shit out of pipe cleaners. I saw several hat/glasses combos, and the guy right next to me made a cape-wearing super penguin that was every bit as awesome as it sounds.

Oh, and there was this guy.

PAX Day 3: World of Tanks

World of Tanks? More like Parking Lot of Tank.

That’s a really for real WWII tank and a guy who I’m guessing is not really for real an SS officer. He sneered at us, quite unimpressed, as I imagine you can do when you’re in a bloody tank. But they had some folks walking up the line from World of Tanks handing out little die-cast tanks and those actually were impressive.

We’d arrived late so the wait wasn’t too bad, and soon we were filing into the Paramount. Luckily we like to go up high for seating since the floor was filled long before we’d even set foot inside.

PAX Day 3: The Paramont Theater, pre-Omegathon final round.

I'm always amused when a gigantic group of gamers invade a place that looks like it should have an opera singer center stage. (and they would then fall onto that stage in the final act)

And that is sadly the last picture I have. I was fiddling with the video recording on my camera for the actual event itself, and thus missed out on a single photograph. Oops.

Gabe and Tycho came out to thunderous applause. They thanked everyone for attending and announced that the cookie brigade had earned a staggering fourteen thousand extra dollars for Child’s Play. That’s a hell of a lot of cookies, people. Little time was wasted, and the remaining two Omeganauts were brought on-stage. In another first for the competition, they had to pick a “spirit animal” from the fallen Omeganauts; the choice made, the spirit animals joined the finalists on-stage.

Next was an attempt to guess what the final game would be. Many things were shouted. Many things were derided. As expected, nobody was right, not even close. The final round of the Omegathon for PAX Prime 2011?

The Legend of Zelda.

The crowd went nuts, but were confused. Befuddled nuts. Tycho addressed the unspoken question: how, exactly, does one play Legend of Zelda competitively?

It was a race. The first person to reach the first piece of the Tri-Force would be declared the winner. Their chosen “spirit animal”, armed with a FAQ, would be their navigator. The contestant could not look at the FAQ; the navigator could not point to the screen. May the best gamer win.

It was pretty nuts, though I have to say it was nuts because of the guy just in front of me. This is a dude who knew his Zelda. I’ve seen people powered by football who were less into their team of choice than this dude. Take every stereotype you’ve ever seen of a armchair coach, then triple it, and you might get close to this guy watching spectator Legend of Zelda.

As it turns out, I completely missed the gameplay itself; between my complete lack of remembering anything about the first Zelda and my fascination for the guy in front of me, it was over before I knew it.

There was a little celebration, another thanks for everyone coming, and like that, PAX 2011 was done.

I have to say, it all ended just a little off. While I’m not the hugest fan of Gabe and Tycho just at the moment, usually I find they’re much more engaged with the audience at the close of PAX. There was little to no pre-event bantering, the whole thing was over within about five minutes which left no room for the usual taunting and building tension, and I guess because they couldn’t exactly figure out how to do it, there was also no final play-off between Gabe and Tycho after the Omegathon was done. As a result the whole thing felt a little detached and rushed, which surprised me. I’m hoping things were just a little bit odd this year, what with this and the Queue Room and such, and that next year – assuming we go – we’ll see a return of that connection which so embodies the spirit of PAX.

But there’s no denying, Mike and I both had a tremendous time. We filed out the theater and made our way back to the car. The final round had actually started on time and run much shorter than expected, and so we were on our way home with plenty of daylight ahead. The ride home this year was leagues better than the last, between me not being plague-ridden and not needing to rush back to get Jett. The drive home was leisurely, and a nice cap to the weekend.

And hey, just for you, we got this:

PAX Day 3: Communist Boise

Dammit, China!

Uncle Sam wants YOU to hate Boise.

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