I just returned this afternoon from PAX East 2014 in Boston and wow, what a weekend!
On Friday I got in line for the Expo Hall early and, after doing what I think is my annual ritual of buying a shirt from the Rooster Teeth booth, I caught the tail end of Storytime with Alex Rigopulos (CEO of Harmonix). He discussed the upcoming Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved and Chroma games (both look exceptional and I’m interested in seeing how they do). I stuck around for the Rooster Teeth panel and thoroughly enjoyed an upcoming episode of Immersion and the new intro for RWBY.
After Rooster Teeth, I joined a friend for the “Land My Job! Inside Advice on Getting into the Game Industry” panel. Long story short, it doesn’t matter what you do now or did back in the day. If you want in on the games industry, just do what you want to do and things should fall in place (there’s some fine print there but the panel was quite good and explained how people from all walks of life can find themselves in the games industry).
At this point I spent a lot of time on the Expo floor, browsing the things being shown off. The Indie MegaBooth was incredible. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Speaking of indie devs, I ran into one at the Dunkin Donuts on the way in that morning and made sure to drop by every day of the convention at the Indie MiniBooth to see how he was doing. Check out Willy Chyr. His first-person environmental puzzle game, Relativity, has an unmistakable Portal-esque feel to it while using color to emphasize interactivity in an Escher-inspired world. It was an incredible demo and I can’t wait to see the finished product. As an added bonus, I didn’t suffer simulator sickness while I tried it out.
I rounded out the evening checking by attending “The Art of the Table: GMing Beyond the Basics” and “How Can We Stay Positive in the Games Industry?”. All told a lovely evening.
Saturday started with a bang. Namely the Firaxis Games Mega Panel. I attended last year and I already expected to attend this year even before Jake Solomon mentioned there was a special announcement to be made at the panel. Right after sitting down, someone from 2K came up and asked, “Who’s the biggest Firaxis fan here?” and I said, “I can’t guarantee I’m the biggest fan, but I’m pretty much a big fan.” She pulled me and three other guys from the audience out into the hall for a quick interview performed by Chloe Dykstra and Michele Morrow, the purpose of which was to ascertain if we had a decent idea of what the announcement could possibly be. There’s video somewhere, but right now it’s not online. Suffice to say, one guy guessed Alpha Centauri, another said Civ 6, I said Master of Orion (corporate espionage for the win), and I don’t remember the fourth one. We were then released to get back into the panel where they announced Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth and I’m so excited.
No seriously. SO EXCITED. Text is inadequate for expressing my excitement for this new game. It’s coming out later this year and I promise I’ll be playing. I guess I’m more than just a “big fan” of Firaxis now, huh?
After the panel, we got posters promoting the game. As I stood outside checking my phone, I was grabbed by the same camera crew and interviewed again about my reaction to the announcement. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember being told that I did really well in front of the camera at which point I said it was probably because, “I dabble in YouTube”. Michele Morrow laughed and said she needed that on a t-shirt (someone hook her up with one please?). I then found myself invited to the 2K Community Party later that night.
I hoofed it to the FedEx by the main entrance and wound up walking with one of the developers of Beyond Earth. I was able to express my appreciation for the new title as well as my enthusiasm on the way (I love doing that in person to the people who are actually responsible for what I’m gushing on).
I caught the tail end of the Mass Effect Cosplay Initiative (Thane’s voice actor is a witty fellow), and then I wandered the Expo Hall some more until about 6, at which time I found a nice spot to sit and wound up sitting next to The Doubleclicks (I kept my cool, but only barely). A short while after that, I made my way offsite to the 2K Community Party and had a lovely time talking gaming with some exceptional people from 2K, Firaxis, and Gearbox (as well as fellow PAX attendees).
Sunday started with another roughly equivalent bang to Saturday’s. I attended the Inside Gearbox Software panel and it was packed. So much concentrated awesome resulted in us getting to see some small details on upcoming games such as Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands, the Homeworld Remastered Edition, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Even more than just those things, everyone in the audience (me included) got a voucher code for a free copy of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Yup, I’ll be playing it up one side and down the other.
My buddy and I followed that amazing experience up with attending the signing by Gearbox and friends down in the Queue room. I netted a Borderlands 2 golden key code (already used it, sorry), and a copy of Official XBOX Magazine that won’t be on stands for another two weeks.
I wrapped up my convention attendance by some more wandering of the Expo Hall and attending the “Fragging Gamer Stereotypes” panel.
All in all, quite the amazing weekend. I’m blown away by how wonderful everyone was and now I’m seriously contemplating going again next year.
As an aside, I’m quite tired of writing behind a pen-name or callsign or handle or nom de plume or whatever. I’m going to be signing my posts here with my actual name from here on and you’ll all see my name on my Twitter (but everything else is going to be pretty much the same). It’s time to put a face to the words, proverbially speaking.
Until next time!
P.S. You all really need to see the official trailer for Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. It’s something truly fantastic.