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Dana: Tournaments

Dana Massey Posted:
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Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Blog: Tournaments

Blog Entry #2 by Dana Massey

Unlike most conferences, the emphasis at PAX is on fun and it is reflected in each and every booth. Two highlights of the first true day of the show were Fury’s constant PvP tournaments and – straying from MMORPGs – Rockstar’s ongoing Table Tennis tournaments.

There are only a limited number of MMORPGs at PAX and after annoying everyone I knew for a few hours, I decided to put my caffeine-induced energy to good use. Every hour, they had sixteen people square off in brackets similar to the NCAA basketball tournaments. They’d play matches, loser eliminated, until only four remained in each group. The final group – of a size I never did find out, but likely anywhere from 32 to 64 – then squares off on Sunday in single elimination matches until a winner is crowned. The prize? A very snazzy modified XBOX 360 in the Table Tennis theme.

So, I entered. I’d played a grand total of ten minutes in my life and expected routine slaughter. Nonetheless, a rare chance to replace my stolen XBOX with a cooler one had to be taken.

It turns out, at least in the early rounds, I was not the only newbie. My first opponent failed to realize in losing the first set 11-1 that the players switched sides on service. The second set was more of a contest, but again I won comfortably. Onto the final eight in my group!

The second round opponent told me from the get-go that he had played and was pretty good. I figured I was done. It seems though that he was exaggerating or experiencing poor luck. I cruised to an 11-0, 11-2 victory on route to a spot in Sunday’s final. Do I have a chance? I doubt it. I have to assume at least one experienced player has entered, but one never knows. It kind of makes me wish I signed up for the Guild Wars $10,000 tournament. Something tells me though, I wouldn’t have been so lucky.

Fury on the other hand had no super fancy prizes. Their supremely well placed booth is in the center of everything and attracted a lot of attention, especially thanks to their two loud-mouth commentators. They simply randomly handed out loot on the first day to lucky “MVPs” of matches. Carolyn and I both played quite a bit and had a grand time, which I will get into in a more formal article later. Nonetheless, Fury looks like the ultimate game for jump in, causal, fast PvP action.

The previous evening, we also attended the Pirates of the Burning Sea party. It was a good time, if over-crowded. Nonetheless, it is always fun to have informal chats with the people who make these games. Being a local company, everyone – including the interns – was there. Being PAX, we also got to see the fans; some in full pirate regalia.

Among the fans I met was the webmaster and game reporter for an interesting indy entertainment site AllZombiesMustDie.net. Probably breaking a few PAX rules, he was leafleting PAX and the party with postcards for the cleverly named site. They concentrate on independent entertainment (books, movies, games) reviews. They’ve definitely got spunk, a neat name and a solid idea. He also entered the Table Tennis tournament at my urging. He’d never played before and I want as many such people in as possible! Best of luck to everyone involved.

Today, we also met officially with Wizards of the Coast (Magic Online), GarageGames (The Torque Engine) and Auran (Fury). Tomorrow, we round out the show with EA Mythic (Warhammer Online), Turbine Entertainment (Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online and Asheron’s Call), Flying Lab (Pirates of the Burning Sea) and more.

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Dana Massey