Convention season is almost over. I’ve been to a lot of conventions this year, but, PAX, or PAX Prime as it’s called now, is the one I look forward to the most. I enjoy it for many reasons, the biggest being I used to live in Seattle and that means I’m coming back to see the show as well as old friends. This article is simply about my PAX experience and cool things I saw.
If you’ve never been to PAX, think of it as a smaller version of E3. An E3 with way less caffeine, anyways. PAX is held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in downtown Seattle, near Pikes Market and not too far from the Space Needle. It’s a pretty big building and they handle the crowds very well. Seattle is known for its rain and they have an enormous awning over the street in front of the main entrance. But, you guys probably don’t care about that kind of stuff.
So, PAX had three games that really stood out to me this year. Personally, the most impressive was Disney’s Epic Mickey, which I originally saw at E3. The booth looked amazing, and, like at E3, they had Disney animators out again drawing art for folks. They had a lot of hand-painted Mickey art on display too. The game itself looks fun and I have a feeling it will end up being a favorite of mine once it’s done.
Fallout New Vegas is the second one I’m pretty excited about. A big grin spread across my face when I saw that large dinosaur, seen in the trailer, at their booth. I haven’t played any of the demos yet, because, you see, I want to save that experience for when I play it at home.
Portal 2 is the third one I‘m looking forward to. I enjoyed Portal very much and I love puzzle games. I’m really hoping that games like Portal will continue to inspire companies to do more games in this style. What I mean is, you get a gun, but you don’t have to go shoot anybody and you get to do puzzles. That, and Jonathan Coulton should do more video game music.
This was the first PAX that I had actual work to do, which included previews, interviews, and, my favorite, parties.
The first game I took at look at was Lord of the Rings Online. The talked to us mostly about their transition over to free to play. But they also gave us a look at the fall Harvest Festival, where they will have a haunted house called the Haunted Borough. Here you look for treasure and rescue scared hobbits. Visually it was what you’d expect, with cob webs, chandeliers, great Halloween décor, and things, like skeletons, jumping out at you. I also looked at Dungeons and Dragons Online, which is free to play as well. They showed us the new races, and some great new updates on the UI.
Probably the best thing about working for MMORPG.com is being able to talk directly to the people making the games. I assisted in a couple of interviews, including one with lead designer Melissa Bianco from City of Heroes who was very nice and shared as much as she could about the next issue coming out.
I also got to talk to some very interesting people from gamecrush.com -- an online website where you can pay a girl to play a video game with you. I encourage you to go check out this site when it’s released. They are still in beta now and thousands are participating.
There’s often some unusual fashion meme at conventions like this. This year PAX was full of people wearing large orange street-cone hats and zombie face paint from the game Plants vs. Zombies. Those cones were everywhere and people wore them with pride.
Do you remember the movie Back to the Future? Silly question, right? There was a Delorean sitting at the show room entrance. How cool is that? This might show my age a bit, but I was really geeking out when I saw that car sitting there. I don’t know much about the game, but from what I saw, it looks like it’s going to feature everything you’d expect to see from the trilogy.
I’d like to tell you about something I saw that I had to point out to all my friends nearby. There was a pretty girl in an armor-plated g-string. Seriously. PAX is not huge on cosplay, so costumes stand out. I’d tell you more but, I think they want to keep this site rated PG. So, sorry, but I can just tell you enough to get your imagination started. It was definitely a sight. If anyone snapped a photo please link it in the comments.
After all the work was done, it was time for the parties. I went to a few but I want to tell you about two of them: Trion and CCP.
Trion, makers of End of Nations and Rift, hosted a party that was held in a very nice hotel room. It had a much more intimate party setting than you might imagine which was nice. It was not thumping with the loud music and didn’t have the heaving crowds. It was actually quite formal with good food and plenty of places to sit. The lack of loud music and quantity of people made it easy to talk to the producers and designers and get to know them a bit and discus the games.
Talk about a polar opposite party: CCP, makers of Eve Online, went all out. I had heard rumors about what to expect at a “CCP” party but, Whoa Nelly! This was not your typical video game party. All I really knew was that they were having a vampire theme. So, in the spirit of vampires, I wore a Merlot’s waitress costume. True Blood fans will be happy to know that they played the theme song on the dance floor, which was incredibly fun to dance to. The party was held in a night club, with dark thumping music, heaving with people, not a chance of having a real conversation, but tons of fun. Oh, and did I mention the lions in cages?
My biggest regret from PAX was not seeing the Jonathan Coulton concert. I have made attempts to see him before but he performs very late and it has just not worked out. I am a big fan and hope to see him live sometime soon as I hear he puts on a great show.
The next big convention coming up is New York Comicon. Now that this convention is held in October, it will be like the closing ceremonies of convention season. I enjoyed it very much last year and I got to meet Joss Whedon, of whom I’m a huge fan, and Georges Jeanty who is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic artist. I’m sure this year will be just as interesting and I hope to continue meeting more talented people and going to wild parties.
In short, PAX was just what I expected it would be: fun, fast, interesting, exciting, and exhausting. Can’t wait for NYCC, now.